While supposed experts are quick to blame video games for the recent massacre in Oslo, Norway that left 76 dead, clinical psychologist Christopher Ferguson flatly rejects those conclusions.
Ferguson, a leading expert and fastidious researcher of video game violence at Texas A&M International University, said video games aren’t to blame for this tragedy caused by Anders Behring Breivik. Instead he blames the man responsible for this recent crime, but he also cautions that blaming video games every time a white male kills people is inherently racist.
"I know it’s a little controversial to say but there’s a certain type of racism in place with these killings,” Ferguson tells Forbes' John Gaudiosi. "When shootings happen in an inner city in minority-populated schools, video games are never brought up. But when these things happen in white majority schools and in the suburbs, people start to freak out and video games are inevitably blamed. I think that there’s a certain element of racism or ignorance here."
Ferguson goes on to say that these types of crimes are going to continue to happen and that, thankfully, they are the exception rather than the rule.
“People really want to know what kind of boogeyman can we hang this on and video games are still the top choice when it comes to any type of tragedy,” Ferguson continued.
Ferguson also notes that the fervor usually associated with violent crimes and video games isn't quite as strong with this particular case. This could be because it happened in Europe and no Americans were involved, or that video games are slowly becoming ingrained in American culture.
“There are groups out there who are going to blame video games on everything,” said Ferguson. “They’re like ambulance chasers, really. I think it’s irresponsible and thoughtless to try to make political gain off of someone else’s tragedy, but they’re going to do it. That’s what they do. But even those groups have been much quieter with the Oslo tragedy.”
The Forbes article closes with some common sense from Ferguson about blaming video games for violence:
“Linking the playing of violent video games to a mass homicide when the perpetrator is a young male is like blaming the killing on the fact that he was wearing sneakers,” said Ferguson. “The base rate of that behavior is so common that it has no predictive value whatsoever.”
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