Newspaper report linking stabbing of Leeds teacher to Dark Souls disputed

Daily Mail article singles out From Software's medieval fantasy.

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The article as it appears on the Mail Online website.

A newspaper report linking the stabbing of a Leeds teacher to video game Dark Souls has been disputed.

Today the Daily Mail ran a report with a headline saying the 15-year-old accused of stabbing his teacher, 61-year-old Ann Maguire, to death was "obsessed with online video game where lone cursed character travels through fantasy world killing others". That video game, the report said, was From Software's Dark Souls.

In the second paragraph of the report, the Daily Mail describes the schoolboy as "a depressed loner who spent long periods online playing ultra-violent video games".

It continues with the following caption: "Gamer: The teenage suspect accused of stabbing to death his teacher was a fan of Dark Souls - a fantasy game where players kill others to survive."

Further down the report, underneath an embedded video of the Dark Souls 2 launch trailer, the Daily Mail quotes a fellow pupil who said he had "gone through stages of depression and used to be on anti-depressants". It is also said that he "threatened to commit suicide after reporting he had been bullied".

Now, the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment, which represents the video game industry in the UK, disputed the Daily Mail's report.

UKie chairman Andy Payne told Eurogamer: "The killing of Ann Maguire is both incredibly shocking and tragic. Our sympathy goes out to the families involved and words are never enough on these occasions and thus we can only offer my heartfelt condolences to Mrs Maguire's family and friends.

"There is, however, no evidence that links video games with violence, no matter what publications such as The Daily Mail, a newspaper published in the UK, may infer.

"From their report, The Daily Mail cite drink, drugs and bullying to be factors in the life of the 15-year-old boy accused of the killing. It must also be pointed out that these are observations and allegations attributed to fellow classmates of the accused."

Dark Souls publisher Bandai Namco declined to comment.

A cursory investigation by Eurogamer showed the accused also "Liked" Crash Bandicoot on Facebook, and shared content relating to Minecraft, Injustice: Gods Among Us, Rayman Fiesta Run, Cut the Rope 2, The Family Guy game and Top Gear: Race the Stig, among other games, on other social networks.

This isn't the first time the Daily Mail, and other UK newspapers, have singled out a video game in stories about real life violence. And the issue of video games and violence is one that continues to generate headlines in the UK media.

In December 2012 UK tabloids The Sun and The Daily Express blamed Call of Duty and Dynasty Warriors respectively for a tragic US school massacre.

In September 2013 respected research outfit YouGov conducted a poll on exactly who thinks what about the perceived effect of violent video games, and found that 61 per cent of Britons (who answered yes or no, and not maybe) believed video games could be a cause of real-world aggression. 57 per cent believed video games could be a useful outlet for frustrations and aggression.

Digging into the statistics, older people, and people with no gaming experience, thought worse of video games, whereas younger people who played games thought the opposite.

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