CT senator talks role of violent games in mass shootings

Chris Murphy says exposure to violent games can put those with mental illnesses or predilection to violence "over the edge"; supports Obama's plan for more research into violent games.

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In the wake of December's schoolhouse massacre, which left 20 children and six adults dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, violent games have been a talking point for politicians across the country.

The talk turned to action in January, when president Barack Obama ordered more research to be done to investigate the relationship between video games and real-world violence. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), supports this plan, which allocated $10 million for the Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health to conduct its studies.

Speaking during a recent Google Hangout, Murphy responded to GameSpot's question regarding why he chose to single out video games during a speech in January and what message he has for the video game industry at large.

"Obviously, this is a very sensitive issue in Connecticut. Newtown is still in crisis," Murphy said. "Not enough healing going on there in the wake of the murder of 26 children and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School. And you know, what we know are the facts about that crime. What we know is that this young man, deeply mentally ill walking the school with an assault weapon armed with 30-round magazines. What we know is that he was very, very severely mentally ill; that his mother had been trying to get him help for years. And what we also know, is that he spent a lot of time playing violent video games."

The Sandy Hook shooter was reportedly a "deranged gamer" who sought out the elementary school so as to "outscore" past mass murderers. It was also reported that he killed himself during the attack so that he would not give away these "points."

Murphy said the Sandy Hook shooter's violent outburst cannot be pinned on any one element, but claimed that a trend does exist that shows past mass shooters had "exposure to these video games."

"What we admittedly don't have…is any peer-reviewed studies or research that tell us that there is a definitive link between exposure to violent video games and violence."

"Now, nobody can sit here for certain and say that without any one of those things, without the powerful weapons, without the mental illness, without the exposure to video games, this wouldn't have happened. We can't put ourselves in his mind," Murphy said. "But we do see a trend where some of these shooters do have exposure to these video games."

Murphy acknowledged that legitimate studies do not exist that prove a correlation between violent games and violent behavior, which is one of the reasons why he has supported the ongoing initiative from Obama and vice president Joe Biden.

"What we admittedly don't have…is any peer-reviewed studies or research that tell us that there is a definitive link between exposure to violent video games and violence," Murphy said. "What researchers will tell you, is that if you already have a severe mental illness, and a predilection to violence, perhaps the video game exposure can put you over the edge. But in and of itself, there is no research showing that there's a link."

"It's one of the reasons why I've supported president Obama and vice president Biden in their efforts to have the CDC and the NIH do more research on the root causes of gun violence; one of the things they are going to do research on now is that link between exposure to violent video games and to violent episodes because I admit that we don't have the research there to back up what we see anecdotally in the case of Adam Lanza, for instance."

"And before we pass any legislation, which would limit the exposure that people have to these types of video games, I think it's important that we have the research and the data and that's what we're trying to do right now."

Speaking during Senator Dianne Feinstein's (D-CA) press conference in January introducing a bill that would ban assault weapons and high-capacity gun magazines, Murphy said the Sandy Hook massacre may not have occurred if games did not glorify guns and violence.

"I think there's a question as to whether he would have driven in his mother's car in the first place if he didn't have access to a weapon that he saw in video games that gave him a false sense of courage about what he could do that day," Murphy said at the time.

Biden met with game industry leaders earlier this year to discuss the link between violent video games and gun violence as part of a wider task force into gun control measures. It is unclear what was discussed.

Biden recently made headlines for saying there would be no legal problem with taxing violent games, despite the landmark 2011 decision from the Supreme Court that ruled games are protected free speech under the First Amendment.

Discussion

1660 comments
edgie18
edgie18

Wouldn't be easier to stop people with mental health issues the ability to own guns. Oh wait it the USA any nutter can legally own a gun and kill people, but yet its video games that's the fault.

Ne-Plus-Ultra
Ne-Plus-Ultra

I could post an endless wall of text on how I feel about this constant BS that politicians and media spew over video games. They never give it up even after a study will come out proving it's complete BS, they will just completely ignore it and continue with there crusade. I wonder if for one second they ever consider the love of war the U.S. government has and the never ending war on the poor, minorities ( I hate the word minorities) and women plus the poor education system that keeps getting more and more money cut from it's budget while ridiculous amounts of money goes towards needless subsidies for corporations that have bought off the U.S. government plus tax breaks for corporations that sometimes are to the point that we have to pay them and of course the tax breaks for people so rich that they could misplace a 100 million and not even notice, then there is the encouragement that so many politicians, media outlets and pundits have toward hatred and disrespect of anyone who isn't from America. Then we get into the surveillance and transformation of the U.S. into a police state where the constitution means nothing and due process is becoming a thing of the past, where you are guilty till proven innocent and you may never get your chance to prove your innocents in some cases. I could go on forever, this is just barely scratching the surface. My point is this country and the world it is on is enough to make a sane person go crazy let alone someone with a mental illness. And I'm sure there has been some bumb@ss out there who was partially  inspired  by a video game but we have to ask what drove them to those feelings in the first place, and I seriously doubt a normal person or someone with a mental illness that was on proper medication just played a video game one day then grabbed a gun and went on a killing spree. But that is way to logical for some bumb@ss Harvard, Yale, Princeton, ext. graduated politicians and business person. Sorry if I was starting to rant, but this stuff really gets me pissed.     

twisted_outlaw
twisted_outlaw

BTW Obama hangs out with Jay-Z, and then goes on to support anti-violence in video games.

twisted_outlaw
twisted_outlaw

Well, with Obama behind the research, you can bet your ass that policies and bullshit are going to get passed, restricting video games. Welcome to America, the land of the free.

epicalex95
epicalex95

I have now had enough of this pointless whining from politicians. All they want are votes, and they don't seem to be actually helping the situation. If they can't find evidence between a link of violence and games they should stop trying to find the results they WANT, and start finding the results they NEED. These politicians probably enjoy watching and reading violent books and movies. They probably fantasize about being the badass killer. I'm tired of all these biases towards games. They think we're babies that play games for little children, and that we have no good knowledge of the world around us, and that we have no education what so ever. In my opinion gamers and developers should ignore these politicians and get on. We'll keep going on with what we have a right to do. That's our best defence.

analogjunkie24
analogjunkie24

Can't our politicians do something useful? FOR ONCE!?

thorn3000
thorn3000

bla bla, anything could put violent people over the edge...books, films, videogames, then they favorite cheerios are not currently available in the local store etc...those with "mental illnesses or predilection to violence" should be treated, taking away videogames solves nothing as those prone to violence will find another outlet

Kazooiemad
Kazooiemad

The only thing thats ever encouraged violence is religion and human greed.  Maybe they should investigate those instead

BLaverock
BLaverock

How about researching the effects of unconstitutional and illegal wars, and the soldiers who come home with PTSD. Bush and Obama have killed more people than all the school shooters put together

vatorus
vatorus

If video games created monsters, there would be 100 million monsters in the world

vatorus
vatorus

Theses people are supposed to be our leaders and are they really so dumb that they have to ask "Why"? when you have violence glorified IN EVERY MEDIA, not just video games.  Every shit song that's on the radio is some wanna be thug/gangster talking about shooting somebody and pimpin hoes.  And kids are hearing this at ten!

Add to that the worhip given to guns in this country, and there you have it.

HEY ENGLAND, are your politicians as dumb as ours?

lmlf
lmlf

STOP SELLING WEAPONS LIKE CANDYS

stev69
stev69

So nutters acquire firearms and go on rampages, decision, lets look into violent video games. Ermmm I think you are missing a rather big factor in all this boys, you know that massive sector that pays your kick backs, namely the weapons manufacture and distribution industry. Why not try looking into those for a change.

Exposure to amazingly callous and stupid ignorance like this can put those with mental illnesses or predilection to violence "over the edge"


StryfeBringer
StryfeBringer

What about TV show and movies?  Ban those too!  And books?  Ban those too!  Oh, btw, the Bible is pretty violent at times too.  Ban EVERYTHING!

erMonezza
erMonezza

Murphy said. "...What we know is that he was very, very severely mentally ill; that his mother had been trying to get him help for years..."

So, the institutions failed miserably and these politicians now look the other way for guilt. What, are there some elections on the way so they need to score some positive points?


cheers

udubdawgz
udubdawgz

lol, it's amazing how idiotic these politicians and nobama can be and how willing they are to prove it to us by their words.

who knows, next, they might even think taking away gun access from us good citizens will reduce the number of violent crimes committed by criminals and crazies.

oh wait...

RobDev
RobDev

so video games can put those with mental illnesses or predilection to violence "over the edge". Hmmmmm. SO CAN PRETTY MUCH ANYTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nightdragonist
Nightdragonist

Video games make people go insane and shoot others? That's cute...

Tell me about how many gunshops you have there. AND TELL ME ABOUT HOW YOU PROTECT YOUR CITIZENS FROM THEM YOU FUC*TARDS

kutulu1
kutulu1

Well, now we know what kind of profiling the Xbox1 will be doing and where that information will be sent.

sieg6529
sieg6529

These senators ought to consider the political calculus.  By going after video games, are you gaining any new votes or securing existing votes?  Doubtful.  But are you losing votes or potential votes by taking a position that will runs contrary to the views of an entire generation?  Quite likely.  So this is a no-win, all-loss situation from a political perspective.

And if you think the political calculus is not first and foremost in their minds, far ahead of any notion of public safety, you're a naive fool.  

SuperDutchy
SuperDutchy

This politician is different from all the other politicians.  

This politician doesn't care only about being re-elected.

This politician really cares about you and me and the betterment of society.

I am not being sarcastic.

Darth_Ultima
Darth_Ultima

Personally I think getting ostracized and bullied has a greater impact on the mentally ill and violent but harping on that doesn't get you political points.  Bullying is a hundred times worse in school these days but nobody seems to give a crap.

cowscowscows
cowscowscows

God damnit I want to comment on this bull shit but the fucking government just upsets me the fuck up so fucking much that I can't fucking say shit about what the fuck these motherfuckers are saying.  grr...

isshiah
isshiah

As a mentally ill gamer, I'm tired of this topic sullying the already ruined public understanding of mental illness. It is a broad term, just like saying someone is "sick" doesn't mean they have cancer, perhaps just the flu. Consequently, my illness is not as serious as the people who go on these rampages. Having said that, some games do go over the top, but if you are mature enough to differentiate reality from fiction, there is no problem as far as I am concerned. In fact, my temper lessened when I started playing these games, mostly because I left a stressful environment. Violent horror movies disturb me more, truth be told.

Barazon
Barazon

Like any other politician, he pulled down his pants so he could talk out of his @$$, seeing as how there's no scientific evidence supporting a correlation.

Pharaoh-007
Pharaoh-007

Seeing the Game Over screen thousands of times have actually made it unlikely for me to try it in real life. 

Fragzoon
Fragzoon

All i hear is: "bla bla bla... i talk so much i deserve to be president. Elect me as I have nothing better to do".

JulyAeon
JulyAeon

From where I am standing I can see most people just having a go at playing a certain type of person and go on with their usual life.  Call it letting steam off and done and dusted.  99.99 % of gamers do not go out of their way to get weapons (unobtainable for the majority anyway!) and do damage.  The question here is how and why  the 00.01 %  are able to obtain weapons in the first place....?!?!?  If you are a country that allows weapons in all ways of family life, don't be surprised that ever so often it does go wrong.  Admit responsibility!  After all every household in the whole world has kitchen knifes in the drawer that get sometimes used in domestic disputes.  No one blames video games for it or violent films for any of this.  

tduhon07
tduhon07

Conduct your research, so we can put this shit to bed. It's ridiculous.

TheWarscent
TheWarscent

I've been a gamer since my parents Atari and I couldn't help but notice how video games can desensitize a person to real life violence. Lucky for me, games didn't start getting too graphical until I was older. The more realistic the violence becomes in the games the more desensitized a person can become by them. This is not an opinion. To say otherwise is just stupid. In the military we use room sized rifle simulators(video games)to both tone marksmanship and soften the stress of real firefights and gore. Eventually everyone will be to the point of virtual reality(Oculus Rift is the start) and kids will be fragging each other face to face in a 1.1 ratio environment. What then? Will the gamer community always be in denial? The companies pushing the games don't give a shit what happens as long as the bank rolls in. Its lack of parenting that is the real problem.COD is as big as it is because of  under aged gamers and  parents that could care less as long as little Johnny isn't bugging them. I despise more gov control, but what do we do when parents either don't care or care to know that their little pumpkins are slitting throats and banging whores in their rooms yet aren't allowed in a PG-13 movie..COD and GTA global success proves this. I don't know a single boy in my neighborhood that doesn't own COD or hasn't done a virtual carjacking. Tax that shit.I could care less about how it would hurt game sales.

MasterManiac772
MasterManiac772

"I don't see any reason why we can't do that." - Joe Biden on taxing game makers to force them to comply with government-imposed standards of content creation.

Google translate:

"I don't see any reason why we can't mooch them folks."

noandno
noandno

Hey! Let us ban computers! They made video games with that!

Noonewarrior
Noonewarrior

The other thing that works people up is threatening the existence of gaming its like telling a guy your going to kick them in the balls, Hurts thinking about it hurts even more when it happens

SKErwin
SKErwin

"Don't fuck with this senator"

Noonewarrior
Noonewarrior

To be perfectly honest a lot of violent games have classifications so if school kids are playing these games its the parents to blame for buying it and letting them play, so for situations like kids going and shooting other kids its the parents blame mainly (and how on earth do they even get access to guns?/ NZ gun laws are so much better). I also think that games with any violence whatsoever should have an R rating on them.

rbereczki
rbereczki

Did anyone refer Obama and this senator to the studies that were recently mentioned on GS? Or the god-knows-how-many other studies already done on this topic that keep finding that there is no direct link or, even better, that violent games and TV shows lower real world violence? Maybe they did and they just ignore them, like previous administrations kept ignoring the numerous studies recommending marijuana legalization. I think they just needed an excuse to give those organizations millions of tax-payer dollars.

And why label the guy as a "deranged gamer"? Isn't it enough that he was deranged? What if he was a deranged botanist or haiku poet? Would that make it easier to deal with the aftermath of the massacre? How about spending 10 mil on programs to identify and help such mentally unbalanced people before they go postal?

Eraldus
Eraldus

@Kazooiemad Don't blame religion... blame the fanatics make religion look bad

rey2
rey2

@erMonezza   Exactly.  Looks more like an attention grab by politicians always insisting it's violent video games related.

PlasmaBeam44
PlasmaBeam44

@TheWarscent  There is a pretty good episode of Penn and Teller BullSh*t that talks about video games (you can find it on youtube) where they brought a kid who played games all the time to a gun range to shoot a real gun. You know what happened? He cried because he was scared of it. Your insane world of kids killing each other because they like to play games is a world that only exists in fiction.

FarginIcehole
FarginIcehole

@Noonewarrior Where is the fun in THAT!?!  Holding people accountable for their actions would put the government out of business...and we can't possibly let that happen...

/sarcasm

MasterManiac772
MasterManiac772

@rbereczki See, you've just proven that studies alone aren't sufficient. Studies say that it's a great idea to legalize marijuana? Well, common sense says otherwise. Just like common sense says that society has an indescribable number of problems that lead people into crossing the event horizon of tolerance and becoming rogue elements.

Pointing fingers at games, guns, or virtually anything else is nothing more than pitiful distraction at work. The very fabric of society is rotten. People spend most of their lives doing one of two things: rote, repetitive tasks at "work," and sleeping. If they have kids, they barely spend 10% of each day having contact with them, if that. We live in a society that teaches people that love is dead and sex is the only reason to live with someone - everything else is fantasy.

We live in an age where there's no such thing as "people" - there's white men, black men, etc. with female variations of each. There's Christians, the Jewish, Muslims. There's age groups. Among all these groups, never the twain shall meet. This is how you divide and conquer. Disparate groups are much easier to keep under one banner than one unified citizenry with a common interest. From a very young age we're taught that everyone is a either an obstacle or an asset: a challenge to be overcome or a tool to be used and thrown away. Guard well your spot or someone will come by and steal it from you. Do your job and be happy, no matter how miserable those 16 hour days are, because if you don't there's no shortage of desperate meat machines that would happily do it for you. We're trained to feel that everyone is looking for an excuse to take what's yours, or "punk" you for the sheer amusement. We're taught that friendship is temporary and, worse, selfish. That the only thing keeping us from killing either other is the glorious government.

In short, we're made to hate everyone. It's what keeps first-world society going. How can it surprise us when so many people are driven to revolt, in the only way they know how? Being taught that everyone else is responsible for their misery, they take out their anger and discontent on their peers.

*sigh* TL;DR: Blaming anything but the system - the underlying system - for a society whose very foundation is crumbling thanks to its own decay is silly, deluded, and self-destructive. People absolutely hate each other, because they blame their peers for their misery. Violence won't stop until people come to terms with how shitty this modern corporate-driven post-industrial society is.

thorn3000
thorn3000

@Eraldus @Kazooiemad every religion has its fanatics which are created like it or not because of the religion....a state or nation which is the most liberal in comparison to conservative also has the lowest violence levels and lowest number of fanatics, since young people have nothing to rebel against they don't, but if they are living in ultra conservative societies, there have something to rebel against and 5 percent will always turn to fanatics either for or against said religion...

MasterManiac772
MasterManiac772

@PlasmaBeam44 @TheWarscent Damn straight. This nonsense needs to end.

I've been pulling peoples' heads off as Sub Zero since I was maybe six years old, and I'm more responsible than half of the US population. There are thousands upon thousands of reasons people flip their shit - videogames are *not* one of them, and I'm living proof of that.

Why? I love my shooters drenched in the blood, gore, and suffering of my virtual enemies. The more carnage, the better.

In reality, I despise violence and I think those who would willingly harm others without good cause are no better than animals. This "link" does *not* exist.

rbereczki
rbereczki

@MasterManiac772 While I agree with just about everything you wrote and commend you for your insight and awareness of the deeper issue, I cannot agree that common sense indicates that legalizing marijuana is a bad thing. "Common sense" is so called because it is what the popular belief is at any given time based on the available (mis)information. Being "common sense" doesn't make something correct or right. When recreational drug use is so wide-spread, making it illegal is pointless and counterproductive. People will do what they want to do, regardless of it being legal or not. The only difference is whether that labels them criminals or not. Is it "common sense" to do things that are pointless and counterproductive?

rbereczki
rbereczki

@MasterManiac772I'm not offended. We clearly have different opinions and there's nothing wrong with that. The last thing I'd like to add, though, is that just because something is illegal doesn't necessarily make it wrong and just because something is legal doesn't necessarily make it right or acceptable.

MasterManiac772
MasterManiac772

@rbereczki @MasterManiac772 No, no, I know you weren't. It's just that my arms have grown so tired bearing a standard for one cause or another that I don't have the strength to hoist another.

To address your point in brief, I'm personally opposed to all forms of "recreational" drug use. Just because something is popular, that popularity alone doesn't make it right. There are lots of people who enjoy getting drunk and doing drag races. Thankfully, this is illegal, so police officers can haul these people away and stick them in a cell before they do any harm - and that's *if* they are caught driving drunk to begin with, which is the basis of the arrest.

I know being anti-drug is unpopular these days, but I'm sticking to it. Again, I don't mean to make this a personal issue. :-)

rbereczki
rbereczki

@MasterManiac772 Fair enough, but I wasn't trying to start a battle. :-) I'm also weary of pointless debates, especially ones designed to polarize people, like this violent games topic.