Media influences school violence (guest column)

Shelby Petrie

The shooting in Newtown, Connecticut has left a large scar on this country. Adam Lanza managed to kill 27 people in total, ranging from school children to teachers, and left a countless number of other victims wounded. He then committed suicide on the scene.

Lanza was said to be an awkward 20 year old, who would rather stay bottled up with his video games in his mother’s basement than spend his free time socializing. Lanza, a genius to computers, took a particular interest in a game called “Counter-Strike” during his high school years. That video game allows players to choose the terrorist or counter-terrorist team. Investigators believe his obsession with violent video games and his access to guns had something to do with this violent act.

Another famous shooting that had everything to do with violent movies was the murders James Holmes committed last year in Colorado that killed 12 and injured 50 at a midnight movie premiere. After being arrested outside the theater minutes later, he was reported to have hair dyed orange and was wearing a bullet proof vest, and claimed to be “The Joker,” Batman’s enemy from the hit film “The Dark Knight.” Some officials have concluded his actions were inspired by the film’s adaptations, and that he had snuck out of the midnight showing to grab his firearms and armor. Still awaiting trial, investigators are studying his mental stability to determine if Holmes is clinically insane or not.

As a gamer, I believe aggressive thoughts and obsession with guns are heightened when it comes to games like Black Ops or Modern Warfare. They display plenty of violence, and often I find kids as young as 8 playing these them online. While playing Modern Warfare 2, I became obsessed with the online campaigns as they were addicting. It was not the actual violence that drew me in, it was the scoring system. At the end of each game, a scoreboard appears on the screen showing how many kills and assists you had before the timer went off. With each kill I got better, and found an obsession beating other players and getting my name in the first slot. I remember staying in my room all day, working my way up the medals, determined to prestige, which is essentially leveling up. The higher I got, the more assault rifles and other perks I received. It was a goal for me to collect all the best guns so I could get a higher score than the last.

These kinds of games do make an impression on players. When I find kids playing these games against me, I’m shocked. Even now, I find it inappropriate for parents to let their children play games full of blood and death.The graphics play a huge factor as well. A lot of people complain about how un-lifelike the developers make the game. These thoughts lead to the random shootings. It’s as if the gunmen aren’t satisfied with the game or movie qualities and decide to go out and experience it first hand. I find the auditory senses of the game to be overly realistic. Hearing people screaming as they’ve been shot and wounded is probably as close as a person can get to standing on a battlefield. It’s not the game company’s fault for the violent acts inspired by their games, but I think they should consider what their games are doing to the mentally-ill people obsessed with the campaigns.

Competitiveness was what pulled me into the violent games. But for Lanza and others like him, its a completely different experience — one full of guns, blood, triumph and being feared.