The full quote from Republican Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander is “I think video games is [sic] a bigger problem than guns, because video games affect people.” He said it during a short interview on MSNBC during the current Senate Judiciary hearings on gun violence:
He went on to acknowledge that the First Amendment protects video games the way the Second Amendment protects guns. But of course he was pounced on anyway for being an old codger who doesn’t understand video games.
The attempt to protect guns from regulation by blaming culture is obviously not a new thing, and the NRA has already been righteously mocked for embracing it as a defense in the wake of new gun control efforts inspired by the Sandy Hook tragedy.
He is wrong that video games are a bigger problem than guns (I would argue that neither video games nor guns are a problem, which is why I’m here and not at either Daily Kos or the NRA or serving political office). He is not wrong when he says that video games “affect” people, so I’m slightly interested that he used that particular phrasing.
Video games certainly can affect people the way movies and music and books do. This makes video games awesome, not scary. Game-friendly media outlets are quick to provide coverage to anything that shows the positive ways video games are affecting people’s lives, so there’s no excuse for a politician not to know better other than the cynical desire to connect with a particularly distrustful voter demographic (and the blame shifting – we mustn’t forget that).
Anybody interested in the video game counterpart of those anecdotes of mothers and fathers protecting their loved ones thanks to guns should check out “How Games Saved My Life.” It’s a modest little Tumblr feed full of submitted stories of people finding ways to deal with life’s curveballs with the help of games. The title of the feed can be misleading for quite a few of the stories, but there’s also quite a few doozies. Sadly, it looks as though the Tumblr organizer has abandoned it and there haven’t been any updates since last May.