Critics have blamed violent video games for a number of egregious behaviors over the years, from school shootings to attacks on homeless people to garden variety aggressiveness.
But an article on the American Spectator posits a new – and baffling – theory of game blame. Writing for the conservative website, author Bill Croke blames violent game fans for the illegal slaughtering of animals.
By way of makinghis case, Croke mentions a couple of research studies linking violent games to negative behavior and, in an impressive leap of faith, draws a link between games and the wanton killing of wildlife:
It’s a sickeningly familiar story. Two moose shot and left to rot… Two yearling grizzly bears killed… An increasing wasted antelope body count… Senselessly murdered mule deer left on the ground… All this has nothing to do with the legal autumn hunting seasons… it’s "thrill killing," as wildlife managers call it… It’s actually a national problem.
According to studies extant, these wildlife atrocities are committed mostly by young men aged 15 to 22, the video game generation. Much has been written about the nihilistic violence that kids are exposed to when they play some of these games…
I think it might be an easy jump to get up from a computer game, go out and pull the trigger on an elk or a deer, and then walk away with a laugh. After all, it’s only a game… Yet, I think our four-legged friends will get a break soon, as the video game-thrill killing trend graduates to a higher plane: human beings.
Video games are mindless, as are the parents who let their kids play them.
UPDATE: Following up on GP’s coverage, What They Play made a call to the Salmon, Idaho Public Library (Croke mentions watching teens play shoot-em-up games there in a portion of his column not cited by GP):
Interestingly, a call to the Salmon, Idaho Public Library revealed that they do not, in fact, carry video games which obviously casts some doubt over how thorough Croke has really been in his "research" for this piece. "We do not carry games, just books, DVDs, CDs, and books on tape," said the nice lady who answered the phone.