Video Games a Flash Point in Rampage Aftermath
Smeltz, Adam, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
The National Rifle Association and others call violent video games a spark for real-life brutality.
But those urging increased scrutiny of the industry because of reports that such video games enthralled the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter should look to previous efforts. Scholars warn that past attempts to regulate the industry fell flat, sometimes on free- speech grounds.
Research links violent gaming with aggressive tendencies, but no studies definitively peg them as a cause of fatal attacks, researchers said.
"I wouldn't be surprised to see different legislatures or different politicians introducing measures, trying to see if we can have more studies of kids and violent games. It's a high-profile thing," said Mia Consalvo, a faculty member and Canada Research Chair in Game Studies and Design at Montreal-based Concordia University.
"Unfortunately, it's one thread among many," Consalvo said. "It's kind of looking for an easy solution when there probably isn't one."
Adam Lanza, 20, who killed his mother before fatally shooting 20 children, six adults and himself on Dec. 14 in Newtown, Conn., played graphic video games such as "Call of Duty," according to published reports.
Within days of the massacre, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., introduced legislation that would order the National Academy of Sciences to investigate how violent video games affect children and to report findings within 18 months.
"I have long expressed concern about the impact of the violent content our kids see and interact with every day," Rockefeller said.
NRA leader Wayne LaPierre picked up the theme last week, flaying "vicious, violent video games" as "the filthiest form of pornography." The NRA did not respond to a Tribune-Review interview request.
Ed Kowalski, 43, of New Kensington said his three stepkids' grades went "through the roof" after they cut back on video games. He said the kids -- ages 13, 10 and 8 -- often have trouble focusing after playing for extended periods.
"These things take kids into oblivion," Kowalski said. "We believe those age restrictions are important for any kid."
Industry observers said video game criticism is nothing new. A rating system begun in 1994 took shape as technology allowed manufacturers to sell more realistic games. Senate hearings pushed the industry to develop the ratings.
It's up to retailers to verify a buyer's age for purchases of games rated "M" for mature or "AO" for adults only, according to the Entertainment Software Rating Board. …