News Response #4 (3/1/18)

Recently, Facebook removed a virtual reality shooting game from a booth it had set up at the Conservative Political Action Conference. The main reason it was removed was because of its proximity, time-wise, to the Parkland shooting, and fears that it would be insensitive to survivors and the families of victims of that shooting.

I think, however, this removal of the game ties back to the long-standing question of: does violent media create or influence violent people? Obviously, Facebook thinks that this virtual reality game will have an emotional impact on the people that play it. If Facebook did not think that it would impact people in real life at all, then the game would likely still be up at the convention. Additionally, the Parkland shooter was obviously influenced by the Internet, as it was reported that he had left some threatening and concerning messages on the Internet. So, it is not unfair to assume that the shooter was also somewhat influence by other, violent, media.

The main question I have is how virtual reality would affect rates of violence and mass shooters- after all, it is much easier to practice shooting people in virtual reality than to actually go to a gun range and practice shooting targets. These games are getting more and more realistic, after all. The game that Facebook pulled from the demo used a wide range of real-life guns, which would make it easy for a potentially violent person to practice shooting different weapons without actually buying or using them, and thus sending up potential red flags.