Lately I have been seeing a few videos largely about the censorship forced on the Mortal Kombat franchise by Nintendo at the time they first ported the arcade on the SNES. It has a lot to talk about, since many have criticized this seemingly stupid move – violence and brutality was a part of this game after all!
But if we observe the situation, we notice that Nintendo did what they had to do. Even though its censorship on games was far from flawless and sometimes even a bit exaggerated, I feel it was at times a bit ahead of its time, trying to preemptively to solve problems that rose a few years later. Today videogames are faulted for the violent outbursts of different people, be it a grown-up beating down a minor or a school shooting. The question here, thus, is if we can really blame videogames for the aggressions or not.
One of the most clear examples are the shootings. Usually the killers are in possession of a few games with brutal content, which they play with certain obsession. It is easy for the media to blame those games for giving the child the impulse and the training to use a shotgun.
This is, in my own experience, false. I have played Doom I & II since I was at leat eleven. I never was compelled to use a gun. I outright despise fire weapons. I only used a rifle twice in my life, both times it was just an air gun that could barely hurt someone. I do admit I love shooting rifles… in Doom and Goldeneye, but nowhere else.
On the other hand, and taking the theory of compulsion and training through a videogame, I have trained in the use of various kinds of swords and axes, although I never played Skyrim or any Oblivion game whatsoever, nor even Ultimate Underworld (maybe Zelda “trained” me?). So there is no need of influence by a videogame to use any kind of weaponry. It is ridiculous to think that game can teach you how to use a weapon! Also, my biggest influence for the love of weapons are the various fantasy books I have read of the Dragonlance series and the always classic triology The Lord of the Rings. Does this make me dangerous?
Also, as a last fact to consider, there are a lot of people who have the aggressive tendencies, but do not play any game of sort. Why that happens is often not really discussed but by experts and that’s it. Sometimes it’s a movie, sometimes some disease, etc.
There is a comic I am a fan of, which has an interesting introduction by, what I suppose is, a friend of the author of the graphic novel. At the beginning of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac he comments that the story is “food for the inner monster” that we all harvest inside of us willingly or not. Needless to say, the contents of the comic are extremely violent. Then he condemns anyone who applies it in real life. The function of the graphical violence shown is to live out the fantasy inside of oneself beating up the one who wronged us during our routines days, but never to apply it.
Now, this sounds like terrible advice, but I think there is a point to it. At one moment of our lives we always feel the urge of aggression, may we express it physically (yelling, cursing, even throwing stuff) or not. But what differentiates us from the young shooter or the abusive parent is what we choose not to show it, or at least try to keep it down. Some more sane express these desires by just using the imagination; maybe even in a game. But we have control, a trait we learned mainly because of our parents.
Parents today have the tendency, because of the extreme workloads, to let the children alone with a T.V. or a console to babysit them. It is easy to distract them by providing them with those things. But contents are not always checked and, more importantly, also is not the child. They have to struggle to understand what is seen on the screens, without any frame of reference they can rely on. Thus, sometimes, in their frustration and loneliness, tend to express what they observe. The same applies to movies!
Is that the parents fault, though? No, I do not blame, as much as I point out to a problem in our society: long work hours far away, poor attentions from instances and institutions and the easy way out found in modern media permit these “deviations” to happen. Better said, they permit for children to not express the way we expect them to in society.
In other words, videogames alone do not do the work: their environments, more or less controlled, do tend to make them feel frustrated and lost, without knowing why. Meanwhile, violent movies, videogames and other kind of influences only help to reinforce the problems a child has to deal with, which is expressed at any point of life. But there is no formula to success on that.
Blaming videogames as a main factor is irresponsible from our side. We have to find the time to guide our children and people who emotionally need it. Also, we really need to reflect about ourselves. In an ideal world we would have time for everything. Sadly this is not the reality of things. But it is up to us to make the difference, find a way to give us time.
Nintendo, on purpose or not, anticipated that there would be a controversy from diverse parent groups when referring to video games. At the end the effort was to no avail and, despite the censorship and rating systems, the children are exposed to all this without someone guiding them – not even in school. Many blame the problem on the “evil side” of humans. In my observation, it is all up to having some responsibility and attention.
May they smile upon your way!