Blog Post 3: Ferguson Argues Against Video Game – Violence Correlation

Oversimplifying a tragedy such as a school or mass shooting by identifying the cause as violent videogames is not only inaccurate and misplaced, but also does not bring us any closer to fixing problems.  Video games are convenient to blame as they are obviously violent at times and could be argued to increase violence in kids simply because kids are violent and it would be harder to prove otherwise.

Many of the mass shootings that take place are done by one person.  Often times these people are too disconnected from reality or feel too isolated.  The argument that violent games cause shootings could almost be disproven based off the fact that very few of the shooters even play video games at all.  Many of the shooters only demonstrated “some interest” in violent media at all.  Perhaps violence is just a natural human characteristic exacerbated by isolation and anger.

My own experience with violent video games is limited to Call of Duty games and Assassin’s Creed 3, which is not overwhelmingly violent.  Afterwards, I’m more relaxed and non-violent and I know many of my friends feel the same way.  Fight Night Round 4 is the only game featuring violence that I relate to and who’s subject matter I still actively participate in.

Ferguson brings up an interesting point in that porn has been shown to increase sexual assault rates.  I would argue that porn is one of the only forms of media to take in sexual content without actively participating in sex itself.  I would also argue that sex is a natural human instinct but it is much easier to isolate any causes of sexual outburst simply because there aren’t as many ways to take in sexual content.  With violence there are many more ways that people can consume images.  There’s the news, internet videos, movies, television shows, and video games.

Michael Moore’s documentary Bowling for Columbine had a great take on violence in America.  Many countries have worse poverty and other factors that people attribute to violence, but America has the most fear in the world.  Moore largely blames the news cycle for the fear and how people are genuinely afraid of each other for no reason.  There is a kid interviewed in the documentary who was profiled as a possible shooter because he checked out The Anarchists Cookbook.  While Ferguson might agree with the Secret Service report that violent people tend to like drastic books such as Mein Kempf, he wouldn’t agree that video games is one of the factors that contributes to violence.

Largely, the blaming of violent video games for violence is easy.  Many critics are above the age of 35 and haven’t played video games and simply don’t understand.  Logically, it makes for an easy causal relationship.  However, blaming video games is not correct, effective, or helpful, because other factors that actually do cause violence continue to exist and go unnoticed.

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One Response to Blog Post 3: Ferguson Argues Against Video Game – Violence Correlation

  1. cstabile says:

    I’m so glad you mentioned Bowling for Columbine, which really grapples with some of the complex issues surrounding the shootings in 1999. Dave Cullen’s book on Columbine (http://www.davecullen.com/columbine.htm) is also worth having a look at — he starts by saying that most of what we heard about Columbine in the media was just wrong. Andrew Solomon’s Far From the Tree disputes another form of causal thought that overlooks what Ferguson calls “third variables” — he talks to the parents of Columbine killer Dylan Klebold to get at the question as to whether these crimes can be explained by bad parenting.

    I’m not clear on your argument regarding porn. Ferguson cites research that suggests that viewing pornography has a cathartic effect when it comes to sexual assaults (e.g. sexual assaults decrease rather than increase). You seem to suggest the opposite.

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