Game over

Trust me, there is no way I’m going anywhere near the ongoing gun debate, particularly following Governor Cuomo’s signing into law new regulations expanding on an assault weapons ban, and one outlawing semi-automatic pistols, rifles and shotguns sporting military features.

I’m simply not going there ... although I must admit it’s a tad funny to see people in such an uproar when our politicians actually do something in a timely fashion. Come on, admit it, we all sit around, whining, pouting and pointing fingers when our government leaders fail to take action, yet when they do they’re railed upon for “sneaking” legislation through.

Maybe that’s the case, I honestly don’t know, but again, I wouldn’t touch this topic with a ten foot pole ... at least not at this time. I am, however, going to skirt the edges of the gun debate, namely the utter nonsense that’s being spouted concerning ... wait for it ... violent video games.

I suppose you could say I’m an elder statesman of sorts when it comes to video games, violent or otherwise. I can remember playing the original Atari system as a child at my cousin’s house; I received my very own NES Nintendo Console (along with a copy of The Legend of Zelda ... how very cool) for Christmas way back when in 1986; and several of my closest friends and I have spent years behind the controller, so to speak, from Sony’s first incarnation of the Playstation to the Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii and X-Box.

Needless to say, I no longer play video games the way we used to back in the day (although I do have a friend or two who still spend hours in front of the television, blasting the bad guys or throwing for that Super Bowl-winning touchdown), and as far as I’m concerned, I’m glad that I don’t, as there are – simply put – more important things I could be doing with my time. That said, did I play violent video games as a child? Yes, I did. Was I bullied in school by the so-called “cool” kids? Sure I was. Did I grow up experiencing violence on cable television and on the big screen? You bet. Did I somehow transform into a gun-toting monster intent on revenge? Absolutely not.

Which is not to say violence, whether it’s experienced through video games or other media, does not have an impact on those who have forced the entire gun debate, namely these obviously disturbed individuals that have been shooting up our schools. Yet for the majority, violence in the media is simply another form of entertainment, the morals of which you can determine for yourself.

That’s another debate I’m avoiding at this time. As for violent video games, don’t take my word for it, look to a professional.

According to Christopher Ferguson, an associate professor of psychology and criminal justice at Texas A&M – writing for TIME in December of 2011 – aggression research “hasn’t panned out” and “much of the early research on VVG [violent video games] linking them to increased aggression was problematic.” And why is that, you ask? Well, Ferguson states that the research “had nothing to do with real-life aggression and failed to control carefully for other important variables,” such as mental health and violence at home.

He adds, “More recent research has not found that children who play [violent video games] are more violent than other kids, nor harmed in any other identifiable fashion. A recent longitudinal study of my own, following 165 10- to 14-year-old boys and girls over a three-year period, now in press with Journal of Psychiatric Research, finds no long-term link between [violent video games] and youth aggression or dating violence. Another recent longitudinal study with young German children published in Media Psychology by Maria von Salisch and colleagues similarly found no links between VVG and aggression.”

Listen, I’m no genius, but to blame violent media of any sort on the recent shootings in Colorado, Connecticut and elsewhere is irresponsible at best, or perhaps simple laziness. And there’s a good reason I never walked into school laden with weapons and ammunition, it’s called a responsible upbringing by intelligent – and moral – parents. I was taught at an early age the difference between entertainment and reality, a lesson that’s apparently been lost in recent years. Parenting, such as it is nowadays, is obviously lacking, as many of you parents would know if you could hear your children’s language out on the street. And that’s not to say all parents are doing poorly in raising their kids, yet we all know the truth, as far too many are. Maybe it’s time we stop blaming the guns, the video games, Hollywood and cable TV for the violence. Maybe it’s time to look in the mirror and realize the blame is all ours.

Follow me on Twitter ... @evesunbrian.

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