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Another Attempt To Blame The Video Game For Murder

from the the-i'm-easily-pursuaded-defense dept

The rather infamous Jack Thompson gained his fame by picking up various lawsuits that involved kids shooting people and trying to get them off by blaming the video game. Rather than admit guilt, he was attempting to keep murderers from getting convicted by saying that it was the video game that made them do it. It appears that others are now picking up on this tactic. Adam Thierer points us to a recent case where a lawyer isn't arguing that his client, a 24-year-old, didn't commit a murder. He's arguing that the guy thought he was playing a video game. This is a really weak way to try to get someone acquitted of murder -- and says quite a bit about the lawyers who would use this sort of defense. As the article notes, the actual evidence suggests that video games had nothing to do with the murder, and that it was an old-fashioned robbery attempt.

Filed Under: blame, murder, video games

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Feb 2008 @ 4:56pm

    I am not a shrink

    if "the guy thought he was playing a video game"
    (and he wasn't)
    then I would guess he is insane

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    John Doe, 29 Feb 2008 @ 5:04pm

    I agree with Anonymous. He should be locked up with 4 padded walls. I don't care where or how he is locked up, just get that guy out of the streets.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Feb 2008 @ 5:06pm


    So next thing we know car accidents and school fights will be getting the "it was the video games" excuse. I am sick of people hiding behind a scapegoat b/c they don't like it or just can't face the fact it was their own stupidity that got them where they are(about to face lethal injection or life in prison)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Feb 2008 @ 5:12pm


    Your talkin about the lawyer needin to be put behind padded walls right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Krum, 29 Feb 2008 @ 7:19pm

    The good old days...

    I remember the "good old days" when there where no murders at all because there weren't any video games yet...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Hellsvilla, 29 Feb 2008 @ 7:26pm

    Re: The good old days...

    I actually burst out laughing. Ty, good comment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Overcast, 29 Feb 2008 @ 7:46pm

    Maybe he could pretend like prison is a video game too.

    Win - Win situation :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Feb 2008 @ 8:16pm

    I wonder which video games Hitler liked playing the most

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Rekrul, 29 Feb 2008 @ 9:36pm

    The prosecutor should hand everyone in the jury a game controller to hold for a few minutes, then replace the controllers with raw eyeballs from some animal and ask if they can tell the difference.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    PaulT (profile), 1 Mar 2008 @ 12:17am

    It's a shame that mainstream media tends to pick up on these claims. I look at them the same way that I did when horror movies were blamed in the 90s, or heavy metal in the 80s, etc. - patently false. After all, these are usually just last-ditch attempts to get a killer off the hook when the evidence proves that they are guilty - just trying to provide "mitigating circumstances" to say "yeah, I did it but it wasn't my fault!".

    It's a shame that so many fools out there (yes, Jack Thompson, I'm looking at you and the people who hire you on TV) are so much more willing to believe the desperate pleas of murderers rather than the evidence at hand. Hopefully, this case will prove to be overlooked by the usual media channels.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    brwyatt, 1 Mar 2008 @ 7:40am

    um... yeah...

    Because a mouse/keyboard or console controler feels exactly like a real gun... I can see how they could easily be confused...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    John (profile), 1 Mar 2008 @ 4:46pm

    Only two outcomes

    There should be only two outcomes to this case:

    1) The guy (and his lawyer) admits to the crime, pleads guilty, and the guy goes to jail.

    2) The guy (and his lawyer) convinces a judge of the "I thought it was a video game" excuse, at which time, the judge sentences the guy to at least 10 years of psychiatric evaluation with instructions to medicate him for schizophrenia and other "break with reality" mental disorders.

    Either way, the guy deserves what he gets.

    On the other hand, it sounds like the lawyer is trying to make a name for himself by creating his own legal excuse, like blaming heavy metal music, twinkies, horror movies, or comic books.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    Matt (profile), 1 Mar 2008 @ 8:32pm

    Well now we know

    Well now we know that if you want to run around killing people just be sure to keep yelling "Die you Covenant scum!!!!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Coaster, 2 Mar 2008 @ 6:58pm

    One size fits all?

    If playing video games makes him commit robbery, then it ought to make anyone commit robbery. So if they get the jury all together and get them to play pong for an hour and no one robs a bank, then I guess his excuse is full of holes.

    I think they ought to commit the lawyer and send the criminal to prison.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    notime4u, 2 Apr 2008 @ 3:50pm

    The kid has autism. Next time try reading the entire article.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    the true dude, 19 Nov 2008 @ 12:04pm

    no game blame

    No video game blame
    For many years video games have been blamed for sex drug use and mass murder. But there have been no reasons for such accusations parents and the government blames music and video games for a lot of thing. Such as the columbine high school massacre and the Virginia tech massacre but there have been no proven links between sex, drugs use and murder. Video games have also been studied for links to addiction and violent behavior. Some studies have found that video games do not contribute to these problems Recently several groups have argued that there are few if any scientifically proven studies to backup such claims, and that the video game industry has become a scapegoat for the media to blame for various social ills. Furthermore, numerous researchers have proposed potential positive effects of video games on aspects of development and for psychological well-being.

    A common argument used by advocates of videogames is that the majority of gamers are adults. Statistics show that between 40 - 50% of computer game players are women, and that the average age of players is increasing - currently standing at mid to late 20s. Most of the critics of videogames however, agree that it is the large portion of children playing that is the issue. One of the most common criticisms of video games is that they allegedly increase violent tendencies among youth. Several major studies by groups such as The Harvard Medical School Center for Mental Health. The Journal of Adolescent Health and The British Medical Journal have shown no conclusive link between video game usage and violent activity. One of the first widely accepted controversial video games was developer Exidy's 1976 title Death Race.

    In which players controlled cars that ran over pixilated representations of gremlins. The game caused such an outcry that it was pulled from store shelves and profiled on 60 Minutes. PTA president Ronnie Lamm pushed for legislation in the early 1980s to place restrictions on how close video game arcades could be to schools, asserting that they caused children to fight. Portrayals of violence allegedly became more realistic with time, and so politicians such as U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman conducted hearings during the 1990s regarding what he referred to as "violent video games" which, in his opinion, included such games as Mortal Kombat. His sentiments have been echoed by certain researchers, such as Dr. Craig A. Anderson who testified before the Senate, "Some studies have yielded nonsignificant video game effects, just as some smoking studies failed to find a significant link to lung cancer”.

    An example of videogame controversy Grand Theft Auto: Vice City came under similar criticism, also for implying allegedly racist hate crimes: The game, taking place in "Vice City" (a fictional Miami) in 1986, involves a gang war between Haitians and Cuban refugees, and the player often serves both gangs to plot against one another. Haitian and Cuban anti-defamation groups highly criticized the game for these actions, including using phrases such as "kill the Haitian dickheads" (a phrase used in the game, actually referring to the Haitian gang with which the character is having a shoot-out). After the threat of being sued by the Haitian-American Coalition, Rock star removed the word "Haitians" from this phrase in the game's subtitles. These concerns have led to voluntary rating systems adopted by the industry, such as the ESRB rating system in the United States and the PEGI rating system in Europe, that are aimed at informing parents about the types of games their children are playing (or are asking to play). Certain game publishers’ decision to have controversial games rated seems to show that they are not targeted at young children. They are ESRB rated as "Mature" or "Adults Only" in the US, or given BBFC ratings of 15 or 18 in the UK. The packaging notes that these games should not be sold to children. In the US, ESRB ratings are not legally binding, but many retailers take it upon themselves to refuse the sale of these games to minors. In the UK, the BBFC ratings are backed up by law, so it is actually illegal to sell the game to anyone under the indicated age, and many UK retailers go beyond that and also enforce the PEGI ratings, which are not backed up by law.

    Parents have come to hate or become angry at the video games they are outraged at the video game makers. I think it is because they are just looking for a reason to blame some one else other than them self’s but it is in some way their fault to even if they might not know they have done some thing wrong. Maybe they did not try to find out what was going on with their kid when he/she came home crying or depressed. Maybe even did some thing weird that they normally would not do but I’m not saying it is their fault. I’m saying that maybe if they tried they could have prevented this or help stop it but they are blaming some thing that they are not even sure is the problem music and games do not kill people. People kill people if fact out of all the cases that have been recorded that were blamed for video game and music only 5 of them are really related.

    But in all but one of those the person was extremely mentally disturbed and tried to become the main character and hurting and/or killing the main bad guy. Those games were roles playing fantasy in witch ask the player to act and/or think like the main character. The other ones was a when two people had a fight online and then one of them found were he lived via MySpace hunt down them and them hurt them very badly trying to kill them luckily the police stopped them before he killed him. So there is no proof and there is no reason why games should be blamed and attacked the way they are but they are any ways.

    There might not be any way to stop it but I can hope that people will stop and think about this subject.
    The worst part is that they not only attack the games that are violent but the e rated game as well. Some people think that they don’t even care about the game or what’s in it but are trying to get rid of them all together.
    This is only fueling the fire who is fueling this fire you ask none other Jack Thompson a man that makes me shutter at the evil thing this man says. Jack Thompson for u that don’t know who he is a Florida attorney and fervent critic the of video game industry. He is the first one attacking the games some of u might rember him he was the evil dude that said and I quote “These are real lives. These are real people that are in the ground now because of this game. I have no doubt about it," this guy is so full of him self. When Jack Thompson gets worked up, he refers to gamers as "knuckleheads." He calls video games "mental masturbation." When he's talking about himself and his crusade against violent games, he calls himself an "educator." He likes to use the word "pioneer." On those rare occasions when a student opens fire on a school campus, Thompson is frequently the first and the loudest to declare games responsible. In recent years he's blamed games such as "Counter-Strike," "Doom" and "Grand Theft Auto III" for school shootings in Littleton, Colo., Red Lake, Minn. and Paducah, Ky. He's blamed them for shootings beyond school grounds as well. In an attempt to hold game developers and publishers responsible for these spasms of violence, Thompson has launched several unsuccessful lawsuits.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Annoyed Reader, 1 Dec 2008 @ 7:04pm

    Re: The good old days...

    I would love to rip your cute little comment here apart but if you could write such a thing and see absolutely NO error in it then I suppose I'd just be hitting a dead horse.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Hes has an point, 12 Jan 2009 @ 5:53pm

    Re: Re: The good old days...

    HE hit the nail on the head and made his point clear and load comics were blamed for mischif in the "good ol days"(LOL) now video games have unfortionitly (spelled wrong) taken the burden

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    hugh, 2 Feb 2009 @ 2:19pm

    Re: One size fits all?

    just so you know they arent blaming any old video game.... they are blaming the games like gears of war, grand theft auto...
    i think that everyone that blames things on video games should be shot...
    either them or their parents. because their parents have not raised their kids worth crap...
    sorry if this is kinda shooting your theory down... lol

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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