UK tabloids single out Call of Duty, Dynasty Warriors in coverage of Sandy Hook school massacre

Long-running anti-video game agenda continues - despite praiseworthy previews and reviews.

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Today's front page of The Sun.

UK tabloids The Sun and The Daily Express have blamed video games for the tragic US school massacre.

This morning's edition of The Sun carries the front page splash: “KILLER'S CALL OF DUTY OBSESSION”, saying Adam Lanza, who took his own life after murdering 20 children at Sandy Hook, was “addicted to controversial vid game”.

Then, in a double page spread inside the paper, titled “BLACK OPS BUNKER”, The Sun alleges 20-year-old Lanza spent hours playing “bloodthirsty computer games such as Call of Duty” in the basement of his mother's house.

The Sun's information comes from plumber Peter Wlasuk, who visited the basement while Adam and his older brother lived there.

“The boys were fans of the military. They had posters all over the wall in the basement. They had one poster of every piece of military equipment the US ever made.

“It was a huge poster with every tank ever made. The kids could tell you about guns they had never seen from the '40s, '50s and '60s. The kids who play these games know all about them.

“I'm not blaming the games for what happened. But they see a picture of a historical gun and say 'I've used that on Call Of Duty'.”

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The Sun goes on to say the guns Lanza used in the massacre are “the sort of guns that feature heavily in games like Call of Duty - in which players take on the role of soldiers and shoot dead scores of enemies”.

The Sun's coverage includes a “myView” piece by child and education psychologist Teresa Bliss, who says, “There is no doubt that what children watch affects their behaviour”. “It isn't healthy for children to watch people destroying other people,” she says.

Bliss said Call of Duty “can lead children to become more immune to violence and death” and that despite Lanza's mother Nancy being described as a paranoid person who stockpiled guns, “it is unlikely that she would have been able to give him the influence he needed”.

In a news in brief piece the paper - the best-selling tabloid in the UK - mentions Call of Duty in relation to Anders Breivik, who was jailed for 21 years for killing 77 people in Norway.

The Sun does not appear to have offered Activision a right of reply. Eurogamer has contacted Activision's UK office for comment.

The Sun's coverage comes despite it praising Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 in a series of articles published over the last few months.

In a preview published in September The Sun said Black Ops 2 was “set to be the shooter of the future”.

On 9th November The Sun ran a piece plugging an Activision event in London that let Call of Duty fans play Black Ops 2 ahead of release. “Thousands will be able to do battle through Multiplayer mode, as well as checking out the arsenal of new weapons and drone attacks on offer,” The Sun said.

Then, in a report on the game's launch on 13th November, The Sun delivered its verdict on Black Ops 2, saying, “Graphically, the game is sublime, something the series' reputation is built on. It's not subtle or tactile. It's pure, unadulterated warfare.”

Meanwhile, The Daily Express has singled out Dynasty Warriors in its coverage of the tragedy.

“Chillingly, his favourite video game was said to be a shockingly violent fantasy war game called Dynasty Warriors which is thought to have given him inspiration to act on his darkest thoughts," the paper said in a report published yesterday.

The Daily Express, however, does not provide a source for this supposed link to Dynasty Warriors. Nor does it offer publisher Tecmo Koei a right of reply. Eurogamer has asked for comment.

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Today's Daily Express, page nine.

In today's edition The Daily Express again mentions video games. “The killer's uncle Jonathan Lanza said his nephew had been taking an anti-psychotic drug,” it says. “He was also reportedly fixated with violent video games.”

It uses James Garbarino, an expert in child violence from Chicago's Loyola University, as a source. “When someone with a mental-health disorder becomes very isolated and at the same time is obsessed with playing violent video games, the games break down their impediments to killing,” he says.

“When the incident takes place, it is almost as if they are living out the video game. They feel rejected by society and this is their way of getting back.”

Garbarino suggests the assault rifle Lanza used “is exactly the kind of weapon they practice with in the video games”.

While UK tabloids often blame video games while covering these stories, UK broadsheets take a more considered approach.

This morning's Guardian chooses to focus on the debate about gun control in the US in a double page spread. The Times' front page carries the headline: "Americans start to question gun laws". Inside is a report on US gun ownership.

The Daily Telegraph reports Lanza was a "computer nerd", but, again, focuses on the US gun lobby.

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A more considered approach: The Guardian's report on the Newtown shootings.

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