Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Did video games play a role in Arizona rampage?

While politics has been mentioned as a possible motive, could "Call of Duty: Black Ops" or other FPS be the main culprit?

Sarah Palin's SARAPAC graphic and her colorful weapon-filled quotes - "Don't retreat, reload!" Glenn Beck's call to stop violence with a picture of him, in a Jack Bauer pose and packing a 9 milly. Rush Limbaugh's "Operation Chaos." While it would seem fairly easy to tie this rhetoric to the suspected shooter, Jared Loughner, one underlying question has really kept me intrigued. Was he a gamer? Yes or no?

As a gamer, it's nothing for me to pop in a game, especially on Friday nights and play until 5, 6 in the morning. I am mentally strong enough to know the difference between a sniping mission on Modern Warfare or a delivery job in Vice City and real life. Some of my close friends are FPS freaks. They play online, PC, Xbox 360 or PS3 (sorry, Wii) against foes from all over the world. Some of them are even professional gamers paid to compete in competitions all over the United States. Black Ops, Halo Reach and Battlefield series, shoot, even Modern Warfare 2 is still getting shown much love. However, as cool as these games are, most of the enemies are packing heat, with their virtual intentions clear - making sure you are a statistic. Only one recent game - Modern Warfare 2 - had gamers blasting innocent noncombatants in the mission "No Russian."

We may all say the suspect could be mentally ill. We could also agree that he was intent on harming as many people as possible. It's evident that he went for another clip and had 90 rounds of ammunition on him when he was detained.

The left and right are arguing over his accused party affiliation, his alleged ties to an extremist group, and his drug use and online videos. However, what I haven't heard is is whther he is a gamer. Sure, he was a loner, and most gamers I know of play online in packs, but do it alone in the comfort of their homes. His parents said he was the center of their life.

This is all my own opinion on the matter, and it is truly a tragedy. My thoughts and prayers are with the families, especially the child, nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green, who coincidentally was born on a day of tragedy, Sept. 11. However, while the pols on both sides of the aisle point fingers at each other and blame the cross hairs and rhetoric from radio and television, a possible link to video games cannot be overlooked.

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