Gaming Witch-hunt

Daily Mail wades in after Manhunt news, Sam puts them right.

Sam's article comes after news that Manhunt was named as an influence to Warren LeBlanc's alleged murder. The late schoolboy's mother says that the game's content bears a resemblance to the alleged method of killing used against her son.

Not content with leading the British tabloids in their calls for supposed murder-manual Manhunt to be destroyed, the UK's most balanced newspaper (joke? -Ed) has now come up with a list of eight games that it thinks are in imminent danger of bringing about the downfall of civilisation. Joining Manhunt on the Excess of Evil list are the following Satan-spawning titles; Unreal Tournament 2004, Hitman: Contracts, The Suffering, Soldier of Fortune II, A World of Horror, GTA 3, State of Emergency and Doom III.

Where to start...

The fact that some of these games are well past their shelf-life and have been consigned to the bargain bins for many years now seems to have no effect on the level of the Daily Mail's wrath. Nor is their venom tempered by the fact that two of the titles are sci-fi shooters where the object is to kill assorted aliens and fantasy-horror creatures. Nor that one of those titles has yet to be released and therefore the true nature of its content is beyond the ken of even the knowledgeable gamer let alone the reactionary journalist.

The fact that games have been accused of inciting kids to do bad things ever since their 8-bit days, when opponents looked like Lego men and sounded like digital watches, seems to have not registered with these mighty moral protectors. The dozens of studies over the decades that have shown no link between violent gaming and the criminality of players have apparently, once more, passed by the inbox tray of the Daily Mail. Nor do they care much for the fact that people have been killing each other since we first figured out that it could be done or that millions of people, from all ages and walks of life, have been enjoying games without all turning into violent psychopaths.

This cynical gamer sees nothing but pound signs in these campaigns. The newspapers sell more editions on the back of people's ignorance and fears, while the game retailers and publishers laugh all the way to the bank as the increased publicity of these 'evil' games produces one inevitable result - that of a rush by people to see what all the fuss is about first hand. If you have a spare copy of Manhunt lying around at the moment you may want to head over to eBay and make yourself a quick quid. Before you turn into a rabid killer...

Update 4th August

It just gets better. The parents who have blamed Manhunt for the death of their 14 year old son are planning to take developers Rockstar and their parent company to court over the death. In a £50 million lawsuit the Pakeerah family, from Leicester, will claim that the game was instrumental in influencing the homocidal behaviour of their son’s murderer, 17 year old Warren Leblanc. The size and aim of the lawsuit is unprecedented in UK law, and if it were to be successful, it would no doubt have a major impact on the freedom of adults to entertain themselves, not to mention an increase in the reach of the nanny state.

Apparently he plans to call some US military men to detail their use of software "to train soldiers to kill". This is probably in reference to the Pandemic Studios-developed Full Spectrum Warrior, the publicly available adaptation of the game used to top-up the training in squad tactics of the US Army. Of course, like Manhunt, you could no more learn how to kill someone by using this software then you could learn how to cook a meal by clicking on an oven in The Sims.

In unsurprising news the family have retained the services of champion self-publicist and professional game-baiter Jack Thompson. This Miami based lawyer has spent the last few years waging a campaign against the evils of computer and video games. He is currently involved in a suit in the States which also targets Rockstar and Sony. This $60 million lawsuit is being served by the families of two victims shot dead by teenagers in Tennessee. These teenagers, no doubt aware of adults gullibility in such matters, told the police that they were acting out scenes from GTA, thereby prompting the subsequent court action.

The Pakeerah family are no doubt hoping that Mr Thompson will be able to win the lawsuit. So far, out of the many cases he has brought against the games industry, he has yet to win a single one. Still, there must be some good money in it for the lawyers involved as he just keeps on trucking. This reporter just hopes that the bereaved families involved have been able to find some peace after the prospect of a quick-fix and pot of cash that was dangled by Mr Thompson turned out to be nothing more than a mirage.

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