Expert Says Blaming Videogames for Violence is Racist

Andy Chalk

One Flag, One Fleet, One Cat
Nov 12, 2002
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Expert Says Blaming Videogames for Violence is Racist


A clinical psychologist says that blaming videogames for outbreaks of mass violence is not only a waste of time but also actually smacks of racism.

It's a sadly familiar pattern. Somebody snaps and kills a bunch of people, and fingers immediately start pointing at videogames. The most recent example is the horrific mass murder in Oslo, Norway, that left 76 people dead at the hands of a lunatic who claimed that he used Modern Warfare 2 [http://www.amazon.com/Call-Duty-Modern-Warfare-Xbox-360/dp/B00269QLI8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1311958255&sr=8-1] to train for the attack. But Christopher Ferguson, a psychologist at Texas A&M and well-known expert on videogame violence, says that such accusations are not only a waste of time, but even a little bit racist.

"I know it's a little controversial to say but there's a certain type of racism in place with these killings," he told Forbes [http://blogs.forbes.com/johngaudiosi/2011/07/28/expert-calls-blaming-video-games-on-tragic-massacres-like-oslo-and-columbine-racist/]. "When shootings happen in an inner city in minority-populated schools, videogames are never brought up. But when these things happen in white majority schools and in the suburbs, people start to freak out and videogames are inevitably blamed. I think that there's a certain element of racism or ignorance here."

The problem, he said, is that the public doesn't want to accept that these killing sprees are effectively random and unstoppable. "People really want to know what kind of boogeyman can we hang this on and videogames are still the top choice when it comes to any type of tragedy," he added.

But he also pointed out that the anti-videogame rhetoric is far more muted today than it was a decade ago. The extensive research that's been done in the years since the 1999 Columbine murders have largely debunked the idea that violent media contributes to violent behavior, a point emphasized by the recent Supreme Court decision affirming the First Amendment rights of videogames.

"One thing we've learned from research is that approximately 95 percent of young boys have played a violent videogame. That becomes a tricky thing when these mass homicides occur and the shooter is a young male. The odds are he's played violent videogames," Ferguson said.

"Linking the playing of violent videogames to a mass homicide when the perpetrator is a young male is like blaming the killing on the fact that he was wearing sneakers," he continued, noting the "statistical anomaly" of Virginia Tech killer Seung-Hui Cho, who did not play videogames. "The base rate of that behavior is so common that it has no predictive value whatsoever."


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Sp3ratus

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Apr 11, 2009
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Now, if only all the crazies would listen to smart people like this guy, we'd be getting somewhere. Unfortunately, that most likely won't happen, as is rightly pointed out in the article:
Andy Chalk said:
The problem, he said, is that the public doesn't want to accept that these killing sprees are effectively random and unstoppable. "People really want to know what kind of boogeyman can we hang this on and videogames are still the top choice when it comes to any type of tragedy," he added.
Having someone or something to blame makes people feel more secure, even if it's false security. It's the same reason heavy metal and the like were blamed for "corrupting" the minds of the young, when it first emerged.

I would, however, like to add, that it's nice to see someone with knowledge in the area actually defending our beloved video games, when they're being attacked by irrational people.
 

ddq5

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Jun 18, 2009
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There certainly is a double standard in the media. When an Arabic person perpetrates an act of terrorism, everyone jumps on Islam's tits. When a white person commits a violent act of similar magnitude, they immediately attack video games. I guess they'd rather demonize games than Christian Conservativism.
 

GaltarDude1138

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Jan 19, 2011
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You hear that, Fox? You're racist!

Seriously though, how does that make any logical sense? He says himself 95 percent of boys have played violent videogames, and I'm pretty sure that would be regardless of color of skin or country of origin, so someone explain to me how this makes sense in his mind....
 

TehAardvark

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Apr 4, 2011
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Never looked at it like this before, but it's a good point on both counts. I always tended to argue that any work of fiction would have the same effect as a video game in skewing perspective and moral reasoning to those who are already unstable, but I've never considered that anymore it should be considered a non-factor.
 

FaceFaceFace

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Nov 18, 2009
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GaltarDude1138 said:
You hear that, Fox? You're racist!

Seriously though, how does that make any logical sense? He says himself 95 percent of boys have played violent videogames, and I'm pretty sure that would be regardless of color of skin or country of origin, so someone explain to me how this makes sense in his mind....
I thought it made perfect sense. Black teenagers are involved in shootings, the media says meh, typical. White teenagers are involved in shootings, the media says, oh god, video games have corrupted our innocent white youth into murderous monsters. It's a double standard, and it's a little bit racist.
 

slacker09

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Aug 2, 2010
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GaltarDude1138 said:
You hear that, Fox? You're racist!

Seriously though, how does that make any logical sense? He says himself 95 percent of boys have played violent videogames, and I'm pretty sure that would be regardless of color of skin or country of origin, so someone explain to me how this makes sense in his mind....
Because the video game issue usually comes up when the shooters are middle to upper class white men, but ignored when the shooting occurs with lower class black men. He saying that its racist that they only look at video games, or rather any sort of outside influence, when the shooter is white, but not black. It implies that black people are more likely to just be violent without outside influences, which would be racist.

edit: ninja'd by one post
 

Baresark

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Dec 19, 2010
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ddq5 said:
There certainly is a double standard in the media. When an Arabic person perpetrates an act of terrorism, everyone jumps on Islam's tits. When a white person commits a violent act of similar magnitude, they immediately attack video games. I guess they'd rather demonize games than Christian Conservativism.
Not to disagree really, but you can't blame any system of political or social thought on the actions of crazy people.

OT: It's not actually racism. It's for sure a double standard. But racism isn't the big horrible mutated elephant in the room people seem to think it is. I would invite everyone to read the book, "RAce and Economics" by Walter E Williams. DO EET!!!!
 

aldowyn

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Mar 1, 2010
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For those talking about the racism part: It's hard to come up with in an article, but I'd say the two above posters have it right. As for the rest of it, this guy really does seem to know what he's talking about. That a kid has played violent videogames is as important as that he was wearing sneakers, I like that line.
 

Eggsnham

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Apr 29, 2009
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EverythingIncredible said:
Racism? Really? We're going there?

That is stupid.
He actually makes a good point on it.

OT: I wish people would just get their heads out of their asses and clean the shit from their ears in order to listen to people who know way more about these types of things than they ever will.

It kinda reminds of the Hypochondriac vs. Professional Doctor sort of scenario.
 

CrazyCapnMorgan

Is not insane, just crazy >:)
Jan 5, 2011
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Before video games, before games of any sort there was violent behavior.

These people who wish to make video games the next social hysteria are putting the horse before the cart here. How do they explain Hitler then? Or Mao or Billy the Kid or a hundred other examples I could give inthis manner?

People need to stop blaming the tools and start looking in the f#$%ing mirror.
 

ninja51

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Mar 28, 2010
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All of his points are fantastic except the racism one. Its a bit too much of a stretch
 

Dr Snakeman

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Apr 2, 2010
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EverythingIncredible said:
Racism? Really? We're going there?

That is stupid.
Indeed. While I applaud this guy for trying to bring people to their senses regarding games, you're skating on very thin ice by calling this "racism". I guess the logic makes some sense, but still.
 

Canadamus Prime

Robot in Disguise
Jun 17, 2009
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Racism? Really? I mean I'm dead set against blaming video games for things, but do we really need to go there?
 

ryo02

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James Crook said:
Hah, wrong word choice buddy xD
That was actually pretty funny
wrong word but beyond that its a decent point people do jump on games far too often despite being proved wrong just as often.
 

Giest4life

The Saucepan Man
Feb 13, 2010
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It smacks of bigotry and ignorance, but racism? Not really. Good, though, he pointed out that pinning violent outbursts onto videogames has the same statistical worth as blaming them onto sneakers.

Somebody should really let Fox News know that.