Boys are Encouraged to Kill
Any excuse to alleviate critiques against violent video games are just as invalid as those used to alleviate criticism towards cigarette smoking. People will continue to advocate for excessively violent videos games so long as they have a flew of excuses and their opponents lack of reliable evidence.
We need to be willing to fund studies, establish proof of evidence, explain how the psychological effects are just as bad, if not worse, than the directly physical effects of something like smoking. There needs to be enough basis for claims that video games are encouraging violence, desensitizing people to it and contributing to a violence-oriented culture.
The reason I reference smoking is simply because of the widespread prevention campaigns that have integrated into the elementary school system. The reality of my experience during this time was akin to leaving a health class about the dangers of tobacco (and alcohol) only to go outside and play “army” with a group of boys.
Smoking is bad when you’re young because adults with authority tell you it’s bad and you’re never exposed to it. As you get older and more independent, as you are around others who smoke and people with an already lessened authority talk about it less and less. It is no longer this mysteriously evil killer, it is normal.
Now replace that scenario with violence, except remove the part where people with authority tell you it’s bad and the part about being far removed from it as a young kid. Now suddenly, violence is normalized quicker and regardless of parents’ attempts at limiting it, exposure through the internet is virtually inevitable. There is no stigma, and in addition, that violence is directly correlated with masculinity which has long been merely a means for male self-verification.
So we have a highly stigmatized physical health issue of cigarettes which kids are most likely to pick-up in high school but don’t see significant health impacts for years to come. And then we have a culturally encouraged, psychologically intangible health and security issue of violence paired with masculinity, often at the expense of women, ingrained in boys prior to adolescence, leading not only to their death, but to the death of their high-school classmates. Their adulthood is excluded from the picture altogether. The difference is, the education system has come to recognize the dangers of smoking and have shifted their health curriculum accordingly. We are seeing a similar shift in sexual education, but why have we not yet acknowledged the ever growing dangers of violent-masculinity?
Movies, mainstream media, video games and more. This is not an isolated incident, it is a cancer that has spread. There was once a small supply of it, and as such, a small demand. Capitalism pushed it over the years, and the more it is supplied, the more it is demanded. Whether or not kids, particularly males, are self-affirmed and socially accepted has become almost entirely dependent upon the extent to which they adopt this excessively violent form of masculinity. So of course the demand rises and the feedback loop continues.
While the cancer has spread, and it has become an intangible and seemingly unapproachable cultural phenomena, we as humans are unlike cancerous cells because we are self-aware and autonomous. Culture is the human form of a hive-mentality to push the species forward, but the individual intelligence derived from our mammal roots is what actually keeps us alive. We as individuals have just as much influence over the culture as it does over us, it is merely a matter of whether we chose to take charge or to let it kill us as surrendered followers. We can be cancerous, or we can be healthy, but to be somewhere in between is out of the question. To stand by and do nothing is to let yourself dissolve into that hive-mentality — that follower mentality which leaves you as a pawn to the bigger systems like supply and demand.