If you’re keeping up with the news (as I’m sure you all are), you will probably have heard the news story about the 17-year-old who killed his friend after playing the game Manhunt. As a result, the victim’s parents have called for the game to be pulled from store shelves, and a number of retailers have apparently listened.
Now, with all the previous cases that have occurred (mostly in the States), this is something of a trod and re-trod argument, but I believe this is the first time such a tragedy has occurred in Britain (not to mention the first time such a tragedy has occurred since I’ve had a blog) so I feel an urge to say something vaguely relevant. I guess the first thing I ought to say is that I accept, fully and unreservedly, that Manhunt is not a nice game. It revolves around killing people in as gruesome a manner as is possible with all variety of implements. If someone was handing this out to kiddies in the local school, people would have every right to grab the nearest placard and get protesting.
However, I wish to draw your attention to the image on the right. It has a little red circle in the bottom-left corner. This little red circle has an “18” written in it. Last time I checked, that little “18” meant that anyone under the age of 18 shouldn’t be playing the damn game! Now, I am all for tighter control on these age restrictions (such as heavy sanctions on any store which sells an 18-rated game to a minor) but don’t deprive us adults of the right to play hideously violent computer games.
So, if it’s not the fault of the gaming industry (as, shockingly enough, I believe) who are we to blame?
First off, let’s blame the kid’s parents. As he’s a minor, his parents should have been checking up on him, making sure he wasn’t playing 18-rated games, and if he had become “obsessed” by a game, doing something to help him. This is their duty as parents and it appears that, to some extent, they failed in that duty. However, most importantly, we should be blaming Warren LeBlanc himself, for taking a claw hammer and a knife, luring Stefan Pakeerah to a park, and murdering him. The kid is 17 – the age of criminal responsibility in Britain is 10. As least give him the dignity of being responsible for his own actions. Don’t insult all of us by scapegoating.