First Person Shooter Doc Asks Who Killed Keith Ratliff?

This short doc from Conde Nast‘s The Scene takes a look at the mysterious shooting of FPS Russia channel co-creator Keith Ratliff in January 2013.

Keith launched the channel with Kyle Myers in April of 2010. By early 2013, it became one of the most popular video channels with over 5 million subscribers. In January of 2013, Keith Ratliff was unexpectedly shot in the back of the head with a single bullet at close range. Two years later, no one knows who pulled the trigger.

I’m not a gamer. I used to be. My mom has photos of me in my diapers playing Intellivision. When I was 10 or 11 and living in North Carolina, I’d play video games on one TV and watch sports, music videos, or shows on a second TV. Some would call that multi-tasking, others would say that’s a recipe for disaster.

I played video games through college and stayed up ’til 6am the first time I explored Grand Theft Auto for the PS2. I can’t imagine what I looked like over the course of that night into the morning.

I probably had a similar look when I played Call of Duty for the first time in 2006 on the new gen console (at the time) XBOX 360. It was hard to put down. Nothing around me mattered. My eyes had 8 coats of glaze.

When I visited my family in South Carolina, I’d be there on my brother-in-law’s PS3 playing Guitar Hero or Madden into late night. It’s addictive. Especially for someone like me that has self-control issues. I’d say maybe once or twice a year, I miss playing. But then I think about how I get when I play them. It’s a weird feeling.

I went to the Dave & Buster’s in NYC for a “team-building” work event and I damn near had brain matter pouring from my ears. Later, we had a going away party for a colleague at Barcade and I was relived my addiction, pumping quarters into Rampage and Punch-Out.

My point is gaming can take a toll on you. You get sucked into a world that is not based in reality. I can see how conservatives would blame gaming for societal ills. I don’t completely agree with it, but I understand the assumption. If you don’t agree, read some of the reports about drug use in eSports.

Take it from the guy in the Master Chief costume towards the beginning of the video. Who knows if it’s a founded analysis, but World War II soldiers had to be coaxed into shooting enemies while today’s troops have little to no hesitance, all because today’s generation has grown up playing first person shooters?

Shit gets real around the 8 minute mark when FPSRussia representative Kitty Handell comes down hard on CNE’s interviewer saying the producers harassed her and spammed her until she agreed to be on camera. I can see why she would be pissed. Sometimes people want to be left alone and she felt CNE was exploiting her and her team’s real life tragedy for entertainment purposes. After all, the name of the company is Conde Nast Entertainment.

Handell’s perspective is a fine line to walk. Without knowing details of their correspondence, it would seem her remarks are more a criticism on the documentary field as a whole. Look at HBO’s The Jinx! Is Andrew Jarecki really concerned about those murders or in making a good film that gets sold? What’s your stance on “American Sniper”?

I truly believe that CNE wants to help find the killer. The closest (or most recent) parallel I can make is with the Serial podcast. Several times over the course of that series Adnan Syed – the man convicted of murdering his girlfriend Hae Min Lee – asked Sarah Koenig why she was doing this – was it for entertainment purposes or what? Sarah’s response was, “Because I want to know who killed her (Lee)”. She wanted to know the truth. Sometimes Adnan would shrug it off – who knows if he ever truly accepted Sarah’s answer – sometimes he’d verbally lash out.

We can’t censor or restrict our human curiosity. That’s a slippery slope.

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