Tragedy struck yesterday when 20 year old Adam Lanza walked into an elementary school and opened fire killing 26 people, including 20 children, on the morning of December 14th. Upon the police finding the I.D. of Ryan Lanza, news outlets reported the information and wannabe crusaders went to find justice - on facebook. Quickly finding Ryan Lanzas page they quickly went to the real culprit of the situation: Mass Effect. On the most recent promo picture people started demonizing the video game, stating things such as "they are being brainwashed by these kinda games" and "Hope the makers of these games can one day see the damage they have been doing to the minds of todays youth." Leading to over 1500 comments that range from people demonizing Mass Effect, to people defending Mass Effect, to people in very poor taste blaming Mass Effect 3's ending (although it wasn't great). It was later revealed that the shooter was not Ryan Lanza, but instead Adam Lanza, a 20 year old autistic man. The hate posts have (mostly) subsided, however, it brings heavily to light a worry I have had about social media for a long time.
Stupid people not only have a voice, but with facebook and twitter, they now have an audience.
Video games have always been a subject of blame in situations like this - and its natural. People try to find reason behind unreasonable things, so they blame movies, comic books, that darn rap music, and most recently - video games. However, while its usually just the media, CNN, Fox News, etc. blaming video games, this time regular people armed only with the weapon of laziness targeted Mass Effect. A game where you work with a diverse group of alien species to stop a group of robot aliens from committing genocide. At least with games like Doom, Fear, or Counter - Strike you can make a semi-reasonable (though silly) argument that the game MAY have caused some psychological damage, or in the case of Counter-Strike - "trained or desensitized" the shooter. But with Mass Effect you don't even reasonably have these arguments. However, the facebook crusaders don't even try - they simply demonize a game they know nothing about for the sake of blaming something they don't understand.
Social media is an axe. It is an incredibly useful tool, you can use it to build yourself shelter, or carve a toy, or to clear a path. However it can also be used as a weapon, which is exactly what these people did. Instead of researching the issue, or waiting for developments, they picked up their axe and brought it down on Mass Effect. The internet revolted and now there are over 1000 comments insulting and bashing these people. However, this is not a good reaction either. We want people to realize video games are not just for children (and that some like Mass Effect, were never intended for children), we want people to stop blaming things they don't understand, but petty insults and childish jabs are not going to win anyone over. They just solidify the idea that video games are ruining todays youth.
And for those looking for something to blame for yesterdays shooting: Blame the asshole with the gun who shot 20 kids. There is no justification, there is no reason. It is just madness.