Psychologist defends games amid tabloid school massacre links
18th Dec 2012 | 10:50
It seems more than ever media outlets and commentators are keen to link violent tragedies and gaming - and sadly this week they've had more cause than usual.
This morning's The Sun features the front page story 'Killer's Call of Duty Obsession', linking last week's tragic events in Connecticut, USA to gaming.
According to the paper, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, who murdered more than 20 children and adults, was a Call of Duty player. It also carries a column by child psychologist Teresa Bliss, in which she claims games "can lead children to become more immune to violence and death."
Similar alleged links between the school tragedy and gaming can be found in American publications, as well as UK papers The Express and The Independent.
The reports have led clinical psychologist Chris Ferguson - an 'expert' on mass killings at Texas A&M International University - to publish a dismissal of the suggested link between the real-life tragedy and gaming.
According to Fergusson, gaming is "the wrong direction to focus on" and not a common factor among mass homicide perpetrators.
He told ABC News: "If we are serious about reducing these types of violence in our society, video game violence or other media violence issues are clearly the wrong direction to focus on.
"Video game use is just not a common factor among mass homicide perpetrators. Some have been players, others have not been."
Ferguson, who calls himself a proponent of gun control, previously came out to rubbish similar tabloid connections made between Oslo mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik and his gaming habits.
The psychologist controversially claimed that not only were such links wrong, but they also contained elements of racism.
"I know it's a little controversial to say but there's a certain type of racism in place with these killings... When shootings happen in an inner city in minority-populated schools, video games are never brought up," he said.
"But when these things happen in white majority schools and in the suburbs, people start to freak out and video games are inevitably blamed. I think that there's a certain element of racism or ignorance here."
He added: "People really want to know what kind of boogeyman can we hang this on and video games are still the top choice when it comes to any type of tragedy."