In the wake of the Newtown shootings, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller introduced a bill Tuesday night that would have the National Academy of Sciences examine any link between violent games and media and violent acts by children, industry sources say.No, no, no. Do not do this, do not spend your time and our money on this. Not in the name of what happened in Newtown.
We do not have unlimited resources and political capital to work with, on gun control of all issues. We must deploy those resources well. We must stay focused on the core problem: the ease of access to weapons designed for efficient mass murder. We must stay on message. We must keep our priorities straight, and that means not blaming Call of Duty for murderous psychosis.
I played every violent videogame I could get my hands on, for exactly the same reason I love roller coasters: the temporary experience of sensory elevation. Emphasis on "temporary." It's a rush, pure and simple, and when it was over, I'd move on to dinner or homework or music or whatever else. Yes, that's right, I could splatter gallons of blood across a dystopian hellscape for 75 minutes and still manage to get through the rest of the day without killing anybody. And this was true for virtually all of my friends: none of us would hurt a fly. We understood the difference between style and substance, fiction and reality; we hadn't yet learned to write a pompous term paper on those subjects, but we grasped them innately.
And you know what: if we hadn't? If that had been beyond us, if we'd been trapped in some horrible confusion and conflation of those different spaces that drove us to murder? That wouldn't be the videogame's fault. If your brain is trapped in such a state, if your moral compass is that much of a blank slate, something has gone horribly wrong long before you picked up that controller. And it's that root cause that should be one of our two priorities.
The other priority, of course, is the actual gun, not the pixelated one.