It’s a well-established fact among those with no facts that violent video games lead to violence. However, if video games create patterns of behavior that carry over into the real world, then it stands to reason that they create far more problems than just gun violence. After all, not every game is a shooting game.
There’s no game more ingrained in the collective gamer subconscious than Super Mario Bros, a game that has sold over 40 million copies (far out-selling even modern shooters). In it, you platform while collecting mushrooms and flower power-ups, the latter of which enables you to shoot fireballs. Since behavior learned from video games clearly manifests in the real world, we can expect millions upon millions of people to suddenly begin exhibiting signs of pyromania as they abandon their careers to sate a sudden lust for all things botany. Toll booths will be empty, restaurants will have no staff, and economies across the world will crumble under the weight of millions upon millions of people suddenly abandoning their jobs to work with flowers and mushrooms.
Donkey Kong Country was the second best-selling game on the Super Nintendo, only being outsold by Super Mario World. In it, you play a pair of monkeys who collect bananas and balloons both on foot and while riding rhinoceroses, swordfish, and frogs. Taking into consideration the devilish pull that all games exert, it’s inevitable that the millions of impressionable children who grew up with this game will suddenly switch to an all-banana diet and steal animals from local zoos for the purposes of riding them. Given that the villains in Donkey Kong Country are a race of bipedal crocodiles who have to be either jumped on or cartwheeled into, both cartwheels and general bitterness/violence toward crocodiles should be considered early warning signs.
That’s not even mentioning the endless number of dance games that can be found on modern consoles. In fact, Just Dance 2 alone has sold over 6 million copies. The sudden cultural prevalence of flash mobs can be explained by linking them to these dancing games, and though flash mobs may appear innocuous on the surface, it’s important to recognize that they can easily turn into angry mobs, especially if any of the flash mob participants have ever played a video game that involves shooting. Those people are ticking time bombs, after all.
It’s really irrefutable that video games influence your behavior, because if that weren’t the case, that would mean that they were being used as a scapegoat for larger, more complex problems (which is simply too crazy to be true; people never deflect responsibility onto things that seem foreign and scary). Besides, don’t people remember how the critical success of Final Fantasy 7 led to several murders with over-sized swords? Let’s also not forget the effect that Wii Sports—the best-selling game of all time—has had; with unqualified people suddenly thrust into competitive situations that emulate sports where steroid use is rampant, it was only a matter of time until all Wii owners who own Wii Sports transformed from ordinary, lucid individuals into steroid-addled behemoths. Truly a sad state of affairs.
Really, it’s important to not focus exclusively on outwardly violent games, because if games influence behavior, it stands to reason that they all do so equally. That means that games either have an impact on people or they don’t, and the long-term effects of even the most innocent of games could prove more far-reaching than anyone anticipates. For example, have you ever met a Pokemon player who didn’t own a pet at some point? If you think about it, the “raising a beast into a loyal pet” element of the games turned out to be super effective on players. This becomes especially chilling when you consider that Pokemon is about later using those pets to fight other people’s pets, effectively brainwashing young children and turning them into dog-fighting sociopaths.
With so many games influencing players in a myriad of ways (all of which being horrible and scary and dangerous to you and everyone you love), the future of the human race looks grim, indeed.