During the American presidential elections last year, many people in the gaming community were backing George "Dubya" Bush because of the threat they saw from Al Gore's running mate Joe Lieberman, a well-known critic of violent games and movies. Which today seems a little ironic, as Bush's recently appointed Attorney General John Ashcroft once again lays into the "culture of violence" in America.
Speaking to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Ashcroft apparently took a leaf out of Lt Col Grossman's big book of killology, claiming that teenager Michael Carneal, who shot eight students at a school in Kentucky a few years back, had learned how to aim a gun from video games and was a better shot than most policemen. This is quite clearly rubbish. What people like Grossman and Ashcroft want you to forget is the fact that Carneal was firing a handgun randomly into a crowd of unarmed teenagers, whilst policemen (even in America) generally try to shoot at a single armed target without hitting any innocent bystanders.
In his most strongly worded attack yet on the computer games industry, Ashcroft said that children "are conditioned in video games to do things that are abhorrent to the human spirit", and that companies "may have to understand that there's a certain responsibility in the development of video games". Thankfully he doesn't seem to be promoting censorship at the moment, although here at EuroGamer we would certainly support his calls for stricter enforcement of existing age ratings in the USA, like we already have in most European countries. "We live in a culture of violence, and it's going to take more than government to address it", according to Ashcroft. "Everyone has to have a role."