In the FBI’s effort to explore and investigate everything about the Arizona shooter and would-be assassin, they have turned their efforts to his computer gaming habits.
The Wall Street Journal reports the following which could be seen as troubling to those who are active online gamers.
“In an interview, David McVittie, the administrator of the Web game Earth Empires, said he was contacted by the FBI, which requested the files, including 131 messages that Mr. Loughner wrote. Mr. Loughner is accused of the Jan. 8 shooting in Tucson, Ariz., that left six dead and 14 wounded, including Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.”
The article makes it clear that FBI were more interested in Loughner’s non-game based posting in the forums for the game. It does not explain if the administrator for the site showed any resistance to this sort of intrusion. The postings showed exactly what his other internet activity showed to anyone bothering to look, that he was a severely disturbed person.
The administrator is considering releasing the postings publically after the investigation is over.
The game, Earth Empires itself is a turn-based “god-game,” a slightly more complicated Risk or Diplomacy. The game is browser based and is free to play. The game is stripped down and there are no visuals besides statistics based on the various actions by the player. For most modern gamers it would seem slow and rather boring in pace, its far more strategic than action oriented. There are no fancy graphics featuring explosions or cut scenes that feature cartoon violence.
Those wishing to find an excuse to rehash the disproven “link” between violence and video games will have little from this case to find comfort in.
This does raise privacy concerns for online gamers and access to their postings in forums on game web-sites. Gamers and developers will be watching developments closely.