As video games are becoming increasingly complex and realistic, gamers are becoming more and more addicted to them. They have arguably been culprits in some of the bloodiest and most tragic massacres in U.S. history. Here we don’t aim to argue correlation or causation, but to spark the discussion. Do violent video games lead to violent crimes, or does compulsive gaming invoke a natural violent tendency in people who have existing sociological or psychological issues?

A history of violent mass murderers and the games they play: 

1. Columbine

In 1999 Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold went on their 49-minute shooting rampage at Denver’s Columbine High School, murdering 13 people and themselves, after their parents took away their video game privileges.

Numerous times prior to the suicide attack, the two had been banned from playing video games, leading them to exhibit violent and irrational behavior; but with their outstanding academic performance and lack of signs of emotional disturbance, the families didn’t delve deeper into that behavior.

Harris, the mastermind of the tragic attack, has been said to have been addicted to the game Doom, a science fiction / horror first-person shooter video game. Those who played Doom over the Internet with Harris say that he created a game level based on Columbine High School’s floor plan. His design was nearly an exact replica, minus a few wings of the school because the game didn’t hold enough data for him to match the layout entirely. He would play in “God mode,” which took away from the skill and competition that Doom usually encourages. Instead, God mode created a dry run for the massacre that the two would eventually carry out in real life. In one journal entry Harris wrote: “I feel like God and I wish I was, having everyone being OFFICIALLY lower than me.”

They killed 12 students and one teacher and wounded 23 others before killing themselves.

2. Aurora, CO Movie Theater Shooting

On July 20, 2012 a movie theater was filled with viewers anxious to see the midnight screening of the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises.” The groups of friends and families, including a father and his six-year-old girl who attended the showing could have never planned for what was to happen next. Homicide suspect James Holmes entered the theatre through the back entrance and killed twelve people in cold blood, wounding seventy more.

James Holmes was reportedly obsessed with video games. Among a slew of unsettling evidence including a collection of guns, more than 1,700 rounds of ammunition and medications, police took an inventory of numerous video games such as SkyRim, StarCraft and Oblivion – all of which are multi-player games with role-playing components.

3. Newton, Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting

Twenty-year-old Adam Lanza was obsessed with the violent lifelike video battle games that he played at the large suburban home where he lived alone with his mother, a teacher who became the first victim of his horrific shooting spree in December of 2012.

His lust for blood continued in real life, when after murdering his mother, he then went on to kill 20 children and five other teachers. Authorities reportedly stumbled across thousands of dollars worth of video games in Lanza’s home. Lanza’s video game obsession apparently prompted him to try to “score a high body count” in the shooting rampage, said columnist Mike Lupica. One of Lanza’s favorite games to play was Call of Duty, an intense shooting game set in World War II. Call of Duty: Black Ops II is one of the violent video games that have been associated with violence in minors.

4. Daniel Petric’s Parents

When 16-year-old Ohioan Daniel Petric’s parents banned Daniel from playing the video game Halo 3 after he became so obsessed with it that he would play up to 18 hours a day, Daniel decided to “get even.”

According to prosecutors, Daniel’s parents secured the game inside a lockbox in the same closet that the father kept a 9mm handgun. One night, Daniel found his father’s key and snuck into the closet to retrieve both the game and the gun. He then proceeded to walk into the living room where his parents were sitting and say to his folks: “Would you close your eyes, I have a surprise for you.” Thinking the teen was about to apologize for his previous actions, the two of them followed his orders and were instantly shot in the head multiple times. His mother died and his father was severely wounded.

He then said to his father: “Hey dad, here’s your gun. Take it,” in an attempt to make the killing look like a murder-suicide executed by his father.

5. The Family of Nehemiah Griego

In January of 2013 fifteen-year-old Nehemiah Griego killed his parents and three siblings in New Mexico.The teenager began planning the murders two weeks before they were carried out, when he became upset with his mother. His alternate plans were to shoot up a WalMart, and then contemplated killing his 12-year-old girlfriend’s parents.

When being questioned by the police, he was cold unemotional, until asked about the video games that he played. He perked up when he was given the opportunity to talk with authorities about “Modern Warfare” and “Grand Theft Auto.” Griego had no problem giving the authorities a step-by-step account of the events that occurred. According to his statements, he murdered his mother in her sleep at 1 am, and then texted a picture of his dead mother to his girlfriend. After the first murder, Griego killed his brother and two sisters, ages nine, two and five. When his father entered his home at 6 am after working the graveyard shift, Griego murdered him as well. He then proceeded to meet with his girlfriend at 8 am and attend the church at which his father had once been a pastor, and told people that his family was dead.

6. The Police who Attempted to Detain Devin Moore

In June of 2003 18-year old Devin Moore was awakened by Fayette, Alabama police officers after being found asleep in a stolen vehicle at 3 am. In a matter of seconds, Devin Moore managed to yank a .40-caliber Glock-23 from the holster of one of the officers and began to open fire. He shot the two officers and a dispatcher, all point blank in the head, and then fled in the police cruiser.

He was picked up hours later, and made the statement: “Life is like a video game. Everybody’s got to die sometime.” Devin Moore had apparently purchased the video game Grand Theft Auto four months before the killings and played the game day and night.

Are violent video games contributing to the murders we see?

What do you think? We’d like to hear what you have to say about this topic.