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By Michael Czobit

Two Mercedes race down a Toronto road and cause the death of a cab driver. Is street racing to blame or the video game found in one of the luxury cars?

The question of how a video game influenced the actions of the two teens accused in the killing Tahir Khan has surfaced since an Need For Speed video game box was found at the scene.

But Jonathan L. Freedman, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto and author of Media Violence and Its Effect on Aggression, offers what he says is a more likely explanation to the crime.

“These are people who love cars, love to ride. That’s why they like the game.” If a person played a hockey video game and then played a game of ice hockey, people wouldn’t say he played ice hockey because he played the video game, Freedman said.

Scientific proof that viewing media, such as video games, leads to aggression does not exist, he said. He added that any “evidence” of a link between video games and aggression has been anecdotal. While Arlette Marie-Laure Lefebvre, another psychology professor at U of T, agrees evidence of the link between video games and aggression has been anecdotal, she says it’s because there has not been enough research into this link.

Lefebvre also represents Media Awareness Canada, a network designed to help teachers and parents with media issues. “It’s impossible to tell what had the biggest impact (in the Tahir Khan accident),” Lefebvre said, but she believes violence in the media leads to aggressive behaviours.

The accused are not children, but teens. And Freedman believes they knew, just as everyone else does, that Need For Speed is not the real thing.

“It’s a game. It’s for fun.”

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