In his fiery news conference this morning, National Rifle Association Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre criticized the media for a number of alleged breakdowns in how it covers guns and society. A central allegation in this argument was that news outlets don’t give sufficient attention to the role that video games and violent programming play in promoting gun violence. A key moment:
And here’s another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal: There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people.
Through vicious, violent video games with names like Bulletstorm, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Splatterhouse. And here’s one: it’s called Kindergarten Killers. It’s been online for 10 years. How come my research department could find it and all of yours either couldn’t or didn’t want anyone to know you had found it?
When LaPierre said “all of yours,” he was speaking to the media outlets arrayed in front of him.
A preliminary database tour corroborates LaPierre’s contention that media coverage of “Kindergarten Killer” has been slight. A Nexis search of “Kindergarten Killer” and “game” over the past 10 years fetches just 12 results, and several of them have nothing to do with the game referenced by LaPierre.
“Kindergarten Killer” attracted some media attention back in the fall of 2008, when 22-year-old Matti Saari murdered 10 people in a school shooting in Finland. It was the worst school shooting in Finnish history. A Finnish children’s gaming site pulled “Kindergarten Killer” from its offerings in the wake of the tragedy, according to a Reuters report.
Following the events in Finland, David Sheets, writing on “Game Guy,” wrote some analysis of the game:
“Kindergarten Killer” asks players to assume the role of a nut-case school janitor who mows down any kid who crosses his path. The kids themselves are armed, too, and they’re trying to keep the janitor from reaching the principal’s office and murdering him. “Kindergarten Killer” is filled with animated spurting blood and flying bone and flesh fragments, and seems associated with a genre of Flash-based games designed to shock rather than entertain. Though Game Guy’s not a fan of censorship, he wishes though that “Kindergarten Killer” died in the conceptual stage, with the designer just dreaming up the idea and saying to himself in the next thought, “Nah. That would be too tasteless.”
BuzzFeed’s John Herrman offers an explanation for why coverage of the game has been so thin: The game doesn’t matter. “‘Kindergarten Killer’ is neither a popular game nor is it available for sale; by any reasonable standard, it’s hardly a game at all,” writes Herrman. It didn’t even matter when it was introduced in 2002, he argues. “To mention it today borders on farce.”