The Killer Nerd Meme

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As a very peripheral side-note to the still-unfolding story of the Virginia Tech tragedy, I can’t help keeping a weather eye out for the return of the killer nerd meme that got loose in the wake of the Columbine killings: the anti-social, trench-coated video game freak who finally snaps. So far sightings of the meme have been relatively scarce, though as my colleague at Tuned In points out, Dr. Phil evoked the specter of the violent video game on Larry King, and as Kotaku points out, amazingly, Fox News is still putting Jack Thompson on the air to talk about the same issue. Most news reports have — in the absence of any evidence that the shooter was a gamer — focused on his isolation and the violent fantasies he expressed in his creative writing and left it at that.

As I understand it, the jury is still out on whether there’s any clinically proven link between gaming and violent behavior — there are studies out there that claim to “prove” both sides of the argument. But honestly, writing as a parent, if a child can’t tell the difference between virtual violence and actual violence, look at the child’s brain chemistry, or the child’s environment, or the child’s parents. But to blame the games themselves is just a waste of time.