German Anti-game Backlash Spawns T-shirt, Stops Game Sales

March 19, 2009 -

UPDATED

Some GamePolitics readers have alerted me that our original translation of the German shirt was flawed. It actually reads, I choose no game killers, indicating that gamers won't vote for German politicians who seek to ban violent video games.

That's an important distinction over our original translation.

Thanks to longtime GP reader David Ziegler and our own ace forum mod Hannah for the correction!

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The blurb beneath the shirt reads (as translated by Google):

With this shirt you can clear position against the one-sided condemnation of gamers as a potential running amok through the established parties.

Amoklauf (running amok) is used in German to describe school shootings.

In related news, a pair of German retailers have stopped selling 18-rated video games and movies. German website PC Games reports that Galeria Kaufhof will no longer carry titles such as Resident Evil 5, GTA IV, Killzone 2 and Far Cry 2. It has been reported that Kretschmer played Far Cry 2 on the eve of his murderous rampage.

GamePolitics regular Soldat Louis (who alerted us to these new developments) also reports that German retailer Saturn is dropping 18+ games as well.

74 comments

In Wake of Rampage, German Pol Calls for WoW to be 18+ Rated

March 18, 2009 -

First-person shooters Counter-strike and Far Cry 2 have already come in for mention in relation to last week's horrific rampage shooting in Germany.

But World of Warcraft, not one of the usual suspects in the video game violence debate, has now been thrown into the mix by a German politician.

Welt Online reports that Germany's Minister for Social Affairs Mechthild Ross-Luttmann (left) has turned her attention to WoW:

Ross-Luttmann... aims to achieve a general age restriction for addictive computer games. World of Warcraft, for example – available to minors at the age of 12 – might in the near future only be sold to adults. In addition to this, parents need to be further sensibilized [sic]. “Parents must know what danger potential exists in their children’s bedrooms,” Ross-Luttmann said.

Computer game expert and author of "Digital Paradise" Andreas Rosenfelder is rather skeptical about demands like this. “I don’t see a connection between digital role playing games like World of Warcraft and shooting sprees,” he said. World of Warcraft is a game set in medieval times in which the protagonists can take on the roles of dwarfs, elves and wizards. There is no shooting in this game.

"In heated debates there can easily be some confusion,“ Rosenfelder said.

Ross-Luttmann also hopes to begin a secret shopper program in order to evaluate video game rating enforcement by German retailers.

Via: GameCulture

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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E. Zachary KnightIron, I did not Google Search because I figured the ESRB would publish such infor on their site, which is where I looked. http://www.esrb.org/ratings/ratings_process.jsp05/29/2015 - 7:22am
WonderkarpDocMelonHead, don't look a gift horse in the mouth05/29/2015 - 7:21am
E. Zachary KnightDoc, Uncalled for. Please keep things civil.05/29/2015 - 7:21am
MattsworknameThey were discussing the appeals process for Esrb ratings Doc.05/29/2015 - 7:21am
DocMelonheadDid IP post something that isn't related to White Supremecy?05/29/2015 - 7:13am
IronPatriotBut hey, you're welcome.05/29/2015 - 5:23am
Andrew EisenEZK did say he didn't find any info on the appeals process. And if all he did was look at the ratings process part of the ESRB's website, he wouldn't have. That's where I would have looked too. But hey, thanks for being thorough and finding the info.05/29/2015 - 5:01am
Andrew EisenDude, again. I am NOT saying there is no appeals process. THERE OBVIOUSLY IS. All I am saying is that the appeals process is not described in the ratings process part of the ESRB's website.05/29/2015 - 4:59am
IronPatriotI googled appeal esrb.org and it is the first and third hits. Second is esrb talking about appeals for web publishers. Gamefaqs is fourth.05/29/2015 - 4:01am
IronPatriotZachary said he did not find any information about a formal appeals process. I did a simple search and found two places on the esrb site with the info. Just sayin.05/29/2015 - 3:57am
IronPatriotOn Google I get "1 Written Testimony of Patricia E. Vance President ... - ESRB" http://www.esrb.org/about/news/downloads/pvtestimony_6_14_06.pdf05/29/2015 - 3:55am
Andrew EisenNow, that post on GameFAQs was made four years ago. It appears the ESRB has since moved the appeals process stuff behind the publisher login on its website.05/29/2015 - 3:32am
Andrew EisenOh, third link on the Google search. Okay. That leads to a GameFAQs message board which quotes a section of the ESRB website that includes a description of the appeals process. But when you follow the link, that quote doesn't exist.05/29/2015 - 3:30am
Andrew EisenThird link down from what? Look, I'm not arguing the existance of an appeals process. There obviously is one. I was merely noting that it's odd that it isn't described on the website's ratings process section but it is on the mobile site.05/29/2015 - 3:25am
IronPatriotOK, so use the third link down, which describes the appeals process and is not on the mobile site"Publishers also have the ability to appeal an ESRB rating assignment to an Appeals Board, which is made up of publishers, retailers and other professionals."05/29/2015 - 2:47am
Andrew EisenRight, which links to the ESRB's mobile site. On the website (again, unless I'm overlooking it) the appeals process is locked behind the publisher login.05/29/2015 - 2:37am
IronPatriotHuh? Google "appeals esrb". It is the first link. Click it. No login requested.05/29/2015 - 2:31am
Andrew EisenInteresting. It's on the mobile site but unless I'm overlooking it, I don't see it under the Ratings Process on the web site. It is under the publishers section but you can't access it without a login.05/29/2015 - 2:13am
IronPatriot"Publishers also have the ability to appeal an ESRB rating assignment to an Appeals Board made up of publishers, retailers and other professionals. " Esrb05/29/2015 - 2:01am
IronPatriotZachary, did you look on the esrb site? The esrb appeals process pops up when you search "esrb appeals" http://m.esrb.org/faq_09.php05/29/2015 - 2:00am
 

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