Video games have been mainstream since the 1970s -- there is no logical reason for the media to treat them as new and scary in 2014 (not that there was much reason to treat them as such then, either). Yet, if you're a politician or pundit, ranting and raving about the evils of video games is still a surefire way to get everyone's attention.
And that, friends, is how you wind up with clumsily manufactured outrages like these.
5 Mass Effect Was Blamed for a School Shooting
Old people have been blaming video games for real-world violence since the first pixelated gun appeared on a screen. You'd think we'd be past that by now, but social media and its obsession with overreaction and knee-jerk outrage have ushered in a whole new era in game blaming. This led to possibly the most tenuous connection between a real-world act of violence and its supposed video game influence we'll ever see.
Even worse than when they blamed the alphabet murders on Mario Teaches Typing.
It happened in 2012 after the horrible mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The perpetrator was a man named Adam Lanza, who killed himself post-rampage. Initially, his brother Ryan was mistakenly identified as the shooter, as Adam had stolen his brother's ID and had it on him when his body was discovered. The media eventually realized and admitted their error, but in the social media age, bullshit travels faster than the speed of light. That means that since Ryan had been accused of mass murder for more than 1/64 of a nanosecond, the virtual lynch mob had more than enough opportunity to seek his head.
But the Internet didn't simply settle on ruining the day of an innocent guy whose life had already been ruined. They dug into Ryan's profile and found that he had "liked" Mass Effect, a video game they were pretty sure had guns, probably. Never mind that said guns were laser blasters shot at aliens in goddamned outer space, and never mind that the average Facebook user clicks "like" on all sorts of random bullshit. For an angry mob out to blame anybody but the shooter for all the shooting, this was more than enough evidence. Dozens stormed Mass Effect's Facebook page and bombarded it with angry, threatening messages, repeatedly accusing its creators of aiding and abetting a child murderer.
BioWare, the company behind Mass Effect, did not respond to any messages, and they did not delete anything. We're not sure if this was an intentional strategy, or if they were just too confused to respond, but either way, it worked. Eventually the mob died down and moved on to other things -- like blaming the Sandy Hook shooting on video games. Again.