Jail time for in-game killers

New legislation has been proposed in Germany that would make it a crime to commit “cruel violence on humans or human-looking characters” in games.

The move comes in response to a school shooting in November: 18-year-old Sebastian Bosse wounded 37 people before taking his own life. The shooting has drawn comparisons to another in 2002 where a German student shot and killed 16 people. In both cases the perpetrator was a Counter-Strike fan.

The bill’s sponsor, Bavarian interior minister Günther Beckstein, claims there’s a direct link between CS and the shooting. “It is absolutely beyond any doubt that such killer games desensitize unstable characters and can have a stimulating effect.”

The new bill fails to define explicitly the difference between acceptable and unacceptable. Do the little men in Company of Heroes count? What if you only kill bad people? Will excuses like: “Hey, it was self-defense, officer! That zombie was coming right for me,” keep you out of stir? At least we can be sure the politicos aren't just trying to attract the votes of our in-game victims.

January 18, 2007