Chapter 11: Do Video Games Kill?
-After a release of video game “Doom” in 1993, it became a target for critics. After its
release, Doom helped video gaming grow into a multibillion-dollar industry, surpassing
Hollywood box-office revenues and further fanning public anxieties.
-In ten years following Doom’s release, homicide arrest rates fell by 77 percent among
juveniles. School shootings were extremely rare; even during the 1990s, when fears of
school violence were high; students had less than a 7 in 10 million chance of being killed
Contemporary folk devils
In the absence of a simple explanation, the public symbolically linked these rare and
complex events to the shooters’ alleged interest in video games, finding in them catchall
explanations for what seemed unexplainable- the white, middle-class school shooter.
Politicians and other moral crusaders frequently create “folk evils”, individuals or
groups defined as evil and immoral.
Video games, these who play them and those who create them have become
contemporary folk devils because they seem to pose a threat to children.
Such games have come to represent a variety of social anxieties – youth violence, new
computer technology and the apparent decline in the ability of adults to
control what young people do and know.
Politicians often engage in battles characterized as between good and evil.
In 2005, Senators Joseph Libernan , Sam Brownvack, Hilalry Rodham Clinton, and Rick
Santorum introduced a bill. A bill that called for 90 million to fund studies on media
Since 1997, newspapers and politicians focused on video games as central explanation
for the Paducah, Springfield and Litttleton shootings.
Littleton shootings, which has the highest death toll inspired most of the news
stories alleging a video game connection.
Across the country, the press attributed much of the blame to video games specifically
and to Hollywood more generally.
The video game connection took precedence in all these news reports. Some stories
mentioned other explanations, such as the shooters’ social rejection, feelings of
alienation at school and depression but these were treated mostly as minor factors
compared with video games.
Reporters gave these other reasons far less attention han violent video games and
frequently discussed them at the end of the articles.
David Groosman, a former army lieutenant described as a professor of : ”killology” has
claimed that video games are murder simulators and serve as an equivalent to military
Reporting on Research
While a handful of articles note the roles that guns, poverty, families and the
organization of schools may play in youth violence in general when reporters mention
research to explain the shooter’ behavior, the vast majority of studies cited concern
media effects, suggesting that video games are a central cause.
Research on media became more intense following the rise in violent crime in the us
between the 1960s and early 1990s focusing on television.
Other media effects studies rely on correlation analysis often finding small relationship
between the media and aggressive behavior but sometimes statistically significant links
between exposure to media violence and aggressive behaviors are found
But such studies do not demonstrate that media violence causes aggressive behavior
only that the two phenomena exist together.
Excluding a host of other factors such as the growing unrest during the civil
rights and antiwar movements and the disappearance of jobs in central cities
make it seem that a direct link exists between the introduction of television and
homicides. In all likelihood any connection is incidental
It is equally likely that more aggressive people are likely to seek for more violent
Aggression – a broad range of emotions and behaviors. It is not always synonymous with
Measure of aggression in media –measures of media vary widely from observing play
between children and inanimate objects to counting the number of speeding
tickets a person received.
Psychologist Jonathan Freedman concluded that the majority of studies produced
evidence that is inconsistent or even contradicts the claim that exposure to
media violence causes real violence.
Video games have become a focused of research. Reviews of this growing literature have
also been mixed
-2001 Meta analysis in Psychological science – video games will increase aggressive
-A similar review – it is not possible to determine whether video game violence affects