Our lovable national UK tabloid newspaper The Sun runs the headline today that the killer of the school children Adam Lanza plotted his killing spree from within his mother’s basement and had an obsession with the hugely popular video game series Call of Duty. The headline reads “Killer’s Call of Duty Obsession – Massacre loner addicted to controversial vid game” and features an image of Lanza with an insert of the Black Ops II boxart. Interestingly, the image they’ve used conveniently has the RP sticker on it – that’s Rating Pending as opposed to one that shows Mature, or 18. It’s a dig and suggestion that underage players are being influenced by the game when in fact there are strict guidelines for its sale.
Further reading into the article, and the Sun reports that Lanza actually hid himself away in this basement which had no windows and had the walls covered in images of guns and tanks – typical behaviour. The article then goes on to link Call of Duty with other killers such as Anders Breivik and Mohammed Merah who also confessed to playing the video game. The Sun paints a bleak picture of the influence of video games and has an insert from Teresa Bliss who suggests that there is no doubt a link between what children watch and their behaviour . She constantly uses the word “children” yet Lanza, Breivik and Merah were all over the age of 20. Further reading Teresa’s comment, and she suggests that Lanza’s paranoid mother who stockpiled the weapons would have been no help in setting her son on the right path – so why mention the video game when clearly the fault lies with the mother.
There’s perhaps nothing wrong in showing an interest in American history, culture and the guns themselves – it’s a massive part of the country, but the real issue here is why scapegoat a particular video game when clearly there are far more worrying influences at play here – like the mother who thought her son’s obsessive behaviour was normal.
Video games are always brought into the equation when tragic things like this happen, but the reality is millions of people including those who shouldn’t be playing these games, enjoy them without going on a real life killing spree. The real issue here is mental illness and how that is detected and dealt with in society – something which perhaps both the mother and son suffered from. It’s a shame The Sun newspaper, who previously reviewed the game and awarded it a high score now turns its focus on the exact same game in such a negative manner – something which is typical of the tabloid press.