'The Video Game Made Me Kill My Parents' Defense Rejected

from the phew dept

All too often these days, we've seen murderers try to pass off the blame for their crimes by blaming video games. This comes after years of techno panic around weak and often misinterpreted studies concerning links between video games and violence. Despite the fact that there's been no actual evidence that video games lead to increased violence (and the fact that youth violence has continually dropped as video games became more popular should be quite telling), it makes for a great news story -- and, thus, a great excuse for murderers. Luckily, no one's buying it.

In the latest such case, where teen-aged Daniel Petric shot both his parents, killing his mother and wounding his father, after they took away his copy of Halo 3, a judge has rejected Petric's claim that it was his video game addiction that inspired the murder (and subsequent attempt to frame his father). It probably didn't help the teen's case at all that there was evidence he had planned the murder for weeks, rather than spontaneously acting following the video game confiscation. The judge still does, unfortunately, suggest that the video game warped Petric's mind, despite little proof that was true. However, the judge notes that even if he was under the influence of the video game, that's no defense for what he did.

In the meantime, of course, politicians are still overreacting to the still unproven idea that video games lead to violence -- to the point that Rep. Joe Baca has introduced a law that would require health warnings on video games, similar to cigarette warnings, saying that: "WARNING: Excessive exposure to violent video games and other violent media has been linked to aggressive behavior."
So, it certainly looks like politicians and the media will continue overreacting when it comes to video games and violence.

Filed Under: blame, daniel petric, joe baca, laws, murder, video games, violence


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2009 @ 9:31am

    No, the video game didn't "make" him shoot anybody. To say that would imply that the video game has a will of its own and a way to control the player. No, the kid made his own choice to act the way he did.

    HOWEVER, every single type of input from our five senses affects us. It is impossible to experience things while at the same time being unaffected by them. I don't care what any supposed statistic says. Playing violent video games puts thoughts and images in your head, plain and simple, and those things can affect your judgment. Granted, some people can "handle" some things better than others, but it still has an affect.

    Now, this kid is still guilty, because nobody but himself decided to pull the trigger. Plus, it was his decision to play violent video games, which may have affected his behavior and judgment in ways he'll never know. Now he has to take responsibility for his actions. It is ultimately nobody's fault but his own, and maybe his parents for not raising him with the understanding that shooting and hurting people is wrong.

    But whatever the case may be, the video game should not be blamed, but at the same time, it should be understood that it can very well have a negative influence on somebody. Oh, and just because youth violence statistically went down as video game popularity rose doesn't mean that the two are directly related to each other. Youth violence in general may be down, but I have to wonder if the severity of the still-existing violence may have gone up considerably. Rewind through history a bit, and I think you'll find a time when school shootings by students were NOT common place.

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