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Video game industry against the ropes after Sandy Hook massacre December 27, 2012

Posted by rmshepard in Uncategorized.
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When the NRA issued its official response to the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School which claimed that lives of 20 school children and six school employees, its executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, took aim at the video game industry. As he stated, “There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and sows violence against its own people. Through vicious, violent video games with names like ‘Bullet Storm,’ ‘Grand Theft Auto,’ ‘Mortal Combat,’ and ‘Splatterhouse.'” In a way, LaPierre was following an old tradition – dating back all the way to the Columbine shooting in the 1990s, of blaming gun violence on violent video games. For the most part, video game makers were initially silent in responding to the NRA, even though it was clear that at least some members of the US Congress might try to regulate their industry while also attempting to pass some sort of gun regulation.

So, did video games really play a role in Adam Lanza’s shooting spree. While the video game industry was reluctant to address those claims, many scholars have stepped out to refute LaPierre and others like him. As Christopher Ferguson wrote for Time shortly after LaPierre’s statement, “As a video game violence researcher and someone who has done scholarship on mass homicides, let me state very emphatically: There is no good evidence that video games or other media contributes, even in a small way, to mass homicides or any other violence among youth.” Ferguson went on to cite the major studies on the effects of violent video games, demonstrating that their results were conflicting at best.

For more on the heat that the video game industry is feeling after Sandy Hook, see the following segment from internet news show The Young Turks:

Discussion Questions:

1.  What evidence is there for the belief that violent video games lead to more aggressive behavior among heavy users?

2.  What evidence is there to refute that belief?

3.  Why might violent video games still face some form of regulation, even though their effects are debatable?

4.  How should the video game industry respond?

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