'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
    Tess, 14 Jan 2009 @ 11:39am

    It's complicated

    I definitely don't believe that playing violent video games (or watching violent movies, etc.) can turn someone into a killer. BUT— I do think that violence and sex are so completely pervasive in our society now that it's easy to get jaded by seeing it... not to mention that it's completely glorified. It's not like the old days of "violent" video games where you may have played the role of an action hero who fights bad guys to save a city (for example) - now you have things like Grand Theft Auto where you are rewarded for acting like a complete asshole. I don't think playing games can turn a peaceful person violent... but it can certainly affect how a teen views life and how they interact with other people. The kid in this particular case was completely sick. Period. I think he was probably drawn to the violent game because of that - not the other way around. I don't know... I think the whole issue is much more complicated than just "violent games make people violent." I think the game creators should be more responsible in terms of the CONTEXT of the violence they show - if the player is going to blast guns, or blow things up, or attack someone, I think it should be in a heroic context... so at least some basic morals are learned amidst the bloodshed.

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