Playing the violence blame game again

Theodore R. Griffiths
Assoc. Opinion Editor

This is the first week back for The Snapper and our infamous opinion section, so I thought I would cover something that the entire world is watching, like Syria. Then I read about the situation, watched a few clips of the motionless citizens after apparent chemical attacks, listened to John Kerry play Mr. World Policeman and decided that this week was just not good for me.
I need something a bit more relaxing, something tranquil, something tame, something like an 8-year-old boy shooting his 90-year-old caregiver in the back of the head.
So it begins.
A couple of weeks ago, as many of you may remember, a young boy from Louisiana shot his caregiver in the back of the head after apparently playing the video game “Grand Theft Auto IV.”
Members of the media, from Fox News to NBC to CNN stated that this young boy was playing the violent game prior to the shooting, calling it “a realistic game that has been associated with encouraging violence and awards points to players for killing people.”
That statement in itself is paradoxical, mainly because you cannot call something realistic if it awards you points for killing people. The only time I have heard points associated with killing something in reality is when I hear someone mention a “10-point buck.” Pardon my lack of hunting knowledge, because I have no idea what that means, but I’m pretty sure this 8-year-old didn’t receive 10 points for killing his caregiver.
My other issue is the lack of research done on the game that supposedly caused this murder. There is no point system in any “Grand Theft Auto” games. There is a basic story your character can follow, some missions that can be attempted on the side, and a whole lot of driving your car at extreme speeds into walls to watch your character fly through the windshield and stand up with nary a scratch. The realism is astonishing.gta4
There is another thing that makes absolutely no sense, and that is the fact that correlation does not imply causation. This is something my psychology major girlfriend yells at me about all the time. This boy played a video game, and in that video game he killed pixels representing people, but not people. That series of events does not make him a trained killer, it only means that he could pull the plastic trigger on his Dualshock 3 and shoot pixelated bullets at pixelated people.
If video games had a direct impact on the real world, then I should be a blond, spiky-haired ex-SOLDIER named Cloud Strife that has only one objective: to destroy the evil Shinra Electric Power Company and the abomination that is Sephiroth. Unfortunately, I am merely a mortal and not completely insane, so that thought is shockingly irrational and idiotic, considering that this same logic is used by “professional” journalists.
We see here a glaring problem: the fact that the only thing we are focusing on is the video game. No one seems to care that there was a loaded gun available, and obviously out in the open, to an 8-year-old child. I am in no way saying that the death of this boy’s caregiver was in part caused by her decision to keep a deadly weapon in the reach of a young boy, but I also refuse to say that it was not a factor, because it definitely holds more weight than the nonexistent link between “Grand Theft Auto IV” and the eventual murder.
We also seem to forget that either this boy’s parents or caregiver are incredibly irresponsible, especially considering that they were letting an 8-year-old child play a video game that is rated “M” for mature. The rating of “M” means that a decision was made by the ESRB that “Grand Theft Auto IV” was deemed suitable for people ages 17 and up. Once again, I won’t say that this caregiver or this boy’s parents caused this murder, but I will say that their actions did more damage than a video game ever could.
Of course, we have people like Kristopher Kaliebe (a man posing as a psychologist) stating, “If you have a video game 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.”
Unfortunately for Kristopher Kaliebe, that is not “sort of” the same thing. Taking an actual gun and shooting at a target, or a human, or a deer, that may be practice, but taking a plastic controller and shooting a fake gun at pixels representing objects from a third person perspective is not practice. That is a Sunday afternoon for me, yet I never plan on even touching a real gun in my life.