A British man has been sentenced to eight years in prison for manslaughter. He killed his five-week old daughter, although the court did not find any premeditated intent in his actions. He was acting on the spur of the moment: the baby’s crying annoyed him while he was playing a video game, Assassin’s Creed 3.
The father, Mark Sandland, picked up the baby and started shaking her violently. Afterwards, he claimed that he had been suffering from an epileptic fit and that he discovered the baby’s body under him. However, forensic evidence ruled out the fit and the judge took into account lack of genuine remorse on the part of the father when determining sentence.
The baby’s mother was at her university attending a class, and when she sent a message asking how her daughter was, Sandland’s reply was that the baby “hasn’t shut up”.
Today in the West, fathers take ever more active roles in raising their children. It is not uncommon to see fathers bringing their children to playgroups. A father turns up at a playground and helps his child have a fun time on a swing or a slide and no one bats an eyelid; it has become so normal.
Mark Sandland and his partner might have had a happy family life, sharing responsibility for looking after the baby. Mother stays with the baby while father works, father stays with the baby while mother is at university, and everyone is happy.
Unfortunately, this was not the case here. Sandland did not feel he got the fair deal when left with the baby. He did not see taking care of his daughter and ensuring her happiness and safety as his primary concern. He thought he would play Assassin’s Creed 3 instead.
A lot has been spoken about computer, internet and game addiction, especially when it comes to the youth. Research studies about negative effects of gaming on children abound. Websites are full of recommendations on how to keep your child from getting addicted to video games.
However, in all this talk about children and teens getting addicted to video games, one group of people can be overlooked. This group is 35-year-old men, which, according to research, are primary game enthusiasts. These men would forsake their marriages, jobs and children just to satisfy their need to escape into the fantasy world of gaming.
This is a generation of boys who have grown up with video games, but failed to really grow up. These men refuse to take on the responsibility which comes with adulthood and family life.
Some people from this generation manage to step away from gaming on leaving school or college. Some limit themselves to an hour of playing each day. Still, there are millions of men and women around the world who play four to five hours a day. In order to do that they skip work and cut down on time spent with spouses and children.
Although game addition was not the focus of Sandland’s court case, there can be no doubt that it was a major contributing factor. According to the case’s materials, the killer went on a website seeking help with completing a level in the game just 20 minutes before ringing the emergency services.
The very fact that he was compelled to shake the baby with force while he was playing shows that the game was psychologically more important to him than his own daughter.
What this baby girl needed was her father caring for her and showing her love. What Sandland’s partner needed was certainty that their baby was safe with her father. What they all needed was a supportive family, where everyone contributes to one another’s happiness and wellbeing. One can hardly imagine a more senseless loss of innocent life than over a video game.
Article prepared by Mike Burd