Although he declined to talk about it, Galloway made reference to the “Columbine theory” in his chapter on Social  Realism. He defined it quite simply: games plus gore equals psychotic behavior. This topic is also addressed by Simon Penny in his article on representation and simulation. Specifically, he states that “it is hard to escape the conclusion that an interactive artwork might encourage misogynistic violence or that first person shooters actively contribute to an increase in gun violence among kids”. He argues that interactive representation of violence—say, a first person shooter game—trains players to mimic movements such as shooting without even thinking. Moreover, continuing with the first person shooter example, it makes players quite accurate when firing real guns. Accuracy aside, I still don’t think that such players are more inclined to act violently in real life just because they shoot people over and over again in a game. For those who have shot or attacked people in real life, I think the bigger issue that needs to be addressed is what prompted them to do so. They might have known how to use a gun from playing a game, but the game itself did not make them run out and shoot people. More likely than not, I bet they were teased or bullied, which pushed them over the edge and caused them to lash out.

So, I ask you all this: do you think that certain types of video games (i.e. first person shooters) increase the likelihood of violent behavior in players? Furthermore, to tie in Joost Raessens’ discussion of “documentary computer games”, do you think those types games that re-create historical events, such as JFK Reloaded, further give players ideas on how to hurt people in real life? In other words, players could translate the simulation of JFK’s assassination into a real-life assassination attempt.

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