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Violent gaming debates reignited by Sandy Hook tragedy

Tuesday, 18th 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

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  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