Debunking Jack Thompson's Virginia Tech video game claims

In the wake of Monday's horrific shootings at Virginia Tech, video game scourge Jack Thompson went on Fox News and argued that violent video games were probably to blame.

Such a blanket, jump-to-conclusions statement is no surprise from Thompson, who has made a name as the video game industry's leading critic--arguing here, there and everywhere that digital entertainment is behind everything from sprees of violence to the moral degradation of American's kiddies. Indeed, he was the leading voice attacking Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas after it was discovered that sexual content was hidden in the game's code, despite its "M" rating, meaning it was aimed at and appropriate for consumers 17 and up.

But Monday's diatribe was hard to defend, even if you tend to agree with Thompson. After all, he went on TV to make the claims before anyone really knew anything about the shooter or his reason for doing what he did.

Now, the video game site Kotaku has gone through Thompson's claims from the Fox News interview and has posted a point-by-point debunking of many of the claims. Of course, we don't have any proof that Kotaku's research is correct, but given Thompson's penchant for hysterics when it comes to video games, it's a fair bet to say there's at least a high degree of truth to the analysis, which was written by editor Brian Crecente.

"Watching the video," Crecente wrote, "I found more than a half-dozen points which were either grossly misleading or out-right lies."

Among them, he said, were arguments that prior to the Columbine school shootings, the perpetrators were "immersed in incredibly violent entertainment, most notably video games."

Crecente wrote that while the FBI pointed out that there was some evidence that "fascination with violence-filled entertainment" was a common trait among school shooters, so too were 27 other personality traits. And, the FBI didn't single out video games as a cause for the shootings.

Further, Thompson made other claims linking the Columbine shooters and other school shooters to video games. Crecente argues that in many of the cases, there is no evidence--other than news reports citing previous Thomson claims--to back up what he said Monday.

To be sure, Kotaku has a vested interest in protecting the video game industry, but it takes its own shots at the industry all the time.

 

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