Expert Says Blaming Massacres On Video Games Smacks Of Racism

When tragedies such as the recent massacre in Oslo, Norway occur, the first place many look to lay blame is in the video games the perpetrators played. According to clinical psychologist Christopher Ferguson, when white males kill and games are blamed, there may be racism at play.

While there is concrete evidence that accused Oslo shooter Anders Behring Breivik played games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, Texas A&M University International's Christopher Ferguson doesn't believe the games were a cause of the crime, any more than Doom or Quake cause the 1999 massacre in Columbine, Colorado.

"I know it's a little controversial to say but there's a certain type of racism in place with these killings," said Ferguson. "When shootings happen in an inner city in minority-populated schools, video games are never brought up. But when these things happen in white majority schools and in the suburbs, people start to freak out and video games are inevitably blamed. I think that there's a certain element of racism or ignorance here."

An expert in both video game violence and mass killings, Ferguson has dedicated much time to the study of the effect of violent video games in children, recently publishing a in-depth study on said effects on children of multiple nationalities. He knows what he's talking about, at least as well as anyone else claiming to be an expert in the field of video games on behaviour.

People look to violent video games as a way to explain away behaviour that's difficult or even painful to try and understand. They want something to rail against, when in reality such crimes are impossible to predict or prevent. The growing popularity of video games among young men makes the hobby an easy target.

"Linking the playing of violent video games to a mass homicide when the perpetrator is a young male is like blaming the killing on the fact that he was wearing sneakers," said Ferguson. "The base rate of that behaviour is so common that it has no predictive value whatsoever."

Ferguson does note that the violent video game finger-pointing seems to have calmed somewhat in regards to the massacre in Oslo, perhaps due to the fact that it took place so far from U.S. soil, or maybe, just maybe, video games are coming to the point where they're such a part of our culture people are finally realising they're just another form of entertainment. "There are groups out there who are going to blame video games on everything," said Ferguson.

And what of the extremely vocal minority here in the U.S.?

"They're like ambulance chasers, really. I think it's irresponsible and thoughtless to try to make political gain off of someone else's tragedy, but they're going to do it. That's what they do."

Expert Calls Blaming Video Games On Tragic Massacres Like Oslo And Columbine Racist [Forbes]


Comments

    Makes absolute sense doesn't it. When a gangbanger gets shot in LA, do we blame it on GTA or CoD? No. When a young kid shoots his brother like happened earlier this year... does the media? Yes.

    I wouldn't say it is racism as much as it is descrimination. Ferguson is treading a fine line himself - while he hasn't said the exact words, he does suggest that "gamers" mean "white males." You know, because women video gamers don't exist... Or any gamer of other colour, for that matter, female or not.

      I'm reading it the other way around. If it's a white male, then GAMES are the only explanation. If its a minority, it's interpreted as pent up frustration of being a minority, or some cause linked to that minority, e.g. Middle Eastern people and Terrorism.

      I think what he actually meant was:
      If an ethnic minority shoots someone. Video games are never blamed as people will just perceived that as normal and take it as that that guy did this horrible thing is believable because he is not white.

      but if a white person did the same thing, media will blame it on video game because they refuse to believe a white person would commit such a crime and only an ethnic minority would do such a thing so they will have to find a scapegoat for that.

      So yeah, he is talking racism.

      Well actually, he's saying the complete opposite - everyone games, but when a black person commits a crime, it's entirely their fault. That's an absurd double standard.

        no hes not saying that at all hes saying that when those ethnic groups do commit those crimes, that video games (99% of the time) aren't called into question, such as with white people. that's information not opinion.

      "You know, because women video gamers don’t exist"

      Could not be further from the truth. http://images.vizworld.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Video-Game-Statistics-full.jpg

      Some of the stats are now outdated, however you get the point.

        you didn't pick up on her sarcasm? huh...

          Nope. I kind of look like an idiot now... *Hides*

    “Linking the playing of violent video games to a mass homicide when the perpetrator is a young male is like blaming the killing on the fact that he was wearing sneakers,” said Ferguson. “The base rate of that behaviour is so common that it has no predictive value whatsoever.”

    Greatest quote evar.

      Omg, I'm wearing sneakers right now!

        You maniac!

          Y'all better be runnin'.
          My favourite shoes are white sneakers.
          Mwahahaha

      I think you will find most psychopaths that commit these comes have a fascination for military doctrine gear etc and probably wear boots

      However the fact they wear boots would be less common then the fact they play games and thus is a better indicator

      Omg I wear bootz...

      (This comment is a comedic statement using a factual basis and I do understand the concept behind the original quote.)

        Damn, your disclaimer gives me nothing to complain about.

    Maybe not necessarily racism, but it does have a hefty dose of "us vs them" about it.

    Someone from a group you don't count yourself a part of does something horrific and that's tragic but expected of them

    Someone from a group you do count yourself a part of something horrific and that's tragic but he's not really one of us because he's actually one of them.

    More a means of disassociating yourself from the actions of someone you disapprove of than anything else. Still quite sad to see that people just can't accept that there are bad eggs everywhere.

    When I saw the title of the article I was concerned that it was going to be a miserable stab at the media saying something to the effect of "Oh, those crazy white people and their video games!" and I guess I wasn't far off, but it does raise an interesting point.

    It does seem that only young white males get investigated for videogame crimes, and maybe that's because rich white males who are in control of the media are afraid not only of video games as a threat to them, but of being associated with events like Columbine and Oslo?

    It's like they don't want to admit that sometimes white people are just as messed up as everyone else, so let's blame social factors.

    There's been some fascinating commentary on the "young black male" suspect in the US - often times the "young black male" is something else entirely, and there's even cases where people lying to the police automatically invent a "young black male" as their cover story because that's the image of crime represented to them by the media.
    So when you say a black male committed a crime in the Us there's a tendency to assume it was a drug crime or a gang crime, that they came from a poor socio-economic background, and so forth.

    A young white male? Holy shit! That could be ANYONE. That could be MY SON. QUICKLY, FIND THE REASON FOR THIS SO I CAN SLEEP AT NIGHT.

    I heard he also liked eating minties... we should ban minties.

    Before video games "society" blamed every evil act on heavy metal and rap music. Nothing has changed.

    If a Muslim does it, they call it terrorism. If an African does it, they call it gang warfare. If a Caucasian Christian does it, they blame video games.

      Yeah, I'm offended by this. If he was Muslim he'd be a Fundamentalist Islamic Terrorist. Why don't the media refer to him as a Fundamentalist Christian Terrorist? He killed a bunch of people to spread terror for his own political/religious cause... the shoe fits.

    I think this is actually quite insightful.

    However, I don't think what he is writing is racist... He's pointing out that there is a correlation between violent acts commited by white people and video games being blamed for said violence.

    As for gender... he only referred to gender when he was specifically talking about the mass homicide.

    I don't think he has made any statement that generalizes "gamers" as being only white males.

    But he is suggesting that anti-gaming interests expolit gender and race, and tragic events to push their own agendas.

    I disagree. Whenever video games are blamed the killings have been senseless with the motive only being insanity or pure aggression. There have been a hell of a lot of shootings from white people where video games haven't been blamed because there are reasons behind these shootings i.e drugs, disagreement, etc. Don't forgot the the guy behind the Virginia tech massacre was Asian and games were again blamed.

      Completely agree. While the fact that Anders played video games wasn't the main highlight of the story I read in Sunday's Paper, it was hinted at by namedropping MW2, hoping that 'certain moralist crusaders' would run with it.

      Which they did.

    I believe that would be the chasm level in Doom 2.

    God tht

    I believe that would be the chasm level in Doom 2.

    God that level sucked with all the narrow walkways.

    I always thought that video games were a reflection of society and can't be blamed for anything. Ignorant and stupid people find something to blame when something like this occurs whereas intelligent people find a solution to the problem. Idiots-the lot of them.

    Interesting idea, but I think that it doesn't get brought up because when killings happen in non-caucasion neighbourhoods it usually doesn't make the news unless its a slow day, let alone a headline.

    That Oslo guy read the bible too, should we ban that and video games? No, that'd be stupid. The guy was messed up, case closed.

    While the situation does smack of racism from that angle, I think it's more a case of fear.
    Because we dont want to belive that "we" could do that, people are driven to identify a "them" minority to distinguish themselves from.
    September 11 2001 it was "Muslims" first, religious extremists second, then terrorists.
    At Columbine, it was a pair of "loners" who spent time "playing games", because with the right to bear arms, every US citizen is a gun owner and user.
    At Port Arthur, it was an automatic gun owner.
    The reason the Oslo shooting threw so many is he isn't really part of a minority group, he's just bat s#!t crazy.
    He's white, christian (extremist, but christian), thoughtful, reasonably intelligent and was afraid for his country's cultural identity.

      Well, it's probably more reverse racism - the distinction of race is still present, only it's "White people could never do that" instead of "Non-white people would do that". I do agree it's born out of fear, and this event is worse for most people because as a society we've been conditioned to exclude "bad people" by whatever means we can, regardless of how legitimate the criteria are. Most people simply aren't set up to deal with pure crazy any more.

      Personally, I blame video games for inventing crazy and racist behaviour - it didn't exist before the mid 90's, afterall!

    What a load of rubbish, why can't people have a mind of their own these days. Why does the racial card always seem to come into play, unbelievable.

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