Last week, the Trump administration put together a supercut of gruesome violence from M-rated video games, as part of their “maybe it’s not the guns” argument about gun control. The footage in the video is undeniably disturbing, but it’s equally undeniable that there’s no established, causal relationship between video games and real-life violence.
“When we saw the video that the White House produced and shared, we felt so frustrated that this was the only side of video games that was portrayed,” said Susanna Pollack, the president of Games for Change. “Working in the industry, and working for an organization that strives to support game creators, we felt that there needed to be a counter-video that demonstrated the breadth and variety of what games can be – one that highlighted beauty, and joy, and adventure, and creativity, because games, like all art forms, offer all that and more.”
“So this was kind of like a love letter to our community,” she continued. The above video includes footage from 21 different games, including The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, The Last of Us, Minecraft, Overwatch, Portal 2, and Fortnite.
I asked her why video games seem to be such a popular and perennial scapegoat at the moment. “Well, I think what you just said – ‘at the moment’ – is probably the key,” she replied. “There was a time when film and television were the scapegoats. And then before that comic books, and before that literature … I think it’s a testament to how games have actually matured in our culture, and how this form of entertainment touches all of our society. You’ve got senior citizens playing games, young people playing games, mothers playing games. That’s a great thing, but with that comes the exposure and the scrutiny.”
“Part of [this video] is to help the public understand that video games are an art form,” she continued, “in the same way that film and television are – and that as an art form, this medium can provoke a multitude of emotions. There are games out there that will make us laugh, that will make us cry, that will disturb us, that will make us angry, and or just purely entertain us.”
When I asked her what she would say to any of the lawmakers who watched the White House video, she clarified: “This piece was not intended to be political. This piece was meant to be a celebration of what games are. That said, if a lawmaker were to have only seen the White House video, I would ask them to look deeper, and to expand their horizons to look at games as an art form. There are many more experiences that games can provide beyond the very specific, ultra-violent storylines that represent a small part of games.”
She paused. “And I would also remind them that there is no established causal relationship between video games and real-world violence.”
(via Polygon; image: screengrab)
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