In the wake of the terrible tragedy in Winnenden, a top German police official is calling for a ban on violent videogames.
Heini Schmitt, head of the Hessen German Police Union, has expressed his concern about the role of videogames in attacks of the sort seen in Winnenden. The German-language website Echo Online cited those comments and added a few of their own:
It is known that in every situation in which a violent rampage (Amoklauf) has occurred, the perpetrator has had a remarked addiction to so-called killergames. The manner of the deed is astonishingly similar to virtual examples.
For him, the fact that roughly a third of children and youths "regularly and addictively escape into a virtual world" sets off alarm bells. Age restrictions for such games are often ignored. There is admittedly no proof "that these frequent escapes into virtual killerworlds can contribute to such insane deeds", said Schmitt, "But neither can the role killergames be completely dismissed."
When a chance to remove a probable cause exists, it must be used, insisted the chief of the national police union. "The world would be no poorer if there were no more killergames."
Given the recent tragedy in his country, Mr Schmitt's views can certainly be understood, but to say that videogames are a 'probable' cause for the kind of violence he describes seems reactionary at best. Germany already has one of the most restrictive videogames rating systems in the world, the Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle or USK, with many games heavily censored before being released in the country.
In the case of the Winnenden shooters, the perpetrator, Tim Kretschmer, was described as a detached individual with a fascination for guns and years of shooting experience. His videogame playing seemed like a footnote in the story of an individual with deep-seated emotional problems.
Essentially, we come back to the question asked time and time again; do videogames make gamers more violent?