A tragic incident occurred Friday where in Slaughter, LA where an 8-year old boy shot and killed his 90-year old grandmother. While the child said it was an accident, investigators believe that it was intentional and happened after he played Grand Theft Auto IV for the PS3. Naturally, mainstream media sources have jumped straight into blaming the popular M-rated game for the incident.
The Drudge Report, CNN, Fox News, Daily Mail, The Huffington Post and more all picked up on the story originating from WAFB where they immediately played up the violent video game or Grand Theft Auto angle of the shooting. The boy and the grandmother reportedly had a "normal, loving relationship" and the motivation behind the shooting is still under investigation but the news media has already locked onto violent video games as the cause.
"So if you have a video game where someone shoots at a target, that's sort of practicing shooting at a target. When you havea video game that is shooting at a human being, that is practicing shooting at a human being," Kristopher Kaliebe, a LSU Health Sciences Center child psychologist told Fox8live.com
“My professional opinion is that video game violence is enabling the expression of violent urges in ways that cocaine and the worst of drugs never did and never could,” Dr. Michael Welner, a New York forensic psychiatrist told The Advocate.
Media outlets have also constantly repeated the refrain from a police report describing Grand Theft Auto IV as "a realistic game that has been associated with encouraging violence and awards points to players for killing people."
However, experienced GTA IV players will tell you that there is no point system in the game that has sold over 25 million copies since its release by Rockstar Games in 2008. There is a trophy/achievement system where players are rewarded for completing missions though and most of those missions will result in killing characters in the game.
While this is undoubtedly a sad occurrence that this boy will have to carry with him for the rest of his life, there are a number of points that are barely touched aside from the fact that an 8-year old boy should never have been playing the M-rated GTA IV to begin with.
First, the boy apparently had easy access to a loaded weapon. Second, the boy apparently lived with the grandmother full-time in a trailer home so he could enroll in a local school different from his parent's address. Was there a bad influence at the other school? Was there something wrong with living with his parents?
There are an innumerable amount of pertinent questions raised by the shooting and sensational articles broadcasted by mainstream media outlets filled with pre-conceived notions about video games will do little to get them answered.
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