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Title: Maybe it's all a game to would-be cop killers

Source: Edmonton Sun, January 5th, 2000

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Edmonton (Canada) Sun

Wednesday, January 5, 2000

Maybe it's all a game to would-be cop killers

Teen just playing: mom

Dimension-hopping killer robots might have been the culprits behind a supposed plot to kill an Ontario cop at a New Year's Eve bash, says a local sci-fi gaming fan.

"There are people that play these games who get so they can't tell the difference between the real world and the play," said Lance Goodale, a clerk at Warp 2 Comics and an enthusiast of the popular futuristic role-playing game Rifts.

Three young men were charged with conspiracy to commit murder late last month after police in Brockville, Ont., twigged to their alleged plan to randomly stalk and stab a police officer at a downtown party.

Police insist the plot was perfectly serious, but the mother of one of the three claims her 18-year-old son was only taking part in a Rifts match.

Rifts is one of the most popular role-playing games in Edmonton, according to Darrell Minty, manager of Warp 2's sister store. "It's right up there in the top three," he said.

Goodale said some of the Rifts plots are close enough to the stalk-and-kill scenario alleged in Brockville for police to confuse the two. "In Rifts, there are scenarios that are quite similar (to what happened in Brockville)," he said.

Rifts is set in a distant future involving dimensional travel and intelligent robots. Players do battle, with the outcome usually determined by a dice roll. And hostility to police, said gamer Jay Fowler, is key to the plot.

Minty, meanwhile, said he doesn't buy the idea that police could have mistaken a role-playing game for a conspiracy to kill.

"An RPG is just a book, a piece of fiction," he said. "People who play these games like to stay in a cosy room with a refrigerator nearby and eat cookies. This is the sort of thing the media just loves to jump on."


But Goodale said there's a class of role-playing games called LARPs, for "live action role-playing," in which players dress up as game characters and act out plots in public.

"It's play-acting," he said.

The three Brockville-area accused made a brief court appearance yesterday. Dillon Langlands, 18, and Lance Williams, 21, will get bail hearings on Friday. The third accused, a 15-year-old, appears in court Jan. 12.

Police claim the three planned to go to a public New Year's Eve party and stab the first cop they saw, grab the slain officer's gun and flee in his cruiser. The alleged plan then called for a cross-country break-and-enter spree.

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