In Wake of Rampage, German Pol Calls for WoW to be 18+ Rated

March 18, 2009 -

First-person shooters Counter-strike and Far Cry 2 have already come in for mention in relation to last week's horrific rampage shooting in Germany.

But World of Warcraft, not one of the usual suspects in the video game violence debate, has now been thrown into the mix by a German politician.

Welt Online reports that Germany's Minister for Social Affairs Mechthild Ross-Luttmann (left) has turned her attention to WoW:

Ross-Luttmann... aims to achieve a general age restriction for addictive computer games. World of Warcraft, for example – available to minors at the age of 12 – might in the near future only be sold to adults. In addition to this, parents need to be further sensibilized [sic]. “Parents must know what danger potential exists in their children’s bedrooms,” Ross-Luttmann said.

Computer game expert and author of "Digital Paradise" Andreas Rosenfelder is rather skeptical about demands like this. “I don’t see a connection between digital role playing games like World of Warcraft and shooting sprees,” he said. World of Warcraft is a game set in medieval times in which the protagonists can take on the roles of dwarfs, elves and wizards. There is no shooting in this game.

"In heated debates there can easily be some confusion,“ Rosenfelder said.

Ross-Luttmann also hopes to begin a secret shopper program in order to evaluate video game rating enforcement by German retailers.

Via: GameCulture

Cartoon Considers Games & Guns

March 18, 2009 -

Over at Dissident Voice, blogger Martha Rosenberg writes that the recent spate of mass shootings has hurt the pro-gun political agenda.

More on point for the GamePolitics audience, however is the cartoon at left, which Martha drew to accompany her post.

62 comments

Report: German School Shooter Played Far Cry 2 on Eve of Rampage

March 15, 2009 -

Earlier this week it was reported that 17-year-old German rampage shooter Tim Kretschmer was a fan of the first-person shooter Counter-Strike. In the past, video game violence critics have sought to link Counter-Strike to school shootings in both Europe and the United States.

New reports suggest that Kretschmer played another popular FPS, Far Cry 2, on the night before he killed 15 people and himself. In the U.K., the Times reports:

The teenage gunman spent the night before his spree playing a violent video game in which a heavily armed mercenary tracks down and kills an arms dealer, police revealed yesterday... Tim Kretschmer spent from 7.30pm to 9.40pm playing Far Cry 2, in which the player takes on the role of the killer.

Remarkable parallels emerged between the video game and the 17-year-old’s rampage. In the game it is essential to hijack cars to move around. Kretschmer hijacked a car... Characters in the game, which is made by the French company Ubisoft... wear black camouflage uniforms – the clothing Kretschmer wore on Wednesday.

Most sinister of all, Far Cry 2’s killer uses a Beretta 92 handgun, the weapon fired 112 times by Kretschmer [GP: Actually, the player controls a number of different weapons in the game]. The game... includes sequences in which the aiming, firing and reloading of a Beretta are portrayed in vivid detail. It also rewards players who shoot their victims in the head, the style of killing chosen by Kretschmer.

The Times quotes video game critic Lieutenant-Colonel Dave Grossman on the supposed influence of violent shooting games:

You can see their influence in the way these school shooters aim and shoot accurately and move from one target to the next, moving through people dispassionately.

But Walter Hollstein, a sociologist with the Council of Europe, disagreed:

It’s nonsense to assume they turn adolescents into school shooters. A variety of factors, such as helplessness, anger and loss of control, must come together for them to become the trigger, but the games themselves don’t make anyone a killer.

In additional news related to Kretschmer's rampage, Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for a tightening of Germany's gun laws.

74 comments

Author of New Book: School Shooters Are Mentally Ill

March 12, 2009 -

While violent video games often come in for blame when school shootings occur, a new book maintains that such rampages occur because school shooters are mentally disturbed.

The Associated Press reports on Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters, written by  Peter Langman. The child psychologist studied ten school shooters, including Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and Virginia Tech mass murderer Seung-Hui Cho. Of his research, Langman said:

The biggest eye-opener was the extent to which Dylan Klebold really was mentally disturbed. That was not in the literature, not in the media accounts. To realize that, you had to see his journal. His journal is very fascinating, a very disturbed piece of writing.

 

[Klebold and four other shooters] were suicidally depressed and full of rage at the inexplicable unfairness of life. In addition, they were not living in reality. They all believed that people or monsters conspired to do them harm. ... They were confused and desperate and lost in the mazes of their minds.

Langman speculated that Tim Kretschmer, who attacked his former school and killed 16 people yesterday in Germany might be psychotic, psychopathic or a victim of childhood trauma. But Langmant emphasized that it was too early to make such a call. The AP writes:

At first, Langman's conclusions might sound obvious: These kids would have to be crazy to go to their school and open fire. But the public and the media, especially in the immediate aftermath of a school shooting, have usually focused on other factors: the killers' fascination with violent movies and video games, their easy access to guns, even the side effects of psychiatric drugs.

Langman says some of these may have been factors but do not by themselves explain rampages in places like Littleton and West Paducah, Ky.; Jonesboro, Ark.; and Springfield, Ore. Millions of kids watch violent movies and live in households that harbor firearms. Yet only a few have ever gone on to become mass murderers.

93 comments

Report: German Rampage Shooter Was a Counter-Strike Player

March 11, 2009 -

Tim Kretschmer, the German teenager whose shooting rampage left 16 people dead earlier today, was a fan of the first-person shooter Counter-Strike, according to an early report from the Associated Press:

A 17-year-old who would give only his first name, Aki, said he had been studying this year with the shooter at a private business school, and described him as a quiet, reserved person.

 

Aki said the two played poker together, both in person and online, as well as a multiplayer video game called "Counter-Strike" that involves killing people to complete missions.

 

"He was good," Aki said.

Meanwhile, UK newspaper Telegraph reports that Kretschmer was experienced with weapons:

A former classmate said... "The only thing which stands out is that Tim was always very good with weapons. He mainly shot air weapons firing plastic balls, but the house had several gun cabinets occupying square metres of walls, mainly air guns."

 

"He was a pretty good shooter. He used to shoot in a forest behind his house. Sometimes we'd have air gun battles in the summer."

Another student told the AP that Kretschmer seemed troubled:

Sabienne Boehm, 12, said she recently met the shooter through a friend, and that he had shown her a note three weeks ago that he then sent to his parents.

 

"He wrote to his parents that he's suffering and he can't go on," she said.

GP: Video game violence is an ongoing topic of discussion among German political officials. Today's events will almost certainly spur additional debate on the topic.

89 comments

No Mention of Games in Police Profile of NIU Shooter

February 15, 2009 -

Despite assertions from some quarters that violent video games played a role in the February, 2008 shooting rampage at Northern Illinois University, CNN reports that shooter Steven Kazmierczak had a troubled mental health history and was obsessed with the Saw series of horror films.

Games are not mentioned by CNN, which reports that it was granted access to a copy of the NIU investigative report by an author who claims to have obtained it from a law enforcement source.

GamePolitics readers may recall that, in the days following the shooting, disbarred Miami attorney Jack Thompson alleged a violent game connection and threatened to sue NIU for records relating to Kazmierczak's supposed use of violent games.

In addition, Illinois legislator Rep. Robert Pritchard (R) blamed violent video games while absolving guns in the rampage.

From the CNN story:

Kazmierczak was known as "strange Steve" to roommates, studied the Virginia Tech and Columbine massacres and idolized the sadistic killer in the "Saw" horror films, according to documents from the year-long investigation into the NIU killings.

The still-unreleased police file on the shootings, which also left 18 students wounded, shows that 27-year-old Kazmierczak had been hospitalized several times as a teenager for psychiatric issues and had a history of suicide attempts...

freshman suitemates recall him as being obsessed with infamous figures such as Adolf Hitler and Ted Bundy...

GP: As we have pointed out in the past, Kazmierczak was 27 at the time of the NIU rampage. Even if he had been a fan of violent games, no age-based content restriction would have applied to him.

But, the fact that games were mentioned in connection with the NIU killer once again reinforces GP's theory that games will invariably come in for blame when mass shooters are under 30 (see: How Old Is Too Old For Game Blame).

UPDATE: Our old pal Jack Thompson writes in to remind us (and call me a "lying son of a bitch" in the process) that there were reports that Kazmierczak played the first-person shooter Counter-strike.

Note to Jack: we've already covered that several times here on GamePolitics.

Today's story, however, is about the CNN coverage of the NIU investigative report which mentions only Kazmierczak's mental health issues and his affinity for horror films.

THANKS TO: GamePolitics reader Jason Bentley for the tip!

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PHX CorpI'm going to do a test stream later today, if anyone is intrested07/31/2014 - 2:40pm
Andrew EisenYes, I'm such a big Nintendo dork that I read Nintendo's quarterly financial reports.07/31/2014 - 2:09pm
Andrew EisenCool tidbit - Mario Kart 8 sales account for more than half of total Wii U software sales for the last quarter even though it was only available for the last third.07/31/2014 - 2:09pm
Andrew EisenStill a pretty cool promotion. Unfortunately for me, I'm not interested in purchasing Mario Kart 8 and I already owned or didn't want any of the free games on offer.07/31/2014 - 1:43pm
Andrew EisenInteresting that EU had 10 games to choose from while North America only had four.07/31/2014 - 1:41pm
MaskedPixelanteIt certainly worked, I probably would never have bought Mario Kart 8 if it didn't come with a free copy of Wind Waker HD.07/31/2014 - 1:14pm
Andrew EisenI imagine will see similar promotions like "Buy Mario Kart 8 get a download code for one of these specific games" but almost certainly not for all of its (however you would define) biggest releases.07/31/2014 - 11:24am
MaskedPixelanteI wonder if Nintendo is going to be doing "buy one get one free" promos for all their biggest releases going forward.07/31/2014 - 10:48am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.mcvuk.com/news/read/special-report-retail-revolt-over-pc-code-strippers/013614007/31/2014 - 8:27am
ZippyDSMleeWouldn't they be able to afford and get done in a timely manner a general gba emluator for the 3DS? It seems to me if they want to make money off sales they need to do it.07/31/2014 - 7:25am
Sora-ChanAmbassador program, that's what I was looking for. Anyway the other games that have been made no longer exclusive to the early adopters got updates in their software. It'll only be a matter of time more than likely for the GBA to get the same treatment.07/31/2014 - 5:35am
Sora-ChanI might be naming it incorrectly when I say "founder" i mean the program for earlier adopters.07/31/2014 - 5:34am
Sora-Chanthe 3DS's GBA emulator was a rush job due to the founder program. No other GBA titles have been released on the 3DS yet. If/When they do get around to it, they'll more than likely update the emulation software.07/31/2014 - 5:32am
Zenemulator...it's not just a slap job that makes "some" work..they do it for each which is why they work so well. I would rather have the quality over just a slap job.07/30/2014 - 5:48pm
ZenMatthew there is a difference between "worked" and "accurate". You play the Nintendo VC titles they play as damn close to the original as possible. The PSP would just run them as best they could, issues and all. And Masked...EACH VC title has their own07/30/2014 - 5:48pm
MaskedPixelanteOnce again, the 3DS already HAS a GBA emulator, it just can't run at the same time as the 3DS OS.07/30/2014 - 4:54pm
Matthew Wilsonyou cant street pass in ds mode ether, and if moders can make a gba emulator that runs very well on the psp as I understand it. you are telling me that Nintendo devs are not as good as moders?07/30/2014 - 4:49pm
Zenperformance. Halo 1 and 2 worked great because they actually did custom work on each of them...just like Nintendo does now lol07/30/2014 - 4:08pm
Zenexisting hardware while the GBA has to be emulated completely. Same reason the 360 couldn't run most Original Xbox games correctly, or had issues because they just did "blanket approach" for their emulation which led to game killing bugs or horrible07/30/2014 - 4:07pm
ZenSora/Matthew: It's not just Miiverse, but the whole idea of streetpass and things like that would be affected if the OS is not running. And just because a 3DS game can be downloaded and run does not mean that GBA can as easily. Those 3DS games use the07/30/2014 - 4:06pm
 

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