No Serious People Blamed Video Games For The Dark Knight Tragedy Today

A colleague IM'd me earlier today, asking if I was ready for video games to take the blame for this morning's awful shooting rampage in Aurora, Colorado. I don't know if I was ready, but I kept an eye out for the blamers and the blame-watchers, unsure of whose excitement to be more unsettled by.

Games often come up as a topic of scapegoating during mass shootings. It goes back to Columbine, where the shooters' motivations to kill their high school classmates were supposedly partially explainable by their interest in the first-person shooter DooM. It came up last year, when a mass-murderer in Norway -- a lunatic out to purge his country of people who didn't look or think like him -- claimed to train by playing Call of Duty and favoured the excuse that he was playing World of Warcraft to explain to people what he was doing when he was really just planning to do evil.

Today, no one serious blamed video games. Some un-serious people tried to draw minor connections. The AP informed us, for example, that a Batman video game involves a scene in a movie theater. And this morning, a criminal profiler named Pat Brown was lambasted for scapegoating games, though, technically, she did not. Sure, she blew some hot air about how, she speculated, the killer maybe played video games while planning his shooting spree. She also explicitly said games didn't deserve the blame. That a statement as time-filling as her others, but it was also one inconsistent with the narrative that she and her hosts at CNN were just stupidly pegging games as a motivation for the horror in Aurora.

TMZ blurted in crimson that the Colorado killer was obsessed with a non-violent video game, Guitar Hero, having their own bizarre dog-bites-man fun with an inversion of the more cliched killer-loved-violent-games narrative. Of course, just about everyone was obsessed with Guitar Hero back in the day, which would win TMZ irony points, if that's what TMZ's thing is these days.

Over at E Online, someone asked if violent video games could be blamed for the killings. Not really, they said, even as they reached out to one of gaming's more notorious critics, psychiatrist Carole Lieberman. You just can't know.

Video games didn't get blamed today. That's a victory, I guess, but only if you were keeping score -- only if you were someone who waits for games to get blamed, who carried that persecution complex that so many gamers have as they (we?) await the next ignorant assault. Spoiling for a fight, were we? It didn't come. It wasn't the point. It didn't matter.

No serious person thinks about the actions of James Holmes, the alleged murderer of at least a dozen people in a movie theatre and draws the conclusion that any action that is enjoyed by millions -- playing video games, watching TV, listening to music -- could cause a person to do the things that were done this morning. If those things caused this horror, we'd all be mass-killers. Even those who enjoy the use of firearms for hunting and target practice, vilified as they often are in days like this, do not commit the evils of today with the frequency that would define their chosen past-time as a motivating cause for violence. The gun debate, of course, involves access to things that, unlike video games, literally can kill.

But most of the speculation about what caused this -- or even what enabled this kind of disgusting disregard for human life -- is just a search for answers where no satisfying ones will be found. The search for a cause is the desperate search for a "why" that would explain life's evils and would, hopefully, stop this from happening again. Video games are barely a part of that, I think, but wouldn't it be strangely comforting if they were? As much as I love playing games, if I knew they made people killers, then, screw it, ban them all. My pleasure is not worth that kind of pain.

To today's victims, rest in peace.

And thank you, smart people and stupid people alike, for pretty much saving your breath today. Mostly. Life's too precious to be an idiot about this kind of thing.

Top: A woman hugs her daughter's friend, who survived the shooting - Barry Guiterrez / AP

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Comments

    People go watch "God Bless America" and there is a scene that exactly reflects todays news....

    Can we please stop running articles on this?

    It's just doing exactly what the psychopath wanted.

    How is it what the psychopath wanted? He wanted to kill innocent people and a lot of them. I will say he did it a the perfect time because I would never expect someone to do that. I usually am not a fan of Totilo articles but I am glad to be able to read something like this.

    Lemme rein-act my morning. I wake up and wash my face. I hear my mother greet me and ask me the normal morning routine back and forth. Her next question was: Did you hear about the man who went in to a crowded movie theater and killed people who were busy watching batman? First thing that came to my mind was "Wow, I can't believe some people are not only crazy but lower than low." when I replied with no she explained that he was dressed up in a SWAT outfit with tear gas. My next thought was "Well, here we go with MW2 airport scene again."

    Later that day I got a text from a friend who asked me "Did you hear about the psycho who killed people at the new batman movie?" Which we talked about it and we both figured that because of what he did, it would be overshadowed by what he played. Here's the key fundamental problem here. As a human being I am outraged that someone would go and do this. That we can't even be safe at a movie theater trying to enjoy ourselves. Now that this has happened it might deter people from enjoying themselves. From the loss of human life and the fact that this was not only uncalled for, but puts fear in people hearts, That is why I'm also sadden to think that it would be overshadowed by "video games are bad." instead of "Crazy people are a danger to us all." It's a distraction that needs to be removed.

    My heart goes out to all the people who are effected by this tragedy. From love ones to friends of the people who were either killed and or injured. I really hope that the media if they do cover this story that it's focused on what actually matters, why he did it, and how can we help avoid this from happening again.

      Ah the ol' “Crazy people are a danger to us all.” Yeah I'm shocked by the actions at that theatre, and not knowing too much about the personal life of the perpetrator of such atrocity, i can't comment too much on the bloke. But "crazy" people suffer from medical illness on the most part, physiological in nature in fact.

      Throwing the word crazy around just reinforces the stigma of mental illness. And people who need treatment don't look for it because of the stigma attached to a diagnosis.

      Not trying to be a douche, I'm Bipolar and even though i can get quite agitated in a manic phase i haven't hurt anyone because of it, like my gaming hasn't hurt anyone. Probably leaning towards an off topic comment but thought i'ld put my 2 cents in.

      Also i'm drinking so there is that... :)

      Some people are just sik in the head.
      Video games can giv them that tiny push they need to kill some but Video games arent the reason. Some people just are very sik people and dont care sbout shooting and killing others.

      The day these things can be fixed sooner if they can is too stop blaming video games so that we can fix a seriousproblem.

      Over in america its soooooo easy to get a gun and so easy for someone mentaly ill to get there hands on one, but the problem is there are alot of people out there who are mentaly ill but seem normal then they get there hands on a gun and get overly excited or angry.

      But to soley blame anything on video games is wrong cause we all know its fake and just a game. If a parent is letting there disturbed child play violent games then thats the parents faulr for no knowing there kid more to notice if something is wrong

      Some people are just sik in the head.
      Video games can giv them that tiny push they need to kill some but Video games arent the reason. Some people just are very sik people and dont care sbout shooting and killing others.

      The day these things can be fixed sooner if they can is too stop blaming video games so that we can fix a seriousproblem.

      Over in america its soooooo easy to get a gun and so easy for someone mentaly ill to get there hands on one, but the problem is there are alot of people out there who are mentaly ill but seem normal then they get there hands on a gun and get overly excited or angry.

      But to soley blame anything on video games is wrong cause we all know its fake and just a game. If a parent is letting there disturbed child play violent games then thats the parents faulr for no knowing there kid more to notice if something is wrong

    I would've thought that the more logical connection people would make from this incident would be violent movies or comic books leading to mass shootings, not video games. Anybody silly enough to stretch that far either is trying very obviously to villanize video games for their personal, ignorant vendetta, or they're about as screwy as the psycho who shot all those people.

    Good you edited that pic to take away the young woman that was on the left smiling like it's funny as hell.

    This is ridiculous. So video games don't get blamed and you write about it? Tasteless and tacky.

    Wait, so who is actually -surprised-?

    When I heard of this tragic incident, I was shocked, but sadly enough I was not surprised. Owning firearms is a big responsibility, and since they're apparently so easy to access over in the US of A, you're almost certainly bound to have them find the hands of someone who is utterly irresponsible or sadistic.

    Give a hundred people the right to bear arms and all it takes is for one sadistic arsehole to abuse the power that has been rather carelessly given to him and every other citizen; when he goes on a massacre one can hardly blame a rather circumstancial art medium, letalone videogames.

      I pissed off a bunch of Americans (mostly conservatives) on one of the forums I frequent by going on a huge rant about their lax gun laws. It's honestly a little scary how they see gun ownership and both normal AND something they're entitled too. It's even scarier how they think gun possession will somehow stop events like this; one of the posters blamed the fact the cinema was apparently a gun-free zone, and that no-one in there stood a chance because they couldn't bring guns with them. That's the kind of self-fulfilling logic that redirects blame to justify what's essentially more a point of principle than pragmatism.

      Gun ownership in America is a big deal, whether you support it or are against it, as opposed to here where it's essentially a non-issue. In many ways we just need to accept it, but at the same time, it's terrifying the country that is supposedly the greatest western democracy in the world thinks it's a good idea to let any average Joe and redneck own a gun, while the rest of the world does fine without them.

    Thankfully most states in the US have pretty strict laws on who can have firearms. Unfortunately in a select few, it seems like any low life has a right to one.

    Going by people's knee jerk reaction in blaming video games for crimes, why don't they follow the same pattern and start blaming movies and comic books. Clearly the shooter was into Batman and used the movies as a motivational tool for his crime. It's logical that movies and comic books should be banned to curb these violent behaviours.
    /endsarcasm

      Well - the police on the case did just that. Apparently they've been looking through old comics to see if they inspired the spree and if he had any more traps laid.

    I dunno how the American public can blame anything other than their piss weak gun laws, how many more people need to die before an entire country realises this? Its stupid as I believe Obama would be the President to change gun laws as he is an intellectual person, but the consequences of a President even implying something like gun reform would see them fail to be re-elected. Cruel to say it but the American people reap what they sow.

    This article feels a bit callous. Especially the first paragraph. It's poorly timed and it seems as if your first thoughts aren't with the victims. There's been so much moralising on this site lately that I'm surprised that you'd write such an article at a time like this.

    Just look at the insensitive comments that are already racking up.

    I think many conservatives have learnt a valuable lesson after the Norway massacre - they tried to link the event to his gaming habits, only to have it pointed out that he was one of their own - a right winger with religious rants in his manifesto who also happened to play computer games. Many shut up after that.

    I'm always holding up for the haters to show up after an incident like this, but I never blow the whistle before they make the penalty, so to speak. Thankfully if they're kicking up a stink about it, they'll usually make a fool of themselves without people needing to provoke them.

    It's good that no-one prominent is coming out and pointing the finger at games this time. Hopefully they'll keep the focus on the real problem this time: the US's questionable obsession with firearms.

    Seriously.. what is the point of blaming anything tragic on games / books / movies / comics / tv shows?

    There will be no end to these things. If people want to blame current events on these forms of entertainment, then what is the corrective action? Ban movies? No. Ban comics. No. Ban tv series? No. Even if movies / tv shows / games were the cause for ill people to take them literally and act pyscopathic there is PHYSICALLY NO WAY that anything can be done to remove / change these types of entertainment.

    There's an article on Dailymail.co.uk that has tried to do just this and failed utterly in it's "tryhardness". This loser had a paintball poster on his walls called Soldiers of Misfortune and actually had written on the poster it was a DVD...not in the DailyFails eyes though, no they turned a real life painball game into a computer game and then quotes that he "supposedly was a WOW" player!

    Linky here:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2177294/Dark-Knight-Shooting-Colorado-Witness-says-James-Holmes-recently-broke-someone.html

    Quote: "A poster for a video game called Soldiers of Destruction is visible- and fitting considering both Holmes' interest in video games and his maniacal course of destruction that has torn Aurora apart."

    Some of the worst troll journalism I have ever read. S

    My heart goes out to all those touched by this monster.

    I put this down to those psychiatrist once again eagerly handing out their mind altering drugs, that have historically repeatedly caused suicide and shooting events such as this.

    http://www.cchrint.org/2012/07/20/the-aurora-colorado-tragedy-another-senseless-shooting-another-psychotropic-drug/

    This event is also very suspicious, things do not add up
    Where is the information about what drugs he took?
    How did a medical student unemployed no less, obtain over $20,000 worth of weapons, explosives,
    armour etc (some items not readily available to the public)?
    No prior convictions, just a traffic infringement.
    He was involved in a MIND ALTERING neuron research program, alarm bells should go off here.

    This is where the focus should be laid, the suing these drug dealers and the banning of these
    destructive drugs be carried out swiftly.

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