Violence and Video Games: Scapegoatism

Krysti Pryde


The following story was written by friend of the site and contestant on PlayStation’s The Tester, Krysti Pryde. You can find more of her work by visiting her official website and following her on Twitter. Those who follow SonyRumors on Twitter will be familiar with the outrage that we all witnessed with the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut and my response afterwards. While I’ve been a gamer for as long as I can remember and action movie buff for even longer, my personal views never lie towards violence and thus, I’ve never supported civilian gun rights. This is especially true when we have access to high-powered assault rifles and handguns that can empty a hundred rounds in mere minutes. Equally outraging for me has been the expected lashing out towards video games and those who consume them, perpetrated by Fox News and others who’d rather cast a wide net and blame others, instead of looking at the politicians who enable easy access to guns, while mental health treatment and counseling seems like a distant dream for those who need it. Of course, there is the fine folks at the NRA whose answer always seems to be after a tragic event that “this isn’t the time to discuss gun control laws” or “if only one of those kids had been packing heat in self-defense, this never would have happened.

Krysti’s wonderful piece takes a look at our culture of scapegoatism and the unjust blame that falls on video games and the gamers who enjoy them.

Violence and Video Games: Scapegoatism

I usually stray away from blogging about sensitive content that may offend people. I would never want to offend any of you, and always try to keep my blogs fun, light, personal and informative. I decided tonight to make a slight change and blog about a relatively unpopular opinion. Now please, before I begin, let it be known I value and appreciate other people’s opinions. I am open-minded and friendly in all my debates, and I do not want anyone to read this and feel I am being patronizing. I write on the subject hoping it will be regarded as an open forum and would love to hear all your opinions on this.

I’m sure by now everyone has heard of the events regarding the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The news of this shook me to my core. It’s always a huge loss for humanity when events like this occur, and unfortunately it seems these events happen all too often. These were children. These children could not have any inclination that when their parents dropped them off at school and kissed them on their foreheads – that this would ultimately be the last time. Their lives were taken from them because someone was sick. The shooter was a 20-year-old boy with a history of mental illness and other disturbances. Now, we will never know the full story of his upbringing and we will absolutely never, ever understand him. We will never know his thought process, his feelings or his motives. Not only did he take the lives of 20+ children, he took the life of his own mother. It’s hard to wrap one’s head around because the vast majority of humanity can not relate to this behavior at all. The shooter was more disturbed than we will ever be able to cognitively understand, and that essentially is wholly the reasons for his actions.

Gamers Destroyed The Earth!

More like, Video Games: Society’s scapegoat.

For some reason though, it seems that people are so quick to look past the fact that this child was mentally ill, and rather start placing the blame on other unrelated issues; primarily the finger is pointed at video games. Sure – you can cut me off right now and say that I’m biased because I am a martyr of sorts for the video game industry and community. I can say that I grew up on video games and am extremely well-adjusted, but this isn’t about video games. It should never be about video games. It’s being reported that because this child played Mass Effect 3 that he was encouraged to commit this act. What about the millions of others that played Mass Effect 3 – what crimes have they committed? Why whenever there is an act of violence by a young adult are video games thrown into the fray of excuses? What about the young adults not exposed to gaming, what is their excuse? To blame video games for encouraging violence is just a scapegoat for inattentive parents and an easy way out for society, instead of addressing actual issues like mental health, which is a way bigger issue in regards to violence than it seems anyone wants to admit. We don’t need to lessen video games. We need to be more attentive and offer more support to young adults suffering from any of the array of mental health issues plaguing children. I realize this is easier said than done, but what has been done? Whenever a mass shooting happens people continually talk about the changes that need to be made, but once it’s out of the news it seems to go completely out of mind again until the next incident. It’s so easy to use video games as a distraction from the real issue but let’s be real:

The world has been an extremely violent place since way, way before video games.

The world is a mess. We are so quick to turn away from violence occurring in real-life physical wars going on and place blame on a war simulator instead. Remember when the Columbine shooting happened, and everyone blamed Marilyn Manson? They hardly focused on the two shooters. They immediately blamed Marilyn Manson – not because he was there, not because he personally encouraged them to commit this act, but simply because he made music that these two kids happened to listen to. What if these kids listened to Enya – would she be to blame? I doubt it. Here is an interview with Marilyn Manson from the film Bowling for Columbine. I happen to feel he makes extremely poignant points on actual issues.

Humanity has a lot work to do. A lot of the time I feel embarrassed to be a person. I wish I could just go back to being star-dust and float through space and time unencumbered. Despite the violence, the blaming – the omnipresent sadness that floats in and out of all our lives, there is still so much good in the world. More importantly there is so much good YOU can do as a person. You are an individual and you have so much to offer. We as people have so much power. The power to destroy, but also the power to repair and rejuvenate and make a difference. We are the one species capable of so much on such an individual level. I think if we all stopped being stoic and malcontent, we could really make a difference.


What are your views on the discussed subject matter?