Not only is it there the perception 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 and Manhunt turn players evil.
Moral Guardians' attempts to blame the New Media often neglect to note 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 (and 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 most likely have more to do with social conditions than with video games. (While correlation does not prove causation, lack of correlation certainly disproves causation.)
Sometimes, the works are blamed before any evidence whatsoever of any connection has emerged, and then activists try to sweep the exculpatory evidence under the rug when defenders demonstrate that the criminals didn't even actually use a copy of the work in question. Also, various politicians, media, and clergy will sometimes blame any (currently) popular game for violent events, or blame any game that has any connection (however slight and tenuous) to the crime in question (e.g. Blaming Final Fantasy VII for a shooting).
There is some basis for this claim in reality, to be sure: people who play violent video games for a long period of time can be desensitized to violence, which theoretically could make them more likely to commit violent crimes. However, firstly this effect is only likely to happen with those who are already contemplating acts of violence, and second, any violent media, including coverage of real life violence, has this potential. To blame only one kind of media is a cheap way to escape responsibility for spotting early warning signs of a young person's mental state that might lead to violence, and their moral education in the consequences of acts of violence against others. On the other hand, it's easy.
Some real-life criminals, naturally, have exploited this trope to blame their crime on a fictional work in the hope to get a "free of charge" claim in court or at the very least a lesser punishment than they would normally receive for the crime they committed.
However, the more widespread acceptance of video games as a medium thanks to those who grew up as video games were becoming a major industry now having children of their own, combined with some games like Hatred embracing the idea of senseless violence and bombing, as well as video games being protected as free speech in the United States (as confirmed in a 2011 ruling by the Supreme Court), has all but rendered this trope discredited.
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.
- 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.
- At the time Higurashi: When They Cry Kai and School Days were airing there was an incident involving a daughter murdering her father with an axe. The two anime were accused of influencing the murder for a period since the girl said she wanted to be a mangaka. The final episode of School Days was canceled from many stations and the twelfth episode of Kai was delayed. Eventually the intro to Kai was censored and one of the channels that decided to air School Days created a meme when they replaced the gore with a "nice boat", among other censors.
- On 30 July 2013 the 3 murderers responsible for the manga-murder were getting their sentence. Those were Sidi Mohammed Atir, Abdessamad Anzi and Zacharia Benaissa. The victim was their friend Sidi Larbi Ezzoubairi. It was called a "manga-murder" because one of the murderers was a manga-fanatic that wrote down quotes from Death Note on paper, which the police found, after which they were able to arrest the 3 people responsible for the murder. The Belgian media covered it, but since no one was shocked by what was in manga they gave it limited coverage. One could say that their names were more shocking.
- The infamous scientist Dr. Ray Blanchard (whose rather bigoted, but influential, theories were largely responsible for advocating Trans Equals Gay approach to transgender individuals for most of the 20th century, and we'll leave it at that) came out of relative obscurity in the winter of 2018 to try and endorse a Heteronormative Crusader's theory that anime was making children believe they were transgender.
- 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 his being blitzed with a combination of booze, weed, and PCP at the time of the killings.
- The British papers blamed the shocking murder of Jamie Bulger on Child's Play 3. It was later established that neither of the boys responsible had ever watched it. The film was also blamed for at least two other Kids Are Cruel murders, while its sequel Bride of Chucky was cited by Elena Lobacheva, a Russian serial killer, as being one of the inspirations for her killing spree.
- The Otaku Murderer, who caused a moral panic against the Otaku subculture. Experts believe that his belief that he was a rodent 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 Hinckley, Jr., 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 Hinckley was completely batshit insane and thought assassinating Reagan would impress Foster, not to mention 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 opened fire. 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, even though many of the robbers get killed in that sequence.
- 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, Stanley Kubrick had Warner Brothers withdraw the film from distribution in Britain until after his death.
- The low-grade thriller Hunting Humans, in which two serial killers play a cat and mouse game with each other, gained a lot of notoriety after a copy of the film was found in the possession of convicted murderer Adam Leroy Lane.
- Natural Born Killers, so much that Wikipedia has a whole list of crimes allegedly inspired by the film, including the Columbine massacre (the killers having been huge fans). The irony, of course, is that the main theme of the film itself concerns how media sensationalism can lead Attention Whores to commit violent acts in the name of 15 Minutes of Fame, with its Villain Protagonists being an Outlaw Couple whose spree of murder and robbery turns them into celebrities.
- Serial killer Nathaniel White alleged that his first murder was inspired by Robocop 2:
White: The first girl I killed was from a RoboCop movie... I seen him cut somebody's throat then take the knife and slit down the chest to the stomach and left the body in a certain position. With the first person I killed I did exactly what I saw in the movie.
- British spree killer Daniel Gonzales idolized Jason Voorhees (to the extent that he donned a hockey mask before attacking one of his victims) and Freddy Krueger, who he frequently compared himself to and hoped to become as memorable as.
- Both John Hinckley, 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. More directly, it's claimed that Yigal Amir read the novel obsessively before assassinating Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.
- 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 (it's still available as part of The Bachmann Books anthology) is because he voluntarily pulled it after several school shooters mentioned it having influenced them to commit the acts.
- Serial killer Leonard Lake named his plan to abduct and enslave women after the protagonist (Miranda) of the John Fowles novel The Collector, a copy of which was also found in the possession of fellow serial killer Christopher Wilder. Robert Berdella, yet another serial killer, also credited the book's 1965 film adaptation as being an inspiration.
- 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. Highlights 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 of 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.
- The Vietnam war was the very first war to ever get full news coverage and quite heavy news coverage at that. Not only did they show real-life murder, but also real-life manslaughter and bombarding. Some people in the US absolutely refused to fight in the war and some of that group founded the subculture known as hippies. People have blamed people's refusal to fight in the war and the creation of the hippie subculture on the news coverage of the Vietnam war. Since then the news makes sure not to show too heavy imagery without warning to make sure that such an incident never would happen again.
- 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 has 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 lawsuit. Though the song in question ("Suicide Solution") having a title that seemingly encouraged suicide, the lyrics were rather blatantly about the dangers of alcohol abuse, which helped him beat the charges.
- 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.
- Socrates is a deconstruction of this. During his life he was known as a rather annoying brat that asked random people on the streets questions such as "What is justice?" and "What is good?". He did also make a school where people could study rhetoric for free, out of belief that not making it free would be immoral. One of his students however turned out to be Alkibiades who, after having studied by Socrates and becoming a beloved political leader, restarted the war against Sparta and, later in his life, sided with the Spartans, where he uncovered all the military plans that Athens was making, which led to the Athenians' inevitable losing of the war. This all was followed by a regime led by thirty tyrants that, due to fierce backlash of very charismatic Athenian politicians, only lasted for about a year. Five years later, due to everyone except his devoted fans being tired of him, he was sent to court for corrupting the youth of Athens, in the hope that he would leave Athens for good. However, he refused defending himself and continued proposing worse and worse punishments because he broke the Athenian law and was in the end sentenced to death. Despite his fans offering him plans and strategies to leave Athens during his week in prison, which would have worked if for no other reason than because it was what the prosecutors wanted, he took his death and drank the poison that was given to him by the executioner. He died at age 81, which is quite old by ancient Greek standards.
- Friedrich Nietzsche has received his share of blame, notably for motivating Leopold, Loeb, Pekka-Eric Auvinen, and Adolf Hitler, who all cherry-picked bits of his philosophy that they liked and ignored the rest. The real Nietzsche would have been appalled by racist demagoguery and blind obedience to the state. It doesn't help that after his death his published work was being filtered through his sister who actually was an ardent Nazi and edited out the parts that disagreed with her views. This is so pervasive that fictional villains who draw inspiration from The Theme Park Version of Nietzsche's philosophy have their own page.
- 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 will apparently attack young girls or stalk them. This stereotype/assumption was because of Tsutomu Miyazaki, a serial murdering rapist who was found to have been in possession of Gorn videos and a large manga collection at the time of his arrest. The media and news labeled him the "Otaku Killer", causing a massive moral panic against otaku in Japan and having, in combination with a string of theatrical flops, repercussions upon the anime industry.
- 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...
- 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 CERO B and higher, never mind that if such a ban would take effect on video games it would render the concept of a rating system useless, as the only CERO rating that would then get allowed is CERO A) 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.
- Jim Sterling discussed this idea in an episode of Jimquisition titled "Desensitized to Violence", and criticized the idea that people are foolish enough to believe there was any correlation in the violence depicted in media (video games in particular) and real-world violence. To prove his point, he showed a video of Budd Dwyer's graphic and televised public suicide in 1987, demonstrating that while real-world violence is often more understated, it is more viscerally disturbing than the over-the-top cartoonish violence of pop culture.
- 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. Both Marilyn Manson and Matt Stone appeared in Bowling for Columbine, discussing this trope.
- There also needs to be some mention of the belief of some Christian moralists that Harry Potter and Dungeons & Dragons can teach people magic, even though 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's among them) were marked with crosshairs, indicating "targets" for Republican candidates.
- Anders Behring Breivik, the man responsible for the Utøya 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 his being 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 Norwegian store chain to immediately stop sales of violent video games as well as gun-like toys.
- After a 16-year-old boy stabbed his teacher to death, the Daily Mail blamed the killing on video games such as Dark Souls II and the YouTube channel Achievement Hunter, mainly because the boy had a picture on Facebook with an AH shirt.
- Dungeons & Dragons and other Tabletop RPGs have been blamed for a variety of things, including suicide, murder, and devil worship. This belief had become so widespread that at a certain point, Wizards of the Coast had one of their employees go around explaining patiently to people that getting your customers to kill themselves is not a good business model — this appeal to greed being the easiest way to convince people that they were not in fact evil.
- A murder that once happened in Sweden was touted in headlines to have been a ritual sacrifice, the "vampire murder", because the victim played Vampire: The Masquerade. It later turned out it had nothing to do with that... although they didn't exactly put their correction on the headlines, no.
- Four Brazilian murders accused of being RPG-related (it was mostly unrelated) have tarnished said genre's reputation there.
- One of Rockstar Game's most infamous masterpieces, Manhunt, is the Trope Codifier, to the point that after its release, almost every major murder incident in the world had something to do with the game, and since then, it has been the bane of lawyers and parents alike. It only got worse when they released a sequel Manhunt 2, which was playable on the Wii. Yes, you can play the game in near virtual simulation with the Wii-mote as your weapon.
- Deus Ex. Warren Spector was asked by a mainstream media member at E3 about Deus Ex being a "murder simulator". Spector took the question seriously, 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.
- 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 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 played the game. Cue the game series subsequently getting banned in Thailand for this reason.
- A couple of teens threw a bunch of Molotov cocktails and went on record saying Grand Theft Auto IV taught them how to make them. While there are Molotov cocktails in the game, such in-game instructions are only found in Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, not GTA IV.
- There was an unfortunate case in Cleveland where the victim's father kept insisting on blaming Grand Theft Auto III for his daughter's murder (the murderer was living with them at the time), trying to get it pulled from area stores. The murderer went out of his way to insist that the game had nothing to do with the crime.
- In Germany, there was a case when two young boys ran amok and killed a woman. Guess what they blamed for this? Final Fantasy VII, out of all things! Just because these two boys had been watching Advent Children the day before... Still, many people believed it and insisted that FFVII was a "killer game" and should be forbidden.
- In January 2011, German news sites used screenshots of Counter-Strike as illustrations for articles related to video games and violence. It became the archetypal murder simulator to German media and apparently is keeping that position for good.
- 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, BattleRaper, 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. Sales of Rapelay were however discontinued by Illusion after the controversy, when they realized that the game pushed the boundaries of good taste a little too far. As a send-up to this controversy, in the Illusion game Yuusha, young women are encouraged to attack and rape a demon lord in order to keep his power sealed.
- Mass Effect:
- Mass Effect was called a rape simulator by Fox News commentator Cooper Lawrence. The sex scene in question, which was shown almost in its entirety during the segment, was not only fully consensual and took place within a relationship (like all but one of the game's sex scenes), but was also more tame than what you would see on The Other Fox's prime time line up. Lawrence also screeched that she had never played the game while condemning it: her whole basis over the game was based on one comment from a woman in the studio that it was "like porn". The research on this one was so poorly done that Jack Thompson called Fox out on it, and it sparked an Internet Counterattack from irritated Mass Effect fans in the form of bombing Lawrence's latest book's Amazon review score into the basement, on the grounds that having briefly heard about her book and never reading it was information enough to condemn it.
- After the December 2012 Connecticut shooting, it was that found the killer's Facebook page mentioned he liked Mass Effect. Cue Fox and tons of people claiming the game was behind the whole thing, and a massive video game burning in the town. And cue even more people dogpiling the haters on Facebook. It later came out that the haters had, once again, gotten their facts wrong: it wasn't even the shooter's page, it was his brother's.
- 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 how he even "looked like Squall", "had the same haircut", used to dress in a black tracksuit "just like him", and 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; (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.
- Jack Thompson once proposed an infamous challenge to make a violent video game where the leaders of the gaming industry are killed by the player, promising to donate to charity if it were actually made. When it WAS made, 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 "For Jack Thompson, because Jack Thompson won't". Cue to Thompson trying to have the creators arrested for extortion and criminal harassment. Interestingly, this trope is parodied in I'm O.K, a game that resulted from this challenge. 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!"
- 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 and then committed suicide 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. There's also the fact the teenager's mother was a cop; the police's declaration on how the boy killed his family, went to school next morning and then killed himself after getting home makes no sense; and how it's heavily suspected that corrupt cops killed the boy and his family and used the boy as a scapegoat. And since Brazil's media is just as corrupt as its police and government and the people are extremely gullible...
- 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 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.
- Attempted by Het Vlaams Belang with the extreme-right Flemish propaganda flash game Minder Minder Minder (which in itself is a reference to a hate speech by Dutch extreme-right activist and PVV leader Geert Wilders). According to this Dutch news interview Filip De Winter, the leader of that political party, deliberately made a game in which you kill Muslims and socialists and destroy mosques because he wants to stimulate people to do the same thing in real life. They probably needed some controversy so that people would still know who to vote for during the elections. It succeeded at that though, because some people protested to get the game removed despite the game being still present on their webpage.
- In the weeks following the 2018 Parkland High School shooting, American president Donald Trump openly blamed violent video games for the massacre, claiming that they were "shaping young people's thoughts."note This reached a point where he held a conference about the topic with other Republican politicians and video game developers that was visibly skewed in favour of these sentiments, complete with a shock montage of some particularly violent scenes in a few video games, all of which were taken completely out of context to make video games look like merciless murder media. His comments also implied he did not know that games had age restrictions, as he suggested there should be a system that prevents young kids from purchasing violent video games. In a rather, shall we say, rare case, Trump's views and actions were met with near-universal condemnation from the general public, to the point where a significant chunk of his supporters turned on him.
- After the Paris terrorist attacks in 2015, some media (such as this Argentine TV program) stated that the terrorists used Minecraft to train how to pull off the attacks. They also said they used the game to send messages between each other without being detected - which while being possible, they talked more about the "training" part.
- 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. 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.
- Parodied in a panel of The 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!"
- 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.
Milton: Detectives, there's no reason to presume that Cotton's death had anything to do with this movie, is there?
- 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 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.
Detective Kincaid's Partner: He was making a movie called Stab. He was stabbed.
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.
- 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.
- As a Scream spoof, this is echoed and further parodied in the first Scary Movie. When Cindy accuses the killers of becoming homicidal 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.
- In the Spike Lee film Inside Man, one of the bank robbers finds one of the hostages, a young black boy, sitting inside the bank vault playing his PSP. He borrows the game to try it for himself, and we see that it's a violent, racially-tinged GTA clone in which the player gets points for stealing cars, selling drugs, and killing people. When the robber asks what the point of the game is, the kid replies "like my man Fiddy says, get rich or die tryin'", comparing the robber to the game's Villain Protagonist and saying that he's scored a ton of points by knocking over a bank. Even the robber is shocked, feeling that the game is making the kid think that crime is cool, and he says he's gonna talk to the kid's father about the game he's playing. This foreshadows the fact that the robbers, while willing to beat people up to quell resistance, have no intention of killing anybody and in fact plan to rob the bank's president (a Nazi collaborator), rather than its customers. Spike Lee added this scene deliberately as an anvilicious complaint about the over-the-top violence in many video games.
- Toys: the evil plot is to make arcade games with an identical control system to military drones, so that new recruits will be able to pick it up immediately (and encourage sales of both products). The creator, an insane retired general, deliberately set them up to reward civilian deaths after being annoyed that another company's games penalized him for it.
- 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: Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It, it seems very plausible.
- Mid-way through the third Noob novel, Stanislas (Arthéon's player) ends up missing his first class so he can take part in an extremly important battleground in the MMORPG in which most of the story is set. His boarding school principal walks in on him and is understandably furious at him. She immediately assumes he's playing a war game, which is understandable given he was in the middle of a battle, but doesn't listen to him when he tries telling her that battles aren't the only aspect of the game. In the middle of chewing him out, she mentions the school shootings in which the perpetrators were (allegedly) video game players. She also makes clear that she considers Geek culture in general to be responsible for all sort of evils related to the younger generation, all while not giving Stanislas a chance to explain any of it (which he's clearly more than willing to do).
- 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 premisenote 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:
- 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).
- In the fourth season episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, "Rules of Engagement," Worf is on trial for firing on a Klingon civilian transport which decloaked in front of Defiant in the middle of a battle. The Klingon prosecutor calls Dax to the witness stand to testify on Worf's character. During the questioning, the prosecutor questions her about a holodeck program Worf played shortly before the escort mission in question. The program puts Worf in the role of one of Klingon culture's greatest heroes, during a battle in which he ordered the slaughter of every inhabitant of a city when he conquered it. Dax is forced to acknowledge Worf gave the order, and is overruled when she attempts to note that it's the only way to complete the program. The prosecutor then uses this to argue Worf was perfectly able and willing to fire on civilians, and the program is presented by his argument as this trope.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Bonus points for Ocelot's reasoning behind the "Five Billion Dollar Murder Simulator" theory: He's already seen a completely regular soldier who was crippled and mind-raped turned into an indistinguishable replica of the legendary Big Boss via narrative, context, and hands-on visceral experience. Also known as the "NGO Military Leader / War-Crime Sociopath Simulator".
- 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 game, in that you actually play as an assassin planning and carrying out murders. To date, the game has received very little (if any) coverage on video games being implicated in real life killings, largely because it's not a hugely popular game franchise that sells tens of millions of copies, therefore not many Moral Guardians and the like barely know enough about it to complain. In fact, HitmanAbsolution was only controversial because of it's use of leather-clad assassin nuns with fetishes for violence, rather than its violent gameplay.
- 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 is a deconstruction of Call of Duty-style power fantasy military shooters.
- 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.
- The game Hatred has you playing a violent sociopath out to murder as many people as he can before he dies. It's either a parody of a Murder Simulator, or an actual one. As one can probably guess, the Moral Guardians are all over it.
- Male Voice 3 quotes the trope name verbatim in Saints Row IV upon entering Saints of Rage, the location of the simulation that Johnny Gat is trapped in.
" Gat's mind is a murder simulator... makes sense."
- Obligatory Penny Arcade example, when they mocked this trope back in the "play violent games and you're a criminal" days. Tycho and Gabe are waiting at a line, when Tycho, sick of waiting, shouts "I play violent video games! I could snap any minute!"... only to make fun of the clerk hiding behind the counter immediately afterwards.
- Interesting variant in MegaTokyo, when Piro's conscience is trying to get him to stop lusting after high-schoolers.
Piro: Don't blame me! It's years of anime and games full of high school girls that has programmed me to be attracted to them!! I can't help it! It's not my fault!
Seraphim: So, you're saying if Largo went around town shooting people, that would be OK because he's been playing first person shooter games for years?
Piro: That's totally different.
Seraphim: No it's not, freak boy.
- Inverted in Chopping Block:
Years of exposure to real-life hardcore violence tragically led to Butch becoming desensitized to video games.
- Terminal Lance inverts this in strip #185: "Experience" when Abe plays Call of Duty with a civilian friend. Abe says he's good at COD because of the Marine Corps, which his friend takes to mean that he uses his real-life military experience to play the game better.
Abe: Haha! No. That's ridiculous. We're on stand-by all the time. Practically all we do is play Call of Duty.
- The Onion:
- The new game Close Range consists 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.
- 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.
- Strangely, Hank voiced a very different opinion in an earlier episode, during his usual complaints about Bobby's unmanly tendencies.
Hank: The boy's got no fight in him, I don't get it. He spends five hours a day playing violent video games. What's the point if they don't have any effect on him?
- Strangely, Hank voiced a very different opinion in an earlier episode, during his usual complaints about Bobby's unmanly tendencies.
- 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.
- In Cow and Chicken cousin Black Sheep stops two kids writing grafitti on a wall, which makes one of the mutter that they are bad because of too many cartoons. The Mexican Gag Dub went a step forward and had the kid claim it was because they watch too much Dragon Ball Z and Saint Seiya.
- An episode of The Amazing World of Gumball titled "The Blame" features video games being banned for being too violent. Gumball and the other kids then show the adults that classic literature can be just as violent as video games, so they start burning books.