So, as it has happened countless times before over the past few years, the world’s eye once again turns to yet another truly awful display of mass violence. If you are somehow unaware of recent events, on Friday in Newtown, Connecticut a 20 year old went on a shooting spree at al Elementary school murdering 27 people — mostly young children — before ultimately killing himself. For once, I have actually been kind of shocked at how well it is being handled by the media and people’s reactions in general, as the usual scapegoats of rock music, films and gaming seem to not be in the equation this time around. Sure, Joe Lieberman is still on his crusade that he has been on for years, but most of the discussion has been about actual, serious topics like gun control and most importantly, mental health.
For that, I applaud people for finally starting to look in the right direction for handling such awful events as this and looking to come up with real, human solutions outside of society taking no responsibility and passing off the blame onto various forms of art and entertainment. For me, I couldn’t touch a violent game all weekend, it just didn’t feel right to me. I played a little bit of Halo 4 online and some Black Ops 2 on Friday until the news came out, and then without thinking about it, I kind of just found myself playing Minecraft for the rest of the weekend. It was one of those reactions that just happened, even if it was a good weekend to level up my XP in Black Ops thanks to a Double XP weekend, that I just wanted nothing to do with violence in gaming.
Let’s be frank here, a good portion of videogames revolve around violent concepts and violent interactions with our fellow gamers. I’ve always seen this as a completely isolated form of entertainment and for me, it served as a great way to wind down after a stressful day of work. After being kicked around and ordered around all day, it felt great to come home, pick up a controller and get lost in something where I’m somewhat in control and helps get out a lot of those frustrations. In a way, it was a transference of those frustrations from my daily life into a harmless game which allowed me to get on with my day.
A lot of videogames are just violent, and for a lot of people, they served what they used to serve me; allowing them to purge themselves of their negative energies or just find an outlet for their testosterone. This morning I finally decided to get back to it, and something just felt wrong about it. Maybe it was just too soon, but running around with assault rifles and looking for headshots just felt in bad taste while a nation is still in shock over how violence can drastically alter lives and history. I’m not saying that I’ll give up on violent games, because in a way, it all makes sense because it is entertainment. Part of what makes entertainment work is that it allows people to experience the unbelievable or the impossible and helps spark imagination. Human history is built on blood and violence just as it is built on peace and love, but only one side really makes for compelling interactive games.
I’m sure I’ll be back at it shortly, but for now, this is my gaming moment of silence.