It’s not hard to believe that video games cause violence when you read headlines like these:
“Video game slayings trial gets underway“
“Witness won’t testify at Xbox murder trial”
Both of these stories relate to the same murder trial taking place in Florida. Three men are accused of killing six of their friends. In the initial story the motive, defined by the prosecution, is stated in the first paragraph as being “…over an Xbox”. Two paragraphs down we’re granted an additional detail related to motive:
Authorities said Victorino became angry when 22-year-old Erin Belanger took his Xbox video game system and some clothing from her grandparents’ vacant home where he had been squatting, prosecutors said.
So, we have one of the victims taking an Xbox and clothes from a group of people who were squatting at her grandparents vacant home. Murder follows. More to the story than just an Xbox. Too bad we didn’t know that the clothes in question were from Abercrombie and Fitch, or this could have been the “A&F slayings”.
It wasn’t until I found the follow-up article to this story a few days ago that I decided I needed to say something about this particular bit of headline spin. The update adds even more detail to the story (emphasis mine):
Another witness, Brandon Graham, 19, testified he was with Cannon and the three defendants when Victorino outlined a plot to kill everyone at the rental home shared by Erin Belanger and several housemates.
Most of the victims, ages 17-34, worked together at a Burger King. Graham said Victorino had wanted to imitate a scene from the movie “Wonderland” where people are beaten to death with pipes.
If you were writing this story would it still be the “Xbox murder trial”? This sounds a lot more like “Wonderland 2”.
I understand that the prosecution in this case wants to define a clear motive and stick with it: “A took X from B, B then killed A.” I can understand that this trial is “about” a stolen Xbox, but then, why not make it more clear to the reader that this is the case. Look at these two headlines again:
Video game slayings trial gets underway.
Witness won’t testify at Xbox murder trial.
If you are just skimming through the headlines, and you’ve heard in the past that video games might be inspiring real-world violence, then these headlines will connect certain mental dots. “Video games might cause violence…” – and now here’s an “Xbox murder trial” and some “video game slayings”. 1+1 = video games cause murder.
Why is it that the headlines to these articles place such heavy emphasis on “video games” when there is no real connection to video games in the trial? Why label this the “Xbox murder trial” in the same breath as you reveal a substantial link between the killer’s inspirations and a previous mass murder?
I attempted to contact the reporter who wrote both of these articles, but never got a response. Perhaps, for the media, like politicians, “video game violence” is too easy button to press. Too bad neither group seems so contentious when it comes to real-world violence.