What It's Like To Play One Of Adam Lanza's favourite Video Games

call of duty

In the wake of the horrific, tragic shootings at Sandy Hook school last week, some people have suggested that our culture of super-violent video games are at least partially to blame.

The Sandy Hook gunman, Adam Lanza, reportedly spent hours playing a game called “Call of Duty” every day.

Those who have not played “first-person shooter” games like this may not understand how realistic they have become in recent years. Because this topic has now become part of the national debate on how to reduce or stop gun massacres, we will walk through an example of these games. 

Importantly, we have no idea what short-circuited in Lanza’s head that made him decide to use real guns to kill real people in Newtown last week.  But as you will see, the experience of walking around shooting people would not have been unfamiliar to him.

The first point to keep in mind is that Lanza is not the only one who played “Call of Duty.” The best-selling video game series has around 40 million monthly users, including myself — and personally I doubt that it makes people turn violent.

Nonetheless, “Call of Duty” is widely considered one of the most realistic combat games out there.

As a Marine, I can confirm that, while nothing comes close to actual combat, the game offers a glimpse into the world of armed killing. It gives a realistic portrayal of what happens when someone gets shot. It also conveys the speed of combat and how instant reflexes can mean life or death. Indeed this is why games like “Call of Duty” are used by the military to train soldiers.

Though there is a single-player or two-player campaign mode, most fans buy the game to play in the online arenas against other human players. In the following slides, we will walk you through a “Call of Duty” “kill streak” posted to YouTube by a player with the handle stojvip3r11.

One word of caution: These images are graphic, and in light of what happened last week, they may seem distasteful. But they are the reality of a highly popular genre of video games, which is why we are presenting them here.

There are two main gameplay modes in the arena: every man for himself or team-based play.

The basic gist of team mode (what we see here), is to not only kill as many opposing players as possible, but to breach and hold enemy territory.

The game is incredibly fast, and the most realistic aspect is how quickly you can die when caught in the crosshairs.

It's also graphic. Though not the most gory video game by a stretch, there are repeated images of death.

There are also tense moments, which require instant reflexes for 'survival.'

One of the keys to survival is knowing 'danger areas,' and how to cross them.

A danger area is an open area where enemy could and should be prowling. Senses must be heightened in order to mitigate and survive.

Just the slightest streak of movement, and the shooter lets fly — rewarded with a banner declaring how many kills in the streak.

Down to just a sidearm, the pace becomes frantic. Those with the big guns usually win, but not this time.

Players are not only tracking kills, but whom they've killed, and who's killed them. The notification opens the game up to revenge in later lives.

The language here cuts no corners: 'Killed 3 people in rapid succession.'

Because of the streaks, the shooter has been awarded a power up: a position in a helicopter, high above the fight and behind a powerful chain gun.

It's turned into a total blood bath, enemies flee before the onslaught.

The power up is timed though, and eventually the player ends up back on the ground.

This time everyone is gunning for him. They all know who it was who's been cutting them down.

Tense gunfights in close quarters — the tension at this point for a player absorbs almost all other thought.

The player comes out victorious this time, but the whole opposing team is hunting him now.

Players even have to take the time to reload. As the saying goes, 'If you're not moving, reloading, or shooting, you're dead.'

The player gets in one more kill before he's knifed from behind.

His 40 kill streak shows clearly on the leader board. How many people you can kill in one life is the central tenet of the game.

You've seen what the video game is like ...

NOW SEE the real thing, in our 25 most effective weapons in the U.S. arsenal >

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