After Violent Video Games Were Linked to the Shootingin Newtown, Arcade Owner Kevin Slota Decided He Had to Pull the Plug

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), January 6, 2013 | Go to article overview

After Violent Video Games Were Linked to the Shootingin Newtown, Arcade Owner Kevin Slota Decided He Had to Pull the Plug


Byline: Lenore T. Adkins ladkins@dailyherald.com By Lenore T. Adkins ladkins@dailyherald.com

Kevin Slota woke up with a chill on Christmas Eve, and the realization that perhaps he could make a life-or-death difference in the world.

The night before, the Algonquin man had been watching TV news coverage of the Dec. 14 school shootings in Newtown, Conn., that claimed 26 lives -- 20 of them young children.

Slota, co-owner of [URL]No Limit Arcade;http://www.nolimitarcades.com[/URL] in Algonquin, heard in the report that violent video games might have been to blame for the shootings.

The report spurred Slota, a 56-year-old father of two grown sons, to unplug 12 violent shooter games at his arcade. He can't conceive of the idea that he even possibly could play a role in grooming today's youth to carry out a mass shooting.

"For adults, it's one thing, but we have 8- and 9-year-old kids coming in ... blasting away," Slota said. "I said, 'We don't need these games.' I can replace them with something else."

Not even others in Slota's industry agree with his view -- while experts and others weighing in with an opinion are sharply divided on the role the various trappings of society play in mass shootings.

Limit on play

No Limit Arcade, which opened in late 2011, carries 60 video games, mostly throwbacks to the 1980s and appropriate for all ages. Among them are "Pac-Man," "Donkey Kong," "Frogger" and "Q*Bert."

The 12 games Slota took out of service were made in the 1990s or early 2000s. His criteria were basic: If a game was bloody and involved a gun the gamer fires to kill people or zombies -- which he says look human -- then the party was over.

That meant such games as "The House of the Dead," "Crisis Zone," "Virtua Cop 2," "Warzaid" and "Revolution X" were shut down and corralled in a corner until he finds buyers.

But games in which the player slays aliens or animals with a gun can stay. He's also keeping a game from the "Mortal Kombat" series, which sparked outrage over its violent content in the 1990s.

Slota doesn't have a problem with "Mortal Kombat" because it's a martial arts killing game that involves a joystick and buttons, rather than a gun the gamer shoots to simulate the act of murder.

"My concern was the shooters -- you rarely see kids beating each other to death," Slota said. "I just don't want to think I had anything to do with being part of the problem."

A handy scapegoat?

The National Rifle Association, reacting to yet another cry for more gun control, said violent video games were partly responsible for the tragedy in Connecticut.

The 20-year-old who carried out the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School reportedly spent hours playing violent video games such as "Call of Duty" in his mother's basement.

"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,'" Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA, said in a statement, while singling out "Kindergarten Killers," which has been online for 10 years.

Video games drew attention in 1999, after the killing spree at Columbine High School. Back then, critics pounced on violent video games because the shooters, two teenage boys who attended the school, played "Doom."

But even those who study the effects of violent games on people aren't so sure they're the culprit. …

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