Some of the families of those killed in the Columbine High School shootings are seeking $5 billion in punitive damages against the manufacturers and distributors of video technology. They say the massacre would not have occurred without the marketing of video games, particularly the game "Doom," which they say influenced the two gunmen.
The class-action lawsuit was filed last week in U.S. District Court in Colorado--nearly two years after the shooting by two Columbine High School students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, left 12 students and a teacher dead as well as themselves.
The lawsuit "seeks literally to change the marketing and distribution of these super-violent video games that take kids to become addicted and turn them into monster killers," said John DeCamp, the attorney who filed on behalf of the families.
The filing came a day before the two-year anniversary of the tragedy. Separately, 36 families of victims have reached a $2.5 million settlement in lawsuits with Harris' and Klebold's parents as well as people involved in providing the guns used.
DeCamp said the families are ready to defend their latest suit with proof that the gunmen made a film explaining that their actions were prompted by the video game "Doom."
"The particular game is purely, 100 percent taken from the military and transferred over to the private sector," DeCamp said.
Other companies named in the lawsuit include ID Software, Atari, Sega of America, Virgin Interactive Media, Activision, Polygram Film Entertainment Distribution, New Line Cinema, and GT Interactive Software.
Todd Hollenshead, chief executive of Mesquite, Texas-based ID Software, which developed "Doom," said he hadn't seen the lawsuit and couldn't comment on it. AOL Time Warner also declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Hollenshead, whose company released "Doom" in 1993, described it as a self-defense game, with the player as a space marine stationed on Mars.
"It's basically a shooting game," he said.