Many of us are competitive, trying to one-up each other not just during games or at work, but also within families, in social situations, and even on the road. It’s generally agreed that this is an evolutionary instinct. Survival of the fittest: Eat or be eaten – quite literally, sometimes. If we win more, will we be happier? Will we garner more romantic attention? Get the big raise? If we have an unfortunate accident, does it mean our genes are not worth passing on?
Many reading this will be familiar with situations in which a casual game among friends, which is meant to be fun—whether a simple game of catch or a more intense game of Risk, or the ever popular Monopoly— got a bit too heated. Maybe you didn’t want to play in the first place, but were forced to. People start taking losing personally, accusing each other of being unfair, or worse. Uncomfortable with losing, some people truly lose it! Of course, this unfriendly behaviour is not advantageous, evolutionarily or otherwise. Who wants to date the sore loser yelling at his mother or best buddy?
It doesn’t seem to take much to set some people off. Certain disturbing news reports highlight just how crazy some individuals are, going to the most unbelievable, horrific extremes for petty reasons. Is any reason good enough to kill someone? There might be a few cases, depending on your views, but the following stories are certainly not among these. Want to know just how wrong things can go, even during fun and games? The below “entertainment” comes with a set of instructions: read at your own risk.
8. Playing Poker Can Be a Bad Bet
Although he was named after the founder of the Methodist denomination, 19th century Texan John Wesley Hardin was not what you’d call a God-fearing man. His father was a Methodist preacher and schoolteacher, but John Wesley did not turn out to be particularly erudite, either. Rebelling against his upbringing with a father who rode the circuit preaching, Hardin was in trouble with the law from an early age; this continued throughout his life. One evening in January of 1870 Hardin was playing poker with Benjamin Bradley. When it seemed Hardin could not lose, Bradley grew irate and threatened to “cut out [Hardin’s] liver” if he won again, pulling out a gun to emphasize the point. Hardin didn’t take kindly to this affront: Hardin drew two guns simultaneously and shot Bradley in the chest and head, killing him.
7. Virtual Swords Can Kill
In 2004 Shanghai online gamer Qiu Chengwei stabbed fellow gamer Zhu Caoyuan to death when he discovered the other man, whom he had lent a virtual sword, sold the imaginary item for the equivalent of about $790 USD. The dragon sabre was won in Legend of Mir 3. Zhu offered to pay Qui back, but the latter had already lost his cool and according to the media stabbed the victim with “great force” in the chest. The murderer received a suspended death sentence, meaning he could spend his life in jail. However, the possibility also exists that with good behavior he could be released 15 years after sentencing, or as soon as 2020.
6. Just Not A Big Enough Fan
In 2013, a 28-year-old Birmingham, Alabama woman, Adrian Briskey, was charged with shooting and killing a fellow Alabama football fan just moments after the Iron Bowl ended. According to the victim’s sister, Michelle Shepherd was joking around after the Crimson Tide lost the game to Auburn. To Briskey, this frivolous behaviour in the face of a loss meant the other woman was just not enough of a fan. The game had been extremely close in score, and after a winning last-second play, the women’s mutual home team was defeated. Briskey was clearly a sore loser; angry that Shepherd was not upset enough, she shot the woman, killing her.
5. Participant in Bridge Game Plays without Full Deck
In 1929 Myrtle Bennett and her husband John were playing a game of bridge one night with friends, the Hofmans. The four had golfed during the day, and then returned to the Bennett’s Kansas City apartment for supper and bridge. Sometime after midnight the Hofmans were ahead when John Bennett failed to make a four-spades contract. He and his wife bickered, and John allegedly struck Myrtle across the face several times. He then told her he was leaving and began packing a suitcase, ordering his wife to get the handgun he always carried on the road for protection. Myrtle got the handgun and shot her spouse twice in the back. A famous defense attorney got her off on prior abuse. When Myrtle died childless and a millionaire at the age of 96, she left the bulk of her fortune to her late husband’s relatives.
4. Gaming Addicts Let Child Starve to Death
South Korea, 2010: A three-month-old baby girl who had been born prematurely starved to death while her unemployed parents raised a virtual child in the game Prius Online. The couple, addicted to online gaming, regularly played for 12-hours in a row, caring for their virtual child, but feeding their real child only once per day. This wasn’t enough to sustain a premature three-month-old, and the flesh-and-blood baby did not survive. A police officer involved in the case said it seemed as though the two had become so dejected about real-life circumstances that they substituted one world for another in a fatal case of escapism. The couple’s lack of employment didn’t stop them from paying for the services of the internet café in which they basically lived.
3. Assistant Ref Kicked to Death by Teens
In the Netherlands, football (that is, soccer) is the nation’s most popular pastime. Almost the entire nation is involved either actively or passively at the professional and amateur levels. It’s not just a spectator sport – every weekend 33,000 officially recognized games are played across the various leagues. This involves over one million participants, with plenty of volunteers, including 41-year-old Richard Nieuwenhuizen. Nieuwenhuizen was a linesman, an assistant referee in charge of calling shots around lines on the field, especially to do with offside decisions. One Saturday in December 2012, while refereeing a game his son was playing in, the opposing team apparently did not like the offside calls throughout the match. What did the teens do? Instead of filing a complaint, they assaulted the man, kicking him repeatedly in the head. He died the next day of injuries sustained during the attack.
2. When Families Take Board Games Too Seriously
Many films have depicted the difficulties families have around the holidays, usually comedies. The following, however, is no comedy, nor is it fiction: After returning from a friend’s house where they had eaten Christmas dinner in 2010, Tamara Lee Mason tried to convince her three boys to play Yahtzee with her. They must really not have felt like playing. Andrew, the middle child, allegedly put a plastic bag over his mom’s head, and then the youngest, Jacob (17), strangled her. Dylan, the eldest, disposed of the body by hiding it in the shed until the ground was thawed enough to bury the woman. Now that’s three-of-a-kind.
1. Chess and Cannibalism, Anyone?
Earlier this year Tom O’Gorman of Dublin, Ireland and his tennant, Saverio Bellante, were playing a game of chess late one night when, according to Bellante, his landlord attempted an illegal move with his king, moving the piece in a way the king is not allowed. The two argued and the discussion grew violent. Bellante, who later confessed to the crime in front of a judge, stabbed O’Gorman “dozens” of times, mutilating the man. He then cut his heart out and ate it. The Sicilian expatriate was working for a pharmaceutical company in Dublin when the incident occurred. One wonders, was Bellante a test subject for some new drug gone wrong? Or simply someone that should have been medicated, and wasn’t….