A sad and tragic shooting has brought the debate about violent video games back into the news. The event itself, the murder of a 90-year-old relative at the hands of an 8-year-old boy whom she was babysitting, has grabbed a lot of headlines in the last few days, in part because police report that the young boy was playing the video game Grand Theft Auto right before the killing. A good survey of the media’s take on the event is available at the website Kotaku.com. While the online article is a great source for media reaction to the story, as well as a good overview on the research about violent video games influence on those who play them, the final commentary from the writer is even more important to check out:
[T]there’s one issue that needs no research: eight-year-olds should not have unsupervised access to loaded guns. Period. End of discussion. This debate over video game violence needs to be secondary to the debate over real violence. When Louisiana police imply that Grand Theft Auto IVcaused this tragedy—and when the news amplifies that conversation with hyperbolic analogies and catchy soundbites—it distracts from the terrifying reality that an eight-year-old was able to pick up and fire a handgun…. He sure didn’t use a video game.