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

sandy hook massacre video game.jpg

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.



US parents blame violence on games as much as guns

Both believed to contribute to real-world violence by 75% of parents polled

US parents blame violence on games as much as guns

US parents are as likely to blame games for real-world violence as they are to blame guns, a new survey has found. Both were cited as factors contributing to violence by 75 percent of parents polled.

The survey, conducted last week and commissioned by parent watchdog outfit Common Sense Media and the political advocacy group Center for American Progress, polled a group of 1,050 parents with children under the age of 18 living at home. Common Sense Media has made violent games a cause in the past, and the Center for American Progress has advocated for a range of progressive causes, including stricter gun control measures.

The groups presented parents with a list of factors and asked them whether or not each contributes to violence in the US. Respondents had three choices for each factor: Does, Does Not, or Not Sure.

While the majority of parents believed games and guns to be contributing factors, they were not the most commonly cited problems. Those were a lack of supervision for children (93 percent) and bullying (92 percent). Followed those were actual real-life crime (86 percent) and violence on TV and in movies (77 percent). The only offered factor deemed less culpable than games and guns was violent toys, which 64 percent of parents said contributed to real-world violence.

The parents were also asked to rate on a scale of 1-10 how much they agreed with statements like, “Addressing violence in the United States will require taking action on violence in the media and keeping weapons away from our kids.” That question averaged an 8.3. When asked if the media industry has the power to curtail the culture of violence, the average response was an 8.4. However, when asked if the gun industry “has the power to help address this violence and should be part of the solution,” parents averaged a 7.9 response.

“These survey results demonstrate that parents are anxious about their children’s safety in America today and that they believe we need real action to prevent gun violence and change the culture of violence,” Center for American Progress president and CEO Neera Tanden said in a statement accompanying the survey’s release. “We need to do both; this is not a choice between two important goals.”



NRA blames games in wake of shooting

Brendan Sinclair


US gun lobby blasts “callous, corrupt shadow industry” as part of culture of violence, says the media encourages shootings

NRA blames games in wake of shooting

A week after the Newtown, Connecticut shootings that left dozens dead, the National Rifle Association has blamed the media in general, and violent games specifically. In a press conference today, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre cast the blame for the massacre not on guns, but on the media, and on games.

“There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt, and corrupting shadow industry that sells and sows violence against own people, through vicious violent video games with names like Bulletstorm, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat, and Splatterhouse,” LaPierre said.

He introduced a crude downloadable game called Kindergarten Killers, a first-person shooter that depicted a schoolyard shooting. He suggested that the media was either lazy in not reporting on the existence of such a game, or intentionally keeping it a secret.

“They portray murder as a way of life and then have the nerve to call it entertainment,” LaPierre said in reference to media companies the world over. “But is that what it really is? Isn’t fantasizing about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography?”

LaPierre said that the media rewards shooters with attention and wall-to-wall coverage, only encouraging further attacks.

As for how to prevent future tragedies, LaPierre called for armed guards deployed in every school in America by the time kids return from their holiday breaks in January, saying, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” He also suggested a national database of the mentally ill.

The conference was broken up twice by protesters, one with a sign saying the NRA kills kids, another yelling that the organization has blood on its hands.

Founded in 1871 to “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis,” the NRA has long represented the interests of gun owners and manufacturers in US politics. It is a staunch believer in the Second Amendment right to bear arms, and now boasts more than 4 million members.



Newtown shooting reignites violent games debate

Lieberman, Axelrod and others raise questions about violent entertainment in wake of mass shootings

Newtown shooting reignites violent games debate

In the wake of Friday’s Newtown, Connecticut elementary school shooting, the big question for politicians, pundits, and the public is what can be done to prevent tragedies like this from happening again. The loudest, most frequent calls for change have come on the topics of gun control and mental health, but the influence of violent video games has also been brought into the conversation.

One of the longest-standing critics of media violence, Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, discussed the shooting in an appearance on The Wall Street Journal’s The Markets Hub. After access to guns and proper mental health care, Lieberman brought up violent games as a third issue in need of addressing.

“We’ve got to again start the conversation about violence in the entertainment culture,” Lieberman said. “Obviously not everybody who plays a violent video game becomes a killer, but the social science is pretty clear here. Particularly for people who are vulnerable because they do have mental problems, the violence in our entertainment culture stimulates them to act out.”

Time political columnist Joe Klein raised his own concerns with violent entertainment in an appearance on ABC’s This Week.

“We not only have a Second Amendment in this country, we also have a First Amendment that protects Sylvester Stallone’s right to fire thousands of bullets in any given movie,” Klein said. “What we need to do in this society is treat people who create violent movies and violent video games with the same degree of respect we accord pornographers. They need to be shunned.”

David Axelrod, former senior advisor to President Barack Obama, expressed his own misgivings on Twitter Monday night, saying, “In NFL post-game: an ad for shoot ’em up video game. All for curbing weapons of war. But shouldn’t we also quit marketing murder as a game?”

It’s possible that the National Rifle Association, already on the defensive over gun control in the wake of the shootings, may try to shift some of the focus to violent media. Fox News today cites an “industry source” with news that the group’s scheduled Friday press conference will see it “push back” against those who look at gun control as a silver bullet solution to the problem.

“If we’re going to have a conversation, then let’s have a comprehensive conversation,” the source told Fox News. “If we’re going to talk about the Second Amendment, then let’s also talk about the First Amendment, and Hollywood, and the video games that teach young kids how to shoot heads.”

Outside of the gaming industry, the debate over violent games has been largely quiet since the US Supreme Court last year struck down a California law that would have prohibited the sale of violent or sexually explicit games to minors. Within the industry, it has continued unabated after an assortment of particularly violent trailers at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo.



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