Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

10 Deaths Caused by Video Games

Playing video games is such a universal college practice that schools might as well issue minors in gameplay. And for most people, gaming is a great way to unwind, kill time, or hang out with friends. Yet for some — the few, the proud, the mentally unbalanced — video games are the spark held to the powder keg that sets them off. Not every death tied by the media to video games is actually related to them (the Columbine killings are a good example of this), but the ones on this list make for gruesome exceptions. It’s worth reiterating that most gamers are the rational sort, and those who are pushed over the edge by games are usually already falling and just looking for an excuse to lose control.

  1. Alayiah Turman: Tyrone Spellman is one of the worst people you’ll ever read about. A man in love with his Xbox, Spellman went apopleptic when his 17-month-old daughter, Alayiah, accidentally pulled the cords out of the wall. Rather than ensure the child’s safety or just fix things and move on, Spellman cracked her skull repeatedly, killing her. He got up to 47 years in prison for the crime.
  2. Shawn Woolley: Online RPGs are known for their addictive qualities — players get so obsessed that they devote all their time to the game, often at the expense of a social life — but rarely have they had an effect like they did on Shawn Woolley. He killed himself in the fall of 2001, and his mother attributes the death to a lack of reality and socialization encouraged by Everquest.
  3. Ace Mealer, James Crump, Arnold Strickland: In June 2003, a teenager named Devin Moore, who was a big fan of the Grand Theft Auto series, went on a killing spree. He’d been brought to a police station on suspicion of stealing a car, at which point he grabbed a gun, shot two officers and a 911 dispatcher, and grabbed a set of car keys as he made a speedy exit. He drove off in a police cruiser but was quickly captured. When caught, he reportedly said, Life is like a video game. Everybody’s got to die sometime." Classy guy.
  4. Aaron Hamel: Chalk up another one for Grand Theft Auto (it’s understandable why so many critics complain of the game’s cop-killing stories): Aaron Hamel was killed and Kimberly Bede was injured when two stepbrothers in Tennessee, aged 14 and 16, opened fire with rifles they’d found in their home. The boys cited Grand Theft Auto III as the inspiration for their real-life destruction.
  5. Zhu Caoyuan: In 2004, Shanghai gamer Zhu Caoyuan was murdered by fellow player Qiu Chengwei in a dispute over a "cyber-weapon." Qiu won the weapon in the online game Legend of Mir III and loaned it to Zhu to use in the game, after which Zhu turned around and sold it. Jerk move, to be sure, but when cops told Qiu they couldn’t help him because the stolen property wasn’t real, Qiu confronted Zhu and stabbed him in the chest, killing him. Qiu earned a death sentence with the possibility of having it commuted to life if he behaved.
  6. An unnamed Russian man: Lineage II is a pretty typical MMORPG, which means it’s capable of inspiring pointless feuds that bleed over into real life. Case in point: when a pair of Russian guilds got into an online shouting match over the killing of one of their characters, the players opted to settle the score on their own. They met for a fight that got so bloody one man died of his injuries on the way to the hospital.
  7. Dylan Lee Edmondson: Dylan Lee Edmondson was 3 years old when he died in October 2010. His mother, Alexandra Tobias, was a FarmVille junkie who was engrossed in the popular Facebook game when her son started crying. She shook him several times, likely hitting his head, causing his death. She could get 25 years in prison.
  8. Xiao Yi: Another disheartening suicide: Xiao Yi was 13 when he jumepd from the roof of a 24-story building. According to notes he left, the boy was entranced by the world of Warcraft III and hoped to reunite with his online friends in the afterlife.
  9. Mai Thi Mau: Dinh The Dan, 13, strangled and killed Mai Thi Mau, 81, in order to get money for video games. He used a piece of rope to choke her before robbing her and burying her in a pile of sand at his house. He wanted the money to pay for his online video game habit, so he decided to rob and kill someone to get it. The boy was sent to a "reeducation camp" in hopes of changing his behavior.
  10. An unnamed Chinese man: Even by the standards of this list, this is a creepy, sad entry. In 2007, a Chinese man played online video games for three days straight in an Internet cafe. That’s 72 hours of consecutive gaming. Even assuming breaks for food and relief, that can only end badly, and it did: after three days, the man dropped dead from exhaustion. Why did he do it? What was he playing? Did he have nowhere else to go? Horrible questions with no answers.