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Call of Duty Activision Slammed with Lawsuit Over School Shooting

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By Jaden Francis - - 5 Mins Read
Modern Warfare III zombie character in gameplay
Photo credit | Activison

Imagine getting the worst news possible - that your child's school was the site of a horrific shooting. This unimaginable horror struck families in Uvalde, Texas, in May 2022.

An 18-year-old gunman named Salvador Ramos opened fire at Robb Elementary School, killing and injuring dozens of innocent children and teachers. The close-knit community was left shattered and grieving.

Now, over a year later, the victim's families are taking legal action. One of the targets of their lawsuit is the company behind one of the world's most popular video game franchises - Call of Duty.

An Unlikely Target?

It may seem strange that a video game company is being sued over a real-life tragedy. But the families, represented by attorney Josh Koskoff, claim that Activision (the company that makes Call of Duty), along with Meta and gun manufacturer Daniel Defense, played a disturbing role in Ramos' path to violence.

They argue this deadly trio essentially "groomed" and "conditioned" Ramos through a toxic combination of social media, combat shooting games, and access to firearms.

The lawsuit paints Call of Duty as a virtual "training ground" that helped prepare Ramos for his rampage.

Also read: Meet the 13-Year-Old Who Burnt £68,000 of Parent's Money Playing Mobile Games

Entertainment vs. Reality 

While millions play Call of Duty and other combat games without incident, this case raises concerns about the effects of extremely realistic, graphic violence in games. Could experiences like Call of Duty desensitize some players to real violence?

A person playing call of duty on a console
COD on PlayStation | Shutterstock

Activision has expressed sympathy for the victims while defending its games. It says the vast majority of players are peaceful people simply looking for entertainment. The company also notes that it's challenging to enforce age ratings that restrict sales to minors.

A Dangerous Obsession 

According to the lawsuit, Ramos was obsessively playing Call of Duty from age 15 onward.

Chillingly, he allegedly used the same type of assault rifle in the game that he wielded in the shooting.

Some argue the game served as a perverse form of training, helping Ramos hone his skills for the attack while numbing him to the horror of violence.

The Call of Duty franchise is a gaming leviathan. Launched in 2003, the military shooter series has captivated tens of millions worldwide with its gritty, modern, and futuristic warfare settings. As of late 2023, over 425 million copies had been sold.

The latest installments - Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III (Nov. 2023) and the upcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 (Oct. 2024) - are guaranteed blockbusters.

The series' intense popularity extends far beyond games to movies, toys, comics and more.

Broader Societal Impacts

While video games don't directly cause violence, this lawsuit suggests they may negatively influence some mentally disturbed individuals. The case could set new precedents on how ultraviolent games are marketed and regulated.

More broadly, it reignites the long-simmering debate around the role of pervasive violence in entertainment and its societal impact - especially on young, impressionable minds. As this legal battle rages, we must grapple with these complex issues.

There are no easy conclusions from this heartbreaking case. While entertaining millions, did franchises like Call of Duty play some role in this atrocity? Could stricter age enforcement or content regulation have made a difference? 

Regardless of the outcome, our thoughts remain with the victims and a community still reeling from unimaginable tragedy. Through this lawsuit, their pursuit of justice and change underscores that real lives - not just gameplay - are at stake.