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Issue Date: Vol. 53, No. 1, January 2013, Posted On: 12/21/2012


Videogame Violence Debate Explodes After Sandy Hook Massacre


Marcus Webb
TAGS: video games, video game violence, video game debate, violence in videogames, Sandy Hook massacre, Joseph Lieberman, GamerFitNation, Entertainment Software Association, shooting video game, video game censorship

WASHINGTON -- In the wake of the horrific mass slayings at a Connecticut elementary school on Dec. 14, the briefly dormant debate over violence in videogames -- and over whether games contribute to such tragedies -- has reignited nationwide with a vengeance.

On Capitol Hill, there are vague threats of censorship and new bills that would require new federal studies of the issue, even while games industry groups insist that there is no link between fantasy violence and real-life violence. And at least one player association has announced a one-day moratorium on playing shooting games.

Meanwhile in Hollywood, Reuters reported that some major studios and cable networks have "canceled, postponed or played down a slew of movies and TV shows with violent content" in response to public outcry over the event.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) on Dec. 18 introduced a bill that would direct the U.S. National Academy of Sciences to study the effects of videogame violence on children.

Rockefeller accused the industry of making billions "on marketing and selling violent content to children," adding: "They have a responsibility to protect our children. If they do not, you can count on the Congress to take a more aggressive role."

One week after Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 children and six teachers at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, there are still no credible reports that he was a player of so-called "violent" videogames -- much less that Lanza was a constant player, a heavy player or that his actions were in any way influenced by media.

Nevertheless, rumors continue to proliferate -- across the media, throughout the Internet and in Congress -- that Lanza was obsessed by shoot-'em-up viddies.

In a typical example, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), a longtime critic of the games industry, claimed Lanza was "hypnotized" by shooting games. As reported previously by Vending Times, Lieberman has also called for the reestablishment of a National Commission on Violence in response to the Sandy Hook shootings. | SEE STORY

The Entertainment Software Association responded to Rockefeller's bill with a statement issued Dec. 19. The ESA said any future report by NAS on videogames should "include the years of extensive research that has shown no connection between entertainment and real-life violence."

A player group calling itself GamerFitNation has called for players to voluntarily refrain from playing online shooting games for 24 hours on Dec. 21. The group's president said the event, called "Gamers Day of Cease Fire," is intended to express sympathy with victims of the Newtown shootings and their families, not to blame games for the massacre.


Topic: Music and Games Features

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