Agenda:
  1. Ranting
  2. Research Articles
  3. Conclusion
Ranting

The defense attorneys and the prosecutors both made a statement that Halo 3 addiction was the basis for the murder, the problem is that Halo 3  was released in May 15, 2007, the murder occurred in Oct., 2007.  This seems a little quick for addiction to reach this level.  My initial comment was: "Get out of here..."

Take a look at the article “So-Called ‘Halo killer’ gets 23 to life”, the article states that:

“Both Petric's defense attorneys and prosecutors blamed the crime on the teen's "addiction" to the game Halo 3. His lawyers claimed that the teen had become obsessed with the game after playing it constantly while incapacitated for months following an injury. Pleading an insanity defense, they argued he would forgo food and sleep to play the game for up to 18 hours a day, creating a mental state where he didn't think death was permanent.

The judge even went on to state:

"I feel confident that if there were no such thing as violent video games, I wouldn't know Daniel Petric.”

For a judge to make this kind of statement is telling and an example of the judge using the "bench" as a bully pulpit, and it would not allowed in the court.  If you offered this type of judgement in the court, you might get questions like:

  • Just where did the judge get his PhD in Psychology? 
  • Or what is the judge’s experience in game design? 
  • Does the judge have a medical degree in neuroscience? 

If Daniel Petric hadn’t played Halo 3 for 18 hours a day, he could have done the same thing with pornography, watching Taxi too many time (President Reagan’s shooter did), stalking a women, watching Law & Order then pretending they understand the law, and so forth.

To say that Halo 3 was the cause of the addiction, frankly really puts a little to much on Halo 3.  I don’t find it addictive at all, in fact, I have had to learn to play it to do demos and found that it was fun, then lost interest quickly after completing the self play successfully.  I did keep it online and really enjoyed designing using the forge.

Addictive personalities are a problem in many areas of life, but in game design we do want to make the games fun and immersive, that is the goal.  It is natural that addictive personalities will be attracted to playing games, gambling, etc.  The rest of us have fun and move on. Sometimes addictive personalities lead society to better things, no clear examples, on the other hand, if they are failures, we look at them as losers who need a shower, and dental work.

In reading the ““So-Called ‘Halo killer’ gets 23 to life” I see this case as having some other elements, for instance, did Daniel Petric go through a process that altered his brain due to the use of painkillers during his recovery from an accident (in a separate article).  Maybe the painkillers mixed with the infinite game play Daniel Petric was doing caused the addiction.  Maybe his injury could have scrambled his brain.  

However, that isn't something that I can judge as I am not a neuroscientist, I don’t have a degree in Psychology, so according to the way courts work, I couldn’t have an opinion. But the judge did. 

I wonder if the judge did any research on game addiction.  I turned to the MS Library, the same digital library that colleges and universities would make available to their students, and I took a look to see if I can find any articles that might have researched the nature of addiction to games.

Research Articles:

From the article: clip_image001

A bibliometric analysis of the scientific literature on Internet, video games, and cell phone addiction

  • The image to the right shows all of the journals that carried addiction to ICT articles since 1996
  • There were 582 articles that were written about some form of computer addiction 

Video Game Addiction in Children and Teenagers in Taiwan

This article is available for free inside of the Microsoft library, so you might be able to get it for free:

The object of the paper:

  • To investigate current conditions of children and
    teenager’s game playing
  • To explore differences in game addiction by gender,
    family functions, sensation seeking, and boredom
    inclination
  • To test differences in animosity by different levels
    of addiction
  • To discuss relationships among the factors of social
    skills and academic achievement by gender,
    family functions, sensation seeking, boredom inclination,
    animosity, and game addiction
  • To test the path relationships among variables
    by using structure equation modeling (SEM)

Conclusion:

People get addicted to a range of things that most people may find:

  • Interesting
  • Fun
  • Disgusting
  • Boring
  • Necessary
  • Nannyism  

Bottom line to me, and I am not a lawyer, so it is my opinion:

  • If the addicted person decides to harm another person or consume products that were created by harming others (such as child porn) then that person has to pay for their actions as judged lawfully by the society that was harmed by their actions. 
  • Daniel Petric will pay for his actions with the loss of his freedom for 23 year, but it was his actions and not “Halo 3”, especially since Halo 3 wasn’t released till 2007 and the killing took place in 2004.  His actions didn’t happen because he was playing any computer game, his actions occurred because he is an independent human who made a very bad choice.

 

(Note: I made changes after the initial publication because I rechecked my facts, initially I had thought the murder took place in 2004 instead of 2007.  Something one can do on one owns blog.  If you see any "facts" that I have cited incorrectly let me know with comments, I think the reference to Taxi is correct.)