Killers and their obsession with video games

Written by Dr. Andrew Doan & Brooke Strickland on .

Every week, we hear about mass shootings at the hand of a violent, enraged gunman. Violence and shootings affect hundreds, if not thousands of innocent people every year. Today, news footage is cluttered with reports and images of people that have suffered at the hands of violence.  After the fact, we find out that many mass killers such as Adam Lanza, Anders Berivik, and Evan Ramsey, were addicted to violent video games.

A recent article quotes Evan Ramsey, a young man that snuck a shot gun into his high school and shot a student, principal, and wounded two others, as saying that his obsession with video games distorted his sense of reality:

“I did not understand that if I…pull out a gun and shoot you, there’s a good chance you’re not getting back up,” Ramsey said in a 2007 interview from Spring Creek Correctional Center, in Seward, Alaska. “You shoot a guy in ‘Doom’ and he gets back up. You have got to shoot the things in ‘Doom’ eight or nine times before it dies.”  

The article goes on to say that Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway actually used the video game Call of Duty to train for his shooting massacre – he used it as a training simulation. Other killers have been hooked on video games, too and have a warped sense of what’s real and what’s not, thinking that real life is just like a video game. (1) 

This of course is not the only reason why killers go on a killing spree. There are likely other deep root problems and issues that these individuals are struggling with, which can vary from abuse to neglect, to mental illness. Combine these issues with a thirst for violence and an addiction to video games and there is a recipe for disaster.  The growing increase of violent video game use has clearly harmful effects on developing young minds, and this is a huge concern for psychologists, parents, psychiatrists, and other mental health officials that are working with young people that struggle in these areas.

With video games becoming more and more realistic, we need to be extremely cautious as to what our youth and young people are being exposed to. Fantasy violence, whether it is on the computer, television screen, or on movies, can leave a troubled mind craving more and more until reality is disrupted.  Limit screen time and be aware of what’s out there and what your children are involved in. 


1. Jaccarino, Mike. “Training simulation: Mass killers often share obsession with violent video games.” FoxNews.  Published September 12, 2013. Accessed online July 14, 2014.