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Do Video Games Lead to Real Violence?
December’s school shooting in Newtown, Conn., reopened the debate on whether violent video games lead to violence in real life. Tell us if you believe such games have a real-world impact.
By Jon Gargis
03/25/2013 4:59 am
In the wake of December’s Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., one of the habits of alleged shooter Adam Lanza came to light.
The 20-year-old reportedly owned “thousands of dollars worth of violent video games,” MailOnline reported, adding that he was believed to have played games from the Call of Duty series “for hours on end.” The games are classified as “shooters” that have players using weapons against human or computer-controlled characters.
Weeks after the shooting, the White House “pressed start” on talks with video game industry representatives, as Vice President Joe Biden took the lead to find legislative remedies to problems associated with gun violence.
Among those taking aim at the games has been The National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre. According to a Slate.com article, LaPierre in December blasted “vicious, violent video games,” accusing them of poisoning the country’s culture.
In a column for the New York Daily News, criminology professor James Alan Fox defended the game industry. He wrote that while Lanza and other mass murderers played violent video games in their spare time, experts have not been able to show that games are the cause.
“The entertainment industry has often been used as a convenient scapegoat, and censorship as an easy solution. … It is tempting to point fingers at this profitable industry, while ignoring some of the root causes of violence that are much more difficult to resolve,” Fox wrote, adding that the breakdown of other areas of society, such as family and community, are far greater factors in the likelihood of school shootings and similar tragedies.
Video game critics may not be convinced. In January, Massachusetts officials removed video games from rest stops along highways because of their violent content.
And in Connecticut, a community group offered gift certificates from local businesses in exchange for violent video games donated to them—the games they were to receive were to be burned. But as reported by The Raw Story, organizers of the campaign did not want their actions to be construed as a belief that “video games were the cause of the shocking violence in Newtown …”
“Rather, [we’re] saying is that there is ample evidence that violent video games, along with violent media of all kinds … has contributed to increasing aggressiveness, fear, anxiety and is desensitizing our children to acts of violence including bullying,” the group stated in a press release, according to Raw Story’s report.
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