Do violent video games spawn mass murderers?

A while back, I was getting beat up all the time. Then I began to study video fighting games in earnest.

Now when my arch enemy turns into water, slides over to me, then refreezes and gives me an uppercut, I retaliate with my Heaven’s Drop super move, just to soften him up before wielding the coup de grace of Tumbling Dice.

I’m not ashamed to admit over a glass of mineral water that I’ve played video games for a long time — at least since the bouncing ball of Pong hit the bars. The ball was actually square, but no matter. It was an OK game, albeit a little short on plot.

Before long, Pong’s ball evolved into a yellow munchie thing called Pac-Man, who was pursued around a maze by varicoloured ghosts. Harmless fun, it would seem. No pixels were irreparably harmed during its reign.

Nowadays, video games are the stomping ground of megacorps. In the early Eighties, 8,000 bytes would buy you an entire game, coded more tightly than the suspension on a Ferrari F430 Spider. But today, who counts bytes? Apparently, no one.

These games are gigantic in terms of resources, disc space and advertising budget. They also, in general, are not as fun as they used to be. Or as hard.

As in the “real” world, game companies get swallowed by bigger companies and bigger companies get swallowed by BIG companies.

But the question was: do video games spawn mass murderers? Some pundits seem to think so. Basement-dwelling kid (“he seemed like such a nice boy”) plays Grand Theft Auto 20 hours a day, goes to school one day and turns it into a shooting gallery.

Conclusion: Grand Theft Auto is bad.

Let’s try this for size: Basement-dwelling kid No. 2 (“he seemed like such a nice boy”) sees a big picture of basement-dwelling kid No. 1 in parents’ newspaper. (Some people still read newspapers, apparently.) Kid No. 2 thinks, “Wow, I’d get my picture in the paper if I killed somebody. I’m nobody now, but wait until tomorrow.”

Conclusion: Newspapers are bad.

Michael Gillgannon is the former news editor of The Western Producer and managing editor of Western People. Contact: humour@producer.com

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