Friday, February 16, 2007

Teen Murderer Not A Gamer?

Not long after I heard about the recent shooting in a Salt Lake City mall, I wondered how long it would be until someone blamed videogames. I heard teen shooter, and just took it for granted that the kid would have played games. I have been reading the Salt Lake City papers online ever since, waiting to see if anti-game hysteria would take hold.

Yet, the more information that is released about Sulejman Talovic, the clearer it becomes that games were likely not involved in this shooting. Rebecca Walsh, a columnist at the Salt Lake Tribune, on Wednesday made the first reference to a games connection I have seen, only to dismiss it as she discussed the kid's history as a Bosnian refugee. The excellent games blog Game Politics is following the story, and points to another article in the Tribune which declares that police searched Talovic's home but "did not take any computers or video games."

Walsh's column sites at least one instance of the anti-games perspective: the videogame-hating hysteric Jack Thompson emailed reporters with the clearly ahead-of-the-facts claim, "Salt Lake City Teen Probably Trained on Grand Theft Auto Video Game." Like many gamers, I am no fan of Thompson's, but I am struck by the fact that I expected the same thing. Unlike Thompson, though, I don't think violent games make murderers, but I do think that people who harbor violent fantasies (all of us) can find an outlet in games.

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