I swear, I'm gonna get the reputation as the ranty writer, but the interesting and newsworthy stories that keep popping up in my news feed and inbox are all ones that incite righteous indignation. Then again, Adam Sessler does well for himself with his Soapbox, so maybe I shouldn't worry.
Video games turn people into killers. This is the myth that's got me worked up today, and much like Ebert's dismissal of the medium or people calling for a ban on the sale of violent games, it's nothing new. What makes it newsworthy is the fact that it's something news outlets are still discussing as if it were a demonstrable fact - and to make matters worse, they're attaching the myth that games create killers to a national tragedy.
As you've probably heard through the news, on Jan. 8th a 22-year-old psycho named Jared Lee Loughner took a high-capacity handgun to a public meet-n-greet with U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and proceeded to unload his 31-round clip into her and anyone else he could. Giffords survived, amazingly, but he succeeded in killing six others.
Theories abound as to what instigated this rampage, and virtually all have been debunked as of the time of this writing. Tea Party rhetoric? Debunked. Poor home life? Debunked. Liberal wingnuttery? Debunked. As of now, the only theory that holds any water is that he's a mentally disturbed conspiracy theorist. Oh, and that violent video games made him do it.
Yeah, seriously. Niall O'Dowd of Irish Central is attempting to make the case that violent media, video games in particular, bear responsibility for the tragedy. In his article he starts off by blaming film for its violent imagery with explicit mentions given to Season of the Witch and Tron Legacy - ya rly - and then goes on for the rest of his article about the culpability of violent video games. I'm surprised O'Dowd didn't blame Dungeons and Dragons while he was at it.
The same tired arguments make their rounds: games are all about killing and body counts; they desensitize players to violence and glorify it; they turn ordinary people into manic killers. It's the same old yappa flappa, and O'Dowd didn't bother to pull out even anecdotal evidence of any kind. He just made assertions and presented them as fact. The money quote:
One thing for sure, we will find that the killer was desensitized to violence by movies and video games that proclaim it is cool and worth watching.
Hearsay evidence says that Loughner was indeed a gamer. His virtual drugs of choice? Diablo and Starcraft. Nothing drives one over the brink of homicidal insanity quite like mining for vespene gas.
Gaymers, I know I'm preaching to the choir here. I know that y'all know his arguments have about as much merit as a metric ton of chocobo crap. However, I feel it's important that you be made aware of people who still believe these arguments, the claims they make and that they often have a voice and forum to spread their misinformed perspective to others. Be a counteractive force by examining the arguments they make and learning how to take them apart. If you ever wind up in a situation where someone makes these same arguments, you'll be prepared to replace misinformation with fact and maybe even change a mind.