How many times have we talked about this on The Wired Fish? Twice I believe, and both times were on our Podcasts. We won’t be starting another season for another few weeks, but this is something that simply has to be addressed now.
Last Friday, Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut went through the second worst school shooting in U.S. history. While it is second, the weight of this shooting is far worse than what we’ve seen before since is was primarily kids as young as 5 that were killed by a grown man, Adam Lanza. We’ve all been wondering what hell was going on in the mind of this asshat since, unlike previous shootings, this was a man vs. little kids. What about little kids would make this guy freak out is something we may not get answers to anytime soon. But it looks like media outlets and the public already want to somehow inject videogames into this. I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again:
VIDEOGAMES HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS!
On the day of the shooting, Fox News wanted to try pinning videogames on this. It was however mentioned in passing and not a central reason. But then the public wanted to become their own investigative reporters and delve into the life of the shooter. Problem was that the identity of the shooter was still wrong. Adam Lanza was the shooter, Ryan Lanza was not. This mis-identification proved to be a bane to the Mass Effect Facebook page since Ryan Lanza, again not the shooter, “liked” Mass Effect. And so everyone and their puppy went to the Mass Effect page, condemning the game as a murder simulator and a wrong in today’s society. Mass Effect fans came to the defense of the game, pointing out that this game series is built around moral choices and does have a cause and effect to the choices you make. On top of this, this was an RPG and it was science fiction. C’mon son!
Even after the the identity of the shooter was corrected and pointed to Adam Lanza, not Ryan, people still wanted to blame Mass Effect for… something. This isn’t the first time Mass Effect was at the center of controversy. Remember this little diddy when Mass Effect showed just a bit of sideboob?
Okay, so we have the right name and the right face this time. In an article by Reuters briefly profiling the guy, they interviewed a former classmate of Adam and put in their article that he liked the “PlayStation video game Dynasty Warriors, a weapons-based animated fighting game released in the late 1990s.” Let me paint a picture of what Dynasty Warriors is. It is a weapons based fighting game where swords, axes, and staffs are used in fighting, similar to the Soul Calibur games. The setting of the game is an adaptation of the Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and is set in the Three Kingdoms Era of China, meaning no guns were even invented yet (hence no guns in the games). Just… look at this footage.
Dynasty Warriors takes its cues from old Kung-Fu flicks. The later games went in the more Beat ‘Em Up style combat that looked more akin to the epic battles in movies like Lord of the Rings, 300, and Braveheart, and not a single pint of blood is spilled in this game. Opponents are not “killed” but “KO’ed”. The game and setting is so cheesy and far removed from reality that there’s no way in hell this could make anyone commit something as heinous as what happened in that elementary school.
Now why am I mad at this? Because Reuters simply had to put it there. While also mentioned in passing, it almost has the implication that videogames had something to do with this. In all honesty, If I were to write this, I’d leave that part out since it’s not important. The man they interviewed said that he liked this game when they were just kids and talked about it when they were in the Boy Scouts. Simply put, this was a childhood thing he liked. No one knows if he still liked the game today or played any of the later DW game (which admittedly is too damn ironic if he did). They could’ve just put “…and liked videogames” and left it at that. By putting a name in there, all it’s doing is adding yet another unnecessary game to those stupid “Dangerous Games Your Kids Should Avoid ” lists. You’re also giving tabloids such as this ammo for their fear mongering practices. To make matters worse, we don’t even know if he was playing the later games, so this makes the already flimsy connection even flimsier.
While I can forgive people blaming Mass Effect since it was the wrong Lanza at the time, shame on those who still believe Mass Effect has anything to do with this. And to those who blame Dynasty Warriors and report on it as if it did something to motivate this clown, they are irresponsible journalists (if I can even call them that). We’ve come a long way in this culture — this community — and have seen games mature from fun little diversions into immersive, philosophical, and emotional experiences. While the Triple-A scene paints a picture of games being this visceral cacophony of flying limbs, titanic tatas, and nuclear f-bombs, not all games are like this. The last thing the media should be doing is demonizing something that Noah Pozner loved in his short-lived childhood — the very medium we loved in our own childhoods.