The recent spate of sniper killings in the northeast has unfortunately produced another line of thought on the subject of violence in computer games. Note that what follows concerns only adults and violent interactive entertainment, not children.
A few days ago I was watching one of the ubiquitous talking-head entertainment programs that passes for journalism these days, and a retired NYPD homicide detective was being asked for his take on the sniper killings. His opinion was that the sniper was different from the ‘normal’ spree or serial killer, primarily because the attacks, like the killings at Columbine, seemed to him to be part of “a game.” Before I had a chance to wonder whether he was using the term metaphorically or not, the detective asserted that the killers at Columbine had been acting out the fantasy of a computer game that they had played.
In a frozen moment I realized that while most people would be relieved when the sniper was caught, I, as a member of the interactive entertainment industry, would still be waiting apprehensively to find out if the killer’s software library included any computer games that featured sniping. Assuming for the sake of argument that I’m not the only person in the business who’s had this thought, why we aren’t getting ahead of the curve this time? [ Read more ]