Perpetrators only hours after the Virgina Tech shooting had ended up blaming computer video games for the bloodiest massacre in U.S. history.
This is what Jack Thompson told Fox or anyone else who would listen that “These are real lives. These are real people that are in the ground now because of this game. I have no doubt about it,” Thompson is an attorney for Florida and an avid critic of the video game industry.
The video game that Thompson was focusing on was Counter Strike “a massively popular team-based tactical shooting game that puts players in the heavily armed boots of either a counter-terrorist or terrorist.”
The problem here is the shooter, Seung-Hui Cho is not even known to be a big fan of the game counter strike.
After the shooting the video game industry was appalled that the finger was being pointed to them even though Seung-Hui Cho was recorded to being mentally disturbed and had a history of violent acts in the past.
Thompson got so bold that he called gamers “knuckleheads” and referred to video games as “mental masturbation”. He considers himself a crusader or pioneer in the war against the video game industry. Pretty bold for some one who probably hasn’t played many video games in his life.
“In recent years he’s blamed games such as “Counter-Strike,” “Doom” and “Grand Theft Auto III” for school shootings in Littleton, Colo., Red Lake, Minn. and Paducah, Ky.” As a result and not surprisingly Thompson has launched several unsuccessful lawsuits.
Thompson explains that the media, specifically video games glorifies killing especially on a massive scale which equates to becoming a fiber of the character of the person playing the video games.
By Tuesday after the shootings it was noted that Seung-Hui Cho in high school was a big fan of violent video game especially “Counter-Strike.” However Cho’s university suite-mate said he had never seen Cho play video games.
Thompson even sent a letter to Bill Gates explaining that Microsoft was potently liable for the harm done at Virgina Tech stating that Counter Strike is game designed to simulate killing and how to kill.
Thompson does admit that there where many factors that lead to the shooting but video games are what provided Cho with the skills necessary to carry out what he did.
On the flip side is “Dr. Karen Sternheimer, a sociologist at the University of Southern Calfornia and author of the book ” Kids These Days: Facts and Fictions About Today’s Youth,” disagrees.” She stats that it didn’t take much skill for Cho to do what he did especially sense there where many eye witnesses that saw people where shot a point blank range.
For all the claims Thompson made about video games being the cause of all the violence, Sternheimer relates the shooting at the University of Texas in 1966 when Pong had not even been invented yet.
“One thing that people often don’t realize is that in the years since video game sales have really exploded, not only have youth violence rates decreased but violence rates in the U.S. have declined precipitously,” she added. She also added it is pretty common for a young male like Cho to have played video games at some point in his life.
The simple solution is blame someone like the video game industry for such a complected problem because we as a society want answers we want closure.
This of course is not the first time pop culture has been the bad guy for something, in the 50’s it was rock and roll, the 30’s it was Jazz, literature, TV, Movies have all been there as well. What Thompson does is he feeds off of the fear of people who don’t understand video games. A common phrase is “What you don’t understand scarys you”.
There have been groups formed to counter act and education people on what video game are really for and that video games are not killing simulators.
Being a gamer myself I know there are a lot of normal people playing video game like Counter Strike that would have no intension of kill anyone afterwards, people play for fun and as an escape not to simulate what they will do in real life, those who do that like Cho are mentally disturbed.