Wisconsin News

School shooting prompts questions about violent video games

LA CROSSE, Wis. - When you step inside the virtual world of Call of Duty, you are on a mission to take as many lives as possible.

It's those kind of violent first-person shooter games that could be the focus of a comprehensive look into violent video games and the role they may play in mass shootings.

Reports have surfaced that the gunman in the Connecticut elementary school shooting spent a considerable amount of time playing violent video games.

"Lots of young men use it as their release, use it as a stress reduction," said Betsy Morgan, chair of the psychology department at UW-La Crosse.

Like many people, Morgan is concerned about the ever-growing realism of modern video games.


"Would I like to see less violent video games? Yes. But is there clear evidence that it's making children violent? No," said Morgan.

"There is clear evidence that a steady diet of violent video games does desensitize children to violence and I think that alone should make us concerned about them," she added.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) has introduced legislation proposing the National Academy of Sciences lead a comprehensive study on violent games and their impact on young people.

"There is a problem and it needs to be fixed but you can't fix it by simply saying it's one thing or another," said Mike Speller, the general manager at Gaming Generations in La Crosse.

"It's always a combination of things. It's an environment," he added.

Speller says there's no doubt violent video games are the most popular purchases right now.

"Out of all of these shelves, there's only a handful of games that aren't about killing someone," said Speller.

But blaming video games for the tragic shooting in Connecticut? Speller says that's just ridiculous.

"Now that person may gravitate towards those violent games, but to say that those violent games made that person is not a valid statement because (violent) people have been here forever," said Speller.

"It's not clear that gaming is anything but a piece of this puzzle as we look at children's behaviors," said Morgan.

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