Authorities in Beauvais, France believe they have prevented a possible school shooting by a 13-year old “computer games enthusiast."
A TimesOnline story details the unfolding events under the unfortunate headline “Computer Games Fan ‘Planned School Massacre.’” Suspicion was initially raised when the boy, named Bastien, left extra early for school, eventually leading his parents to a blog post of his that read: “This is my last message because Tuesday November 17, 2009 will be the last day of my life. Sorry to leave you..." Police were alerted and sealed off the boy’s school, Saint-Esprit. The teen apparently saw police at the school and avoided it, ditched a shotgun and 25 cartridges in a field along the way. He was found later at a cyber-café.
A friend of Bastien said that, “He always wanted to go into the Army. He loved battles. He was passionate about history, warriors. He played video games up to one or two in the morning...” Other buddies told reporters that Bastien was a World of Warcraft player.
Even the Mayor of Allone, Christian Sadowski, painted Bastien as a gamer, saying that he knew the boy was a fan of computer games, adding, “Many young people end up finding it difficult to tell the difference between dream and reality. He played his little fantasy on the net and then carried it out.”
The boy was anxious about an upcoming parent-teacher conference as a result of receiving less-than-stellar grades.
GP: Glad they caught him obviously, but the secondary focus on games in this article is gratuitous as is usually the case. But as we, and Lorne Lanning, know, this is how the mainstream media rolls. At least they didn’t call WOW a “murder simulator.”
Update: GP reader Soldat_Louis rounded up and translated a handful of other stories and media outlets that played up the videogame link:
• "Considered as a good student coming from a normal family, the middle school boy, a video game adept, (...)" (Le Point)
• "According to a police source, 'bad grades could be the cause of the murderous intentions' of the student, a video game adept." (France-Soir)
• "It's on his blog that the student, a video game fan, has published his intention to make a name of himself (...)" (Le Télégramme)
• "The kid is considered as a good student. He comes from a normal family. He is a video game adept and maintains his own blog. (...) [The attempted shooting] revives the memory of [the Winnenden shooting]. Perpetrated by Tim Kretschmer, 17-years-old, also a video game adept, (...)" (La Dépêche)
Soldat_Louis also pointed us towards (and again translated the relevant part) a debate over “How to protect your children against the dangers of the Internet” that took place on French radio station RTL this morning.
Véronique Fima of the Action Innocence nonprofit group apparently came to the defense of games and gamers in the debate, while noting that in the case of the Beauvais story, the Internet played a positive role and assisted in stopping any violence.
On the point of videogames, she stated, “First of all, I wouldn't want them to be incriminated in the first place (...) rather than knowing that he was a video game aficionado, I would like us to ask the question : what was the deep discomfort that made this child act that way (...) All children and teenagers all play video games, yet they're not all mass murderers."