Did the sensibilities created by the modern, video kill games play a role in the Littleton massacre?

Articles on media violence:

  • “Violent Media Numbs Viewers to Pain of Others” – WMIA, pg. 165
  • “Hate Violence? Turn It Off!” – WMIA, pg. 167
  •  “Violent Media is Good for Kids” – WMIA, pg. 181
  • “Media Violence Debates” – Moodle
  •  “Whodunit—the Media?” – Moodle
  • “Does Media Violence Lead to the Real Thing?” – Moodle
  • “Music Videos Promote Adolescent Aggression” – Moodle
  • “Does Fictional Violence Lead to Real Violence” – Moodle
  • “American Psychological Association” – Moodle
  • “When Life Imitates Video” – Moodle


This essay will be constructed as an academic argument and therefore should be well-reasoned, supported with logic based evidence from your readings, and balanced.  Preparation for this paper must include Exercise 1, Exercise 2, and Exercise 3 – proposal, as well as the 1st draft with peer review and 2nd draft.  It should be oriented toward a general, academic audience and will be evaluated according to the grading rubric for this course.

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  • MLA Works Cited pageWHEN LIFE IMITATES VIDEOJohn Leo

    U.S. News & World Report, May 3, 1999


    Was it real life or an acted-out video game?


    Marching through a large building using various bombs and guns to pick off victims is a conventional video-game scenario. In the Colorado massacre, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris used pistol-grip shotguns, as in some video-arcade games. The pools of blood, screams of agony, and pleas for mercy must have been familiar–they are featured in some of the newer and more realistic kill-for-kicks games. “With each kill,” the Los Angeles Times reported, “the teens cackled and shouted as though playing one of the morbid video games they loved.” And they ended their spree by shooting themselves in the head, the final act in the game Postal, and, in fact, the only way to end it.


    Did the sensibilities created by the modern, video kill games play a role in the Littleton massacre? Apparently so. Note the cool and casual cruelty, the outlandish arsenal of weapons, the cheering and laughing while hunting down victims one by one. All of this seems to reflect the style and feel of the video killing games they played so often.


    No, there isn’t any direct connection between most murderous games and most murders. And yes, the primary responsibility for protecting children from dangerous games lies with their parents, many of whom like to blame the entertainment industry for their own failings.


    But there is a cultural problem here: We are now a society in which the chief form of play for millions of youngsters is making large numbers of people die. Hurting and maiming others is the central fun activity in video games played so addictively by the young. A widely cited survey of 900 fourth-through-eighth-grade students found that almost half of the children said their favorite electronic games involve violence. Can it be that all this constant training in make-believe killing has no social effects?


    Dress rehearsal. The conventional argument is that this is a harmless activity among children who know the difference between fantasy and reality. But the games are often played by unstable youngsters unsure about the difference. Many of these have been maltreated or rejected and left alone most of the time (a precondition for playing the games obsessively). Adolescent feelings of resentment, powerlessness, and revenge pour into the killing games. In these children, the games can become a dress rehearsal for the real thing.