Unfit parents and gamers.
June 25, 2005 6:19 AM   Subscribe

Violent video games are often scapegoats for real world crime and violence. But what if MMORPGs lead to deaths?
Apparently, World of Warcraft did just that.
posted by Colloquial Collision (48 comments total)
 
Did you not even read your third link? The video game didn't cause a death, careless and stupid parents did.
posted by juniper at 6:35 AM on June 25, 2005


Neglectful parents led to death.
posted by jimmy at 6:36 AM on June 25, 2005


beaten on preview, but whatever
posted by jimmy at 6:36 AM on June 25, 2005


I was totally expecting that third link to be the Leeroy
Jenkins video.
posted by briank at 6:37 AM on June 25, 2005


The video game didn't cause a death, careless and stupid parents did.

Only because the careless and stupid parents were playing that game.
posted by Colloquial Collision at 6:45 AM on June 25, 2005


Only because the careless and stupid parents were playing that game.

*head explodes*
posted by dflemingdotorg at 6:47 AM on June 25, 2005


They LEFT THE HOUSE to play the game. As the writer in the third article states, we wouldn't blame baseball if the parents had abandoned their kid at home to attend a game. Read your articles and/or stop being obtuse.
posted by juniper at 6:51 AM on June 25, 2005


Colloquial Collision, if you ever consider taking an editorial job might I suggest a tabloid rather than a broadsheet.
posted by peacay at 6:53 AM on June 25, 2005


Actually, this story might have been folded into a premier post about the range of (and psychology behind) obsessional adult activities, particularly gambling I'd venture to guess, where child neglect results. It could have included the legal angle and the steps taken in different places to remedy these situations. Anyway...
posted by peacay at 7:01 AM on June 25, 2005


Did you ever hear about the parents who left the house to play video games, and they left the kid with a babysitter, but the babysitter got all high on drugs and thought the baby was a turkey and put him in the oven and roasted him?

If video games are responsible for killing this kid, video games are also responsible, if not more so, for donating hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of cash and toys to children's hospitals across the US.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:17 AM on June 25, 2005


Third link: Gaming didn't cause that child's death, neglect did. If the couple went out to to a baseball game and the child died, would we be seeing stories about it in the sports section?

Yes. When there's a fatality, parents who leave a kid in the car to go shopping make the news all the time, as did the guy who left a kid in the car to go hunting. (I linked in the past to a woman who did both -- letting her child wander off to a car while engrossed in an MMORPG.)

If that couple had left that four-month-old at home to see the Samsung Lions play, the story would have been reported just as widely.

I understand the point Opposable Thumbs and juniper are making, but it seems strange to worry over the reputation of a MMORPG in a story about a child's death by suffocation.
posted by rcade at 7:19 AM on June 25, 2005


Breaking news from Detroit: Child dies from suffocation-left in car while parents listen to band playing in bar. Citizens' Committee recommends banning cars, bars, and guitars.
posted by beelzbubba at 7:33 AM on June 25, 2005


beelzbubba, don't even get us started on the evils of music, which is nothing short of the devil's siren call.

Shame on me for even thinking it, but I couldn't help but wonder why the parents could afford to have a child but not a home computer powerful enough to run WoW.
posted by furtive at 7:49 AM on June 25, 2005


I'll cite the fact that legions of Dungeons and Dragons players from the '80s did not grow up and form a RPG army and burn entire towns as permanent evidence that the "risks" of game playing will perpetually be 95% hype and 5% obtuse correlation. I'll never forget my mother having a "talk" with me after I made my first D&D purchase.
posted by VulcanMike at 7:54 AM on June 25, 2005


...the fact that legions of Dungeons and Dragons players from the '80s did not grow up and form a RPG army and burn entire towns...

Yeah, but we should have. Puny Western civilization never would have stood a chance against the Great Nerd Legions.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:08 AM on June 25, 2005


Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Metafilter's very own Jack Thompson.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:08 AM on June 25, 2005


This is nothing new.

Also, it's not all that strange to worry about the reputation of a game in this particular case; when it's being blamed as an (indirect) cause of death, it's fair to examine whether WoW or Blizzard should really be held responsible for anything. On the one hand, we wouldn't blame baseball if the parents had instead left their kid to see a game; on the other, more people would blame the general blight of gambling (and perhaps even casinos) if the parents left their kid to play the slots.
posted by chrominance at 8:12 AM on June 25, 2005


This is nothing new. Remember the spike in turtle abuse incidents back in 1985?
posted by Servo5678 at 8:17 AM on June 25, 2005


LEEEEEROY JEEENKIIIIINS!!!!
posted by fungible at 8:23 AM on June 25, 2005


Ladies and Gentlemen, I present you with a post that disintegrates into nonsense when you read it and click the links provided.

What Juniper and Furtive said, though.

Also, the mother-in-law lived upstairs. Is some ass going to assert that the stigma of going out to play video games kept these parents from enlisting her help? Does that make this different than going to a baseball game?
posted by Busithoth at 8:58 AM on June 25, 2005


LEEEEEROY JEEENKIIIIINS!!!!


Fungible FTW!!
posted by vagus at 11:23 AM on June 25, 2005


chrominance, it's the concept of addiction releasing blame that makes gambling, or video games, or drugs the "cause." We don't consider more mundane activities, like baseball or shopping, to be the "cause" because there's no way the parents can claim that they didn't have control.

Any time we can shift responsibility to an external cause, we do. And with the plethora of external causes available nowadays, it's a wonder anyone is considered responsible for their own actions.
posted by FormlessOne at 11:25 AM on June 25, 2005


I understand the point Opposable Thumbs and juniper are making, but it seems strange to worry over the reputation of a MMORPG in a story about a child's death by suffocation.

The problem is specifically that the story is being made to be about the MMORPG and not the child's death.

I could give fuck all for the reputation of any MMORPG. The attempt to paint a seedy, perverted reputation across an entire passtime and creative industry, however...

What does it say that the condemnation of sports doesn't follow from a child-left-in-car story, but every tragedy with a tangent to video games ends up with an attack on the games?
posted by cortex at 11:47 AM on June 25, 2005


This reminds me of the story of the vegan parents who basically starved their child because they were unaware of what was required in their own diet, let alone one for a newborn child.

There are a stupid, neglectful parents everywhere. Video games are not to blame. Diet's are not to blame. The car is not to blame if a child is left to die of heat exhaustion while the parent's are in a store shopping.

The parent's are at fault. End of story. If Blizzard advocated leaving your young children at home in order to play their game then maybe you could make a case for negligence, but no company in their right mind would do something like that.
posted by purephase at 11:48 AM on June 25, 2005


LEEEEEROY JEEENKIIIIINS!!!!

STRRRRRETCHING THE PRRRRREMISE!!!!!!!

sorry. couldn't resist
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:59 AM on June 25, 2005


CLOWNBOAT WASN'T EVEN THERE!
posted by Stynxno at 12:19 PM on June 25, 2005


I'm going to withhold judgment until Trik weighs in on this.
posted by brain_drain at 12:19 PM on June 25, 2005


As video games have become more immersive and as RPGs have offered a simulated life that is richer than many people's "real" lives, more people are finding their "real" lives becoming merely a means of support for their game lives.

We can expect this trend to continue and look forward to a similar news item soon wherein neglectful parents discover their children dead after a long gaming session without leaving their house.

This is not only a reflection on the addictive properties of games for some people, it is also a testament to meaningless living that such a flimsy simulation can be more soul-filling for these people.

Instead of cursing the game makers for having done such a good job, we should be looking at our culture to see if we can make life a bit more interesting for folks than a day spent stocking shelves at the local Wal-Mart followed by a few hours pretending to be a 20th-level Warrior/Necromancer.
posted by gregor-e at 12:20 PM on June 25, 2005


The suffocation was just a pretense; the parents really sacrificed their kid in order to actualize the powers they have in MMORPGs, via Satan. It happens all the time.
posted by Citizen Premier at 12:29 PM on June 25, 2005


I like what gregor-E says.
posted by inksyndicate at 12:45 PM on June 25, 2005


we should be looking at our culture to see if we can make life a bit more interesting for folks

While I agree with the sentiment, actually spending time on this problem invariably leads me to say Frak it and start up HalfLife2: Deathmatch.

Vicious cycle, eh?
posted by Busithoth at 12:50 PM on June 25, 2005


"should be looking at our culture to see if we can make life a bit more interesting for folks than a day spent stocking shelves at the local Wal-Mart"

This, to me, is like the argument the the music industry should compete with pirates. You have a point, that lifestyle is probably not that fulfilling, (and the music industry is a buncha jerks), and people will look for something else. However, I don't know if our answer as a society/culture should be to try and make our culture "compete" with purely recreational activities, specifically designed to to be fulfilling/pleasant.

We might could do better than we're doing, but we aren't going to beat out activities that are designed to be enjoyed.

Ultimately some people are always going to be dissatisfied with their lots in life, and they aren't going to be capable or knowledgeable to make a meaningful change. Some people do retreat into fantasy occasionally, to healthy and unhealthy degrees, and not all of them have horrible lives to begin with.

Our answer really can't be to criminalize activities because a minority of people do themselves or others serious harm because of their inability to control themselves. At least in this case I don't think so.
posted by SomeOneElse at 1:03 PM on June 25, 2005


gregor-E: without leaving their house has already happened, as rcade said upthread and previous.

And we're talking about a broader demographic than Wal-Mart employees.
posted by gnomeloaf at 1:16 PM on June 25, 2005


Wait, do the people kill people or do the guns kill the people?
posted by Sellersburg/Speed at 2:41 PM on June 25, 2005


FormlessOne, that's precisely the point. No one's going to argue that baseball is a culprit because no one really sees it as a harmful addiction. Video games, on the other hand, are far more contested. But this isn't anything new either; instead of "World of Warcraft," insert the words "alcohol," "amphetamines" or "the internet," and you'll get roughly the same debate.

I'm inclined to blame stupid parents rather than WoW because I don't think I'd become the type of person who'd lock their kids in a closet or leave them alone for a day just to play MMORPGs. I just don't see how anything could have such power over someone, especially when I've played one before and haven't succumbed to the same problems. But does that mean WoW is benign, or that I'm resistant to addiction, or something else? I like beer, but I'm not an alcoholic. Why not? I don't think anyone's got definitive answers to questions like that yet.
posted by chrominance at 3:53 PM on June 25, 2005



Colloquial Collision, if you ever consider taking an editorial job might I suggest a tabloid rather than a broadsheet.


I'll keep that in mind. My work here is done.
posted by Colloquial Collision at 3:59 PM on June 25, 2005


Yawn... Computer games are always made into scapegoats where harm or violence is concerned.

Take the recent case of an eleven year-old boy from Hartlepool, who, after playing best-selling World War II sim Medal of Honour, burst out of the sea on a Normandy beach wielding a 7.7mm Lee Enfield No. 4 rifle and mowed down scores of stunned German holidaymakers. The resultant media furore almost beggared belief. One hysterical broadsheet columnist fatuously opined: ‘It’s possible there may have been some causal link between his playing this game and the subsequent massacre.’ Balderdash. Obviously this person has no children of their own, or they would know that kids do things like this all the time.
I was no exception. I can vividly remember stomping up and down on my brother’s pet tortoise after a marathon session of Super Mario Bros, and scarcely a Christmas goes by where Mum doesn’t regale the family with the story of when, inspired by Pac-Man, I ate so many flashing dots I was sick all over her new throw rug. Kids are like little snotty sponges; they’re constantly soaking up influences and acting accordingly.
Comic genius Robin Williams showed us the military potential of pint-sized video gamers in the brilliant and moving film Toys, where children are trained to drive tanks and pilot helicopters through scrotum-tighteningly unforgiving desert terrain. Kids are the future of world conflict. History has shown that war is by far the best means of resolving international disputes, so by extension, video games are a panacea for all the world’s ills.
Certainly, I will actively encourage my children to imitate the behaviour they see in computer games. I can just picture it now; after a hard day at the office, I return home to find my GTA-addicted son slouched on the settee, flanked by a pair of busty – albeit eviscerated – hookers, the opulent capo di tutti capo of an international drugs and prostitution racket.
It'll be all I can do to stop myself bawling with paternal pride.
posted by RokkitNite at 4:00 PM on June 25, 2005


Wait, are you being sarcastic?
posted by cortex at 4:17 PM on June 25, 2005


"I'll keep that in mind. My work here is done.
posted by Colloquial Collision at 6:59 PM EST on June 25 [!]"


It's nice to see a Troll unafraid to admit they're a Troll.
Ass.
posted by Busithoth at 4:31 PM on June 25, 2005


It said the child died of suffocation....um....that sounds more like murder, not neglect.
Ok...back to WoW!
posted by omnithought at 7:30 PM on June 25, 2005


Does anyone know what video game Hitler play as a kid?

Remember, guns don't kill people, bowling in towns like Columbine kills people.
posted by Davenhill at 8:09 PM on June 25, 2005


The simple solution is to not have kids.
posted by ddf at 8:41 PM on June 25, 2005


Ditto what DDF said. Also, I don't think this thread had quite enough references to Leroy Jenkins.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:21 AM on June 26, 2005


It said the child died of suffocation....um....that sounds more like murder, not neglect.

Yeah the suffocation bit bothers me too. Say the baby is in the baby-room and mom is in the kitchen while dad is reading the newspaper in the living room, like a scene from leave it to beaver. The baby was placed on his stomach for their nap while mom cleans up the kitchen. When she returns 30 minutes later, the baby has suffocated?
I mean it does seem like this tragedy would have happened 4-hour gaming session or not, the problem as outlined in the news article is that the baby was on their stomach. Presumably it does not take 4 hours to suffocate. Or do they mean that the 4-month old turned himself over to his stomach when he worke up after the nap?
posted by dabitch at 7:07 AM on June 26, 2005


2,000,000 WoW players and counting, 1 dead child. I was really hoping that game would solve the worlds overpopulation problem but that ratio is not gonna cut it!
posted by acetonic at 5:44 PM on June 26, 2005


What's really terrifying is that it seems WoW players are reproducing.
posted by mek at 6:44 PM on June 26, 2005


We might could do better than we're doing, but we aren't going to beat out activities that are designed to be enjoyed.

Yeah, but MMORPGs are different because they aren't just designed to be enjoyed stupidly like television or drugs or movies, they're commitments. It's not a packaged hedonistic experience to provide temporary enjoyment within the framework of a full life, but a framework all its own. It continues without the user. And as they get more and more intricate, involved, and creative, people will start to find that their game lives are filled with adventure and excitement, as opposed to their real lives which are just not.
posted by Laugh_track at 9:39 PM on June 26, 2005


Sure, but how do you solve that by making people's real lives just as enjoyable? I mean really? There are all kinds of hedonistic pleasures out there, and making any of them a singular goal is probably self destructive.

MMOs aren't getting EVERYBODY, we aren't all going to end up in a virtual world because it's more pleasing. Some people may but it isn't going to be a majority. We could outlaw it, but that never does very much good.

My point was that we can't really make the sweeping (and sometimes literally impossible), changes to our culture that would be required to lure these people away from the game just because of how enticing they would find their personal lives.
posted by SomeOneElse at 9:52 PM on June 26, 2005


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