Games can accomplish so many things, but unfortunately they aren’t always positive.
Yesterday, a 19 year old in the UK was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison for the murder of a 14 year old, after the two met and interacted online via the popular gaming communication network Teamspeak.
The victim was a young boy named Breck Bednar, who was killed last February. The perpetrator was a 19-year-old self-proclaimed computer engineer by the name of Lewis Daynes, who today found himself sentenced to a minimum of 25 years over the murder. This is in addition to five other criminal counts, which are not being prosecuted due to an unlikely possibility of conviction.
The fact that the two boys met through online gaming shows that our beloved hobby can sometimes be steeped in darkness. According to the court, Daynes and Bednar met face-to-face on February 16th – the day before the police were called. During the intervening time, there was evidence of sexual activity. All in all, the case makes for a tragic set of circumstances.
Games can sometimes help us face down our darker tendencies. We face the inherent monstrosity in the human condition, and find catharsis in the fact that we can be aware of just how troubling and troubled it can be in and around the human race. Sometimes it means seeing a villain so twisted and dark that they’ll do anything just to get another dollar, another day, or another detriment to one’s enemies. Other times, we see the villains we resemble, and we have to face down something crueler, colder, and altogether worse within ourselves.
Seeing it mirrored outside of gaming always makes news like this hit home harder than it should. Regardless of the cause, motive, or mentality, it’s hard to look at a death as anything but a loss – especially for friends and family of the victim.
Here’s hoping that tomorrow brings something brighter, and the darkness we see stays in the books we read, the movies we watch, and the games we play – rather than the streets we walk.
Rest in Peace, Breck.