A Futile Game: On the Prevalence and Causes of Misguided Speculation about the Role of Violent Video Games in Mass School Shootings
School Shootings: Mediatized Violence in a Global Age
ISBN: 978-1-78052-918-9, eISBN: 978-1-78052-919-6
Publication date: 23 November 2012
Purpose – Video game violence has historically been offered by policy-makers and some scholars as one contributing factor to mass homicides, particularly with shooters who are young, male, and white. However, the evidence for or against such beliefs has not been closely examined.
Approach – The current chapter examines the research exploring violent video game playing and its links with violent and aggressive behavior. Further, research regarding mass school shooters is also examined. The chapter also engages in a sociological analysis of structural factors within both the general society and scientific community by which media is often identified as a potential cause of social problems.
Findings – Current evidence cannot support proposed links between video game violence and aggressive or violent behavior, whether mild or mass homicides. Efforts to blame mass homicides on video games appear to be due to unfamiliarity with games among older adults, prejudicial views of young offenders, and a well-identified cycle of moral panic surrounding media as a scapegoat for social ills. Poor peer-reviewing within the scientific community allowed scholars to participate in this moral panic.
Social implications – Time focused on video games as a cause of mass school shootings is time wasted. Discussions of mental health issues and mental health care are likely to bear more fruit in relation to mass school shootings.
Ferguson, C.J. and Ivory, J.D. (2012), "A Futile Game: On the Prevalence and Causes of Misguided Speculation about the Role of Violent Video Games in Mass School Shootings", Muschert, G.W. and Sumiala, J. (Ed.) School Shootings: Mediatized Violence in a Global Age (Studies in Media and Communications, Vol. 7), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 47-67. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2050-2060(2012)0000007007
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