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Games vendors to ‘blame’ for murdered students

Sony, Nintendo and Sega in the dock

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In December, 1997 three Kentucky students were shot dead by a fellow pupil at their high school. The parents of the murdered children blame media violence for warping the mind of 14 year-old killer Michael Carneal. They say they will slap a $130 million law suit on a clutch of video games companies and Internet porn sites which produced material seen by Carneal. In the dock are Nintendo, Sony, Sega, the makers and distributors of 1995 film The BasketBall diaries, and the owners of two porn sites. At the time of the shootings, Carneal was "an avid computer user who logged onto Internet porn sites to view sexually violent material", AP reveals. What are the chances of legal success for the vengeful? An entirely superficial acquaintance with US law tells us that anything could happen, given a fair wind and a sympathetic jury. But it is difficult to see how the parent can win this case. If the American pro-gun lobby can successfully defend its "guns don't kill people - people kill people" stance, what chance is there of pinning blame for murder by a sick individual on a bunch of computer games manufacturers. (From a British perspective, it seems astonishing that the maker of the gun used in the shootings by Carneal has not been enjoined in any legal action. America's gun culture is what we call pornography.) Sure computers do kill people. Last week a 10-year old Singaporean boy was electrocuted playing a shoot-em-up game in a computer arcade. The games gun he was holding was "live". A clear case for liability can be established here. There will be someone to sue. Unlike the Kentucky case. ®

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