A Brief Enquiry into Gun Violence and Media Relationships

Roll that 90’s VHS Tape… were our early counter arguments in the 1990’s the exact same thing, ‘it’s not our fault, it’s just a game.?’ Or is it time to look beyond this ‘he said they cause violence, she said they’re just games’ style of argument this conversation has been mired in for decades.

We need to get down to the real story, the scientific fact;

Does video game violence make people more violent?

First and foremost, the intention of my second blog post for the Ulster PR Student Blog is to talk about a relevant conversation that is taking place in today’s society, my goal is in no way to propose some sort of solution, I am in no way qualified to make such a call . Do video games make the users who play them more violent and is there a connection between video games and the ‘issue’ of gun violence in the United States of America.

 De-constructing the links between video games and crime.

In order to correctly investigate this topic, let’s begin at the start. With platforms like the PlayStation, Nintendo 64 rocketing to popularity in the mid-nineties, one of the first ‘big release’ titles to take place at the dawn of the gaming era was Mortal Kombat (1992) followed by Wolfenstein 3D (1992) and Doom (1993). These pioneers’ titles have gone on to cause an explosion of popularity in the 2000’s, turning a nerdy pastime into a pivotal experience in popular culture. The interest of gaming has also inspired negative feedback in the direction of the ‘big bad’ gaming studios that have created the modern releases of Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty and Battlefield titles.

 

FS1Source: Medium – The Incomplete History of Video Game Sales

Wouldn’t it be plausible to state that if the release of these titles in the mid-nineties and the early – mid noughties have been influencing youth culture to commit violent/ in humane acts that this would show on a registered crime statistics chart?

I beg to differ; in fact, the science proves that there is no visible correlation.

 

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Source: Fivethirtyeight – The U.S rate is up still far below it’s 1980 peak.

I believe the ideals ofconstitution of the United States in Americain which it’s citizens have the oppurtunity to buy firearms, in order to protect themselves as one of their basic human rights began well in principle.. that is, for the legal owners of registered firearms.

 

But the line is not so black and white anymore, we live in a society where violence occurs everyday, but can we blame really blame video games for the astronomical numbers of school shootings taking place in the U.S?  In my opinion, that’s a cop out and a distorted view of a much larger picture.

It’s very difficult for myself as an Irish person or a person from any other culture to critique or to talk about another country, the counter – argument would be that ‘you don’t have a right to speak about a society you haven’t grown up in.’ But as an objective earthling, it easy to acknowledge the criticism’s American society faces, that being instituionalised racism and guns.

They’re there and they are so heavily engraved in American society.

It is interesting to take note that as a society we have become more aware of the dangers of social media. But there are no guidelines from reputable bodies advising on how to properly manage your social media intake. This is an fascinating comparison in the conversation of gun violence because once you introduce a tool that becomes such an integral part of society be it guns or social media, you cannot take it away, you can’t immediately remove the source. The change must occur from within, from the individual, but this is highly unlikely to happen because there is so much to lose…money, which in this situation is more valuable than human life.

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Francis Sherry is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Instagram: frankoosherry