Video Game Violence in the Media: The Aftermath of Virginia Tech

Story originally written by former VGBlogger staff writer Josh Williams.

hug200x250.jpgTragedy hit the world again recently when Seung-Hui Cho, a student at Virginia Tech, opened fire and killed 33 people (himself included).  Aside from the mourning for the lost lives and the grieving of so many families, the media had a heyday with information that was pouring in from everywhere, stating Cho’s actions were directly influenced by Counter-Strike, a popular Microsoft/Vivendi Universal-published (Xbox and PC, respectively) and Valve-developed online first-person shooter.  The two that really stuck their heads out of the sand to point out the influence of video-game violence in the situation:  Dr. Phil and video gaming’s public enemy #1 Jack Thompson.  After having been in the news for his recent lawsuit settlement deals with Take Two (home to Rockstar Games), Thompson appeared on Dr. Phil’s daytime show to discuss, or rather, blatantly blame video games for the deaths of the people at Virginia Tech.

Thompson even went so far as to write and send an e-mail to Microsoft and CEO Bill Gates, telling them that they needed to step up and take the blame for publishing such a game, and to even pull the plug on the game entirely.  He even told Microsoft that “there’s more going on in the world than Vista. Just ask the bereaved Virginia Tech families”.  He also went on to talk about other media outlets like Fox News, NBC’s Today Show, and the Washington Post, who had all laid claim that Cho was influenced by Counter-Strike to kill effectively and calmly.  Later in the e-mail, Thompson made a reference to the DC Beltway shootings and his fight against Microsoft after learning that the shooter was influenced and “trained” by using a sniper rifle on the popular first-person Xbox shooter Halo.

Now…after all this…news breaks out today that upon searching Cho’s personal residence, NO GAMES were found at all.  Let me repeat that for Dr. Phil and Jack Thompson:  NO GAMES.  As a matter of fact, reports also show that the people in his building never even saw him once play a game…in public, at least.  Regardless, this leads to an interesting question:  why were video games targeted?  Was this another lapdog for Thompson to try to utilize?  After calling the Virginia Tech shootings “the 9-11 of school shootings”, it would almost seem like Thompson saw an opportunity to use a national tragedy as his soapbox…and now, he has fallen flat on his face to the concrete of lies and propaganda that he was so willing to pave below him.

gta3bad_1_2_1.JPGThis is a call to arms on my part, as well as for everyone else out there.  As the media, it is our job to go out with the facts, to offer to our readers what is truly happening.  Whichever side we take a stand on, make sure you have your facts straight so you don’t end up looking like a misinformed fool.  There is absolutely NO reason why video games should’ve been taking heat in this without being given a reason of justification outside of one Christian conservative’s continuing personal fight and the ramblings he’ll therefore use in order to prove his point as the right choice.  There is NO WAY to take violence out of video games.  From the times that Mario jumped on goombas’ heads to Bonk using his headbutt to Boogerman flinging boogers…Kano’s heart rip and Sub-Zero’s spinal rip…Claude’s consistent venturing of Liberty City and beating up hookers and thugs…Gordon Freeman blowing the head off an alien enemy…a Gunnery Sergeant telling his team on BF2 to “kill, kill, with the cold blue steel” over VOIP…it doesn’t matter what you do.  You cannot take the violence out of video games, just like you can’t take violence out of the movies, the music, the news, and moreover, the human psyche.  The most we can do is to not cry out against the violence, but instead accept its existence and educate about it.  It may not be something you like, but these games aren’t always built for everyone.

Parents:  go to http://www.esrb.com/ and learn more about the ratings on the games your children are playing.  This will give you a good basis of what you do and don’t want your kids to play.  However, don’t take this to mean that you should just tell them “no, bad for you, you can’t play”.  Instead of just forbidding it (we all remember Eve and the Forbidden Fruit), EDUCATE them about why you don’t want them playing it.  Explain it to them.  Kids are smarter than you think they are.  Hell, they do algebra and calculus while you work at Wal-Mart!  It will never be enough if you just tell them no; you HAVE to get involved and talk to them.  Also, explain the difference between the real world and fantasy, and make sure they understand that some things in a game are inappropriate or downright morally wrong in real life.

Boy_video_Game_a.jpgKids:  you are not a superhero.  Get over it.  You need to take responsibility for your own actions at some point, and if you are “responsible” enough to blame a video game or even play that video game, then you are can take the blame for your own actions.  Video games do not influence unless you use them as influential means.  Mind your parents and realize that they are watching out for you.  You have the right to refute something they decide, but make sure you do it wisely and intelligently.  Tell them to watch you play the game, and if they still feel the same way, then respect their decision.  They brought you into the world, and they can damn well take you out of it as well.

Media:  Stop the crusade.  It’s a pointless fight that will never end.  Violence is something inherent with our civilizations, our societies, and our ways of life.  It’s in everything that surrounds us, and the more than you point it out, the bigger the deal gets.  The more controversy created leads to more publicity for the very thing you are trying to prevent from being seen.

Jack.JPGJack Thompson:  Get a life.  You think violence in video games is bad?  How about you stop focusing on fake violence and start focusing on the real world?  You tell Microsoft that Vista isn’t the only thing in the world, but all you focus on is video game violence?  How about you stop being so narrow-minded and one-tracked and use your Christian conservative influence for something more worthy, like anti-war protests or charity causes?  There are far more important things than just video game violence, right?

The reason for this article is due to my recent re-watching of the movie Good Night, and Good Luck, an incredible piece of cinema that talks about honesty in the media.  Now, we’re a small site, and sure, we aren’t reaching out to the ears of 100,000,000 people worldwide.  We do, however, have a freedom of speech that was afforded to us some years ago by the Constitution of the United States of America.  With that freedom, I’ve chosen personally to speak out against Jack Thompson and his tyrannical abuse of the legal systems in Florida and elsewhere, as well as his continued criticism of a topic that he fails to investigate very thoroughly but is willing to lambast on a consistent basis.  Moreover, Dr. Phil showcasing Thompson in front of a live audience on national television and siding with him, while both had absolutely no physical proof or evidence, is a damn shame.

Thank you for your time, and the staff of VGBlogger.com sends all of our condolences to the families and friends of everyone affected by the Virginia Tech tragedy.

*Please note:  the views and statements of this article are solely those of the author and may not necessarily be the point of views of VGBlogger.com, as well as any of the other staff members.

About the Author