Continued: Gamers Gone Wild: 10 crimes committed by gamers and why video games are being blamed for them
6. Man defrauds employer and spends $1 million of his ill-gotten gains on Game of War
A Californian man pleaded guilty to defrauding his employer and spending $1 million dollars of his ill-gotten gains on in-app purchases in Game of War. He pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering charges.
In another case, a librarian from Utah, stole $89,000 from the North Logan City Library and spent it on in-app purchases on “Game of War.”
Perhaps, unsurprisingly, Game of War claims the largest in-app spending of all mobile video games with players on average spending $550 in in-app purchases each year.
7. Crime spree in an English county of 8 crimes involving Fortnite
Devon and Cornwall Police, in England, have dealt with 8 crimes involving Fortnite since the beginning of 2018. The crimes included:
- A man being charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm after he held a knife to the throat of a person who refused to give him money to buy some add-ons for Fortnite.
- A man being charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm after his younger brother refused to play Fortnite with him.
- A man being charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm after he punched a person who refused to reveal whether he was a Fortnite player.
- A teenager being charged with criminal damage after punching a door when his mother intervened in a game of Fortnite that he was playing with his brother.
A man being charged with criminal damage after he damaged the house of his partner when she told him to stop playing Fortnite.
8. NSW Rabbi links video games to abortion
Abortion, incredibly, is still outlawed in NSW, although the law is not enforced. As debate raged in NSW Parliament for abortion laws to be repealed, a Rabbi fronted a state parliamentary inquiry into the draft law and suggested that women would abort their children so they would have more times to play video games.
The Rabbi later attempted to clarify his comments by saying that what he meant was women could neglect their children to the point of death because they’d be too busy playing video games to care for their children.
9. NSW Police Commissioner blames video games for increasing crime
In 2012, NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione blamed increased crime in the state of NSW on video games, seemingly targeting Grand Theft Auto.
“You get rewarded for killing people, raping women, stealing money from prostitutes, driving cars crashing and killing people,” Scipione said. “ How can it not affect you if you’re a young adolescent growing up in an era where to be violent is almost praiseworthy, where you engage in virtual crime on a daily basis and many of these young people (do) for hours and hours on end.”
10. The mass shootings in Texas and Ohio on 3 and 4 August 2019 and Response from the video game
After the mass shootings in Texas and Ohio that resulted in the deaths of 29 people, US President Trump launched an attack on video games, blaming them for the shootings.
“We must stop the glorification of violence in our society,” Trump said. “This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace. It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence. We must stop or substantially reduce this, and it has to begin immediately.”
The president’s comments were met with outrage in the gamer community with the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the leading trade group for the video game industry, releasing a statement that said:
“More than 165 million Americans enjoy video games, and billions of people play video games worldwide. Yet other societies, where video games are played as avidly, do not contend with the tragic levels of violence that occur in the U.S”.
“Video games are an easy target and blaming them for violence in society ignores other underlying factors that influence crime, many which are much more significant such as mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, and poverty,”Steven Mercael
“As a criminal lawyer, it is my job to investigate all the factors that might have contributed to my client’s offending, so I can put forward their best case to the court.”Steven Mercael
Do video games increase crime?
Blaming video games for crime, especially violent crime, is not new and can be traced back to the release of games such as Mortal Kombat in the early nineties. This is especially so in the United States.
In 1993-1994, US Congress held hearings into the link between video games and violence. The result was the introduction of game ratings given by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB).
The next significant attempt in the United States to link to video games to violence came from a California law that eventually made its way up to the Supreme Court of the United States. The law sought to restrict the sales of violent games to minors. It relied on the same law used to ban the sale of pornography to minors. The Supreme Court rejected the law for infringing the free speech protections afforded by the First Amendment.
“California relies primarily on the research of Dr. Craig Anderson and a few other research psychologists whose studies purport to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children,” the majority of judges held. “These studies have been rejected by every court to consider them, and with good reason. They do not prove that violent video games cause minors to act aggressively … They show at best some correlation between exposure to violent entertainment and some minuscule real-world effects.”
One of the most recent views on the link between video game and violence was expressed by the authoritative American Psychological Association in 2017. It said: “Scant evidence has emerged that makes any causal or correlational connection between playing violent video games and actually committing violent activities.”
The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which Australian courts use to diagnose mental disorders, has recommended further research into video game addiction, which presumably would consider any links to crime.
Mr Mercael said the adding of video game addiction to the DSM could have significant ramifications in the world of criminal law.
“If video game addiction is added to the DSM, it will be placed beside other behavioural addictions, such as gambling,” he said. “This could lead to reduced sentences in some cases where gaming addiction was a contributing factor to the commission of an offence.”