Cartoon Considers Games & Guns

March 18, 2009 -

Over at Dissident Voice, blogger Martha Rosenberg writes that the recent spate of mass shootings has hurt the pro-gun political agenda.

More on point for the GamePolitics audience, however is the cartoon at left, which Martha drew to accompany her post.

62 comments

Report: German School Shooter Played Far Cry 2 on Eve of Rampage

March 15, 2009 -

Earlier this week it was reported that 17-year-old German rampage shooter Tim Kretschmer was a fan of the first-person shooter Counter-Strike. In the past, video game violence critics have sought to link Counter-Strike to school shootings in both Europe and the United States.

New reports suggest that Kretschmer played another popular FPS, Far Cry 2, on the night before he killed 15 people and himself. In the U.K., the Times reports:

The teenage gunman spent the night before his spree playing a violent video game in which a heavily armed mercenary tracks down and kills an arms dealer, police revealed yesterday... Tim Kretschmer spent from 7.30pm to 9.40pm playing Far Cry 2, in which the player takes on the role of the killer.

Remarkable parallels emerged between the video game and the 17-year-old’s rampage. In the game it is essential to hijack cars to move around. Kretschmer hijacked a car... Characters in the game, which is made by the French company Ubisoft... wear black camouflage uniforms – the clothing Kretschmer wore on Wednesday.

Most sinister of all, Far Cry 2’s killer uses a Beretta 92 handgun, the weapon fired 112 times by Kretschmer [GP: Actually, the player controls a number of different weapons in the game]. The game... includes sequences in which the aiming, firing and reloading of a Beretta are portrayed in vivid detail. It also rewards players who shoot their victims in the head, the style of killing chosen by Kretschmer.

The Times quotes video game critic Lieutenant-Colonel Dave Grossman on the supposed influence of violent shooting games:

You can see their influence in the way these school shooters aim and shoot accurately and move from one target to the next, moving through people dispassionately.

But Walter Hollstein, a sociologist with the Council of Europe, disagreed:

It’s nonsense to assume they turn adolescents into school shooters. A variety of factors, such as helplessness, anger and loss of control, must come together for them to become the trigger, but the games themselves don’t make anyone a killer.

In additional news related to Kretschmer's rampage, Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for a tightening of Germany's gun laws.

74 comments

Author of New Book: School Shooters Are Mentally Ill

March 12, 2009 -

While violent video games often come in for blame when school shootings occur, a new book maintains that such rampages occur because school shooters are mentally disturbed.

The Associated Press reports on Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters, written by  Peter Langman. The child psychologist studied ten school shooters, including Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and Virginia Tech mass murderer Seung-Hui Cho. Of his research, Langman said:

The biggest eye-opener was the extent to which Dylan Klebold really was mentally disturbed. That was not in the literature, not in the media accounts. To realize that, you had to see his journal. His journal is very fascinating, a very disturbed piece of writing.

 

[Klebold and four other shooters] were suicidally depressed and full of rage at the inexplicable unfairness of life. In addition, they were not living in reality. They all believed that people or monsters conspired to do them harm. ... They were confused and desperate and lost in the mazes of their minds.

Langman speculated that Tim Kretschmer, who attacked his former school and killed 16 people yesterday in Germany might be psychotic, psychopathic or a victim of childhood trauma. But Langmant emphasized that it was too early to make such a call. The AP writes:

At first, Langman's conclusions might sound obvious: These kids would have to be crazy to go to their school and open fire. But the public and the media, especially in the immediate aftermath of a school shooting, have usually focused on other factors: the killers' fascination with violent movies and video games, their easy access to guns, even the side effects of psychiatric drugs.

Langman says some of these may have been factors but do not by themselves explain rampages in places like Littleton and West Paducah, Ky.; Jonesboro, Ark.; and Springfield, Ore. Millions of kids watch violent movies and live in households that harbor firearms. Yet only a few have ever gone on to become mass murderers.

93 comments

Report: German Rampage Shooter Was a Counter-Strike Player

March 11, 2009 -

Tim Kretschmer, the German teenager whose shooting rampage left 16 people dead earlier today, was a fan of the first-person shooter Counter-Strike, according to an early report from the Associated Press:

A 17-year-old who would give only his first name, Aki, said he had been studying this year with the shooter at a private business school, and described him as a quiet, reserved person.

 

Aki said the two played poker together, both in person and online, as well as a multiplayer video game called "Counter-Strike" that involves killing people to complete missions.

 

"He was good," Aki said.

Meanwhile, UK newspaper Telegraph reports that Kretschmer was experienced with weapons:

A former classmate said... "The only thing which stands out is that Tim was always very good with weapons. He mainly shot air weapons firing plastic balls, but the house had several gun cabinets occupying square metres of walls, mainly air guns."

 

"He was a pretty good shooter. He used to shoot in a forest behind his house. Sometimes we'd have air gun battles in the summer."

Another student told the AP that Kretschmer seemed troubled:

Sabienne Boehm, 12, said she recently met the shooter through a friend, and that he had shown her a note three weeks ago that he then sent to his parents.

 

"He wrote to his parents that he's suffering and he can't go on," she said.

GP: Video game violence is an ongoing topic of discussion among German political officials. Today's events will almost certainly spur additional debate on the topic.

89 comments

No Mention of Games in Police Profile of NIU Shooter

February 15, 2009 -

Despite assertions from some quarters that violent video games played a role in the February, 2008 shooting rampage at Northern Illinois University, CNN reports that shooter Steven Kazmierczak had a troubled mental health history and was obsessed with the Saw series of horror films.

Games are not mentioned by CNN, which reports that it was granted access to a copy of the NIU investigative report by an author who claims to have obtained it from a law enforcement source.

GamePolitics readers may recall that, in the days following the shooting, disbarred Miami attorney Jack Thompson alleged a violent game connection and threatened to sue NIU for records relating to Kazmierczak's supposed use of violent games.

In addition, Illinois legislator Rep. Robert Pritchard (R) blamed violent video games while absolving guns in the rampage.

From the CNN story:

Kazmierczak was known as "strange Steve" to roommates, studied the Virginia Tech and Columbine massacres and idolized the sadistic killer in the "Saw" horror films, according to documents from the year-long investigation into the NIU killings.

The still-unreleased police file on the shootings, which also left 18 students wounded, shows that 27-year-old Kazmierczak had been hospitalized several times as a teenager for psychiatric issues and had a history of suicide attempts...

freshman suitemates recall him as being obsessed with infamous figures such as Adolf Hitler and Ted Bundy...

GP: As we have pointed out in the past, Kazmierczak was 27 at the time of the NIU rampage. Even if he had been a fan of violent games, no age-based content restriction would have applied to him.

But, the fact that games were mentioned in connection with the NIU killer once again reinforces GP's theory that games will invariably come in for blame when mass shooters are under 30 (see: How Old Is Too Old For Game Blame).

UPDATE: Our old pal Jack Thompson writes in to remind us (and call me a "lying son of a bitch" in the process) that there were reports that Kazmierczak played the first-person shooter Counter-strike.

Note to Jack: we've already covered that several times here on GamePolitics.

Today's story, however, is about the CNN coverage of the NIU investigative report which mentions only Kazmierczak's mental health issues and his affinity for horror films.

THANKS TO: GamePolitics reader Jason Bentley for the tip!

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MaskedPixelanteNumber 3: Night Dive was brought to the attention of the public by a massive game recovery, and yet most of their released catalogue consists of games that other people did the hard work of getting re-released.04/17/2014 - 8:46pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 2: If Humongous Entertainment wanted their stuff on Steam, why didn't they talk to their parent company, which does have a number of games published on Steam?04/17/2014 - 8:45pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 1: When Night Dive spent the better part of a year teasing the return of true classics, having their big content dump be edutainment is kind of a kick in the stomach.04/17/2014 - 8:44pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.giantbomb.com/articles/jeff-gerstmann-heads-to-new-york-takes-questions/1100-4900/ He talks about the future games press and the games industry. It is worth your time even though it is a bit long, and stay for the QA. There are some good QA04/17/2014 - 5:28pm
IanCErm so they shouldn't sell edutainment at all? Why?04/17/2014 - 4:42pm
MaskedPixelanteNot that linkable, go onto Steam and there's stuff like Pajama Sam on the front-page, courtesy of Night Dive.04/17/2014 - 4:13pm
Andrew EisenOkay, again, please, please, PLEASE get in a habit of linking to whatever you're talking about.04/17/2014 - 4:05pm
MaskedPixelanteAnother round of Night Dive teasing and promising turns out to be stupid edutainment games. Thanks for wasting all our time, guys. See you never.04/17/2014 - 3:44pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the consequences were not only foreseeable, but very likely. anyone who understood supply demand curvs knew that was going to happen. SF has been a econ/trade hub for the last hundred years.04/17/2014 - 2:45pm
Andrew EisenMixedPixelante - Would you like to expand on that?04/17/2014 - 2:43pm
MaskedPixelanteWell, I am officially done with Night Dive Studios. Unless they can bring something worthwhile back, I'm never buying another game from them.04/17/2014 - 2:29pm
PHX Corphttp://www.msnbc.com/ronan-farrow/watch/video-games-continue-to-break-the-mold-229561923638 Ronan Farrow Daily on Video games breaking the mold04/17/2014 - 2:13pm
NeenekoAh yes, because by building something nice they were just asking for people to come push them out. Consequences are protested all the time when other people are implementing them.04/17/2014 - 2:06pm
Matthew Wilsonok than they should not protest when the consequences of that choice occur.04/17/2014 - 1:06pm
NeenekoIf people want tall buildings, plenty of other cities with them. Part of freedom and markets is communities deciding what they do and do not want built in their collective space.04/17/2014 - 12:55pm
Sora-ChanI realize that they have ways getting around it, but one reason might be due to earthquakes.04/17/2014 - 4:42am
Matthew WilsonSF is a tech/ economic/ trade center it should be mostly tail building. this whole problem is because of the lack of tail buildings. How would having tail apartment buildings destroy SF? having tail buildings has not runed other cities around the US/world04/16/2014 - 10:51pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the issue is you can not build upwards anywhere in SF at the moment, and no you would not. You would bring prices to where they should have been before the market distortion. those prices are not economic or socially healthy.04/16/2014 - 10:46pm
ZippyDSMleeYou still wind up pushing people out of the non high rise aeras but tis least damage you can do all things considered.04/16/2014 - 10:26pm
ZippyDSMleeANd by mindlessly building upward you make it like every place else hurting property prices,ect,ect. You'll have to slowly segment the region into aeras where you will never build upward then alow some aeras to build upward.04/16/2014 - 10:25pm
 

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