In light of the tragedy that occurred on December 14th, at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, the idea that video games were the source of the violent behavior by the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, has surfaced. It was inevitable that this idea was bound to emerge, as it is often referenced by the media in the wake of most murders or other violent crimes committed by young people.
Adam Lanza has been identified to have been a fan of video games, ranging from Call of Duty to Dance
Dance Revolution, which is not unlike the majority of people in his age-group, so what makes his
situation different? What cements the idea that video games are the cause of this particular incident?
This is not to say that he may not have been affected by this medium, but when the vast majority of an
age-group engages in the same activity, without embarking on massacres of their own, there is little
room for generalizations. It should be noted that Lanza also had a large penchant for guns and military
equipment, adorning the basement of his house, where he and his older brother Ryan spent a lot of
time, with posters of military equipment and guns.
Their mother Nancy Lanza, also a gun enthusiast, had apparently introduced them to firearms at a young
age to impart them with a “sense of responsibility,” as reported by CNN. While Call of Duty may have
played a role in facilitating their knowledge of firearms, these games were not always around or at least
as popular, with 2007 marking the release of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, a landmark in the series as
its popularity then exploded soon after. Conversely, it would be difficult to claim that Dance Dance
Revolution had any influence on the massacre.
Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut has always been one major opponent of violence in video
games. Last Tuesday Dec. 18th, he stated on the Senate floor, “Very often these young men have an
almost hypnotic involvement in some form of violence in our entertainment culture – particularly violent
video games.” This has been a scorching debate topic for years now, which never produces concrete results in and outside of psychological experiments.
Craig A. Anderson, PhD, of the American Psychological Association theorizes that “Pure empirical facts
often have relatively little meaning and are seldom convincing.” In our own personal lives, especially the patrons of Twinfinite, video games have been a progressive and present entity, but whether they are virulent is up for debate. As has been shown countless times before, it is nearly impossible to perfectly identify the correlation and causation between video games and violent behavior when violence is always amok, surging through all the media in our lives.
Allegations such as that of Sen. Lieberman’s begin to feel more antiquated as the years have progressed, ironically enough with video game franchises like Call of Duty still generating such large profits. It does not help when his back-up evidence is “rumors” he heard that Adam Lanza landed in the category of the young man hypnotized by the portrayal of violence in modern entertainment, specifically video games.
If that were not enough, a representative of the National Rifle Association has been reported to have put the blame on video games, among other forms of media, for the recent shootings, including another one in Pennsylvania just today on December 21st. Gun control has been a very hot topic as of recently, and yet the NRA is quick to press the blame on entertainment without making any reference to gun regulation or law as a possible correlation to these tragedies, according to Forbes. One of the games that the NRA specifically cited as a prime example of what probably contributed to the shootings is Mortal Kombat, which only has one gun used by one character, Stryker, who is supposed to be a cop.
When it all boils down to rumors and the absence of solid evidence, the foundation of these claims is
likely to crumble, seeming more like a waste of breath. The blame on video games seems to be a waning
generalization at present time. These same video games and other media are present in other countries
all around the world, and yet there is a substantially smaller amount of mass shootings anywhere else
than in the United States. In that case, maybe the video games themselves really are not the problem
For more on Adam Lanza and the Sandy Hook massacre, click here.
For more on Senator Lieberman’s statement, click here.
For Forbes’ stance on the NRA’s statement, click here.
You can also check out Dr. Anderson’s theory and agenda here.