Senator takes aim at sick video game based on Sandy Hook massacre

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A disturbing new video game based on the horrific massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School is drawing cries of outrage.

A sick online video game that has players re-enacting last year’s horrific murders of school children in Sandy Hook, Conn., has an outraged Sen. Richard Blumenthal calling for a ban.

“The Slaying of Sandy Hook Elementary,” allows a player to simulate the massacre that left 20 first-graders and seven adults dead. Purportedly created by Ryan Jake Lambournan, an American-born gaming geek who lives in Australia, the crude game allows a player to collect a loaded gun and shoot his mother before going on a rampage at a school. Several websites have taken the game down, but Blumenthal, the Democratic senator who was previously Connecticut’s attorney general, wants it off the web altogether.

‘This vile video game shocks our conscience and mocks common decency.’

– Senator Richard Blumenthal

“This abhorrent video game should be taken down from all websites immediately. This vile video game shocks our conscience and mocks common decency,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “Shamefully, as we approach the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting, some still exploit this horrific tragedy. It’s appalling and salacious, and it must stop.”

Incredibly, a “message from the creator” embedded in the video tries to rationalize the game as a commentary on American gun culture.

“Back in 2007 I created a game called ‘Vtech Rampage’ about the Virginia Tech shootings. In the years since, I’ve been routinely asked by fans of ‘Vtech’ to make more games of just about every mass shooting that’s gotten media coverage,” a voice says.

“All these massacres don’t seem to have any … effect on legislation,” it continues. “Here we are nearly a year after the sandy hook shooting … and absolutely nothing positive has come out of it.”

Families of the victims nevertheless told Hearst Connecticut Newspapers they found the game repugnant.

“It’s absolutely disgusting that somebody thinks this is funny,” said Donna Soto, a Stratford mom whose late daughter, Victoria, 27, was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal for shielding her students from the gunfire during the rampage.

“We’re all suffering. All the families are suffering. We’re coming up on December. My daughter’s birthday just passed. It just adds insult to the suffering that we’re dealing with. It’s just incomprehensible that someone would think this kind of thing is wanted.”

A Twitter feed purportedly run by Lambourn offers not apologies but snide comments.

“The liberals don’t like me because I’ve disrespected the dead. The conservatives don’t like me because of the gun control message. And the trolls don’t like me because it wasn’t edgy enough,” he wrote in a series of tweets.

Twitter users were quick to express their opinion about the game as well.

“This is DISGUSTING and DISRESPECTFUL to all the victims and those affected,” one person wrote.



Video Games And The Sandy Hook Shooting: Two Very Different Reactions

DEC 17, 2012

Over the weekend, two men sent me two very different messages regarding last Friday’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

One was from Antwand Pearman, an up-and-coming gamer/reporter/event-organizer who runs a small outfit called GamerFitNation. He was flagging my attention to what he calls a proposed “demonstration of peace.” He calls it Day of Ceasefire For Online Shooters. On December 21, for 24 hours, he is calling on his fellow gamers to cease playing online shooters. “It’s to show that we as gamers give a damn,” he says in an emotional eight-minute video posted on Saturday morning.

***The other note I got was from the publicity-loving anti-gaming ex-lawyer Jack Thompson, a guy who only makes it into the news when they are violent deaths (or when he’s being dis-barred). He believes games train kids to kill. He hadn’t e-mailed me since October, when he was trying to shame Best Buy into no longer selling Mature-rated video games.

Thompson wrote: “You people are Kotaku have blood on your hands. You have facilitated the infestation of an entire generation of young men who have now come of age, like this sociopath in Connecticut, who were raised on violent video games and who see the killing scenarios therein as a means of solving their problems.

“I warned you at Kotaku that a day like this would come, and now it has come. Congratulations. Hand sanitizers won’t ever room the blood on your greedy little hands. Jack Thompson, Miami”

***Antwand Pearman’s voice quivers in his Saturday-morning video. He talks about growing up around guns. “I grew up in a really bad neighborhood,” he said. “And I grew up with gun violence in my life. It got to a point where, to me, it got numb. I was used to it. When I heard somebody got killed to me it was just another story, but as I got older and became a man, I started realizing I just didn’t want to hear the stories no more.” He trembles with the sense of wanting to do something about this latest, extraordinary act of gun violence.

***Thompson had trouble figuring out which of our e-mails to send his note to and eventually dug up my personal e-mail and sent me this: “Actually, Adam Lanza [, the killer,] is the one who is the computer geek and hardcore gamer. Epic fail by you Stephen. Of course he trained on the violent games you pimp for. ”

I asked him for more information about Lanza’s past with video games. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Lanza was obsessed with violent games. It’s certainly a possibility that they were part of his cultural diet. Despite what mental illness he may have suffered, despite the familiarity he had with guns through his mother (who he allegedly murdered), maybe games did further his zeal for shooting. Possible, right?

I asked Thompson: “Where are you seeing that he trained to kill little children by playing video games?

He replied: “You are such an idiotic tool. The New York Times is reporting that he was an avid gamer. He shows up in body armor. What games do you think he played, you moron?”

The New York Times didn’t report that Lanza was an avid gamer. Other outlets made passing references to him playing in LAN parties, which blew up into top news at the massively-popular news aggregator, The Drudge Report.

I wrote: “I understand that you’re angry about the murder of innocent people. But calling me an “idiotic tool” isn’t going to make things better. Which New York Times article are you referring to? The Adam Lanza profile I read makes no mention of video games.

“It’s entirely possible that shooter video games helped desensitize Lanza to violence or served as some sort of very crude training simulator. It’s also entirely possible they had nothing to do with it. You’re interested in the law. I’m a reporter. We both care about evidence. So if you see some, feel free to share it and make your case. Otherwise, if all you’ve got is insults, you’re wasting my time and yours.”

He replied: “I understand you are a moron”

The exchange went on, but you get the gist.

***Some Facebook users have questioned the wisdom of Antwand Pearman’s call for a ceasefire. They think that he’s actually drawing a connection between the killings and the act of playing online shooters. Not really, he told me:

“When I thought of this cease fire I saw it as a means for gamers to come together and show their love and support the families. The one thing we can’t get in this world is peace. War will always rage on but in the virtual world we have an opportunity to be better. This isn’t something for the media it’s for the families and us.

“So what if people stop playing shooters for a day? It will be forgotten the next day. The point is that in that silence you’ll have time to listen to something you haven’t heard in a long time. Something you have been too busy to hear. Too social to notice and that’s…your Heart.”

***I think Thompson and Pearman’s approaches both will rankle some gamers. These two very different men—one who hates video games and one who loves them—may both be accused of trying to get publicity or channeling the hurt we feel when we hear about these kinds of killings into actions that don’t seem to fit perfectly.

In all of our hearts we wish for a solution. We wish for something to be done. Thompson would stamp out violent video games. Pearman would have #OSCEASEFIRE become a day of reflection.

All of us many wonder what, if anything, will make a difference.


Source: Kotaku

Drudge Report: Connecticut Killer “Suffered From Personality Disorder,” ”Played Video Games …”


Now that we’ve got the right name of the killer in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre yesterday, the media profiles are starting to emerge. To the Drudge Report, playing video games is a remarkable enough thing that it bears mentioning in a headline. An italicized headline. Oh, it’s factual enough, but that typeface and those ellipses raise a suspicious eyebrow, or at least mutter a “Just sayin’.” Good work, Matt.

Having worked a cops reporting beat at a large newspaper utterly obsessed with tragedy, I can tell you what is going on: Reporters have been told to gather every single detail they can on Adam Lanza. They are. There is a bottomless desire to know as much as possible about the person who caused this tragedy. And it’s absolutely fair game to mention Adam Lanza enjoyed computer games if it’s part of who he was. If I was in my old job, I would have no trouble putting that into a story, as the Associated Press did—in the 16th paragraph, well below statements from investigators about Lanza’s potential mental illness, and in obvious context of what Lanza was otherwise like as a person.

It’s lazy and dishonest to list that detail in a headline stack along with the more likely causes of a mass killing, such as having a personality disorder, or being “obviously not well.” I’m sure parents of autistic children enjoy seeing the suggestion Adam Lanza was autistic, too.

So, what does “played video games dot-dot-dot” really mean? Stories say Lanza belonged to a high school technology club whose members organized, and you can just see someone making the airquotes here, LAN parties. The game they played was not specified. I’m rooting like hell for the kids to have been StarCraft fans. The mind boggles at how this could be pinned on an RTS, but I’d like to see asshats like Drudge try.

Gamers are naturally defensive about this scapegoating, as they have every right to be. But let’s focus our indignation where it really belongs: at a national conversation that cares more about whether a disturbed 20-year-old shot a bunch of fake guns in video games than how he so easily came into possession of real ones to go kill 27 people, including 20 grade-schoolers. Then again, America has never had the balls to forthrightly address its gun problem, and I have zero expectation that we will grow a set after this tragedy either.