Blame Game: Cops Finger Video Games in Separate Incidents

January 8, 2008 -
We're not quite sure of the connection, but WSOC-9 reports that police in Gaston County, North Carolina say three 19-year-olds who set fire to eight cars and a vacant home were inspired by the ultra-violent 2003 PC game, Postal 2:
Police say [the suspects] got the idea from a video game, "Postal 2".

Investigators say the... arson spree lasted three weeks and targeted vehicles in neighborhoods... Detectives also say that [suspect] Jones has been charged with arson before and that he led them to the other two suspects.

GP: Hmmm... maybe the guy who had committed arson in the past "inspired" the other two? We're just sayin'...

Meanwhile, in Lafayette, Georgia police fingered a more unlikely game as the inspiration for a separate vandalism spree - 2004's T-rated Tony Hawk Underground 2. As reported by the Walker County Messenger:
LaFayette police are now saying that the New Year's Day arson of the water-sewage building is linked to teens emulating roles portrayed in a popular movie and video game.

Public Safety Director Tommy Freeman told the newspaper:
The arsonists called their criminal act ‘the destruction tour. They told us directly that [Tony Hawk Underground 2 and the film Fight Club] influenced them...There was no remorse for their actions. They were high-fiving each other after they were brought in. It was simply a game.

I've not played THUG2, so I can't assess whether the Walker County Messenger's description is accurate:
In the video game, the mission is to complete what is called a “destruction tour.” Characters are rewarded bonuses for destroying or stealing objects. The emphasis of the game is depicted as the more destruction created by the player, the more points he will accumulate.

The ESRB descriptors for THUG2 include blood, crude humor, language, suggestive themes, use of alcohol, violence.

But not arson...

Comments

That's Gaston County, North Carolina.

Two words for ya. Bull Shit
Thank you.

It should come as no surprise that idiots and miscreants will have clued into the fact that games are the favorite kicking boy for anyone looking for a cause for bad/illegal behaviour and are now using that to their own advantage.

Trench - just wanted to see if you were paying attention...

LOL - thanks for the catch, now fixed.

-GP

His message IS correct, I've played THUG2. The whole point of the game is to go around to various cities and countries, and just cause havoc.

Man, this is so true. I just got done playing a session of Lego Star Wars II. I don't even know what crazy ideas are brewing in my mind, but something tells me I want to shoot stuff and see if pretty coins and flowers come out.

/end sarcasm

I was, however, really playing Lego Star Wars.

In the end, it was still these miscreants who decided to act like complete douches. Blame a game? It wasn't the game that burned the car - it was their own two hands.

Tip to all police departments that are seeming to now resemble the police from the town in Murder She Wrote (google it):

If some dumb ass kids tell you something and then afterwards "high five" each other. Chances are that they are feeding you a large and steamy pie of bullshit. Keep in mind that if you bring in a kid for a crime and they give you a reason more complicated than "it looked like fun" or "I don't know", you have to look into it more.

Oh, and the second they start blaming other things for their own actions they are doing the same thing that adults are doing when they are caught. They are trying to get off by shifting the blame. Only you are responsible for your own actions unless you are retarded or under the age of reason (4-6 maximum otherwise see first option).

Why do they need inspiration to put fire to something kids have been doing that forever. next in the news kids taking drugs claims they were imitating Pac-Man.

1) It is entirely possible that these people are, in fact, acting out things they see in video games. But that doesn't really mean the games are more to blame than the perpetrators' own dumbassery. Someone who's willing to act out vandalism they see in a game would, in the absence of said game, act out vandalism they saw in a movie or just do vandalism for the pure fun of it. U-20 males like to burn things, most just know not to burn houses or cars, and the media alone will not dispossess you of the decency to know not to burn houses or cars.

2) In the first case the perps were apparently 19. 19>18 - these are legal adults. Stupid legal adults, but still adults, and there's no law that would prevent their obtaining Postal anytime.

So does that mean the people who run our country played too many War Video Games when they were young?

And did the cops play too many 'I control you' video games too?

Right... the history of arson had nothing to do with it.....

Have any of these people read or seen Fight Club?

Its story about rebellion against the corporate machine (as well as raving lunacy, but I digress)

Frankly I think the US could use a lot more people inspired by such ideas. I dont like to see arson, but eventually heads are gonna roll and people are gonna die.. Arson doesnt seem so bad.

Postal 2 and the Postal movie are popular?

Ooooh! Lets see how many crimes and tragic events we can link to games!

World Trade Center...oh, thats easy. Microsoft Flight Simulator.
The Assassination of Bhutto...ah, yes. Hitman.
Michael Vick's dog fighting spree...Nintendogs, anyone?

Add as you will.

@Ben Ambroso

"World Trade Center…oh, thats easy. Microsoft Flight Simulator."

1. Nu-uh. I was thinking more of Ace Combat.

"The Assassination of Bhutto…ah, yes. Hitman."

2. I don't remember Agent 47 blowing himself up after every succesful hit. I'd say more of Assassin's Creed.

"Michael Vick’s dog fighting spree…Nintendogs, anyone?"

3. How can you miss this...Pokemon, fool! XD

I don't get the logic of blaming games or movies for people's action. While they might inspire "copycatting", it seems like a logical fallacy to claim they caused any crimes. Most people watch Die Hard or play Crackdown and know better than to try such actions (the whole getting killed in real life thing kinda bites). The only people who would be affected by violent media are the ones with a disposition to violence. If you want someone to blame, look at their family and go from there.

Shame shame shame on you, you vile videogamers trying to blame that poor arsonist for a crime that a nasty videogame made him commit. Im sure he was a swell young lad before he played those games too.
resently my little bobby started playing this..this pac-min? game and now he(sobs) now he pops pills and occasionally eats a piece of fruit to "chase off the ghost"

(note the views reflected in this or my next few post to come...are sarcastic...you know just in case you couldn't figure that out lol)

I've played Postal 2. I don't remember lighting any cars on fire. Perhaps I went into some rage induced fugue state and just don't remember lighting all those cars on fire.

Postal 2 has a gas can and a box of matches as a weapon. Also molotovs. You can pour gas on pretty much anything and light it up.

@Twin-Skies:

I stand corrected. I just woke up, I didn't put much thought into it.

Michael Vick: I choose you, German Shepherd!

The scariest thing about all this is that the anti-video game lobby have established their "games cause anti-social behaviour" opinion so much, that idiots like this have picked up on it and decided to use it. When you can see an idiot like Jack Thompson trying to get 600 million out of Sony because of a criminal's actions, it makes other criminal's believe that they can use it as a valid defense, and even worse, it is making law enforcement officials accept it as an excuse!

The world is getting more and more stupid a time goes on.

I wouldn't doubt if the perpetrators said they were "inspired" by a game. Many people claim inspiration from different sources all the time.

The difference here is that these Mensa members didn't have the common sense to think, "Gosh, setting this car on fire might be a bad idea. Maybe we ought not to do it."

Lock them up and throw away the key for a LONG time. Blame them, not the games.

Gaston County, North Carolina is proof that evolution is just a theory.

GP, it's THUG2. Tony Hawk's UnderGround. just a nitpicky point.

@gameboy

allow me to explain, by blaming something else when you get to court its no longer your fault and thus you shouldnt be punished for that "evil" game

now excuse me while i cry

"I don’t get the logic of blaming games or movies for people’s action. While they might inspire “copycatting”, it seems like a logical fallacy to claim they caused any crimes. Most people watch Die Hard or play Crackdown and know better than to try such actions (the whole getting killed in real life thing kinda bites). The only people who would be affected by violent media are the ones with a disposition to violence. If you want someone to blame, look at their family and go from there."

QFT!

I agree also.

@Ben Ambroso:

"World Trade Center…oh, thats easy. Microsoft Flight Simulator."

Sadly, that's actually been said.

-P

@VaMinion

Does this mean that, by way of command responsibility, Bill Gates is a terrorist?

Ugh... no. Just no. I'm not even going to go into this. The flood of 'Video Games made me do it' excuses has finally begun, thanks to these idiots.

@Twin-Skies

Don't even think about saying that in the States.

THUG2 didn't reward you for damaging anything though, except maybe your brain by putting up with its overall godawfulness. It was Jackass-level self-destruction, plus each stage had a trigger that would cause actual destruction (such as the demolition of a building) to open up more skating areas. The fact that you spend 90% of your time standing on a rolling plank counters the claim of it being a vandalism sim.

Now I feel sad for having to remember playing THUG2.

Yeah of course it was video game. Ignore reasonable things to blame such as parents aren't raising their kids and are letting them run around on the streets. Of course its not the parent's fault.

Had to be evil video games corrupting the youth of today.....

Remember, there were no vandals before these here videos gaming thingamawhatzits!. It's a fact, look it up!

Arsonists...I think we should probably assume they were Boy Scouts.

So, would JT call these 'Arson and Vandalism Simulators'?

It lacks the same kinda punch that 'Murder Simulator' packs, so I guess they'll just be murder simulators. Especially that Tony Hawk game, I hear there's a sex minigame in there as well, an homage to GTA's Hot Coffee.

You have to get up on the tallest building, then shoot people on the way down while performing tricks. If you can get 666 (aim for the children, the mothers will leap in front of the bullets), Satan'll welcome you when you hit the ground and die, and have his host of succubi get you off in high-rez style.

Go on, JT, I know you're out there... All this time you've been picking on GTA, when Tony Hawk's skateboarding games have been the real subversive elements corrupting America's 19-year old youth.

Hm. Wonder if this'll get edited/removed.

question: if they said they were "inspired" by mein kampf, or some other similar text, would people not go "really?"

question 2. since when does inspire = reason ?
just because something inspires you to do something, doesn't mean it has any fault in the event.

and if JT dares say the game taught them to destroy property, I'm going to sue jack thompson because I've been playing GH3 for a while now and I still can't play guitar!

The mental image of a Michael Vickémon game was just too much for me... it's making me laugh to tears!

"Make him use agility on that treadmill!"
"I can't! He has no PP left, he's struggling!"
"Give him an ether, and keep him going!"

But seriously, it's sad that more and more people are jumping onto the "videogames cause you to do evil" bandwagon. If videogames had never existed, and these kids went out vandalizing and burning things, what would they have blamed it on then? I understand that part of criminal investigating is figuring out why someone did it, but for craps sake sometimes people are just plain a-holes, and the meaning is no more deeper than "I felt like it".

I thought games like THUG were inspired by reality, but if reality is inspired by THUG....ladies and gentlemen do not panic, this is merely a temporal loop and we just need to let it run it's course.

Seriously, did we really need THUG to inspire us to trash things? Perhaps the same police officer can explain which videogame inspired the graffiti blitz of the 70's.

Characters are rewarded bonuses for destroying or stealing objects.

Kind of. Completing different objectives (usually, grid this particular rail) triggers a game cutscene where stuff falls over and breaks other stuff, normally opening a new part of the level for you to play in.

So bonuses for destruction? Okay, sure. But stealing? I certainly don't recall anything like that.

The emphasis of the game is depicted as the more destruction created by the player, the more points he will accumulate.

Again, kind of. There are points in this game but they are acquired by performing tricks. Granted, some of the tricks you perform in certain areas end up breaking stuff but I get the feeling the WCM isn’t as familiar with this game as it should be.


Andrew Eisen

I got some advice to the cops.

Blame the crooks, not the games.

I hate living in North Carolina

The Film 'Fight Club' is a game?

Never knew that.

I'm sure these Police haven't thought for one moment that all their finger pointing has given the kids a 'get out clause', where they think that if they blame media, they won't be held responsible for their own actions?

I wonder how that kind of thinking got around?

I love how it's getting to the point that every action I perform in real life I can attribute to some other, completely unrelated entity.

I seem to recall an earlier case that set the precedent for crap like this. I believe that David Berkowitz's neighbor's dog was sentenced to 6 life terms in prison. Oh wait, never mind, David Berkowitz was sentenced.

Let's face it. When people are scared to get in trouble, they'll do whatever it takes to get out of it. That doesn't make them any less culpable.

What message are they try to convey? Is this a step closer to pre-emptive arrests for those that just happen to own or play games? Then it will be a simple matter to step a bit beyond and just arrest ALL gamers on sight because they Might commit a crime (and ignore the drunks, gangs, druggies etc).

Yes your Honor the game made me do it.... well sort of. To be honest it was the game haters made me snap and go postalin defense of my pastime.

This will seem off-topic but I could not find an e-mail contact link for the guys who run this site so here it is in comment form:

Could you guys perhaps run a quick article detailing each presidential hopeful and their stance on games? It might seem silly to back your candidate based on their stance on games but since it's such an integral part of my life and I think they all suck on most of the major debate topics, I'd at least like to be aware of where they have all historically stood on the game debate.

 EZK: Contact information is here. As for the stances of Candidates you can find all those who actuall yspoke out about it on the CSM website here.

You should also take into account if the candidates have a tendency to look to government to solve everything. They may be more willing to have government regulate things than allowing parents and the industry handle it themselves. I'm going to vote for whichever candidate promotes more freedom or at least less intrusion by government.

In both these cases, it seems to me that it is the criminals who are saying "games made us do it" and the cops who are saying "we don't care why you did it, it is illegal and you will have to face charges."

I don't like the way the NC TV reporter sort of made it sound like Postal 2 is all about blowing up cars, or the way that the GA print reporter
highlighted that PR cops' sketchy explanation of the THUG2 link, but ultimately I see these both as stories where the common sense message, "crime is a crime no matter where you got the idea to commit it," prevailed.

Maybe I missed something, but I didn't see the cops blaming games at all; just investigating leads and talking with the press -- doing their jobs, in other words.

So I say any and all of our (justified IMO) gamer disgust and hate about these incidents should be for the people who falsely blamed the games as a factor in the crimes: the criminals themselves.

I blame skateboarding.

@Stinking Kevin

Reminds me of this letter Penny Arcade got from the mother of this one kid I think JT wanted to get off the hook. He was absolute hell to her and everyone in town. He smoked, drank, and committed murder by beating a homeless man to death with a baseball bat. If I remember right, our favorite loony soon to be ex lawyer made himself involved and tried to help the kid get the blame shifted to video games, the kid likely thinking it was funny ot make the nerds in his school feel even more like outcasts, in fact I think she swore up and down that the kid never touched video games and in fact was known to beat up gamer nerds as he called them, and she and the family did all they could to help him and he still acted out.

Video games indeed.
 
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