The New Yorker:

On December 21, 2012, Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice-president of the National Rifle Association, which has lent its name to video games including N.R.A. High Power Competition, N.R.A. Varmint Hunter, N.R.A. Gun Club, and, most recently, N.R.A.: Practice Range, delivered a speech in which he laid the blame for school shootings in the United States at the feet of various pop-cultural transgressors. The “dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal,” LaPierre said, seven days after a twenty-year-old man named Adam Lanza fatally shot twenty-six children and staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut, is that “there exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt, and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people through vicious, violent video games.”

Contrary to LaPierre’s statement, numerous media outlets had, in the previous week, noted that Lanza, like many American men his age, was an avid player of video games. (A report published by the state of Connecticut in late 2013 revealed that he was predominantly a fan not of “vicious, violent” games but of Dance Dance Revolution, a Japanese arcade game in which players rhythmically tap their feet on pressure-sensitive pads.) Lanza’s hobby was so well publicized that, a month after the attack, senior members of the U.S. video-game industry, including John Riccitiello, the C.E.O. of Electronic Arts, and Michael Gallagher, the head of the Entertainment Software Association, a lobbying group, were summoned to the White House for a meeting with Vice-President Joe Biden. According to Constance Steinkuehler, the Obama Administration’s video-game czar, who was present at the meeting, Biden arrived in “a foul mood.” Clearly shaken from his recent conversations with some of the Sandy Hook parents, he walked up to the conference table, threw down a pile of binders, and said to Steinkuehler, “What are we going to do with these scumbags?”

The notion of a causal link between virtual violence and real-world violence was present almost from the moment video games entered the mainstream. On November 9, 1982, C. Everett Koop, the U.S. Surgeon General, gave a speech at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, in Pittsburgh, in which he challenged the country to confront the roots of domestic violence and child abuse.

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