This week, Tim Kretschmer murdered 15 people before killing himself in the German town of Winnenden. He also played videogames. You can probably guess what happened next.
The Times has reported that Kretschmer had played Far Cry 2 the night before the shootings. A lot of significance is placed on the fact that the protagonist in Far Cry 2 wears black camouflage gear and wields a Beretta 92, which were mirrored in Kretschmer’s choice of garment and weapon. It is also mentioned that Kretschmer played the games Counter-Strike and TacticalOps.
The Times quotes Lieutenant-Colonel Dave Grossman, a West Point psychology professor, who gave his opinion on violence in games: “You can see their influence in the way these school shooters aim and shoot accurately and move from one target to the next, moving through people dispassionately.”
To give the Times credit however, they do also quote Walter Hollstein, a sociologist working with the Council of Europe, who disagreed with the Lieutenant-Colonel’s assessment. “It’s nonsense to assume they turn adolescents into school shooters,” he said, “a variety of factors, such as helplessness, anger and loss of control, must come together for them to become the trigger, but the games themselves don’t make anyone a killer.”
Apparently Kretschmer was a spoiled, gun obsessed youth, with a secret predilection for bondage pornography and had withdrawn from a lot of his former friends. His father, a wealthy businessman who also had a passion for firearms and owned 15 guns himself, had taught his son to shoot at the age of eight and just three weeks before the killings had allowed his son to take the pistol to the gun range to “practice his aim.”
All sources suggest that Kretschmer was a troubled young man, who was drawn to violent games because of his violent leanings and not a healthy individual turned into a monster by videogames. But as we’ve all learned by now, people see what they want to see.