Rape Day, a new video game glorifying rape and sexual assault, is set to launch in April. Many are shocked, outraged, disgusted.
I agree. I think any sound mind would.
But why do we consider this to be so evil, and not video games based around gun violence?
Many players of violent video games are quick to assert that there’s a huge difference between killing online and becoming a homicidal maniac in the real world. But after the Christchurch massacre, I’ve never doubted this more. The alleged shooter’s comments afterwards were the most disturbing: “There wasn’t even time to aim there was so many targets” in a voice so normal. Like he’d just finished playing Call of Duty.
According to Australia’s Agreed Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games, in R18+ games, “violence is permitted”. But sexual violence is not.
Take a look at the common effects of violent video games published in Media Violence and Children: A Complete Guide for Parents and Professionals, and realise how urgently we need to ban them:
- The bystander effect: people who play violent video games for long periods of time become desensitised to violence and may have less sympathy towards victims of violence.
- The aggressor effect: people who play violent video games tend to become meaner and more physically aggressive. While it may never lead to acts so extreme, it’s definitely a good start.
- The victim effect: people who play violent video games see the world as a darker, scarier place. This lack of trust may isolate them for their fellow human beings.
There’s a reason why the US military has such a close relationship with commercial gaming companies. It’s a way of raising “potential recruits”. Soldiers reportedly also use violent video games as the “perfect” way to stay in that war mindset when they’re off duty.
Obviously there are many other factors out there that lead people to commit such horrifying acts, as the opposing side (repeatedly) assert: family violence, mental illness, radicalisation, and the most blatant fact that people still have access to guns in many parts of the world.
But if we can eliminate one factor, why wouldn’t we?
If we’re against real guns, why aren’t we against virtual ones?
We need to show the same level of outrage against violent video games as we do against Rape Day.