It seems like we can't go a few months without the media blaming videogames for an act of violence. Last week, an 8-year-old Louisiana boy intentionally shot and killed his 90-year-old grandmother.
Marie Smothers, the boy's grandmother and caregiver was apparently shot in the head while watching television. The motives for the shooting are still unknown, but the police are quick to point out that the boy was playing Grand Theft Auto IV. Case closed right? Nothing to see here, we have the culprit. It’s the videogame obviously.
There is no mention from police as to where this boy got a loaded gun, but this very fact is the most concerning and important aspect to the entire story, whether he may have been playing GTA IV is circumstantial. It's not my place to make this a discussion about gun control, as that's a can of worms that I'd rather stay away from since this is a videogame blog, I’d rather discuss how gaming ties into this story. In the end, there was a loaded gun that was easily accessible to a child. That friends, is the most damning issue.
What I don't and never understood is why the media glosses over this fact, and gives equal weight to the fact that he was playing Grand Theft Auto IV. Fox News interviewed Kristopher Kaliebe, a child psychologist believes of course, that the Grand Theft Auto IV may have been what sparked the violent behavior.
"From a behavior therapy perspective, I would say that's practicing," said Kaliebe. "So, if you have a videogame where someone shoots at a target, that's sort of practicing shooting at a target. When you have a video game that is shooting at a human being, that is practicing shooting at a human being."
I find this completely ridiculous. This is a constant recurring theme. We have been hearing for years from so called experts that videogames are training our youth to be violent and are “murder simulators”, now they allow people to practice being murderers.
Kaliebe, in the end, does redeem himself in my eyes when he states that the game is rated “M” and in no way appropriate for an 8-year-old child. As always, you wouldn’t allow an 8-year-old to watch an R-rated movie, you shouldn’t allow him to play an M-rated game. I also might add that you shouldn’t keep loaded firearms laying around the house either. I recommend that you watch the local Fox News report here. It's surprisingly fair, but there are still some questionable statements made.
This is common sense for us gamers. Unfortunately, for the mainstream media, common sense doesn’t drive ratings. Sensationalism and fear mongering do. I can’t wait to see the day where videogames are no longer demonized and are looked at in the same vein as film. I reckon we’ll have to wait a little while longer for that to happen. In the mean time, unfortunately, I fully expect to continue hearing stories like these on the news.