Before the rampage that left 6 dead and 14 injured, accused Tucson shooter Jared Lee Loughner vented in online forums for games like Earth Empires. But what is Earth Empires?
Earth Empires is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game that evolved from one of the earliest browser-based MMORPGs. The original game, Earth: 2025, launched in the early 1990s, but closed in December 2009. Players created Earth: Empires as a continuation. As pointed out here, the way the original game grouped players in "clans" was somewhat similar to how current social networking works.
"Earth Empires is a free browser based strategy game where you take control of your nation's military and economy," the game's official site reads. "Command your country's military to attack and defend against your enemies. Execute attack strategies to relieve opponents of their resources and land. Strategically invest in technology to outpace the economies of other countries. Ally with your friends or make new friendships by joining a clan. Conduct military operations, govern your country and build your empire."
Like with many games, players can interact in public forums and chat about gaming sports, politics, Australian wine, whatever.
The forums are currently a hotbed of discussion about Loughner and the shooting. Many of the players are obviously shocked and saddened by what happened, with one forum administrator writing "This is an immeasurable tragedy, and it pains me that someone from our close-knit community could be involved in such a heinous act."
Many of the forum members are doing a solid job of keeping everything in perspective, with the game's Wiki editor writing, "This game had nothing to do with his troubled mind as I'm sure the 10-20 min he played is a day was insignificant compared to other influences." Others are debating whether Sarah Palin is a terrorist organizer or whether liberals are responsible.
"Jared Lee Loughner is to blame for the shootings in Arizona," writes one member. "No one else."
Continuing, the member adds, "I am not inclined to debate this with anyone, and (uncharacteristically for me) am not going to provide my long-winded reasoning behind the statement. It's the truth, and is self-evident. I'm embarrassed for those who've tried to put the blame anywhere else."
The administrator of the site said yesterday the FBI requested logs of all conversations Loughner took part in.