In 2008, Daniel Petric stole his father’s handgun and opened fire on both his parents. Raising Daniel in a Christian household, they had forbade him to play Halo 3 because of its Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rating of Mature. This event became one of the most discussed topics in 2008, and one of the most widely reported cases of video game related deaths. Petric became the prime example for movements that seek to demonize video games. After this tragic incident, the news media began painting a harsh picture of gamers. Many outlets focused on violent and sexually explicit games, reporting that those who play them are more likely to incite violence in the community.
Granted, not all games are suited for all ages and it’s understandable that parents don’t want their children to play certain titles. The Mortal Kombat franchise still has excessive violence, with their combat and fatalities more realistic than ever. The Grand Theft Auto series puts crime and obscenity in focus when it comes to gameplay and storylines. Games like Lollipop Chainsaw and Dead or Alive market their games based on sex-factor.
Today, the multiplayer community has become a toxic culture. We’ve seen videos of YouTube-famous gamers recording their experiences with maniacal lunatics screaming over the microphone. While video games are often criticized for violence and nudity, the internet gave rise to the multiplayer platform. As this social function grew, the video game community and industry changed, loading another bullet into conservative media outlets' revolver. Players began forming unhealthy dependencies on popular games. Multiplayer games have created awareness around the psychological, neurological, and moral issues within the game industry and among its developers.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) states that there is insufficient evidence to show that game addiction should be labeled as an actual mental disorder. There is more data to imply that it is a symptom of any number of larger issues. The world can be a scary and hurtful place when one lacks a sense of belonging within the rest of society. Through research and personal experience, one could suggest that video game related disorders are caused by some sort of event triggering social disconnect. A sense of belonging in society is very important. Unfortunately, not everyone has one. Society doesn't allow you to choose your character class, offer "save points" to revert to in case you make a bad decision, or allow you to completely change your appearance. With that said, it is understandable why one, especially one with a detachment towards society, would form a gaming compulsion.
It is safe to say that excessive video gameplay for a developing child is unhealthy. Not only does it hinder social development, but it isolates the child from the rest of the world, finally leading to a sense of separation and/or detachment from society. At what point does this become the fault of someone other than the gaming industry? If, hypothetically speaking, excessive exposure to video game violence could increase the chances of committing violent crimes, wouldn’t it make sense to limit the amount of time children spend on games? Might it not also be the fault of the parent for using video games as a convenient babysitter?
A person’s mental state is heavily dependent on childhood and upbringing. If one is only exposed to a video game environment as a child without any social interaction, it would only make sense that said person would only receive satisfaction and a sense of belonging from the game. Spending time with children is important, as well as giving them more hobbies and exposure to culture. Many of us enjoy video games and there are proven benefits to teaching through them, but we also have a responsibility, as adults, to show those following in our footsteps that the world is not a scary place.