Just when we thought that the tragic Daniel Petric case would end without devolving into a debate on game violence, Judge James Burge, the same man who rejected Petric’s attorneys’ game addiction defense, decided to turn it into just that.
During his sentencing of Petric, Burge, who found the defendant guilty of the aggravated murder of his mother and aggravated attempted murder of his father, made some decidedly negative statements regarding games.
“The Court must enter a finding of guilty on the counts set forth in the indictment. That being said, it's my firm belief as a human being - and not as a jurist - that Daniel does suffer from a serious defect of the mind.
This Court's opinion is that we don't know enough about these video games. In this particular case, not so much the violence of the game because I believe in the Halo 3, what it amounts to is a contest to see who can shoot the most aliens who attack.
It's my firm belief that after a while the same physiological responses occur that occur in the ingestion of some drugs. And I believe that an addiction to these games can do the same thing. The dopamine surge, the stimulation of the nucleus accumbens - the same as an addiction. Such that when you stop, your brain won't stand for it.
The other dangerous thing about these games, in my opinion, is that when these changes occur, they occur in an environment that is delusional. Because you can shoot these aliens, and they're there again the next day. You have to shoot them again. And I firmly believe that Daniel Petric had no idea, at the time he hatched this plot, that if he killed his parents, they would be dead forever.
But I believe there is hope here. I believe that it will start here and, uh, at some point when all is known about Daniel and what occurred here we will be able to achieve a greater sense of justice.”
Well, good to know you’re making these statements "as a human being - and not as a jurist," despite making them from the Judge’s bench and referring to your own opinions as “The Court’s opinon.” The idea that Petric “had no idea…they would be dead forever” is ludicrous, and suggesting that video games, specifically one that focuses on invading aliens and plasma rifles, are realistic enough to distort reality in the mind of the average 17 year-old is simply irresponsible.
And yes; games do stimulate the brain’s nucleus accumbens and produce surges of dopamine. Music, food, and sex do as well, but why distract ourselves with facts when there’s a perfectly good boogieman around in the form of video games? It’s fortunate that the game addiction defense wasn’t allowed, because if Judge Burge’s statements are any indication, Petric would have stood a good chance of walking free after killing his mother.