American examples of Video Game Inspired Violence

4 Nov

It’s scarily frequent that we hear about children and teenagers committing crime inspired by violent video games. Also, it’s evident that the majority of them are based in the United States.

Next I’m going to go through a few of the most well known examples of video Game inspired violence originating from America.

The Columbine High School Massacre

The Columbine High School massacre was a school shooting which occurred on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in Columbine, an unincorporated area of Jefferson County in the State of Colorado. In addition to shootings, the complex and highly planned attack involved a fire bomb to divert firefighters, propane tanks converted to bombs placed in the cafeteria, 99 explosive devices, and bombs rigged in cars. Two senior students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, murdered a total of 12 students and one teacher. They injured 24 additional students, with three other people being injured while attempting to escape the school. The pair then committed suicide.


Although their motives remain unclear, the personal journals of the perpetrators document that they wished their actions to rival the Oklahoma City Bombings. The attack has been referred to byUSA Today as a “suicidal attack [which was] planned as a grand – if badly implemented – terrorist bombing.” The Columbine High School massacre is the deadliest mass murder committed on an American high school campus, and is noted as one of the first and most serious of a series of high profile spree shootings which have since occurred.

The massacre sparked debate over gun control laws, the availability of firearms within the United States and gun violence involving youths. Much discussion also centered on the nature of high school cliques, subcultures and bullying, in addition to the influence of violent movies and video games in American society. The shooting resulted in an increased emphasis on school security, and a moral panic aimed at goth culture, social outcasts, gun culture, the use of pharmaceutical anti-depressant by teenagers, teenage Internet use and violent video games.


Devin Moore

Devin Moore (born 1985) is a teenager from Alabama who sparked a large controversy over the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City when he committed three acts of first-degree murder against three Alabama policemen in 2003.

Moore killed the two policemen and a dispatcher after being booked for committing grand theft auto. According to the Associated Press, when at the police station he said “Life is a video game. You’ve got to die sometime.” He then grabbed the handgun of one of the police officers and shot its owner and two other officers in the head. Afterwards, he drove off in a police car but was later apprehended.

The controversy involving his relation to Grand Theft Auto was revealed during an episode of 60 Minutes in March 2005. In the episode a student demonstrated the Grand Theft Auto games to them, explaining that in one of the games there is a mission that depicts exactly what Moore did: escape a police station, kill officers and escape in a police cruiser.

Moore faced trial in 2005. In August 2005, Moore was convicted as charged and on October 9, 2005 he was sentenced to death by lethal injection. Jim Standridge appealed the case.

The families of Moore’s victims are taking legal action against Sony, Take-Two Interactive, WalMart and GameStop for their part in the manufacturing and selling of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

Jack Thompson was representing families in the suit as an out-of-state attorney on pro hac vice status. His pro hac vice license was revoked by Judge James Moore on November 18, 2005, and he was effectively removed from the case. The judge stated that “Mr. Thompson’s actions before this Court suggest that he is unable to conduct himself in a manner befitting practice in this state.


The Buckner Twins

On June 25, 2003, two American step brothers, Joshua and William Buckner, aged 14 and 16, respectively, used a rifle to fire at vehicles on Interstate 40 in Tennessee, killing a 45-year-old man and wounding a 19-year-old woman. The two shooters told investigators they had been inspired by GTA 3.

The two boys told police they shot at vehicles on a highway near their home with a .22 rifle in an attempt to recreate images from Grand Theft Auto. Mr Hamel, a nurse, was killed while driving home to Knoxville, Tennessee. Miss Bede, who was travelling in another car with her boyfriend, was seriously injured and has eight fragments of shrapnel in her pelvis. The Buckner brothers had no criminal record or any history of trouble-making.

In court last month, they pleaded guilty to reckless homicide, aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. They were sentenced to indefinite detention. District Attorney General Al Schmutzer told the court: “They said they got the idea from a video game called Grand Theft Auto and that they were bored, that they went out and began shooting”. In a letter to victims and their families, Joshua said: “I did not mean to hurt anyone. I hate that it happened. This will stick with me for the rest of my life”.  Miss Bede and the family of Aaron Hamel plan to sue Take-Two Interactive Software, which publishes Grand Theft Auto, for liability in a wrongful death lawsuit. Take-Two owns Rockstar Games, which is based in Edinburgh and designed the first version of the game in 1997. Sony will also be named in the lawsuit, because Grand Theft Auto was made exclusively for its PlayStation consoles. Sony declined to comment on the case.

Jack Thompson, the lawyer representing the families, said the court case could be the first to rule on whether watching and playing violent video games caused excess aggression in children. He said: “We are going to show that this game did influence these boys and cause them to go out and shoot at these people. There has been a wealth of research to show that children’s brains process these video games in a different way from adults. They cannot differentiate between fantasy and reality, so they play these games and then think if they do the same thing in reality, it’s OK, there will be no consequences”. Referring to The Manchurian Candidate, a 1962 film in which American soldiers are brainwashed into becoming fighting machines in the Korean war, Mr Thompson said: “We have got a nation of Manchurian Candidates who are training on these video games”.

Mr Thompson plans to call American defence ministry officials to give evidence on how they have employed video-game designers to help to train soldiers. One company, Pandemic Games, is selling a game to the public that was designed to train infantry troops in urban combat. Players use “real weaponry and equipment currently in use by the US Army”. Mr Thompson claims that this shows video games “desensitise” people, particularly children, to violence. He will also point to the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado in 1999, when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot 13 people dead. Both boys were fans of the video game Doom, which has been used to train US soldiers in lethal combat. Claims of a link between video games and real violence have always been highly controversial, with manufacturers pointing out that millions of people enjoy playing the games but do not show any aggression.

There are also arguments over whether aggression is innate, or learnt, and whether people who are naturally more aggressive are more likely to play violent video games.But recent research has tended to back the argument that games can increase the risk of some young men committing acts of aggression. A study by Iowa State University showed last year that even brief exposure to violent video games could temporarily increase aggressive behaviour in all types of people. Another study found that people who had played violent video games were more likely to have aggressive attitudes. Craig Anderson, who led the studies, said: “The active nature of the learning environment of the video game suggests this medium is potentially more dangerous than television and movie media. With the recent trend toward greater realism and more graphic violence in video games, consumers and parents of consumers should be aware of these potential risks.”


Noah Wilson

On November 22, 1997, Noah Wilson, a thirteen year-old, died when his friend stabbed him in the chest with a kitchen knife. Noah’s mother, Plaintiff, Andrea Wilson, filed this lawsuit against Midway Games, Inc. (“Midway”), alleging that at the time the friend stabbed Noah, the friend was addicted to a video game manufactured by Midway called Mortal Kombat and that the friend was so obsessed with the game that he actually believe he was one of the characters.

Wilson claimed that Midway’s design and marketing of Mortal Kombat caused her son’s death. She alleged that she was entitled to damages under the theories of product liability, unfair trade practices, loss of consortium, and negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress.


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