Gamer Generation Pays a Heavy Price in Iraq

When compiling the daily news for GamePolitics, GP relies in part on an extensive set of automated Google News searches. Based on certain keywords, our Google searches occasionally turn up news of a soldier or Marine killed in Iraq.

That’s not really the type of news that fits with GamePolitics’ journalistic mission, so it doesn’t normally appear here. But in reading such stories, we do note the frequency with which friends and relatives of deceased military personnel mention that their loved one enjoyed video games. Not too surprising, really, given the relatively youthful demographics of soldiers and gamers alike.

A poignant story we read yesterday in the Detroit News caught our eye, however. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that the Iraq war just passed its four-year anniversary. More likely it was the fact that Army Pfc. William “Billy” Davis, killed by a roadside bomb last weekend, was simply a hardcore gamer. From the newspaper account:

A video game enthusiast, Davis… met his wife after high school. The couple named their daughter (Aeris) after a character in the videogame “Final Fantasy VII.”

“He liked to play a lot of video games,” his mother said.

UPDATE 3/23/07: The Connecticut Post reports on the death of PFC Stephen Ron O’Neil Karl Richardson, killed in Iraq by a roadside bomb:

A personal profile attributed to Richardson and posted on the Internet site,, states that he “is a proud new daddy to my daughter, Iyana.

“I’m still just a kid at heart. I like to watch cartoons and play video games,” he wrote.

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  1. 0
    KiltedFox says:

    As a soldier AND a gamer (MMO, tabletob, miniatures, card, console, & FPS) this saddens me. I’m sorry the soldier bit it, and I understand the need for sympathy.
    @Diceman – while I do agree with you that we (teh soldiers) know what we are getting into, it’s not always that we had a very good choice. The choice between having to sell your blood plasma to have enough ramen noodles to heat up via the little electric coffe mug in your car for the week, and enlisting for an ideal you don’t believe in just to have a steady paycheck and a roof over your head…sometimes it’s a lot less cut-and-dried than you think it is.
    And as for your friend with the bungee cord – yeah, he knew what he was getting into, but is it not still a sad event? What the hell is wrong with you? I hope you develop terminal syphillis, so everyone can say, “Well, when he nailed that (insert pronoun referring to chosen gender here), he knew what he was doing, and he knew the potential consequences.” Maybe then you’ll have a little bit of perpective.

    @ all the rest of youse – Keep on truckin. This looks to be a forum I’ll be keeping up with, I just found it through random WILFing at work.
    Hail Eris!

    “When in doubt, fuck it. When not in doubt – get in doubt!”
    – Discordian Catma –

  2. 0
    Link89 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Wow, how you’ve openened my eyes! [please note: THICK sarcasm] I never realized that my relatives who died in WW2 got drafted of their own free will. And absolutely, why should I honor the VOLUNTEERS who signed up to keep hitler from killing innocent people. After all, it was their decision to fight for us who weren’t brave enough to stand up and die, it was their decision to sacrifice everything they had, so that I could still keep what I have, and of course, the usual point, these men are the only reason that you are allowed to be a complete jerk.
    You may argue, that this isn’t WW2, but the fact is, when these men enlisted, they had no idea what they would be doing. It could have been a war with anyone, over anything, or it could have been a war with ourselves. They just knew that there was a job for them, and they were fit to do it.
    So, because Brer/\ already put it so elequently and rationally, I feel the need for sarcasm and to be a voice that says screw you.

    Oh, and I’m sorry about your friend referred to as mike, maybe if he knew some people who cared he wouldn’t have made a mistake. But then, assuming he wasn’t just an example, if he surrounds people like you, not that many people cared enough about him when he lived to care when he died.

  3. 0
    Diceman says:

    Funny that you argue the point as if i am somehow bound by sweeping Christian based values of caring for human life or showing respect for fools.

    They signed up knowing the risks or more to the phrase “they made their beds now they have to sleep in it”fits nicely.

    Only and only when the military is used in defense of its citizens is it respected by me until they happens in my lifetime(afgan war not with- standing). I can give a fuck less if jonny mc. know nothing signs up and gets blow to bits by a random mortar,should have read the fine print when signing away his rights(for those that don’t know it basically says you are the governments bitch.

    as for your a,b,c lettering i have a one of my own:

    a)if dedication to duty means fighting for a lie or being a slave to those you know have a history of misuse of everything you are supposed to be “saving”then you are no better than drone with no identity or just a mere statistic(or a coward for not standing up for what you know was a lie to begin with).

    b)not saying that they may not be heroes to some of the Iraq people but those people needed to settle their own problems instead of having the us deal with all of the load while the government sits around twiddling their thumbs.Self sacrifice is only meaningful if something changes in which case iraq is hardly any better off without the nutcase dictator.

    c)i feel for the family that lost sons/daughters a bit but not for the person who died as they made their own mistakes leading up to their death.

    You are right i really don’t care about the value of human life as humans have a tendency to think they are somehow greater then death or the value of other lives elsewhere,that and i have seen alot of death so it doesn’t even phase me anymore.

    ps:stop holding me in pseudo Christian values as i don’t follow lies based on lies garbage.

  4. 0
    Lone_goat says:


    I thank you for speaking about something that this should be about. The troops not about the war….. i thank you for not understanding the word “Honor” and “sacrifice”. thank u for saiding that joining the military is a foolhardy decision??

    I lost a good LAN buddy “Crazy Man” he left a wife and two young sons… u call it a “foolhardy decision”… i call it fighting for some u believe in..

    p.s. we never had that last rematch in Smash bros…. rest in peace “Crazy Man”

  5. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    so caring for other is only a Christian trait and if you “give a damn” “respect” and “honor” others, you are somehow “fake”,thank for proving you are inhuman and don’t deserve to the life you have.

  6. 0
    Terminator44 says:

    Guys, let’s not get carried away with the topic of the war. I know it’s a subject we feel strongly about, but this is about the troops.

  7. 0
    Yuki says:

    It’s not all that suprising really that many solders are gamers. Since many of them are young, and games are a favored past time of youth, that just makes sense.

    It’s sad to see this happening. War is never pretty, as almost every war ever fought is proof of that. Regardless of ones personal feeling on it, I hate hearing about solders dieing, but as my dad said. “It’s what they chose to do, and you should respect that.”

  8. 0
    Conejo says:


    1) please don’t trivialize this man’s death by using it as fuel to attack the administration. leave that fight for another topic so we don’t devolve from the point of the matter.

    2) a soldier’s death is only a waste if the people he died for don’t care.

  9. 0
    SilverStar says:

    Isn’t it somewhat funny, how many current troops in the US military are gamers, yet there are people, such as he who isn’t worth naming, who say that such “training” they may get from video games, are wrong?

    Surely he’s the same kind of guy who says the military needs more troops. What better demographic for troops than the very ones he claims have been brought up on “murder simulators” to “kill people”?

    Oh well.. as with so many involved in politics and law, he simply can’t think anything through past the length of his hawk-beak nose.

    But, on topic, the death of a soldier is always a wasted life. It’s not the games that led to his death, it’s the pointlessness of all war. The selfishness and greed of those in charge, no matter if they are in charge of a country, or of a clan.

    No war is just, when all wars are caused by greed and fear. There is no freedom, in lording over others.

  10. 0
    Scazza ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Sad news. There are a ton of times you hear about US troops (and canadians in Afghanistan) who have consoles in barracks and all kill their spare time playing. I seriously cannot imagine a better way to spend downtime then to have a blast with 3 other close buddies.

    Although I will reserve my views about the war in this post, I will say that its sad when one of us (cuz, he is a gamer, and therefore a member of this community) is killed in the line of duty.

  11. 0
    Chuma ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “Guys, let’s not get carried away with the topic of the war. I know it’s a subject we feel strongly about, but this is about the troops.”

    Only if people acknowledge that it is possible to be positive on the troops and negative on the war they are being told to fight. Bush and his political allies (in this I include TV and Christian News outlets, especially at Fix News) tried to spin that if you were against the war you were against the troops and “unamerican”. Sure Im from the UK anyhow, but it reared its head from Labour more than a few times during the first couple of years as well and frankly it’s a crock a .

    Other than that, Yuki is pretty much right. Soldiers are young and come from a generation that aren’t fearful of gaming culture so it doesn’t surprise me to see some mention of this. Just a damned shame it’s in an obituary :/

  12. 0
    bayushisan ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This soldier sounds like the kind of person I would have liked to hang out with. To those fallen we salute you. Thank you for your sacrifices, with out you and your bravery there would be no U.S. or the freedoms we so cherish. Thank you again and vaya con Dios amigo.

  13. 0
    finaleve ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    It’s common to have the young generation be even somewhat interested in games, so there is no surprise there. I’m very glad that the Detroit News didn’t attempt to blow this whole story out of proportion.

  14. 0
    Jabrwock ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I read one story, wish I could find it again, of a soldier who died, and his wife donated his gaming gear to an iraqi boy who was recovering in hospital.

  15. 0
    Meggie ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ Chuma
    “…tried to spin that if you were against the war you were against the troops…”

    No one here is claiming that, they’re keeping the focus where it should be: the loss of a member of the gamer community in the line of duty.

    @ bayushisan
    “This soldier sounds like the kind of person I would have liked to hang out with.”
    Anyone who names their child after a video game character I’d consider awesome company. 😉

  16. 0
    Andrew says:


    I’m right there too, every time I hear about soldiers dying for this cause, it makes me sad. They are doing their job well, and are braver than I am, and deserve respect and empathy.

    It’s especially sad when you know something personal about them, it really hits home. My wife and I have thought of naming our future kids after gaming characters, and Aeris (Aerith) has come up a few times (not to mention Cloud 😉 ). Best of luck to all our dead heroes’ families.

  17. 0
    Hackangel ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This has few to do with the subject but I wanted to post this.

    What has been seized in Kimveer Gill’s room has finally been made public today (he was the College Dawson shooter). The police, of course, seized a lot of firearms and 174 horror movies apparently. There was also a hand-written homage to the Columbine shooters and maps to and of other schools. No video games were mentionned at all other than Super Columbine Massacre RPG.

  18. 0
    Valthun ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I have to say when I left the Navy in 98 almost every department on the ship had at least a PSOne, Dreamcast, or SNES. In my lab we had 2 personal PCs, mine and the First Class in the department. Games were played often, since the movies provided were usually pretty lame.

    It’s gaming or going crazy, take your pick. I choose gaming.

  19. 0
    Brer says:

    When my unit deployed to Iraq, while we left behind the barracks LAN that had been set up by a few of the guys in my platoon in order to play AOE and Empire Earth, we managed to get an X-box into one of our secondary supply containers and Halo 2 was played pretty frequently. It was during the last few months of my tour in Iraq that I picked up a Gameboy Advance and FFT:A and a couple Castlevanias, having read my way through the ad-hoc “library” the Headquarters guys had set up on the FOB comprised of donated books that everyone had brought with them or had shipped to them. A few people even brought personal laptops, including one Alienware (young man + no financial planning + no dependents + combat pay = discretionary income).

    In any case, my main point is that soldiers have had to find ways to de-stress and relieve tension since the days when camp followers were considered an integral part of any Army’s logistics chain. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that games are prevalent now.

  20. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Zippy gives his heart felt respect to thos that serve and wishes the foolishness in Iraq never took place,it is devastating us far more than 2K more lives and millions in damage from more attack on US soil…

    Sadly the government has failed and cannot regulate itself and will only force change when the worst happens more “worst” needs to happen inside the US before any worth while change will occur……..

  21. 0
    gs2005 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Most of the soldiers I work with, (E’s and O’s) are between the ages of 25 and 40, and MOST of them are game friendly at various levels-including females. The young parents tend to buy their children Sony PSP’s and Nintendo DS’s. More DS’s than PSP’s though.

    Last year, before several guys I knew got rotated, we’d get together on Friday afternoons and play Wipeout Pure using the built-in wireless functionality, 8 players, with our PSP’s for up to an hour.

  22. 0
    sabin_blitz ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I’ve been typing and deleting countless times trying to say something smart and intelligent. I give up. Instead I’m just going to say what’s right. sabin_blitz doesn’t mourn for William Davis. Matt Gross, the gamer behind the nickname, does mourn. Not only for William Davis, but for all the soldiers who have fallen in Iraq. They have nothing less than my respect and admiration for risking and sometimes sacrifice their lives over in the Middle East.

  23. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Sometimes you don’t have a choice,and sometimes the goverment raids another country for no good reason,at least try and show some respect to thos who are willing to be to be fodder for the government.

  24. 0
    Diceman says:

    I don’t really care about the troops as they are the ones who signed most if not all of their rights away knowing full well the american military hasn’t been used correctly since the end of world war 2.

    all actions have consequences and in this case those consequences are death,lost limbs and broken families.The government will never bother to reimburse for the lost lives of their loved ones.

    poor blokes should have done some homework before joining the american expendable brigade.

    as for “troops play videogames”…..duh…seeing as most are the average age of those that play games anyhow.

  25. 0
    Kyouryuu says:

    My point being, show a little respect for our people in uniform, huh? Human life is an extraordinarily precious thing. For it to be snuffed out so early – no matter if one thinks the war is justified or criminal – is a tragedy. They are giving up their lives and making the ultimate sacrifice so you can sit here on a blog and prattle on about how you “don’t really care” about them.

    I don’t believe that’s a fair trade myself, but to each his own.

  26. 0
    Kyouryuu says:

    People like you remind me everyday that we’ve sent the wrong people into Iraq. Why send our best and the brightest when we have ungrateful people like you?

  27. 0
    Link89 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Gosh, my friends made fun of me when I said I though Kairi would be a good name for a daughter.
    Rock on man. I hear that in Heaven, the power never goes out and the sequels for your favorite games never end.

  28. 0
    A Proud Cousin says:

    Billy was my cousin, and not since 9/11 have I been more proud to be an American than I am now. I’m also deeply touched by the support and kindness shown by complete strangers. His service was yesterday and it was extremely moving to see the motorcade and families that lined the streets. I come from a family of avid gamers, including my nephew and two brothers, one who is currently enlisted in the Army and is set to deploy to the Middle East next month, and it is comforting to know the family that lies behind the computer screen that consume his attention for hours at a time. Thank you for all your kind words for Billy, and for the support you will continue to share, it doesn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated.

  29. 0
    NeuralLink says:

    My friends and I made it an entire deployment on Halo. It kept us sane, it gave us an outlet for the stress we experienced. A lot of soldier are gamers, for better or worse.

  30. 0
    Grahamr ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “Brokenscope Says:
    March 21st, 2007 at 11:02 pm
    It may not be my place to say but saying we use fodder tactics is…. foolish?”

    Maybe not true “Cannon fodder” tactics, but before, during, and i fear, after the bush administration, Soldiers have always been used as expendalble tools in political games.

    “L33tminion Says:
    March 22nd, 2007 at 2:53 am
    Aeris? Not that I’m superstitious, but that seems like a bit of an ill omen. Isn’t the canonical video game spoiler “Aeris dies?” “


    “Tim Kowalenko Says:
    March 22nd, 2007 at 5:09 am
    As long as she avoids guys with really big swords, she’ll be fine “

    I’ll protect her!!! :)

  31. 0
    Diceman says:

    @Kyouryuu if they were the best and brightest then they would have never fell for the military propaganda and joined now would they?I don’t show respect for those who make foolhardy decisions and then expect sympathy because they cannot deal with the consequences of that decision.

    example:person A(now referred to as mike)decided to go bungee jumping of of a 120 foot bridge and the cord breaks at the apex of the jump(74 feet down)and he falls 46 feet into 20 foot deep water and breaks both legs but survives,am i supposed to feel sorry for him since he knew the risks of his actions?no im not gonna give him any pity for jumping off a perfectly good bridge knowing full well he could die easily.

    The same goes for American troops (same thing different context blah blah)if you cant stand the fact that folks are dying around you and your are getting shot at everyday then maybe you shouldn’t have signed up to begin with.

    or for a simpler words “cry me a river”

  32. 0
    Brer says:


    The ignorance on display here is truly breathtaking. The modern soldier, even a simple US Army 11B or Marine Corps 0311 has to have at his disposal a wide range of both hands-on skills -and- relevant technical knowledge. That’s without going into the ranks of mechanics, Intel/Electronic Warfare Techs, Microwave and Satellite communications techs, the paralegals with JAG, translators, SIGINT and IMINT analysts, and UAV Operators, the Nuclear techs that keep the Navy’s reactors running, and on and on and on and on.

    The training programs for many of the skillsets I’ve just mentioned last for years, with still more years of on-the-job experience before one is considered fully competent (let alone particularly skilled) in one’s field. This also doesn’t count the officer corps, all of whom have at least a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent, with most field grades and higher having a master’s or better. Then there’s the senior NCO corps in each branch, where once again you have an abundance of college degrees.

    I’m not particularly invested in debating your asinine generalization of all military service as “foolhardy”, since as I mentioned above you’ve displayed an astonishing ignorance of the basics of human history, sociology, psychology, and ethics that are prerequisites for any meaningful discussion on this subject. Instead, I’ll point out one more thing:

    No soldier, veteran, -or civilian- on this board or in that article has asked for your sympathy for soldiers or veterans because Iraq or Afghanistan are hot as hell in the summer, cold as hell in the winter, and because getting shaken out of your rack at 0130 a couple days before Christmas by incoming mortar and rocket fire fucks up your day. The only thing we’ve talked about has been a recognition of A) dedication to duty, B) self-sacrifice, and C) the losses of family and friends. It’s interesting that you would put on a front of opposing war, while simultaneously showing such callous disregard for the value of human life.

  33. 0
    Phil Harris ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Let it be known that I’m anti-war, but pro-military. While this war in Iraq is at most trivial, I support the troops regardless because they are brave people and as Andrew said they deserve our respect and empathy.

    And yeah, I too felt like crying after reading this. I wanted to cry because this reminded me that I’m just like the soldiers in that article: a young kid that loves playing video games.

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