Guns and Gamers: An Alliance in the Making

The recent shooting in Jacksonville, Florida is the kind of event that one would have to invent in order to show just how far the Left will twist their narratives to fit where they clearly don’t.

Before the information was even in, for example, Tariq Nasheed, a uniquely dim bulb even by left-wing activist standards, was proclaiming that the shooting was the fault of a “white identity extremist.” There was no evidence to show this, of course, but Nasheed still said it. Why? Because it happened at a video game tournament, and white nationalists apparently sometimes lurk in video game chat rooms to recruit members, apparently under the mistaken impression that 13-year-olds shouting “n—-r” are earnest potential converts to the struggle for the White Race rather than dumb kids trying to be as edgy and offensive as possible. Apparently Tariq Nasheed is dumb enough to believe this, too. Confirmation bias is fun that way.

But it’s not just Nasheed. The subsequent takes from the Left have confirmed that they really wanted the narrative after Jacksonville to be about the alleged “toxicity” of the gaming community, video game violence, and guns. The problem was that the actual facts fit none of these narratives: the shooter apparently acted because he was angry he lost a round of the tournament. For this supreme act of sore loserdom, gamers have branded him with the sublimely accurate sobriquet of “Bitch Boy.”

Speaking as a longtime gamer myself, I’m just sad that the shooter didn’t choose to apply his mediocre gaming “talents” to playing a solo game like “Dark Souls.” At least then he’d have probably only shot his TV and himself, rather than having the bad taste to make innocents a sacrifice to his petulance. The killer’s “toxicity”—that of the person who cannot take a loss gracefully—is the kind of toxicity that an entire subgenre of YouTube videos exist to mock and discourage within the gaming community. It is not material for a thousand thinkpieces.

The other narratives—that video game violence and insufficiently restrictive gun laws can be blamed—are even more ridiculous. The game being played at this tournament was not some fainting couch-filling gorefest like the recent and awesome “DOOM” games: It was the football simulator, “Madden 19.” Granted, football is a violent game. But it’s a game of controlled and strictly regulated violence, and the games intended to model it depict nothing more extreme than what would happen on any regular football field.

Violent video games are at fault? Really? Stuff and nonsense.

And then, of course, there’s the gun-violence narrative, but even this fails: the Jacksonville tournament was sponsored in a gun-free zone, which has ironically given NRA Spokeswoman Dana Loesch a perfect opportunity to weaponize the controversy in favor of gun owners everywhere by calling for an end to gun-free zones. In short, this tragedy is a monkey wrench in the Left’s narrative no matter how you look at it.

This much others in and out of the gaming community already recognize. But there should be another casualty of this shooting, and that is the persistent tendency of the gun lobby to blame violent video games for shootings, and of some elements of the gaming press to blame guns in response. The truth is, the Left is after hobbyists of both varieties—gun owners and gamers—which means an alliance is in order, not this festival of mutual recrimination. In fact, I would like to suggest that the reason the Left has turned on violent video games is exactly the same reason why it has turned on gun owners: because both gamers and gun owners possess what the Left regards as unlicensed empowerment.

In the case of guns, this is a well-worn point. The Left despises the fact that gun owners are able to defend themselves, rather than remain dependent upon the long-arm of the state. And implicitly, they also loathe the fact that these same people fancy themselves able to resist the long arm of the state because of the weapons they own. The calls for an end to people purchasing “military-style” weapons, despite that term applying solely to cosmetic features, is revealing in this regard: the Left does not want Americans thinking of themselves as able to wield the same weapons as the government. It is a power, they believe, that we are not fit to have, and one that leads to the death of innocents because we are not fit to have it. It is a form of empowerment that the people who own guns don’t deserve, and therefore the Left hates them for it.

What may surprise the reader is that the Left hates violent video games for much the same reason. I shouldn’t even say “violent.” The Left hates fun video games, period, as revealed by the self-parodic Leftist game critic Jonathan McIntosh when he wrote, “I think we’re in urgent need of games which aren’t fun.” Why? Because in their world, “fun” games are power fantasies—and more objectionably, power fantasies that are enjoyed by the wrong sorts of people. Just read this description of gamer culture by feminist writer Deirdre Coyle, and see how much of it sounds like Hillary Clinton’s “basket of Deplorables” speech:

Unlike the more subtle bigotry of other creative communities, video game culture wears its misogyny, homophobia, and racism on its sleeve. The toxicity of gamer culture sure doesn’t seem nuanced: when a popular white male gamer yells racial slurs online, other white men rush to his defense; when white male Gamergaters dox female designers, other white male gamers rush to their defense. These aren’t people I want to be associated with, and they’re not usually people whose opinions of me I would pay much attention to.

In other words, the people who are empowered by video games are straight, white men, and we cannot under any circumstance have those people feeling empowered at all, unless it is to acknowledge how unjust that “power” is and work to undo it.

The Left particularly hates games where not just violence but sex is also involved, because the characters who the player has the option to seduce have no agency of their own, being solely ones and zeros, and this might give the players the idea that women behave this way in real life. In other words, much like guns, the power and agency offered by video games is a power and agency that awful straight, white, male gamers are incapable of using responsibly, because people should not be given the option of hurting even pixels, lest they turn to hurting people. Never mind that playing violent video games does not make people violent.

But the actual evidence isn’t the point. The point is that just as guns give people the power to resist the state, video games give people the ability to act on urges that the Left wants to breed out of them through indoctrination, reeducation, and other misguided attempts to perfect humanity. The ability to escape into a video game and act like a Nietzschean superman, or a noble knight, or any number of other “problematic archetypes,” is the power to resist the Left’s cultural conditioning—and they hate it.

Fortunately, some video game companies have caught wise to the fact that the greatest threat to their business model comes from the Left, and have thus begun catering explicitly to conservatives. For example, the aforementioned “DOOM” franchise’s latest installment focuses on an invasion of earth by demons from Hell. How did this happen? Well, the game’s gameplay trailer makes clear that Earth let it happen because these are just new neighbors, and come on, the word demon is offensive. They’re “mortally challenged!” I bet Bill Kristol also pondered whether demons were better citizens than native-born Americans, too.

It’s no surprise that “DOOM” would be the first franchise to do this: attacks by the Religious Right aside, “DOOM” has always been a morally unconflicted franchise, pitting a Space Marine (no doubt a member of Trump’s “Space Force”) against the most guilt-free targets ever: literal demons. The current iteration of the series transforms that Space Marine into a semi-mythical figure called the “Doom Slayer” (hold your sniggers), who nevertheless remains a human protector of earth. In other words, this is a franchise dedicated to vindicating the phrase that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Or, in the case of “DOOM,” a good guy with a BFG, or Big F—king Gun.

And ultimately, if the makers of “DOOM” get this, then the Right generally, and especially the NRA (which sometimes dives back in discredited ’90s-era talking points about violent video games) should get it. The Left has decided they want to snuff out all unauthorized forms of agency, even those that exist purely in the virtual realm. For this reason, they drummed up a narrative that tried to attack video gamers as sexist, racist, violent at any given moment, and generally deplorable. Just as they did with gun owners.

Jacksonville was an atrocity, and the victims should be in our prayers. But if it did anything good, it showed how false the Left’s narrative on guns and games was. Now it is time for the gamers and the gun owners to make sure America never, ever forgets.

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Photo Credit: Stanislav Krasilnikov\TASS via Getty Images

About Mytheos Holt

Mytheos Holt is a senior contributor to American Greatness and a senior fellow at the Institute for Liberty. He has held positions at the R Street Institute, Mair Strategies, The Blaze, and National Review. He also worked as a speechwriter for U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, and reviews video games at Gamesided. He hails originally from Big Sur, California, but currently resides in New York City. Yes, Mytheos is his real name.

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