by Bob Reinhard
Antwand Pearman, the President of GamerFitNation, has presented a call to arms, or perhaps a lack-thereof, for gamers on December 21st. The concept is simple: DON’T play shooter games for one day. That’s it. Just set down the shooters and honor the recent tragedies that are currently being blamed on video games. The entire thing is meant to show that gamers are not out of control and violent, that they are just as upset about these horrible events. I, for one, signed up to lay down arms for the day. I believe it’s a truly good publicity move for the gaming community.
And while most of us in the community know that blaming video games out of fear and misunderstanding is taking attention away from more important issues, there is something negative for gamers coming out of this idea: and that’s the way gamers are reacting to it.
Out of every voice of support for this cause, I see ten gamers dismissing the entire concept as us taking the blame for the shootings. Saying “fuck you!” to the anti-video game people. Saying they’re going to play MORE violent video games just to spite the people who are blaming video games in the first place. And this is going to do us way more harm.
These middle-finger-to-the-man style statements are not doing us any favors. Instead of showing support for a common cause, we’re separating ourselves, and quite frankly, looking like assholes. They’re only going to use that rage towards them, that dismissive attitude, as a cause to say “see, gamers are anti-social and don’t care and rather play their violent video games all day than fight for the greater good!”. And this will only reinforce their negative views on gamers.
Some believe that even doing the cease fire is taking the blame. That it’s saying “you’re right, we did cause this!”. But that’s simply not the case. What it shows is that we know that terrible things have happened, we sympathize with the families of the victims, we understand that our hobby doesn’t matter more than human life. It shows that we, as gamers, are not a bunch of detached sociopaths with no empathy for humanity. That we’re willing to drop our controllers for one day and join the rest of the nation as we attempt to figure out what we’re going to do to make our country safer.
The gamer backlash towards this cause looks almost identical to the NRA and gun-enthusiast backlash towards the anti-gun policies. Really. If you put these gamer statements right next to the pro-gun people statements, they’d be nearly identical. And look at the negative press people like the NRA have gotten in recent days because of this attitude. We’re only attaching ourselves to the violence by getting so defensive and aggressive.
Games did not cause this. We know that, most of America knows that. But games will continue to get blamed for it. The only thing we can do is take the good press when we can get it. Showing we understand and want to help show our support by doing something so simple as to just NOT play violent games for one single day is a way to show these anti-game people that we are not the problem. That we are not so caught up in our own ego, our own hobbies, that we’re not willing to take a day and get over ourselves.
So, gamers who are rudely shooting down this idea: you don’t have to join. But every time you so adamantly and aggressively deny this publicly, you’re only making us look bad. You’re making us look like a bunch of anti-social aggressors who fit right into the negative mold these anti-video game people want to push us into. You’re doing us more harm than good.
I, for one, am taking part in this. I don’t think it’ll change the world or stop the negative attention games get, but I do think it’ll be a good step towards showing that not every gamer is violent or so caught up in themselves that they can’t show a bit of understanding and empathy. I’d urge anyone that reads this to go over to the facebook page and show your support and take part in something that can help people see that we’re not the problem.