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Washington - Shooting Renews Argument Over Video-Game Violence

Published on: December 19, 2012 11:36 AM
By: AP
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This undated publicity image released by Activision shows soldiers and terrorists battling in the streets of Yemen in a scene from the video game, “Call of Duty: Black Ops II.”  Video-game violence has come under increased scrutiny after the killing of 26 people, including 20 children, in a Connecticut elementary school last week. (AP Photo/Activision)Washington - In the days since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., a shell-shocked nation has looked for reasons. The list of culprits include easy access to guns, a strained mental-health system and the “culture of violence” — the entertainment industry’s embrace of violence in movies, TV shows and, especially, video games.

“The violence in the entertainment culture — particularly, with the extraordinary realism to video games, movies now, et cetera — does cause vulnerable young men to be more violent,” Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., said.

“There might well be some direct connection between people who have some mental instability and when they go over the edge — they transport themselves, they become part of one of those video games,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado, where 12 people were killed in a movie theater shooting in July.

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White House adviser David Axelrod tweeted, “But shouldn’t we also quit marketing murder as a game?”

And Donald Trump weighed in, tweeting, “Video game violence & glorification must be stopped — it is creating monsters!”

There have been unconfirmed media reports that 20-year-old Newtown shooter Adam Lanza enjoyed a range of video games, from the bloody “Call of Duty” series to the innocuous “Dance Dance Revolution.” But the same could be said for about 80 percent of Americans in Lanza’s age group, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Law enforcement officials haven’t made any connection between Lanza’s possible motives and his interest in games.

The video game industry has been mostly silent since Friday’s attack, in which 20 children and six adults were killed. The Entertainment Software Association, which represents game publishers in Washington, has yet to respond to politicians’ criticisms. Hal Halpin, president of the nonprofit Entertainment Consumers Association, said, “I’d simply and respectfully point to the lack of evidence to support any causal link.”

It’s unlikely that lawmakers will pursue legislation to regulate the sales of video games; such efforts were rejected again and again in a series of court cases over the last decade. Indeed, the industry seemed to have moved beyond the entire issue last year, when the Supreme Court revoked a California law criminalizing the sale of violent games to minors.

The Supreme Court decision focused on First Amendment concerns; in the majority opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that games “are as much entitled to the protection of free speech as the best of literature.” Scalia also agreed with the ESA’s argument that researchers haven’t established a link between media violence and real-life violence. “Psychological studies purporting to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children do not prove that such exposure causes minors to act aggressively,” Scalia wrote.

Still, that doesn’t make games impervious to criticism, or even some soul-searching within the gaming community. At this year’s E3 — the Electronic Entertainment Expo, the industry’s largest U.S. gathering — some attendees were stunned by the intensity of violence on display. A demo for Sony’s “The Last of Us” ended with a villain taking a shotgun blast to the face. A scene from Ubisoft’s “Splinter Cell: Blacklist” showed the hero torturing an enemy. A trailer for Square Enix’s “Hitman: Absolution” showed the protagonist slaughtering a team of lingerie-clad assassins disguised as nuns.

“The ultraviolence has to stop,” designer Warren Spector told the GamesIndustry website after E3. “I do believe that we are fetishizing violence, and now in some cases actually combining it with an adolescent approach to sexuality. I just think it’s in bad taste. Ultimately I think it will cause us trouble.”

“The violence of these games can be off-putting,” Brian Crecente, news editor for the gaming website Polygon, said Monday. “The video-game industry is wrestling with the same issues as movies and TV. There’s this tension between violent games that sell really well and games like ‘Journey,’ a beautiful, artistic creation that was well received by critics but didn’t sell much.”

During November, typically the peak month for pre-holiday game releases, the two best sellers were the military shooters “Call of Duty: Black Ops II,” from Activision, and “Halo 4,” from Microsoft. But even with the dominance of the genre, Crecente said, “There has been a feeling that some of the sameness of war games is grating on people.”

Critic John Peter Grant said, “I’ve also sensed a growing degree of fatigue with ultra-violent games, but not necessarily because of the violence per se.”

The problem, Grant said, “is that violence as a mechanic gets old really fast. Games are amazing possibility spaces! And if the chief way I can interact with them is by destroying and killing? That seems like such a waste of potential.”

There are some hints of a sneaking self-awareness creeping into the gaming community. One gamer — Antwand Pearman, editor of the website GamerFitNation — has called for other players to join in a “Day of Cease-Fire for Online Shooters” this Friday, one week after the massacre.

“We are simply making a statement,” Pearman said, “that we as gamers are not going to sit back and ignore the lives that were lost.”



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Read Comments (12)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Dec 19, 2012 at 02:03 PM hershel Says:

For many years there was no "link" between cigarettes and cancer,
For many years there was no link between DWI/DUI and car crashes.
Right now there is not "legal link" between the many deaths directly caused by video games, and the games.
There will be a time in the near future that the physiologists that create the video games will stand trial for their murderess creates and their victims.

2

 Dec 19, 2012 at 02:56 PM Brooklynhocker Says:

Reply to #1  
hershel Says:

For many years there was no "link" between cigarettes and cancer,
For many years there was no link between DWI/DUI and car crashes.
Right now there is not "legal link" between the many deaths directly caused by video games, and the games.
There will be a time in the near future that the physiologists that create the video games will stand trial for their murderess creates and their victims.

You're missing the point. Smoking and drinking are both absolute results- the result isn't voluntary. If you read to the end of the article you'll see that the same kids that play and enjoy the games are shutting them off on Friday as a sign of respect- that's a responsible thing to do. Millions of kids play video games and would NEVER do anything in the real world to commit a similar violent act against another person. If you want to look at statistics look up the Army's enlistment rate in the last 10 years as these kids grow up and want "a real" piece of the action with "real" guns and "real" enemies. Normal teens don't shoot up a movie theaters. Normal teens don't shoot at 1st graders. Normal teens take out their frustrations with sports and rock music. Lanza was a sick kid that couldn't differentiate between right and wrong, real and fake, and murder and virtual reality.

3

 Dec 19, 2012 at 05:07 PM shredready Says:

This nonsense is taking away from the real issue assault weapons

4

 Dec 19, 2012 at 05:50 PM Santas Helper Says:

Reply to #2  
Brooklynhocker Says:

You're missing the point. Smoking and drinking are both absolute results- the result isn't voluntary. If you read to the end of the article you'll see that the same kids that play and enjoy the games are shutting them off on Friday as a sign of respect- that's a responsible thing to do. Millions of kids play video games and would NEVER do anything in the real world to commit a similar violent act against another person. If you want to look at statistics look up the Army's enlistment rate in the last 10 years as these kids grow up and want "a real" piece of the action with "real" guns and "real" enemies. Normal teens don't shoot up a movie theaters. Normal teens don't shoot at 1st graders. Normal teens take out their frustrations with sports and rock music. Lanza was a sick kid that couldn't differentiate between right and wrong, real and fake, and murder and virtual reality.

"Lanza was a sick kid that couldn't differentiate between right and wrong, real and fake, and murder and virtual reality. ”

And that's exactly what these video games do. They help increase the lack of differentiation between good and bad, right and wrong etc. BTW do you really think these kids care 1 iota what Antwand Pearman, editor of the website GamerFitNation has called for? Your dreaming if you think in the affirmative.

5

 Dec 19, 2012 at 07:00 PM Brooklynhocker Says:

Reply to #1  
hershel Says:

For many years there was no "link" between cigarettes and cancer,
For many years there was no link between DWI/DUI and car crashes.
Right now there is not "legal link" between the many deaths directly caused by video games, and the games.
There will be a time in the near future that the physiologists that create the video games will stand trial for their murderess creates and their victims.

You're missing the point. Smoking and drinking are both absolute results- the result isn't voluntary. If you read to the end of the article you'll see that the same kids that play and enjoy the games are shutting them off on Friday as a sign of respect- that's a responsible thing to do. Millions of kids play video games and would NEVER do anything in the real world to commit a similar violent act against another person. If you want to look at statistics look up the Army's enlistment rate in the last 10 years as these kids grow up and want "a real" piece of the action with "real" guns and "real" enemies. Normal teens don't shoot up a movie theaters. Normal teens don't shoot at 1st graders. Normal teens take out their frustrations with sports and rock music. Lanza was a sick kid that couldn't differentiate between right and wrong, real and fake, and murder and virtual reality.

6

 Dec 19, 2012 at 07:24 PM dovi5988 Says:

What happened to propper parenting? The games may be bad but we should ban things because parents are too lazy to train their kids? Give me a break. And no I am NOT a gamer. I just think parents need to own up and watch their children. Maybe speak to them, spend time instead of letting the games and TV raise them.

7

 Dec 19, 2012 at 07:26 PM Brooklynhocker Says:

Reply to #4  
Santas Helper Says:

"Lanza was a sick kid that couldn't differentiate between right and wrong, real and fake, and murder and virtual reality. ”

And that's exactly what these video games do. They help increase the lack of differentiation between good and bad, right and wrong etc. BTW do you really think these kids care 1 iota what Antwand Pearman, editor of the website GamerFitNation has called for? Your dreaming if you think in the affirmative.

Yes , maybe they won't listen to this guy but don't underestimate the power of social media. 90% of teens look at Friday's events as horrific and would be willing to join in a positive protest. The major difference between these recent shootings and Columbine ( that teens can relate to) is Kleybol and Harris were tormented and bullied by some of their victims (the others were too popular or annoying- according to their manifesto). The victims here were innocent and had no connection to the shooter. It was an ACT OF PURE EVIL. Could he have driven a car through a playground filled with kids? Yes, but the guns were a way of his normal life that he became accustomed to and were therefore his tool of choice. I don't know of a single video game were the point of the game is to shoot your mother in the face. His kid obviously had mental issues or he wouldn't have murdered her so brutally.
You can argue this for hours but the fact remains that many [American] kids don't have anything other then these fake universes to feel empowered and accomplished - even if the accomplishment is the total number of their virtual kills.

8

 Dec 20, 2012 at 10:45 AM esther Says:

Reply to #5  
Brooklynhocker Says:

You're missing the point. Smoking and drinking are both absolute results- the result isn't voluntary. If you read to the end of the article you'll see that the same kids that play and enjoy the games are shutting them off on Friday as a sign of respect- that's a responsible thing to do. Millions of kids play video games and would NEVER do anything in the real world to commit a similar violent act against another person. If you want to look at statistics look up the Army's enlistment rate in the last 10 years as these kids grow up and want "a real" piece of the action with "real" guns and "real" enemies. Normal teens don't shoot up a movie theaters. Normal teens don't shoot at 1st graders. Normal teens take out their frustrations with sports and rock music. Lanza was a sick kid that couldn't differentiate between right and wrong, real and fake, and murder and virtual reality.

laanza is an absolutely worse case scenario however our entire society is infested with violence. it effects especially younger people even in th emost mundane ways ie how they talk to each to and about each other hence threats and brutal online bullying.

9

 Dec 20, 2012 at 12:39 PM Kzler Says:

Reply to #2  
Brooklynhocker Says:

You're missing the point. Smoking and drinking are both absolute results- the result isn't voluntary. If you read to the end of the article you'll see that the same kids that play and enjoy the games are shutting them off on Friday as a sign of respect- that's a responsible thing to do. Millions of kids play video games and would NEVER do anything in the real world to commit a similar violent act against another person. If you want to look at statistics look up the Army's enlistment rate in the last 10 years as these kids grow up and want "a real" piece of the action with "real" guns and "real" enemies. Normal teens don't shoot up a movie theaters. Normal teens don't shoot at 1st graders. Normal teens take out their frustrations with sports and rock music. Lanza was a sick kid that couldn't differentiate between right and wrong, real and fake, and murder and virtual reality.

Under the 2nd amendment he had a right to bear arms and this country needs an adequate militia as proscribed by the "founding fathers' , right

10

 Dec 20, 2012 at 08:06 PM KZLER Says:

One TV personality has blamed the violence on Zionist dominated Hollywood and Jewish dominance. I am sure all your conservative 2nd amendment defenders agree with this assessment

11

 Dec 22, 2012 at 06:28 PM Geulah Says:

Reply to #3  
shredready Says:

This nonsense is taking away from the real issue assault weapons

Hooray. someone who gets it.

12

 Dec 22, 2012 at 06:37 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
Brooklynhocker Says:

Yes , maybe they won't listen to this guy but don't underestimate the power of social media. 90% of teens look at Friday's events as horrific and would be willing to join in a positive protest. The major difference between these recent shootings and Columbine ( that teens can relate to) is Kleybol and Harris were tormented and bullied by some of their victims (the others were too popular or annoying- according to their manifesto). The victims here were innocent and had no connection to the shooter. It was an ACT OF PURE EVIL. Could he have driven a car through a playground filled with kids? Yes, but the guns were a way of his normal life that he became accustomed to and were therefore his tool of choice. I don't know of a single video game were the point of the game is to shoot your mother in the face. His kid obviously had mental issues or he wouldn't have murdered her so brutally.
You can argue this for hours but the fact remains that many [American] kids don't have anything other then these fake universes to feel empowered and accomplished - even if the accomplishment is the total number of their virtual kills.

And when we continually remove positive outlets for kids, such as physical education, art, music, and similar we drive them further into these vitrual realities. Wonder why a baseball game after school is so threatening to the status quo? It's better for a kid to burn out his thumbs on a Game Boy? Lanza, is a poor example as he was a kid with frontal cortex and amygdala deficiency which didn't allow him to process right and wrong or feel pain. Not an excuse for blowing you mother's face off or killing 26 people. For kids that don't have this issue, outlets are needed so that pent up anger and frustration is dissipated.

13

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