Has violence in a video game ever been the "inspiration" for violence in real life?

I was playing Hitman 2 on my Xbox the other day and my brother walked in, looked at the screen and said, “Is there any doubt in your mind that the Maryland sniper played these types of video games?” I said that the problem was that he didn’t. Now the catharsis theory has been around for a while but it got me thinking: Has there ever been a case where a criminal or prosecutor indicated that the inspiration for the crime was from a video game?

This sort of assertion would not likely be made by a prosecutor, who would presumably be more interested in proving that a criminal was responsible for his crime. It sounds more like something a defense attorney would use to excuse his client from blame. (“My client was victimized by his addiction to Hitman…”)

I don’t know that it’s been done yet, but if not, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time. Sure, it’s ridiculous, but it seems more sensible than blaming the actions of a serial killer on his fondness for Twinkies, a la Ted Bundy.

There have been several instances reported by the media in the past few years, but if you ask me, I don’t think they prove much.

I do specifically remember reading an online news article about a case reported in South Korea. Supposedly, a 15 year old boy beat up his younger brother to death after playing a fighting-type computer game for hours. He said he wanted to know how it felt to beat up someone in real life. The kid was taken into police custody.

Then of course, there’s a case with the two juveniles who were responsible for the Littleton massacre in 1997. Reportedly, they were obsessive “Doom” players. At the time, New York Times observed, “the search for the cause in the Littleton shootings continues, and much of it has come to focus on violent video games.”

I don’t really know whether prosecutors in these cases indicated that playing violent games inspired the actual violence. Anyway,
for both cases, it seems the kids weren’t exactly stable (mentally/emotionally) to start.

Anyone who plays violent video games knows that they prevent real-life violence, by giving people a safe outlet for feelings of stress, anger, and frustration. In most cases like Littleton and Columbine, evidence suggests that the children were neglected emotionally. Of course, mom and dad don’t want to admit that they were lousy parents, so they find something else to blame.

The United States Army hopes it’ll work that way, anyway. It remains to see If they get any recruits that way.

“Forget it Sarge, if I can’t bring a 10Lb bag of Doritos, a bottle of Pepsi, and my bong, I just can’t get in the mood to go on maneuvers.”

Unfortunately, I think the above statement has just as little proof as its converse. I say this even though I have serious doubts about violent games causing violent behavior. I’m a pretty non-violent guy, but I’ve been known to play violent games (Unreal Tournament 2003 being the one I’m on now), and I can’t say it has ever made me fantasize about killing real people; nor, for that matter, has it made me all fuzzy-gooey in love with others any more than usual, either. I’d say that good exercise is a much better outlet for stress and such, in any case.


There was a guy in Brazil once that had some kind of violent episode at a movie theater. The government later blamed this incident on Duke Nukem 3D. They kinda glossed over the fact that the guy was also a coke addict who was high as a kite at the time of the shooting.

One time the local Blockbuster was out of copies of Goldeneye, so me and my friend ended up shooting at pedetrians in the street instead.

a former gaming network’s slogan was

“Kill pixels not people.” heat.net I believe It was.

I don’t think it causes normal people to grab the closest gun and go postal(which btw, was a surprisingly fun game despite the absolute lack of a story line beyond “you go insane, and start killing people”). Hell I played doom1,2 quake1,2,3 and counterstrike nearly continuously since I was like … 12. And i’m a pacifist!

For those who are already mentally unstable and teetering on the edge, then games like these might push them over the edge. But thats hardly the responsibility of the game makers.

Ah HA! Direct anecdotal evidence that being denied the ability to play a violent video game leads to violence. :slight_smile:

<lionel_hutz>Well, Your Honor. We’ve plenty of hearsay and conjecture. Those are kinds of evidence. </lionel_hutz>


The closest I can remember is when a guy at my old school(BU) kind of went a little over the deep end and killed his wife’s divorce lawyer and then himself. Apparently he was observed practicing for it by playing some of those light gun games in a local arcade.(As I remember it happened about 10 years ago.) Sorry, don’t remember much about it but that.

There was a case in South Korea. These two guys were in a LAN cafe playing everquest when one of them does something incredibly insulting to the other (I think it was stealing things off his corpse, Im not a player). In retaliation, the other guy comes over and drives a small knife through the guys back.

Of course, Video games were not the SOLE reaosn in that example and it is quite clear that this person was not mentally stable. But it is an example of video games providing a trigger for violence.

RiverRunner: That’s the way it works for me and my friends. When I’ve had a bad day because the boss is being an asshole or something, I play a violent game (Serious Sam is god) to work out my frustration. It sure beats sitting around in a bad mood all evening.

And like Harmonix, I’m a pacifist despite the fact that I’ve played violent games for as long as I can remember.

I meant to say that Serious Sam is good. I don’t think that highly of him :smiley: