A Perfect Storm of Lethal Factors

That eight year old in Louisiana who shot his 87 year old caregiver after playing Grand Theft Auto for a long time…shot her in the back of the head, killing her… It was, it seems to me, like a perfect storm of lethal factors. Or rather factors that added up to be lethal. A loaded gun lying about where an 8 year old could get it. The ignorance and impressionability and natural impulsiveness of the child…the lack of real oversight in his life…the game as applied to an eight year old who was ignorant and impressionable and had access to guns. Take away any of those factors and quite possibly the lady would still be alive. I will defend videogames with violence in them, like Half Life, an intelligent game that is as much puzzle as combat; like Call of Duty and so on. But it’s always seemed to me that Grand Theft Auto was particularly lacking in any sort of internal ethical standard. You win the game by engaging in major theft. Violence against unarmed women is allowed. Sociopathy is rewarded in the game. But no 8 year old boy should have access to any violence-based game, really. I’m talking about games with weapons that are based on real world weapons, violence based on real world violence. *Most of the time* some teenager playing a violent videogame is not going to commit violent acts because of the game. Almost never. *Some problematic persons* may have some of their tendency to violence underscored, though. But studies do not show any clear connection between violent videogames and violence in the real world. It’s just that in some cases–there can be a connection.

There *was* a local gang, ’round here, in Oakland, that was especially vicious, that *did* in fact play GTA before going out on the street and committing acts of real mayhem. They said it was a ritual with them. That doesn’t prove they wouldn’t have committed those acts anyway. But the game, which celebrates sociopathy, might have nudged some members of the gang along… I’ll see if I can find a link to an article about them…so it’s complex. But I personally think game designers should *choose not* to create a game like GTA. Call of Duty is violent enough…

And yes I realize the kid could’ve shot the old lady, quite possibly, even if he’d not been playing a GTA for hours first…

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