Boy gets murdered. Grieving mother blames her son's death on a videogame, saying that she thinks that she had heard some of his friends mention that the other boy was obsessed with it. Media spotting an easy and sexy story, full of potential for demonisation and cynical moralising, jump on the story and proceed to wheel out the same selective group of "experts" on the derogatory effects of video-games.
A tragic waste of lives - of the victim, of his now-campagning mother, and of the perpretrator's family. Everyone personally connected with this will be going through their own hell. And I'm sure that some of Manhunt's designers will not be feeling too great either.
But let me just make this clear. Videogames don't kill people. It's the sickness in society that's the real danger. Violent videogames provide a cathartic safe release for people who might otherwise internalise their aggresions, bouncing off the walls of their own personal void. If it was possible to properly judge effects of such games on the grand scheme of things, we would no doubt find they very much have a net positive effect on society.
Its those who preach to us how we should think, who tell us who we should be for their own selfish ends - the media, the politicians - that gradually rot the moral core of society and the minds that feed off it, one drip at a time.
We might be a generation of damaged privelidged people, but its been caused by the cynicism of the very people that "lead us" through our world or act as our window upon it. Gulf War Two, anyone? Fear is the mind-killer, and frightened animals can be dangerous. The problem is that we've sight of humanity.
6 August 2004 UPDATE: The truth struggles to come out in the aftermath of the Manhunt media furore. As reported in an incisive Inquirer article, Police have confirmed that "the video game was not found in [the killer] Warren LeBlanc's room, it was found in [the victim] Stefan Pakeerah's room... Leicestershire Constabulary stands by its response that police investigations did not uncover any connections to the video game, the motive for the incident was robbery."