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February 15, 2010

Xbox Live game may have prevented a Texas high school shooting

Everybody who has been reading this blog from the beginning (and not ignoring the video games posts) knows that I am an avid Xbox gamer.  I love to play shooters, like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, online along with millions of other gamers.  While we're waiting for the game to start, there can be some nasty stuff said back and forth in the lobby between those who happen to have headsets and microphones.

But what if that talk veers into really dangerous areas, like murder?  A Port Alberni, British Columbia, man may have prevented a high school shooting all the way down in Texas.

He apparently was waiting to start a game (the game is unspecified) and one of the other players started talking about more than he should have:

"The man was playing an online video game Thursday that included live audio, allowing participants to talk to each other. The game had six team members, made up of the Port Alberni man and cyber-friends, competing against another team.

A conversation started with one player who talked about being a high school senior who was failing academically. The chat then took a more ominous turn as the student detailed plans to take part in a shooting at his school the following day.

“The suspect indicated he was a senior at his high school, had failing grades and mentioned names of students he was targeting, along with plans about how the shooting would proceed,” said Port Alberni RCMP Staff Sgt. Lee Omilusik."

The man reported it to authorities, and with some online research and the assistance of Microsoft (which runs Xbox Live), they were able to track down where in Texas this kid was. He was arrested before anything could happen.

I've heard quite a few stories like this, where somebody far away listens to what happens in a game like this, or reads what a Facebook friend who lives thousands of miles away says, and alertly notifies police.  Tragedies have been prevented.

As a gamer, I think this is really cool.  Good on the guy for doing this, considering a lot of people would think it was "just talk."  You don't take chances with something like that.

6 comments:

  1. You know I feel that while this time a game was helpful to prevent a tragedy, such games can be found guilty of corrupting those kids' minds. While a mature person can play just for having fun and/or relieving their anger, frustration and/or getting positive emotions some emotionally unstable people can't tell reality from the game and it can lead to tragedies which we not always will be able to prevent.

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  2. Hi Lena

    That's why these games are rated M for Mature. They are intended for those 18 and above. If parents would start enforcing that, and game stores started too, then that wouldn't be an issue.

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  3. Glad it got reported. Personally I have no quarrel with any of the games out there, but definitely keep my kids away from anything rated "M for Mature!" Good heavens. Sadly, there are probably adults out there who shouldn't have access to these games, either, but it's a free society, and even people with psychopathologies have rights to violent/mature content.

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  4. In a perfect world, that would certainly be the case.

    But it does start with conscientious parents like you. So I admire you for that.

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  5. Well, don't admire me too much; the kids are still young. It's when they start getting out more on their own that it becomes more problematic. Obviously I can't control what they do when they go to friends' houses... that's the scary part. And not just about what video games they might play; more about what else they might get into!

    I try to teach and role model as much as I can, but at some point I'm just going to have to trust that they can start making good decisions for themselves. (I hope...)

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  6. And that's where your parenting comes in. I'm sure you will have given them an excellent moral basis to help them make decisions.

    Letting your kids out into the wild has to be one of the more nerve-wracking feelings out there, but if you've given them a good foundation, they will be fine.

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