Video Games

Anonymous Speculators Worry There's a Mass Murder Score Leaderboard Out There

Maybe some folks are projecting when they suspect Adam Lanza blurred the distinction between video games and real life


You can make teenage boys do anything if there's a possibility of getting high score.
"Dance Dance Revolution" screen image from

The Hartford Courant in Connecticut has partnered with Frontline on PBS to provide a lengthy account of the awkward, troubled life of Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old murderer who killed his mother, 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and then himself.

It's a fascinating read that illuminates the life of the Lanza family but sadly gives no real insight as to what ultimately caused Adam's shooting rampage. According to those who knew the family, Adam's response to world was to withdraw from others, not to get angry.

In all likelihood we'll never really know why Adam snapped. He destroyed the hard drive of his computer prior to his rampage, and the contents remain out of hands of investigators so far. Even if we knew why Lanza acted the way he did, what good policy could come of it, given that he had absolutely no history of prior violence before the rampage?

But of course, people speculate, and sometimes people who speculate are in positions of authority, and so we end up with atrocious stories like this one from CBS News that theorizes that Lanza saw himself in some sort of competition with Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivik:

Two officials who have been briefed on the Newtown, Conn., investigation say Lanza wanted to top Breivik's death toll and targeted nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School because it was the "easiest target" with the "largest cluster of people."

Evidence shows that his mind, sources say, Lanza was also likely acting out the fantasies of a video game as he killed 20 first graders and six adults at the school. For Lanza, the deaths apparently amounted to some kind of "score."

After CBS published the story, the spokesman for the Connecticut State Police department called the theory "mere speculation," which is nicely diplomatic. CBS added an editor's note with the spokesman's response, so it reads as though they didn't even try to get any sort of official verification of the anonymous claims before running with it.

Some journalists are still writing about video games like it's the Jazz Age:

They've also recovered what they called a "trove" of video games from the basement of Lanza's home. Sources say Lanza spent countless hours there alone, in a private gaming room with the windows blacked out, honing his computer shooting skills.

Unsurprisingly, the CBS story is getting a lot more distribution than the Hartford Courant piece.

I visualize a modern-day remake of Chicago, with the lyrics from the pivotal "Press Conference Rag" changed to "We both reached for the controller." And from speakeasies during the prohibition, to creepy swinger dens from the '70s, and now video-game man-caves, why haven't we banned basements yet?

Stay away from jazz and liquor, kids. Oh, and dancing is still dangerous, too. According to this NBC report, Lanza also excelled at Dance Dance Revolution. Sure that might not seem like it fits into the "violent video game" narrative some are sticking to, but it has the word "revolution" in its name!

NEXT: A. Barton Hinkle on How Immigration Crackdowns Hurt All Americans

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 or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Well, he didn’t win, but at least he gets a trophy for participating.

  2. But of course, people speculate

    Go on…

    1. Anonymous sources tell me that Lanza did the moonwalk before shooting one of his victims, and a tip-toed crotch grab after another. Dance, Dance, Revolution should be outlawed!

  3. “Evidence shows that his mind, sources say, Lanza was also likely acting out the fantasies of a video game as he killed 20 first graders and six adults at the school. For Lanza, the deaths apparently amounted to some kind of “score.””

    This is the kind of mental straining that comes from the “scholars” out of psychology programs of publicly funded institutions.

    They really can’t grasp that someone comes to the simple conclusion of “fuck you and die”- so they put it in these bullshit contexts.

    1. The guy was psychotic and having some kind of episode. Do we really need a psychologist to tell us that a person who walks into a grade school and kills 20 first graders has lost his grip on reality?

    2. Don’t most “scholars” do this. “We found a wood carving of an otter in this cave so the obvios conclusion is that this tribe worhips otters. They most likely dressed up like otters at specil ceremonies, etc, etc.

      1. Science be praised!

        1. “You want to talk to God? Let’s go see him together.”

      2. Centuries from now an “anthropologist” may discover my Snoopy phone…

    3. I’m not sure what “scholars” you think are giving them this information. “Sources” is as vague as “there are some, and there are those”.

  4. Washington State AW owners should read this.…..-warrants/

    1. Original article in Seattle Times.…..17xml.html

      1. “Golly, Sheriff, I forgot the combination. Pretty secure, huh?”

    2. Absolutely nothing will come of this.

      1. You’re saying “nothing else WILL happen.”

        Seer of the future, please tell me the lottery numers for teh PowerBAWLLZ!

    3. Again, I hate to interrupt the two minutes of hate, but the actual bill before the WA Senate doesn’t have the inspection provision. The old bill in 2005 (IIRC) did. (At 9.51(5)(a). The new bill still requires that an AW owner “safely and securely store [it]”, but doesn’t specify what that means. The old bill said the sheriff could come out annually and verify it for herself.)

      The bill is still a poorly-drafted piece of shit, but at least it has that going for it.

  5. The leaderboard is the headlines of the news outlets that report these tragic incidents with such gusto.

    1. Exactly. Note the projection of these people.

  6. Even if we knew why Lanza acted the way he did, what good policy could come of it, given that he had absolutely no history of prior violence before the rampage?

    This is why the government needs to track everything you read, and all of your internet searches. Because you might be googling “efficient kill rates” or Army counterinsurgency manuals. If Lanza had ordered a copy of the Anarchist’s Cookbook, or the whole Earth Catalog, he could have been stopped in time.

    1. Indeed. And the fact that you’ve apparently *avoided* reading the Cookbook is mighty suspicious in itself.

      1. That you have read the Cookbook is just what some bomb making anarchist would want us to think.

        1. It’s a cookbook?

          IT’S A COOKBOOK!

  7. I’ll hold off judgment on the kid’s motives until it’s fictionalized on one of the Law and Orderses.

    1. nice

      *DUN DUN*

  8. “Evidence shows….”

    What evidence?

    1. He played video games and shot kids. What more evidence do you need? The link is right there in front of you.

    2. Why, the words that were written right after ‘Evidence shows…’ What more evidence do you need? It’s write there in black and white for you to read.

      What, do you think that there are some Rules of Evidence that one should follow?

  9. Absolutely nothing will come of this.

    If you mean tarring and feathering, I’m sure you’re right.

  10. I’ve always worried at what would happen if I was ever suspected of a crime. My browser history would be like John Doe’s notebooks in Se7en, puzzled over by horrified scholars for decades.

    1. Buy a pile of Dr Seuss books and highlight all the violent passages with little smiley faces drawn in the margins.

    2. The search warrant for the Unabomber always bothered me. Based on what they went looking for at his shack, they could damn sure come through my house and get everything on that list and there I go, off to the federal pen.

      Minus a copy of my manifesto, of course. I have that stored in the cloud.

      1. They would have a field day with my book collection.

      2. But the reason they were looking for that stuff is because the unibomber had sent a manifesto full of it. That was how they figured out it was him. His brother went to the FBI and said it had to be his brother Ted.

        1. They were looking for bomb making materials, too, John. Those were defined as ‘copper wire’ and similar things. Anybiody with a decently equipped home workshop had everything on that list.

          1. Of course, everyone has bomb making materials in their house. The warrant wasn’t issued because he might have copper wire, but because his brother told the FBI that it was probably him.

        2. I remember when I was in high school and my uncle told me his Unabomber joke.

          What do the Unabomber and a girl from Northern Quebec have in common?

          They both got fingered by their brother.

  11. Lanza also excelled at Dance Dance Revolution.

    He was so badass he could play DDR and Guitar Hero on expert mode at the same time.

  12. Where would the “conversation” now be if Lanza had built a drone capable of dropping napalm* on those kids while they were outside on the playground?

    *I forget; is “Napalm” a trade name owned by Dow Chemical?

    1. “Napalm Sticks To Kids”? DuPont? or Dow? or Whomever?

    2. Napalm is still a brand name, but is now–like Kleenex or Xerox became for their respective products–also the generic trademark for jellied flammable weapon payloads.

  13. When I saw “Anonymous Speculators” I thought this was going to be about Shreeek.

  14. What difference, at this point, does it make?

  15. All of this smacks of a desperation to be able to say that Lanza’s attacks were NOT a random event caused by a lone nut. It reminds me in many ways of the disinclination to accept that President Kennedy was killed by a single loon. Which leads me to believe that somebody has a lot of emotional capitol tied up in the shooting, one way or another.

    Now, I have my own ideas about who that somebody might be, and what their agenda is, but I have scant proof. Nevertheless, this looks like a case of “If you can’t argue the facts, argue the Law. If you can’t argue either, then pound on the table.”

    1. But even if this is true, it is still a random event caused by a loan nut.

      1. Fooling yourself is easier than accepting your own powerlessness.

      2. a random event caused by a loan nut

        Those evil fucking bankers are at it again.

        1. Okay, that was funny.

      3. “But even if this is true, it is still a random event caused by a loan nut.”

        This is the important bit. Even if we knew for sure that he did the bad thing because of Halo or some weird obsession with Brevik, so what? A million weird kids play Halo all the time and exactly one of them killed a bunch of kids.

    2. It’s a variety of religious belief. The idea that the universe is simply that vast, confusing, and uncaring is a bitter pill to swallow for many, many people. Conspiracy theory attempts to explain these things to provide a sense of order instead of accepting the raw chaoes and madness. Defense mechanism against reality, because reality sucks.

      1. It’s a variety of religious belief.

        The vast unknowableness of the universe is exactly why people created gods. Reality doesn’t suck, it just IS.

  16. My browser history would be like John Doe’s notebooks in Se7en, puzzled over by horrified scholars for decades.

    I will endow a Chair at my alma mater for a Professor of Grotesqueries in your honor.

  17. I’ve been practicing my battleaxe skills in Skyrim, does this mean I’m going to flip out and start battleaxing people at the nearest schoolyard?

    1. While shouting really loudly.

      1. In Thu’um?

  18. Encyclopedia Dramatica has a “High Score” list of massacres, bombings, and genocides, named after video games, but it’s just edgy attempts at offensive humor that’s a trademark of the site.

  19. I’m convinced it was the video games. Now, if we could only flood the market with games depicting shooting cops.

  20. Ah so now we know what’s going on, Barry O is probably just worried that someone really bad and crazy will come along and knock him from the top of the murder leaderboard.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.