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Forget Facts, My Intuition Says Video Games Are To Blame

kefka.jpgI 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.

[via GamePolitics]

6 Comments

deadwasp said:

What drives me up the wall about this stuff is how the politicians and other speakers who advocate against video games don't even play them!

This is the same issue I immediately point out to people who think they have a right to poke at homosexuality when they've (assumably) never experienced it in their lives! And even if they have, most of them aren't even at least experts in psychology/sexuality, so who died and left them in charge?

I also love how it's never put into perspective by these same people that the video game industry is humongous. If video games had such a dangerous effect on human mentality, wouldn't there be a ton more nerdy kids running through the streets of suburbia armed with bats with nails in them, and setting everything in sight on fire? Where are these kids? Why haven't they gone maverick yet (pun intended)?

cerberus635 said:

There amy be some merit to them.... I mean, I often get the urge to summon Cthullu in the centre of my town after a length session of scribblenauts....

gaymer_geek said:

Cthulhu summoning does make for some fun times.........

The fact is, there is violence in video games, but there is violence in many other mediums and all around us.

Media can in general (of all kinds) contribute to a persons violent impulses. But that doesn't mean it is the direct cause.

Many things can contribute to a violent outburst, but though media can add to, or aggravate violent impulses it doesn't cause those violent impulses to spring from nothingness and appear, that violence and unbalanced mindset are the result of other much more mundane and human things.

It is sad and depressing when someone or something gets singled out as the root cause for a horrible happenstance or event.

I would ask anyone to give me a really good example that an action is soley caused by one individual thing. Humans are far more complex then that, and ones underlying issues are too complex to boil down to one single thing.

nate said:

The most explicit violence can generally be found in books. Maybe reading causes it.

Evilvet said:

bad parenting is to blame. shame on you for buying into the BULL. did call of duty make lee harvey oswald a crazy killer? john wilkes booth? hitler? nope. art and literature.

should the kids go outside and get some fresh air, and maybe...oh... join a gang? maybe do some drive-by shooting? maybe knock over little old ladies for their S.S. checks? i thinks before the 90's there was WAY more assassinations. it seemed like every year there was another one. you gonna tell me that sadat, reagan, and lennon were all shot by pacman players?

i'm not saying that games have absolutely no affect whatsoever on people. they do. you look at the rise of modern gaming from when the ps1 was released, and you'll see a decline in crime.

every new form of entertainment makes people start thinking satan. did elvis make people worship satan? did metallica? everybody forgets these things happen just about every freaking decade. towns like the one in footloose did/do exist.

i played games like a madman (pun intended) AND got great grades. the only thing that made me want to rip somebody's head off was some a-hole that did me wrong. everybody's had that though since caveman times. i'm sure cavemen discovered other caveman started getting their heads kick in when somebody discovered sticks and stones.

i'd like them try to do a study on how many crimes were prevented because it kept crazies off the streets. oh but you'll never see that. how many mental cases would admit they would have gone out and comitted crime, but instead had to play fallout. that'd be crazy.

LIFE is what makes people crazy and do insane evil things. EVIL was not invented with pong. it's in the genes, it's in the teachings, it's in the people. it's viral. don't hate the game hate the players.

again, i'm not saying games are any other forms of entertainment don't affect people, they do. but it's up to friends and family help you create your own set of mental tools on how to deal with these experiences and sensations. the military has been creating tools for people to kill and that's viewed as positive. it's all about channeling negative thoughts and feeling into things deemed "positive"

Buy Links said:

I love the expression. Everyone needs to express there own opinion and feel free to hear others. Keep it up :)

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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Buy Links on Forget Facts, My Intuition Says Video Games Are To Blame: I love the expression. Everyone needs to express there own opinion and feel free to hear others. Keep it up...

Evilvet on Forget Facts, My Intuition Says Video Games Are To Blame: bad parenting is to blame. shame on you for buying into the BULL. did call of duty make lee harvey...

nate on Forget Facts, My Intuition Says Video Games Are To Blame: The most explicit violence can generally be found in books. Maybe reading causes it....

gaymer_geek on Forget Facts, My Intuition Says Video Games Are To Blame: Cthulhu summoning does make for some fun times......... The fact is, there is violence in video games, but there is...

cerberus635 on Forget Facts, My Intuition Says Video Games Are To Blame: There amy be some merit to them.... I mean, I often get the urge to summon Cthullu in the centre...

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