PlayVS and Varsity Esports are brilliant initiatives that use an unlikely tool to get kids involved in school-sponsored activities: video games. Unsurprisingly, Fortnite plays an important role in high school esports competitions.
It’s supposed to play an important role, anyway.
But not if Julian Tackett, commissioner of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA), gets his way.
Tackett torched the inclusion of Fortnite in varsity-level esports leagues in Kentucky [GamesIndustry.biz], stating:
There is no place for shooter games in our schools.
Nice take there, Tackett. Been reading the works of Jack Thompson [Kotaku UK] lately?
Let’s just get this out in the open: Video game violence has no link with actual violent behavior in teens.
One study from 2019 [Royal Society] delivered the following damning conclusion:
The results provide confirmatory evidence that violent video game engagement, on balance, is not associated with observable variability in adolescents’ aggressive behaviour.
Most studies that claim otherwise, such as the works of C. A. Anderson [SocialPsychology.org], are widely controversial and have been disregarded by authorities like the U.S. Supreme Court [PDF].
Yet, here we have Tackett invoking the Marshall County tragedy [Louisville Courier Journal] as a way of saying that shooter games should be completely banned from schools. This is a tacit endorsement of the debunked argument that shooter games, like Fortnite, cause school shootings.
But even if Tackett’s ideas hadn’t been discredited, could he have picked a sillier target than Fortnite?
We are talking about a game where hyper-colored combatants dress up in bizarre costumes and then engage in button-mashing tower-building competitions. All while cartoonish graphics and sound effects rage in the background.
Absolutely nothing about Fortnite’s “violence” is presented in a serious or even vaguely-realistic manner.
Fortnite is not what causes mass shootings [Business Insider]. What does cause school shootings? That’s a messy question – and it’s really beside the point of this debate.
The real point is that Julian Tackett’s attitude towards Fortnite and I can only assume games in general, is the height of idiocy.