Today on televison, somebody said something reasonable about violent video games. Karl Marlantes, an author, marine veteran and author of the book “What It Is Like to Go to War” fielded a question on C-Span2 about the long-term effect that unrealistic depictions of war in media and specifically gaming will have on the military.
Despite referring to them as ‘anti-empathy machines’, he was quick to make a level-headed argument which is all too absent in the current media landscape: that the focus should not be on violent games, it should be on how parents react to and interpret that violence to their children.
“It’s not just the effect on the kids -- it’s the effect of the parent’s interpretation of those machines on the kids.”
I'm not saying I agree with him on the empathy bit, but I will say that it's one of the most rational statements I've heard about video games on television in a while. And honestly? We should be listening to our veterans.
In the hemming and hawing over depictions of war in games, the mainstream media very rarely goes out and asks the people who would know best: veterans and soldiers. It’s a perspective we just don’t get as often as we should, and a conversation we should be having from people that might know a thing or two about war. Maybe if we did, we'd learn a thing or two.