In the past thirty years, a wide array of individuals and organizations have tried pinning all of the world’s violence on video games, claiming that by simply playing violent games, a person is somehow more likely to turn into a heartless psychopath hellbent on killing everyone and everything they see. Of course, we all know this is absolute and utter garbage. Or do we? Let’s take a look at the ten most genocidal maniacs in history, and see how many video games each of them has played.
10. Yakubu Gowon (1.1 million deaths, 0 video games)
Oh, Africa… what a sad and conflicted history you’ve had to endure. Many of the world’s most terrible genocides have happened on the volatile continent. Yakubu Gowon served as Nigeria’s third head of state, from 1966 to 1975, having seized power with a brutal coup d’état, only to be overthrown by another one less than a decade later. We were pretty sure his uncle was a prince that died in a plane crash, leaving him a huge fortune, but we can’t confirm that. The 1971 arcade game Computer Space did exist during Gowon’s time, but there are no records of the game reaching Nigeria during that time. He may have played games after the genocide for all we know, but it’s highly unlikely he did while he was starving over a million civilians.
9. Mengistu Haile Mariam (1.5 million deaths, 0 video games)
Ethiopia — another African nation — has a long and sordid history of brutal dictators killing lots of innocent people. Mengistu Haile Mariam easily takes the crown as Ethiopia’s biggest asshat, though, having murdered an estimated 1.5 million people. He’s even rumored to have murdered people himself, and may have suffocated former President Haile Selassie to death in 1975 (you may recognize him as one of the playable leaders in the game Civilization V). But there is no evidence that during his reign, Mariam played even a single video game. Ethiopia is one of the world’s poorest countries, and Mariam did rule from 1974 to 1991, during the golden ages of the Atari and first Nintendo consoles. But as one of the world’s poorest countries, especially in those days, it is highly unlikely that Mengistu Haile Mariam owned a video game console. At most, he may have played a few arcade games, but there are no photographs, stories, or even rumors indicating he ever tried them.
8. Kim Il-sung (1.6 million deaths, 0 video games)
Known as North Korea’s “Great Leader,” the father of Team America: World Police star Kim Jong Il was a psychotic mass-murdering douche of epic proportions. Kim Il-sung ruled over North Korea with an iron fist from 1948 until his death in 1994, and in that time, he perfected the art of turning a whole country into a sort of Orwellian nightmare state. His regime ran such a tight ship that we really don’t know how many people he slaughtered, through his executions, purges, concentration camps, and more… it could be as many as 3.5 million murders. He was such a massive dick that he’s still in control of North Korea, nearly twenty years after his death, serving indefinitely as North Korea’s Eternal President. Yeah. Ego. But Kim Il-sung most likely never played any video games, or at least, we have no evidence of his having done so.
7. Pol Pot (1.7 million deaths, 0 video games)
Remember the Tim Burton/ Michael Keaton Batman movie from 1989, and that one scene where they’re talking about Khmer Rouge, and they show that gruesome photo of all the dead people? They were talking about Pol Pot. Pol Pot led the Khmer Rouge — a group of mass-murdering communists — from 1963 until his presumed suicide in 1998. During his reign, Pol Pot killed an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians while “cleansing” the nation. His policies directly resulted in a fifth of Cambodia’s population being wiped out completely. Pretty scary dude, for sure. He was so scary, actually, that initial reports of his death in 1998 were considered to be a hoax, because Pol Pot had faked his death numerous times to evade international criminal tribunals. But there’s no evidence he ever played video games.
6. Enver Pasha (2.5 million deaths, 0 video games)
Ismail Enver Pasha was such a horrific mass-murderer that the word “genocide” was actually coined because of the terrible things he did. Pasha led the Ottoman Empire through the Balkan Wars and the first World War, and oversaw what historians refer to as the Armenian Genocide, which ended the lives of 1.2 million Armenians, 830,000 Greeks, and 500,000 Assyrians. He was killed in a hail of machinegun fire at the age of 40, and with any luck, it hurt lots. But that happened in 1922… no video games for this loser.
5. Hideki Tojo (5 million deaths, 0 video games)
As the Prime Minister and Army Minister of Japan during World War II, Tojo used soldiers and civilians alike as pawns in his war machine. You’ve all heard the phrase Kamikaze before, right? Well, if you haven’t, that’s when a pilot would literally crash his plane — with said pilot still inside — into the deck of an enemy ship, in the hopes of destroying it. Historians generally consider him to be a genocidal leader because of his disregard for his people and soldiers. But World War II ended in 1945, and Tojo was hung to death in 1948. Well before the advent of video games.
4. Leopold II (15 million deaths, 0 video games)
King Leopold II of Belgium is the earliest genocidal maniac to get his kill-count into eight-digit territory… pretty scary stuff. Unlike the other lunatics on this list, Leopold didn’t mass-murder for power, or fame, or control. Nope… it was all about the benjamins for this sleaze. Leopold created the “Congo Free State,” where he exploited the living shit out of everything in the region — resources, people – it didn’t matter to him, so long as he got paid. King Leopold II died in 1909, though. Definitely no video games.
3. Adolf Hitler (17 million deaths, 0 video games)
If you don’t know who Hitler was, your teachers should all be fired. As the most famous genocidal tool in history, Hitler ruled over Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1945, during which time he ordered the holocaust… the systematic mass-slaughter of millions upon millions of civilians, of which an estimated 6 million were Jews. Just look at this picture of him. SCARY. Was he suffering from CES, we wonder? Anyway, Hitler died in 1945, when him and his girlfriend went all Thelma & Louise and blew their brains out in an underground bunker. Since then, he’s been getting raped in the butt hourly with a pineapple down in Hell… but here in the mortal world? Nope, no video games.
2. Joseph Stalin (23 million deaths, 0 video games)
Stalin ruled Soviet Russia from the death of Vladimir Lenin in 1924 until his own death in 1953. He made his millions… of deaths… through famine, the “Great Purge” where he murdered everyone that even looked like they might oppose his rule, and more. During World War II, his military officers would often pin Russian troops between German and Russian gunfire; you can die to German machineguns and tanks, or we’ll shoot you for retreating, but either way, you’re fuckity-fucked. Stalin was also a hardcore gamer, with an insane Angry Birds record and five level-capped toons in World of… oh, that’s right, he died long before the advent of commercial video games. Zero games for him.
1. Mao Zedong (78 million deaths, 0 video games)
The ultimate genocidal maniac, China’s Chairman Mao Zedong turned China into a communist nation by whatever means were necessary, slaughtering countless millions of civilians through the eradication of anyone and everyone that disagreed with him, famine, forced labor… all the worst things people can do to other people, really. Strangely enough, he’s remembered as a hero in contemporary China, which means he may also hold the world record for Stockholm Syndrome. Mao died in 1976 at the age of 82. There’s no evidence that he ever played a single arcade, PC, or console game. And that’s probably a good thing, because he probably would have had said game executed if he didn’t win. When nerd rage goes bad…
The End Result?
Let’s tally up the scores, shall we? The top ten mass-murdering genocidal assholes have raked up a grand total of approximately 146.4 million deaths. Between all ten of them, they’ve played exactly 0 (that’s zero) video games. Some of their officers may have played some games… that’s a possibility for some of these lunatics. But it’s unlikely any of those individuals would have killed even remotely as many people had they themselves been the boss. So consider this article the next time someone tries to convince you that video games cause violence!