Matt Walsh And Violent Video Games: A Critique
Over the past day, Daily Wire columnist Matt Walsh has been arguing on Twitter about violent video games.
There’s a sort of cycle I’ve noticed with Matt Walsh that I wouldn’t even call doubling down. Doubling down implies he’s still trying to prove the same claim. Backtracking would be a better way of describing this. Although, I’m still not sure it fits. I’ll just show you some of what he writes to prove my point.
Matt puts most of his highly controversial argument in about four or five layers of pillows. Naturally, this causes many to believe he’s saying something he’s not. I feel this is both Matt’s and the audience’s fault, as Matt has the duty to say what he means and his audience has the duty to understand it. Take, for example, his 3/9/2018 article on Violent Video Games. Here’s what he writes:
You can cite the studies “proving” that violent video games don’t contribute to violence in kids. I can cite the studies “proving” they do. And we can go round and round, throwing studies at each other until it finally dawns on us that maybe some things can’t really be proven or disproved with a study. Maybe some things are far too complex and buried far too deeply in the human mind to be quantified and categorized by a guy in a lab coat with a clipboard.
So they cause violence because some studies say they do and even if they don’t not everything can be studied. Matt directly admits that even if 100% of studies found no link, people still would not believe him.
Matt goes on to just ask questions:
Some mass shooters weren’t video game fans. Some were. The Sandy Hook school shooter was obsessed with video games. He made 83,000 online “kills” before he went out and killed 20 children. Are you going to tell me that you’re positive his hours upon hours upon hours spent stewing in virtual violence had nothing — absolutely nothing — to do with his murder spree? And how are you going to prove that? With a study? A survey of some other parents and kids will tell me what was going on in the dark recesses of the Sandy Hook school shooter’s mind?
Adam Lanza was heavily mentally disabled, in his state basically anything that could be considered escapism would not be the best for him. Charles Manson was in a similar state, and he believed what he did was right because he claimed to have heard messages in a Beetles song.
I should also note that, to this day, we do not have a conclusive motive for Adam Lanza. As such, we have no idea why he did what he did. Due to that, I feel it is irresponsible for Matt Walsh —even in this manner — to assign anything as a cause for Sandy Hook.
Then there’s this nonsense:
If I wanted to win the study-for-study competition, I’d point to the multiple studies showing a link between depression and video game usage.
That study ignored that depression has become easier to diagnosis over the past thirty years, which is around the same time video games have become popular. I should also note that any study showing a link does not show the video games caused depression, but instead that depression caused increase likelihood of playing video games.
This is the last thing I’d like to address:
What about violent video games? Well, there’s no reason to focus this part of the conversation only on kids. It’s not good or healthy for anyone to play graphic, disturbing, gory video games. Certainly it won’t make you a better person. And it’s very hard to imagine that the effect is neutral. Nothing is really neutral for human beings. Everything we do either makes us better or worse. Hours a day pretending to kill people in virtual reality must logically fall into the “worse” category.
So why isn’t Matt going after hunters just as hard? I mean, they actually kill animals, which has been shown to be linked to harming humans. What about football? Can we prove the NFL had no effect on what Michael Vick did?
Many responded to these claims, some reasonable others unreasonable. On 3/12/2018, Matt Walsh posted another article claiming that he was being harassed for what he said and clarifying some of his points. Of course, some people were harassing him and that is bad.
Here, Matt goes on to say he is not against all forms of violence in media. I’ll let him explain:
That’s why I kept qualifying the word “violence.” Gratuitous violence is bad. Violence for the sake of violence is bad. Violence as an end to itself is bad. Violence as the sole source of entertainment is bad. But violence in service of a redemptive and worthwhile story can be fine. The violence in “Saving Private Ryan” is certainly gory but it is not gratuitous. And we are not meant to gawk at it or watch the film simply for the sake of seeing it. The point is to show us what these men faced and overcame.
At first, I was going to point out that there also also many violent video games where you play as someone in the military. Call of Duty for instance, first got popular for there games where you fight the Taliban and NAZI’s.
Then I realized, Matt hasn’t really given any examples of Video Games he doesn’t like. Outside of a potshot at Grand Theft Auto, he never gives one example of a video game he feels is inappropriate.
Then I realized the main issue with this article, Matt is just communicating his point weirdly. Outside of some incorrect information, Matt isn’t wrong. Obsession with any media is unhealthy. However, Matt’s main problem is not that his claims that video games cause violence or maybe they don’t I know is wrong, it’s that he has the cause and effect backwards.
The media being obsessed is not to blame. What is to blame is depression and other mental illnesses leading to social isolation which also leads to many things, including increased risk of becoming obsessed with Video Games.
This was actually a far better argument than I thought I’d get when I started writing this article. Credit to Matt for that. While I still feel his claim is flawed, we should not lump his claims in with those of Jack Thompson and whoever else. His claims are wrong, but for very different, and much more tame, reasons.