I think this is a great piece of writing that unfortunately will probably have to be trotted out and updated every time a new game like GTA IV comes out. This article correctly takes to task people who will vehemently oppose a game having never played it. Or engage in specious research only to proclaim the pre-ordained results of that research to be sacrosanct. If you listen to these critics' arguments, it is very easy to slip out the words "video game" and insert "comic book" or "rock-n-roll" or even "Mozart" or how about not saying the Mass in Latin?
These are all supposedly signposts for the road to Armageddon. Now GTA IV has already sold a couple million copies so a powerful and violent as this game is, we should be seeing a tsunami of child violence land upon our shores any minute now. But it won't. You know why? Because as powerful as videogames or even games in general are as teaching tools...it turns out that its darn hard to design a game that people will love to play but that has a specific learning objective in mind. The hard lesson is that people do learn in games but what they learn mainly comes from a personal place - a place constructed by their own experiences, background and mental states. So for me a really telling point in the article that kicked off this little rant, is this:
"Blaming video games meant that the shooters were set aside from other violent youth...at whom our get-tough legislation has been targeted. The video game explanation constructs the middle-class shooters as victims of the power of video games, rather than fully culpable criminals. When boys from "good" neighborhoods are violent, they seem to be...created by video games rather than by their social circumstances. Middle-class killers retain their status as children easily influenced by a game, victims of an allegedly dangerous product. The same can't be said for those in "bad" neighborhoods."
Amen. This is why we search and search for the things that "made" serial killers into what they are. Because we can't accept that maybe they just are like that. Like they could actually be walking among us right now and it wouldn't really take anything awful or bizarre to set them off. Same with the kids. Geez. There must have been some External influence that made those kids shoot those other kids (we won't even talk about access to the guns in the first place) because if there was something external, then we don't have to be better parents or a better society, we just have to stop that one thing, like rock or comic books or Mozart. Yes, let's go ask the kids who grow up knowing nothing but poverty and violence in such extremes that becoming a suicide bomber seems like a viable option for them. Lets ask them about the impact of GTA IV on their life.