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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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  • Yes, Mortal Kombat X will require Xbox Live Gold or PS Plus

    Mortal Kombat X won’t bypass Microsoft and Sony’s premium online play requirements. Reports that Mortal Kombat X wouldn’t require PS Plus or Xbox Live Gold started circling earlier this week thanks to a communications error. Answering fan questions on Twitter, producer Shaun Himmerick accidentally gave the impression that premium console subs would not be required […]

  • This is what Destiny players most want next

    Destiny patch 1.1.1 has resolved or at least addressed a number of complaints voiced by the community, but there are plenty more. des Destiny community manage David “Deej” Dague has put out a call for Guardians to share their concerns – or rather, what they think the community is most concerned about. “Set aside your […]

  • Google AI can play games now, so we’re probably all going to die

    Google has brought us one step closer to our inevitable slaughter or enslavement by machine overlords. Google has developed an AI that can learn to play video games and devise brand new strategies. Let me just rephrase that: Google has created an AI that can teach itself new skills, including how to play video games. […]

  • First footage of Renowned Explorers: International Society surfaces

    Renowned Explorers: International Society is a turn-based strategy game from the team behind Reus, and it looks great. Renowned Explorers was announced almost a full year ago, but has been pretty quiet since then. Developer Abbey games has now announced that the game has hit alpha, and will be open to select testers soon. You […]

  • Cities: Skylines developer commits to mod support

    Cities: Skylines will fully support the modding community. Hailing from famously mod-friendly publisher Paradox, Cities: Skylines is a no-brainer for mod support – especially as a lack of mod support is one of the things SimCity was so heavily criticised for when it firts launched. In the developer diary below, Paradox’s Jakob Munthe is joined […]

  • Nosgoth update adds Vanguard, many fixes

    Nosgoth, the free-to-play multiplayer brawler set in the Legacy of Kain universe, has been given a significant makeover. The major feature of the latest Nosogth game update is a new playable human character called the Vanguard. “Equipped with mighty throwing axes and a shield, the Vanguard can take more punishment than any human class that […]

  • Xbox Live Gold 12 month sub $40 on Microsoft store

    Microsoft is offering $20 off 12 month Xbox Live Gold subscriptions at the moment. An Xbox Live Gold 12 month subscription will normally set you back $60, but a Microsoft Store promotion has it on offer for $40. The offer is restricted to the US store. Although you can opt to grab your sub as […]

  • Tomb Raider movie script to be penned by TMNT writer

    Tomb Raider will be Evan Daugherty’s second reboot of an established universe. The Tomb Raider movie reboot has signed on a writer and a distributor. Deadline reports Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Divergent, Snow White And The Huntsman and G.I. Joe 3 writer Daugherty will write the film. Additionally, Warner Bros. has signed on to distribute, […]

  • Shelter 2 pre-orders open, launch trailer debuts early

    Shelter 2 is a game in which you are a mother lynx and must protect a den of kittens. Yes, it’s delightful. Shelter 2 is coming to Mac and PC on March 9. Pre-orders are now available on Steam at 10% off or on GOG.com with a free skin and soundtrack, or 20% off if […]

  • That Batman: Arkham Knight trailer is full of codes

    Batman: Arkham Knight’s trailer is like a Transformer – there’s more than meets the eye. The new Batman: Arkham Knight trailer contains a number of codes. Eagle-eyed users have spotted four so far, and work on cracking their meaning is progressing. According to an /r/games thread rounding up results so far, the codes pertain to […]

  • Assassin’s Creed haystacks won’t save you from a fall

    Assassin’s Creed fans, don’t try this at home. Assassin’s Creed characters can survive falls of almost any distance as long as they aim for the haystacks scattered handily throughout the environment. As you probably deduced from your familiarity with common sense, this isn’t a real thing: falling from heights kills you, the same way a […]

  • Why are people buying PS4 and not Xbox One?

    PS4 is outselling Xbox One – but why? A new report may have the answer. Last month, the PS4 outsold the Xbox One in the US again, returning it to the top of the charts after just two months away. Why? What has caused this reversal in fortunes in Microsoft’s home territory? According to a […]

  • Toejam and Earl are back with a new Kickstarter

    The early 90′s are alive and well in a new bid to bring back Toejam and Earl. Toejam and Earl released for Mega Drive (Genesis, Americans) in 1991, and the eponymous characters went on to count among Sega’s best-known characters. They appeared in a platformer, a light gun shooter and finally a 2002 Xbox game […]

  • New Wander trailer shows off Azertash form

    Wander is a collaborative, non-combat MMO in which you can take on a number of unique forms. Wander players begin as an ambulant tree called an Oren and can progress through several different bodies as they explore the environment, learning its secrets. One of these, which we’d not seen before this trailer, is the amphibious […]

  • SOMA approaching beta phase on PC and PS4

    SOMA, the new horror game from the Amnesia: The Dark Descent crew, is getting close to playable. Frictional Games has apologised for its recent silence over the project, but said it’s focused on reaching beta. Sorry all for the silence! We're closing in on Beta and everyone's working hard to get there. Once that's done, […]

  • Square Enix does not condone Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest HD Remaster

    Square Enix has said it’s not involved with a fan remake of Final Fantasy spin-off Mystic Quest. 1992 SNES game Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest is being remade by Dark Design as Mystic Quest HD Remaster. The developer is even taking pre-orders for the project. Unfortunately, it looks like it is in no position to be […]

  • New Hunger teaser released by LittleBigPlanet Vita co-developers

    LittleBigPlanet Vita co-developers Tarsier Studios have released a teaser trailer for Hunger, which was announced in May 2014 at the Nordic Game Conference. The game has been rumored to be the firm’s unannounced Sony project since 2010. Platforms are still to be announced, but the studio became a first-party SCE developer a few years back, […]

  • Here’s two Mario Party 10 overview videos, one featuring amiibo

    Overview videos for Mario Party 10 and the amiibo which work with the title have been released by Nintendo Japan. Obviously each one is in Japanese, but you get the gist all the same. Mario Party 10 releases on Wii U March 20 in North America and Europe. Thanks, AGB.

  • Clan Raids announced for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Companion App

    Activision has announced a new Clan Raids mode will be made available through the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Companion App. According to the CoD community blog, raids are time-based challenges where success earns you a spot on the Clan Raids leaderboards and new Clan Raid-exclusive in-game gear like the Equilibrium set. Clan members will […]

  • Play Battlefield Hardline starting March 12 through EA Access

    Xbox One users with an EA Access subscription will be able to play 10 hours worth of Battlefield Hardline starting March 12. EA Access members will are being granted access to the game five days before the street date, with full multiplayer and all saves transferring over into the main game. It was announced yesterday […]

  • This video summarizes the contents of Destiny patch 1.1.1

    With Destiny patch 1.1.1 now available, here’s a video summary of what to expect. In the video above, Arekkz Gaming gives you a rundown of the important bits in the update. Subscribe to Arekkz Gaming for more Destiny tips and trick through the link.

  • Destiny 1.1.1 patch notes out, update is live

    Destiny’s 1.1.1 patch arrives today, so if you have been kicked from activities, it means you will need to download the patch now that it’s live. We will be pushing the 1.1.1 patch for Destiny shortly. Players will be kicked from activities and required to download the patch. — Bungie Help (@BungieHelp) February 25, 2015 […]

  • Payday 2 packs based on Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number coming

    Starbreeze has announced another collaboration with Dennaton Games which will see masks based on Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number appear in Payday 2. The collaboration consists of two free updates when you acquire Hotline Miami 2 or its deluxe version on Steam from February 25. The two updates, called Hotline Miami Mask Pack and Jacket […]

  • Velocity 2X making its way onto Linux, Mac, PC and Xbox One

    Velocity 2X will be released on Linux, Mac, PC and Xbox One Futurlab has announced. The developer is in charge of the port, which will be published by Sierra. According to Futurlab, the deal with Sierra came about when self-publishing proved to be difficult due to spending “more time doing PR and marketing on Velocity […]

  • Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number finally has a release date

    A release date for Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number has been announced, finally. The game will arrive on Linux, Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, PS4 and Vita March 10. It is now available for pre-order on GOG, Humble and Steam for 10% off for $13.49/£10.99. There’s also a Digital Special Edition available which includes tracks from […]

  • Warhammer 40,000: Dark Nexus Arena is a twin stick shooter MOBA for PC

    Warhammer 40,000: Dark Nexus Arena has been announced as a twin stick shooter MOBA blend from Whitebox Interactive. Set for a 2016 release on PC, the game’s beta will be on show at PAX East next month. An Early Access release is slated for Q2 2015 and you can already purchase early access for a […]

  • More information, videos for cancelled Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun surface

    A trailer for the cancelled Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun title from Climax which was reportedly set for an E3 2012 reveal, has surfaced. Along with the above video is another which is described as a pre-boss battle cutscene. It’s below. According to a source of NeoGAF’s Mama Robotnik, the game was being developed under […]

  • Three additional games added to Square Enix Humble Bundle

    Kane & Lynch Collection, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light and Startopia have been added to the Square Enix Humble Bundle. All three are made available when paying the average price of $7.69. Those who have already purchased the bundle will automatically be granted the titles. All three are available for PC only. The […]

  • Forza Horizon 2 gets Fast & Furious with standalone expansion

    A Fast & Furious tie-in and standalone expansion to Forza Horizon 2 will arrive for Xbox consoles next month. Titled Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious, the downloadable title does not require the base game to play. “We’ve been talking with the folks at Turn 10 for a number of years and have always […]

  • The Evil Within: The Assignment has a release date, new trailer

    The Evil Within: The Assignment will be released on March 10 in North America and March 11 in Europe, it was announced today. Along with an exact release date was a trailer detailing more information about the first set of DLC. The Assignment is the first of two DLCs centering on Detective Castellanos’ mysterious partner, […]

  • Steam and GOG cross-platform multiplayer added to AvP Classic 2000

    Steam and GOG have announced Aliens vs Predator Classic 2000 owners will be able play multiplayer with each other across both platforms. With the recent online multiplayer update for for AVP Classic 2000, Rebellion CEO Jason Kingsley has made good on his promise from June to offer cross-platform play between the Steam and GOG platforms. […]

  • OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood arrives on PS4, Vita next week

    Roll7 has announced it will release OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood next week. The developer announced the dates on Twitter this morning alongside the launch trailer. You will be able to download the game for PlayStation 4 and Vita March 3 in North America and March 4 in Europe.

  • Week 7: Play GTA Online with VG247 tonight at 8pm UK time!

    Heists got a date! Come play GTA Online with us to celebrate. We’re playing GTA Online on PS4 tonight with whoever else fancies it. That means you. This week’s playlist is Happy for Heists, because we kind of are. The six jobs involved will last about 45 minutes. Anyone can turn up. Here’s how. We’ll […]

  • Batman: Arkham Knight – first look into the story

    Batman: Arkham Knight has a new trailer available that gives us a peek into Scarecrow’s plan to unite all villains against Batman. The trailer below has a different tone to the ones showing Arkham Knight. Instead, we get a look at Scarecrow’s team of super-villains including new footage of Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. There […]

  • Vita knocks New 3DS LL out of top slot on Media Create charts

    Thanks to four new titles, one of which was God Eater 2: Rage Burst, PlayStation Vita has knocked New 3DS LL out of the top slot on the Media Create charts in Japan. The handheld, which came in thrid place last week, moved 35,203 units for the February 16-22 period, compared to 10,901 units the […]