After another tragic incident at Virginia Tech last week, investigators are once again looking for answers to determine what turned the eyes of the nation to Blacksburg for all of the wrong reasons. While there’s little connecting the two incidents besides the location, any time a seemingly arbitrary act of rage takes place, the media and the public immediately begin comparisons with incidents that have come before it.
Like the most notorious recent mass killings in Tucson, Norway, and Columbine, and many other tragic killings that get less exposure, one of the trends between many, if not all, of these incidents is the perpetrators significant exposure to violent video games.
Now, before we get derided by gamers across the world, we are not saying now, nor have we ever stated, that there is a direct correlation between violent video game play and mass killings. Nor would we say that violent video game play directly leads to any specific acts of violence. We will unfortunately likely always live in a world where deranged madmen will commit horrific acts of violence like those mentioned above.
While giving the caveat above, gamers and non-gamers who reflexively call those that even begin question the impacts of such games anti-First Amendment or heretics, should at least acknowledge that ignoring the consistent violent video game play would be negligent on the part of authorities.
But, instead of entering into a public discourse with those who have researched evidence that their are indeed impacts to the brain, and adverse effects of video game violence in aggressive behavior, there is consistently an effort to ignore differing research, and build a case against a straw man like in this Time article stating video games don’t make kids violent. Mr. Ferguson has clearly done his research, and probably would enter into a meaningful discussion among researchers given the opportunity, however when all that is put out there is dismissive, at best, it makes that viewpoint somewhat suspect.
Nonetheless, we look forward to seeing what the investigation reveals about the latest tragedy in our country. We hope that for the victim and his loved ones, some closure can be found. For our country, we hope that if once again violent video games are part of the equation, we can have a true public discourse about the topic, and what steps should be taken as a result.