Monday, April 17, 2017

Virginia Tech Massacre 10 years later

In the midst of writing an update blog, it never dawned on me about one of the deadliest massacres on a college campus and of the United States ten years ago. It's easy to forget how much time has progressed since April 16, 2007, and really, how tragic and heartbreaking it was and the amount of blaming on certain things.

On that day, Seung-Hui Cho, a student at Virginia Tech, unleashed fire in two separate areas on the morning of April 16th. Within two hours, he would end up killing 32 students, injuring 23 from either gunfire or other cause of injuries, and then put the gun on himself. Like any shooting like this, a lot of questions were raised. How was this guy able to get a gun? Was there something wrong with him? Should he have not been able to purchase weapons? A lot of this was talked about, as well as his mental health and past events that should have waved red flags. Unfortunately, nothing was done and it led to a bit of outrage about guns, mental health, and a few other things. In a way, it was like what happened in April of 1999 when the Columbine Massacre happened. A lot of questions were raised on it and as the years went on, discussions were made on the two boys that caused the massacre in Colorado.

I remember being at home on Spring Break in high school and heard about it at some point during the day. Later on, I heard my father saying to me something about the blame being put on video games, which frustrated me. You hear that whenever there was shooting back in the 2000s. That was to the point where even Dr. Phil McGraw talked about it. Like any gamer, I was in disgust when Fox News had on the biggest moron in the world of video games, Jack Thompson, on. If this name isn't familiar to anybody, he was a lawyer (who has been disbarred for the last 8-9 years) and has gone after video games after some big shootings. That included Columbine in 1999, and shooting at Heath High School in Paducah, Kentucky, less than a year and a half before Columbine. He had also went after numerous Rockstar Games products, notably Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt.

What Thompson went after this time was a game called Counter-Strike. Specifically an Xbox version of it. (Xbox was still being made, but ended that year) He would go on to criticize Bill Gates for the game, though Valve created it, not Microsoft who allowed it onto their system and computers. I remember reading an article that there was nothing really violent and stories from people who roomed with Cho that he played mostly Sonic the Hedgehog. I really haven't heard much about blame being put on video games in recent years other than maybe what happened at Sandy Hook in 2012, but I think this quote from Jason Della Rocca says it all about most people's feelings. "It's so sad. These massacre chasers, they're worse than ambulance chasers, they're waiting for these things to happen so they can jump on their soapbox." When MSNBC had Thompson appear and read Rocca's quote, Thompson got very frustrated, called Rocca a few names and if my memory is correct, tried to compare what happened to September 11th in 2001.

It gives me grief to no end about the scapegoating for the format. There's all this supposed research. All these people that say murder simulators, training to kill. That's nothing but a bunch of bullshit to get 15 minutes of fame or act like they know everything before the truth is heard. That's what happened with Columbine, Many blamed video games and ultimately, the truth was heard on the two shooters. It's sad when hundreds of millions that play video games throughout the world are instantly generalized by one person who went on the rampage and the media puts out a scapegoat without looking at what caused the rampage. To that point, I remember not too long watching a couple videos of a rally in New York City that had gamers expressing their view and showing the positive side of gaming through the group, Empire Arcadia. Here are the links.

That's the thing that the media tends to ignore. A line that NFL player Michael Strahan said in 2006 to newspaper reporters was along the line that most do in order to get more people to read. You sell on the negative, no matter the format. Anything positive is an afterthought. You see in news headlines on television, Papers will have the front cover decked out with something that catch everyone's attention. Gamers have to deal with all sorts of bullshit that happened a long time ago, may happen in the present, and possibly occur in the future. There's an enjoyment to video games to many as much as some people have with viewing movies or going to see a concert for a band or singer you like. I think one of the downsides is that video games are often looked down and maybe still looked at today like cartoons as being for kids.

Video games have been around since the 1970s. My father grew up during its start as a teenager. My older siblings got to see the NES era begin. For my younger brother, myself, and others of the late part of Generation Y, we've seen the rise of 3D. It's still a young format compared to other things like movies and music. However, we still see stereotypes being set among us. Despite that, we stick together and continue to do what we love. We're not going to let the media ruin something that is enjoyed by many because they generalize an entire group.

In the end, Virginia Tech is still one of the biggest tragedies in the United States. Thompson was disbarred a year and half later and culture still thrives on violence with stuff on various formats. It was a wake up call to many things regarding health and weaponry. What it also did, however, was show that gamers are not going to give up on defending what they love when the media makes a bunch of bad assumptions. (mostly Fox News and their legion of idiots) Let the world shine brighter so that these incidents can be prevented in the future and no bloodshed can happen.

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