Texas Sized Trouble: Teen Arrested For League of Legends Chat Convo

An 18 year-old Texas boy is on trial for something he said during a conversation on League of Legends. Controversy loves company, it seems.

Today marks yet another episode in the neverending torrent of bad rep for the video gaming industry.

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Right now in Texas, a young gamer by the name of Justin Carter is about to face trial for a possible sentencing of up to 8 years in prison for a comment he made on Facebook after a League of Legends game. The subject of the said conversation is a sore one, and one that strikes at the core of one of our nation’s greatest fears: fear for our children’s safety.

Unfortunately, there is an inextricable past between video games and school violence

Ever since the tragic events that transpired at Columbine High School, members of Congress and their misguided, deluded lobbyist lackeys have been citing that the horrific acts of violence performed by those two troubled youths that fateful day in 1999, (as well as the awful string of school shootings since then) were due, at least partially, to video game violence. To be honest, they’re not totally wrong. Since Columbine, there have been a slew of psychological studies performed which suggest that acts of physical violence really are correlated with exposure to violence in movies, television shows, and, you guessed it, video games. 

I might add, however, that perhaps the first thing any introductory Statistics 101 student learns is that correlation does not imply causation

That said, even the slightest indication of a possible threat against our kid’s safety, we as Americans, and more importantly as caring parents, cannot help but worry. It’s only natural, and it’s one of the key facets of good parenting. 

Unfortunately for Justin, he struck a chord with this resonating issue during his online conversation, and he could be paying for that misstep for a large part of his young life.

You may be asking what exactly this “conversation” entailed…

According to Justin’s father, Jack Carter, this is a basic a timeline of the events that led to his son’s incarceration:

Back in February, Justin was playing the popular online MMO League of Legends, and an argument between he and one of his fellow players got heated and eventually spilled over onto Facebook. During their banter, Justin’s fellow LoLer said something which implied that Justin was “insane…crazy…and messed up in the head.” In response, Justin typed out the following sentence: “Oh yeah, I’m real messed up in the head, I’m going to go shoot up a school full of kids and eat their still, beating hearts.” He concluded his retort with a too-late “lol” and “jk.”

Shortly after the post was up on Facebook, an anonymous woman, supposedly from Canada, saw Justin’s looming response, did a quick Google search and found out that he lived near a school, and then immediately phoned the authorities.

Since his arrest in March, Justin has been sitting in jail awaiting his trial which is set for sometime in the next few months. Jack Carter has been extremely vocal about his support for his son, claiming that his son’s remark was “sarcastic” and that his “lack of care for current events” is partially to blame for his callous words.

What does this mean for the gaming industry?

So, yeah, this is some heavy stuff, right? School shootings are an unprecedentedly raw subject in American today, especially with the bone-chilling events that took place in Newtown late last year. Moreover, while the effect of video games on these tragedies has lingered in the background of poltical discussions for as long as I can remember, this marks the first example where games are directly involved with the developments. 

No one would ever want to put their children in danger, that much is unquestionable. My question now is whether or not Justin Carter deserves the purported senctence being handed down to him. Do a few not-thought-through words warrant the forfeiture of 8 years of a young man’s life? Or, conversely, is this sentence too lenient on Justin considering the severity of what he said? 

These are big questons that I cannot answer. But, for the sake of gamers, the gaming industry, and the safety of kids everywhere, I hope something like this never happens again.


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