Super Mario has been stomping on heads since the early 80’s, but no one has ever accused the Italian plumber of being responsible for crime. More recently, however, video games such as Fortnite and Grand Theft Auto, have been condemned for playing a role in the commission of criminal offences.
Criminal lawyer Steven Mercael has experienced a marked increase in criminal charges where video games are perceived as playing a role, especially assaults. Mr Mercael, who represents Fortnite gamer Luke Munday in an assault case that drew international headlines, has urged caution in blaming video games for crime.
Below is a list of 10 crimes that video games have been blamed for and the basis, flimsy or otherwise, of the accusations.
1. An Oregon man on LSD leads police on a 60km car chase, thinking he is playing Grand Theft Auto
An Oregon man took LSD, stole a car, and led police on a 60km car chase, believing he was living a real-life version of Grand Theft Auto.
During the car chase, the man crashed through fences, ran over spike strips twice and drove on the road. Upon crashing the car, he tried ramming a police car before running into a trailer park where he was arrested trying to steal another car.
The man was charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants, second-degree criminal mischief, third-degree escape, unauthorised use of a motor vehicle, attempting to elude a police officer, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, unlawful entry into a motor vehicle, interfering with a police officer, reckless endangering, reckless driving and offensive littering.
2. Russian man found guilty of inciting religious hatred after playing Pokemon Go in Church
A 22-year-old Russian blogger was charged with inciting religious hatred after he filmed himself in Church and mocked Christianity by likening Jesus Christ to a Pokemon character. The blogger decided to play Pokemon Go inside the church because he had seen a news report saying people who did so could be fined or jailed.
The man filmed himself trying to ‘catch em all’ in the church, before leaving and making the remark: “But, you know, I didn’t catch the rarest Pokémon that you could find there — Jesus.”
The blogger was given a suspended three-and-a-half-year jail sentence and was temporarily confined to a pre-trial detention centre.
3. A Sydney man is captured on Twitch assaulting his wife who interrupted his game of Fortnite
A Sydney man was charged with assaulting his wife after she asked him to stop playing Fortnite and come eat with their family. To get her husband off the game, the wife threw objects at him, including her shoe. While this was happening, the man was livestreaming himself playing Fortnite on Twitch. The live-stream captured audio of the incident during including screaming and a loud slapping sound. The video went viral.
The man subsequently apologised and went to relationship counselling with his wife.
4. Minecraft gamer tries to frame games server with a hoax email to blow up schools
A disgruntled Minecraft player was behind a hoax email sent to about 400 schools in England threatening to bomb school grounds if money was not paid. Schools in London, Manchester and North Yorkshire, were evacuated in response to the bomb threat.
The email appeared to come from gaming server VeltPvP, but the company said the account had been “spoofed” and the hoax emails had been sent in a bid to damage VeltPvP’s reputation.
5. A 45-year-old gamer threatens to shoot 11-year-old boy after losing to him on Fortnite
A New York man threatened to shoot an 11-year-old boy after losing a Fortnite: Battle Royale match. The man sent the boy threatening text and voice messages on Xbox One after the loss. In the threats, the man told the boy he would come to his home and cause him pain and mentioned coming to the boy’s school. The two knew each other through gaming and had no other relationship outside of that sphere.
The man was charged with second-degree aggravated harassment and acting in a manner to injure a child.
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