An attack on video gamers in the wake of Sandy Hook

I’ve weighed in on this topic before, but this is a different angle that more directly affects me. Specifically, the kind of thinking I have found out about most recently is extremely flawed, and dangerous to video gamers everywhere if allowed to become a mainstream point of view.

A recent Salon.com article entitled “‘Gamers’ are not the enemy” by Andrew Leonard takes a highly critical look at a recent report on the Sandy Hook shooter by New York Daily News reporter Mike Lupica. As summarized by Andrew’s article, Mr. Lupica calls a spreadsheet of past mass murders found in the house where the shooter was living a “score sheet” and makes the jump that it was the shooter’s goal to put a new “high score” on that list.

Andrew fights back in his post, with the facts. Such as this gem:

According to the CDC, “Homicide rates for males, ages 10 to 24 years, declined from 25.7 per 100,000 population in 1991 to 15.3 per 100,000 in 2007.” Now there are surely factors influencing that drop that have nothing to do with video games, but judging from that one statistic alone, logic would dictate the conclusion that playing video games has been beneficial to society instead of the reverse. Certainly, a massive increase in hours spent video gaming has not resulted in a rising murder rate.

I will add that if there’s any logic to the view that video games fuel violence, there should have been a steep drop in homicide rates in 1983, and maybe 1984, 1985, and 1986 as well (due to the video game market crash of 1983) that picked right back up again in about, say, 1985. I haven’t looked, but I doubt either any drop in homicide rates from 1982 to 1983 or any rise in homicide rates in any later years prior to about 1990 are anywhere near as sharp as needed to give any credibility to this theory.

Even if the bit about this being a “score sheet” is true, the vast majority of video gamers don’t engage in this type of behavior, and it is more indicative of other mental illness(es) which don’t have anything to do with the fact the shooter was a heavy video game player. To blame the video games on this is incredibly short-sighted and smacks of a flimsy excuse to severely cripple (or possibly kill off outright) an entertainment medium which is still relatively young.

It is far more relevant that the shooter had such easy access to firearms. Of note, the shooter did not actually own these firearms, his parents were the registered owners. These are facts conveniently left out of the campaign for gun control laws–no amount of background checks would have kept a shooter in a similar situation from getting access to the guns!

It goes back to how we take care of the mentally ill in this society, and the stigma we have placed on mental illness as a society. These are the problems we need to solve if we want to keep another Sandy Hook, another Columbine, another Bath from happening. We won’t fix them by doing a hatchet job on video games, and we won’t fix them by castrating the Second Amendment.

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