Video Game Violence: Corrupting the Old?

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James Tuffs–father of infant twin sons, and old enough at 21 to purchase M-rated video games under, say, Illinois' new ban on the sale of games with explicit content to minors–worked himself into a violent rage after all-night Gamecubing:

Zoe O'Leary, 18, spotted the leg of four-month Byron poking out from beneath sleeping James Tuffs who was said to become enraged if interrupted while playing on his Nintendo GameCube.

She said: "James was lying on him. I started shaking and screaming at him to move. He got up and picked up Byron. I said 'Oh my God you've killed my baby'."

Undoubtedly some people will interpret news like this as bolstering the case for restrictions on content in video games. However, until some reform-minded legislators decide it would be in the public interest to ban adult consumption of explicit entertainment, it might be worth investigating what other factors, aside from (of course!) video games, could be behind a psychopathic, murderous rampage. Story here; link via Kotaku.

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  1. True that. Seems like the obvious policy implications are that we should install video cameras in everybody’s homes so that we can look after them, and with luck, prevent this stuff from happening.

  2. If they want to raise the age for anything, why not start with breeding?

  3. Did anyone else read this article and immediately think of Trainspotting?

    Seriously though, this sort of thing happens all too often. The gamer angle is the only thing that separated this story from a hundred others. that’s probably the main reason that they played it that way. I remember another story some time ago about a mother who neglected her children because she was addicted to blogs.

    Oh, Brian, have you read Freakonomics? I think just about everyone has at this point, but if you haven’t, there are goodies in there for you.

  4. Unfortunately the vast majority of the American public has no idea what post hoc ergo propter hoc means.

  5. Girth,

    It’s not such much that they don’t know or understand the fallacy, but people can’t accept that there isn’t one definitive cause for a tragedy. It’s easier to think that that because B happened after A, A caused B.

  6. Pat Robertson read Freakonomics, and he loved it. (I just happened to notice it at Barnes & Noble a few days ago and stumbled upon a WSJ piece about it this weekend – haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but when I read the authors’ praise of his treatment on the 700 Club during an interview, and then read Robertson’s endorsement, it went immediately on my must-read list).

  7. Adam,
    Thanks for the link. I can’t get CBN.com at work but I will check out that interview later. My interest is well picqued.
    The thought that Pat would even entertain an author who related the drop in crime rates to Roe v. Wade is a bit of a shocker.
    My fave Pat story comes from my years living in Va. Beach (700 club’s hometown). He claimed that a hurricane that was heading for DC was due to all the wickedness there. When the hurricane finally hit land, it was right square on Va Beach. It would have been even funnier if I hadn’t lost a third of my roof.

  8. Of course, this couldn’t just be a horrible personality trait; I can just see this ball being picked up by legislators and run with. sadly.

    I literally have a _massive_ collection of video games from the last 20 years–including just about every violent game vilified since Liebermann took on Mortal Kombat in the 90s–and although I have a tendency to get frustrated at various things, I’ve never once felt like taking on a bunch of people in a GTA-style shootout. (Hell, I won’t even dare throw a controller, much less invite a standoff with the police because I couldn’t make it to level “X”.)

    On the contrary, it’s probably the best way of shooting off steam I’ve ever found–especially with the violence. Some folks admittedly shouldn’t be playing them, but I personally attribute it to preexisting mental issues, lack of self-control, and extremely blurred lines between reality and the “gaming universe”.

    I almost took a job with a game studio earlier this year in Southern Illinois, up until I’d heard about the disdain the legislators had toward gaming. I’m glad I didn’t pursue it; I don’t feel like paying them a damned cent for the BS they’re pulling left and right now.

  9. mk–haven’t read it yet, but it is on my list. Thanks for the rec.

  10. No, MK, the first thing I thought of was The Sopranos. Christophers intervention episode; strung out, he sits on the dog, snuffing it out. When confronted, he says, ‘must’ve crawled underneath me for warmth’

  11. Oh, Brian, have you read Freakonomics?

    I just finished it today, bought it yesterday, its a really really short read. I would have liked to see more of the data that was used to make the book. I found that in some sections, for example the one on drug dealers wages, his data is a little thin. From my own personal experience the guys on the bottom make a bit more.

    Based on the book:

    The kid probably would have been a criminal anyway.

    The name Zoe indicates that the mother was probably from an under poor family background herself.

  12. The name Zoe indicates that the mother was probably from an under poor family background herself.

    As does, perhaps, the fact that she has a baby and is eighteen?

    There was a similar story a couple weeks back in Korea: couple leaves baby home alone while going to the internet cafe to play World of Warcraft; couple returns five hours later to find dead baby.

  13. Man, I don’t know about you guys, but I love playing all those video games that encourage you to kill babies.

    You know like? um?

    Well?

    Actually, hmm. The only video game with the possibility of killing babies that I can think of is the “Yoshi’s Island” series. But you’re supposed to _protect_ Baby Mario in that. Still, seeing a stupid baby with his own initial on his hat does make me a little bit mad. I can see how it could drive one into a murderous baby squashing rampage.

  14. There was also the “young couple got so stoned they forgot about the baby in the bathtub” episode of Dragnet, which was itself ripped off from the “suburban housewife got so drunk she drowned her baby in the bathtub” scene in Updike’s ‘Rabbit, Run’.

  15. I read the article about the Korean couple a while back, and I thought the detail (which would have undoubtedly been edited out in an editorialized American story like this) about how they easily could have left the kid with her grandmother, who lived upstairs from the couple. That’s not game addiction, that’s just… idiocy.

  16. I don’t see “Zoe” as a name that’s a marker for a lower-class background. It is Greek for “life.” It may be that, like a few other names that used to either be restricted to one ethnic group or to the upper class – Victorian era Brits were mad for classical names – it has jumped the bar, probably because a couple of TV characters have had the name hung on them recently.

    Ms. O’Leary may be non-U, as she named two of her kids Tyrese and Aaliyah, probably after the pop stars. The child who died was named Byron, though. I wonder if Zoe is a big poetry fan? The clincher is that, if little Aaliyah is two, this Tuffs scum knocked up Zoe when she was 15. These two do seem especially clueless. From the Evening Star:

    Tuffs, along with the mother of the twins, Zoe O’Leary, hit the headlines in September 2003 when the first of the boys, Tyrese, was delivered in Ipswich’s Debenhams store.

    Staff rushed to grab towels from the shelves to help with the birth, on the afternoon of September 4.

    After having her first baby in the Cornhill store, Zoe was had the second in the back of an ambulance in the car park of Ipswich Hospital.

    Something tells me that if video games didn’t exist, the Tuffs-O’Learys still might be rum parents.

    Kevin

  17. i have been sitting in the court room whilst james is on trial. i lived with him for a few months so no him pretty well so i dont think you lot should judge him. he has done nothing wrong so stop all these nasty comments about him.

  18. saying violence is born out of video games is much like saying the national debt is born out of short term loans. Sure they may appeal individuals who are already over the line, but certainly there is probably no real correlation between the millions of healthy video game players and the few bad apples.

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