Virginia Tech Shootings and Video Game Journalism

Posted by | April 18, 2007

When tragedy strikes it feels like expert carvers arrive instantly on scene to etch greater and more intricate detail into the woodwork—because everyone suddenly comes out of it. Everyone.

The recent horrors of the Virginia Tech Shootings have brought on a great deal of discussion, the mainstream media and shrill pundits instantly took to their various bullhorns (like FOX News and talk shows) and let loose with a fusillade of commentary. A great deal of this commentary has obviously been fueled by their own biases, and in general aimed rather solidly at contemporary bugaboos. Video games are one of them.

In the talk show forefront, Dr. Phil has decided to add video games to a list of terrors of society, according to Game Politics, “Noted T.V. shrink Dr. Phil McGraw appeared on CNN’s Larry King Live last night to discuss the rampage.”

And, everyone already knows who’s coming up next: Jack Thompson flocked directly to FOX News to say his piece hours before any real information came out about the spree. The much vaunted video game blog, Kotaku, took his report head-on with seven reasons why it was mostly bunk.

In the midst of all the words flying, though, there is hopefully enough time to stop and realize that people were victimized by a psychopath. A man who started by shooting two people in a dormitory, then walked across campus (unbeknownst to those he strode past,) and then loaded up on ammunition, chained the doors of the classroom building, and then let loose… This behavior is aberrant—it is so far off center that it caught everyone’s attention. People who want to decry video games as the tools of immorality, corrupting the youth, and desensitizing people from violence don’t want anyone to sit back and realize that a truly psychopathic person doesn’t need the current hysterical bugaboo to send them off onto their rampage. Occam’s Razor cuts so fine it leaves behind little blood.

On the edge of this news, a Virginia Tech student has set up a memorial in the online world of Second Life. Given that the world of Second Life is accessible from anywhere I can get an Internet connexion and I don’t live in Virginia, I’ll probably be there today visiting.

Signing off as the melancholy voice of the machine.

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