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Friday, October 24, 2014


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Video games do not perpetuate violence




mug_lay_sierra
 

Sierra Lay



Shortly after hitting pause on my current favorite video game, “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess,” I had a marvelous idea.

I poured myself a glass of chocolate milk.

What I didn’t do was grab my shield, makeshift bow and arrows and my regulation warrior horse and decide to head to the nearest dungeon (the MSU Main Library), in the hopes of saving the lovely Princess Zelda.

If Link did it, I should too, right? Wrong.

Human beings can be persuaded by all manner of media — ad campaigns, hashtag movements or likes on Facebook.

But is it too far a stretch to say that we could be convinced to commit premeditated murder?

If you’ve been following any large news organizations, you may have read about a bizarre case dubbed the “Slender Man” stabbing.

Two 12-year-old Wisconsin girls lured a friend into the woods to “play a game.” The girls, one holding the victim down, the other wielding a kitchen knife, stabbed the victim a total of 19 times.

The victim crawled to a nearby road, though she had sustained injuries to several organs, and was then spotted by a passing biker, who called 911.

“Slender Man” is an eerie, tall fictional character who preys on children in a video game. The girls believed that if they murdered their friend, they could live with Slender Man. Because he seems like such a good roommate.

Of course, events such as the “Slender Man” stabbing raise a familiar line of questions about the effect of video games on developing minds. In times of tragedy, people seek cables of connection between things like a school shooting and Call of Duty. But I don’t believe those theories by a long shot.

Video games can actually be therapeutic, health-enhancing outlets. They improve hand-eye coordination, reaction time, problem-solving and many other functions of the mind and body. To draw a connection between a simulation wherein a player mashes buttons to kill fictional characters and the act of obtaining a weapon to murder other human beings seems more like an excuse for untreated or unnoticed mental illness than viable causation.

This is not to say that everyone who commits a violent crime is mentally ill or disturbed, but placing the entire blame on just one factor in the sea of possibilities that could affect a person is not acceptable. That’s like saying the reason a person is overweight is due to commercials for McDonald’s.

Self-control, willpower, a healthy understanding of your mind — these are things human beings are responsible for having a handle on.

It’s easy to say that those Wisconsin girls were so persuaded by Slender Man that they killed their friend. But we should be looking for root causes, not the first available scapegoat.

When we are spending hours fighting about why video games are evil and wrong, we’re totally missing the point.

Instead of asking ourselves how we can keep video games from murdering children, we should be asking ourselves how we can better understand the human brain.

Catching the warning signs, the red flags, the indications that something is just not right in another person’s mind and giving them care is a better solution.

It is easy to point a finger at every external object we believe wronged us, but in most cases the issue can be more easily found within.

Sierra Lay is a State News reporter. Reach her at slay@statenews.com.


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