Video Games and Virginia Tech

Wired reported that it took eight hours to connect video games with the Virginia Tech tragedy. Are video games used as a scapegoat for what happened or is there perhaps some merit in looking at a connection between the two? While there are opinions and studies on both sides: No Strong Link to Violent Video Games and Agression by Dmitri Williams, University of Illinois to Jack Thompson on YouTube speaking about video games related to Virginia Tech, who are we to believe? Since there has been such an emphasis on serving gamers at our libraries in recent years, how do we make the case that gaming is a viable and necessary service when tragedies such as Virginia Tech are tied to video games? How do we separate the people from the video game and how can we as librarians shape experiences for teens and adults at our libraries to value the positive aspects of gaming? Here are some ideas:

  • talk about it. Don’t be afraid to ask gamers and parents (who might be gamers as well), what they think about this at your library’s next gaming event and how they can (teen/parent) start a dialogue revolving around video games
  • post resources on your web site that your library can offer to teens in regards to responding to the Virginia Tech tragedy.
  • site positive resources of gaming such as What Video Games Have to Teach Us by James Paul Gee (Palgrave MacMillan, 2004) or Don’t Bother Me Mom–I’m Learning by Marc Prensky (Paragon House Publishers, 2006)
  • encourage teens to share with their parents/caregivers what games they are playing and what they are learning from them

What else? Please share.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

About Kelly Czarnecki

Kelly Czarnecki is a Teen Librarian at ImaginOn with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. She is a member of the YALSA blog advisory board.
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  1. Linda Braun [Member]

    One of my favorite program ideas is to have teens hold a gaming night where they talk to teachers and parents about games, why they love to play, what they do to play, and so on. They also show adults how to play the games. It’s a great learning experience for everyone.

    In order to prepare teens have to talk about what adults fear about gaming and come up with ways to help dispel those fears within a context that makes sense to concerned adults.

  2. While there is some evidence that there is a correlation to playing violent video games and increased feelings of aggression, no direct cause and effect relationship has yet proven to show that video games MAKE people violent.

    Games, like guns, are simply a tool, with potential to be used in good or bad ways. Through a flight sim, one may to learn to pilot a plane that could fly into building, land perfectly on a tarmack; through a first person shooter, one may learn to shoot a gun to improve skills for battle, or gunning down classmates.

    Bettleheim’s classic Uses of Enchantment addresses the purpose of violence in fairy tales, and I find much of the same theory applies to all types of storytelling.

    There are millions of people who play violent games who don’t react to them with mass murder. This isn’t about video games, it’s about a handful of individuals who lack coping mechanisms and have a weak grasp on reality subcuumbing to their delusions.

    There are two larger problems at stake here. People who are outsiders, who are loners, who are scapegoats, who are mentally unstable, continue to slip through the cracks. Kids learn to suffer all kinds of abuses in silence, and adults (instead of giving youth tools, such as as skills for peaceful conflict resolution) look the other way at bullying, thinking it will build character if the they just stay out of it.

    The second issue is that media (that often seems to serve only to promote a culture of fear) is frequently consumed in a vacuum. Linda and Kelly talk about encouraging teens to have these discussions with us, with their peers, and their parents. Communication is key.

    The role of librarian as adult mentor/other caring adults may be the one most vital to the successful adulthood of our teen patrons. How many of Cho’s developmental assets were NOT met as a teen, do you think?

    Now is probably a good time to review the 2002 secret service findings on characteristics of school shooters at

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