Comment: German shooting linked to Far Cry 2. Really?

The German school killer played Far Cry 2 the night before his murdering rampage, so expect the wider media to labour the point.

The Telegraph has reported on further evidence in the south-west Germany shootings, where 17-year-old Tim Kretschmer killed nine pupils and three teachers at the Albertville secondary school in the town of Winnenden, north of Stuttgart; killing three others before turning the gun on himself.

The game Counterstrike has already been mentioned in passing, which was described by the Associated Press to be a game that “involves killing people to complete missions.” Now Ubisoft’s 2008 release Far Cry 2 has been connected to the shooting.

Kretschmer reportedly spent the night before his spree playing a “violent video game in which a heavily armed mercenary tracks down and kills an arms dealer,” The Times explains.

Both the police and journalists have started to draw “remarkable parallels” between the video game and the teenager’s rampage. These include hijacking cars, wearing black camouflage (do you wear this in Far Cry 2? I think not) and “most sinister of all” the wielding of a Beretta 92 handgun in the game (Negative Gamer has confirmed that this gun is not in the game). All of this was performed by Kretschmer himself – he fired the same Beretta handgun 112 times.

The scape-goating continues to reach epic proportions, when The Times explains that Far Cry 2 “rewards players who shoot their victims in the head, the style of killing chosen by Kretschmer.” The inaccuracies and over-exaggeration is beyond infuriating.

A number of American experts (expects Jack Thompson to arrive) are convinced that there’s a link between the school shootings and the violent video games Kretschmer played.

Lieutenant-Colonel Dave Grossman, a West Point psychology professor, said: “You can see their influence in the way these school shooters aim and shoot accurately and move from one target to the next, moving through people dispassionately.”

However, Walter Hollstein, a sociologist working with the Council of Europe, disagrees: “It’s nonsense to assume they turn adolescents into school shooters.”

“A variety of factors, such as helplessness, anger and loss of control, must come together for them to become the trigger, but the games themselves don’t make anyone a killer.”

Despite this intelligent rebuttal, the debate on the influence of violent video games is sure to flare up, especially in Germany where many video games are banned.

Some have pointed to another game Kretschmer played obsessively – Table Tennis. However, I’d personally link the shooting with a number of mental health issues, in addition to the fact that Kretschmer was very good at shooting real guns (and not just virtual ones) with his father owning a cabinet full of legally owned guns. In fact, weapons were his obsession.