The recent shooting at Virginia Tech has affected, and shocked, many people and it's a terrible tragedy that something so awful could happen. My thoughts go out to all those involved and I hope they can get back to some semblance of normality as soon as possible.
As tragic as this event was video games are yet again being blamed for the issue. Within hours of the incident Jack Thompson had managed to get onto the television, under the guise of an "expert", and tell people exactly what had happened, despite having no direct knowledge of the incident, and the name of the shooter being unknown. A few hours after the show Kotaku posted a dissection of Jacks ravings showing that the things he said have little basis in fact and are pure sensationalism.
Since then Jack has blamed Bill Gates for the atrocity (a person who has nothing to do with the game he is blaming, Counter-Strike) and MSBNC have blasted Jack Thompson for talking without any sort of evidence (a very interesting article - worth a read).
I am open about my opinion of video game violence. It is essentially, that videos games do not make normal people violent, however violent people will seek out violent media (video games, movies, books, etc).
The BBFC on violent games
A couple of days after the event the bbfc (British Board of Film Classification - who take care of film and video game ratings in the UK) posted a report stating that the media sensationalism of video game violence do little to video game sales, if anything they increase the sales of violent media as people hunt out copies of the games mentioned.
People who do not play games raise concerns about their engrossing nature, assuming that players are also emotionally engrossed. This research suggest the opposite - a range of factors seem to make them less emotionally involving than film or television
I must admit I'm one of those who's considered purchasing Manhunt purely because of the press attention it has received, however I have yet to actually buy a copy.
On the other hand...
The Wired Games blog, Game|Life, recently published a post on video games and parental responsibility. Clive Thompson was playing Gears of War (a rather bloody violent game) when the nanny got home with is son...
it got me thinking: Eventually he's going to want to play video games. And then I'll have to face the traditional child-rearing quandaries that games present. When will I hand him his first controller? Will I let him play the gory combat games I love so much -- and, if so, when?
Being a gamer Clive is an educated parent - and this is a stage that people of my age (I recently turned 27) are getting to. We are becoming the parents and so we are becoming responsible for the upbringing of our offspring. I don't have any children yet, but I like to think that when I do I will bring them up responsibly. Knowing rather a lot about video games I feel I will be able to make informed decisions regarding what they should or shouldn't play.
Hopefully this slowly forming generation of video game aware parents will help reduce the amount of youngsters playing violent games, and in turn reduce the amount of blame games get for violence in society.