This week, Tyler "Ninja" Blevins was asked about the role that video games have on real violence during The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon – and gave a disappointing response.
Whether or not video games cause violence in society has been a hot topic lately. For the most part, those educated on the matter understand that this simply isn't the case – video games have just become a convenient scapegoat for deeper-rooted issues. Ninja himself has addressed the issue in a response that was widely appreciated.
When asked informally (on the street) about Donald Trump's claim regarding video games causing violence, he spoke very directly: "Violence? It's not video games." However, when pressed with the same question by Jimmy Fallon, Ninja shifted his strategy.
He began by acknowledging the sensitivity of the matter, stating: "It's a big question! People are all talking about it." Ninja then goes on to describe the importance of the ESRB rating system for video games. He told Fallon: "Just like, you know, there are movies that have... rated 'PG-13,' rated 'R' – same thing with video games. You know, your kids shouldn't be playing rated 'M' for mature games. So as parents, it's up to you guys to make sure you're watching and making sure your kids aren't playing those games at a young age."
Although the answer is fairly agreeable, it's problematic upon closer look. Essentially, Ninja doesn't give a straight answer to the original question. Instead, he sidesteps it by talking about the importance of parental guidance over their kids, which actually implies that video games do cause violence.
Most would nod along with the statement that Ninja made, but using it as an answer to the debate around video games and violence is a bit disappointing. It's likely Ninja was motivated to protect his brand and stay away from controversy. Why stick your neck out on national TV with a strong opinion on the subject? With massive sponsorships from brands like Adidas and apparently film and tv deals in the works, Ninjas has a lot of lines to tow. However, for not speaking out directly against the misconception (as he did on the street interview), some might argue that he let down the very community that was pivotal in making his career.
It isn't often that a gaming superstar gets an opportunity to speak to a massive audience of non-gamers. Ninja decided to play things safe and dodge a tough topic, but consequently missed a great opportunity to defend the community he represents.