After an August 3rd shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, the retailer decided to remove any signage or advertisements for some video games featuring violence or firearms. The announcement soon became a meme, with Twitter users expressing consternation that, once again, games would be the scapegoat for another mass shooting.
The idea that gun violence and violent games have any causal link has been debunked several times. (In fact, popular new game releases lead to less crime.) Yet almost every time there’s a high-profile shooting in the U.S., the theory resurfaces wrapped in moral panic. Games, we hear, are radicalizing young white males and driving them to violence.
But while this connection may be baseless, it’s important not to let these arguments obscure a related concern: the free, almost anarchical environment surrounding games—in particular chats, forums, and chans—where one can just use an avatar and an online handle to say or do pretty much anything. This virtually lawless environment patrolled by radicals can and has spilled over into real life, with real and sometimes fatal consequences.
The world of gaming is extremely toxic. In the (in)famous Brazilian trolls who invade chats of countless games with HUEHUEHUEs and in those who enjoy attacking less skilled players or beginners in any online game, we see a reflex of toxic masculinity. There’s a far more relevant relationship between toxic masculinity and mass shootings where games are just the tip of the iceberg, almost collateral damage.
Full article at EGMNow’s website. Date of publication: 14/10/2019.