Another unfortunate tragedy has occurred and the traditional media reacts predictably, with a knee-jerk reaction blaming videogames. This is no laughing matter, but how the media is handling the coverage of this situation is quite frankly a joke.
On Monday, September 16 Navy reservist Aaron Alexis, opened fire in a Navy shipyard in Washington DC, killing 12 people before being shot and killed by police. Another senseless tragedy from a troubled individual it appears. Alexis was no stranger to trouble and was already dealing with a lot of issues prior to the shooting.
The gunman was known to carry a .45 caliber everywhere he went, tucked into his waist band without a holster, a stupid and dangerous proposition if I ever heard one. He apparently did this because he feared that people were out to steal his things. He was obviously suffering from paranoia. Warning bells should already be going off in everyone's heads.
Friends and family also claim that he was feeling racially discriminated against and was disgruntled for being underpaid working overseas as a contractor. His father also believes that he was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and had anger management issues stemming from working nearby to the World Trade Center in New York during the 9/11 terror attacks. Warning bell number two and three.
In what was a harbinger to come, Alexis was arrested in 2010 after his firearm discharged inside the home he was staying, going through the ceiling. Warning bell number four.
All it took was one throw away line from a neighbor and friend that Alexis was "obsessed" with first person shooters and that is what the media runs with. The Telegraph even states the "darker side to Alexis's character saw him playing violent "zombie" video games in his room, sometimes from 12.30pm until 4.30am." Did they straight up just make that up?
Officials have reported that Alexis had a long history of mental issues, such as paranoia, which we already determined, a sleep disorder, as well as hearing voices, and that he had been treated regularly since August at a VA Hospital for his mental problems. Game Politics has a great report that can be viewed here.
All the while, the US Navy never declared him unfit to serve even after being cited 8 times for misconduct. In the end, the Navy gave him an Honorable Discharge, which boggles the mind. This information is ripe for the picking on various news sites. The same sites that are slamming videogames are reporting that there clearly is a deeper issue here than the gunman was just obsessed with Call of Duty and/or "violent zombie video games". Here's a just a couple:
The sloppiness of the reporting would be laughable if the story itself behind this shooting wasn't so senseless and tragic. Once again, the media looks for what is the most sensational headline, the good old "Games are out to get us" that generate so many page views and gets the masses all riled up even if it may be irreverent or just a small part of the larger story.
Even if you're not a videogame fan, you can see all the contradictions in their reporting. And who's to stop them? Even though the gaming industry rakes in billions of revenue a year, it does such a piss poor job of protecting its interests compared to other groups. Hopefully that will change however.
I was going to write a separate blog on how Activision recently hired big time lobbying firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld (Apparently they just used www.random-law-firm-name-generator.com) to represent them in Washington when West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller's Violent Videogames Bill goes up for vote in the Senate. You can read more about that here and here. I then realized that the post would be horrible and boring, but it has become all the more topical now given the current situation.
It looks like Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld are going to be working overtime on this. Good thing Activision has deep pockets, because Rockefeller is going to have some more fuel to attack the industry, no matter how misguided it may be.