A Brief Look At The Videogame Defense

A Brief Look At The Videogame Defense

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An article on the Palm Beach Post examines the growing popularity of the "videogames made me do it" legal defense, including comments from a lawyer (not Jack Thompson) who suggests the strategy can actually work.

Author Terry Bosky writes that the most recent example of scapegoating videogames for criminal behavior took place in Milton, Georgia, where three youths who were arrested in early August 2008 for a series of car bombings claimed they learned how to do it by playing Grand Theft Auto. Bosky says the claim is likely a precursor to a videogame defense, a tactic that attorney James H. Waller says can help mitigate the blame in such cases.

"The goal of the 'videogames defense' is to both shift blame and to explain to a judge and jury why this good kid is suddenly acting like a terrorist," Waller said. "Portraying your client as the victim of outside forces (be they child abuse, coercion by peers, or an ultra-violent videogame industry) humanizes the client and shifts the culpability. While I don't believe that violent videogames tend to have any negative effects on otherwise healthy people, my job is to present ANY theory to a jury that would explain why my client did the things he did."

Further, such a strategy can be effective with "an unsophisticated, typically older, somewhat more rural jury pool or judge," Waller claimed. "To an extent, the defendant is playing on the prejudices that these members of society already have towards videogames."

Professor Ashley Lipson of the University of La Verne College of Law in California agrees that such the strategy can be useful for obfuscating the facts of a case. "A good defense lawyer will blame everyone in sight, except of course the client. When he or she runs out of people to blame - it's time to look around for objects. What could be better than a popular videogame?" he said. "Charged with jaywalking? Try the Frogger defense, of course. What else could possibly be to blame? As for all other crimes against society ranging from rape, mayhem and carjacking to murder - what could be more perfect than that universal fall guy, Grand Theft Auto?"

But despite the outrage expressed by the industry every time an attorney tries, usually unsuccessfully, to blame games for the criminal acts committed by his deranged and/or scumbag client, Waller says game companies have only themselves to blame for it. "It isn't the court cases that generate the press and make the public aware of the games," he said. "The manufacturers do everything they can to make sure that they are a household name, if not cartridge. Restricting supply to create buzz, sensationalizing their own violence to the media, doing idiotic things like leaving the Hot Coffee code in the game... the jury knows that a lot of kids today are playing this Grand Theft Auto game and that it's very violent or adult before we even walk into the courtroom."

via: GamePolitics

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This just shows how ignorant and out of touch the judiciary is.

Anyone who uses the videogames defense may escape prison or other penalties, but they'll invoke a gamer wrath that cannot be quelled. Seriously, if you do something stupid, go down with your ship, don't sink an entire industry that you apparently have some invested interest in with you. And those lawyers who say they don't think video games have any negative effect on kids, but oh well... well, stop complaining about lawyer jokes, you've earned 'em.

This just renforces my philosophy called: Most people on earth are incompetant dumbasses.

Did he just say 'cartridge'? What year is this from? 0_o
I actually thought the article was in defence of the games themselves, or at least how stupid people (or very very smart people) can use them as an excuse for their misdeeds. Then it mentions, -of course- , it's the company's fault. Although I do realise that a company would of course welcome free advertising and do their best to advertise on their own, I notice that most of the advertised features of games focus on their graphical capabilities, open-endedness or plot.

I mean think about it, what's the last mainstream game you saw that proudly stated: Murder over fifty kinds of innocent bystander! Steal whatever you want! Our new physics engine allows you to run over pedestrians in the most realistic and visceral ways ever!

Really...skk.

I was actually suprised that some people actually belived those kids that blamed GTA, I mean, I know that people absolutely hate violent games but they can't really believe kids who say that, and I quote, "A video game made me do it!" people have to have more common sense then that? Right?

That's like saying "My dog ate my homework", no teacher is going to believe that!

Yet, it seems that some "teachers" will fall for anything, including "An alien abducted me! I couldn't finish the assignment."

I don't remember the mission in GTA where they give instructions on how to make bombs...

Simon_TR:
I don't remember the mission in GTA where they give instructions on how to make bombs...

Damn! Beat me too it! But seriously, all the opposing lawyer has to do is say that nowhere in the game does it teach you to make or where to plant bombs on cars(I haven't played GTA4 but my common sense tells me they don't). That plus the fact that he uttered the word "cartridge" automatically means that he has no idea what he's talking about.

What I find funny is that quite a few of the people who use this defence are actually under the age that should be playing the game.

Oh, and I hate it when a guy can plead religion, as well as some other factors, and the person gets sent to a mental asylum. You'd think the same thing should happen for video games, but it seems that video games are to blame...

Jumplion:
I was actually suprised that some people actually belived those kids that blamed GTA, I mean, I know that people absolutely hate violent games but they can't really believe kids who say that, and I quote, "A video game made me do it!" people have to have more common sense then that? Right?

That's like saying "My dog ate my homework", no teacher is going to believe that!

Yet, it seems that some "teachers" will fall for anything, including "An alien abducted me! I couldn't finish the assignment."

Even now, people still fall for "the Devil made me do it".

Indigo_Dingo:
Even now, people still fall for "the Devil made me do it".

The difference is that when someone says the devil made them do it, they are classified mentally insane, and religion gets to wash its hand of the matter. With video games, the industry is blamed, not the person who committed the crime.

stompy:

Indigo_Dingo:
Even now, people still fall for "the Devil made me do it".

The difference is that when someone says the devil made them do it, they are classified mentally insane, and religion gets to wash its hand of the matter. With video games, the industry is blamed, not the person who committed the crime.

Thats not what the phrase means. The phrase means that the temptation was too much for their mind.

Yeah, that damn rap music made those kids do it--

No, wait. It was television? No... violent movies? Pornography? Books? Aw hell, just blame Satan.

Aren't scapegoats fun?

TheBadass:
Yeah, that damn rap music made those kids do it--

No, wait. It was television? No... violent movies? Pornography? Books? Aw hell, just blame Satan.

Aren't scapegoats fun?

Oh yes, Satan has been really misrepresented over the years.

Indigo_Dingo:

stompy:

Indigo_Dingo:
Even now, people still fall for "the Devil made me do it".

The difference is that when someone says the devil made them do it, they are classified mentally insane, and religion gets to wash its hand of the matter. With video games, the industry is blamed, not the person who committed the crime.

Thats not what the phrase means. The phrase means that the temptation was too much for their mind.

well I guess that's just the case here isn't it. why whould one else bomb a car just like that. I think both those who blame games for their acts and those who believe aforementioned claims are quite mentally insane.
Violence in games is ment to be performed when one feels those urges. They are created with the idea of how cool it would be to slaughter, shoot or whatever without harming others and oneself. Such an idea can be seen as disturbing to some but violence is in our nature.
And why would a game like GTA, that never ever attempted to be realistic or serious, be a tool to teach violence.

GothmogII:
Did he just say 'cartridge'? What year is this from? 0_o

DS uses cartridges, but its unlikely any game on the DS would make you kill someone, well maybe eligle 2 or what ever that weirdness is called.

When i'm in charge, this will stop.

Some people will do or say anything to not have to take responsibility for their own actions, and those are the worst kind of people.

Bored Tomatoe:
This just renforces my philosophy called: Most people on earth are incompetant dumbasses.

Philosophy? Heh, I see that as a fact.

Why don't we just go back to using witches as scapegoats? Or better yet goats. No, wait, then PETA will start to whine.

the monopoly guy:

Bored Tomatoe:
This just renforces my philosophy called: Most people on earth are incompetant dumbasses.

Philosophy? Heh, I see that as a fact.

Why don't we just go back to using witches as scapegoats? Or better yet goats. No, wait, then PETA will start to whine.

peta whines if you sneeze in your cats direction(i don't know if you have one or not but they did this before...)

Also if we go back to witches jack thompson will only say 'video games! tis witchcraft!'

Kahuna-Kurt:

Also if we go back to witches jack thompson will only say 'video games! tis witchcraft!'

As someone who started off taking programming courses, and gave up after one semester, sometimes I think they are.

Kahuna-Kurt, PETA whines is you even have a cat. Sneezing on them is an offense justifying death.

Sounds like the Chewbacca defense.

shatnershaman:
Sounds like the Chewbacca defense.

Chewbacca made me do it?

meatloaf231:

shatnershaman:
Sounds like the Chewbacca defense.

Chewbacca made me do it?

Haven't seen the South Park Episode?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUP5GzHIojU

GothmogII:
Did he just say 'cartridge'? What year is this from? 0_o
I actually thought the article was in defence of the games themselves, or at least how stupid people (or very very smart people) can use them as an excuse for their misdeeds. Then it mentions, -of course- , it's the company's fault.

Hi, I'm glad to see discussion about my post. I did think it was weird that he said cartridge, but maybe that sounded better to him. Also, to be clear, as a gamer I think the video game defense is inordinately stupid and I do not blame the companies at all. I thought it was important to add Waller's quote to the closing of my article because I was interested in his rationalization.

'Frogger made me dart across the street in a seemingly random pattern!'

Malygris:

Further, such a strategy can be effective with "an unsophisticated, typically older, somewhat more rural jury pool or judge," Waller claimed. "To an extent, the defendant is playing on the prejudices that these members of society already have towards videogames."

The lawyer's ethical principle that all clients deserve the utmost representation kind of rings hollow right about now, doesn't it?

Well if parents and people who sold games like GTA did their job properly "The Videogame Defense" wouldn't be an option.

i have been playing violent games and watching violent gorey movies since i was about 9 and i have not killed anyone, i have violent urges but then again it is the nature of humans to be violent.... somewhat...

 

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