Thursday, January 13, 2011

Shootings, Gamers, And The Blame Game

On Saturday an explosion of news, politics and media bashing hit the Eve Radio chat channel when news of the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords hit the news outlets.  People who cared more about advancing a political agenda than what actually happened started denouncing the Tea Party and former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin before we even knew the name of the shooter.  As I wrote in the chat channel, she was a Blue-Dog Democrat, which meant she could have been the target of almost anyone.

Perhaps I'm just showing my age, but does anyone remember a time that when a tragic event like the Tuscon shooting took place people would start to look for a connection to violent video games and movies?  Fortunately the facts, like the New York Times showed in a study, are a bit different.

The Times found, however, that the debate may have largely overlooked a critical issue: At least half of the killers showed signs of serious mental health problems. ...

*While the killings have caused many people to point to the violent aspects of the culture, a closer look shows little evidence that video games, movies or television encouraged many of the attacks. In only 6 of the 100 cases did the killers have a known interest in violent video games. Seven other killers showed an interest in violent movies. 

I know that people are quick to blame those they either disagree with or think are a bit unusual.  For many, people who enjoy video games fall under the latter category.  As someone whose hobby has been blamed for mass shootings like the one that happened in Tuscon Saturday maybe I am a bit sensitive to the whole pack mentality that demands immediate explanations.  But since we gamers didn't like getting the blame for events like Columbine, perhaps we should hold our fire until we find out all the facts.

UPDATE: When I wrote this, I did not know about the Wall Street Journal article linking the Tuscon shooter with the MMO browser-based game Earth Empires.  I guess the old calls for monitoring video games might pick up again.

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