Separating reality from virtuality

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In the wake of last weekend’s shootings, our nation has scrambled and shook. Two mass shootings in one weekend really makes people rethink things about awareness and surroundings.

In response to said shootings, President Trump chose not to speak on reform of guns or options of protection, but he chose to discuss video games.
I’m not out here defending reform on guns, but I am defending video game nerds around the world.

From the White House, President Trump said, “We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace. It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence.”

This is something that struck me.

I’ve played video games as long as I can remember, and, personally, I have never had any thoughts of actual violence. This is where a line is to be drawn between reality and virtuality.

I may spend several hours playing “Call Of Duty,” but I don’t find myself wanting to sign up to go off to war. I may spend several hours crafting weapons or defending the post-apocalyptic Appalachia in “Fallout 76,” but I don’t have any plans of hiking any trails while wielding make-shift weapons made of skis or guitars (which is a big thing in “Fallout 76”). But either way, it is up to us on how we allow the games to affect us.

Last month, Joshua Johnson, host of NPR’s “1A” had a week-long series on his show titled “Game Mode,” which delved into various concepts of video games and how they affected our culture. He discussed various ideas such as different consoles and their communities, paying for different aspects of the games and accessibility among other topics.

This week, I chose to reach out to Johnson on Twitter to get his thoughts on this idea of how video games may or may not affect mass shootings. His response was: “I have yet to see evidence of a casual link between violent games and mass shootings. Many nations that also spend big on games have vastly lower rates of gun deaths. I sometimes play violent games to blow off steam, but that makes me calmer, not more violent.” He also went on to mention that all violence is created equal and that some violence story-wise may be different than others, as most video games are story-based.

This comes back to my thoughts on this situation here: We must be able to separate reality from virtuality. Video games are and always we will be an avenue to get away. I find them as a way to stress relief or do something outside of the day-to-day reality. We need to be able to realize that these are two separate things. Just because you carry out acts in a game doesn’t make them acceptable in real life.

As said before, I’m just out here trying to defend video game nerds and other nerds around the world.

Tony Feagin is a member of The Daily Record newsroom staff. He may be reached at 910-745-7874 or tfeagin@mydailyrecord.com.

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