Do Games Kill

3612 Words15 Pages
Do Video Games Kill?

By Karen Sternheimer

• When white, middle-class teens kill, the media and politicians are quick to blame video games. Are they right?

As soon as it was released in 1993, a video game called Doom became a target for critics. Not the first, but certainly one of the most popular first-person shooter games, Doom galvanized fears that such games would teach kids to kill. In the years after its release, Doom helped video gaming grow into a multibillion dollar industry, surpassing Hollywood box-office revenues and further fanning public anxieties.

Then came the school shootings in Paducah, Kentucky; Springfield, Oregon; and Littleton, Colorado. In all three cases, press accounts emphasized that the
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(Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 30, 1998)

The campaign to make Hollywood more responsible...should proceed full speed ahead. (Boston Herald, April 9, 2000)

Make no mistake, Hollywood is contributing to a culture that feeds on and breeds violence.... When entertainment companies craft the most shocking video games and movies they can, peddle their virulent wares to an impressionable audience with abandon, then shrug off responsibility for our culture of violence, they deserve censure. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 12, 2000)

The video game connection took precedence in all these news reports. Some stories mentioned other explanations, such as the shooters' social rejection, feelings of alienation at school, and depression, but these were treated mostly as minor factors compared with video games. Reporters gave these other reasons far less attention than violent video games, and frequently discussed them at the end of the articles.

The news reports typically introduce experts early in the stories who support the video game explanation. David Grossman, a former army lieutenant described as a professor of "killology," has claimed that video games are "murder simulators" and serve as an equivalent to military training. Among the 199 newspaper articles published, 17 of them mentioned or quoted Grossman. Additionally, an attorney who has filed several lawsuits
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