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Murder Simulator
2004-07-29 - 6:37 p.m.

I'm not really certain who coined this phrase, but it pisses me off.

I just read a story from the CNN site about a 17-year-old boy named Warren Leblanc in England. Warren coaxed a younger friend, 14-year-old Stefan Pakeerah, to a local Leicester park, where he proceeded to repeatedly hit Stefan with a claw hammer, and then stabbed him to death.

This is a decidedly repulsive act for one human being to perpetrate on another human being. I find this repugnant, and I don't mean to shift focus from, or to trivialize, the death of young Stefan.

My problem with this starts with the headlines reported by Britain's Daily Mail. Their front-page headline declares, "Murder by Playstation". But they are not alone in blame. Another paper states "Horror images on computer drove teenager to kill his friend aged 14." And of course the phrase "murder simulator" was also bandied about to describe the game in question.

I'll tell you right now that I am a gamer. I have played video games since there was such a thing. I owned the Pong knockoff that you attached to your television. I've spent many quarters in the arcades in my youth, and many dollar bills in the arcades in my adulthood. I have no less than six different videogame consoles at home, and I play them regularly. In my entire videogaming history, I have not once attempted to duplicate in the real world any of the actions that I have witnessed in a videogame.

I have also played Manhunt. This is the videogame that Stefan's parents have declared as the reason for the death of their son. A quote from the CNN article:

Stefan's father, Patrick, a civil servant, added: "The way Warren committed the murder this is how the game is set out, killing people using weapons like hammers and knives. I don't play these games but if they are influencing kids to go out and kill people then you don't want them on the shelves."

Stefan's parents say that Warren-the-Murderer was mimicking the Manhunt videogame when he killed their son.

Again, I am sorry that this happened. It saddens and horrifies me to know that there are people wandering around on the face of the earth that could bring themselves to commit such an act.

But blaming this senseless act on a videogame? That's senseless in itself.

As I said, I've played the game Manhunt, and I will tell you straight up that it is probably the most graphic and violent videogame that I have ever played. But did it inspire me to go out to commit murder? No. Why? Because I'm not a murderous, sadistic, psychopathic eedjit.

The article goes on to indicate just how normal Warren-the-Murderer was, about what a happy and popular boy he was, how he was interested in computers and hoping to go on to higher education. You get two paragraphs of this, and several more paragraphs about the depravity of the Manhunt videogame.

And then one line: Peter Joyce QC prosecuting told the court that the defendant had planned to rob his younger friend to help repay a drugs debt.

Did the videogame cause the drug use? If not, I don't see the connection here.

I don't think that anyone, especially the NRA, would consider me a "pro gun" person, but I'm going to go with the NRA party line on this one. You know their line of "guns don't kill people, people kill people", right? I think that the same can be said of videogames.

I'm really fed up with clueless legislators thinking that videogames are spurring people to commit despicable acts. The same excuse was used last year to explain two youths that were firing a rifle at cars on an Interstate 40 highway in Tennessee. They killed one person, and injured another. The culprit? The videogame Grand Theft Auto.

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the perpetrators of the Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colorado in 1999, committed the murders of 13 human beings. They planned, built crude bombs, stockpiled weapons, and entered their school to fire weapons at their classmates. But the real culprit here? According to the media, it was the videogame Doom.

These particular atrocities have been committed by young people/assholes, and media and legislators would have us believe that videogames are the primary reason for their actions.

I submit the following. I think that perhaps people commit crimes because we largely indicate that in America we can do things without consequence. We don't have to worry about the consequences of our actions, because it's not really our fault. If someone commits a heinous act, it was because they were drinking, or they were financially destitute, or they had a rough home life where their father never showed affection.

And as Americans, this seems to be our God-given right to be able to blame anything or anyone for our actions. Because if someone does something wrong, there has to be some kind of external force to explain it. I mean, no one can be directly responsible for something that they've done, right?

If a drunk driver kills someone, it's not the alcohol's fault; it's the driver that is drinking it. If someone kills someone for money, it's not the currency that is pulling the trigger. And as far as dysfunction? I come from a home where my Father left my Mother with five kids to raise. We were poor, and we were unfortunate, but we had morality.

Folks, morality is free. It doesn't cost a goddamned cent. You can be a good person, or you can be a bad person. The choice is yours. And when you make that choice, you should be ready to shoulder the weight of the consequences for your actions.

But in America, you don't have to be responsible. It can always be the fault of someone or something else. And when this happens, murderers don't get death penalties or life sentences. They get plea bargains and parole. And when we show people that there are no consequences for their actions, we don't do much to dissuade people from doing bad things.

I realize that this particular crime was committed in England, but it looks like they are also adopting the American bad habit of shifting blame. Too bad. I had given them more credit than that.

So, do videogames kill people? No. Do homicidal whack-jobs kill people? Yes. Do we put them away so they can't do these things? Not often enough. And when we don't hold people responsible for their own actions, how can we possibly expect people to behave?

Like eedjits.

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