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Fox News: videogames are training sim for murderers


Fox News is one of my favourite sources of comedic current event spoof news. Much like The Onion, the site provides a whelm of entertainment value. I realise that Fox is touted as a serious and truthful source of information, but after you’ve seen that they don’t know where Egypt is (see map below), it’s very difficult to recognise them as a valid news provider.

Fox News Egypt.JPG

The folk at Fox are huge fans of trying to prove a causal link between violent videogames and violent behaviour; and their latest offering on the topic is entitled Training Simulation: Mass killers often share obsession with violent videogames. A two-part report on the subject uses the usual sort of information combined in that whimsical style of truth that Fox News so favours in order to prove definitively that videogames have inspired some of the worst and most tragic shootings in America over the last ten years or so. The report uses the examples of Columbine shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, Adam Lanza and Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik among others to prove their hypothesis.


The report begins as follows:


A decade after Evan Ramsey sneaked a 12-gauge shotgun into his Alaska high school, where he gunned down a fellow student and the principal and wounded two others, he described how playing video games had warped his sense of reality.

“I did not understand that if I…pull out a gun and shoot you, there’s a good chance you’re not getting back up,” Ramsey said in a 2007 interview from Spring Creek Correctional Center, in Seward, Alaska. “You shoot a guy in ‘Doom’ and he gets back up. You have got to shoot the things in ‘Doom’ eight or nine times before it dies.”

Since Ramsey’s 1997 rampage, several other mass killers, including Columbine shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, have been linked to violent video games. And some experts worry that as the games get more violent and more realistic, so does their power to blur the line between fantasy and reality in alienated gamers.

"Doom," the computer video game Ramsey described, was all the rage in the 1990s, but primitive by today’s standards, where gamers can play first-person shooters with movie-like graphics on high definition televisions.

“More than any other media, these video games encourage active participation in violence,” said Bruce Bartholow, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Missouri, who has studied the issue. “From a psychological perspective, video games are excellent teaching tools because they reward players for engaging in certain types of behaviour. Unfortunately, in many popular video games, the behaviour is violence.”


Fantastic stuff.



The “non-biased” report quotes child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Paul Weigle, Iowa State University Professor Dr. David Gentile and former president of the American Psychological Association’s Society of Media Psychology and Technology Dr. Phyllis Koch-Seras.


The report quotes the good doctors without taking factors like mental illness and the availability of the firearm in America into account.


One gem, provided courtesy of Dr. Weigel reads:


“It’s quite possible that playing this script out numerous times in the game influenced his decision-making, and that is, in fact, what he said.”

Am I the only one slightly puzzled by that statement?


To be fair to the experts though, there were some fair answers given. Dr. David Gentile stated that


“I think it’s the wrong question -- whether there is a link between mass shootings and violent video game play…I understand people want to look for a culprit, but the truth of the matter is that there is never one cause. There is a cocktail of multiple causes coming together. And so no matter what single thing we focus on, whether it be violent video games, abuse as a child, doing drugs, being in a gang -- not one of them is sufficient to cause aggression. But when you start putting them together, aggression becomes pretty predictable.”


You can read the full article here.

Stay tuned for part two!

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Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not MWEB Connect (Pty) Ltd


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