We feel for the fallen
Keep the Games away from the Grief
Jxgamer23, Lead Xbox 360 Journalist
The acts of violence that occurred at Virginia Tech claimed the lives of over 30 students, including the individual responsible for the incident, Cho Seung-Hui. The victims and their parents sadly described these attacks as embarrassing, and having the ability to cast pallor on their beloved institution. Meanwhile, the media labeled this incident as ‘one of the worst instances of murder in American history.’
This distinction has proven true among the American populace, as countless individuals have scraped for explanations as to what caused one student to release his fury on an entire campus of students. So far, the media has been able to describe his personality along with his patterns of interaction, largely thanks to interviews with other students and faculty. Even more insight into his character was just revealed recently when NBC received a package that contained photos of him brandishing firearms and videos of him launching diatribes against ‘rich kids and their hedonistic habits.’
Tragedies such as these always leave individuals asking questions; frequently, these questions start with ‘Why?’ and ‘How?’ While persons are sometimes able to piece together conjectures to these queries, it is often up to the media to lend insight into cases like these.
Unfortunately, the media often uses this opportunity to single out items that in reality have no proven correlation to the incident at hand. When the Columbine shooting occurred, politicians and protestors were quick to blame ‘violent media’ for the actions of the two shooters; rather than investigate logical angles such as the shooters’ easy access to weaponry or the killers’ psychological composition. This dichotomy was illustrated in Michael Moore’s documentary Bowling for Columbine. While millions of people were protesting the questionable lyrics of Marilyn Manson and decrying his ‘negative’ influence over popular culture, Michael Moore walked alone, sans his entourage, to speak with Charlton Heston about the ease of access to guns. As it stands in modern society, any individual can purchase a weapon if they are of adult age and ‘good standing.’ This facility is as alarming to me now, as it was to Michael Moore then, and he did his best to drive this point home. It was less than successful, but perhaps it was to be expected. Charlton Heston’s NRA is one of the most influential organizations around; that influence spreads to politicians, including our president.
The above anecdote was to illustrate the media’s tendency to single out violent media, particularly video games, in order to promote either their own agenda or the agenda of their viewers. When the news of the Virginia Tech shooting occurred, I expressed sadness for the victims and silently prayed that reasonable solutions would be found to explain this madness. While my wishes have been granted thus far, I was saddened to learn that ‘violent video games’ became a point of argument once again by prominent figures in the media.
Thus far, Dr. Phil, a noted talk show host, and Jack Thompson, a Florida attorney, have used this tragedy to point out the ‘negative influence’ that ‘violent’ video games have on our culture. Dr. Phil’s two cents can be found here, while Jack Thompson’s rant can be found on the Kotaku gaming blog here.
While Dr. Phil’s comments are troubling, I personally find Jack Thompson’s opinions on the matter more troubling, mainly because he has proven himself to have a comprehensive lack of knowledge concerning the human psyche. His attempts to link video games to everything from school shootings to cancer have been found false by both members of the gaming press along with pundits from the mainstream media. For instance, when he tried to prevent Rockstar’s schoolyard adventure game Bully from being released, the judge in his case ruled that the game lacked the violent wherewithal as portrayed by Thompson. Also, Chris Matthews of Hardball, was able to disprove the majority of Thompson’s theories; his transcript can be found here.
Thompson feels this is infact deadly
On the subject of violent video games, I hold the opinion that responsibility is the way to go. Simply put, if you see something that you find violent and grotesque, it is fruitless to stage a protest against it, vote with your wallet and refuse to view it or purchase it. I also believe, that parents should play more of a role in deciding what is considered suitable for their children. I would not want my five-year-old son playing Gears of War, simply because I know that he is not ready to view the content that is prevalent in that type of game. Perhaps, when my son is older and is able to recognize the difference between fantasy and reality, then I will allow him to enjoy the adventure.
The assailant who was responsible for this shooting deserves a thorough investigation into his social and psychological composition; However, while the media engages in this process, let us hope that they separate facts from fiction, and do their best to keep video games away from the visceral grief that is taking place.