Witch hunt of the day
Columbine victims and families sue gaming companies for $5bn
Two years ago a pair of teenagers walked into their school in Columbine and shot dead a dozen students and a teacher before turning the guns on themselves. Soon after the massacre the spotlight fell on the entertainment industry, with parents blaming movies and computer games for the tragedy, a view which was only enforced when a video tape of the two killers talking about their plans was discovered to include comments about the classic first person shooter Doom.
Last week the families of the victims announced that they were launching a class-action lawsuit against 25 companies they held responsible in some way for the Columbine shootings, but at the time few details were available. We now know that the companies named in the $5bn lawsuit include Doom developers id Software and the game's publisher GT Interactive, as well as Activision, who have published id's most recent games along with the controversial Soldier of Fortune. Other games-related companies on the list include Virgin Interactive, Atari, Sega, Sony and Nintendo.
The attorney who filed the lawsuit, John DeCamp, was in a particularly hyperbolic mood, telling journalists that he is seeking to "change the marketing and distribution of these super-violent video games", and accusing them of turning innocent kids into addicted "monster killers". Showing his total lack of knowledge when it comes to computer games, he describes Doom as "purely 100 percent taken from the military and transferred over to the private sector", perhaps getting confused by the Marine Doom mod used by the US military at one point to improve hand-eye co-ordination and teamwork.
Previous lawsuits of this kind have, thankfully, floundered. We can only hope that this one goes nowhere as well, although perhaps it will be enough of a jolt to the US gaming industry and retailers to make them follow the lead of most European countries by enforcing their own age ratings in an attempt to stop violent games which they consistently claim are being developed for adults from falling into the hands of young children.