One of the perils of joining a gaming club is that there's almost always a new game being played, or talked about excitedly at the next table. The natural inclination of most wargamers is to gauge how many people, (potential opponents) are playing it, what the system is like and, (most importantly) how good the models are. There will be a brief intermission period wherein the voices of our better angels plead against rash, impulse buying:
"Do you need another game system?"
"How much will this cost?"
"Do you have enough room?"
In spite of these paltry concerns, buying will commence. Lovely, stupidly unnecessary and financially crippling buying. Yum.
I've learned in recent years to curb my enthusiasm somewhat with regard to the spontaneous purchase of entire factions for new, expensive and relatively untried game systems, but try not to panic. I'm still a wargamer. I still moan about Games Sweatshop being faceless corporate moguls. I still read Tabletop Gaming News every day. I still fight a losing battle with the primal urge to buy more things than I can ever feasibly build, paint and play without giving up my job and cracking on with the hobby full-time. Psychiatrists might refer to it as a compulsion on our part; a form of obsessive behaviour reminiscent of the Autistic spectrum. They may well be right, but maybe they should take a look at some real addicts. Online gamers.
Most of us know this apocryphal tale; the online gamer who commits a murder because of events transpiring in cyberspace. We shake our heads and laugh it off, because it seems so unreal. Taking another human being's life because of a game? who the hell would do that?
Wednesday 8th June 2005:
Chinese gamer sentenced to life
The sword, which Mr Qiu had lent to Mr Zhu, was won in the popular online game Legend of Mir 3.
Attempts to take the dispute to the police failed because there is currently no law in China to protect virtual property.
We've all played an opponent that we didn't like. It happens. Good times, bad times. Cross words over a table are as bad as things ever get in our hobby and we should be thankful for that. Here are some real-life stories from the USA to assist us:
"Ohio teen Daniel Petric shot his parents, killing his mother, after they took away his copy of Halo 3 in October 2007. In a sentencing hearing after the teen was found guilty of aggravated murder, the judge said, "I firmly believe that Daniel Petric had no idea at the time he hatched this plot that if he killed his parents they would be dead forever." On 16 June 2009, Petric was sentenced to 23 years to life in prison."
"In Jacksonville, Florida, Alexandra Tobias pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for shaking her baby to death. She told investigators that the baby boy's crying had interrupted her while she was playing a Facebook game called FarmVille. She was sentenced in December 2010."
"In November 2010 in South Philadelphia, Kendall Anderson, 16, killed his mother for taking away his PlayStation by hitting her 20 times with a claw hammer while she slept."
Or this one from Vietnam:
"An Earthtimes.org article reported in 2007 that police arrested a 13-year-old boy accused of murdering and robbing an 81-year-old woman. A local policeman was quoted as saying that the boy "...confessed that he needed money to play online games and decided to kill and rob..." the victim. The article further related a police report that the murder by strangling netted the thief 100,000 Vietnamese dong (US$6.20)."
Violent reactions are not the sole province of the addicted, but it takes a special kind of tunnel vision to become so detached from reality that this behaviour becomes acceptable; even natural.
So I ask you again, why murder someone over a game? The simple answer is that it isn't a game any longer. When hobby becomes life, anything goes.
"In 2005, Seungseob Lee (Hangul: 이승섭) visited an Internet cafe in the city of Taegu and played StarCraft almost continuously for fifty hours. He went into cardiac arrest, and died at a local hospital. A friend reported: "...he was a game addict. We all knew about it. He couldn't stop himself." About six weeks before his death, his girlfriend, also an avid gamer, broke up with him, and he had been fired from his job for repeated tardiness."
"In 2009, Kim Sa-rang, a 3-month-old Korean child, died from malnutrition after both her parents spent hours each day in an internet cafe raising a virtual child on an online game, Prius Online."
"In February 2002, a Louisiana woman sued Nintendo because her son died after suffering seizures caused by playing Nintendo 64 for eight hours a day, six days a week. Nintendo denied any responsibility."
"Press reports in November 2005 state that Gregg J. Kleinmark, 24, pleaded "guilty to two counts of involuntary manslaughter". He "left fraternal twins Drew and Bryn Kleinmark unattended in a bathtub for 30 minutes, in order to go three rooms away and play on his Game Boy Advance" while "in the mean time, the two ten-months old kids drowned"."
"A New Mexico woman named Rebecca Colleen Christie was convicted of second degree murder and child abandonment, and sentenced to 25 years in prison, for allowing her 3 and a half-year-old daughter to die of malnutrition and dehydration while occupied with chatting and playingWorld of Warcraft online."
"In November 2001 Shawn Woolley committed suicide due to the popular computer game Everquest. Shawn’s mother said the suicide was due to a rejection or betrayal in the game from a character Shawn called “iluvyou”."
This is just a long-winded way of saying that the next time you worry about being addicted, remember these poor souls. Breathe a sigh of relief. Buy your models with a light heart. Try not to kill anyone.