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Old April 11, 2013, 07:34 PM   #1
Beentown71
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Video games and shootings...

A blogger that is published all the time in the Huffington Post had placed an article with them. It was declined and then he was not a blog staffer after asking why. It is a tad long but take the time to read it as I found it insightful. I am going to pass it around for those I know who have kids who play the games quite a bit. And also onto those that know kids like this. Having this read by more people will to much better than any UBC would do.

[Edited to conform with TFL's copyright policy -- Vanya]

Excerpt from the article -- it's worth reading:

Quote:
What follows is an op-ed article on a piece of the school shooter puzzle. I don’t pretend that this covers everything, but here is a key component from my point of view. And as a current high school teacher and a former troubled teen, I have a strong opinion on the topic.
This is what the Huffington Post doesn’t want its readers to see.
My junior year in high school, I was caught with a loaded, stolen handgun on school property at my school in East Tennessee.
Orig: http://peterbrownhoffmeister.wordpre...-to-read-this/
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Last edited by Vanya; April 11, 2013 at 08:01 PM. Reason: for copyright policy.
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Old April 11, 2013, 08:27 PM   #2
dakota.potts
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Let me start with the good about this:

I think giving troubled youth self-sufficient exercises may be good for them. Not to mention, I live in Florida of all places and at 17 I suffer from a Vitamin D deficiency. This is caused by lack of sunlight and can cause depression and mood swings. Getting outside (to the range, almost ironically) makes me feel better.

That said, video games training for you to kill people? Have you ever actually played a video game? I've played them since I was 4 and I will guarantee you they've done nothing to teach me how to kill people. The extent of using the guns in those games includes holding one button to bring up the sights, using the right stick to aim, pressing the trigger to fire, and then pressing the square or x button to initiate the reload sequence.

Not exactly military style training.

In fact, I would argue that a young kid who has taken 30 or 40 deer in their life is MUCH more trained than a person who spends even 80 hours a week playing video games. They understand anatomy to some degree to get kill shots, and know how to get hits on a living being and handle a gun.

Do I think we should stop people from hunting? No.

As far as being mentally prepared, I don't think people talking about these troubled teens quite understand them. You know what will prepare you much better? Snuff videos. Videos of people hanging, being shot, stabbed to death, beat to death, eaten by animals. These videos have been available since the 60's and today I could probably find one in less than a minute. I've studied them as I'm fascinated with the history and legal grounds but have never had the fortitude or even desire to watch them. But I guarantee these videos are available and much better for that than video games.

Not to mention, how many kids do you think play these games? I'm going to say 2 out of every 3 or 3 out of every 4, at least. Boys, girls, from the age of 5 or so. No wonder all these kids at the shootings play these games. That is literally as bad as saying we should ban AR-15's because they're present in 4 out of 5 mass murders. It just happens to be so because they're the most available, and probably because they're more comfortable than competitors at the price.

I don't understand how gun-rights supporters can say "Don't even consider maybe looking at if our guns are related" but then say "It's the video games! Don't let kids play those!". I agree we should have no gun restrictions (I've previously stated I'm for ownership of just about anything non-nuclear that's not covered by the Geneva convention) but the right to play these games is a liberty too. Not to mention the evidence supporting this being the cause are just as shaky as saying guns are the cause.

Video games don't kill people, people kill people.
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Old April 11, 2013, 09:26 PM   #3
Beentown71
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Assigning blame to just video games is myopic and not what my point was for the most part.

Blame is hard to assign especially when you are trying to place it on something so over the top, so revolting, as a mass murder.

But to share the experience, thought process and warning of possible psychological impact that pretending death (excessively) could desensitize an all ready unstable person is not out of the question. The military changed the type of targets for a reason...correct or not is a decent question. They seem to have studied it.

My observations of kids/teens playing these games runs the gamut. Some of the reactions I have seen from a psychotic neighborhood kid (my diagnosis) was down right unnerving. Him practicing killing "hoes" after fornicating with them on video games is not something I think helps his chances of becoming well adjusted.

I think it is just a part of a bigger puzzle...Some of the pieces are:

Desensitization
Glamorizing of the mass murders
Parental involvement
Moral decay

I have been looking into it as a mental exercise and it is hard to understand but easy at the same time when you look around. Anyone that thinks it is just a violent game issue is being short sighted. These evil doings such as mass murder have been happening before the invent of the things that get blamed for causing it. The seemed apparent frequency and cause of said frequency is what has my interest now. I am 35 with the girls under 7 that are a good reason for my curiosities and research.
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Old April 11, 2013, 09:46 PM   #4
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You are right in some ways. For the average person, these games do not (in my opinion) de-sensitize you significantly. I think it makes sense to feel like beating up prostitutes in a video game is bad for mental health stability, but I am against "feel good" solutions if this makes sense.

I also agree that maybe some kids just need to be restricted. However, we are attempting a bureaucratic solution to an individual problem. The problem needs to be fixed within the individual, not with a blanket law on anything.
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Old April 11, 2013, 10:11 PM   #5
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I think the overall societal attitude is in a death spiral. (parent(s)lack of willingness to discipline their spawn) Video games, on-line vids of self-destructive behavior, stupid commercials....etc. are all part of equation.
WTHeck are we going to do?

It's only going to get worse. I'm not a pessimist but we're all in deep doo
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Old April 11, 2013, 10:27 PM   #6
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Theres three things I know about first-person shooters:
- I'm angry after playing them, particularly after playing against fellow humans online.
- My wife absolutely HATES them.
- This nut should never touch a controller again in her life...
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Old April 11, 2013, 10:51 PM   #7
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While video games, television, reactionary talk radio, sugar, caffeine, or reruns of Space 1999 might act as stressors to an already unstable person, I have seen absolutely no credible study that has shown these things to be the cause of irrational or dangerous behavior in an otherwise healthy person. Heck, I play violent video games. They're silly fun.

The difference is this: when I shoot an imaginary character on a television set (especially with a gun that lights them on fire while they scream "I smell delicious"), I'm not practicing to do that to another human being. I know the difference between entertainment and reality, and I've no desire to do such things in real life.

Some folks aren't as healthy. They've got serious underlying issues, and video games might exacerbate that. So might many other factors. If we start going after every one of them, we'll be burning books in no time.

I seem to remember calls for a national conversation on mental health and our shamefully inadequate way of dealing with it. Anyone know when that'll be taking place?
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Old April 11, 2013, 10:59 PM   #8
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I said this recently on a different thread, but the Sandy Hook shooter left half empty mags scattered around the school.

To me that is indicative of a video game player, because in most first person shooters(speaking from experience here) when ever you reload, your ammo is magically consolidated into nice full mags. A lot of times you do that in between bits of fighting in game so to ensure a full mag.

Side note: My platoon sergeant was most emphatic that this was a great way to wind up with a bunch of half full mags at a bad time.

That being said, I don't think the fact that the Sandy Hook shooter logged hours of video game time means a damn thing in regards to his actions.

He was clearly deranged. As was Charles Witman, who most decidedly did not have any violent video games to set him off.
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Old April 11, 2013, 11:09 PM   #9
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Video games and shootings...

To paraphrase Penny Arcade, it is a strange sort of patriot who world sacrifice the First Amendment to save the Second.

As a lifelong gamer and shooter (I started both around five years old) and having never been in so much as a fist fight, I firmly reject the notion that guns, video games, rock music, comic books, gay people, reality TV, rap music, sexual promiscuity or any number of other factors are to blame for violence.

It's a combination, to me, of a severe downfall in parenting skills and the deeply ingrained stigmatization of seeking mental help, which should be as easy and normal as getting cold medicine.

And even if all that, on a historical scale violence is down! A LOT!

My two cents.
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Old April 11, 2013, 11:20 PM   #10
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Re: Video games and shootings...

I am not a proponent of any fixes besides the ones at home or circle of influence. Government intervention is not the answer for much besides a threat against the Nation or to empty a treasury, IMHO.

I don't believe there is an answer besides for me to prepare my girls to be effective protecting themselves and to recognize danger/potentially dangerous situations.

BTW I played FPS games as a youth but I was never emotionally invested. Interesting topic to delve into. No real answers but small potential solutions that all seem to be home grown.
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Old April 12, 2013, 07:50 AM   #11
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The article was an interesting perspective. Here we have a kid who actually carried guns and knives with him in school. He had violent thoughts, but in his case, nothing came of it. He is simply discussing what he was, who he became, and what he observes now as a high school teacher. It is worth reading and opened my eyes to a few things.

Personally, I think certain video games are a factor in mass shootings. I think drugs factor in as well. Poor parenting may also be a factor, and an individual's biological and mental makeup is likely the biggest factor.
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Old April 12, 2013, 08:28 AM   #12
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i keep hearing things about a breakdown of society and deteriorating parenting skills. i think we need to remember there aren't more than a very few people committing these acts. it isn't a problem with our whole society. every one of these guys as of late has been on some sort of drug approved by our wonderful government. it's pretty hard to blame things that have been in existence for decades such as violent video games and movies. i played video games my whole life and do not believe they are desensitizing in any way. our kids are not violent as a whole. there is always going to be crazy people and if we want to focus on something that may help i think identifying and helping them in particular would be a good place to start
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Old April 12, 2013, 09:59 AM   #13
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Quote:
i think we need to remember there aren't more than a very few people committing these acts. it isn't a problem with our whole society. every one of these guys as of late has been on some sort of drug .....
I don't remember there being any mass random shootings in the '60's, '70's, 80's or hearing about any going further back in time. It wasn't until the mid '90's that these events (as rare as they are) started happening. That's not decades ago, just about 17 years ago. So, what has changed?

Guns? No. Glocks, AR's, large capacity magazines, AK's, and machine guns were widely available to civilians and had been for a long time.

Drugs? Yes. Where only a few people smoked some pot and even fewer took acid or heroin in the '60's, cocaine in the 70's and '80's. Then right around the '90's, you had massive crack epidemic, meth epidemic, high-potencey pot, designer drugs, etc.

Antipsychotic Medication? Yes. Widespread use of these drugs to subdue kids who were "hyperactive" or had ADHD (a "disease" that didn't even exist prior to about 2000).

Violent Video Games? Yes. Starting around 1996, with the introduction of Grand Theft Auto, teens were hit with a barrage of successively realistic and violent, addictive, video games.

Societal breakdown of the family? Epidemic of Fatherless families? This too became epidemic in the 1990's.

A lot has changed in the past 20 years. However, gun designs and access to guns has hardly changed at all.
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Old April 12, 2013, 11:07 AM   #14
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It should be noted that the worldwide decline in overall violence came about in 1993-1994, which coincides with the release of the original Doom.

In the past 10 years, I have spent literally 10s of thousands of hours playing FPS games. I do so for stress relief. If I'm having a bad day at school or work, it is great to blow off steam by shooting someone in the face on the internet.

Video games don't cause violence, they provide a safe outlet for it.
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Old April 12, 2013, 11:18 AM   #15
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When this came up on THR - I posted

Quote:
Envoking my professional chi - I'm sorry to say that the video game link is very, very, suspect. The recent analyses of the videos are bad literature don't prove the causality. Powerful reviews have been done - you may not be able to access them without hooking into a scholarly data base but Ferguson, CJ is a great source.

1. The effects don't replicate in many cases
2. The effects in other significant cases are so small and transient that their effect on real world behavior cannot be proven.
3. The dependent measures say nothing about real behavior
4. There was and is a moral panic, based on political views, to believe that games are bad and thus negative findings are ignored or not accepted by the journals.
5. Mental health organization are also advocacy hounds and like problems, thus they trumpet only the findings that say games are bad.
6. Antigammers have made a nice professional rep and living saying there is a problem. Saying there is no problem gets you nothing.
7. The false positive problem has not been overcome.

You cannot rely on intuition or pop sources. This is a well known technical debate.

I know gun folks want to shift the blame to games. However, friends the same methodology that says the game prime violence say the guns prime violence. Can't have it both ways.

I do this for a professional living and I tell you trying to shift blames to games gets you nowhere fast.
So, an article on this issue by laypeople who engage in intuitive views based on their politics aren't really won't prove much. Sorry to say.

As I said above - the game is to blame games and not guns. That is a no-win. I can find similar data to support that exposure to guns prime aggression and make you nuts. The methodologies are the same. However, both are suspect.

There is a moral panic in the gun world that our guns are NICE. It's not an assault rifle but a modern sporting gun, blah, blah. It's those video games that are bad, NOT our nice modern sporting guns.

Horsepoop - the basic premise that representations of violent stimuli - be it guns, video games or religion (that's out there) is a major causal factor with the rampage shooters or violence in society seems not to be correct.

Shifting blame is a no win strategy as is the MY ASSAULT RIFLE is sporting toy. Please let me play.
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Old April 12, 2013, 11:19 AM   #16
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There are too many factors in play to pigeon hole videos games. Millions of people play video games...far more than shoot regularly. The problem is, most mass murderers fall under the same basic profile. Anti-social loaner with serious, either un-diagnosed, or improperly treated mental issues. Video games provide an outlet for anti-social loaners because they can "interact" without being social. I think the fact that this group of people tend to play video games isn't indicative of video games being part of the problem (as in, causing people to commit mass murder) but rather it's a symptom. These type of people are attracted to video games because they allow "social" interaction without actually socializing.

Repeat after me:

Correlation is not causation.

We need to figure out why there's a correlation before we can say it's part of the cause. I don't think video games caused these problems...they're simply something these types of people are attracted to. There were many mass murders before violent video games...
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Old April 12, 2013, 11:30 AM   #17
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Oh man, so much wrong here. I don't want to sound like I am running someone down. But you need to look at other things.

Quote:
But there is one significant difference between me at 16 and 17 years of age and most high school shooters: I didn’t play violent video games.
As a child, my mother taught me that all video games were “evil.” That’s the word she used. And although that word might be a little extreme, I grew up thinking that there was something very, very wrong with pretending on a video screen.
And because he never played video games he also knows nothing about them. Sorry guys, even 3 out of 4 is way too low a number. You have to take it into the 90% realm. Given numbers like these you are talking a probability so low that you can't even argue a minor influencing effect.

The Army didn't change the shape of targets to desensitize soldiers to the idea of killing. They changed the shape to help train target recognition, to rapidly identify the shape of a human at distances in a varied setting. And because a hit or a miss is all they cared or had time to worry about. Bulls-eyes become immaterial for the average soldier shooting open sights at 200 Meter+ distances.

Here is food for thought.
Take a kid at age 1, put him in day care where no one really cares about him, just about making money off his folks.

At age 5 or 6, put him in Kindergarten or preschool or whatever they call it. same thing again.

Along comes the professional Teachers in Grade School and these kids are still trying to learn how to get along with each other. Schools don't teach kids how to handle aggression, there is no outlet, You have classes full of undisciplined kids and they can't "take it out on each other" without getting into trouble. But much worse is that they can't defend themselves either. They get two ideas driven into their heads, I can be beat on, or I can do the beating, either way I am getting into trouble but the trouble is either being sent home, (not so bad to the immature), or being labeled bad boy. But there is no real punishment that compares to the actual issues they face dealing with each other. This is real, this is every day for these kids. This has a much greater impact on their development and mental health then a video game.

Now if you want to demonize a type video game, demonize MMORPGs like Warcraft where kids are almost trained and indoctrinated that being the good guy and playing by the rules are not the best ways to win. That there are no punishments for immoral behavior, theft, cheating, rudeness. But they do get to abuse other people online, they do get to get that out of their systems. They get to do it in all social avenues online, facebook, twitter, and within MMO type video games.

Somewhere along the line throw in a divorce and a little home violence because two working parents are just two very stressed people so even some yelling and throwing of the dishes is a common thing.

Then add a little rytelin or whatever drugs and a world where kids are told college is coming, work is coming, no one is going to hire you, girls don't like you.

Now just why on earth would I have a rosy outlook on life after the first 16 years?

The biggest single reason these kids are having these issues is cause their mothers are not home raising them and their fathers are not involved, and their mothers and fathers are getting divorced or never were married to begin with.

That's my take.
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Old April 12, 2013, 01:01 PM   #18
Come and take it.
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The biggest reason why so many people discredit the claim that video games and movies contribute to violence in society is out of pure denial.

Just like a cigarette smoker will find any way possible to convince himself that smoking cigarettes will one day not lead to his death. My father also argued like that.. he died of lung cancer.

If you are afraid to let your 3 year old watch the "Walking Dead" or watch you play "COD"... it should be proof positive that deep down you know that these things are not good to expose young people to.
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Old April 12, 2013, 01:38 PM   #19
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There are so many things wrong with that argument.

Let's start with the obvious one: All of the evidence above posted contrary to your "Feel good" stance.

But now consider this.

"If you are afraid to let your 3 year old shoot your assault rifle, you know deep down it's a bad thing for young kids." This ignores the 12 and 14 and even 8 year old kids who can handle it.

No, a 3 year old should (probably) not watch the Walking Dead. I imagine it would terrify most 3 year old kids or maybe you just don't want such a young kid seeing that.

My brothers didn't get to play Gears of War until they were 10 and my youngest brother (12) still isn't allowed to play the Fallout series.

It really is tempting to shift the blame to video games and SSRIs and say "Oh, but the world never was this bad before." That doesn't make it true. That just makes it convenient. The same convenience that allows people to go after guns.
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Old April 12, 2013, 01:43 PM   #20
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Hey, great analogy there Come and take it.

Let's run with it.

How many people smoke, and how many people die from cancer?

How many people play violent video games, and how many of them go on shooting rampages?

The number of people who smoke might be close to the number who play violent video games. I just am not seeing the same correlation between cancer and mass murders though. Do you ?


This is addressed to many of you. If you never really got into games over the years you may not really have a grasp for just how many people play them. I'll see if I can dig up some meaningful stats for you, but the fact that the commercials for them have started being aired during the Superbowl should tell you that the number is not getting smaller.

EDITED to add content:
This is something I found to help out. I can't say how accurate it is but I think it's reasonably close. Now this is video games in general and doesn't include the violent variety, but if you really need more info I am sure you can find it.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,423402,00.html
Quote:
The survey, released Tuesday, combined the telephone responses from a nationally representative sample of 1,102 young people, ages 12 to 17, and their parents.

Performed from November 2007 through February of this year, and partly funded by the MacArthur Foundation, it had a margin of error of three percentage points.

Among other things, the survey found that:

— Ninety-seven percent of young respondents play video games. That's 99 percent of boys and 94 percent of girls, with little difference in the percentages among various racial and ethnic groups and incomes.
Quote:
About a third of parents who were surveyed said they play video games with their children some or all of the time. Most of those parents are younger than 40, part of a generation that grew up playing video games themselves.
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Old April 12, 2013, 02:49 PM   #21
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Quote:
The biggest reason why so many people discredit the claim that video games and movies contribute to violence in society is out of pure denial.
Anything to support this claim? Just because something seems reasonable does not make it so. Millions play violent video games every day. We are not talking about a small secluded sect of society. We are talking about video games that are played by pretty much every part of society, across economic, social, cultural, and racial lines. I personally know a well respected doctor and lawyer who both play games like Halo, Gears of War and Grand Theft Auto. Those who don't play video games have no idea how many people actually play. If video games had a measurable effect on violence, we would see mass murders occurring everyday. Yet they are still fairly rare, and constitute a very small percentage of total murders.

Quote:
Just like a cigarette smoker will find any way possible to convince himself that smoking cigarettes will one day not lead to his death. My father also argued like that.. he died of lung cancer.
lcpiper did a good job dismantling this analogy, so I won't spend much time on it. There is a well known, and well documented increase in cancer for those who smoke. It's been studied for years, and the ONLY possible conclusion is that smoking will eventually kill you. People have been studying violent video games since the 90's, and with the exception of a few fringe studies (most of which have been discredited) there is no known increase in violent behavior between someone who plays violent video games, and those who do not.

Quote:
If you are afraid to let your 3 year old watch the "Walking Dead" or watch you play "COD"... it should be proof positive that deep down you know that these things are not good to expose young people to.
Um, I don't let my 3 year old daughter watch Walking Dead or play CoD because those things are scary to her. She walked in once when we were watching an episode of Walking Dead after she had supposedly gone to sleep, and had watched a particularly violent scene. We didn't know she was there until she ran away crying. It took me 15 minutes to calm her down and get her back to sleep.

It's because her mind, and her perception of reality isn't ready to accept these things yet. She isn't old enough to realize there's a difference between real life and what she sees on TV. The problem with mass murderers is their mental state. Video games will not make someone who doesn't have violent tendencies violent. Instead, those type of people are attracted to them for whatever reason.

Again, Correlation is not Causation. We need to be very careful when we try to make those jumps in logic. If there's a correlation, we need to know why before we say it's a reason something happens. Saying that violent video games cause mass murder would be like me saying that the stink that accompanies my son's dirty diaper, causes it to be that way. There is a correlation between stink and dirty diaper, but the stink isn't the cause, it's simply an effect.
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Old April 12, 2013, 03:05 PM   #22
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Quote:
As was Charles Witman, who most decidedly did not have any violent video games to set him off.
Charles Whitman had a brain tumor. Whitman was aware that something was drastically wrong and he tried to get help.
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Old April 12, 2013, 03:23 PM   #23
Gaerek
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Quote:
Charles Whitman had a brain tumor. Whitman was aware that something was drastically wrong and he tried to get help.
That's sort of the point. The one thing that almost all mass murderers have in common is some type of mental illness. People committed mass murder prior to video games, and we need to find the cause. Using the media as a scapegoat actually hurts our argument.
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Old April 12, 2013, 03:28 PM   #24
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Re: Video games and shootings...

I think we all know a "normal" person that plays video games are not going to become a mass murderer. Taking arguments to extremes and saying because the majority of gamers don't become mass murderers it then implies that these games have no effect is myopic.
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Old April 12, 2013, 03:51 PM   #25
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The problem is, we're blaming video games because we think it takes the heat off guns. Yet, it's the same knee-jerk reaction the gun-grabbers used in the days following Sandy Hook. We don't want our guns taken away, so, oh, the shooter played video games? Must be it! The one commonality we have with nearly all mass murderers is they have some type of mental issue. But there is no such correlation between video games and mass murders. Many mass murders happened prior to video games. Some recent mass murderers didn't play video games. Most people don't realize that the VT shooter did NOT play violent video games (even though right afterwards, there was a huge knee-jerk reaction blaming them!)

About the only correlation that can found between violence and video games is that they can influence the "type" of violence, and how it's perpetrated. But studies that have been done seem to show that violent types are attracted to violent video games. They are used by people who are already violent. They don't cause violence. In other words, if you aren't violent, and you play a violent video game, you won't become violent. If you're already violent, and play a violent video game, it might change how you manifest your violence, but it won't make you more violent.
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