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Murder Simulators
As you can see, today's society is dangerously immoral.

"There's so much comedy on television. Does that cause comedy in the streets?"
— Dick Cavett, mocking the TV violence debate

Not only is it true that New Media Are Evil, but some works attract criticism because of loose association with some contemporary murder or suicide. The title comes from since-disbarred attorney Jack Thompson's accusation that games like Grand Theft Auto turn players evil.

Moral Guardians' attempts to blame the New Media often overlook the fact that it's only our misty watercolor memories that make it seem like murder sprees and school shootings only started happening after the release of Doom. In fact, prior to the 2007 Virginia Tech Massacre, the deadliest school shooting in US history was the University of Texas at Austin massacre in 1966 (A school bombing in 1927 was deadlier than either). Also, the rate of violent crime has gone down since the widespread adoption of video games in the '90s, for reasons that are complex and poorly understood but almost certainly have nothing to do with video games.note 

Sometimes, the works are blamed before any evidence has come out, which is swept under the rug when it's shown that the perpetrators didn't bother with the work in question.

There is some basis in reality, however. People who play violent games for a long period of time can be desensitized to committing violence, making them more likely to commit murders or hurt others. However, a) this effect only occurs with those who were already inclined to commit violence, and b) any violent media (or even a real life event) can cause this, especially when the consequences of the violence aren't dwelt upon. To place the blame entirely on video games means ignoring the effects of violent TV, movies... and of course, real life violence, which is often a fixture of the nightly news.

See also: Ultra Super Death Gore Fest Chainsawer 3000; Videogame Cruelty Potential; Hitler Ate Sugar; The Comics Code. Often overlaps with Cowboy Bebop at His Computer. Moral Guardians are normally the invoker of this trope.

Real Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • There have been multiple instances where people have been discovered to be in possession of their own Death Note. They were black books that said Death Note on the front, and had names of people written in them, as if the owner wished death upon them. Of course, that'd look like good reason to question the sanity of college students who are so influenced by a work of fiction that they wish to kill a bunch of people.

    Film 
  • In 1982, a man murdered an elderly couple with the media claiming the film Halloween II (1981) inspired the killing. The guy did watch the movie, but the reason he committed the murder probably had more to do with the fact that he was shitfaced from a combination of booze, weed, and PCP at the time of the killings.
  • The British papers blamed the shocking murder of Jamie Bulger on Childs Play 3. It was later established that neither of the boys responsible had ever watched it.
  • The Otaku Murderer, who caused a moral panic against the Otaku subculture. Experts believe the fact that he believed he was a fucking rat had more to do with it. He allegedly owned lolicon pornography, but it's now commonly believed that he didn't own any at all.
  • John Hinkley, the guy who shot Ronald Reagan, was obsessed with Taxi Driver (specifically Jodie Foster) and the assassination attempt was a re-enactment of a scene in the movie. It should be noted that Hinkley was completely batshit insane, and the scene in question didn't involve Travis Bickle actually shooting his target.
  • Several incidences of Russian Roulette games gone wrong have been connected to The Deer Hunter.
  • The 2012 shooting at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. Some patrons even thought the masked/armed man was a prank or a publicity stunt before he started firing madly. To make it even more unfortunate, the shooter identified himself to the police as "The Joker".note 
  • Several high-profile bank and armored car robberies, including the North Hollywood shootout, were allegedly inspired by the robberies depicted in the film Heat.
  • A Clockwork Orange. A gang sang "Singin' in the Rain" during a rape, arguably as a result of the film's influence. Apparently, it also inspired a murder known as "The Clockwork Orange Murder", where a boy killed his best friend in his backyard. Indignant over the allegations, Kubrick had Warner Brothers withdraw the film from distribution in Britain until after his death.

    Literature 
  • Both John Hinkley Jr. and Mark David Chapman were fans of The Catcher in the Rye, and it probably doesn't help that Holden Caulfield refers to having a "people shooting hat". Though in Salinger's defense, the people shooting hat was a one time joke.
  • While not necessarily blame, the reason the terrorist Ilych Ramirez Sanchez is known as "Carlos the Jackal" is because a copy of The Day of the Jackal was found in the apartment of one of his girlfriends, leading to the press creating a story that he was a fan of the book.
  • Harry Potter being accused of getting kids to become Pagans or Satanists might qualify, especially since a lot of the people complaining about it fall victim to Poe's Law and use quotes from The Onion.
  • The reason why you can't find the Stephen King novel Rage in print anymore is because he voluntarily pulled it after several school shooters mentioned it has having influenced them to commit the acts.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A few years ago there was a long article in a Dutch TV guide on this subject regarding TV violence which demonstrated an infuriating variation of this trope. Although they did acknowledge a lot of research that showed that violent imagery on the TV had an influence on kids' behavior, they still tried to downplay the influence of TV violence at the end of the article and pointed the finger at other forms of media (mostly games).
  • Alan Titchmarsh's show on ITV once ran a "debate" on video game violence. It started off with the games representative being outnumbered 2 to 1 and went steadily downhill from there. Highlight include Titchmarsh not knowing that there was, in fact, a ratings system for games, and the crowd booing when it was pointed out that violence is also present in films.
  • Andrea Yates was said to have been inspired to drown her children in the bathtub by an episode of Law & Order (where a woman did just that) that aired shortly before she did the deed. No such episode existed.
  • Similarly, a pair of teenage boys once built a bomb in their garage and it went off, killing one of them. The survivor claimed they got the idea from an episode of MacGyver. The show was exonerated when it was discovered that no such episode existed.
  • Penn & Teller: Bullshit! deconstructed this in the Video Games episode. To counter the claim that violent games desensitize children to violence and that realistic games teach children how to use weapons, they test it by giving a nine year old boy who plays violent games very frequently an AR-15 at a shooting range. He holds the gun incorrectly, misses the (oversized) target, isn't prepared for the recoil, doesn't want to shoot more afterward when asked, and cries from the experience.
    • They also debunked an interviewee who claims that massacres occur because a combination of a troubled kid, guns, and violent video games using evidence of school massacres that involved none of those. They then point out that while he's against violent video games, he's actually a gun lover.

    Music 
  • A couple of kids killed themselves back in the '80s, and their parents accused Judas Priest of putting subliminal messages in "Better By You, Better Than Me" to "do it" (the "it" presumably being "kill yourselves"). They responded by denying any messages of the sort, since killing your audience is counterproductive, and if they had the idea, the message they would have preferred was, "Buy more of our records." Bill Hicks skewered this claim in one of his albums. It boils down to "What kind of idiotic band actually wants to kill off their audience? Too much money, drugs, sex, and fame?"
    • The same album had a song about suicide called "Beyond the Realms of Death", but the controversy completely ignored it.
      • Even more bizarrely, the song they targeted was a cover of a Spooky Tooth song, so the band being sued didn't even write it in the first place.
    • Ozzy Osbourne was the defendant in a similar lawsuit around the same time, which was dismissed for pretty much the same reasons. His case was helped by the fact that, despite the song in question ("Suicide Solution") having a title that seemingly encouraged suicide, the lyrics were rather blatantly about the dangers of alcohol abuse.
  • Rap music has been a popular scapegoat for almost 20 years. The media frenzy died down around the mid '90s, then in '99, Eminem made his debut and the controversy went right back into full swing. It seemed that people stopped caring when it was black youths listening to black musicians advocating sex, drugs, and murder; but a white musician saying these things to white youths?
  • Serial killer Richard Ramirez was a fan of AC/DC, particularly the song "Night Prowler" (his nickname was "Night Stalker"). This brought some bad publicity for the band (the title of that song's album, Highway to Hell, didn't help matters).
  • The song "Bodies" by Drowning Pool took the blame for the Arizona Shooting.
  • Marilyn Manson was a target for Moral Guardians after the Columbine shooting.

    Other People 
  • Socrates was sentenced to death for "corrupting the youth of Athens" in 399 BCE, making this Older Than Feudalism. Although if Jack Thompson and his ilk heard video game people comparing themselves to Socrates, they'd probably have an apoplectic fit. Which may be a very good reason to do it as often as possible.
  • Like Socrates, Nietzsche has received his share of blame, notably for motivating Leopold, Loeb, Pekka-Eric Auvinen, and Adolf Hitler. This is so pervasive that fictional villains who draw inspiration from The Theme Park Version of Nietzsche's philosophy have their own page.
  • Similarly, a common tactic among creationists is to blame belief in evolution for atrocities like the Holocaust. Never mind that what people do based on believing evolution has nothing to do with whether it's true or not. Eugenics is based on a remarkably inept understanding of evolution. "Purifying" the gene pool is, as Darwin points out, the quickest way to make a species extinct; diversity is necessary to ensure that alleles that may one day be useful are preserved. And never mind that On the Origin of Species was banned in Nazi Germany.
    • There's also blame placed on Darwin for Social Darwinism, even though his theories explicitly dealt with physical evolution only. Darwin even wrote that humans' willingness to help the weaker and "less fit" among us was what set us apart from other species and ennobled as being better than our nature.
  • Japan isn't immune from such things either. While the assumptions have lightened up, otaku ("obsessive" fans of various things; geeks or nerds) have been denoted as perverted men who hole themselves up in their homes and do nothing but chat online. They apparently will attack young girls or stalk them. This stereotype/assumption was because of a Serial Killer/rapist who was shown to have many horror films as well as various anime of questionable content. The media, of course, led to the conclusion all "otaku" are dangerous.
    • Two words: Tsutomu Miyazaki. When police found the serial killer's apartment filled with Lolicon manga and Gorn videos, a massive backlash against anime and manga ensued. (This, combined with a string of expensive theatrical flops, was directly responsible for the end of anime's golden age in the '80s).
    • Another anti-manga scare ensued in 1995, when the Aum Shinrikyo cult launched a terror attack on the Tokyo subway; they used manga as a promotional tool, their leader directly lifted some of his theology from '70s anime, and many of their recruits were disaffected Otaku.
      • Reportedly, the Aum Shinrikyo incident had eerie similarities to plot elements in the first draft of Neon Genesis Evangelion, forcing rewrites to avoid controversy. Of course, Evangelion attracted plenty of controversy anyway...
    • Aaaaand history repeats yet again when Tokyo's governor Ishihara vehemently demands a ban on manga, anime and games that show even remotely themes nonsuitable for children (i.e. all rated PEGI 12 and higher) because they "erode our children".
      • On a similar note, many manga authors call him out on his hypocrisy by pointing out that he wrote an erotic novel.

    Some Combination Of Media 
  • Marilyn Manson, South Park, and Doom were all blamed for the Columbine shootings.
    • Final Fantasy VII was also blamed by one group. Why? Because of the Sector 1 bombing mission at the beginning of the game. Yeah.
  • There also needs to be some mention of the belief of some Christians that Harry Potter and Dungeons & Dragons can teach people magic, despite the fact that neither source gives instructions and being capable of using these spells would require the ability to rewrite the laws of physics. As tested here.
  • Similar to the Jim Adkisson example above, the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and several others in a Tuscon, Arizona supermarket was blamed on the violent rhetoric coming from radio and TV talk show hosts and pundits like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Singled out for scrutiny was an election map created by Sarah Palin in which twenty Democratic-held seats (Giffords' among them) were marked with crosshairs, indicating "targets" for Republican candidates.
  • Anders Behring Breivik, the man responsible for the Ut°ya summer camp massacre and Oslo bombing in Norway, invoked this trope by claiming that he had used Modern Warfare 2 as a "training simulator", causing the usual suspects to come out of the woodwork.note  Presumably, this was an attempt to deflect blame from the fact that he was a political extremist who targeted the camp (which was affiliated with Norway's Labour Party) because he viewed it as an indoctrination center, and that if this became the dominant story, his cause would be stigmatized and marginalized through association with his actions. In any event, it seems to have failed, with most discussion of the massacre revolving around his political and religious views.
    • He also mentioned WoW in his infamous manifesto. What he essentially wrote was that MMO games such as the aforementioned were good scapegoats to pick if family or friends happened to ask why he was spending so much time in isolation (in reality used to plan his deeds) due to the social stigma around them for being time-consuming and socially isolating, so no one would question the response. When media picked up on this, the words were often twisted and misquoted as Breivik using WoW as a murder simulator for practice (possibly in part because of his own invocation of the trope on Modern Warfare 2). One of the effects of this was for a Norweigan store chain to immediately stop sales of violent video games as well as gun-like toys.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • Deus Ex. Warren Spector was asked by a mainstream media member at E3 about Deus Ex being a "murder simulator". Spector reacted in the coolest way possible: by taking the question seriously and telling the reporter in strict technical terms that while some puzzles in the game could be solved by neutralizing the threat, other pathways could be utilized by selecting alternate routes such as verbal deception, evasion, and so forth. While directly answering the reporter's question, he made the interview unusable while simultaneously making the reporter look like an idiot out of his depth.
  • Killology is the study on how real life tactics and common sense in video games can be translated in real life. The man behind it, Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman, taught killing to Green Berets, so one would think he would know his stuff. It was a big enough concern to be raised in the making of Rainbow Six, whether the games are likely to teach terrorists anything.
    • Army tactical manuals are still freely available on the Army web site, of course...
    • His concern was desensitizing children to killing and violence, and that video games can teach a child how to handle weapons and use tactics properly.note  However, video games often eschew realism for fun, and as such, most kids would wind up shooting themselves in the face or wondering why the gun isn't firing due to copying... say, Halo's reload animation. Or try and fail to find the circle button.
    • Some of Grossman's claims have been refuted by the U.S. Military itself, such as his claim that Doom is used to desensitize Marines to the act of killing (the marines use a special software program to teach hand-eye coordination, but that's it). Another red flag is that many of the studies Lt. Col. Grossman cites to back up his arguments in turn cite Grossman himself as their primary source.
  • Halo was blamed for the Beltway Sniper attacks because an Xbox and the game were found in the possession of the guilty parties. In fact, this happens to any game with guns in it if it's found in the possession of a murderer. Don't count on the media getting the name right if it's not Halo, Counter-strike, or Grand Theft Auto, though. Not to mention the fact that millions of people own such games without feeling the need to kill people.
  • The murder of a taxi driver in Thailand was blamed on Grand Theft Auto IV, with the murderer confessing that he plays the game.
  • In Germany, there was a case when two young boys ran amok and killed a woman. Guess who they blamed for this? Final Fantasy VII, out of all things! Just because these two boys have been watching "Advent Children" the day before... Still, many people believed it and insisted that FFVII was a "Killer game" and should be forbidden... see Complaining about Shows You Don't Watch.
    • As recently as January 2011, German news sites used screenshots of Counter-strike as illustrations for articles related to video games and violence. It once became the archetypal murder simulator to German media and apparently is keeping that position for good. (Counterstrike is a 12 year old mod for a game released in 1998. Chances are good you were too young back then to remember it. Or not born yet.)
  • There was another case in Germany where a guy stomped a homeless man to death. His attorney and the media tried to pin the blame for this on one of the Smackdown vs. Raw games, because he was allegedly frustrated that he was unable to beat his pal in the game and thus wanted to "win" the game in real life, using moves he learned from the game. Such as: Jumping on the head of somebody who's lying down on the street, because a game has to teach humans how to pull off that one...
  • The Illusion games Rapelay, Battle Raper, and Biko, all of which involve the player raping women at some point, though it is somewhat optional in the Biko games. They're frequently brought up on message boards and occasionally in media as being "rape simulators" that encourage young men (but never women) to rape people. It is always overlooked, however, that they're ero-games and not meant for minors at all, and are illegal for minors to buy in any case.
    • In the Illusion game Yuusha, young women are encouraged to attack and rape a demon lord in order to keep his power sealed. The entire game is a send-up of the controversy.
    • Sales of Rapelay were also discontinued by Illusion after the controversy, when they realized that the game pushed the boundaries of good taste a little too far.
  • Mass Effect was called a rape simulator by Fox News. Ironically, the sex scene in question was not only more tame that what you would see on The Other Fox's prime time line up, the segment showed almost the entire scene.
    • Not to mention that all of the sex scenes are fully consensual and all but one take place in a mutual relationship.
    • And the woman behind the controversy, one Cooper Lawrence, screeched she had never played the game while condemning it. Her whole basis over the game was based on one comment. The research on this one was so poorly done that Jack Thompson called Fox out on it.
    • With the December 2012 Connecticut shooting, upon finding the killer's Facebook page[[labelnote:*]]It wasn't even his[[/note]], noticed he liked the game. Cue Fox and tons of people claiming Mass Effect was behind the whole thing. And cue even more people dogpiling the haters on Facebook.
  • In 2000, a Spanish sixteen-year-old killed his parents and his younger sister with a katana. The entirety of the Spanish press decided he had done so under the influence of Final Fantasy VIII, commenting on he fact that he even "looked like Squall", "had the same haircut", used to dress in a black tracksuit "just like him", referring to the gunblade as a katana while playing an endless loop of the few seconds of the intro video where some blood splatters on the ground (playing the prom sequence just wouldn't have given a properly macabre vibe). This TV program ominously describing Squall as having the sole mission to overturn the corrupted governments in the world as if that was a bad thing is particularly absurd.
    • The "video game scare" that followed this incident was most likely the main killer of the previous "[tabletop] role playing game scare" that had been a staple of the same press during the 90s.
  • In 2004, a 14 year old boy was murdered by his 18 year old friend (apparently over some drug related debts); the blame was placed on Manhunt by the tabloids because it was allegedly found in the possession of the killer. Cue the police pointing out that it was actually found to be in the possession of the victim.
  • After the Virginia Tech massacre mentioned above, pundits were falling all over each other to blame video games for the shooting spree (the fact that the shooter was a Korean college student probably contributed). Lo and behold, warrant searches of his house discovered no video games of any kind and his roommates did not recall ever seeing him play one. A little further research determined that the shooter was an unmedicated schizophrenic. Note that those same talking heads were not rushing back to correct themselves. At least some media members recognized the scapegoating.
  • Parodied in "Im OK", an entry to Jack Thompson's infamous challenge to make a game where the leaders of the gaming industry are killed by the player. The father of a murdered 14-year-old says that Jack Offson's claim that video games caused his son's death is preposterous, and that his son wanted to be a video game designer; however, when Offson tells him to think of games as Murder Simulators, he says, "When you put it that way, it all makes sense!"
    • Ah yes, "Modest Video Game Proposal". He promised to donate to charity if it would actually be made. When it WAS made, by different people (most famous would be "I'm O.K: Murder Simulation"), he said it was a joke and he would not donate. So what happens? Penny Arcade donates the sum he said he would donate, with Jack Thompson's name and text "From Jack Thompson, because Jack Thompson won't". Cue to Thompson trying to have the creators arrested ''for extortion and criminal harassment''.
  • As of American Amusement Machine Association v. Kendrick in 2001, the American judiciary does not consider there to be enough evidence to argue that video game violence leads to real violence. A work that deliberately incited violence would be subject to ban under the 1942 case of Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, and the Kendrick case noted that a photorealistic, plot-free, grotesquely violent game might be ban-worthy, but neither applies to, say, Mortal Kombat, the game that was to be banned in the Kendrick case. (The judge also noted that Mortal Kombat has positive themes as well as negative ones—for instance, the female fighters are just as powerful as the male ones.)
  • In Brazil, a shootout at a movie theater resembled the first level of Duke Nukem 3D. And it could fit "Some Combination Of Mediums", but no one blamed the film being screened... even though it was Fight Club.
    • Also in Brazil, a teenager who killed his family had an avatar based on Assassin's Creed (which even has a name that doesn't help) on social networks. After some blaming, Ubisoft even released a statement declaring that "murder simulators" are a Logical Fallacy.
  • Shortly after Raoul Moat went on a killing spree after murdering his ex-girlfriend's lover as well as injuring her, the Daily Star ran an article claiming that the Scotland-based Rockstar North was planning on making him the star of the next Grand Theft Auto game, even bothering a grieving victim for a quote. In the backlash that followed, the journalist in question began criticising gamers for calling him out on his bull (trying to frame it as him being criticised for reporting it, rather than for outright lying in his blog). Luckily, in this case, sanity prevailed, and the Daily Star was successfully sued for libel.
  • In Britain, the gutter press, in their quest to prove that you can blame absolutely anything on violent video games, blamed riots on Grand Theft Auto. Not the shooting of a man who pulled a gun on police being morphed into claims of Police Brutality. Not the simmering class and ethnic tensions in the UK. Not the poor economy. Not the fact that police funding had been cut in the name of austerity. Not mob mentality, where if one person acts out the rest landslides. No, they blamed GTA. For people rioting. Years after any entries in the series were released. The only GTA game to feature rioting as anything beyond an easter egg code is San Andreas, which was based on the Rodney King riots... which were caused by claims of Police Brutality, racial tensions, and high unemployment.
  • After a school shooting in Germany, media coverage ran high as usual to find the common suspects; however, initially, the boy in question was described as a calm team player, capable in chess and tennis. Around 3 days later, all the news were about how he was a violent stay-at-home who played shooter games all day, apparently because no one in the media thought that saying the truth is a good thing, despite all the witnesses and friends having said how he actually was on LIVE TV just a day before.
  • Andrew Schlafly of Conservapedia has a love of Insane Troll Logic and a hatred of video games and will invariably take advantage of the most tenuous connection to link any news story involving violence or misadventure to gaming. Highlights include the event of an apparently healthy college football star dying suddenly due to what turned out to be an undiagnosed heart condition; articles mentioned he had last been seen playing a video game, so Andy felt free to speculate that the game was somehow responsible. He also announced that Kim Jong-un and the perpetrator of the Norway summer camp shooting were video game fans, as if this explained everything that was wrong with them, and managed to interpret a story about a boy accidentally shooting his younger brother to death because of an argument over a video game as being about the dangers of games rather than the dangers of leaving guns where your children can get them.

In Fiction:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Lampshaded and subverted in Durarara!!. Two torture technicians are about to torture someone using methods inspired by manga. They reference the idea that partaking too much of a medium can make you violent/detached from reality, but then say essentially that the manga isn't to blame- they're just sadistic and would use techniques from television and books if they were given the chance.
  • One manga within a manga the main protagonists work on in Bakuman。 is Perfect Crime Party, a series about schoolkids committing secret but ultimately harmless "perfect crimes." After getting complaints from parents throughout the series' run about kids reading it and renacting the crimes in the manga, the situation comes to a head when someone reenacts a hypothetical perfect crime (breaking into a bank vault without stealing anything) brought up at the beginning of the manga and Moral Guardians jump on it, causing Takagi to start to doubt the series.
    • It's also brought up that the bank scenario was shot down by the protagonist of PCP as not being in the spirit of the perfect crimes he pulls, since even if the person doesn't steal anything, it would still damage the bank and security company's reputation. Of course, in true media fashion, this is never brought up in the news coverage.
      • Which in turn is tad hypocritical, as breaking into a bank but not stealing anything was what Takagi was originally planning for a grand finale for the characters. He was upset for the above reasons, but also that the original idea was now real and if they tried it in the manga they'd be labeled copycats/using the crime for publicity, and that now he'd have to come up with something else.
    • Said crime copying from their target audience is the main reason the manga would never be allowed to become an anime (thus allowing the story to continue longer), as the magazine couldn't justify allowing an anime made of a manga with so much potential for real life abuse.
  • Referred to in Sword Art Online at one point.

    Comics 
  • Parodied in a panel of Cartoon History of the Universe set in ancient times, in which a child playing chess triumphantly captures a rook. His mother laments, "These action games are ruining our youth!"

    Film 
  • Untraceable, among many others, portrays The Internet as this trope. See also Murder.com and Snuff Film.
  • Mentioned a few times in the Scream series. Considering that the director, Wes Craven, is a man who made his name with violent horror movies, it's hard not to see this as his response to fear-mongering Moral Guardians.
    • In the first film, there's this exchange:
      Sidney: You sick fucks, you've seen one too many movies.
      Ghostface: Now Sid, don't you blame the movies! Movies don't create psychos! Movies make psychos more creative!
    • In the second, a discussion in a film class early on has several characters debating whether or not violent slasher flicks turn people violent. In addition, the killer (at least, one of them) plans on blaming his killing spree on said slasher movies (such as the newly-released Stab), invoking this trope in order to create a sensational trial and get the Moral Guardians on his side.
    • The third film also has a discussion of this. One of the producers of Stab 3 notes how violence in cinema has become a touchy subject recently; the unstated-yet-obvious cause of this is the fact that, a year before, the Columbine massacre took place. (In real life, Scream 3 is probably the least violent out of all the movies.) They also speculate that Cotton's murder may have been by a Loony Fan.
    Milton: Detectives, there's no reason to presume that Cotton's death had anything to do with this movie, is there?
    Detective Kincaid's Partner: He was making a movie called Stab. He was stabbed.
    • The fourth film, however, does indulge in this, but instead of violent movies, it blames Reality TV and its culture instead. The killer's motivation is to become famous as a result of "surviving" the massacre, much as her cousin Sidney had done.
    The killer: Look around. We all live in public now, we're all on the internet, how do you think people become famous anymore? You don't have to achieve anything! You've just gotta have fucked-up shit happen to you.
  • As a Scream spoof, this is echoed and further parodied in the first Scary Movie. When Cindy accuses the killers of becoming homocidal lunatics by watching too much TV, one of them corrects her: it's cancelling TV shows that actually made them killers, and he goes on to lament the end of The Wayans Bros., an earlier show the creators were involved in.
  • Briefly appears in the Rutger Hauer vehicle Redline, when a minor character is seen playing one of these in Virtual Reality, mowing down bodyguards in a mansion. A short while afterward, the game has him chasing a screaming woman through the same mansion, implying that murder isn't the only thing being simulated.
  • In New Police Story the bank robbers plan their heists and traps using computer games.

    Literature 
  • In The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dorian accuses Lord Henry of being responsible for his corruption through giving him the "Yellow Book". Lord Henry (and through him Oscar Wilde himself) scoffs at this idea, saying that books don't make anyone behave a certain way — they inspire inaction if anything — and can't be blamed for conduct.
  • In John Dies at the End, Arnie claims video games were recent additions to our world, possibly introduced by the shadowmen. Given their plot in This Book Is Full of Spiders, it seems very plausible.

    Live Action TV 
  • Lynda la Plant's drama Killer Net, centred around a murder simulator of the same name. The game was divided into 'stalking', 'execution', 'disposal', and 'evasion'. One of the victim characters of the game, Lybra (Read: Character Creation), unknowingly to the three players, worked very similarly to a Death Note. The twist: The character entered as Lybra was murdered before the Death Note mechanics of the game could take effect.
  • A Bit of Fry and Laurie:
    • Parodied when Stephen Fry explained that people had been encouraged to copy him when he punched Hugh Laurie on screen... by specifically punching Hugh Laurie in public. Many incidents then followed when Stephen found excuses to give Hugh money instead.
    • Another parody mimicked the Judas Priest example, with Stephen as a singer accused of singing the words Set Yourself On Fire, by the lawyer of a woman who did just that. Mid trial he then bursts into a song called Woman Drop Your Case, resolving the issue.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit:
    • In the third episode, the manga Rapeman was used as evidence justifying the arrest of a man as an accessory to a rape committed by his 13 year old son. It's particularly idiotic in that it was the only evidence for the charge and that the arresting detective didn't even know what the manga was actually about (she incorrectly guessed the premise[[labelnote:*]]she thought it was a serious manga about a high school student who gets revenge on the girls that reject him by raping them instead of an erotic black comedy/satire manga about a high school teacher who uses rape to dispense justice for those that hire him[[/note]] due to her admittedly not knowing how to read Japanese).
    • In another episode, three people in their 20s recreated a hooker killing from a Captain Ersatz of Grand Theft Auto and blamed their actions on the game. Their claim was that the game had warped their fragile minds so badly that they couldn't tell they weren't playing the game anymore when they hunted her down and hit her with a car and stomped her to death. The prosecution proves it for the bullshit it is.
    • In another episode, a mother who was head of a Moral Guardians group blamed a shock jock for the rape her son committed. She shot him in what was proven to be a publicity stunt.
    • Another episode involving a murdered girl led the detectives to investigate her developmentally challenged foster brother. He was an avid player of a fantasy game that had similar imagery to the crime scene. Later, Cragan (of all people) manages to play the game and discovers the crime scene was similar to a scene from the game where the hero saves another character using a magic ritual. They then realize the boy was trying to save his foster sister.
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun:
    Dick: Obviously, these people have been completely desensitized by all the gratuitous violence they've seen on television and movies. [beat] Especially the movies.
  • In Midsomer Murders, while investigating murders, Barnaby observes that a child is addicted to violent computer games. It turns out that he was using the games to literally simulate a murder as a sort of dry run.
  • The fourth episode of the second season of Misfits has a villain whose "superpower" is the delusional belief that he's a player character in a Grand Theft Auto clone (he even see things as if he's in a videogame, with CGI characters and a pumping techno soundtrack). He kills several people on-screen and kidnaps Kelly in the belief that she's his in-game treacherous girlfriend. He escapes at the end, but we then hear that he tried to break someone out of jail as the next mission in the "game" and got arrested. He reappears in the series's final season, when he's apparently cured but in reality still having to resist the hallucinations and delusions. In the end he snaps and has to be killed to prevent him from committing another murder.
  • A German police investigations show had the game "Killman 4". Which was sold as pirated copies on school yards and empty parking lots as if they were drugs. Did I mention they were also smuggled into the country?
  • In an episode of Dexter, the forensic intern (who is also a video game developer) excitedly shows Dexter a game he is working on, a literal murder simulator where you can play as Jack The Ripper, Jeffrey Dahmer, or the Bay Harbor Butcher (actually Dexter himself, unbeknowst to the intern). Dexter is offended someone would design such a game. It's left ambiguous as to whether Dexter claims offense to deny that he himself is a serial killer, because his wife Rita was killed by another serial killer, or because he's genuinely sickened that somebody would want to imagine to be a killer like him. Maybe all or none of the above reasons.
  • An episode of Engrenages had a troubled teen go on a gun rampage (with no fatalities) in what initially appeared to be an example of this trope. However, it finally turned out that he was trying to commit Suicide by Cop after killing his girlfriend (who he met in an online multiplayer mode of the game and who rejected him when they finally met in offline life).

    Video Games 
  • Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon has Dr. Darling point out how games actually improve hand-eye coordination and there is no actual evidence that confirms that games are linked to Murder Simulators. Quote above.
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty plays this completely straight by involving the Player Character in the "S3 Plan", or "Solid Snake Simulator." Raiden is being made unwittingly by the Ancient Society known as the Patriots to shoot and kill actual soldiers in the hopes that he will evolve into some sort of One-Man Army. (At least, if you believe the character who tells you this. Maybe you should not; he's the Trope Namer for Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, he can't seem to decide if Raiden was in the simulation or the player was, and this is a game where Mind Screws happen every five minutes.)
    • Actually, that's barely even half of it: Turns out that, in addition to using Raiden to kill actual soldiers in the hopes of his evolving into the next Solid Snake, they also used him in an attempt to control humanity's willpower and manipulate memories into their own image, among other things.
  • There's a joking nod to the trope in the Gears of War 2 multiplayer map "Day One" where one of the arcades machines in the level has the name "Murder Simulator."
  • Postal 2 parodies this by featuring protesters picketing Running With Scissors (the game's creators) in protest of violence in video games. Ironically, upon the player picking up his paycheck and getting fired from RWS, said protesters storm in with guns to kill everyone inside, the player included.
  • Mentioned in Trouble In Terrorist Town in the after-round achievements. If someone got more than six headshot kills, they get mentioned as having "applied their murder simulation training and got X headshots".
  • Hitman is in fact a murder simulator, more so than any other, in that you actually play as an assassin planning and carrying out murders. To date, this has received little (if any) coverage on video game being implicated in real life killings.
  • Radioman in Spec Ops: The Line invokes this trope when he jokingly blames Walker's violent rampage on video games. Then again, the entire game can easily be seen as a massive Take That to people who play modern military shooters as escapist power fantasies.
  • Harvester is an actual in-game murder simulator, the events of the game turning out to be a virtual reality simulation designed to turn the protagonist into a Serial Killer. The game itself was also created as a Deconstruction of this entire concept.
  • In Half-Life 2 one of the dropped ideas was an In-Universe game called "Manhack Arcade". It would have involved controlling a Manhack and killing lawbreaking citizens for points...with a heavy implication that it controlled actual manhacks.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • And of course the new game featured from The Onion: Close Range. A game consisting solely of shooting people in the face at close range. Video report on YouTube.
    • Parodied again in The Onion News Network with a "preview" of Modern Warfare 3, which shows a "realistic" portrayal of war: asinine conversations with fellow soldiers, guard duty over empty warehouses, following inaccurate and contradictory orders, and repairing Hummvees for 12 hours a day.

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in an episode of King of the Hill when two game developers introduce the Grand Theft Auto clone Pro-Pain as a Take That to Hank Hill. Hank and Buck Strickland soon take up the role of indignant Moral Guardians and Hank is soon tasked with finding copyright infringement in the game in order to take them to court; the whole Moral Guardian plot is then thoroughly subverted and then turns into An Aesop about game addiction.
    • Interestingly, Hank begins to enjoy the game when he tries to avoid killing anyone or causing damage, just like Real Life pacifist runs and the Deus Ex example above.
  • Also used in The Simpsons in a Halloween special set in classical times where Bart's watching a fire and laughs when it crackles;
    Marge: I don't want you staring at that fire. It's too violent.
  • Parodied in Code Monkeys, when Dave programs an Atari game where the main character has to impress Jodie Foster. One of the objectives is to assassinate President "Ray-gun." Three guesses as to what happens next.

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alternative title(s): Murder Simulator
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