"Mortal Kombat" and "Grand Theft Auto," on the other hand, are high-selling franchises that have been a consistent part of youth culture for decades, from movie adaptations to Halloween costumes to marathon tournaments with friends on lazy Saturdays. In "Mortal Kombat," a 20-year-old product of Warner Bros., players assume the guise of supernatural creatures and fight to the death in imaginary gladiatorial settings. "Grand Theft Auto," a grittier "open-world" action game released in 1997 by New York-based Rockstar Games, deposits players into seedy scenarios that require them to commit virtual crimes such as robbing banks, stealing cars or snuffing out drug lords and civilians.
LaPierre also name-checked a game called "Kindergarten Killer," which should not be grouped in the same category, because it is a simplistic online game uploaded in 2002 by a single user without any marketing. In "Kindergarten Killer," the player fires a double-barreled shotgun at menacing, armed children who then spurt cartoon blood.
"It's been online for 10 years," LaPierre said of the game. "How come my research staff can find it, and all of yours couldn't?"
The only way to find the game is by Googling some iteration of "kindergarten" and "killers" or by plumbing the depths of its host site, flash-game.net, which is devoted to user-generated Internet video games. Such games are more aptly classified as online free speech — a lone user uploads his own content — than as an outgrowth of the for-profit, mass-market gaming industry.
"Kindergarten Killer" did attract brief attention in 2008, as the Post's Erik Wemple noted, when 22-year-old Matti Juhani Saari killed 10 people in a shooting at a vocational college in Finland; a Finnish children's gaming site responded by removing the game from its roster, according to Reuters.