His opinion is an unpopular one, but one I happen to share. Let me excerpt a little bit of it for you:
*snip*It’s scary now to think that I ever had anything in common with school shooters. I don’t enjoy admitting that. But I did have a lot in common with them. I was angry, had access to guns, felt ostracized, and didn’t make friends easily. I engaged in violence and wrote about killing people in my notes to peers.But there is one significant difference between me at 16 and 17 years of age and most high school shooters: I didn’t play violent video games.As a child, my mother taught me that all video games were “evil.” That’s the word she used. And although that word might be a little extreme, I grew up thinking that there was something very, very wrong with pretending on a video screen. My mother also called playing video games “wasting your life” and “dumbing yourself down.” I thought my mother was ridiculous, but her opinions stuck with me anyway.
(Emphasis, of course, is mine.)Now I am not anti-video game crusader Jack Thompson. I’m not suggesting that everyone who plays a video game will act out that video game in reality. But I am saying that it is very dangerous to allow troubled, angry, teenage boys access to killing practice, even if that access is only virtual killing practice. The military uses video games to train soldiers to kill, yet we don’t consider “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3″ training for addicted teenage players? A high school boy who plays that game 30 hours per week isn’t training to kill somebody?I am not surprised that school shooters love violent video games. As an angry, troubled teen, I would’ve probably loved to shoot hundreds of people on-screen. That might’ve felt nice.
Again, an unpopular opinion.
But here's the thing. We know that kids are influenced by what they see on TV. You've heard of the Bobo Doll experiment, right? Kids who watched a video on TV where they saw a person knocking around this doll did the same thing themselves.
But that's television. And generations of kids grew up watching Tom & Jerry cartoons and didn't ape the violence contained therein.
And then there is the simple fact that millions of people play video games, and only a handful of people go crazy and shoot everyone they can in a public place. Hell, I've played hours and hours of Diablo (I and II), Dungeon Siege, Baldur's Gate (I & II), etc. and my gun stays calmly on the top shelf of my closet. And the same can be said for the vast and overwhelming majority of video gamers out there.
But here's the piece of the puzzle you are missing if you dismiss out of hand the idea that playing these games can have an impact: you and I are relatively psychologically normal. Maybe we deal with anxiety, maybe depression. But that's run of the mill stuff. We're run of the mill people.
It is wrong to dismiss the argument wholesale because they do not affect psychologically normal teenagers and adults. We're not the ones we need to worry about. The possibility, and it is scary and very real if you let go of your instinctive recoil for a minute, is that these games might just be one small piece of what pushes someone over into violent pathology.
Please note, I am not saying this is the whole thing. I don't even think it's a very large part of the picture. I think it's a tiny little thing that wouldn't affect 99.9% of the population. I don't think a depressed person will be driven to suicide by playing video games. I don't think that a normally angry person will be driven to violence by playing video games (were that true, I'd have run over my ex-husband during our separation, with all the Dungeon Siege I was playing back then).
However, I do think that, for a tiny little subset of the population who are on that knife's edge, these games can help push them a little farther toward the dangerous side.
Does that mean I think there should be increased government regulation of video games? Hell no. No more than I think that there should be increased government regulation of guns. In neither case should the vast majority of people, who use these things peacefully and who will never ever ever ever be edged toward violence by them, should be made be even slightly inconvenienced out of fear of what that 0.1% of the population (if that large a number) might do.
What it does mean is that I think we need to sit down and truly consider that things which are innocuous for normal people aren't necessarily so for the pathological person out there (remember, pathology is defined by the Four Ds: deviance, danger, dysfunction, and distress). And we need to make sure that parents know this, so that they are aware that if their kids present all these other problems (read what Peter Brown Hoffmeister has to say about the narrow profile), what was once a safe outlet maybe isn't safe anymore.
Now, Brown Hoffmeister does one up me in a great way. Usually I can't make that leap to what can help the issue. He does. But you're going to have to read it, but I bet if you stop to think about what your son (or the sons of people you know, if you don't have any or if like mine they're still in that puking and crying stage of life) does other than play video games, you'll get it. It's one of those obvious and staring us in the face things and I for one am embarrassed that I missed it.