It seems like we can’t go a few days without a notable interview in the ‘video game violence’ debate pops up. Good lord, is this one a doozy. Erin Burnett, for CNN, started a piece on mass shootings by going over how gun legislation would hurt the economy, then mentioned a newly coined (and apparently common) phrase: Guns don’t kill people, video games do. Cue her guest: psychologist William Pollack, author of the young boy culture study Real Boys. What follows is one of the more upsetting and interesting discussions on young violence I’ve seen in quite a while.
Immediately, Burnett sets the tone of the interview: she very curtly asks Pollack if games are responsible for violent behavior. It’s almost comical how he takes a pause and then replies ‘no’–great timing. Throughout the interview, she continues to press him, first with leading questions, then with an accusation of Grand Theft Auto that really only shows she isn’t entirely sure how the game works; he admits that violent games can aggravate aggressive behavior, but refuses to go past accusing them any more than other media.
I know I’m far from a professional journalist, but it’s frustrating to see the flagrant lack of integrity Burnett displays in the way she treats her guest. She blatantly ignored his responses and instead tries to make him change his statements, even cutting him off. As she ends the interview you can see how much wind he had taken out of her sails; she almost mumbles as she transitions out of the interview and into the next subject. This is possibly the most close-minded, obstinate stance I’ve seen someone who’s supposed to be objective take in this debate.
However, this interview also fills me with hope; Pollack stood his ground and refused to point fingers and jump on the bandwagon. He stayed level-headed and used his more than 20 years of research on young minds to civilly and respectfully defend his stance. You know what? He’s not the only one, either. Anderson Cooper, also on CNN, held a group discussion about reducing mass shootings and gun violence as a whole. It’s a long discussion, but below is the part that pertains to the video game debate.
This is how the debates should go; people listening to each other and calmly discussing their individual viewpoints. As gamers, of course it’s clear what side we’re going to take; to be honest, however, we often resort to insulting people who disagree and aren’t always the best listeners. If we’re going to make any progress, we have to encourage discussion on this level. Well, that’s my two cents, anyway.
What do you think about the way these debates have been conducted in the past months?