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Judge bans 16-year-old from violent video games over school shooting threat

Teen had no access to weapons but 'joke' Snapchat threat led to criminal charges

A judge has ruled that an Illinois teenager can no longer play violent video games after he allegedly threatened to carry out a school shooting.

Prosecutors report the unnamed 16-year-old grew "annoyed" by discussions on social media after a threat to the institute he attended, Roselle's Lake Park High School, prompted the closure of two campuses last week, according to the Chicago Tribute.

The boy then posted an image of himself playing a violent video game on Snapchat, with the caption: "Y'all need to shut up about school shootings or I'll do one."

In DuPage County juvenile court, his defence insisted the comment was intended as a joke, although noted the poor taste behind it. Prosecutors maintained this was unacceptable, particularly following the mass shooting at a Florida school last month.

The police found no weapons at the boy's home in their search, with his parents insisting they do not keep any guns at home.

Judge Robert Anderson ordered the teenager be placed on indefinite home detention, that he hand in his phone to his parents, and that he was no longer allowed to play violent video games.

"You can play all the Mario Kart you want," he told the youth.

The role of video games in this case may seem tenuous, but the incident follows recent comments from President Trump, who blamed the Florida shooting in part on the rise of violence in games.

Similarly, a Rhode Island politician has proposed that an extra tax be added to the sale of violent video games in order to fund mental health and counselling resources in schools.

The vilification of video games is a decades-old running narrative, particularly in the US - despite the Supreme Court ruling that the medium should enjoy the same free speech protections as books and movies back in 2011.

While there have been many studies into the relationship between video games and violent behaviour, no conclusive links have been made.

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James Batchelor


James Batchelor is Editor-in-Chief at GamesIndustry.biz. He has been a B2B journalist since 2006, and an author since he knew what one was