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Researcher Finds No Link Between Violent Games and School Shootings 116

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-i'll-stab-anyone-who-disagrees dept.
GamePolitics writes "A researcher at Texas A&M International University has found no link between playing violent video games and school shootings. Prof. Christopher Ferguson cites 'moral panic' and criticizes politicians, the news media and some social scientists for playing up what he believes is a false connection between video games and school shooting incidents. Quoting: 'Actual causes of violent crime, such as family environment, genetics, poverty, and inequality, are oftentimes difficult, controversial, and intractable problems. By contrast, video games present something of a "straw man" by which politicians can create an appearance of taking action against crime.'"
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Researcher Finds No Link Between Violent Games and School Shootings

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  • Politician's with a scapegoat? Never!
  • But if we can't blame the video games...someone is going to blame my parenting skills! Next they will want me actually monitoring my kids to insure they don't see boobies on the interwebs instead of banning them from the sites! Oy I'm late...
    • by ultranova (717540)

      But if we can't blame the video games...someone is going to blame my parenting skills!

      Don't worry, you can just blame it on your parents, and they on theirs, and so on. The real culprit is Adam or amoeba, whichever you prefer.

      Or you could blame the little psycho who pulled the trigger.

      • by hobbit (5915)

        Why stop at amoeba? It's the laws of physics which cause me to behave selfishly :)

  • by Shaitan Apistos (1104613) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @02:49AM (#26557069)

    Why is it just video games that are subject to all this scrutiny? Board games cause violence too.

    My sister was perfectly capable of flying into a murderous rage if someone else purchased Boardwalk or Park Place in a game of Monopoly when we were kids.

    • by Valdrax (32670) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @03:21AM (#26557189)

      Why is it just video games that are subject to all this scrutiny?

      Video games are subject to this scrutiny for two reasons:

      1) There was once a study along time ago showing that kids exposed to aggressive TV acted out aggressively afterward. A host of studies since then have alleged the same effect from video games. Studies have supported and refuted both ideas, and people have also called into question the link between aggressive play behavior and real world aggression. Unfortunately, a lot of the research and reporting on the research on both sides seems to be heavily tainted by preconceived bias.

      2) Video games are a form of recreational media enjoyed by a substantial number of youths today, and they are often avoided by excessive moralists, who tend not to "get" what "the kids" are into. We did the same thing with rock & roll, rap music, tabletop gaming, etc.

      It's one half politicized science and one half culture war.

      Board games cause violence too.

      My sister was perfectly capable of flying into a murderous rage if someone else purchased Boardwalk or Park Place in a game of Monopoly when we were kids.

      Oh, pfft. You know there's a difference between something that is alleged to provoke violence and something which is just fought over. Let's not be silly.

    • Seems like an obvious candidate to me. I mean, you're taught to *throw* something at someone, with the intention of hitting them "out."

      Anyone up for a round of Lawn Darts Dodgeball?

    • You may joke, but there were similar scaremongering campains concerning D&D & Warhammer FRP back in the 80s. Before that, it was heavy metal music.

      There are some people who can always find something to get outraged about.

      • by Garganus (890454)
        Your point is well taken. It does make me wonder though, if we imagine an scale of immersion into violence; from talking about irl genocide at the water cooler, to really getting into singing along with a heavy metal song about all the killing in war, to reading a violent spy book, to D n D, to watching violent movies, to playing today's most immersive and violent games (to playing them in 3D?); I do see that this scale has a top and that we're crawling toward utterly-convincing, but still not real, violent
    • Card games cause violence too. My coworker got me into the Nuclear War Card Game [flyingbuffalo.com] and now I keep a stockpile of ICBMs just in case. Come to think of it, my neighbor has been blocking us in with the way they park their car. *pushes button*

  • Recession is on.

    Politicians don't have idle time to persecute random innocent everyday activities anymore.

    Should have sat on it until the economy was well into recovery territory.

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Nope this is the perfect time. Since we're in a down turn, it's the perfect time to start slapping away at innocent activities in order to protect people as fear sets in.

  • Sudden (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Thanshin (1188877) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @02:55AM (#26557089)

    Sudden outbreak of ... he'll be completely ignored.

    Let's face it, saying "The new shiny thing that you barely know anything about, is the true responsible for all the evils" will always work better for the news than "There's just about the same percentage of bad people as always, nothing to see here, move along."

    • Also, rational arguments hold little sway in public discussion of issues relating to children. In fact, trying to bring up studies and hard data that go against the popular views will get you branded a cold-hearted ivory-tower academic. Few parents are willing to listen to research if it contradicts "what their hearts tell them".
  • Monopoly is the closest thing to domestic violence between siblings you can get.
    Totopoly just makes you want to throw the game board at the wall out of sheer fucking boredom.
    Then we have the game of Whack-a-mole played with people with absolutely no hand-eye co-ordination.
    Golf involves swinging metal clubs in a wide swiping motion.
    Tennis requires the constant violence against a small furry ball which PETA could easily say represents a small mammal.
    Cricket is self inflicted pain, there is a *wrong* way to ca

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mjwx (966435)

      a small furry ball which PETA could easily say represents a small mammal.

      Actually, they want you to start calling them "court kittens" cause no one wants to hit a kitten.

      • don't laugh. [peta2.com]
        • by mjwx (966435)
          Hence the veiled reference.

          I could take environmental responsibility when it was things like "reduce, reuse, recycle" but I cant take them seriously any more, they are just a bunch of nut cases these days. Sea Kittens my arse.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Faylone (880739)
            Sea Kittens my dinner!
          • by Reziac (43301) *

            And this is why the "moderate-sounding" outfits like HSUS are so much more dangerous than the lunatic fringes: HSUS has exactly the same goals as PETA, but HSUS has learned diplomacy. So while PETA tries to make kids think of fish as "sea kittens" and everyone laughs at the absurdity, HSUS quietly gets fish farming outlawed.

            (Don't think so? Check out the recently passed CA Prop 2, which outlaws modern egg production.)

            • by mjwx (966435)
              I more meant organisations that encourage responsibilities, like Keep Australia Beautiful National Accommodation [kab.org.au] that organise the "keep Australia Beautiful" days (where everyone goes outside and picks up rubbish for an hour) and tidy town competitions or those which garner support for single/dual bin recycling (separating my plastic, glass and cans is not that difficult). It's due to the actions of the lunatic fringe that these organisations actually do some good are having a hard time these days.

              Also,
  • by calmofthestorm (1344385) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @04:07AM (#26557403)

    So we need to stop selling cameras.

    • by matazar (1104563)

      I thought it was music that caused school shootings?
      Games cause all other violent behaviour.

      They should keep their stories straight.

  • In the UK guns are not as easy to get hold of as in the USA. We don't have school shootings.

    Spot the correlation.

    • by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @05:10AM (#26557649)
      Well, although nobody in the UK has shot up a school since the Dublane Massacre [wikipedia.org], that doesn't mean that mass murders at schools in the UK have ceased. They just use other [bbc.co.uk] weapons [wikipedia.org] now (improvised flame thrower? I have to say I'm impressed). Just goes to prove that people are going to kill people no matter what tools they have to do it with.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ZombieWomble (893157)
        While the basic foundation of your argument is correct (That, when it comes down to it, there are plenty of ways to kill people), the articles you cite do somewhat make the counter-point that access to guns makes it much easier to kill people.

        Considering the three cases you've linked, the death toll at Dunblane was 17. The total death toll of the other two (despite the "impressive" flame-thrower) was 0. It's impossible to say if people would definitely have been killed if the men in those cases had access

        • What most people don't seem to recognise is that these "school shootings" (or flame throwers, or whatever) and similar "going postal" events are NOT intended as mass murders.

          They are intended as loud, messy SUICIDES, that "show the world how much it hurt me by hurting it back".

    • by Jaysyn (203771)

      As fast as your country is goosestepping towards fascism, I wouldn't be too happy about that.

      • Goose-stepping, are you mad.

        We've formed an orderly queue and are waiting for it to turn up. If anything we are shuffling towards something.

        Of course we know what will happen. You wait for one form of authoritarian government to turn up for years and then 3 turn up at once. I would say more Stalinist than Fascist anyway.

        • by cptnapalm (120276)

          "Goose-stepping, are you mad.

          We've formed an orderly queue and are waiting for it to turn up."

          Made me laugh. My co-workers are now even more convinced that I am insane.

          With regards to your distinction between Stalinism and Fascism, I've come to believe that there is really little difference aside from aesthetics and what the thugs babble about when beating you to death. My personal preference is for either totalitarian socialism (nationalist and internationalist are both covered) or Marxist-Fascism (makes

      • by hobbit (5915)

        Indeed. If only we had guns like in America, we'd be able to keep our government entirely free of corruption!

        • by Jaysyn (203771)

          Nice straw-man.

          I wasn't talking about corruption. I was talking about the fast-track to an Orwellian society that the UK has been on for the past decade or so.

          • by hobbit (5915)

            Do you honestly think that Bush's administration was any better WRT removal of civil rights?

            • by Jaysyn (203771)

              The administration that is disgraced, out the door & is in the process of having a lot of the bad, illegal things that they pulled in their tenure reversed or revoked?

              This isn't about the US. We have the option of removing our government by force if needed. That option has never been played & hopefully will never have to be played. But we still have that option & our government, deep down, knows it.

              Either you guys like fascism or your government has stopped listening to you a long, long time

              • by hobbit (5915)

                The administration that is disgraced, out the door & is in the process of having a lot of the bad, illegal things that they pulled in their tenure reversed or revoked?

                No, the one that you kept voting in to the incredulity of the rest of the world, whose approval only crashed as a result of an economic house of cards not of its own making, and whose president only left the White House because he had limited tenure from the start?

                This isn't about the US.

                Um, I think you'll find it is. Check the thread all the way back up to its first ancestor.

                We have the option of removing our government by force if needed. That option has never been played & hopefully will never have to be played. But we still have that option & our government, deep down, knows it.

                We also have that option -- our weapons are only marginally less effective than those at the government's disposal as yours are (perhaps, indeed, in Britain

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      In the UK guns are not as easy to get hold of as in the USA. We don't have school shootings. Spot the correlation.

      In the US wooden clogs are harder to get ahold of as in Europe in general. We don't have clog beatings. Spot the correlation.

      Or you could, you know, define the problem sensibly in terms of violent crime or murders at schools. There are countries with higher rates of gun ownership than the UK, but lower rates of violent crime and school murders. What does that imply about the causality of your correlation?

      The truth is if you look objectively you can find things that correlate very strongly with violent crim

      • by Valdrax (32670)

        In the US wooden clogs are harder to get ahold of as in Europe in general. We don't have clog beatings. Spot the correlation.

        Spot the last time 17 people were killing a "school clogging" by a teenager, and the SWAT team had to be called out. It's not about some arbitrary choice of weapons to hate but about the effectiveness of them.

        • Spot the last time 17 people were killing a "school clogging" by a teenager...

          I don't know of any, but I can point out the last time there was a school massacre using a duffle bag or while wearing a sweatshirt. Should we ban those based upon studies that show if they are banned there are fewer killings by people with them? Or do you concede such a methodology is flawed?

          It's not about some arbitrary choice of weapons to hate but about the effectiveness of them.

          Fine, so demonstrate banning them reduces violence or that other weapons such as improvised explosives or poisons are less effective. You can't just make blanket statements that it is more effective or that bans help w

          • by Valdrax (32670)

            I don't know of any, but I can point out the last time there was a school massacre using a duffle bag or while wearing a sweatshirt. Should we ban those based upon studies that show if they are banned there are fewer killings by people with them? Or do you concede such a methodology is flawed?

            You're honestly telling us that people have gone on a school massacre using a duffle bag or a sweatshirt as their killing weapon? Or are you honestly so stupid that you think there's no significant, causal relationship between the gun and the deaths involved?

            I mean, who do you think you're impressing with this line of reasoning? "Gosh! I'll bet all these school shooters have hair! Maybe we should ban hair? (Because, obviously weapons used are no more important to a school shooting than the presence of

            • You're honestly telling us that people have gone on a school massacre using a duffle bag or a sweatshirt as their killing weapon? Or are you honestly so stupid that you think there's no significant, causal relationship between the gun and the deaths involved?

              Are you dense? I'm saying you have to actually show a causal relationship, you can't just assume if guns are less common there will be fewer deaths instead of just fewer deaths with guns (which no one but anti-gun people are interested in).

              I mean, who do you think you're impressing with this line of reasoning? "Gosh! I'll bet all these school shooters have hair! Maybe we should ban hair?

              Whoosh, my point has gone over your head several times now. What I'm saying is if you ban hair you will have fewer deaths caused by people with hair... not fewer deaths overall. Hence and study which shows fewer deaths by a method is useless , whether that is fewer death

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Sasayaki (1096761)

      Canada does have guns. They don't have school shootings.

      Here in Australia we don't have guns (it's neigh impossible to get anything at all these days, believe me I have tried). Per capita, we've had a shitload of people going on killing sprees with guns.

      What's this correlation I'm supposed to see? That gaining your independence from England makes you more likely to be a psychopath? Interesting.

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Canada does have guns. They don't have school shootings.

        Here in Australia we don't have guns (it's neigh impossible to get anything at all these days, believe me I have tried). Per capita, we've had a shitload of people going on killing sprees with guns.

        What's this correlation I'm supposed to see? That gaining your independence from England makes you more likely to be a psychopath? Interesting.

        There was a rather famous one at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal 20 years ago... (rather sad, too, since the gunman

  • To date the worst school massacre took place in Michigan in 1927. Although it wasn't a student I guarantee it wasn't video games that pushed him over the edge either.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bath_School_disaster [wikipedia.org]

    What do you think would happen today if someone blew up an entire school wing? They'd have tons of scapegoats instead of focusing on the unique circumstances which made the PERSON who was RESPONSIBLE.

  • Hi,
    the article mentions a paper and has a link to it. But the link doesn't work and i can't find the paper by searching for the author on that server.
    Has anyone a working link?
    Sincerely yours, Martin

  • Now I'm not gonna say there is or is not a link, I don't know.

    But since when have researchers mapped the behaviour of the brain and the way it reacts to certain gaming or television related stuff?

    They are just guessing according to the things they have experienced and learned.

    Maybe they are asking themselves the wrong questions and making the wrong assumptions.

    Just remember that psychology is not really founded upon exact measurements.

    Ohhhh wait, it is just a _single_ judgement, made by 1 person, 1 point of

  • First it was comic books, then it was rock n' roll, now it's video games. In a few years, it's bound to be something new and people will stop caring about violent games.
  • Lots of these reports comming out lately.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @10:16AM (#26559025)

    How many people have been going on killing sprees because they said God told them it was a swell idea? Yet nobody discusses outlawing religion, or keeping it away from the feeble minds of small children.

    • by Number6.2 (71553)

      Mr. Hitchens, is that you?!?

      And let's be frank: the Crusades were less of a "killing spree" and more of a semi-organized "pillage and rampine" operation...of which the Church took a cut.

      Except for the Children's Crusade. How about that for "think of the Children"...

      • Huh? I'm not even talking about the Crusades.

        Didn't notice it? Someone going out and killing random people, then when he's caught you get to hear that God or Jesus told him it would be great if he went and killed some people, so he went and did just that. Not somewhere in medieval times, right here, right now.

        Well, "here" being the US. Funny enough, I can't remember a single incident in Europe. The combination "gun nut" + "religious nut" isn't so popular here.

    • by brkello (642429)
      Religions, like guns, are a tool. They can be used for good purposes, or used for bad purposes. Unfortunately, too many people use them for bad purposes these days. But are there enough of these bad people out there to ban them for everyone?
      • by Rutefoot (1338385)
        A handgun is designed to be used for two things.

        1) Shooting People

        2) Making People think you're going to shoot them

        Please, enlighten me how else a handgun can be used as a tool.
      • Well, some people think it's a good idea to do it with games, care to inform me where is the difference? I mean, except that nobody so far said "Well, Doom told me it's a good idea to kill people".

  • I F#CKing kill you all! ... sorry I was just playing GTA. I meant to say, good story.
    • by Ant P. (974313)

      We all know about the correlation between mainstream gaming and illiteracy, but what does it have to do with this story?

  • I'm not about to say that everyone who plays violent video games is going to shoot up their school. My shelf has copies of Unreal Tournament, Halo 2, Crysis, Mass Effect, Timeshift, Prey, and several others that most people would consider violent. I'd never, ever shoot up a school; even handling a gun gets me darn close to a panic attack.

    The flip side to this is that every publicized school shooting was perpetrated by students who were playing violent video games. In essence, not every gamer is a school sh

    • by jeff4747 (256583)

      The flip side to this is that every publicized school shooting was perpetrated by students who were playing violent video games

      Please cite an example of a non-Amish male teen that has never played a violent video game

      It's not that the crazy ones play violent video games. All young males these days play video games, and the majority of them include violence

      (Females being far less likely to 1) play video games or 2) shoot up a school. Maybe we need to ban young males from schools.)

  • Really, all I want to know is which game producer funded the person who wrote this editorial? There's lots of evidence about this topic that he's ignoring. To say there's no evidence is either intentionally misleading, or uninformed: http://culturalpolicy.uchicago.edu/conf2001/papers/walsh.html [uchicago.edu]
  • In my opinion, thanks for asking, psychopaths are attracted to violent entertainment, because it is violent and they are psychopaths. For others (normal-ish people) the violence isn't real (because it is a game, after all) and it is fun. Your over or underweight gaming fanatic probably plays vastly more of this stuff than anyone else and killing large swaths of people at school would cut into his gaming time.

  • Seek the link between bullying and school shootings. It won't be hard to find.

    As a casual observer I see that a character named Rocky was the bane of the Trench Coat Mafia. Doubtlessly there were other influences for Klebold and Harris, but those influences are accounted for in a larger bullying dynamic.

  • I recall reading somewhere that it wasn't necessarily the games that made people go postal, the concern was that video games can certainly make you more efficient at it.
  • (In my apparent desire to be burned at the stake by all other Slashdoters, I would like to make a contradictory statement. It's short, I promise.)

    School shootings are the manifestation of some sort of breakdown among a few people because we have a culture of violence. Video games are, without a doubt, part of that culture.

    Politicians demonize violent video games and then go attend the latest military parade.

  • There is a 99.9% Link between violent crime and schooling. 99.9% of all perpetrators of violent crime have a history of going to school, whether it is preschool, kindergarten, primary, secondary, tertiary, private, or public schools, whether for long or short periods. Therefore I urge you all to Think of the Children, and immediately BAN all forms of school, where no doubt violent criminals of the future are being trained.

  • These studies are fucking dumb. Actually, most sociological studies a fucking dumb. The "researchers" already had a conclusion and they conducted "studies" until their conclusion was reached in some abstract way. This isn't like the natural sciences where a definitive conclusion can be reached, so despite questionable results, they will never be able to be refuted.

    All these "video games cause x behavior" studies are a waste of time and money. Has anyone considered that different people react to video games

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