Clinical psychologist Christopher Ferguson is reportedly a leading expert on video game violence and mass killings, residing at the Texas A&M International University. He believes that video games aren't to blame for tragic massacres like Columbine and the more recent incident in Oslo, Norway. In fact, he says it's "racist" to put the blame on video games whenever a white male goes on a shooting spree.
"I know it’s a little controversial to say but there’s a certain type of racism in place with these killings," Ferguson said. "When shootings happen in an inner city in minority-populated schools, video games are never brought up. But when these things happen in white majority schools and in the suburbs, people start to freak out and video games are inevitably blamed. I think that there’s a certain element of racism or ignorance here."
His opinion arrives after 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik entered a Labour Party youth camp on Uteye island and open fired on the adolescents, killing around 76 teens. In a 1,500 page manifesto he wrote entitled "2083: A European Declaration of Independence," he admitted that he used Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 for training. He also mentioned World of Warcraft, but it's notorious addictive nature was only used as a cover story to explain the time away from friends and family while he plotted and trained for his bloody raid.
"You will be amazed on how much you can do undetected while blaming this game," he wrote. "If your planning requires you to travel, say that you are visiting one of your WoW friends, or better yet, a girl from your 'guild' (who lives in another country). No further questions will be raised if you present these arguments."
But despite Breivik's mention of the two Activision-Blizzard games, Ferguson said that mass killings are going to happen and there's nothing to prevent that – they're like lightening strikes. Unfortunately, video games are still at the top of the list when people look to find a cause for the mass killings.
Ferguson also said that the violent gaming debate isn't quite as controversial with the Oslo killings, possibly because the tragedy occurred so far away from American soil, or perhaps because games are much more integrated into society now than seen in the days of Columbine, things are a lot more "muted." Society may just be more understanding of gaming's entertainment-based nature.
"There are groups out there who are going to blame video games on everything," said Ferguson. "They’re like ambulance chasers, really. I think it’s irresponsible and thoughtless to try to make political gain off of someone else’s tragedy, but they’re going to do it. That’s what they do. But even those groups have been much quieter with the Oslo tragedy."
"Scientifically, the idea that video game violence, movie, or television violence contributes to mass homicides is pretty much a debunked idea that has no real basis to it," he added. "I think certainly the Supreme Court case helped, especially since they were so clear in pointing out that current research was not able to support that line of reasoning."
Ferguson said that he's discovered through extensive research that approximately 95-percent of young males have played a violent video game. “That becomes a tricky thing when these mass homicides occur and the shooter is a young male," he said. "The odds are he’s played violent video games."