The Grim Reality Of The Video Game Violence Situation, Looking At Two Kid Killers
As gamers, and people with common sense, we all know that video games don’t cause violence. Sure, any violent media can influence aggressive behaviour and lead to violence, given that it’s already there in the person, so that’s really not what I want to talk about here. It’s a tired debate, and one you don’t need psychologists for. Just a person who can think reasonably, and without pre-determined bias.
Now, if you read the news yesterday, that is our news, not that boring stuff on TV and in the papers, you may have seen the case of two kid killers who were both personally tied to video games. One shot his mother twenty times and tried to rape her (but couldn’t), and the other kid slit the throat of a boy and mocked him as he bled out. Of course, cue the blame for video games.
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The topic I want to discuss today is a bit on the morbid side.
Firstly, seriously now, just stop with the blaming of video games and violent media. You’re old news now. You’re making the problem worse by avoiding it entirely. You’re trying to wrap it up into a nice little simplified box and get clueless parents in support of you, because dare I say tackling the real problem is beyond your comprehension. Stop using gaming as a scapegoat. Man up. And face reality.
I’ve done a lot of reading on some of the most violent men ever to be incarcerated. I’ve also studied a few courses in psychology, and done quite a bit of reading on the subject matter, because I do believe it’s one of the most important sciences in the world. We are our own worst enemies, and innocent minded people would shudder to think what human beings are really capable of.
I’ve noticed a trend. The common traits of the most violent men are A) blind fits of rage where, afterward, they have no idea why they acted violently and, most significantly, B) a total lack of empathy and human connection. Killing means very little. Suffering means very little to them. But the act of killing, makes them feel “something”. In their terms, “alive”. It becomes an addiction, that feeling.
Note the two cases of these video game related kills. In the Call of Duty case, the kid said: “I’m not joking at all. She’s dead. I’m scared. I killed my mom with my .22. I don’t know why I did it,” he told the 911 dispatcher. “I tried to rape her. I tried to rape her but I couldn’t do it.”
“I don’t know why I did it”. Just like I said, the kid went into a blind fit of rage (read the case for details) and had no idea why he committed the act.
Let’s look at the Gears of War case, where the report read: “The 14-year-old slashed the younger one’s throat so deeply that his windpipe was exposed. Thereafter, the boy “sneered at his victim: ‘Don’t die,’ before calmly walking off.”
That sounds like a total lack of empathy and care for human life to me. No remorse either. It truly takes something else entirely that ordinary people, like us, cannot understand to commit acts like these.
When I said “face reality” up above, I was referring to the fact that sometimes in life there exists a point of no return. I do believe a line has to be drawn somewhere, where you stop playing the goody two shoes and admit that someone is just beyond help, and more so, doesn’t deserve it. Do you really think the most dangerous serial killers and most violent and psychopathic men in the world were fixed with some good therapy and tender love? Do you really believe that they’re victims when, after “rehabilitation” they kill again? And care nothing for it? That it comes so naturally?
The reality is, if these two kids are capable of this at the ages of fourteen, then I shudder to think what they can do in another fourteen years time. Even with extensive psychiatric and psychological aid, the chances of recovery from something like this are minimal. Remember, psychiatric drugs are just inhibitors, they only subdue. They do not cure. So stopping the meds, or becoming over-reliant, can cause new problems. It’s a complex problem. And it’s one that becomes infinitely more complex after the fact. Once it reaches this point. The point where something evil, unforgivable, is done. Good luck fixing these kids now. It might be better off for everyone if people like this were put to death.
Call me heartless or say that’s “inhumane” or whatever nonsense, but it’s very easy to have the moral high ground when you’re on the outside looking in. I can guarantee you now, that if someone did something like this to a person I cared about or loved, I would want them dead. Kid or not.
And I’d be damn happy if they died.
Maybe a psychology textbook would call me a sociopath for speaking like that. In fact, the determinants of a sociopath are indeed pretty broad. Lacking of a moral conscious, anti-social, no remorse, detached, hardly emotional, don’t really connect with anyone. There are so many traits to describe one, that in honesty most people carry traits. I know I do. What I’m saying by this, is that you can’t just read a psychology textbook and identify a sociopath, or someone who has the potential for such behaviours.
Furthermore, psychologists can actually play a part of the problem. They’re also human. They also want an interesting case. Or to become renowned for rehabilitating a murderer.
But often, it’s just out of their league.
You need to go to the root of the problem. And that’s parenting. Many studies have said you actually develop empathy from your parents. Parents play a massive role in shaping you, what you’re exposed to and what you think. This can literally make or break your life and growth. Parenting is the area we need to look at the most. It’s the most difficult job on the planet.
But it’s easy to say that. The issue is, you just can’t fix the problem after the fact. You have to read the signs before. You have to look at the relationship between kids and parents. Yes, perhaps giving the child (the Call of Duty case) a gun for a present when he was eleven years old was the height of stupidity. But it’s not the act of giving the gun that’s the problem. I had BB guns when I was a kid.
Why? As a kid, I frequently played violent games. I played Grand Theft Auto when I was eleven. I used to cheat for all the guns and a tank and go on a murder spree and survive as long as I could. But I was raised to know the difference between fiction and reality, right and wrong, good and bad. I was surrounded by good people, and perhaps there I was fortunate. But I also had many traumatic experiences as a child, I mean, we’ve all dealt with difficulty. But I got through it because of good support and parenting (single parent I should say, can’t really count my dad unfortunately).
Now, there are many cases where you don’t have good social support, let alone parents. That is a separate issue that requires its own handling. I’m not dismissing it, I just don’t want to box it together with the situation where we actually do have parents, like both these cases.
It’s not wrong to buy your child a violent video game. My mother bought me Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, one of my all time favourite games, when I was a few years under the age requirement. Why? Because she knew how she raised me, and knew I was mature enough to handle the content. When I was a kid and wrestling influenced my aggression, like it would any kid (I know many), my mother stepped in. In those times yes my father would step in also.
Look, you also can’t shelter your child and keep them away from all forms of violence, because then they won’t develop a tolerance and understanding or have any experience. A child needs to understand the why and the how. You can’t tell a kid “because I say so”. It doesn’t work. You need to be a teacher to your child. They learn from you first, as well as immediate family, like siblings.
The point is, despite all my exposure to violent media, despite my love for violence (I won’t even deny it, I frequently get called nuts, just watch my Surgeon Simulator 2013 play-throughs), despite my love of martial arts and frequent day dreaming of doing Matrix Reloaded in real life, I have never so much as been in a fight. Why? I was taught they were stupid. People get hurt. You have nothing to gain, everything to lose. I had a temper when I was twelve. Teenage stuff. It got squashed by good parenting, and ever since I have had absolute control. I rarely ever get genuinely angry.
Yes I’m human. I snap, I get irritated, I curse. But angry enough to do something I’ll regret? Not once. The worst it will ever get is that I’ll say something out of anger, and later apologise for it.
I’m yapping about my life story because I’m saying quite simply that parenting can make all the difference in the world. Yes, there are exceptions. There are far more dramatic examples. But I am willing to bet on it that in both these two kids cases, the relationship with the parents wasn’t good. Maybe they were absent, maybe the kids hated them, maybe the parents didn’t know how to raise kids, maybe they didn’t show them love or give them attention. All it would take is a bit of a background check. After all, many psychopaths have parental issues, often involving childhood trauma.
The problem needs to be addressed then. I’ve only begun really thinking on this problem, so I don’t quite know the solution. I don’t quite think psych evaluations to determine if you’re appropriate to have a child is in any way viable. I mean, I know you have to do that when you want to adopt, but how do you stop people from having, well, insert euphemism for unsafe sex? Or impose on freedom? I don’t really know if mandatory “check-ups” post having a child would help either. Quantity is too high.
Perhaps fear could help. The fear of punishment. If the consequence was more severe than free rehab and a meal ticket in prison, maybe it would make a small difference. Often a problem cannot be fixed (like poverty in our country) but it can be reduced. I do believe in a point of no return. If I had to be dramatic, I’d say in clear cut cases like this throw them to the psychologists and psychiatrists to study and pick their brains apart, figure out new symptoms, warning signs, ways to prevent and so on and so forth, then off with the head! I’m not sure if I’m joking really.
This is more than just about video games. No violent material can cause you or force you to do anything. It can only really influence what’s already there, if you decide to act on it.
So if we highlight parenting as the root, the core of the problem, how do we then address it? How do we at least increase good parenting, or help parents do a better job of raising kids?
I don’t know the answer yet. It’s a collaborative effort. Often people say, and even I’ve said it, that if you’re going to criticise, offer a solution or something better. But I’ve realised that can’t always hold. And sometimes, merely criticising constructively can help other heads being put together to think on it.