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Violent gaming debates reignited by Sandy Hook tragedy

Tuesday, 18 December 2012 00:11 GMT By Brenna Hillier

It’s hard to know what to say in the wake of the appalling loss of seven adults and 20 children in a shooting spree in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, but there’s no denying that violence in games is back in the mainstream media spotlight.

I feel like I can’t ignore these headlines from around the gaming press, but it seems disrespectful to the victims of this tragedy to post multiple articles as I normally would. Instead, I’ve collated a number of stories related to the massacre below.

Shooter Adam Lanza’s interest in games has been cited by many mainstream publications as somehow explanatory or motivational of his bizarre act of mass violence. Destructoid found a particularly egregious example in which the Express said Lanza’s favourite game was “a shockingly violent fantasy war game called Dynasty Warriors which is thought to have given him inspiration to act on his darkest thoughts”.

Polygon highlighted a saner response from the Washington Post, which cites actual facts in pointing out there is no correlation between national spend on games and national incidence of firearm crime.

Also on Polygon, we learn that a group of gamers has called for a “24 hour online ceasefire” – not because of any perceived link between shooter games and real world violence, but as a show of support, sympathy and solidarity for all effected by this genuine horror.

Finally, notorious anti-games campaigner Jack Thompson is back in the spotlight. GamePolitics reports that the former Florida attorney, now disbarred, left a voice message with Entertainment Consumers Association president Hal Halpin, noting that Thompson had “tried to prevent” such events.

The ECA responded with an extended statement on the matter.

“Regarding media requests for a statement about what role violent media (movies, music, games, etc.) has played, I’d simply and respectfully point to the lack of evidence to support any causal link,” Halpin said.

As I’m personally deeply uncomfortable with the thought of leveraging this weekend’s events for traffic, I’ll be updating this article with any further reports of note which surface today.

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19 Comments

  1. Gheritt White

    Terrific article, really great – thanks for writing it.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. absolutezero

    If Jim Sterling can hold himself back from giving that man anymore publicity then I sure hope you can too. It gives me the creeps knowing that even though he has no credability left and was ground into the dirt he still gets media attention. As soon as the recent events took place he was sniffing around the usual sites trying to get himself back into the spotlight.

    I know the news needs to be reported and all that but Jack Thompson being a skeezy bastard is not news.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. SlayerGT

    At my Christmas party over the weekend one of my co workers, who knows my interest in games, expressed to me that he felt violent video games where at fault in conjunction with this tragedy. I’ve had these conversations so much with many family members and friends in the past the only thing I could say to him was, “are you worried I’ll show up to work one day with intent to harm someone?” He said “no” to which replied “why not?” He said, “cause you’re a morally good guy.” I was like, “well shit man there you go.” I told him I felt that, why it’d be nice to have something to blame that could easily be fixed, I think the obvious problem is bad wiring. Some people are just crazy.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. SlayerGT

    @2 I agree about Thompson.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. uomoartificiale

    @3 what do you mean with “I told him I felt that, why it’d be nice to have something to blame that could easily be fixed, I think the obvious problem is bad wiring. Some people are just crazy.”?

    Ok, I get what you’re saying about games, but don’t tell you don’t see a causal link between the dimension of this tragedy and the gun culture and gun legislation in place in the USA. Some people are just crazy, and may harm someone, but how can they kill 20 innocents if they are not armed to the teeth? Consider if this crazy person could even get a knife: 20 children? is that even possible?

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Telepathic.Geometry

    Personally, I’d like to think that the sort of maniac that can kill his own mother and then slaughter a bunch of little kids is not the product of the gaming world. And I also think that the likes of Thompson leveraging this tragedy as a springboard for their campaign is despicable. :/

    #6 2 years ago
  7. mentl

    blaming the games not the movies or the war that they cause ??!!

    #7 2 years ago
  8. SlayerGT

    @5 I meant that there’s no “switch” that someone can flip i.e. banning violent video games, that would keep such tragedies from happening. Personally I think, just like music, comic books, and movies before them..video games are the current scapegoats.

    Also, I’d rather not get into a gun control conversation here..

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Cobra951

    When you have a pen full of sheep, and you allow any random wolf to wander in unopposed, the result will be slaughter every time. The pen needs guard dogs on duty at all times to remove such risk. Taming or defanging all wolves is not possible. Why anyone would propose it baffles me.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. uomoartificiale

    @8 I agree with you and respect that you don’t want to discuss about gun-control, especially in this comment section. I think us europeans (left or right wingers, marxist and liberals, coservatives or moderates) view the issue as completely non-political, just a matter of basic common sense. I get though that this is not the place for such a discussion.
    I just found a little bit unsettling a certain trend in your comment. Let me put it this way: arts and culture, as strong as their message can be, are the antidote of such tragedies. In the best case they provide a reflexion on the violence in society, in the worst they are a valve to vent someone’s inside demons.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. SlayerGT

    @10 forgive me but I’m not sure I completely understand what you mean. Like, it can bring about the best..or the worst? If that’s what you mean I agree.

    And its no biggie about gun control. That just opens an entirely different and HUGE can of worms. A more serious topic in my mind then that of video “games” which I don’t take seriously. Nor do I think they should be in any way other than art, entertainment, or toys.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. GwynbleiddiuM

    Every time a crazy shit like this happens, immediately violence in gaming comes to attention. This is insulting, not only to those who have lost their loved ones in such an atrocious tragedy but everyone else involved with computer and video games in any way. It’s demeaning and ridiculous. The fault is not with the gaming or films or music industry, the fault is with the government that allows easy access to fire arms to everyone because it is part of the constitutional rights that system provides. Since the beginning of time men used all sort of weapons to kill each other for various reasons and it goes way before films and games and books and music. Public access to firearms in my country is non-existence, yet you hear people still get their hands on firearms to kill each other, it’s not as tragic as what happened in Sandy Hook, but it happens nonetheless. Those who are motivated enough to go on a killing spree, they find the means and tools to their ends. Adam Lanza, whatever his motives were I’m sure they go beyond violence in video games. It is pathetic, it’s tragic, it’s horrific, but someone whom willingly kills more than 20 other human beings and then kills himself in the process clearly has issues beyond… way beyond violence in gaming, movies, musics, etc. Such a person, who kills his own mother, the mother who taught him to shoot. Pathetic…

    #12 2 years ago
  13. The Auracle

    The fact that Jack Thompson has weaselled his way back to the media platform to spout his crap is very telling about how convoluted and ridiculous this debate has become.

    More of a reason to switch on the PS3/Xbox 360/Wii U/PC and tune it all out, in my humble opinion.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. DrDamn

    @9
    What’s baffling is allowing wolves to arm themselves beyond reason in the first place.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. NeoSquall

    Hey, ‘Mmurica.

    - Ban civilian access to automatic weapons (machine guns, submachine guns, PDWs, automatic rifles and assault rifles);
    - Restrict civilian access to long guns (rifles, shotguns and carbines, including sport versions) to American citizens, who have to take a federal exam for the license, must be registered in a federal board and demonstrate they have a safe storage (a locked box, away from minors range, etc.) for both weapons and ammos;
    - Ban civilian access to knives with blades longer than 20cm (or 8 inches for those uneasy with SI measures) and other melee weapons like swords, bows and crossbows;
    - Criminally prosecute any offenders with full force.

    There you go, don’t need to thank me.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. NeoSquall

    And to hell with JT, I hope he gets what he wants soon, ie. to burn himself as a martyr (a useless one, of course) while trying to torch a GameStop.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. Da Man

    Uh, the guy was an insane psychopath.. he was no er, wolf.

    What is actually pathetic is how ‘gamers’, using all kinds of straw men, exploit articles like this to make internet know they don’t want their precious violent videogames to be taken away.

    #17 2 years ago
  18. silkvg247

    What are the chances that a 20 year old *wouldn’t* be playing video games?

    As usual human nature is to point the finger and blame something. It’s pathetic coming from a nation where everyone has the right to bear arms and refuses to give that “right” up, blissfully being ignorant to the fact that some people are simply just born with psychotic tendencies.

    Maybe until science develops a way to detect and cure said mental illnesses they shouldn’t be keeping guns in every household. Maybe.

    But no, instead there’s uproar that their rights are in peril, and let’s blame video games. Fucking retards.

    Ban video games or ban guns? It’s actually sadly ridiculous when you view it that way. One of them actually kills people.

    The above strong opinions in no way reflect my thoughts/feelings on the tragedy in general. I’m just tired of knee-jerk reactions and a blame culture, it’s like people lack the ability to think logically and it pisses me off.

    @17 I’m not threatened by this, I’m annoyed at the sheer idiocy of it. It’s disrespectful to the victims and gamers around the world. If someone dear to me was shot dead, I would be infuriated if the media put emphasis on the killer playing video games, rather than emphasis on why his degrading mental health wasn’t spotted and acted upon.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. uomoartificiale

    @11 I just wanted to say that videogames are not at fault not because they are not to be taken seriously or because there’s no easy way to connect such tragedies to any form of entertainment. I state exactly the contrary: videogames, as any other form of entertainment or art (some games are artistic expressions, some other clearly not), have to be taken seriously.
    Against those barbarian acts of violence and ignorance of human emotions, we can only oppose more fantasy, more thought, more ingenuity. Everything that foster this is the antidote against a violence in society. The proliferation of arts and entertainment has a positive effect so that tragedies like this won’t happen again in the future.

    #19 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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  • First-ever PC Gaming Show to take place at E3 2015 in June

    PC gaming will finally have its very own E3 press conference this year, thanks to PC Gamer and AMD. The PC Gaming Show will take place on June 16 at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles and it will be livestreamed on Twitch. PC Gamer said speakers at the presentation will include representatives from Blizzard, […]

  • Majora’s Mask light available now on Club Nintendo for 6000 stars

    Club Nintendo shuts up shop on September 30 and members are being encouraged to spend accumulated stars before then. And what better to spend them on, than this adorable Majora’s Mask light? If you’re a member based in Europe you can nab it for 6000 stars. If you’re in Australia or New Zealand, it’ll only […]

  • Unity support announced for HoloLens, will work with Windows universal apps

    Microsoft is partnering with game engine developers Unity in order to make HoloLens compatible with apps and games which use the cross-platform engine. The partnership was announced yesterday during its Build Developer Conference. Universal apps for Windows 10 systems will also be available on Xbox One later this year, suggesting possible HoloLens functionality with the […]

  • Splatoon Nintendo Direct airs Thursday, May 7

    A Nintendo Direct focused on Splatoon, the Wii U multiplayer title, on May 7. It will kick off at 7am PDT/10am EDT/3pm UK and it can be watched via the Nintendo Direct website. You can also have a look at the game through Nintendo’s Twitch channel. The last game-specific presentation took place last week and […]

  • GTA 5 PC: clean up the streets as a member of the San Andreas PD with this new mod

    Remember the awesome mods for GTA 4 and San Andreas that let you run amok online as a member of the po-po? Well, dust off your taser and load up your gun, because it’s coming to GTA 5. The new mod for GTA 5 is currently in alpha and can be downloaded at palmbeachgames.com. You […]

  • Indie shoot ‘em up Project Root comes to Xbox One, PS4 and PSVita

    Project Root is a self-proclaimed rejig of the shoot ‘em up genre that was released on PC last year, and it’s finally coming to consoles. Combining free-roaming elements with the usual business of shooting things, Project Root was released this week for Xbox One, PS4 and the PSVita.

  • You can now bet on eSports online, starting with League of Legends

    If you’re getting bored with sticking a pony on the races, you can expand your gambling horizons at Unikrn where you can watch esports streams and get a little action on the side. The new platform was set up by Rahul Sood – previously the general manager of Microsoft Ventures. At the moment, customers are […]

  • Has Watch Dogs 2 been leaked?

    Ubisoft employee, Julien Risse, may have inadvertently confirmed Watch Dogs 2, thanks to his online CV over at LinkedIn. Videogamer.com spotted the slip up, in which Risse lists Watch Dogs, the DLC Bad Blood, and Watch Dogs 2 on his profile. Creative Director Jonathan Morin has already talked about his ideas for improvements for the […]

  • GTA 5′s Trevor makes his Jackass debut, complete with leopard-print knickers

    YouTuber Abstract Mode has shared his vision of what Trevor Philips’ life might have been like, had he not been completely batshit crazy. Watch Trevor get mauled, run over, and hit by a train, before taking a majestic swan-dive into someone else’s pool at the climax. Thanks, Kotaku.

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 season pass will cost you £35

    Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 isn’t released until November 6, but you can already hand over your cash for the Season Pass. The Season Pass is available for pre-purchase on Steam for £34.99, and will cover four DLC packs – although the details we have on the content are limited to ‘exciting’ at this […]

  • GTA Online’s cheating assholes are no match for this player’s vengeance

    Think you’re smart for using invisibility and infinite ammo glitches? You need to be taught a lesson, sucker. You can have all the hacks you want but if your GTA Online game is weak, you’ll still get your ass handed to you. As this fool discovered when attempting to hassle another player. There’s a fair […]

  • PS4 sales help Sony’s games division swing to profit

    Sony’s PlayStation business has made an operating profit of 48.1 billion yen ($404m / £261.5m) in the past 12 months. That’s thanks to stellar sales of the PlayStation 4 and PS Plus, even as sales of the PS3 have stalled and the company wrote off costs for the PSTV and PS Vita. The profit puts […]

  • New patch for Dirt Rally gives co-driver’s attitude a tune-up

    Dirt Rally gets a new patch three days after release on Steam. On Monday, we reported that the newest Dirt game has popped up on Steam’s Early Access and is available to pick up for £24.99, as well as giving you an eyeful of tasty screenshots. The patch – released yesterday – fixes some issues […]

  • New The Witcher 3 screenshots show combat, exploration and general carousing

    New screenshots released on the official facebook page for The Witcher 3 show Geralt annihilating a winged beast, out and about in the world exploring, and living the life of Reily amidst a bustling feast. We were already treated to some glorious screenshots a few days ago, but these new ones are in-game and give […]

  • Destiny: 14 things you might have missed during House of Wolves intel drops

    Destiny: House of Wolves does a great deal more than just slap some new content on the existing game structure. House of Wolves changes Destiny in a lot of interesting and very welcome ways. Bungie showed off many of these changes in its livestream, and let both me and Arekkz come and have a look […]

  • Scratch that cyberpunk itch with Technobabylon on May 21 – new trailer

    Technobabylon more like Wrecked-yo-babbling with my smooth flow about how good Wadjet Eye games are. I don’t know y’all, it’s clock off time and everything feels like a reach. Wadjet Eye makes pretty good adventure games – award winning, in fact. The latest project to spring forth from the benevolent, sheltering hand of the label […]

  • Skullgirls 2nd Encore brings exclusive new features to PS4, Vita in northern summer

    Skullgirls, the little indie fighter that could, is getting another crack at it. Skullgirls 2nd Encore is the second re-release of the one-time troubled 2D versus fighter from lab Zero Games. Having survived the shut down of its developer and collapse of its publishing contrast, Skullgirls re-emerged as Skullgirls: Encore, adding in a ton of […]

  • Danganronpa series generates “impressive” sales for Vita exclusive

    Danganronpa is selling quite nicely, thank you, says NIS America. Danganronpa is a series of murder mystery visual novel puzzlers in a similar vein to games like 999. Two of these have been released for Vita in the west – Trigger Happy Havoc and Goodbye Despair. Speaking to MCV, NIS America CEO and president Takuro […]

  • I have no idea what is going on in J-Stars Victory VS+ but I kind of like it

    In this J-Stars Victory VS+ trailer, we see – uhh. Well. We certainly see some things. Look y’all, I was a massive weaboo in high school, but that was back in the dark ages when we had to take out Manga Entertainment VHS tapes from dingy little specialist rental joints that were literally underground, and […]

  • Please just watch this terrific trailer for Toren

    Toren is the kind of game I dream about when I drift off to sleep at night. This indie puzzle adventure strikes a spark in my little soul in the same way as Ico and Tequila Works’ Rime do. Mysterious, almost ethereal fantasy setting – check. Chance to actually walk around in that setting – […]

  • Play classic MS-DOS games on your own tweets

    In today’s episode of “what will they think of next”, someone’s figured out how to post playable versions of classic games in tweets. For some time now, Twitter has allowed you to embed various forms of media in tweets, most noticeably YouTube videos, simply by pasting a URL into the compose field. Turns out this […]

  • VR: Unreal Engine to add HTC Vive support

    The biggest digital PC game distributor and the most popular game development engine have both backed VR. It’s going to happen. An upcoming Unreal Engine 4 update will expand the development suite’s support to the HTC Vive, Valve’s VR headset. In this glorious new future where work on one of the most important engines in […]

  • WWE 2K15 PC supports modding

    WWE 2K15 may be the series’ PC debut, but it’s already getting into the spirit of the platform. WWE 2K15 does indeed support mods on PC, 2K’s Marcus Stephenson has confirmed. @ElementGamesTV you can. Now buy. — Marcus Stephenson (@stephensonmc) April 28, 2015 As Destructoid points out, this opens the door to all sorts of […]

  • Overkill’s The Walking Dead coming to PC, PS4 and Xbox One in 2016

    Overkill’s The Walking Dead is one step closer to your grasping little paws. Overkill’s The Walking Dead will be published by 505 Games, Overkill parent Starbreeze has announced. 505 also published Payday 2, Overkill’s previous title, so the two companies have established a working relationship. In a press release, the publisher said the co-op title […]

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 pre-orders net Advanced Warfare DLC

    Buy Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 for later, enjoy bonus Advanced Warfare content now. Blacks Ops 3 is being supported by a rather cunning pre-order incentive even more likely to get you to lay your cash down sooner than you might otherwise. Gamespot reports a Black Ops 3 pre-order will receive a couple of […]

  • Steam Game Ban system lets developers determine who to block

    Steam users can now be blocked from individual games by their developers. Steam has always supported multiplayer bans for disruptive users, but a newly-implemented system allows developers to ban users from individual games using their own anti-cheat systems. Game Bans are enforced by Valve, but are enacted at the developer’s request and discretion. This change […]

  • Far Cry 4 devs matching Red Cross donations up to $100K to aid Nepal earthquake victims

    Far Cry 4 developer Ubisoft Montreal will match any pledges made to The Red Cross up to $100,000 to aid Nepal after the 7.8 earthquake struck the area in and around Kathmandu in Nepal. According to Ubisoft: “Having spent the last few years working on Far Cry 4, a game heavily inspired by Nepal and […]

  • Tales of Zestiria retail listing notes September release date, PS4 version

    Tales of Zestiria is coming west in northern autumn, and while it’s confirmed as a PlayStation 3 release, a Dutch retailer has it listed as coming to PS4 as well. Of course, listing it for PS4 could also be a typo, not that I would personally know about that sort of thing, really. However, according […]

  • Official mod tools for Total War: Attila are now available

    Official mod tools for Total War: Attila are now available and you can grab the new Assembly Kit as a beta through the tools menu via your Steam library. The Creative Assembly said the tools will be “immediately familiar” to modders of Rome 2 and Shogun 2, but the new version is the most “extensive” […]

  • How to get level 34 Ascended Raid gear in Destiny: House of Wolves

    Watch: two videos showing you how to get level 34 raid gear and a shopping list of what you need. One of the big changes that House of Wolves is bringing to Destiny is the chance to upgrade your weapons and gear to level 34. In these videos Arekkz Gaming shows you how to use […]

  • Destiny: House of Wolves puts PvP back in the spotlight

    Destiny PvP players, your time has come to shine. New Crucible maps. New Crucible rewards. And the glorious wonder of Elimination mode. Destiny: House of Wolves puts PvP front and centre. When Destiny was first detailed, one of the things Bungie stressed was that there’d be something for everyone. If you wanted to play solo […]

  • Destiny: Trials of Osiris – everything you need to know in one video

    The Destiny: House of Wolves embargo has lifted, and with so much information floating around pertaining to Trials of Osiris, it can be overwhelming. Thankfully, Arekkz Gaming tells you everything you need to know in one video. In the video above you will be informed of how the 3v3 Team Deathmatch event works, how you […]

  • Destiny: House of Wolves – watch a Trials of Osiris match from start to finish

    With the release of Destiny: House of Wolves looming, players will soon be able to participate in the new 3v3 Team Deathmatch event in The Crucible, Trials of Osiris. Below is a video featuring an uncut, complete match from start to finish. In the video, Arekkz Gaming gives you a breakdown of the mode and […]

  • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood – here’s what your PC needs in order to run it

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is out next week, and Bethesda has today released the PC specs for the standalone title. MachineGames has made some tweaks to the system requirements and have included both minimum and recommended specifications. Minimum OS: 64-bit Windows 7/Windows 8 Processor: Intel Core i5-2500 @ 3.3 GHz / AMD FX-8320 @ 3.5 […]

  • Destiny: Trials of Osiris – watch the livestream reveal right here

    Bungie will be showing off Destiny’s new 3v3 Team Deatmatch Trials of Osiris today, and you can watch the Twitch stream right here if you like. It kicks off at 11am PDT/2pm EDT and will feature community manager Deej and design leads Lars Bakken and Derek Carroll. More will be revealed on House of Wolves […]

  • May Xbox Games with Gold: Mafia 2, CastleStorm: Definitive Edition, F1 2013

    Microsoft has announced the free games Gold members will be able to pick up through Xbox Live. On Xbox One, Gold users can download CastleStorm: Definitive Edition for the month,and Pool Nation FX is being offered for an additional month. Starting May 1, Xbox 360 Gold members can download Mafia 2 through May 15, and […]