In the two weeks since the Florida high school massacre that saw 17 people murdered, it seems that video games have become the scapegoat for these violent acts. Now, the spotlight has fallen on the medium once again: a judge banned a teenager from playing "violent" games after he threatened to commit a school shooting on social media.
The Chicago Tribune reports that the unnamed 16-year-old sophomore at Lake Park High School in Chicago was arrested after posting a Snapchat video of himself playing a shooting game. In the clip, he wrote, “Y’all need to shut up about school shootings or I’ll do one.” Prosecutors say this was his “annoyed” response to a false threat that closed his school on Friday.
A fellow student reported the message to police. The youth was arrested on Monday and kept overnight in a juvenile facility. He was later charged with felony disorderly conduct. Police said no weapons were found during a search of his home.
The boy’s public defender said his comments were a joke in poor taste and not intended as a threat, but Judge Robert Anderson ordered his parents to place him under indefinite home detention. He was also ordered to hand over his smartphone to his parents and was banned from playing violent video games during this period.
The ban on games only covers those considered violent. Anderson told the boy he could “Play Mario Kart all you want."
We don't know what game was being played in the Snapchat post, though the Daily Herald reports a hashtag that referenced a "post-apocalyptic war video game" was included; a description that covers a lot of titles.
It’s unclear exactly why the Judge has prohibited the boy from playing these games; there’s no evidence they can lead to violent crimes.
Not since the Columbine shootings almost 20 years ago have video games come under such scrutiny. In the wake of the Florida attack, Rhode Island Representative Robert Nardolillo said he plans to add ten percent tax on all video games rated Mature and above as a way of funding counseling and mental health programs in schools. While Kentucky governor Matt Bevin says “garbage” games have desensitized people to the value of human life.