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Issue Date: Vol. 52, No. 8, August 2012, Posted On: 7/24/2012

News Media Revisit Violent Videogames In 'Dark Knight' Mass Shooting Aftermath

Marcus Webb
TAGS: video game violence, videgames, shooting video games, violent video, arcade video game, The Dark Knight Rises, Aurora Colorado shooting, CNN, Patricia Brown, criminal profile, Columbine High School

AURORA, CO -- Pundits on at least two national TV networks partly linked so-called "violent" videogames to the mass murder of 12 moviegoers at a July 20 screening here.

A single deranged gunman named James Holmes, 24, slaughtered a dozen innocent citizens and injured 59 more during a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises," a new Batman film.

The morning following the shooting, CNN featured a series of commentators. Among them was criminal profiler Patricia Brown, who speculated that Holmes "probably spent a lot of time in his apartment, playing one videogame after the other -- shooting, shooting, shooting" in order to psych himself up for the crime.

Brown admitted that videogames don't cause people to commit violent acts. But literally in the next breath, she theorized that "violent" games "help" psychopathic personalities "get in the mode to do the killing."

Two days later, on the June 22 edition of ABC News's esteemed This Week, Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin cited videogames as one of many factors that may play a role in mass murder such as one the in Aurora, CO. Rubin typically provides a right-wing perspective on the Post's editorial pages.

The comments of Brown and Rubin are something of a throwback to the media's treatment of videogames following the 1999 slaying of 12 students and one teacher at Columbine High School near Denver. At that time, numerous commentators immediately jumped to the conclusion that "videogames made them do it" -- a speculation that was later determined wrong.

More recently, the media had been improving its record on avoiding this type of speculation. After the 2011 slaughter of 77 people in Norway by a killer who admitted that he practiced acquiring targets by playing videogames, Reuters and Forbes went out of their way to emphasize that games were not a cause of that massacre. | SEE STORY

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