Relationship Between Violent Video Games and Massacres


Nehemiah Griego of New Mexico, a 15 year old pastor’s son, shot his family to death with a gun he stole from his mother’s closet. He considered going to Walmart and shooting the place up but instead spent the day with his 12-year old girlfriend. He thought about killing her parents but didn’t.

We are hearing a lot about the gun he used being an assault rifle. The “assault” rifle was not an assault rifle at all. It was a .22 caliber rifle.

Police described him as emotionless and without affect – desensitized. His only reason for the killings was annoyance with his mother.

What the media is not saying much about is this:

via abcnews

…Griego reportedly gushed to police about his love for violent video games during the interrogation, Houston said. He told police he loved to play Modern Warfare and Grand Theft Auto.

“The suspect was involved heavily in games, violent games, it’s what he was into,” Houston said. “He was quite excited as he discussed this with our investigators.”

Houston said that Griego had occasionally lost touch with his family and then reconnected with them multiple times in his life. He told investigators that his father had taught him how to shoot the weapons and the pair had practiced shooting them together…

The Newtown murderer, Adam Lanza, was addicted to violent video games. He sat in the windowless basement playing violent video games for hours:

James Holmes, the perpetrator of the Aurora movie theater massacre, was obsessed with violent video games:

via Daily Mail UK

…A former classmate from the University of Colorado suggested another cause for the killings, describing Holmes as someone who had lost touch with reality after becoming ‘obsessed’ with video games.

The classmate told the Daily Mail: ‘James was obsessed with computer games and was always playing role-playing games…

The police described Holmes apartment which substantiated the student’s statement:

…After spending hours dismantling the many booby traps set up around James Holmes’ Aurora apartment, police investigated the area and took pictures of the evidence,

‘I can’t remember which one but it was something like World of Warcraft, one of those where you compete against people on the internet.

‘He did not have much of a life apart from that and doing his work. James seemed like he wanted to be in the game and be one of the characters.

‘It seemed that being online was more important to him than real life. He must have lost his sense of reality, how else can you shoot dozens of people you don’t know?’.

Glimpses into Holmes’ apartment show that he had a poster of the video game Soldiers of Misfortune:

video game poster


Jared Lee Loughner was a big gamer. Some more former classmates of the killer say that he  spent most of his time playing video games and listening to heavy metal music like “Drowning Pool.” He played fantasy games as opposed to violent games. He was frequently involved in disputes with other gamers and his forum posts were frightening and strange.

Violent video games were associated with the Columbine  massacre committed by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold:

via the New York Times

…Jerald Block, a researcher and psychiatrist in Portland, has concluded that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold went on their shooting rampage at Columbine High School after their parents took away their video game privileges.

They “relied on the virtual world of computer games to express their rage and to spend time, and cutting them off in 1998 sent them into crisis,” he said, according to The Denver Post

A comment from Jason Della Rocca of a blog called Reality Panic (he’s also executive director of the International Game Developer’s Association) was cited on the NY Times blog:

There’s no denying the concern for someone that does something on an extremely excessive basis (be it gaming, watching TV, doing exercise, working, etc.). In most cases, this has more to do with the person than the thing: mental stability, depression, social anxieties, low self-esteem, whatever. Let’s find better ways to help the people and worry less about the “things.”

Yes, I agree, let’s look for ways to better help people and worry less about the “things.” That holds for guns as well as video games.