The Virginia Tech tragedy has brought the debate over whether or not video games cause people to raise a weapon in real life. We've been discussing the issue over at AMN and now our thoughts have been posted as the latest in our series of roundtable discussion. There are plenty of interesting points raised, but as for me I decided to abstain from rehashing the same argument that's been going on for years and instead share an insightful quote from noted film critic Roger Ebert.
"Events like this," I said, "if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn't have messed with me. I'll go out in a blaze of glory."
Video games are just the latest scapegoat, joining the list of blamable forms of entertainment along with comic books, rock 'n' roll music, movies, and the waltz. People need an easy target to blame in the aftermath of these kind of events, and whatever is generally new and unfamiliar to the elder generations in society usually fits the bill perfectly. I'm sure in twenty years you'll see my generation protesting that ultraporn is corrupting our children.