2013.12.4 punch ii

With so many cool toys coming to stores this year, it is hard to believe kids would be so bored that they create a game where the “players” score points for each real-world stranger they render unconscious. But two recent attacks in Kobe and Osaka are making Japanese netizens scared that the so-called “Knockout Game,” which has been widely reported in American media, has now landed on Japanese streets. Some academics are concerned that this is just another sign of America’s “society of violence” importing itself to Japan.

On November 30, a man struck a 21 year-old woman in the back of the head with a metal rod in Osaka. The attack took place at about 1 a.m. in a pitch-black street as the woman was returning home. According to people who live in the neighborhood, that street is particularly dark at night and even “seeing a child pass you can be scary.” Luckily the woman was able to run away from her attacker and alert the authorities. They took her to a hospital where she had seven stitches.

Just two days before, a similar attack happened in the nearby city of Kobe. A woman was attacked from behind on her way home late at night on a street with poor lighting.

But could this be the same “Knockout Game” that has garnered a huge amount of media attention in America?

In the American “game,” the attackers are usually teenagers who attempt to knock a random, usually unwitting and completely innocent, victim out with a single punch. Some police in America attribute the assaults to increased violence among youth while others see the crimes as horrific, but unrelated to a “knockout trend.” Other critics wonder if the whole story is another case of a “moral panic” in the media where isolated cases are strung together to create a terrifying myth.

A professor at Tokyo’s Chuo University pointed out that while these incidents happened in Japan late at night, a lot of the “Knockout Game” assaults in America happened in the middle of the day where security cameras caught the whole thing. The professor, Tetsuya Fujimoto, wondered if this blatant display of violence may spill over to Japan as the “violent society” of America becomes en vogue to Japanese youngsters.

Besides calling the assailants “cockroaches,” Japanese netizens debated what role video games, if any, had in “creating” this apparent wave of assaults.

Was it because they couldn’t buy a PS4?

Too much Grand Theft Auto?

It’s not video games they are imitating, but what they see in the news.

While some simply hopped on the Osaka-hating bandwagon and blamed the attacks on the “trash” the city calls its residents (author’s note: totally untrue and libelous on all accounts), most were overall critical in the media’s handling of the attacks. They thought that having the word “game” attached to such brutal acts were making gullible young people who are much more likely to try it themselves.

When thugs see something like “Knockout Game” in the media, they are just going to be encouraged.

TV networks keep introducing things like this that people then go out and imitate. Don’t be surprised. 

The media is helping to perpetrate this “game” by promoting it so much.

What should the media’s role in reporting this kind of brutal attack that some believe is related to a “game” popular with young people? One thing is for sure, we hope the police catch these awful people who did this.

Source: My Game News Flash
Image: Flickr (AdamLyon)