Many people are quick to claim that many violent attacks are a result of playing video games, but people are quick to forget that in the past, the same has been said of television, film, and even books. There have been many studies conducted on the relationship between aggression and video games conducted over the past few decades, and many have found that there is a correlation between video games and violence, but any university student will have heard the phrase “Correlation does not equal causation.” To put this another way, most cocaine users are likely to smoke. That does not mean that if you smoke, you are going to start using cocaine. FBI profiler Mary Ellen O’Toole believes that blaming video games for violence is counter-productive, taking focus from the real root of the problem. The perpetrators of these seemingly random acts of violence will always have other issues, but people continue to blame video games. Here are ten examples of incidents where video games appear to have resulted in bloodshed. Whether video games are to blame or not is up to you to decide.
10) Justin Williams
In July of 2012, 20-year-old Jordan Osborne of Peterborough, Ontario, heard a lot of yelling coming from his neighbor’s house, and went to investigate. It turns out the neighbor, 21-year-old Justin Williams, was arguing with several others via headset while playing World of Warcraft. Osborne told Williams that there was no need to freak out so much, as it was “just a game,” the worst words you can say to a hardcore gamer. Williams told Osborne “It’s not just a game, it’s my life,” grabbed him by the throat, punched him and, finally, stabbed him in the chest. Osbourne was treated for the wound and survived, while Williams was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and assault with a weapon.
9) Synagogue Firebombings
19-year-old Anthony Graziano was accused of first-degree attempted murder, bias intimidation and aggravated arson for two attacks that took place on synagogues in New Jersey. Graziano allegedly attacked the synagogues using an aerosol can that had been altered, as well as a Molotov cocktail. Fortunately, the only injury incurred was a rabbi whose hand was burnt. Graziano’s lawyer argued that his client suffered from mental illness, and was “unduly influenced by video games,” which he says took over his client’s head. The lawyer failed to mention what video games Graziano played or the fact that Graziano is extremely anti-Semitic.
8) Crystian Rivera
Crystian Rivera, from Oklahoma, was 14-years-old when he killed his 9-month-old sister, Linda. Rivera was playing “Call of Duty: Black Ops,” when his sister began crying from a fall. Her crying distracted his gameplay, and he died in the game. Frustrated, he picked up his sister and shook her violently, before putting her back to bed. She was hospitalized when his parents returned that evening. She died 3 days later, with a fractured skull and blood clots. Rivera was tried and convicted as a minor, and housed in a juvenile justice centre. But if he follows a treatment plan laid out by a judge, he could be out in the next year. If he fails, he could get life in prison.
7) Raynham Incident
In 2010, in Raynham Massachusetts, 2 youths were accused of trying to set fire to a garage and an apartment building with makeshift Molotov cocktails made of beer and root beer bottles, with wicks from chair covers. The boys, 12 and 16, can’t be named for legal reasons. Police were called by a man who saw fire at a garage at 4am, and apprehended the young boys, who had a third cocktail made but not used. Police also found a lot of graffiti with “graphic messages” in the area. The 16-year-old admitted to making the bombs, and stealing 5 gallons of gasoline. The 12-year-old says that they got the idea from Grand Theft Auto, which they had been playing that night.
6) Julien Barreaux
Julien Barreaux is a 20-year-old man from Cambrai, France. Barreaux was playing Counter-Strike online when his character was killed by another knife-wielding player. Barreaux spent the next seven months plotting his revenge against the man that killed his character. He found out where the victim, Mikhael, lived, and it turned out to be just a few miles away. He called to Mikhael’s house, rang the door, and when Mikhael answered, Barreaux stabbed him in the chest. He was arrested within the hour, and told police that he wanted to see Mikhael “wiped out” for killing him online. Luckily, the knife missed Mikhael’s heart by an inch, and he survived, while Barreaux was sentenced to two years imprisonment.
5) Kim Yoo-chul and Choi Mi-sun
This South Korean couple met through online gaming, and had a child together. Unfortunately, their child was born prematurely, but survived. More unfortunately, her parents became obsessed with caring their virtual baby, Anima, and began neglecting their real child. They would drop by every 12 hours or so to feed the real child, but spent most of their lives in an internet cafe (neither of them had jobs). One day, they returned to find their daughter dead, and an autopsy revealed that she was malnourished as a result of neglect. The couple fled to Choi Mi-sun’s parents house, but were later arrested by police.
4) Cocke Country Snipers
Will and Josh Buckner were 15 and 13 when they killed one motorist and wounded another by shooting them with sniper rifles. They both claimed they they were emulating Grand Theft Auto 3, which has a mini game where the player must kill as many people as possible with a sniper from a rooftop. The boys claim that they “never intended to hurt anyone”. The two boys both spent a few months in a juvenile detention facility for the crime. After all of this, their parents tried to get their insurance to cover the costs of damages. Needless to say, the insurers said no.
3) Hu Ange Poisoning
Hu Ange, a then 21-year-old man from China, was given 50,000 yuan ($7,353) by his parents to invest in his seafood business. However, he spent the money playing the online game Legend instead. He became obsessed with the game, and a few months after he got the money from his parents, he decided to poison them. On July 14th, 2007, Hu Ange bought 20 packs of tetramine, and used them to poison his father the following day. When that failed, he bought 45 more packs, mixed them with beef and poisoned both his parents on July 24th. His mother begged for help, but he continued to play his game. After his parents died, he tried to put it down as a murder-suicide committed by his mother, but police convicted him by looking at his search history. He was sentenced to death, but is appealing on the grounds of being mentally ill. Internet addiction was declared a mental illness in China around this time.
2) Ionut Savin
Ionut Savin was 15 when he became addicted to the game Counter-Strike. He became so obsessed that he stopped hanging out with his friends in real life. Even worse, he missed 200 days of school, and considering there are fewer than 270 schooldays a year, that’s very bad. In response to his addiction, his mother cut off their internet connection. When she did, Savin stabbed her 17 times, took all the money in the house, and went to an internet cafe for 4 hours. The woman’s husband returned and found her (on their 16th wedding anniversary), and called the police. When Savine returned, he said “I think I’m the one you’re looking for.” He then underwent psychiatric evaluation, and could face up to 12 years in prison if deemed mentally competent. But experts said that the number of stab wounds indicates mental instability.
1) Gevin Allen Prince
Gevin Allen Prince was 15-years-old when he was arrested for killing his great-grandmother in 2011. After he was told to stop playing a video game, Gevin got his samurai sword, and stabbed the 77-year-old woman. He also cut his 55-year-old grandmother, who then barricaded herself in a room and called the police. While she was in there, Gevin ran outside and chased two young neighbors, both of whom managed to get to safety. There was then a standoff with the police, who Gevin shot with a pellet gun, before being tasered and arrested. This was the third time in three months he had been arrested for violence, and he had already had another sword confiscated.