In today’s news roundup we hear about Germany’s latest offensive against violent computer games in the wake of the Winnenden Secondary School shooting. We pass on a warning from the director of Xbox Live 'policy and enforcement' and hear about his crackdown on those who use pirated games. And finally, we bring news of the Sydney psychiatrist who feels that, thanks to the internet, we are now on the cusp of a mental health epidemic.
Germans Asked to Dump Their Violent Video Games
Despite academic research which argues that violent video games, if anything, actually reduce real violence, they are once again being condemned in the aftermath of another high school shooting. In March 2009, 17 year old German-high-school-graduate Tim Kretschmer entered Winnenden Secondary School armed with a 9mm semi-automatic Beretta handgun and began a two hour shooting spree which claimed the lives of 16 people – the majority of his victims were girls aged between 14-16.
Two days before the shooting, Kretchmer posted the message ‘I am gonna shoot some faggots at my old school. Watch news Germany’ on an online forum – a statement which incited comments such as ‘DO IT!’ and ‘I bet you’ll never beat other high school shooting scores’. However the night before the massacre, and apparently one of the last things he did before the rampage, was play a few rounds of Far Cry 2. Kretchmer was also a big fan of first person shooter games such as Counter Strike.
Now, seven months after the tragedy, the Aktionsbündnis Amoklauf Winnenden (Germany’s movement against violent videogames) is asking local people to scrap all computer game titles which ‘simulate the killing of human beings’. A special container will be placed outside the Stuttgate Opera House for locals to deposit games which feature murder or extreme violence. In a somewhat odd move, those who contribute to the container will be provided with a lottery ticket and the chance to win a signed football shirt.
Campaigning on behalf of all those affected by the incident, activists went with the slogan ‘Nothing will change if we don’t do something’, but given that Kretschmer stole the handgun - and an arsenal of ammunition - from his parent’s bedroom (his father owned no less than 15 firearms), it seems strange that gun control wasn’t part of their agenda. Surely it would make more sense for people to come together and discard guns into a big box for imminent destruction. After all, these don’t simulate, they actually do kill human beings. [Eurogamer]
Xbox Crackdown on Pirates
With all of us feeling the pinch and the country gripped by one of the worst economic recessions for something like fifty years, videogame piracy is more tempting than ever. ‘After all’, you try and tell yourself, ‘it’s a victimless crime…those corporations earn an obscene amount of money…what’s £40 to them?’ However, in a move which will bring a smile to the face of all those who have never dabbled in game piracy, Xbox Live are beginning to crack down.
If you recently bought an illegitimate copy of either Forza 3 or Borderlands, it would be wise to stop playing them immediately or suffer the consequences. Stephen Toulouse – director of Xbox live policy and enforcement – recently dropped a statement via Twitter informing pirates that ‘when you play a pre-release title on LIVE when I know you shouldn't have it, it's not hard for me to figure out." So if you value the integrity of your Xbox Live account, bear in mind, you are being watched! [1up]
Psychiatrist Warns of Web Induced Mental Health Epidemic
After conducting research in the US, Greece and China, behavioural epidemiologist Lawrence Lam has concluded that society may be on the brink of a mental health epidemic. Lam has found that computer addiction, particularly amongst the young, now stands at something like 8% for both Greece and the US. However even more disturbing are his findings for China where apparently 14% of all adolescents are now addicted to their computers.
Lam defined the condition as ‘uncontrollable and damaging use of the internet” and stated that people who play MMORPG’s like WoW are particularly at risk. He urges parents to monitor how long children spend glued to their computer screens and to be vigilante regarding dramatic changes in behaviour. However, the stats do seem surprisingly low, and with only 8% of US teens currently addicted to the internet it’s not exactly a 28 Days Later scenario…at least for the moment. [Fudzilla]