Violent video games are getting more bad rep this week, after a senior Scottish Police officer blamed them for a recent knife attack in Clydebank. The perpetrator — who is only 13 years old and apparently already a father — is reported to have slashed the throat of a 14-year old friend over "an argument about Xbox games". The two friends met one another through Gears of War 3's online multiplayer. Despite suffering extensive injuries, the victim survived the attack.
Commenting on the incident, Scottish Police Federation chairman Brian Docherty stated:
These games are rated 18 and shouldn’t be played by children of this young age...but online gaming may be outside their parents’ knowledge. We need to look again at what we can do to stop this.
The above statement is fair comment, however, Prosecutor Andrew Brown QC also added that:
The reporting officer was of the opinion that the violent video games played online by the accused may have been a factor in his conduct.
In response to the attack, a Microsoft spokesperson said:
We have some of the most robust parental control systems to empower parents to decide how their children play and communicate. We have the greatest sympathy for the victim and his family.
Tragic events such as this perhaps serve as a good reminder as to why Nintendo has been relatively cautious with its own online services — also including substantial parental control options, while Miiverse is heavily moderated. Nevertheless, this seems to be an isolated and exceptional case, and we don't know what other factors were at play here. The debate has raged for years over whether violent video games can cause violent tendencies in people, but it is important to note that there has not yet been any conclusive evidence to suggest that this is definitely the case.
Do you think online gaming-based services should be stricter in how they allow people to communicate with one another? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.