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Black Ops 2:Revisiting Violence in Video Games in the Wake of US School Shooting

Only a short while back GameSpot's Cameron Robinson posted an insightful "What If" featurette, exploring the influence of violent video games on their audiences. In it, he rightfully pointed out that while there isno direct correlation between playing violent games and committing real acts of violence, there is evidence to suggest arelationbetween the two.

In the wake of the tragic events surrounding last week's school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, the US gun control policy has come under fire once again, for what seems like a never-ending political back-and-forth saga.

Well, we are not here to talk politics. This is GameSpot and we need a gaming angle- luckily there is one, a BIG ONE.

As facts began to surface, it was discovered that the deranged culprit of the aforementioned rampage - a 20-year-old Adam Lanza - was apparently obsessed with a little game called Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. Yes, Activisions latest, the one shooter millions of fans would love to hate. In the basement of his mother's house, much like a bunker, was Lanza's room dark and gloomy, no windows, walls covered with pictures of weaponry and posters of military hardware of all shapes and sizes. It was later made known that the crazed killer was obsessed with the army and firearms, as well as the Call of Duty series. Of course, it didn't help that his mother - a paranoid psycho - stockpiled an arsenal of pistols and assault rifles in her home, easily accessible by her social recluse son.

Needless to say - the "Influence of Video Games on Children" debate has been reinvigorated and intensified, with gamers, scholars and sociologists all arguing about who or what is to blame. Tabloids, analysts and TV reporters were quick to point out the influence of video games - and Call of Duty franchise specifically - on other alike tragedies of the recent past.

The most notable is the Norwegian gunman Anders Breivik, responsible for slaughtering 77 civilians and blowing up a government building in Oslo in 2011. It was later revealed that beside his fascist tendencies, Breivik was a passionate Modern Warfare player.

Another contender is Mohammed Merah- a 23-year-old mass murderer who went on a shooting spree in Toulouse, France in March 2012, and was also a passionate fan of the popular shooter franchise.

I am sure the list is even longer, but while the Games-Violence link is arguably there, the question remains -how decisive is it? Is there a genetic factor- in other words a natural predisposition to committing violent acts, or is violence a learned behaviour, influenced by such media as film, music and video games? Perhaps it is a mix of both - inherent violent tendencies amplified by the environmental factors.

What do you think, dear gamers, and especially Call of Duty fans? Do you feel the virtual massacres you commit in FPS shooters has any bearing on your real-world personality or behaviour? I'd love to hear your opinion on this issue.

Meanwhile, our hearts and minds go out to all the victims of this horrendous, senseless tragedy.

Gamings Most Antagonistic Protagonist

The recent release of Hitman: Absolution has brought the notorious bald-headed assassin back to our consoles in the grittiest and most violent iteration of the series yet. As I watched the review on GameSpot, observing countless victims fall in the path of Agent 47 in the most brutal and gory fashion, an interesting idea dawned on me. Is this a typical hero on a righteous quest? Somehow, I doubt it.

We have seen and taken control of numerous villain-like main characters over the past decade, individuals and beings who do not adhere to the standard motivation of a Good Guy on a mission to do The Right Thing. These are anti-Marios and anti-Snakes, who do not strive to liberate royalty or save the world from a nuclear holocaust, but are driven by selfish, sinister motives that hardly qualify them as Heroes. Their actions are rarely justifiable and their methods are unforgivable.

A few examples from the recent past immediately jump to mind. The ferocious demi-god Kratos who literally tears his victims and innocents apart is driven by wrath and revenge indisputably two of the mortal sins. The absurdly overpowered protagonists of the Prototype series Alex Mercer and James Heller hardly ever use their mutant powers to do good. Even the beloved Niko Bellic, responsible for a rise of crime stats in Liberty City, is pure sin beneath the likable exterior.

And lets not forget the aforementioned Agent 47 a ruthless, merciless killer whose sole talent is to take life, sometimes on orders from the Agency, but more often off of his own volition.

As the bodycount in their wake continues to grow, the time has come, ladies and gents, to nominate your top Dexters of the gaming industy, in this blog Id like to call Gamings Most Antagonistic Protagonist.