Published on May 3rd, 2013 | by Fraser Brown4
Scottish police blame Gears of War 3 for youth violence
We’ve got a bit of a youth violence problem up here in rain-soaked Scotland, mainly in poverty-stricken areas plagued with drunks and absent parents, but apparently Clydebank police are tired of blaming socio-economic factors for violent crimes, and have now decided to pass the buck to Epic Games and Gears of War 3.
Clydebank police aren’t particularly interested in evidence-based (youth crime has been steadily falling in Scotland for years) nonsense or causality, and seem content to blame a video game for a thirteen-year old boy slashing his fourteen-year old friend’s throat. The cause for the assault was a falling out, unsurprisingly, but unfortunately this particular falling out was over an online row in Gears of War 3. If the falling out had been over one of the youths not liking the other’s face, I’m sure the police would be blaming unappealing visages for the crime.
With typical disregard for objectivity, the Daily Mail spun the story into a video game inspired assault, even describing the way the attacker said “don’t die” to his victim — who survived — as “reminiscent of violent video games”. Of course, in Gears of War the goal is to kill one’s enemies, not merely injure them, but one can’t expect Daily Mail writers to actually care about the bile they spew
Chairman of the Scottish Police Federation, Brian Docherty, commented on the incident and said that the police needed to find a way to stop children playing adult games. “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.” Dismissing parental responsibility is certainly the first step in combating children slashing each other’s throats.
In a country where football — a sport where on-pitch violence is unacceptable — related violence happens with alarming frequency, it strikes me as odd that the police who are most familiar with dealing with these incidents can’t see that certain individuals will find any reason to go off the rails, whether it’s because of a sport, a video game, or just because they’d spent the afternoon getting pissed on cheap lager.
At least Scotland is being consistent with the rest of the western world, ignoring genuine contributing factors in a crime the moment video games crop up. It strikes me that it isn’t children who cannot differentiate between digital violence and the real thing, it’s video game detractors that have this rather serious issue. The inability to separate fiction from reality is worrying, especially when it’s the police who appear to be thus afflicted.
Microsoft released a statement after the attack: “‘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.” Of course, these parental controls will go ignored, while ignorant mobs string up yet another game, because that’s far easier than accepting that some children are fucking awful, and some people really ought not to have kids.