Sandy Hook "News" Using Opinions As Facts To Attack Games
Let me preface this piece by clarifying something about my career as a journalist-
I began with the newspapers, working my way up from freelance local news, and eventually published over one hundred articles in three different newspapers; these ranged from entertainment features to editorial. I left this behind for two reasons: 1. The steady decline of print media meant I was starving to death, and 2. I had found the ethics, business structure, and principles to be highly questionable at best.
The cardinal sin of journalism, as I was taught, is to infuse opinion into a news report. The second cardinal sin is to interpret the facts for the reader. Of course, most all mainstream news sources these days commit both sins on a daily basis, and the latest example of this can be found in The Daily News. For the record, I do not necessarily blame the author, Mike Lupica, because for the most part, he's merely reporting on the mass assumptions that sources have essentially turned into fact since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
The article talks about CT state police colonel Danny Stebbins addressing a recent find in the Sandy Hook tragedy case. The shooter, Adam Lanza, apparently had been planning the massacre for years, and even kept detailed spreadsheets of the names and number of people killed in past mass murders. He essentially wanted to kill more than anyone had in the past; to "beat" the other murderers in a diabolical game of sorts. Stebbins said it is believed those spreadsheets were "score sheets" and "the work of a video gamer." In other words, Lanza just wanted to get the best "score."
Lupica even refers to Lanza as "the video gamer." The source further said Lanza killed himself so he wouldn't give away those "points" and- "In the code of a gamer, even a deranged gamer like this little bastard, if somebody else kills you, they get your points. They believe that's why he killed himself." That's really what "they" believe.
Now, what I would like to see is the tiniest shred of evidence that Lanza even played video games. There is nothing in this report or in any report since the tragedy that lists a single solitary game title, that cites sources saying Lanza played a lot of games, or that finds any example in recovered documents that mention video games in any way. No game was cited on these spreadsheets, Lanza never referred to a video game or gaming in general, and as far as I can tell, the only people who have ever used the term "video game" in association with Adam Lanza are speculative authorities and journalists.
Stebbins actually goes so far as to call Lanza a "violent, insane gamer" and bases this on no factual evidence whatsoever. These people are so out of the loop that they honestly believe that this is still 1980, where the goal of most video games is to have the most points. Even in the realm of multiplayer, I don't know how many games allow you to steal points from someone after you kill them (citing Stebbins' quote about the "code of the gamer"). Are there any? From what I can gather, Lanza has been branded an "insane gamer" because they found spreadsheets and research this severely deranged individual had collected, which showed his plan. That's it. Spreadsheets. And they've twisted this to mean "scoresheets" and then made the jump to video games.
These people should be embarrassed. Sadly, there is no easy answer for what happened that awful day. The perpetrator was broken; that's perhaps the plainest, most obvious answer, although it likely won't give anyone any comfort. Even worse, what this horrid event has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, at least in my estimation, is that journalism in this country is woefully lacking and highly suspect, as they seem to want to give us answers and assign blame, when in fact that is not the goal of journalism. No mainstream article on this subject has been researched from the aspect of the gaming industry. Not one. They sound outdated, judgmental and ignorant. Ignorance in journalism should not be tolerated.
Most journalists, and I imagine guys like Lupica, would rate video game journalists as the lowest of the low in the journalism field. They believe we're all just playing at this, that we're all just typing away in our parents' basements. It's why the AP doesn't even have a full-time reporter that covers games and why even the biggest newspapers in the world treat both games and game journalists with contempt and suspicion. That, by the way, can be seen in this apparent smear campaign against gaming, which was sparked by an unspeakable tragedy. The mainstream media saw an opening and took it. And I am once again reminded as to why I left papers in the first place; I had once thought it prestigous. I don't anymore.
Disclaimer: New information may come to light that proves Lanza played a lot of violent video games. So far, that hasn't happened but if it does, so be it. I will not, however, amend my opinion or this article because the public has been given no evidence of Lanza's "insane" gaming trends and hence, no accusations can be made. At least, not yet.
3/18/2013 1:05:17 PM Ben Dutka