The Campaign Spot

The Video Game Scapegoat Reappears

Hey, young voters. This is David Axelrod, the chief strategist of the president you voted for, 60 percent to 37 percent: “In NFL post-game: an ad for shoot ‘em up video game. All for curbing weapons of war. But shouldn’t we also quit marketing murder as a game?”

“Shoot ‘em up video games” are played by millions of people, selling millions of copies. There have been 62 mass shootings since 1982, according to one count. So we have an activity that is not proven to stir a murderous impulse in its users (certainly some mass killers did not play video games, i.e, Nidal Hassan); roughly one million “shoot ‘em up video games” are sold for each mass shooter.

What’s more, it appears what is really irking Axelrod is the television commercial for the shoot ‘em up video game.

Now, one could argue that after an event as horrific as Newtown, companies should refrain from airing ads that depict violence – less out of a fear of triggering copycats or encouraging violence than simple sensitivity to the mood of the viewing public.

But what appears to be bothering Axelrod is the act of shooting one’s opponent in a video game, and the notion that the video-game version of that act that could somehow stir a desire to do the same in real life. But for 99.999 percent of the population, games are games – otherwise players of the “Sim” series would be filled with delusions of all-encompassing divine power, Super Mario players would jump atop mushrooms, players of the “Risk” board game would conquer nations, and those who play “Monopoly” would become corporate raiders.


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