|Scene from Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 from VideoGamer.|
One of the thing that shocks me is the way that some adults are very nonchalant about their kid's video games, particularly when it comes to the very popular games in the first person shooter category.
I'm not sure what the correct age is for these types of games (if there is one at all), but tonight my four year old daughter had an encounter with an elementary kid who recently had been playing Call of Duty 2: Black Ops 2. The conversation went something like this "I wish we were playing a video game," he said. "I know a game we can play," my daughter responded, suggesting a silly thing to play. His response was "I have a game where I get to assassinate people with a sniper riffle." She disregarded and proceeded to tell him her idea for a game.
It is pretty clear to me that topics of gun control are going continue for at least the next couple months in the wake of the the New Haven, Connecticut elementary school shooting.
Conversations of gun control were a low level political topic in this past electoral cycle largely because it seemed neither democratic or republican parties had much to gain from the topic, other than the base of each party wanting to make sure that their candidates towed the party line, specifically this seemed true for the republican party candidates in the early primary cycles at the local and national level.
I realize that the blame for mass shootings is a combination of many things, largely unmeasurable and the partial impact of entertainment is probably lower than say mental health issues. All the same, I question what impact games with strong violent elements have on the way people perceive and interact with others in society, even if they are not going to participate in violent acts themselves.
I understand that video games have content rating systems, in which a game like Call of Duty is rated "M" for Mature (recommended for 17 and older). Yet, this puts the responsibility on the parent, and it seems to me, whether it's talking with co-workers, friends, or students who live in our town that these big games, like Call of Duty or Assassins Creed, for example, quickly enter people's homes. Parents are either accepting of these games, feel like they have no control over their child's entertainment choices, or are oblivious to the content of the games they are playing.
I hate to complain without suggesting a real solution, other than parental involvement. But, I think that the conversation about violent video games is one that should not just be limited to the discussion of "will playing this game make you a mass murderer" and instead question not "when is it appropriate for my child to play these games" but "if it is appropriate at all."