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Role Playing (Games) Entertainment Games

Warriors Of Freedom Prompted Rampage Attempt? 771

Posted by simoniker
from the scapegoat-time-again dept.
Thanks to an anonymous reader for pointing to a Philadelphia Inquirer article linking videogames to an alleged spree killing attempt. According to the article, "Investigators suspect the three teens arrested.. as they allegedly were about to launch a killing rampage in the small town, found inspiration in violent computer games.. [police] learned that the name the three reportedly had given themselves - Warriors of Freedom - is also an Internet-based combat game." But only a few media reports mention that the violent game connection was made by Jack Thompson, a Miami lawyer and outspoken critic of violent video and computer games - is this a case of shameless Googling to find any obscure game with a similar name and make a connection, or is there genuine evidence here?
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Warriors Of Freedom Prompted Rampage Attempt?

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  • does it matter? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by feed_me_cereal (452042) * on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:40PM (#6397725)
    is this a case of shameless Googling to find any obscure game with a similar name and make a connection, or is there genuine evidence here?

    Evidence of what? Playing a violent video game? Big deal. Most kids play violent video games. What kind of games do you expect psycho killers to enjoy: doom3 or oregon trail? These critics really need to understand that a=>b does NOT mean b=>a. It's a very simple logical fallacy. I'm not discounting the possibility that violent games can incourage violent behavoir either, it's just that you actually need to show that video games lead one to violence when one would otherwise not be disposed to it. Violence was here long before video games were.
    • outrageous (Score:5, Funny)

      by SweetAndSourJesus (555410) <JesusAndTheRobotNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:51PM (#6397791)
      As a psycho killer, I am outraged that you don't think I can enjoy Oregon Trail as much as non-psycho killers, or non-psycho non-killers.

      Next you'll be saying we don't like Commander Keen.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:52PM (#6397802)
      when i was a child (i was born in 1939)

      we would take large pieces of lumber and smash frogs on the head.

      we had no video games back then.
      • by Snoopy77 (229731) on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:57PM (#6397845) Homepage
        when i was a child (i was born in 1939) we would take large pieces of lumber and smash frogs on the head. we had no video games back then.

        When I was a teen (in 1993) we would get an old 3 wood and launch cane toads down an imaginary fairway (it's okay cause they're a pest).
        • Re:does it matter? (Score:5, Informative)

          by The_dev0 (520916) <hookerbot5000 @ g m a il.com> on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @01:41AM (#6398315) Homepage Journal
          I'm assuming you're Australian. The secret biological weapon against cane toads: Dettol. Splash some of that on 'em and they smoke and melt into a little puddle. I keep a water pistol full of Dettol to squirt the little buggers when I'm in the backyard, a quick spray and you know they have about 10 minutes of life left before they turn to soup.
    • by mattkime (8466) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:17AM (#6397956)
      oh come on, we all know that the bison died out because the settlers played too much oregon trail.
    • Re:does it matter? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ADOT Troll (687975) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:30AM (#6398019) Journal
      The British author (amongst other things) Ben Elton wrote on the topic of violence in movies in his book 'Popcorn'. One of the main themes was about violence in movies spreading into real life, he pointed out many times that it's not that people emulate the characters they see directly, but that movies STYLIZE killing and violence - they make it seem COOL. Killing and violence is shown as a quick and effective way to get revenge, achieve goals, make a name for yourself etc..

      Think of how they portayed killing in the basement scene in the first matrix, how 'COOL' was that; a computer hacker/nerd in sunnies and a trenchcoat, with a hot female in latex blasting away numerous innocent people without even flinching - with the propellerheads soundtrack pumping.

      How many people play violent video games and imagine that the people they are shooting are real? Or use the simulated violence to release agression? What happens when life becomes too much and they SNAP and decide to do something about their situation - get revenge on all those motherfuckers in the coolest way you know, bust into school in trenchcoats with semi automatics and spray it with bullets - fantasy becomes reality.

      I'm divided on the issue, as I don't think any sane person would snap like this and bring something patently evil into action, but what about the nutcases that do - have videogames and movies made killing SO cool that it appeals more than anything else? Should we start -constantly- portraying killing and violence as negative, highlighting the consequences and making these actions TABOO in our society, rather than revering them on Screen and in Play?
      • Re:does it matter? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by freeweed (309734) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @01:06AM (#6398187)
        I'd suggest that removing freedom from the majority only to stop a *very* small minority from doing what they may like have done anyway (sure, I'll admit the evidence is out) is a REALLY stupid idea.

        We don't ban cars because one or two idiots a year decide to deliberately crash into another person. And we don't ban movies that make speeding look cool, even though it kills far more people every day than even the most paranoid would claim videogames have in the past 31 years.
      • Re:does it matter? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Vellmont (569020) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @01:30AM (#6398278)
        You've made a good argument how violence in movies or video games could create more violent people. The thing you haven't shown at all is that this theory is correct. Persuasive arguments are very easy to make. I could probbably make an equally persuasive argument that violence is movies and videogames reduces violence because it releases peoples agressions in a nonviolent way.

        Until one of us shows actual evidence that the theory is correct it's all just a pissing contest as to whose argument _sounds_ better. As far as I'm concerned the only thing that keeps these "violent media causes violence" theories going is that they offer a simple explanation for violence in the society, and a simple solution. People have a strong desire for explanations and solutions... more so than their desire for truth.
        • Re:does it matter? (Score:5, Informative)

          by mkro (644055) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @04:00AM (#6398692)
          I could probbably make an equally persuasive argument that violence is movies and videogames reduces violence because it releases peoples agressions in a nonviolent way.
          Someone already did, and it is called the catharsis theory [google.com].
        • You've made a good argument how violence in movies or video games could create more violent people. The thing you haven't shown at all is that this theory is correct. Persuasive arguments are very easy to make. ......Until one of us shows actual evidence that the theory is correct it's all just a pissing contest .....

          It's surprising how often sceptics about the link between portrayals of violence and the actuality of copycat violence often shelter behind demands for unusual levels of evidence. In ordinar
          • You're talking about a different phenomenon from nearly everyone else here. In fact, the post was a response to a post which specifically set aside copycat violence. Copycat violence is a very specific type of crime, and is much more rare than non-copycat violence.

            The game Doom didn't involve making pipe bombs in your garage and then planting them around a school before unloading your guns into people (in fact, the only 'person' I remember in Doom was John Romero's head on a stick, the game was about fight
      • Re:does it matter? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by l1_wulf (602905) <l1wulf@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:04AM (#6398381) Homepage Journal
        Think of how they portayed killing in the basement scene in the first matrix, how 'COOL' was that; a computer hacker/nerd in sunnies and a trenchcoat, with a hot female in latex blasting away numerous innocent people without even flinching - with the propellerheads soundtrack pumping.

        Should we question the sanity (or the potential to "snap") of the people who had a hand in this particular scene? The actors, screenwriters, sound crew, etc... Can we make a reasonable leap of faith and say that they are not all riding the edge of sanity and insanity? How can one say then that the ability of a group of moderately sane people can visualize, then act out and produce a scene that can not be visualized by a creative but mentally unstable person -- a person who has "snapped"? Remember the postal worker fiasco? Should we assume this person played violent video games or had an above average desire to watch bloody action flicks? Remember the Dungeons & Dragons fiasco? I don't recall how they killed but I am pretty sure they did not wander around with a Bastard Sword +2... Maybe this whole vengeful killing spree is triggered by the carbinated beverage Coke? Ah, maybe there's some strange chemical in Wonder Bread; have we checked to see if all these killers liked white bread???

        Sorry, this isn't a flame on you and I agree, I'm divided to a point... Sure I concede that it's possible that violent media may provide a seed for an idea that has already started festering. Is that bad? Let's look at this a different way.

        Let's say Joe Shotgun is a farm kid way out in the boonies, no TV, no movie theaters, no computer, but an excellent collection of books are available for his enjoyment. Now Joe Shotgun is not ignorant, nooooo. In fact he's pretty damn intelligent, is a voracious reader and is even more advanced in his home schooling than a typical city kid. But therein is the problem. Joe spends most of his time alone (awww). None of the other farm kids like him because he's different from the norm and they don't understand him. Now kids will be kids and poor Joe has lived with the occasional pranks and name calling which is all too common the world over.

        The thing is, Joe is slightly, um... unstable. Maybe pa dropped him on his head when he was young, who knows? But the Shotgun's have always known about Joe's dark moods. They usually leave him alone and after a while he's back to his good old self. One day Joe just snaps... Pa's been yelling at him, Ma got mad at him because he knocked the apple pies from the sill. The kids have been unmerciful lately, etc. Poor Joe hatches a plan. He hates being different, he's tired of always being alone. Nobody ever understands him and in his teenage angst ridden mind, it is just not worth going through what, 50 or 60 more years of this shit. Suicide??? Hrm, let those little bastages grow up and make more little shits that will make some other kid's life miserable? Hell no, if he's going out, Joe's gonna take a few with him.

        So a few days later Joe has a plan. What's his plan? I leave it to you to think of various violent ways a farm boy could take out people based only on literature you've read.

        My point? Joe is isolated from all the vast media that is (ironically enough) so big in the media as being responsible for inspiring killers. We give him one link to the rest of the world (the books) and now we have to place the blame on this one form of media. Should we revert to book burning in this farm community? Whatever means Joe decides to use as his vehicle of vengence, it is resonable to assume he will be influenced by the literature he read. Maybe Ma and Pa (if they survived) should go through the books and censor out the violent parts of this vast library, you know, to keep other kids from getting these crazy ideas in their heads.

        In my opinion, this is very similar to the idea that there are many bad things to be found on the Internet, so let's heavily regulate it and make it completely 'G
      • Re:does it matter? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by richieb (3277) <richieb.gmail@com> on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @07:16AM (#6399103) Homepage Journal
        How many people play violent video games and imagine that the people they are shooting are real?

        I would guess very few, mentally disturbed individuals. There were people who read the Bible and then go on a killing rampage - should we stop people from reading the Bible?

        Or use the simulated violence to release agression?

        As opposed to using actual violence? Is this bad?

        Why not blame CNN - after all they show pictures of real death and mayhem.

    • Re:does it matter? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by alptraum (239135) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @01:00AM (#6398158)
      These critics really need to understand that a=>b does NOT mean b=>a. It's a very simple logical fallacy.

      Exactly. Or as statisticians like to say Correlation does not mean causality. Classical example is as the number of priests in a city increases, so do the number of drunks. Well, the correlation between priests and drunks was confounded with the population size increasing, thus the number of group X of just about anything is going to increase.
    • Re:does it matter? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dalutong (260603) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (yesnatjd)> on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @01:10AM (#6398205)
      He wasn't asking for evidence that they played violent video games. He was asking for evidence they THEY named themselves after a video game, and not this lawyer.
    • exactly...
      Violent games will have an effect on people, but only those people who don't have the mindset to know that it has no bearing on real life. It's the same reason pyschologically that films, and music, and even a conversation with a bad friend can have same effect on people who aren't mentally mature enough to know what morals apply and why.
      But, this is no reason to ban these games, or the films, that the majority of people can enjoy in a harmless way. When was the last time someone banned say socce
    • >It's a very simple logical fallacy.

      Yep, its the old causation vs. correlation fallacy.

      America has already been through this when Dr. Frederick Wertham (a popular quack-ish psychologist from the 50's) wrote a book arguing that comics caused all sorts of deviant behavoir. This killed the comic industry by turning it into kid's stuff, more or less. More info here. [mogozuzu.com] Better details here. [sideroad.com]

      I think this is the favorite meme for hack journalists. If a kid goes psycho then make sure to print how he dressed,
  • Do videogames cause violence? No, I don't think so. The capacity for violence must already exist within a person; I don't think a videogame is capable of creating that in you. But it is possible for videogames to bring out the violence in someone. A person with a capacity for violence might play a computer game such as Counter-Strike and go out on a CS-inspired killing spree. Did CS cause the violence? No. But without CS, perhaps they'd just go out on a baseball bat killing spree if they only happen to play sports games.

    It's much like guns. Are guns in themselves evil? No, they are tools. But when put into the hands of an evil person, the give the evil person a much increased capacity to harm others. Videogames are the same way: a person who learns S.W.A.T. strategies in a videogame can put that to use in his killing spree, allowing him to evade death longer and inflict more casualties.

    I'm not arguing that we should prohibit videogames because they give the inspiration to make sick, twisted killers even more efficient. It's very much a freedom of speech issue to me. But people that deny that videogames are associated with violence in any way are just wrong - we must understand the link, so that we can lessen its power.

    On a personal note, I do enjoy playing violent videogames. But I also enjoy playing non-violent games, such as SimCity 4. It's not the violence for violence's sake that I enjoy: I don't enjoy Soldier of Fortune 2 because, frankly, I don't think it's a fun game. Now that I think about it, all the "violent" games I've liked in the past were in their own rights good games. The violence could've been removed (assuming it left the fun elements intact) and I'd still enjoy the game. Perhaps it is someone who plays a game solely for the pleasure of the violence, not for the gameplay, who is responsible for acts such as those outlined in this article.

    • Do nethack players go on a ) wielding killing spree?

      I guess we shall never know.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:51PM (#6397799)
        We'll never know because NetHack players have a tendency to think before they act. Hence, they don't get caught wielding guns while wearing a bright orange shirt and holding a sign proclaiming "I'm going to kill the guy in the car next to me."

        Therefore, NetHack players either do their deed and get away with it, or they're the people we hear about on the news who get killed by kittens after eating bad jelly.

        • Therefore, NetHack players either do their deed and get away with it, or they're the people we hear about on the news who get killed by kittens after eating bad jelly.

          Nitpick: eating a rotten jelly corpse could cause death by food poisoning, NOT a "killed by XXX while helpless" death. You're thinking of getting killed by a kitten after hitting a floating eyeball.
          • Nitpick: eating a rotten jelly corpse could cause death by food poisoning, NOT a "killed by XXX while helpless" death. You're thinking of getting killed by a kitten after hitting a floating eyeball.

            I beg to differ, Ignorant Aardvark. A possible outcome is: "Blecch! Rotten food! The world spins and goes dark." After which you could be killed by the kitten.
            • I beg to differ, Ignorant Aardvark. A possible outcome is: "Blecch! Rotten food! The world spins and goes dark." After which you could be killed by the kitten.

              This is perhaps the most geekiest argument ever, but let's delve a bit deeper into this. I quote from the Nethack 3.4.1 source code eat.c line 1184...:

              } else if(!rn2(3)) {
              ... snip ... pline_The("world spins and %s %s.", what, where);
              flags.soundok = 0;
              nomul(-rnd(10));
              nomovemsg = "You are conscious again.";

              Eating a rotten corpse can indeed cause 1d10 turns of "helplessness".

              And now from line 1277 of the same source file:
              if (!tp && mnum != PM_LIZARD && mnum != PM_LICHEN &&
              //Call rotted food function

              (The comment is my own to avoid the lameness filter).

              Rotted corpses can have negative effects such as blindness and helplessness except for when the corpse is of the lizard or lichen variety. I mistakenly thought that jelly fit into one of these categories; indeed, it does not. Eating jelly can lead to death by kitten during helplessness. I was wrong.
    • by nacturation (646836) <[nacturation] [at] [gmail.com]> on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:54PM (#6397819) Journal
      Another interesting question is do violent games desensitize people to violence? Consider an analogy: a boy who grows up in a nudist family won't think anything of seeing naked women -- it's not going to be a big deal. Compare this to a boy who was brought up not even seeing much bare skin at all -- his reaction upon seeing a naked woman will be huge, pardon the pun. At the turn of the century (ie: 1900) it was considered risque for women to show their ankles in public. For a woman to wear a skirt knee-high, she would have been considered a tramp. Times change, and people grow accustomed to the new standard.

      Now a kid who grows up playing violent, realistic games could tend to be lsss affronted by violence. How easy would it be for a kid to look out his apartment window to the street below and imagine getting a perfect rail shot to a person below? Or turning the corner in school and hitting the local nerd with a double-barrel shotgun blast? Now that doesn't mean the kid would necessarily consider acting it out in real life, but is that the first step on a slippery slope towards real violence?

      • by sTalking_Goat (670565) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:20AM (#6397975) Homepage
        Just after Columbine happaned I remember spending a lot of time during class working out the easiest way to take out the most people by myself with a limited number of weapons.

        I sat around and thought about the merits of snipering from a tower vs. armed assualt complete with smoke and infared goggles. I remember thinking about it in detail planning every little thing I could think of, researching ammo types, max lethal range for certain easily available rifles etc.

        Now granted my knowledge of firearms came alot from Video Games, but not any more than from Tom Clancy books and the History Channel. In fact since this was pre-CS I'd say most of my knowledge came from the History channel, especially some wonderful documentaries they aired on assasinations, that thought me the merits of the AK-47/74.

        Now the difference between me and these guys is a simple one. I probably did as much planning as they did if not more. In fact I dare say I fantasized about it. But I stopped just short of collecting weapons and making the large leap between "I'll think about killing half my school" and "I'm going to kill half my school".

        Why is this? The answer to that question is the fundamental issue here. I'm am not violent by nature. I tend to avoid fights even though I'm 6' 2" 230lbs. The fights I've been in, I've tended to reign in my punches at the last minute because I don't like hurting people.

        I shudder to think what I'd be like if I had a violent personality. I can bet I'd be a lot more dangerous than these guys, more effecient anyway.

        And thats what it comes down to basically. Not video-games or media in general. Having the knowledge to do something isn't the same as doing it. Despite what the media keeps telling everyone. There is something else that makes you violent or not. I wish people would stop looking for easy answers.

        • by quinkin (601839) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @03:48AM (#6398662)
          Sorry to go autobiographical - but I am struggling to illustrate my point without personal experiences to relate it to.

          I am an avid computer usr/programmer/gamer now, but in my youth I grew up in the bush.

          My formative years were not spent playing violent computer games, but instead wandering through miles of thick bush, practising survival skills, and highly intellectual pursuits like trying to catch live Goannas (6 foot long lizards with huge claws/teeth) armed only with a hessian sack (yes, I still have the scars).

          I made napalm, black-powder, and nitro-peln bombs with gay abandon (spare time and sheds full of farm chemicals are a dangerous combination). Then I turned my attention to projectiles and hand weapons (my favourite was the 8 foot, 12 kilo pike that I made, although the old style scythe was pretty cool too) both offensively and defensively (which meant getting two neighbours to repeatedly fire stone headed arrows at me from a variety of ranges).

          I lived on a farm and was expected to be able to hold my own when it came time to kill a chook or a snake or whatever. The realities of death were neither glossed over, nor glamourised. You understood what it meant, how you could do it, what it looked like, what it felt like, why you would do it, and why not.

          A few years later and I was being consistently bullied at school. Not because I was small or slow or whatever, but because I chose not to follow the "cool kids" and their self-supporting persecution of others to appease their own insecurities. I also made no attempt to hide my opinion of them - unforgivable from their perspective. (And I was smart - nothing pisses of a dumb jock more than that).

          Although I had spent a lot of time "playing" with various deadly weapons (and school did nothing but provide me with a plethora of additional ideas and resources) I did not choose to target these individuals.

          (At least not willingly: Once I found a friend being held down and beaten by a number of the "in crowd", I tackled the main offender off my mate and dared the rest of them to take me on as well - they didn't. After that incident I was cornered by an even larger group of them, out for some "retribution" for being made to look like weak fools - I still think I would have taken a pretty severe beating if I hadn't had a large knife in my pocket to convert the situation to a stand-off (I had been teaching myself knife juggling at the time)).

          Unlike much of the student body I was always certain on two things:

          1. Knowledge is a hell of a lot more deadly and fear inspiring than strength. (Someone overpowering you? Stomp on the bridge of the foot and sweep your palm sideways across their nose. I don't care how strong they are, their bones aren't.)

          2. School will end, I will leave, and the next time I meet one of the bullies they will be smiling and saying: "Would you like fries with that, sir?"

          So tell your children, tell your friends, tell your neices and nephews: THERE IS LIFE AFTER SCHOOL.

          We need to do something about the horrendous situation the current youth is facing: depression, suicide, hoimicide - they are all different faces of the one die (or dice for the uneducated). It is not the fault of computer games except in as much as they continue the bizarre abstracted existence we are taught to call life.

          Thanks for reading, spread the word to those who need most to hear it.

          Q.

        • by muzzmac (554127) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @04:05AM (#6398706)
          When I see a psycho killer attempting to Bunny hop, wielding his knife, to run faster then I'll know he was influenced by video games.
    • Easy way out (Score:5, Interesting)

      by metatruk (315048) on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:55PM (#6397833)
      I absolutely agree with this. I think that some types of video games can incite certain types of behavior in certain types of people. Certain people tend to resonate with the violence they see more than others.

      It does not make sense to ban violent games. In doing that, you'd have to ban anything that could be construed as an influence on people who react violently to their environment.

      Video games are an easy target because the very name "video games" is so general, and so broad. It's more difficult to do finger-pointing at a specific target because the public may not identify with it. Also, the solution to a general problem is to simply limit it, because then its impact on society will be limited.

      I think the real problem here is these kids are in home or social situations that are fundamentally unstable, and have been a good portion of their lives...let's see you ban that! yeah, I'd love it if we could. It would solve a lot of problems
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "But I also enjoy playing non-violent games, such as SimCity 4."

      You've never played god and struck down a megalopolis with natural disasters, have you?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:42PM (#6397736)
    And just because I go around building towns near gold mines and harvesting lumber doesn't mean the game has affected me.
  • Warriors of What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lelon (443322) on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:45PM (#6397753) Homepage Journal

    As an avid gamer, I can say that I've never heard of this game, and unless there is some evidence on their computers to back up this claim, its basically groundless.

    Offtopic, I love the new gaming icon (Tellah is my favorite video game character of all time!)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:45PM (#6397754)
    If you want to go on a huge killing spree and kill lots of innocent people as a "Warrior of Freedom" sign up for the United States Army.

    All the murder, none of the legal problems.
    • by Archie Steel (539670) on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:59PM (#6397860)
      Ouch! Mod this up as "insightful", not funny! I mean, wait until they try to tie the first killing spree to AA!

      Yes, he was a quiet kid, kept to himself, played a green beret captain in the U.S. Army on the Internet...

      I hear America's Army is a great game, but I won't play it until there's a mod that lets me go AWOL in the jungle of southeast asia, become a living god to a tribe of natives, build up my own private army and keep a freaked-out photographer as court jester...
    • Because that's what we do. We mindlessly go into other countries and start killing innocent people.</sarcasm>

      Civilian casualties happen. That's a part of war. The US has gone a long way in improving how it operates to minimize civilian deaths. They don't go on huge killing sprees killing lots of innocent people. We try to get them to surrender before we attack through PsyOps. And I googled the US army's website quickly, and I couldn't find the phrase Warrior of Freedom on it.

      • by Snoopy77 (229731) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @03:16AM (#6398584) Homepage
        Oh, what the hell, I'll take the karma hit.

        The PsyOps thing is a bunch of crap. It's not even directed at the civilians. Why do civilians need to surrender? They aren't fighting anyone!

        A long way? Compared to dropping atomic bombs on civilains yes but you just cause you've travelled a long way from that does not mean you've reached an ideal destination.

        Your bombing raids in Afghanistan killed more people than 911. You continued use of cluster bombing in Iraq has also killed innocent people. You still refuse to ban landmines and may have even used them in Iraq (you were at least planning to). Despite medical evidence suggesting that they may be harmful for years to come you have pumped both Afghanistan and Iraq full of depleted uranium. You've shot innocent protestors and taken out 'targets of oppotunity' (shoot first, ask later).

        Yeah, war is ugly. Would be nice to avoid it but there is no need to make it uglier.
  • by El (94934) on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:45PM (#6397757)
    In a recent study, 100% of teenagers that went on killing rampages were found to have significant levels of testosterone in their bloodstreams, irrefutable proof that testosterone causes violent behavior! I think we should demand that testosterone be immediately banned in all highschools!
  • Truth? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wideBlueSkies (618979) on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:45PM (#6397758) Journal
    >>or is there genuine evidence here?

    Well, is the game installed on any of their computers? If so, then maybe the game has something to do with the group's name. If not, then move along.

  • Boo to the media (Score:4, Informative)

    by egg troll (515396) on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:45PM (#6397760) Homepage Journal
    It seems to me that poverty and easy access to firearms is much more of a cause of violence than videogames. All videogames do is occasionally have the misfortune to draw some violent people to them (although only a small percentage of videogame players are sociopathic, mind you.)


    I just wish the media would give these causes as much airtime as they do trumped-up, sensationalistic stories.

    • Wrong on both counts (Score:5, Interesting)

      by El (94934) on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:52PM (#6397800)
      It seems to me that poverty and easy access to firearms is much more of a cause of violence than videogames.


      The vast majority of multiple murderers are middle class white males, not poor folk. And in places like I grew up in Alaska, where lterraly every 10-year old has a rifle and several knives, we had zero problems with violence, because we were taught to have respect for damage that weapons can do. Anyway, your applying the same "Post hoc, ergo proctor hoc" fallacy to all three "causes".

  • Who is to blame? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hao Wu (652581) on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:45PM (#6397761) Homepage
    They will blame everyone and everything, except the two causes:

    1) the people who teased them to death for years.
    2) the boys themselves for choosing to plan the crime and carry it out.

    EVERYONE else will be blamed first- you, me, and the internet....
  • by houseofmore (313324) on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:45PM (#6397762) Homepage
    ...you'd get high, play pacman.. fist a bag of doritos, and that would be the end of it. C - - - -
  • by ruiner13 (527499) on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:50PM (#6397788) Homepage
    Seriously, before video games, there was no war, no violence, and everyone loved each other. The crusades were caused because of the church's addiction to Doom. World War I, well, that was Duke Nukem. World War II was cause by the release of Quake. It is time to put an end to these horrible inventions now, before Doom 3 comes out and World War 3 starts.
  • Books? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eric_Cartman_South_P (594330) on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:51PM (#6397792)
    To anyone who thinks video games should be banned, I ask this question: If the kids were inspired to kill by characters in a book, should we then ban books?

    What about TV? Movies? Magazines? Where does it end?

    • Re:Books? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Guppy06 (410832)
      You do realize we live in a world where bans of Huckleberry Finn in schools are seriously considered because of its use of the word "nigger," right?
  • by Daetrin (576516) on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:51PM (#6397795)
    I've been stuck at work for the past fourteen hours, and I'm about ready to kill someone right now. Maybe we should look into getting work outlawed as well?
  • by egg troll (515396) on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:51PM (#6397797) Homepage Journal
    <sarcasm>
    I'm sure we can all agree that things like this wouldn't happen if we had a curfew [asia1.com.sg] for gamers.
    </sarcasm>
  • by Ikari Gendou (93109) on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:53PM (#6397814)
    Is a freaking browser based RPG. I'd have to say this is a pretty thin stretch of a Googling if I've seen one.


    This whole thing makes my brain hurt.

  • Rampage Attempt? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wingnut64 (446382) on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:54PM (#6397817)
    I live quite close to there, and read about it in my local newspaper. The 3 teens had 2 rifles, 2 handguns, a shotgun, knifes and swords. They surrendered when 1 cop showed up and told them to drop their weapons. Rampage my ass, this was just a cry for help. With their numbers and firepower they could have easily killed him, but they didn't. The 18 year old 'leader' just lost his mother (and some other female friend/family member, don't remember which) and didn't fit in at school. He was mentally unstable and socially outcast. Games had little to do with it, except to give them a title to use.
  • Warriors of Freedom? (Score:5, Informative)

    by syr (647840) on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:55PM (#6397823)
    The article mentions that the youths were obsessed with Warriors of Freedom. I've never heard of the game so I did some googling and this is what I've come up with so far. Warriors of Freedom is apparently a browser-based RPG which involved the leveling up of fantasy themed characters who are either evil or good. So in essence its like any other RPG out there.

    It appears that the official website for the game is either at this [dd-clan.org] clan server or at this [alternativegames.ca] game company. Google returns the fact that Warriors of Freedom RPG is now ... "The Guardians of Har". So maybe the Alternative Games company changed the name of their moderately popular browser-based RPG.

    It's interesting that these youths would be corrupted by a simplistic browser RPG. Most previous stories of this type involve games such as Doom or Counter-Strike or sniping in Halo. I guess we might be able to assume that these youths didn't need the first person perspective to corrupt their perspective of reality.

    This Columbine article [liberator.net] quotes Jack Thompson (the attorney who brought up the video game connection) as saying "We intend to hurt Hollywood. We intend to hurt the video game industry. We intend to hurt porn sites". Mr. Thompson [aim.org] has tried suing the video game companies, tried pressuring Best Buy and Wal-Mart to not carry certain titles and tried to get a bill introduced to outlaw mature video games being sold to minors.

    I don't believe that video games caused these youths to go beserk. So I will continue playing games [gametab.com] and wondering what exactly is wrong with Jack Thompson.

    • by Godeke (32895) *
      Browser based games are probably the last thing Jack Thompson wants to try to explain as a source of violence. Hair trigger reflexes required? Nope. Adrenal gland stimulated by realistic graphics? Nope. Suspension of disbelief the size of Montana to accept that the 16 pixel by 32 pixel graphic of an orc *represents* an ork. Hmmmm, maybe something to work with there...
  • by Brian_Ellenberger (308720) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:04AM (#6397886)
    Lovett's uncle Thomas Crymes said the June graduate of Collingswood High School had been on his computer "constantly."

    "He never went anywhere with anybody," Crymes said.


    Ever think he was on the computer constantly because he was harassed by the other students and had nowhere to go? Maybe that same harassment had something to do with his motive?

    Was the guy that shot up that Lockheed Martin factory also "under the influence" of computer games and violent movies? Or is there a more complex societal problem going on here?

    Ronald Lovett, who works as a electronics repairman on the same block as his apartment, said his son had become withdrawn after his mother's death. His son also often had to defend his younger brother, who has undergone 13 operations for a cleft palate, the father said.

    "When they used to go out when they were little, of course people would pick on the brother, and Matt would have to defend him," Ronald Lovett told CNN. "They didn't get along well with their peers."
    .
    .
    .
    "The boys also had to endure the death of an older half sister who was hit by a car a year after their mother's death, Crymes said."


    What kind of evil SOBs would pick on a kid with a cleft palate whose mother and sister recently died. I thank the Lord that these kids were picked up before they hurt anyone, but if you want to examine "root causes" instead of video games maybe take a look at an utter lack of conscious or morality by all parties involved.

    Evil begets evil.

    Brian Ellenberger
  • by BlueTrin (683373) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:05AM (#6397890) Homepage Journal

    Quoted from the article "And among the names Lovett used in a letter left for his family was the Neo, an apparent reference to the main character of The Matrix, which is both a movie series and a computer game." ...

    Instead of pointing out the fact that the movie itself was about cyberpunk, he just said that 'The Matrix' is also a video game.

    I guess that's enough to prove that people who write these kind of articles are ignorant about the subject, are mostly scared about things that they just do not understand and they would prefer that everything would stay the same.

    Maybe we should forbid weapons and take care of our children instead of trying to find evidences that the actual society is responsible of their acts. Guns do not kill, people do. The same for children, they did not went bad because of the actual world, some grow up bad because WE made this world as it is.

  • Let's see here... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcasaday (562287) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:07AM (#6397905)
    • "His son had become withdrawn after his mother's death"
    • "Often had to defend his younger brother, who has undergone 13 operations for a cleft palate."
    • "They didn't get along well with their peers."
    • "Ronald Lovett had focused most of his attention on his younger son, James, because of his disability."
    • "The boys also had to endure the death of an older half sister."
    • "The classmates said he had been mocked for his bow-legged and stooped gait and his clothes."
    • "Matt was an easy target, but he never lashed out. He just took it."
    • "Everybody picked on him"

    The only reasonable explanation for a kid to lash out under these circumstances is the evil influence of games like Mech Commando. I just can't see it any other way.

    I certainly wouldn't put any of the responsibility for these crimes on the people who made up these kids' world. There is no way that people are to blame for this sort of thing.

    It has to be video games. Or rock music. Or D&D. (D&D!? That's sooo 80's.) Or marijuana. Or the devil. Or a malevelont, super-intelligent giant chicken from the center of the Earth. Anything, as long as people don't have to come face to face with their role in the lives of these kids.

  • Violence??!!?? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by heli0 (659560) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:08AM (#6397907)
    The game is TEXT BASED

    If...

    >> There is a knight ahead. Attack or flee? {A/F}
    $$ A
    >> The knight has been slain.

    causes people to go on killing rampages, it would have been an epidemic about 20 years ago.
  • by Monthenor (42511) <monthenor@noSPaM.gogeek.org> on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:12AM (#6397926) Homepage
    I'd like to see Broderbund brought to justice for Number Muncher's role in the mental anguish and derision I suffered as an elementary-school math dork.
  • Bullying... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iopha (626985) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:12AM (#6397928) Homepage
    From the article:

    Lovett also was the target of teasing. The classmates said he had been mocked for his bow-legged and stooped gait and his clothes.

    My guess would be that over 75% of teenagers play or have played 'violent' video games at some point or another. I'm guessing but it feels more or less right. That's probably millions-- tens of millions-- of video game players in the US and across the developed world. Are they all potential killers? Of course not. To argue so would involve twisting statistics around in a 'war on drugs' fashion-- maintaining that marijuana is a 'gateway' drug, which simply isn't true. Very few users of marijuana go on to do harder drugs. But many that do harder drugs have smoked pot (and continue to do so), which is what alarmist conservative organizations, in a thorough betrayal of libertarian roots, emphasize in order to restrain civil liberties.

    But there is simply not enough of a correlation to warrant limits on video games (a form of free speech IMHO anyway) even *if* in specific cases a causal argument *might* be made. The point is that you can't do sociology by anecdote only. By all rights, statistically, toasters [google.ca] are probably deadlier than video games anyway.

    Given the utter lack of *any* systematic correlation between playing video games and engaging in violent, anti-social behaviour, perhaps we should look at other possible causes, Like the bullying and teasing which goes on in every schoolyard, every day, hmmm? I am convinced that the solace this kid found in video games was a result of being called a 'fag' constantly, of being beaten up for lacking social grace, for failure to heed the intricate, consumerist protocol of North American teenhood. Any 'obsession' with video games was a symptom and NOT the problem.

    Bah, sheer sensationalism and a refusal to look at root causes-- of course this seems to be a recurrent theme these days.

    Reminds me of that Onion article--Columbine Jocks Safely Resume Bullying [theonion.com]. It's a sad indicator of the state of our civlization when we learn nothing from tragedy, but that's another topic entirely.

    iopha
  • by fishmonkey (301785) * on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:15AM (#6397940) Journal
    The British author (amongst other things) Ben Elton wrote on the topic of violence in movies in his book 'Popcorn'. One of the main themes was about violence in movies spreading into real life, he pointed out many times that it's not that people emulate the characters they see directly, but that movies STYLIZE killing and violence - they make it seem COOL. Killing and violence is shown as a quick and effective way to get revenge, achieve goals, make a name for yourself etc..
    Think of how they portayed killing in the basement scene in the first matrix, how 'COOL' was that; a computer hacker/nerd in sunnies and a trenchcoat, with a hot female in latex blasting away numerous innocent people without even flinching - with the propellerheads soundtrack pumping.
    How many people play violent video games and imagine that the people they are shooting are real? Or use the simulated violence to release agression? What happens when life becomes too much and they SNAP and decide to do something about their situation - get revenge on all those motherfuckers in the coolest way you know, bust into school in trenchcoats with semi automatics and spray it with bullets - fantasy becomes reality.
    I'm divided on the issue, as I don't think any sane person would snap like this and bring something patently evil into action, but what about the nutcases that do - have videogames and movies made killing SO cool that it appeals more than anything else? Should we start -constantly- portraying killing and violence as negative, highlighting the consequences and making these actions TABOO in our society, rather than revering them on Screen and in Play?
    Something to think about I guess, rather than the prevailing view among gamers that videogames don't affect people, and are good because you can release tension through your onscreen avatar.
  • by ZorbaTHut (126196) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:15AM (#6397944) Homepage
    I think the *real* motives of Jack Thompson should be obvious to everyone. You see, he thinks his game was poorly recieved, and he's merely trying to exterminate all the competition.

    Wait, you say you didn't know he was in a game? Haven't you ever played The Bermuda Syndrome [justadventure.com]?

    The Bermuda Syndrome basically chronicles the adventures of pilot Jack J. Thompson . . . Final Grade: D

    A shoddy disguise at best - all he did is remove his middle initial! Who was he hoping to fool, anyway?

    (Moral: You can find facts to back up *anything* on Google.)
  • Freedom?! (Score:4, Funny)

    by jamie (78724) <jamie@slashdot.org> on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:15AM (#6397946) Journal
    "Warriors of Freedom"!? Clearly these disturbed youths were obsessed with "freedom," and their fantasy world where they could play at "freedom."

    How many more must die due to this dangerous scourge of freedom which takes over the minds of young people like a hideous drug??

    I demand that we put an end to freedom!

  • by EverDense (575518) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:19AM (#6397959) Homepage
    Look at the photo, and read the caption. I bet that guy called "Elizabeth Robertson" hates his parents.
  • by k98sven (324383) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:20AM (#6397966) Journal
    Really.. They're quick to publish spectacular theories on violence in computer games, movies, art, and just about every aspect of culture but themeselves.

    How about removing the beam from their own eyes?
    Modern news media (and especially the American ones) are flooded with violence.
    There is a key difference here though: People, even young children, understand that films, computer games etc. are fiction. News media, on the other hand, is treated as fact, no matter how distorted the picture is.

    People are lead to believe that violence is constantly increasing (even when it's not), that their neighborhoods are unsafe, and that a prowler, burglar or hoodlum could be waiting for them at any minute.

    Excessive violence in news reporting leads to excessive fear. Fear in turn, leads to violence.

    Blame the media is a popular game.. but they still don't get nearly enough criticism, and you can wonder why..
  • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:35AM (#6398042)
    He was born braindead. And then had help from is 'parents'.

    "Oaklyn teenagers also say he also practiced martial arts and had compiled a list of his enemies since elementary school. [news-leader.com]"

    Any 'link' between this incident and video games, or the other popular theory, The Matrix, is mere hand waving by the media.

    I'd expect most teens that have played video games have played at least some that involve "blowing something up", or shooting something. All but the most bland edutainment games, and openended games (SimCity, etc) involve some sort of destruction.

    Could Frogger be linked to massive roadkill on the highways?
    Could SimCity be linked to corrupt politics and poor city managament?
    Could Bewitched [bewitched.net] be linked to a rise in adult witchcraft?

    Damn, these guys are stupid. But it does sell newspapers.
  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:43AM (#6398072) Homepage
    That game doesn't have any visual violence. It doesn't have any visuals. It's a text-based role-playing game. It's not even a product. It's someone's toy web site.
    • Well, you have to be especially careful with those text-based games. The rapid pace of typing can give the youngsters who participate in such outrages unbelievable manual dexterity, dexterity that translates directly into shooting people with astounding skill. Rumor has it that evil terrorist organizations regularly train on such murderous classics as "Zork" and "Ms. Marple's Manor".
  • by the-build-chicken (644253) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:50AM (#6398109)
    Guns don't kill people, tetris does
  • by KU_Fletch (678324) <[ude.uk] [ta] [1samohtb]> on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @01:14AM (#6398222)
    I read through most of the comments and I've come up with some observations that have always bounced around my brain without ever coming otgether until now.

    1. The majority of the comments here tend to solidify around the logic that this story and the source of it are idiotic and baseless. Now this isn't commentary coming from random sources. This is commentary coming from somewhat intelligent, well-articulated people with some degree of expertise or interest in games and technology. These kind of opinions would seem to be the most logical ones to comment on this aspect of the story.

    2. These opinions will never be treated seriously by the mainstream press. These are the voices that get ignored or mocked by the Bill O'Reliey's and Fox News Channels of the world. The media always seems willing to go to the Jack Thompsons of the world for quotes and perspectives, but always seem hesitant to find the kind of views you would see of /.

    So it leaves me to wonder why this happens. Time and time again, the media is willing to go for the off-the-wall source to make a story stand out, rather than seeking out the opinions of /. style populations. If you want in depth, thought out discussions and opinions on things like DMCA, P2P, SCO vs IBM, etc, it would seem that reporters would be inclined to solicit these types of opinions rather than find crackpots like Jack Thompson, Hillary Rosen, etc. Is it the general 'geek' stigma that surrounds such topics. Are we too 'geeky' to have valid opinions. It seems like we're 'geek' enough to do all the critical engineering and researching in the modern world, but not have an insight into the issues afterwards.
  • by failedlogic (627314) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @01:20AM (#6398247)
    The context of violent video can easily be mis-constrewed. For instance, Mario and Zelda are violent as it involves killing. Zelda is depicted w/ sword blows (the newer version illustrates it better) while Mario stomps heads. Its the amount of gore which should be questionned. Gore has arguably gotten much worse. Mortal Kombat, GTA, Postal, Doom (sorry J. Carmack if you're reading!!)..... as a series have depicted killing w/ more blood and gore as graphics have improved.

    From a quick search on Amazon, interestingly enough, Mortal Kombat the movie is rated PG-13 while the video game is Mature (17 or older). Why the difference? Afterall, if you've watched the movie, "Finish him" -- "Fatality" and all the other notions which made the game "bad" appear in the movie.

    Just like all rock and roll is about Sex, Drugs and Rebellion, people listening to Elvis, the Beatles etc haven't generally become drug addicts and criminals as the media and parents believed. Same w/ violent video games. There are those that follow the norm and those that fall out of it.

    If nothing else, the amount of weapons, the hitlist etc, all goes to show the mental state of the teens. It proves nothing about violent video games.
  • So what what (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fizzlewhiff (256410) <<jeffshannon> <at> <hotmail.com>> on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @04:00AM (#6398696) Homepage
    So what if they were inspired by a video game or by The Matrix. The entertainment industry still has a ways to go before it catches up to God, Allah, and Jesus. More people kill based on religious beliefs than anything and I don't see a whole lot of regulations on worship.
  • Stereotyping? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cl1mh4224rd (265427) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @04:03AM (#6398699)
    There are plenty of little "details" dropped all over the article, in the most inappropriate spots, and have seemingly no importance other than to stereotype these kids as sociopathic computer addicts.

    The 15-year-old, who is tall and heavy, was represented by Cherry Hill lawyer John A. Underwood, who said his client maintains he is innocent. The other teen, tall and thin, did not have a lawyer.
    Why is their physical build and height important to this article? I don't need this information to know that, for whatever reason, these kids were messed up.

    He said he could not believe that Matthew Lovett, who had no job, would carry out the alleged plan. "If he was determined to do that sort of thing, he would have shot at the officer," Crymes said. "All it was was a call for help."
    Again... why do the authors feel that this information is important to me?

    "Matt was an easy target," said Paul Phillips, 18. "But he never lashed out. He just took it."

    "Everybody picked on him," said Tom Urick, 19, a 2002 Collingswood graduate
    This, along with the revelation that the oldest of the three had lost his mother and an older sister, are fairly quickly glossed over and not even mentioned as potential sources for this kid's problems. Typical media...

    And Jack Thompson is an ignorant fuck...
  • by tardibear (135254) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @04:07AM (#6398711)

    ... are an obvious counterexample to the idea that naming yourself after a violent video game means you're a violent group.

    ;-)

  • by master_p (608214) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @05:41AM (#6398910)
    Is neither video games nor guns. It's the nature of our society that becomes more and more competitive, leaving people frustrated and unable to cope with it.

    Free purchase of guns makes the problem a little bigger, but that's it. Look at the UK: guns are not free, but they have a problem with knives (to the point that there are public advertisements of giving your knife to the nearest station!!!).

    Look at other countries that people play video games. There are not any spree killings. Why ? it's the society, that's why.
  • by Tsu Dho Nimh (663417) <abacaxi@hotmaiBOYSENl.com minus berry> on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @08:57AM (#6399494)
    Let's see ... we have a 18-year old whose mother died when he was 9, whose half-sister died when he was 10, whose younger brother had a serious birth defect and had to be defended from aggressive teasing, whose father was trying to be a single dad while wokring long hours. The kid was relentlessly teased throughout school. He was depressed, withdrawn, and isolated. His father said on a TV interview that he wished he had been able to get more counseling for the boy after his mother's death.

    Yup, it was the Matrix and that video game all right. Ban them and we'll all be able to sleep well at night.

    The schools that tolerated harassment of students of a nature that would get an adult fired from almost any workplace had NOTHING to do with it. The pathetic social support system in the USA, and the general lack of good low-cost mental health programs had NOTHING to do with it. It's the games.

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