We hear it all the time: “video games make kids violent.” And in the wake of the tragic Sandy Hook school shooting, a recently released 44-page report from the State of Connecticut sheds new light on exactly what made Adam Lanza tick (and tick, and tick… until he went “boom”). Or does it?
We read the report for ourselves, and invite you to download and read your own copy, as well. We counted 30 references to the word “game” across the 44 pages, and we’ll go through each reference here to demonstrate a clear bias on the part of the Connecticut State’s Attorney’s Office against video games, as well as a belief on their part that video games played a major role in the shootings… even though they stop just short of mentioning the fact in their final one-page conclusion.
The first reference to games is on page 25, where it states that Lanza’s GPS device showed that he often visited a local movie theater, where he enjoyed playing (wait for it…) Dance Dance Revolution?
Yes. The Sandy Hook Killer apparently had a thing for DDR. It’s not exactly the type of fodder that the “video games make you violent” crowd can sink their teeth into. It’s a game with ridiculously catchy music, flashing lights, and requires you to actually get up and move around… a lot. But that doesn’t slow down Connecticut for long. They’ll establish that DDR is evil before all is said and done!
Page 25 of the report also includes a partial (important word!) list of the following games found in Lanza’s basement:
- Left for Dead (we presume it’s actually Left 4 Dead)
- Metal Gear Solid
- Dead Rising
- Half Life
- Call of Duty
- Grand Theft Auto
- Shin Megami Tensei
- Dynasty Warriors
- Vice City (presumably Grand Theft Auto: Vice City)
- Team Fortress
What’s interesting about this list is that immediately preceding it, the report states the following:
“Numerous video games were located in the basement computer/gaming area. The list of video games includes, but is not limited to:” (emphasis added).
We find it far less than scientific (to the point of prejudicial and biased) that the first “list” of games owned by the shooter is incomplete. And that means that the compilers of the report specifically chose to include only those games on the list, and exclude others. Looking at the list of games, it’s obvious that the report is trying to draw a link between violent video games and the violence of Lanza’s crime.
The next reference to games in the report is on page 26, where it presents the evidence found on Lanza’s hard drive. Again, the report states:
“the following selected topics or items were found within the digital evidence seized” (emphasis added).
Once again, this demonstrates an intentional filtering by the report’s publishers. This filtered list of hard drive contents is long, but here are the gaming elements, as they are shown on the list:
- Bookmarks pertaining to… video games…
- Screen shots (172) of the online game “Combat Arms”
- “Dance Dance Revolution” (DDR) game screen shots
- Videos of shooter playing DDR
Again, we note that the report points out the specific number of screen shots (172) that exist on Lanza’s hard drive, presumably because that game happens to be an online FPS (First Person Shooter) game. For the dance game DDR, they don’t mention how many screen shots or videos were found. The report also states in this section that there was a large amount of other media on the drive, including:
“Commercial movies depicting mass shootings,” “Images of the shooter holding a handgun to his head,” “Images of the shooter holding a rifle to his head,” and “Images of shooter with a rifle, shotgun and numerous magazines in his pockets.”
But in none of those cases do they mention how many they found of each. It’s only with that one combat video game that the report is careful to point out the “huge” number of screen shots, while they don’t feel it’s important to be just as specific about the truly disturbing images on the drive. It may be subtle, but once again, this shows a clear anti-video game bias on the part of the authors.
The next reference to video games is on page 30, which says:
“The shooter’s father saw him regularly until he turned 18. They would go hiking, play video games and other activities.”
See the trend? It’s another incomplete list. Video games are again pointed out as an activity the shooter enjoyed, but with the exception of hiking, any other activities are simply lumped in the “other” category. The report appears to be willing to take any possible opportunity to link Lanza and video games.
On page 31 of the report, we finally get some insight into the “Shooter’s Interests.” This section is made up of a total of eleven paragraphs. Following is our analysis of the general substance of each paragraph (again – you can read the report yourself to verify this):
Paragraph 1: Lanza’s hobbies included computers, poetry, and hiking, and once upon a time he worked at a computer shop.
Paragraph 2: Lanza was into shooting (duh).
Paragraph 3 is included in its entirety here:
“He played video games often, both solo at home and online. They could be described as both violent and non-violent. One person described the shooter as spending the majority of his time playing non-violent video games all day, with his favorite at one point being “Super Mario Brothers.”
We find it amusing that they were “precise” enough to say the games he played were “both violent and non-violent.” What other types of games are there?
Paragraph 4: Lanza used his PC to play video games online and surf the Internet.
Paragraph 5: Lanza had a driver’s licence.
Paragraph 6: Lanza played Dance Dance Revolution. He had a home version of the game. Videos of him playing DDR were on his hard drive.
Paragraph 7: GPS tracking showed that Lanza would go to a nearby movie theater and play DDR for 4-10 hours a day, three days a week, during parts of 2011 & 2012.
Paragraph 8: Lanza was specific about his clothing. He also grew “anti-social,” which they apparently determined by the fact that he stopped playing DDR with other people.
Paragraph 9 is included in its entirety here:
“An acquaintance of the shooter from 2011 to June 2012 said that the shooter and the
acquaintance played DDR quite a bit. They would play the game and occasionally see a movie. They did not play first person shooter games at the theater. The shooter had stamina for DDR and never appeared winded unless really exhausted.”
Again — the report specifically points out “first person shooter games,” but only to state that they didn’t play them at the theater? The footnote for this paragraph states that the FPS games the shooter played were Combat Arms and World of Warcraft. Combat Arms is, indeed, an online FPS. But World of Warcraft is far from one. Still, it makes the story better in the eyes of the report if the killer enjoyed multiple games with the words “person shooter” included in the genre… so details be damned!
Paragraph 10: Lanza liked hiking.
Paragraph 11: Lanza was interested in mass murders and serial killing.
Ok… so let’s get this straight. Out of 11 paragraphs detailing a known mass murderer’s interests, seven of them relate to computers and/or video games, two mention that he was interested in guns and/or murder, and the remaining two paragraphs cover the facts that he had a drivers licence, and he liked hiking. So the profile this report is trying to paint is that this child killer REALLY likes video games, and murder, and having a license, and hiking… in that order. It’s like the report is trying to pound the video game correlation into your brain, while offering up plenty of fodder for the mainstream media to vilify gaming (mark my words: you’ll see more mention of video games in the media over the next few weeks than normal… all associated with this case).
We were a bit surprised to see that the report included Super Mario Brothers as a “non-violent” game. How could they pass up an opportunity to point out all the mass-murder inside that game? Mario’s entire raison d’etre is to kill Turtles, Bloopers, Bullet Bills, Goombas, hammer wielding Koopas, Piranha Plants, Spinies, and a large fire-breathing spiked Bowser!
Moving on, page 34 includes a list of witnesses’ observations of Lanza. Observation #10 states:
“In the ninth and tenth grades the shooter was reclusive, shutting himself in the bedroom and playing video games all day. In the upper classes the shooter compiled a journal instead of attending physical education.”
Wow! Almost an entire page had gone by in the report without mentioning video games, so the authors needed to make sure they mentioned here how he played them “all day.”
Further down the page, items 15 and 16 state:
“15. The shooter had a LAN party at his home in 2008 with Tech Club members; no firearms were seen at the shooter’s home.” (Footnote states “This is a party where attendees eat pizza and play video games.”)
“16. In terms of video games, the shooter liked to play “Phantasy Star Online” (a role playing game), “Paper Mario,” “Luigi’s Mansion” and “Pikmin.” He also liked Japanese
animated films and television.”
Is the State of Connecticut being clear enough, people? This killer loved video games! Make sure you make the connection! Murderers and video games go together like peanut butter and chocolate!
On page 35, the report begins a whole new section entitled “Evidence Examination.” In this important section, the report exhaustively breaks down all the physical evidence collected and examined by police and experts.
Now, since this is a report about a shooting, one might assume that the evidence examination would begin by examining the five firearms seized in the investigation of that shooting, four of which were directly used during the incident.
But you’d be wrong in that assumption.
“Firearms and Related Evidence” is actually the second category of evidence presented by the report! You can probably guess what the report leads off with: the video games owned by Lanza.
You read that right — the evidence section of the report talks about the video games police seized and examined prior to talking about the guns used to kill 20 children and 7 adults!
Remember, kids!! Video games were a major factor in this crime! Oh yeah, and some guns were maybe kinda involved, too. But forget about that for now. First, let’s focus on these evil video games!
Following are the games Lanza owned, which are apparently more important than the guns he used to shoot people, based on their priority order of appearance in the report.
PlayStation 2 Games:
- Dynasty Tactics
- Kingdom Hearts 1 & 2
- Dynasty Warriors
- The Two Towers
He played Onimusha? Yep. Dude’s a nutcase, fo sho.
(this list is actually based on Lanza’s Xbox Live game history)
- Call of Duty 2: Big Red One
- Call of Duty: Finest Hour
- Dead or Alive 3
- Halo 2
- Lego Star Wars
- MGS2 Substance
- Panzer Dragoon ORTA
- PSO (meaning Phantasy Star Online)
- Shenmue II
- Splinter Cell 2
- Splinter Cell-CT
- Star Wars Battlefront
- Star Wars Republic Commando
- Tenchu: Return from Darkness
- The Return of the King
- Worms Forts Under Seige
For the uninitiated, please note that the “Dead or Alive” game series has absolutely nothing to do with actual death, and more to do with watching large-breasted female martial artists’ jiggly parts bounce on-screen. No, really.
The above list of games on page 36 is also followed by this quote:
“It was noted on both of the above items that the gaming history found may not be the complete history of those actually played.”
Translation? “It’s possible that he played other games, folks! So these aren’t even the worst ones! He probably played really evil games that make you do evil things! How evil? So evil that you might say they are the fru-eeeeets of the Dev-eeeeel! AVOID ALL THE GAMES!“
Lanza also apparently also owned a broken Xbox 360. Again, it’s really important to point that out before talking about the guns he used. Because clearly, the broken Xbox 360 was what caused him to snap and kill all those innocent people. Because games and game consoles are evil, remember?
On page 38, the report also includes an “unsubstantiated lead” from a mother who says that she heard from her son, that he heard some other gamer called [RaWr]i<3EmoGirls (for any non gamers reading this, that translates to “ROAR! I love Emo Girls… and don’t we all?), that there would “maybe” be a shooting “very soon” at his school, so that if he didn’t see him online that means “i died and im being 100 percent serious (sic).” Oh, good. That’s way better than only 74% serious. 26% better, to be exact.
Finally, after 38 pages of a 42 page report, the State of Connecticut believes it’s probably made its case against video games, and actually manages to get through the final four pages of the report (and its Conclusion page signed by State’s Attorney Stephen J. Sedenky III, and a final page of acknowledgements) without mentioning video games!
So what have we learned from this report?
We saw some things we already knew, including the fact that Adam Lanza was a mentally disturbed individual who committed a horrible, horrible act that resulted in the tragic deaths of children and adults in and around Sandy Hook Elementary school. All kidding aside, that was a dark day in the history of this country.
But we also learned that the Connecticut State’s Attorney appears to have a major anti-video game bias, as demonstrated by the sheer amount of video game references throughout the document, the types of video games purposely included and excluded from lists, and the prominent positioning given to video games throughout the document — including a higher priority in the examination of evidence than the actual guns used in the attack!
Don’t be fooled, people. It’s a well known fact that the Diane Feinsteins of the world are coming for your assault weapons and high-capacity magazines… but the Stephen Sedenskys of the world appear to be building a case to come after your video games, too.
This report is a sad reminder that everyone in politics has an angle or an axe to grind, and that unbiased reporting is far too rare an occurance.
Oh, and that video games are evil.
Tell us what you think in the comments below.