“Half-Life 2” mod “Natural Selection” blamed for school shooting in Mexico
On Friday, an 11-year old boy in Torreon, Mexico shot and killed one teacher and injured six others at his school before turning the weapon on himself and taking his own life.
After an extensive investigation lasting a few hours, Miguel Riquelme, governor of the state of Coahuila, commented on the tragedy, noting that the shooter “was well behaved… and what we can observe is that the boy was influenced by a video game.”
Riquelme went on to name the game in question: a first-person shooter/strategy title, Natural Selection. Riquelme asserted that the boy wore a t-shirt with the words Natural Selection on it during the attack, and he also believed that the shooter was trying to “recreate” the game.
Natural Selection is a Half-Life 2 mod created by Unknown Worlds Entertainment in 2002. Not 2020. Not 2012. 2002. While it’s possible that the shirt worn by the shooter had a logo for the game’s 2012 sequel, Natural Selection 2 (which you can pick up on Steam here for $9.99), I wasn’t able to find any commercially available t-shirts with the Natural Selection game logo anywhere. There are some graphic photos of the deceased shooter online (which I won’t repost here), but I was not able to confirm a connection to the Natural Selection game from those images, either. I’m not saying that the governor isn’t telling the truth, but I remain suspicious until I see more to back up Mr. Riquelme’s statements.
In a broader context, politicians have long attempted to connect video games with real-world violence, but the ever-growing stack of evidence does not support these claims. Not only are there virtually zero scientifically valid studies linking video games to real-world acts of violence, there are even indications that the reverse is true (See here and here), that playing video games decreases violent tendencies. The explanation for this is perfectly reasonable: video games, particularly violent ones, offer a sense of catharsis for gamers who may be experiencing real-world frustrations. The real world is messy, confusing, and oftentimes unjust. Why wouldn’t a troubled mind find solace in a manufactured world with a consistent set of rules, clearly-defined objectives and predictable outcomes?
Sadly, no matter how widely reported or extensively cited, the piles of scientific studies have not made an impact with some. Activists, political demagogues with messiah complexes and their dutifully compliant media outlets still conveniently ignore these studies whenever there is a fresh tragedy to exploit.
We’ve collected links to just some of the pertinent scientific research below so you can review it for yourself. That way, the next time an opportunistic politician, a scam artist with a social sciences degree or Captain Kangaroo tells you that
rap music comic books rock and roll video games cause misogyny racism violence, you’ll have actual facts at the ready to shut them down.
- Oxford University
- U.S. Secret Service and Department of Education (Joint)
- The University of York
- The Journal of Molecular Psychiatry
- The Journal of Communication
- Frontiers in Psychology
- The Journal of Psychology and Media Culture
- The International Journal of Law and Psychiatry
- The Southern Economic Journal
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