A new report out Monday starkly contradicts the National Rifle Association's assertion that violent video games were a significant factor behind the Newtown massacre last December.
Adam Lanza, the shooter who killed 20 young children and six adults last year, was a loner with an obsession for the Japanese arcade game Dance Dance Revolution, an official investigation has found.
The probe explains that data taken from a GPS device he carried with him shows that Lanza played Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) "four to ten hours" at a time "most every Friday through Sunday" at a local movie theater, sometimes even filming videos of himself playing the game.
The portrait painted of Lanza is starkly different from the rhetoric used by the CEO of the National Rifle Association (NRA) just days after the shooting. Standing before the nation's press, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre pointed a finger at "a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry" responsible for producing games like, "Bullet Storm," "Grand Theft Auto," "Mortal Kombat," and "Splatterhouse." Instead of talking about guns as a great evil, he said, talk about the video game industry instead.
Connecticut's report dredged up a significant haul of video games from Lanza's personal collection, including "Grand Theft Auto" and other popular shooting games like "Call of Duty" and "Halo," but only highlights a few of particular interest to Lanza.
"One person described the shooter as spending the majority of his time playing non-violent video games all day, with his favorite at one point being 'Super Mario Brothers,'" the report explains. "...In terms of video games, the shooter liked to play 'Phantasy Star Online' (a role playing game), 'Paper Mario,' 'Luigi's Mansion' and 'Pikmin.' He also liked Japanese animated films and television."
Disturbingly, investigators did find a game called "School Shooting," a homespun effort which sparked immediate controversy upon its release, created by modifying the source code of the PC game "Half Life 2." It was never released for sale and was instead circulated by its creators for free on the Internet.
His interest in "School Shooting" seemingly stemmed from a fascination with mass killings. Lanza also had videos showing people committing suicide, movies about mass shootings, spreadsheets listing mass killings and a cache of materials about the Columbine massacre. Investigators also found five firearms at the school and Lanza's home: two pistols, two rifles and a shotgun. Lanza also had more than 250 rounds of ammunition on his person at time of his suicide.
What investigators did not find is a motive for the 20-year-old's rampage.
In the end, the image of Lanza jumping around in front of a DDR machine to Japanese pop music is about as haunting as the Columbine shooters going bowling just before their own brutal rampage. Both are almost impossible for rational, peace-loving people to understand.
Despite the NRA's misguided focus on violent video games, the investigation clearly shows that only concrete steps to ensure high-powered weaponry stays out of the hands of disturbed individuals will address the tragedy of the Newtown massacre.
Photo: Flickr user RIchard Eriksson, creative commons licensed.