‘The Video Games Did It!’ The Stupid Response to Mass Violence That Has Infinite Lives

He's setting a bad example by not wearing a helmet.Rockstar GamesAnalysis of Aaron Alexis’s work and criminal history prior to his deadly rampage at Washington D.C.’s Navy Yard yesterday suggests there was a lot going on in that noggin of his, including possibly paranoia and other mental issues.

Just kidding; it’s video games! The Telegraph looks for the worst possible way to write about this crime and jabs at the “sensationalize” button:

Exclusive: The Washington Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis played violent video games including Call of Duty for up to 16 hours at a time and friends believe it could have pushed him towards becoming a mass murderer.

Despite calling it an exclusive, others (such as the Wall Street Journal here) made note of the man’s video game hobby. But perhaps it’s the irresponsible blaming it on video games that is the exclusive.

The justification for this headline/lede comes down to a single comment in the story by Nutpisit Suthamtewakul, a Thai restaurant operator with whom Alexis lived at times in Texas. But even the whole quote makes a mockery of trying to lay the blame on games:

Mr Suthamtewakul said: "He could be in the game all day and all night. I think games might be what pushed him that way. He always had this fear people would steal his stuff so that's why he would carry his gun all the time. He would carry it when he was helping out in the restaurant which scared my customers."

He played a lot of video games! But also he was always afraid people would steal his stuff and would carry a gun because of that! Maybe if he had been playing Legends of Zelda games instead that statement wouldn't be a complete non-sequitor. That kid Link is always running into people’s homes and breaking their stuff looking for rupees (and then just taking them!). But a paranoid fear of getting one’s stuff stolen is not generally a psychological manifestation that could be attributed to playing lots of first-person shooters, even if one were to accept that video games affected one’s mental state permanently.

Also, it’s worth the reminder that Alexis was 34 years old. The rush to blame video games for violence is usually predicated on the perpetrators having allegedly young, impressionable minds, like blaming Grand Theft Auto IV for an 8-year-old killing his grandmother, rather than wondering who is responsible for allowing the boy both access to the gun and a game that is rated for “mature” players only.

In unrelated news, Grand Theft Auto V is out today! The local Fox affiliate here in Los Angeles yesterday breathlessly read through the list of naughty things to be found in the game as reported by the Electronic Software Ratings Board prior to the game’s actual release, but did also warn that the game is intended for mature players.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • sarcasmic||

    Am I the only one who saw Nutpisit and read Nutspit?

  • SugarFree||

    [refuses to rise to bait]

  • Hugh Akston||

    They make a pill for that now.

  • SugarFree||

    I just want to be able to lug two cast iron clawfoot tubs out the beach so I can hold hands with my lady and watch the sunset again.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Just drive your Canaro through the desert twilight, then go lay some pipe. Much easier than hauling iron/enamel tubs.

  • db||

    Don't forget to be stupid enough to run out of gas or get your horse trailer stuck in an obvious mud puddle.

  • db||

    "This is the time in your life of knowing how to get things done. Like not checking your fuel gauge, or driving into an obvious road hazard."

  • db||

    Imagine how difficult it is to extract a clawfoot tub from the sand once the tide has come in around it.

  • ||

    That's what the team of orphans is for.

  • Robert||

    Not as hard as getting the mildew out of a couch after it's been sitting on a dock.

  • Restoras||

    I read it as Nitwit

  • ||

    I somehow read it as Nipshit.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    I have my phobias, and you're not going to talk me down off this ledge.

  • db||

    Also looking now like no "assault rifle" involved. Two handguns and a shotgun.

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/17/.....?hpt=hp_t1

  • ||

    Yeah, but the guns may have had over-sized extended assault magazine clips or scary black tactical retractable pistol stocks or something.

  • Marc F Cheney||

    And yet the article is about the AR-15 anyway.

    The MSM really does get fed talking points.

  • ||

    The original M16 patent ran out years ago, and now the AR-15 is manufactured by several gun makers.
    The AR-15 has since become a semiautomatic rifle, firing one bullet per squeeze of the trigger. But like the M16, ammunition is loaded through a magazine.

    In the words of bewildered physics professors everywhere, this is so incorrect that it's not even wrong.

  • db||

    Wow. Just wow. The AR15 was originally full auto. The M16 patent? Which one? Stoner based his design for the AR10 and later AR15 on several unique ideas he had patented.

    These people are so ignorant of their subject matter it is painful.

  • ||

    But the ammunition is loaded through a magazine!

  • db||

    It's not an assault rifle unless it has a thing that goes up.

  • Rich||

    Probably Newsweek.

  • CatoTheElder||

    However, journalists often refer to that as a "clip".

  • Snark Plissken||

    Michael Skolnik ‏@MichaelSkolnik 27m

    gun enthusiasts trying so hard to prove that Navy Yard shooter didn't use AR-15, bc they know that weapon shouldn't be available to public
  • RBS||

    It can't possibly be a desire for accurate reporting...

  • db||

    1. Who is Skolnik?
    1a. Never mind. Don't care.

    2. Facts?

    3. Just try putting that genie back in the bottle, folks.

  • ||

    Apparently he's this guy, and apparently he's never heard of white trash.

    I will never look suspicious to you. Even if I have a black hoodie, a pair of jeans and white sneakers on... in fact, that is what I wore yesterday... I still will never look suspicious. No matter how much the hoodie covers my face or how baggie my jeans are, I will never look out of place to you. I will never watch a taxi cab pass me by to pick someone else up. I will never witness someone clutch their purse tightly against their body as they walk by me. I won't have to worry about a police car following me for two miles, so they can "run my plates." I will never have to pay before I eat. And I certainly will never get "stopped and frisked." I will never look suspicious to you, because of one thing and one thing only. The color of my skin. I am white.
  • RBS||

    I quick google image search proves him wrong. I wouldn't let this asshole within 50 yds of my kid.

  • ||

    Maybe it escaped his reasoning that perhaps he gets such affectionate treatment by the public at large because we live in a society that is generally tolerant, sympathetic, and unafraid of pitiable retards.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I know blacks commit a disproportionate share of crimes, but in raw numbers, I imagine most or at least a very large minority crimes are committed by whites. And white Hispanics.

  • RBS||

    I will never have to pay before I eat.

    Bullshit.

  • db||

    How elitist is that? He'll never have to eat fast food? He'll never have to go to a grocery store?

  • UnCivilServant||

    My local supermarket gets really uptight if I try to eat before I buy.

  • Killazontherun||

    I've rarely had a free meal in my entire life. WTF? Have I been doing this all wrong? Do I just show up at random doors in my hoodie, and say, 'feed me.'?

  • Duke||

    I realize I’m late to this party, but Eddie Murphy disguising himself as a white guy and getting all kinds of free stuff seems appropriate here. Maybe this is where Skolnik gets his material from:

    http://www.snotr.com/video/422.....undercover

  • Killazontherun||

    Eddie was poking at a black attitude there with a little dig at us at the end. He can be awesomely multidimensional brilliant sometimes.

  • KDN||

    I will never look out of place to you. I will never watch a taxi cab pass me by to pick someone else up.

    I'm white as the driven snow and this happens to me an average of 5 times before I'm successful. Cabbies aren't passing you because RACISMZ, they're passing you because they either aren't paying attention or you're standing in a stupid spot to catch a cab.

  • Snark Plissken||

    Editor of Global Grind, whatever that is. Here's the tweet.

  • Snark Plissken||

    What, no mention of Anders Breivik and World of Warcraft (and CoD)? Son, I am disappoint.

  • Lord Humungus||

    Background checks for video games!

  • ||

    That seems excessive. I mean, we more or less their background from the credits.

  • ||

    more or less *know* their background...

  • RBS||

    Soon you will have show your id and get them from behind the counter at the pharmacy. After a thorough mental health evaluation of course.

  • Dave Krueger||

    Maybe if he had been playing Legends of Zelda games instead that statement wouldn't be a complete non-sequitor.

    Maybe if he had played Legend of Zelda he would have carried a sword.

  • RBS||

    That sword still shoots bolts of energy!

  • UnCivilServant||

    Only then you're at full health. One scratch and it's melee only for you.

  • ||

    ZOMG! AN ASSAULT SPATHA!

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    I am going to make a completely Cathy Young-ish statement and say I do think it's possible for people to be too attached to video games and play them more than is healthy. On the other hand, I see little evidence it begets violent behavior. And on the gripping hand, SLD applies.

  • Marc F Cheney||

    Maybe if he had played Legend of Zelda he would have taken out his anger on clay plots instead of people.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    In fairness, the clay pots have it coming.

  • JW||

    Maybe if he had played Legend of Zelda he would have carried a sword.

    And if he had watched Legend of Neil, he'd masturbate a lot. Then go on goofy, bawdy adventures, with a sword.

  • BoscoH||

    My theory is that Aaron Alexis did this because he had no middle name. Don't all mass murders and serial killers have middle names?

  • UnCivilServant||

    Assassins have three names, serial killers have two. Spree killers have no rule.

  • Marc F Cheney||

    Explain John Wayne Gacy.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    John Wayne Gacy and Richard Trenton Chase beg to differ.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Sorry the correct rebuttal was "What about Charles Guiteau, Leon Czolgosz and Sirhan Sirhan?"

  • ||

    ...and Sirhan Sirhan

    Technically you could say he only has one name.

  • UnCivilServant||

    But it's not three now, is it?

  • ||

    You got me there.

  • Marc F Cheney||

    Middle name is also Sirhan. FACT PWNED

  • UnCivilServant||

    Funny, I thought it was Bishara.

  • Marc F Cheney||

    You know, it's not funny when you start dragging facts into the discussion.

  • Zeb||

    Is that Arabic for "Major"?

  • RBS||

    Maybe he was adopted?

  • ||

    Goddamnit! Shoulda F5'd...

  • ||

    I thought it was well-established fact that adoption leads to serial killing.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    If you like laughing at tantrum throwing retarded kids (and honestly, who doesn't?) go find Lupica's Daily News column.

    I'm not gonna link it, though.

  • RBS||

    So it takes nine months and two days from Newtown, from 20 dead children and six adults, for someone else to carry the same kind of AR-15 that Adam Lanza carried into Sandy Hook Elementary School into the Washington Navy Yard.

    They call semiautomatics like this sport rifles. You bet. Mostly for the sport of killing innocent people, and killing them fast.
  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    I mean we obviously need to ban M4s from military bases.

  • Zeb||

    Yeah, "mostly". Most AR-15s that have ever been manufactured have been used to kill innocent people. That's what this asshole is saying. Do people even bother to read what they write?

  • Killazontherun||

    He knows that AR-15s are the choice weapon of secret clubs of human hunters like out of that classic 1950s short story article 'The Game' that revealed all of this going on. Hundreds of these clubs exist, the rich with their AR-15s literally preying on the poor.

  • Bobarian||

    I like to dress my homeless people up as zombies and go after em with a shotgun...

    an ASSAULT shotgun with a scary magazine.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Also looking now like no "assault rifle" involved. Two handguns and a shotgun.

    Somebody should tell Lupica, before he writes something stupid.

    Too late.

  • KDN||

    Regardless of topic, Lupica is guaranteed to write something stupid. I have no idea how he keeps getting work.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    I don't quite get why sportswriters are so full of derp on politics. Costas, Lupic, Rick Reilley...

  • RBS||

    I think they want to be taken "seriously" as journalists so they take every opportunity they can to write/talk about "serious" subjects. Of course they know that easiest way to do that is to appeal to emotion and/or parrot conventional wisdom.

  • ||

    Sportswriters are just normal reporters who were too stupid to get the high profile jobs. It shouldn't be too surprising that they have the same opinions as the regular ones but express them even stupider. My favorite is when their hoplophobic hand-wringing causes them to let their guard out and let their innate racism come out.

  • ||

    ...Let their guard *down*, I mean.

  • RBS||

    I had no idea that HuffPo has a sports section.

  • Brandon||

    How cute, Lupica 'wrote' a slideshow.

  • R C Dean||

    I'm sure they will run a big ol' retraction/correction tomorrow.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    That sword still shoots bolts of energy!

    Let me guess: in the forty watt range?

  • db||

    Hey, Pal: just what you see.

  • ||

    He could be in the game all day and all night. I think games might be what pushed him that way.

    I think it's much more likely that playing the games allowed the guy to work out some of his aggression. I'm sure there are some other unstable people out there who haven't gone on a killing spree because they've had access to a cathartic game.

  • ||

    Eh. I think if you're the type who's going to go on a shooting spree, there's no amount of video games that will satiate your desire, and if you're the kind of person who's never going to go on a shooting spree, there's no amount of video games that will drive you to it.

  • UnCivilServant||

    What if you're undecided on the matter?

  • db||

    Then you should have to fill out an affadavit when you purchase a video game stating your intentions or indecision.

  • ||

    In that case a well reasoned argument for mass murder might just do it.

  • Bobarian||

    Have you ever read any 'Warty Hugeman'?

  • ||

    I'm not talking about the Charles Mansons of the world. People like that are going to do crazy shit no matter what. But I'm sure there are borderline people out there who aren't overtly nuts but when given enough frustrations might start thinking of killing someone as the only viable option. Spending time with a game every night and "shooting" your boss or co-workers or mother-in-law or whoever might provide enough pressure release to keep it from actually happening. Likewise, I imagine there are people whose collections of kiddie porn give them enough of a release that don't feel the need to molest a kid.

  • Drake||

    Richard Marcinko has to be screaming "told you so" at the top of his lungs today. He ran "Red Cell" with other Seals to test the vulnerability of naval facilities. He embarrassed enough brass to get tossed in jail. And this was before 9-11.

    A guy shows up at the gate of a major naval installation with a shotgun and manages to kill a dozen - before he is taken down by external cops? Holy fuck - what a security fail. Base Commander will be relieved. Whoever ran security - relieved. What an embarrassment.

  • CatoTheElder||

    Yeah, it is pretty pathetic. However, I am sure that they all felt secure because Washington, DC is a virtually gunfree zone.

  • Drake||

    Sure, 9-11 and Fort Hood never happened.

    What the hell would happen if a team hit a base?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Base Commander will be relieved. Whoever ran security - relieved. What an embarrassment.

    An explicit admission of failure?

    Yeah, right. They might be "reassigned" but it will be because it was in the works loooong before this little hiccup.

  • ||

    If video games made this guy do it, then he certainly wouldn't have done it until after getting his fix on GTA V first.

  • ||

    He probably couldn't afford GTA V due to income inequality on top of it all. What hath capitalism wrought?

  • Robert||

    The presidential assassinations were caused by chess.

  • Erik Jay||

    "a complete non-sequitor"

    That's "non-sequitur." And, like "unique," it's either a non-sequitur or it isn't, so the modifier is a mistake, too.

    This is not grammar Nazism. It's just my incredulity that such great stories and good reporters are not supported by first-rate editing.

  • Duelles||

    Oofah! Why do we have so many dummies in this country. Are they the product of our public schools?

  • OBD2 Scanner||

    Despite calling it an exclusive, others (such as the Wall Street Journal here) made note of the man’s video game hobby

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement