Every year it seems I feel compelled to defend the games industry against some kind of sensationalist headline or article. I thought I had got away with it this year.
- 2007 – www.yetanotherreviewsite.co.uk/violence-in-games-just-my-news~692.htm
- 2008 – www.yetanotherreviewsite.co.uk/link-between-online-gaming-and-news~1018.htm
- 2010 – www.yetanotherreviewsite.co.uk/violence-in-games-revisited-opinion-news~2743.htm
- 2011 – marczewski.me.uk/2011/02/10/why-am-i-not-an-axe-murderer-even-though-i-play-video-games/
Sadly, the tragic events in Connecticut have yet again raised the favourite topic of lazy journalists everywhere. Video games cause violence.
I am not going to retread old ground, you can read the articles linked above to do that. This time I just want to point out a few things.
The Daily Express have spouted some bile about the fact Lanza played Dynasty Warriors – in their words
“Chillingly, his favourite video game was said to be a shockingly violent fantasy war game called Dynasty Warriors which is thought to have given him inspiration to act on his darkest thoughts.”
Dynasty Warriors is a game set around a Chinese novel where the player uses swords and martial arts to defeat the enemy fighters. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynasty_Warriors) Violent yes, inspiration for a shooting spree, hardly. But, I almost commend the Daily Express for at least not going for the obvious choice, however it still makes Giles Sheldrick seem rather foolish any way. The paragraph almost feels as though it was thrown in at the last moment to try and seem hip and down with the kids. Guns don’t kill people, Video games do.
The sad thing is, rest of the article is very insightful. It talks about how he was know to be aggressive, how his mother was a survivalist who had her own arsenal of guns and had taught him to shoot, how in their words he was “Mentally Ill”. Yet it is video games that get almost the first mention in the entire article.
The Sun, rather more predictably, chose to blame Call of Duty. A favourite go to for lazy journalists looking to blame violence on video games. They decided to go with
“Lanza, 20, spent hours playing bloodthirsty computer games such as Call Of Duty”
They mention Call of Duty nine times in the article. This is a game that the sun has dedicated several articles too over the last few months.
“The weapons used by Lanza — a Glock, a Sig Sauer and a semi-automatic Bushmaster — were owned by Nancy. They are the sort of guns that feature heavily in games like Call Of Duty“
You read that right, the weapons he used, the ones that featured in Call of Duty, were owned by his Mother. So where did this account of Lanza’s life come from, what source close to the family. A relative? neighbour? No, their plumber.
“Plumber Peter Wlasuk went into the basement many times while working at the plush four-bedroom house and got a glimpse into the disturbing underground world where Lanza plotted his crimes.”
These are just two examples of what I expect will be a barrage of similar articles over the next few weeks.
Neither of these articles is directly blaming video games, but they make a lot of noise about Lanza’s “obsession” with them. The issue I have is that this is just lazy and belittles the actual tragedy here. A disturbed individual, who had easy access to a collection of guns, who was know to be aggressive went and shot 26 children and adults dead in cold blood. I have never witnessed any video game that promoted that kind of violence – in fact I think most, if not all, video games stray well away from violence towards children of any sort.
We should be concentrating on the tragic loss of these lives. The effect that these losses have had on famiies and friends. We should look at how and why Lanza was able to get into this state. How and why he was able to get his hands on these guns. These are the real issues. Don’t belittle the memories of these children and the brave adults who lost their lives trying to protect them, by jumping on the band wagon pushing your own anti-game agenda.
You should be ashamed.