Texas A&M International University professor Christopher Ferguson conducted a study and concluded there is "no significant relationship" between school shootings and playing violent video games. Highlights of the study were summarized by Gamepolitics.
Ferguson's study criticizes the methodology used by past studies that have linked violent video games to aggression. He points out for recent high profile shootings such as the Virginia Tech massacre, and the Utah Trolley Stop mall shooting no evidence of violent video game play by the perpetrator was found.
Ferguson suggests video games are an easy target to attack for politicians, the news media, and social scientists. He also suggests self serving motivations are what drive these groups. Politicians are motivated by the need to create an appearance they are taking action against crime, for the news media negative news 'sells' better than positive news, for social scientists, it has been observed that a small group of researchers have been most vocal in promoting the anti-game message. In comparison he states, "Actual causes of violent crime, such as family environment, genetics, poverty, and inequality, are oftentimes difficult, controversial, and intractable problems."
A very interesting observation Ferguson makes is that the majority of individuals critical of video games are above the age of 35 and have not directly experienced the game they are criticizing which some admit to. According to Ferguson, "commentators make claims betraying their unfamiliarity, such as that games like Grant Theft Auto ‘award points’ for antisocial behavior... despite that few games award points for anything anymore, instead focusing on stories."
As an example of individuals who criticize games without verifying their claims, Ferguson points to the Cooper Lawrence, Mass Effect incident. Without playing the game Cooper Lawrence declared Mass Effect as pornography on Fox News. The resulting backlash forced Lawrence to recant her statements.
Ferguson summarized his findings stating, "The wealth of evidence... fails to establish a link between violent video games and violent crimes, including school shootings. The link has not merely been unproven; I argue that the wealth of available data simply weighs against any causal relationship."
With regards to school shootings he declares, "School shootings, although exceedingly rare, are an important issue worthy of serious consideration. However, for our understanding of this phenomenon to progress, we must move past the moral panic on video games and other media and take a hard look at the real causes of serious aggression and violence."
quote: But I never have the urge or tendency to go out and punch a hooker.
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