Saturday, April 21, 2007

Games Don't Kill People, People...

I've been agonizing for a few days now about whether or not to even write this post or not as by now we have all become massively overwhelmed by the tragic events at Virginia Tech, and the tidal wave of media coverage that has battered us all week. But I have something I want to say, so please bear with me.

What happened at Virginia Tech is a tragedy beyond comprehension, the act of an insane monster, whose motivations and actions are beyond me. But what has happened since Monday has, in my mind been equally as tragic. That happening is the constant, all-consuming media coverage that has taken and created a media cottage industry, and I find it reprehensible. Why is that CNN and the other private broadcasters in North America (the US networks and CTV and Global in Canada), felt the need to trot out for our consumption every canned "expert" that they could find to analyze, go over, rehash, and flog to death the events at Virginia Tech. It was nothing short of a visual and auditory assault, particularly when they broadcasted the murderer's "manifesto". Talk about your 15 minutes of infamy - he is going on 6 days and counting.

But the item that has really hit home for me s the crazy notion that it was video games that drove the killer to do what he did. There is absolutely no evidence that he was a gamer yet "experts" like Dr. Phil on Larry King Live blame video games for the actions of a madman. What about gun laws that allow unstable individuals to legally purchase hand guns, to buy large capacity magazines (in one report the killer was thought to have had 30-round magazines and fired nearly 200 rounds), and hollow-point bullets that are designed specifically for maximum lethality?

As an educator who sees the values of games and gaming as learning tools for engaging the current generation, my job has now become that much more difficult when I try to propose the innovative use of games in my professional practice. Why is there this insatiable need for mainstream media to go on and on about a tragedy, employing so called experts as talking heads to fill in their airtime? Why cannot they just report the events like they are supposed to and then give people the time and the privacy they need to heal?

I don't have the answers, but I do know that the media has to stop their current tactics of inundating us with microscopic details about what has happened - no wonder there are copycats.

To end this on a positive note, please check out my friend Carolyn's blog post "What's Your Secret?". It's an amazing video done by a group of students from my college - it's worth a look and for me puts some perspective on this past week's events. A good way to end...


Robert said...

"What about gun laws..."

I'm relatively sure that the lunatic who killed all those people at VT would have done so, gun laws or now gun laws. Gun laws, or the lack thereof, are about as much to blame as video games.

The problem is that we live in a sick culture, and some members of it are sicker than others. Banning games won't affect this and neither will banning guns.

Ian H. MacLeod said...

Thanks for the comment Robert.

I think that you can implement gun laws that could help limit, but probably not eliminate totally the opportunities for unstable individuals to get weapons (a truly determined individual will always find a way). Limit magazine capacity, and the sale of hollow-point and other extended lethality ammunition. Make it harder to get handguns - it won't stop everyone, but it will help.

More importantly, let's do something about the bullying and teasing that creates the marginalized loners that evolve into these madmen - get out of our silos and start helping each other - maybe that will start healing the sick culture you refer to.