Killing in the name of?

Mikey 14 comments
  • Your rights
Killing in the name of?It's official. You can blame anyone for anything. I have discussed the video game violence issue once before but I feel it needs revisiting.

Last week twenty year old Devin Moore was convicted of killing 3 small town police officers, and rightly so. But what I find astonishing is the defence lawyers partly blamed the fact the client had spent many hours playing the Grand Theft Auto series of video games. In the game, the player is encouraged to steal and maim police officers among other sordid actions.

Game morals aside, I find it inconceivable that a video game - or video game company - can be blamed for the actions of an individual.

Like most 20 years olds, Moore is old enough to know the difference between right and wrong, and can clearly make a distinction between playing a video game and experiencing real life. He knew exactly what he was doing when he committed the crime. So for him to commit the murders, a pre-existing condition must have been present. That is to say, the idea of murder must have already been planted in his mind long before GTA was ever invented.

Now, the family's victims have filed a law suit against the video game manufacturer Take-Two Interactive and 2 stores. This raises an interesting question. Can responsibility bypass the parent (or the perpetrator) and be shifted directly to the game company?

If so, can a car manufacturer be held responsible after you have an accident because your mechanic did a lousy job on your brakes? Can we blame the Football league for soccer violence? The logic of the victim's parents would dictate so.

And if this 'logic' were applied, how can we blame Marilyn Manson for the actions of the two Columbine students who went on a killing spree? Surely this logic would dictate the fault to now lie with the record company? Or perhaps lie with the company that manufactures the guns that were used by the killers? You can see where all this is leading.

Shifting liability in this manner will open a whole new can of litigation worms. If this were to become a popular course of legal action, potential criminals could have their scapegoats already prepared. They only need keep a game console and a copy of a violent video game handy to shift blame, and plead 'The game made me do it' in court.

As a member of the general public I like to see blame assigned just as much as the next person, as long the blame is justified. No doubt the victim's families want answers and they want someone to be held accountable.

Ultimately they may have to rest with the notion that Moore maybe did it because he had a pre-existing condition to be a violent psychopath, not because he was influenced by a video game.
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Tuesday 16th August 2005 | 01:04 AM

Well, Bart Simpson didn't do it, OJ Simpson didn't, and television screens more murders in the name of 'entertainment'. We see murder investigations, we see forensic evidence, and we see gang violence made to look cool. What else are we going to think?! And, with more money being given by the Australian government to young parents, expect to see a lot more kids with a lot less rules around your place soon.

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Tuesday 16th August 2005 | 02:42 AM

Mike — agree with you completely. Unfortunately these days we live in a society where everyone else is to blame. It's about time people took responsibilty for their actions and faced the due consequences. Otherwise law becomes irrelevant really. Cheers. D.

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Tuesday 16th August 2005 | 09:05 AM

The topic that doesn't stop giving:-) But you raise a good point. I read your previous article (I had to find it - you should have linked to it! :-) but anyway I probably play more video games than the average guy, including the GTA series. I can honestly say I have never felt the urge to act out any of the scenes from the game. That is just plain crazy.

Even when that parking inspector gave me a ticket while I stood right next to him. If I was a crazy person I probably would have done something violent right there and then. But I agree blaming the video game for my own homicidal tendencies (not that I have any!) is not going to help anyone.

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Michael O.

Tuesday 16th August 2005 | 02:18 PM

I would have to say I am living proof violent video games do not maketh the man.

I have been surrounded by video games - mainly violent ones - since before I was a teenager. I worked as a technician for Timezone for nearly 8 years and was exposed to (and regularly played) every game that came through. The shooting ones were my favourite. Since then I still regularly play games that encourage and display violence, right up to this very day.

I would estimate about 25 years of exposure, yet I do not have even the slightest tendency to commit violent acts, even on the rare occasion I am angered.

Blame the game? I just don't get it.

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Lady Light

Tuesday 16th August 2005 | 07:47 PM

A nicely written article. I got my boys an xbox last christmas and they live on it. Better than them 'on the streets' I say. My hubby buys the games (mainly for himself i think : ) and i am almost certain they all play the one you mentioned, but I have not noticed any change in thier bahavior. They are as well behaved as you could expect 12 and 13 years old boys too be. Your article backs up what I have always thought though.

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l33t guy

Wednesday 17th August 2005 | 05:22 PM

Good one. The message needs to be spread to the masses. Now if Michael Moore would make a documentary on this topic....

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Thursday 18th August 2005 | 10:32 PM

yep, be resposible for your own actions.....

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Michelle Davey

Friday 19th August 2005 | 10:49 AM

Hi Mike - Bug here - I read your article with much pride and of course, outrage. You and I have had discussions about this over the years and I have always supported your stance in regard to this matter. Now - let me get on my soapbox.. Maybe we should be looking at the "legal profession". Afterall, it is not about "justice" it is about "the law". If a family can find a point of law under which to pursue litigation based on this subject matter, then they have the right to seek damages. However, you need a crafty lawyer to do that and there are no shortage of those around.... Remember recently in America of course, "obese people" were suing McDonalds for making them fat! I believe that some of them won their cases!! What is happening to the world? This is just a ridiculous as what is going on here. I am constantly amazed at how people immediately "point the finger" elsewhere without taking a good look at themselves. I work in a field that encourages people to try and take responsibility for their actions. I tell people that you always have a choice about what you do. Apportioning blame elsewhere is the cheapscates way out of accepting responsibility for our actions. I guess we are outraged because we do take responsibility for our actions, and get angry that others don't. Oh well, a hot topic non-the-less and I am sure that this subject will not go away. I also think that 133t guy has the right idea.. Call Michael Moore... NOW! Bug

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Michael O.

Friday 19th August 2005 | 04:21 PM

Bug says: "you always have a choice"

And that is precisely the point. Devin Moore made the choice to do what he did - no one forced him to do it, and certainly no video game was responsible. It is unfair to punish a 3rd party for the wrongful actions of others - no matter how sad the crime.

But we are sadly living in a time where you can blame McDonalds for being overweight as you mentioned. If something is not done soon we will be signing disclaimers with everything purchase.

"I_________________________hereby agree to not sue Bunnings Hardware in the event that my child and or relative uses a tool purchased from said company to commit:

a) manslaughter
b) murder
c) grievous bodily harm

Signed:_____________________________ Dated ____/____/____

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l33t guy

Friday 19th August 2005 | 05:23 PM

Maybe not such a good idea for Michael Moore to do a doco on this topic. Maybe this Devin Moore is a relative! ;-O

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just wandering

Tuesday 23rd August 2005 | 03:48 PM

To play the devils advocate so to speak,They say you are what you affects moods,lighting and positioning in shops affect sales,some even go for feng shu type stuff for its affect?. I think its a little naive to say these games have no affect on us.Not saying we shouldnt be held resonsible for our actions just be carefull of what garbage goes in to our system and what garbage comes out. you read or watch horror books or movies they leave something inside of you maybe a little fear eg JAWS it didnt bother me but i knew of people who stayed out of the water for sometime.I dont go near cemateries at night,scary,although commonsense dictates against zombies. yes we are responsible for our own actions,simulating rape and murder(ive played the game to),listening to suicide music,going over the top of a trench with soldiers,crashing a kamikaze plane into a ship We are inspired buy diffrent things.Why not a game?

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Michael O.

Wednesday 24th August 2005 | 08:53 AM

I know what you are thinking. However Inspiration does not force a level minded person to suddenly say "Hey you know what? It was pretty neat to blow away cops in that game. I think I might go out and try that tomorrow".

The only people who do that are the ones who already had a pre-existing condition to be a violent psychopath. What causes them to exploit this condition can be inspired by anything (TV, Books, Heavy Metal music) - or nothing at all.

Here is an example of inspiration. As a designer I get inspired by many sources; web sites, movies, books, etc...; and I can be influenced by any or all of these things when I set out to design or code something. But this is only possible because by nature I am a creative person in the web design industry. If this factor was not already in place (creativity), all the exposure to books, web sites and movies in the world are not going to cause me to fire up notepad and Photoshop and start building a web site. For that to be possible I would already require the pre-existing condition to be creative. Oh wait - I do :-)

But without digressing, the question we need to ask is "what caused Devin Moore to be violent in the first place?" Was he an abused child? Perhaps he didn't get enough attention as a child? Or perhaps a recent traumatic event? But the question the ignorant types are asking is "What video games did he play and what music did he like?" because that is an easy solution to assigning blame, and it bypasses the real issues that were at the heart of crime.

My $0.02

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Wednesday 14th September 2005 | 12:53 AM

I think if anyone was to kill because of Quake 2, it would have been me! Has it happend? Nope! GTA love the game but have I car jacked you yet? Nope! I """HATE""" the media and also parents who are looking to blame anything other than the fact that they didnt pay any attention to their kids. You don't see letters like: Dear folks, I just finished listening to my Marilyn Manson album and now im blood thirsty, well cyaz.. Pff, this subject really gets up my goat.. go censor the media ffs! Sorry, my 0.5 cent.

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just wandering

Wednesday 14th September 2005 | 05:43 PM

the west aust Pge 40 14 sept 05 "heavy metal music fan sorry for burning church" "SorryBurzam(music group)told me to do it in there lyrics"Hmmm If you run with dogs Youll get fleas my 2 cents

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