Recently we heard about a game that makes light of the Newtown tragedy that occurred almost a year ago. It’s surreal and terrible that someone tried to make a mass shooting into electronic fun. The creator apparently had good intentions—though intent matters little under these circumstances—and he has not apologized. (His game was meant to be a social commentary on the lack of gun control laws in America, or so he says.)
Unfortunately, headlines are skewing the message. This is what they should say: “One Man Creates Homemade Flash Game Mimicking the Newtown Massacre.” Instead, journalists are reporting: “Online Video Game Allows Players to Re-enact Newtown School Shooting.” Both headlines are essentially true, but the second version is misleading: Video games? That’s like World of Warcraft and Call of Duty, right? What sick company would make a game like that?
We wouldn’t blame Hollywood if someone filmed a murder with a camcorder, so let’s not blame the video game industry for someone’s horrific Flash game.
The thing is, no company would make a game like this. This game was not made by the video game industry. It was made by a single man with access to a computer. This is not to say that terrible things don’t come out of the media, or that the effect of the Sandy Hook game should be minimized—only that we cannot blame the actions of an individual working alone on an entire industry of creative, compassionate people, most of whom have condemned the game and sworn to bar the creator from working among them.
The world can seem like a terrible place sometimes, and it’s not journalism’s role to make us feel better. We can find solace in the fact that many, many people are deeply angered and upset, including those who work in the gaming industry, and efforts are already being made to remove the game from the place it is being hosted.
It is important to note that kids—who are notoriously curious—might get wind of the game and look it up. It might benefit your family to bring up the topic ahead of time and discuss why you think a game like this is wrong, and who it might be hurting. Ask them what they think the difference is between the games they usually play, especially if they like FPS games, and the Sandy Hook Flash game.
Our hearts go out to the people who have been affected by the actions of this thoughtless individual.