Violent Games Blamed in German Shooting Spree

Violent video games are once again under the microscope following a shooting at a German school, in which a teenager with an apparent fondness for war simulations and violent video games wounded as many as 37 people before taking his own life.

The attack has resulted in members of Germany's legislative body calling for stricter laws surrounding violent video games, an effort that has so far been struck down by the courts in the United States. At least one lawmaker who is the head of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrat party has called for an all out ban.

Wolfgang Bosbach cited studies that show violent video games do have a negative effect on some children, and told the Netzeitung news site that "effective guidelines to protect children" were needed. However, so far, the government has refused to call for such a ban.

Resistance to the law has also been echoed by the liberal Green Party, which said the debate should focus on the proper usage of computers. He also warned against making any decisions on how to proceed before it is understood why the man did what he did.

At least one area of Germany already bans the sale of such games. The state of Bavaria in southeastern Germany, which includes the city of Munich, has banned so-called "killer games" since 2002.

Efforts to ban the sale of violent video games have never gotten very far in the United States, as the courts have repeatedly ruled that their production is protected under the first amendment. However, that has not stopped some from continuing to work for such legislation.

Most notable of these is attorney Jack Thompson, who most recently attempted to block the sale of Take-Two Interactive's "Bully." A judge refused, saying, "There's nothing in the game that you wouldn't see on TV every night."

Take-Two has not always been able to dodge the bullet; Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was temporarily forced from store shelves after the discovery of the "Hot Coffee" mod that allowed the main character to participate in sexual situations. The company had to issue to a patch to remove the explicit scenes.

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