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Copycat Violence and Video Game Lawsuits

Friday, September 29, 2006
I found a link over on Slashdot about a lawsuit being filed by the victims of a 14-year old killer. Apparently, they're suing everyone under the sun who had anything to do with the game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (which I thoroughly enjoyed playing) because this young idiot allegedly "played the game 'obsessively' for several months before he shot his father, stepmother and stepsister in July 2004."

Let's step back for a second here. Obviously we're dealing with a disturbed young individual who's capable of doing http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifreally, really dumb things. This kid shouldn't be allowed to breed, in my opinion. But blaming video game makers for his actions? First off, the game is rated "Mature" by the ESRB. So this is a case where perhaps the parents should have monitored their child's obsessive behavior. Secondly, I still fail to see the link between a game that (perhaps) glorifies violence and some human being's decision to do terrible acts. It boils down to a choice. It was the child's choice to play the game. It was the parents' choice to let him play. The video game maker chose to make the game - but that's how the market works. Anybody can make terrible things; it's up to personal responsibility to decide whether or not to use them.

Of course, the capstone to this farce of a lawsuit is the fact that the lawyer representing the families of the victims (aren't they also the family of the murderer?) is none other than human failure Jack Thompson, who unfortunately combines a fear of the video game industry with a law degree and a disdain for the idea than anyone other than a profitable company can be responsible for the ills in our society.

What do I hope happens? Maybe I'd like to see the "victims" win and take away fun for the rest of us non-killers. Or maybe - just maybe - I'd like to see the court laugh at Jack Thompson and set a precedent that we are responsible (I keep using that word!) for our own actions. We'll see what happens, though... this one probably won't be settled soon.

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