Twitch Con 2018 – Violence in Video Games: Streamers on Culture & the Value of Gaming

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Last weekend, I was fortunate to go to my first TwitchCon event. There I met some incredible people, including two of the ButWhyTho podcast hosts. While there I also attended the “Violence in Video Games: Streamers on Culture & the Value of Gaming” panel. It was moderated by illegalnaut and the speakers were TheDestinChannel, AvaGG, and MCADLEY.  During the panel, discussions centered around video games and how they are viewed in popular culture in regards to politics, media, and major events to marathon streams and charity events. The panel focused mainly on five areas, in terms of violence in video games which were the media, politics, statistics, major events, and the overall value in gaming.

For the media portion of the panel, several news headlines were shown from the past few years which blamed video games for violent acts. They panelists established that these stories were mainly driven for views. They also said that quite often a lot of the claims that are made by the media are hyperbolized to get people’s attention. In other words, the media tries to establish some sort of link between these violent acts and video games when the link doesn’t exist. There are many other factors that could cause these violent acts to happen before the blame should be put on video games. It’s as if people are looking for something to blame and the most convenient thing for them to place the blame on is games.

During the politics section, their main focus was on the laws that have been passed due to the violence in games. They informed the audience that both major political parties in the U.S. have passed legislature on games. One interesting thing that they mentioned was whether or not there would be laws that would curve violence. Other countries have done this. For instance, the Resident Evil games have had a few graphic scenes censored in several countries.

They included several statistic charts which focused on the connection with violent crimes and video games in general. One graph showed that violent crimes decreased as video game rates increased. Another graph showed among juvenile crimes weren’t associated with the video games. However, they were quickly glossed over these graphs. It would’ve helped had they shown more evidence since that was the impression that the I got from reading the panel description.

The panelists talked in detail about several violent events that have happened in the gaming community. They mentioned several streamers being victims of swatting,  being stalked by fans, and having to deal with harassment during streams. They also touched upon the recent shooting that took place in Jacksonville, Florida during a Madden 19 event. With what happened in Jacksonville, they mainly focused on the issue is what the shooter did with the gun and that the game’s violent nature wasn’t what caused him to do it. This lead to a conversation on mental health, which is something I don’t think they should’ve gotten into. It’s such a sensitive subject and I can only assume the panelists weren’t equipped to talk about it. But they did provide links to organizations that help those with mental health issues.

The last section was on the value in gaming and being a part of the community. Here they mentioned several organizations, such as Extra LifeAwesome Games Done QuickChild’s Play, and Guardian Con. These are all organizations within the gaming community that advocate for several benefits and positive environment.

Overall Thoughts

I went into the panel thinking that this would talk about the issue of violence in video games and it serving as blame for violent acts that happen in society. What I walked out with were several personal accounts, examples of issues that have happened with other streamers, news stories that had already been covered, and a small glimpse into the point that the panel was actually supposed to cover. Providing graphs and examples of violent acts isn’t enough. I expected a much stronger argument. I didn’t see the need to bring up personal accounts.

The point could have been made by simply by using big stories that have happened within the gaming community. Bringing up mental health is a very sensitive subject and I don’t think any of them should’ve brought it up in the first place. Maybe I misunderstood what the actual point of the panel was supposed to be, but if it was supposed to advocate for violent games not being responsible for violent acts, it didn’t do the job. I’ve always been a firm believer that the violence in video games does not cause violent acts. It’s hard to just place blame on one thing. It would also be helpful to focus on dealing with counterarguments. It seems like Twitch just wanted to get their point across that violence in games doesn’t cause violent acts without providing adequate research. I personally feel like the panel didn’t quite help reinforce or change my mind on the subject. If anything, it made me want to do more research to fully solidify an argument for the defense of video games. I personally don’t think the panelists were qualified to speak. With what they touched based on, it would have been more helpful to have had experts who could provide a stronger argument. Personal stories and stories from the community could be helpful, but focusing just on these hurts their claim.