Don’t Blame Games For Norway Shootings

By John Walker on August 3rd, 2011 at 12:00 pm.

The target's in the wrong place.

After the recent tragic events in Norway, of course various media outlets and officials looked to find a connection between the shootings by Anders Behring Breivik and computer games. (After the same groups had sought to find a connection between the shootings and Islamic groups, as well.) It’s normal practise, as what was once a confusion over new media has now reached the far more insidious position of being a received opinion: that videogames cause people to become violent, and in extreme cases, inspire them to go on murder sprees. It’s important to realise, this has never been demonstrated, let alone proven. Studies come and go that suggest links between extensive sessions of playing violent games and minor changes in the brain, but none has ever shown any demonstrable causal link to real-world violence, and many have suggested no such link exists. In the end such attempts to create links between a tragedy and the perpetrator’s having played games end up becoming tasteless attempts to score aimless political points. Sadly, in reaction to the news in Norway, a number of Norwegian shops are no longer selling a range of first-person shooters. I want to explore this, and argue why this is actually a very dangerous response.

I think it’s important to state that I recognise how easily I could be perceived as – or indeed actually trying to – scoring points for my own side of an argument, equally distastefully exploiting a tragedy. So I want to be clear that if there were demonstrable evidence that playing games that involve shooting has a direct link to causing someone to go on a killing spree, then I would want a serious response to this. I would want to protect others from the same danger. The point of this editorial is not to say, “People who think they cause violence are stupid, games are great!” It is to say, “What are the facts? What danger is there in misrepresenting them?” My aim isn’t to defend games – were they guilty I would want that to be recognised. My aim is to argue that blaming games is a dangerous thing to do.

Of course, finding that the gunman in a shooting had played videogames in 2011 is rather like finding he’d eaten carrots. Gaming is so ubiquitous at this point that the chances of a male 20-40 not having played at least one variant of Call Of Duty at some point in their life is pretty slim. Blaming games without any specific evidence, in this light, becomes a farce. Although certainly this does not put off the regular media and political culprits from, if not outright stating, certainly insinuating links between the hobby and the event.

Individual anecdotal evidence is of little use in such a discussion, but when that anecdote is shared by the population of the world it becomes a little more significant. And the reality is there has not been a epidemic of shootings by those who play FPS games. In fact, there has been no evidence of it ever happening. Which is an enormously important factor in this discussion. But sadly a complete lack of evidence of something ever happening is no match for received opinion.

Let me slightly trivialise this for a moment with an example. The banned use of mobile phones/cellphones from petrol station forecourts. No mobile phone has ever been demonstrated to pose any danger at a filling station. They don’t generate sparks, their transmissions can’t interfere with… petrol, and no phone has ever, anywhere in the world, caused a fire at a petrol station. It has simply never, ever happened. But phones are banned from petrol stations across the world, with astonishing amounts of money spent on printing warning signs saying not to do it. Why? Because of a hoax email written in 1999. Apocryphal stories have appeared over the years to defend the claim no one made, but none has survived scrutiny. But it doesn’t matter – phones and filling your car are banned.

And this is contributing to the motivation for Norwegian shops like Coop to pull the recent Calls of Duty, Sniper: Ghost Warrior, and Counter-Strike: Source, in amongst 51 games in total. That some are also taking World Of Warcraft off their shelves, seemingly because it appears to be have been Breivik’s favourite game, takes this to a whole other level.

However, the reason for gaming to be brought up at various points in the press reaction to this particular case is that Breivik mentioned games in his 800,000 word manifesto, sent to friends before the attack. He mentions a number by name, from Dragon Age to BioShock 2. But he also mentions Modern Warfare 2, great stretches of the press claiming he was using the game as a “military simulator”. But oh my goodness, this needs to be put in context.

The manifesto is an enormous piece of work created by a deeply disturbed individual, driven by astonishing hatred toward Muslims. And it contains discussion on a great many subjects. Amongst them, in a very minor part, is games. And these comments, when put in context, offer a rather different impression. For instance, in writing about January 2010 he says,

“A usual day for me involves email farming, writing, sharing “moderate” resources from my book on debate groups to coach fellow cultural conservatives, smoking, eating chocolate lol, taking a daily 1 hour walk/motivational meditation and doing some occasional battlegrounds in WoW on my badass Horde resto druid. I just completed Dragon Age Origins not long ago. A brilliant game!:D It’s important to have fun a few hours every day. I regret to admit that I’ve become a notorious downloader of pirated movies, series and games etc. but have noticed that an increasing number of sites have been closed down lately. Stealing is bad, I admit, but then again, when you have devoted your entire life to a good cause you can allow yourself some naughtiness especially if it can contribute to conserve your funds, cough;). Yes, yes, no ones perfect:P”

Dragon Age: Origins and WoW aren’t games frequently associated with murder sprees. One might equally conclude that piracy encourages murder. Or indeed smoking. Or meditation. His summary of February 2010 then includes,

“I just bought Modern Warfare 2, the game. It is probably the best military simulator out there and it’s one of the hottest games this year. I played MW1 as well but I didn’t really like it as I’m generally more the fantasy RPG kind of person – Dragon Age Origins etc .and not so much into first person shooters. I see MW2 more as a part of my training-simulation than anything else. I’ve still learned to love it though and especially the multiplayer part is amazing. You can more or less completely simulate actual operations.”

It’s clearly very chilling to read his describing MW2 as part of his “training”. You can see why people would leap at this, ignoring his previous statement that he doesn’t usually enjoy playing such games. And his description of being able to use the game to “simulate actual operations” also gives the impression that they are somehow directly linked to his attack. But again, context. This entry is accompanied by his concluding that he was toward the end of writing his manifesto, before he moved on to what he called his “research phase” and “acquiring phase”. His terrible plan was created long, long before he’d played Modern Warfare 2, and indeed – as he explains – formed before he even discovered he liked playing FPS games at all. That’s significant. It’s a heck of a thing for every media outlet to ignore.

But outlet after outlet has stated as fact that Breivik used Call Of Duty to train for his attack. Here the Telegraph explains how games like “the Call of Duty” and “the World of Warcraft” were implicated, and explains that he “used Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 to prepare for the attacks.” A fiction.

Here Forbes goes with the headline, “Norway Suspect Used Call Of Duty To Train For Massacre”, where they go on to claim, “writes in detail about how he used Activision’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 game and Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft game to help him prepare for the attack.” A statement that is absolutely false – there’s no detail whatsoever, only that which is quoted above, and he certainly doesn’t mention WoW in any such context. In fact, he suggests to others wishing repeat his actions that telling friends and relatives that you’ve developed an addiction to WoW can cover up the time you’re spending on other matters. He was in fact using the gullible nonsense spread by the media to his advantage.

The Mirror explains that in “Call Of Duty” players can “shoot people on an island”.

And on and on and on it goes, so many papers and news channels, almost none seeming to have read the document from which they’re quoting.

As I said, my primary motivation isn’t to defend games. It’s to argue that when blaming something like games, or television, or whatever it might be, it ignores the larger issues that could usefully be addressed.

Within his manifesto, Breivik tells a tale of trying to buy guns in Prague. He has concluded that if he seeks out the criminal underbelly of an Eastern European city he should be able to find the weapons he wants for his attack. During his time there he fails to get anywhere, embarrassing himself in brothels and so forth, before eventually concluding,

“Prague may be a transit point but finding the actual couriers or sellers has proven to be a hard task. Also, I guess I wasn’t motivated enough, considering the fact that I could have just purchased a legal semi automatic rifle and a glock in Norway. I have approached several shady looking individuals but I would have tried a lot harder if it weren’t for the fact that I could buy guns legally.”

Then the next day,

“I have now decided to abort this sub-mission and rather focus on acquiring the weapons I need legally, back in Norway.”

He goes on to lay out how simple it should be to buy the guns he needs in Norway, especially since he’s owned a shotgun and rifle for years without incident. A semi-automatic rifle and glock, he concludes, shouldn’t be a problem. He then moves onto seeking to buy the chemicals he’ll need to inject into the bullets.

Later Breivik discusses that he is on “another steroid cycle”. Later still he explains that he’s been watching Dexter – the US Showtime programme about a murderer. At the same time he’s playing Fallout 3: New Vegas. Then a month later he goes on another “steroid cycle”. During which he conducted the pistol training required by the government to own a Glock 17, and his rifle training to use his semi-automatic. He also legally purchased a scope, laser sight, bayonet, and hollow point ammunition.

He was also in the Freemasons. And, it seems he believes, in the Knights Templar.

And so it goes on. To pick videogames – something he explicitly explains throughout he uses alongside meditation to relax in his spare time – out of this terrifying and disturbing document requires a wilful agenda. An agenda, I would argue, that conveniently distracts from the rather larger issues of how it was possible for him to legally obtain such an extraordinary arsenal of weapons and chemicals. I have not seen stories explaining that Norwegian weapons stores are taking certain guns off their shelves in reaction to the shooting.

And that’s my agenda. It’s my agenda that access to such extraordinary weapons is a serious issue. But my agenda almost equally misses the point. Yes, without the guns he could not have fired the bullets. And were games somehow implicated to be involved (despite the lack of evidence I can find), they too would have been a factor. Hell, you could get some way making this a discussion of the danger of steroid abuse. But none is the reason for the attack.

Breivik believed in a grotesque form of nationalism that was rooted in a pathological loathing of Muslims. A conspiracist, racist and ultra-extremist, his hateful beliefs were the reason for his attack. The guns were the tools he used. The games were something he did in his spare time to unwind. The steroids were how he bulked up for what he saw as a martyrdom.

Why did he hold those beliefs? Where did they come from? Who taught them to him? How did his mind come to be so hideously occupied by this terrible act? Those are really tough questions. They’re questions that don’t have easy answers, that can’t be easily blamed on the current scapegoat or easiest target. They’re questions that challenge people, society, us. They’re frightening, horrible questions.

Coop, the Norwegian chain that has come to most attention for removing shooters from their shelves have since issued a statement saying they don’t believe that the games were a factor in the attacks, and that their removal is a matter of respect for the victims. In an ambiguous statement they explain,

“We have not alleged that the game is the background for the event, or is harmful to the matter.”

But the fact remains that it’s games that have been removed, while books and films about the same subject matter remain on sale. So no matter the protest in hindsight, there’s no doubt that it is a direct stigmatism of gaming, as if this one form of media is the offensive one, the one that has to go at such times. And it’s worth noting that the same company said last week that they would “think twice” before stocking such games again. Their statements certainly aren’t adding up.

We cannot pick and choose our way through the past of an individual to find the thing we want to be at fault, because it’s the easiest option. Or the option that fits our agenda. In blaming games, or whatever it will be next, just as it was “video nasties” previously, we pick the convenient, lazy route, that prevents our asking the questions that might lead to change.

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269 Comments »

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  1. Joe Duck says:

    This is not about games or books, chemicals or even access to weapons. This is about why this person hated immigrants so much that he killed a lot of non immigrants. And what ideas pushed him there.
    The country where I come from has a long story of political terrorism that (fingers crossed) seems to be in its final stages. We as a society have struggled for a long time with the question on how to prevent the appearance of new generations of terrorists. At the end, and hoping that this is finally over once and for all, the only way in which lives have been saved has been exactly what Mr. Walker proposes at the end of his article, that is, trying to cope with the origin of the problem.
    Trying to prevent access to the tools and dealing with the consequences of terrorism is important too, but the reality is that in Europe there is real resistance to becoming a multicultural society. There is racism and there are religious issues. There is populism and there is extremism. There is also ignorance and fear.
    Those are big problems, far bigger than games. And Mr. Walker is right that our mainstream media seems bent on finding a scapegoat rather than saying that for example, the fact that this happened in Norway is completely irrelevant, as we all know that today we have like minded individuals doing politics for example in Holland, in Austria, in Italy, in France and that the ideas and tensions that fuelled this person’s mind come from a problem that nobody knows how to cope with.
    Kudos for your article, as I said, my personal experience and analysis of my country’s story (and many of my countrymen disagree with me, mind) make me completely agree with your conclusion.

  2. ArcaneSaint says:

    I also propose we forbid people from wearing clothes, as there seems to be a very suspicious relation between wearing clothes and going on a shooting rampage. Most of the times someone goes on a rampage and shoots random people they are wearing clothes, therefore, clothes cause violence. (Except in the very rare cases where the shooter is naked, but there are exceptions to every rule)

  3. Premium User Badge

    tomeoftom says:

    John, I thought I couldn’t possibly respect you more and I was so wrong.

  4. rasssmus says:

    This was supposed to be a reply…
    (@Orija: I think I agree with you, I further think that (at least part of) the reason why he went as far as he did was that you can’t discuss these issues in Norway without instantly being labelled as “racist”, “right-wing extremist” or “stupid”. Now, I am not sceptical towards immigration, but I think we need to take the ones who are seriously, if only to correct their reasoning.)

  5. Binho says:

    I disagree with everyone who says the MW2 would desensitize to violence, and help him kill better.

    I’m pretty sure all playing violent games and watching violent movies does is desensitize us to violence in games in movies. They aren’t real, and at some point I think we realize that and stop caring on some level. Although I am still slightly disturbed by the DA:O blood splatters everywhere.

    I challenge any avid FPS player to go to one of those shock sites where actual real life results of violence and accidents are shown, and say that those images don’t in any way disturb them. The real results of death and violence are always disturbing on some level. A real dead human being is totally different than a virtual model, no matter what.

    Unless…you are a doctor, or may be a soldier. Having to desensitize and detach yourself is part of your job though, or else I’d assume it would be too much. But no one claims that being a doctor makes you more likely to be a serial killer? Even though there have been a few…

    What made him desensitized to shooting and bombing all those people is the fact that he was probably a very angry individual, and most likely mentally unstable to boot.

  6. PJMendes says:

    Great article! Here are some thoughts.

    Big Media is first and foremost a business, and as any business, it’s prime directive is to survive and grow.

    What they sell is news. It doesn’t matter what the news are, it matters how it’s marketed, so you can sell the most.

    A great way to sell news is, as Charlie Brooker so well surmised, to go right to the reptilian brain of humans through fear. So basically the news are wrapped in a foil of fear, because they grab our attention, and sell great!

    In this specific case, the fear is created by establishing similarities between the killer and the viewer’s children’s activities.

    I don’t believe there’s much of an agenda specifically against games, since there’s not much to gain from turning people away from videogames (and then again, television has been losing ground to the Internet and computer activities… hum)

    Big Media appeals to the masses. The masses should know better than to watch and believe in bullshit, but yet they do, unquestioning. These masses then elect the rulers which create the laws, who themselves are working for popularity (they’re in the “power” business), so they create laws the masses like.

    Another thing the world media do is “jump on the bandwagon”, usually following the highly biased American media outlets. Because the Americans sure know how to sell news (and pretty much anything!)

    So all these words are to say I mostly avoid and distrust TV news :)

  7. ahac says:

    What bothers me the most with this thing are the stores who say they removed the games out of respect for the victims. I’m sure half of them played those same games! Linking them like this isn’t respectful… it’s insulting to the victims and every other gamer.

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    Rinox says:

    Man, massive lol @ steroid use, his complete lack of a clue as to how a city like Prague REALLY is and his being a freemason and some sort of cosplay templar/commando. Not to mention his hilarious untraceable English pseudonym “Andrew Berwick”. I bet that threw the police right off the scent!

    Less funny is how this massive tool is now getting a forum as some sort of diabolical political schemer with grand ideas, instead of being represented (and mocked) as the complete and utter retard that he is. And psychopath too, obviously.

  9. Drake Sigar says:

    Great article, John. Our society seems quite happy to label these attacks as the act of a monster. Nobody wants to ask how the monster came to be, it would imply he was human at some point. And in dismissing those questions we encourage history to repeat itself.

    We shouldn’t be taking a defensive stance on this, it just makes us look guilty to the ignorant. What we need to be doing is questioning the validity of their opinions, because they almost always have no evidence or logic behind them.

  10. thebigJ_A says:

    I enjoyed Dragon Age Origins. Does this mean…

    No. no it doesn’t

  11. Duckee says:

    I would just like to point out that the Coop does not stock a lot of games and does not generate much revenue from this. In fact, they run 4 store formats, wherein I think only one format (hypermarket Obs!) actually sell games in a small aisle.

    I am not saying that their actions are justified still, I just want to add some context.

    The other shop which is mentioned is more dramatic as Platekompaniet can be considered the equivalent of a small scale HMV. They sell predominantly DVDs and records, but also games.

    There are also a large number of other retailers who sell games in a larger capacity such as Spaceworld, Gamestop, Elkjop with more, as well as online retailers. These shops have not pulled titles off their shelves. For instance, a statement from Spaceworld said that they saw no reason to pull games off the shelves because of the lack of evidence for causality in games causing violent behaviour.

    As I said, just some context.

  12. thebigJ_A says:

    Excellent article.

    It’s a shame none of the people who need to read it and learn likely ever will.

  13. aircool says:

    tl;dr

    Therefore wildly inappropriate comment coming up.

    I play games to STOP me shooting people.

  14. MadTinkerer says:

    “But phones are banned from petrol stations across the world, with astonishing amounts of money spent on printing warning signs saying not to do it. Why? Because of a hoax email written in 1999. Apocryphal stories have appeared over the years to defend the claim no one made, but none has survived scrutiny. But it doesn’t matter – phones and filling your car are banned.”

    Ah, like the mad cow disease pandemic that never happened. (No human ever caught BSE from hamburgers. Ever. Because you can’t catch BSE from cows. The disease literally just doesn’t work that way. And CJD isn’t related to BSE at all. But let’s not let medical facts get in the way of manufacturing a scandal.)

    • Archonsod says:

      Oh, and don’t forget the MMR – Autism link.

      Sometimes I think it would be worth passing laws regarding the standard of evidence required before something can be claimed to be “news” rather than “opinion”.

    • sonofajoiner says:

      Erm, that’s not quite true. Whilst BSE is not linked to classic CJD which affects older people, it is, however, linked to vCJD & nvCJD which are the ones that kill younger folks.

  15. Tams80 says:

    Yeah well, my hypothesis is that there is a correlation between media outlets and officials, and morons.
    If you trained with most FPS, you would most probably die. In real life you can’t leap from a building, knife someone in mid-air, safely land and then shoot someone 10m away looking through the scope of sniper rifle. It wouldn’t matter if this is the player or other players.

    Yes, that is an exaggeration. You could play ‘more realistically’, but I’d imagine many people who play FPS would be scared of a real weapon firing, let alone the fact that real life is O so different. In fact you’d be better of reading a military training manual and getting ‘inspiration’ from books. These are quite freely available (though somewhat old; not that things have changed that much). Should books, films, all other media that mentions violence (including news) be banned?

    • Xighor says:

      Whenever a tragedy happens, people search explanation and will be satisfied with any explanation, no matter if it’s true or not. If they consider it to be the real one (and it has to be, media speak about connection between games and violence for years now!) they will not seek any longer and just blame everything for games. Just because it’s new and their kids spend more time in front of screens than with them.

  16. Axess Denyd says:

    The way they handle things seems oddly targeted and stupid. They stop selling the specific models of guns he used (which are no more deadly than any other guns). They close the rifle and pistol portion of the range he practiced at, but leave the shotgun portion open. They ban the games he liked to play but the music he was listening to DURING THE SLAUGHTER is of course never implicated.

    Edit: Don’t ban music either.

  17. bleeters says:

    Of course the media at large point their accusatory fingers at games, or anything else they can get away with. The alternative involves accepting their own responsibility, both in whipping up contempt for other people with fabricated bullshit in the interests of shifting newspapers, and in turning the events into a glorifying media circus. And we all know that’s never going to happen.

    So it’s because of games, or music genres, or whatever they can get away with, hey let’s print stories every year about how muslims are banning Christmas! What’s the worst that could happen!

  18. Robert says:

    I’m sorry, stuff like this pisses me off to no end. Why don’t they just ban the bible in Norway as well? His infamous Facebook-page had a handful of keywords, games being one, Christian conservatism being the other.

  19. Xighor says:

    Well, one has to have a really limited imagination and narrow mind if is certain that MW2 is the best military simulator. Simulator? oO I mean… damnit, there’s nothing in CoD, besides weapons’ look and accessories, that is real. All is changed in order to make it simple and playable.
    If he’d say he was playing America’s Army, that would have been a different story (but still I will not agree that you can accually prepare to shoot a real gun by playing any video game…), but no, he chose MW2.
    I know, blood, dead, guns, it really makes good story in media.
    And now… how can you really simulate real actions and tactics with a 12yo kid screaming “DIE YOU NOOB CAMPER!!!” straight into your ears?

  20. Grayvern says:

    The thing about newspapers is that you only realise the low quality of reporting when you actually know something about the subject being reported on, can’t remember where I heard it first though.

    I mean the Mail regularly prints pieces on how Enoch Powell was misunderstood, it’s be hilarious if it wasn’t so tragic, I don’t Imagine papers in Norway are any better. Not that Newspapers from any political view can’t be as bad.

    I long ago gave up hope that someone with an actual understanding of society or a sociologist would be hired instead of journalists with their endless syllogisms and tortological arguments, and common sense understandings

    It’s clear that he wasn’t a criminal mastermind and that with harder access to guns in Norway the situation may have changed.

    • Stupid Face says:

      The is going to be O/U shotguns only, which can still kill people. He also could have bought guns Illegally, made more bombs, stolen a gun from the military, hit people with a car or used a knife or any number of blunt objects. Personally I’m not convinced that regulating guns has a worthwhile enough of an effect in reducing the number of people who are shot when you consider how many ways there are to hurt people compared to the detriments it has.
      http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/dec/17/japanese-man-stabs-beats-bus-passengers-14-hurt/

  21. sonson says:

    The debate so far has necessarily been-do violent games cause people to be violent? The intelligent and informed conclusion appears to be that we don’t know, but that there is no reason as things stand to presume so.

    However, I do wonder whether there is room for a slightly more nuanced debate regarding the moral implications of a game in which you can massacre innocents in a functioning, civilized world, ala GTA, in a mirror of tragedies that occur in actuality. For all that I don’t think they lead to or inspire the atrocities they allow us to play out, I don’t think that this is the only means by which we can measure the effect violent computer games have on an individual.

    • Grayvern says:

      The difference between videogames and the small acts that justify the larger acts as part of theory of a continuum of sexism and violence is that; while sexist acts in videogames and in person key in with our lived reality violent ones largely do not.

      Even small acts of interpersonal violence in the real world bear little similarity to the experience portrayed in videogames.

      Added to that I think that videogames represent us interacting with out imaginations and ultimately arguments for cencorship seem as wrong to me as trying to scrub our brains of all abberant thought no matter how small.

    • thegooseking says:

      Into any such debate we have to understand whether there’s a difference between things that games allow you to do and things that games encourage you to do.

      For example, sleeping with a prostitute and then killing her to get your money back is a common accusation levelled at GTA, even though that’s just an emergent property of the game mechanics, and not something the game ever actively encourages. And this is when a lack of understanding about games makes people crazy. People who don’t know games understand that the game rewards you for killing a prostitute. People who do know games understand that said reward (the cash you can pick up) is negligible within the game’s systems, and hardly qualifies as an incentive or encouragement.

  22. DazedByTheHaze says:

    VERY IMPORTANT! COOP STATEMENT! Coop is a swiss company and they printed a statement in swiss newspapers that they removed the games because they don’t want the people seeing them while shopping. They don’t believe the murder is directly connected with the games, but they don’t find it appropriate at this time to sell them.
    And I don’t think it’s that bad of an idea. These games have a burden now over there. Nothing you can do about it, the cover of CoD is directly connected with the murder in a lot of peoples brains. Not that one lead to another, but its a reminder for people involved. I don’t think a retailer that mainly sells food wants his customers reminded of that event while shopping for the day.

    That’s the link, but it’s german…
    http://www.20min.ch/news/dossier/norwegen/story/Gewaltspiele-aus-Laeden-verbannt-18876518

    • Shadrach says:

      Coop is a Norwegian company, the name comes from it being an old farmers cooperative.

    • DazedByTheHaze says:

      ok haha thanks for that one :D

  23. Shadrach says:

    Thanks for this article John. We are still in mourning obviously, it’s hard to understand how such a terrible thing could happen here. Maybe that’s why people are clutching at straws trying to find somewhere to place the blame, even though our prime minister has urged that we must not lose our liberties.

    It is my opinion that blaming games is playing right into the hands of the right-wing extremists who want nothing more than diverting attention away from themselves and their hateful speech. Wouldn’t be surprised if Fox, Murdoch & co are the ones pushing this agenda to the fullest.

  24. Zepposlav says:

    “Remember, no Norwegian.”

  25. Christian O. says:

    Good article, John. I’m kind of against photos of him being used by the press, though I’m glad you buried it at the bottom of the article.

  26. Caerphoto says:

    writes in detail about how he used Activision’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 game and Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft game to help him prepare for the attack.

    He said he plays a resto druid in Wow. As in, someone who uses magic to heal people. Clearly excellent training for a murder spree.

  27. rayne117 says:

    “driven by astonishing hatred toward Muslims”

    Sure, it’s bad to hate anyone for other people’s actions.

    But man, I sure can see the hate for Muslims: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ve_JJFF5X-g

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      Rinox says:

      Yes, because the acts of retarded extremists are a good reason to ‘hate’ an entire group of people of which a vast majority is decidedly not a terrorist or fanatic.

      /sarcasm

    • Stupid Face says:

      @Rinox
      Just to be a jerk on my part, is it then right to regulate guns because of the actions of one extremist?

    • Bishbosh says:

      So you say it’s bad to hate people for the actions of others, and then claim to understand why people hate Muslims because of the actions of a minority group of fundamentalists in that religion?

      Not like you’re a hypocrite or anything then…

    • Nim says:

      Well, people hate muslims because clips like that are the only media they are even shown about Islam. Al-Qaida, Al-shadaab, Sharia, terrorists, fundamentalists, bombs, female discrimination, Jihad etc. The media we see about Islam on the news are progressing further and further towards Islamophobic propaganda so don’t be surprised when you see statements of people hating muslims.

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      Rinox says:

      @ Stupid Face
      I don’t really see how it relates to this, but no, I don’t think guns should necessary be regulated because a nut uses them to commit (mass) murder. However, since most murders aren’t premeditated and aren’t commited by crackpots like this dude but by normal people in moments of violent passion/tension, I would say that less easy immediate access to guns in a society is almost always preferable.

    • Butler says:

      @Rinox putting Sharia law into practice, properly or improperly, isn’t ‘extremists’, you absolute tool. :/

    • ankh says:

      Yes it is.

    • Premium User Badge

      Rinox says:

      A tool huh? Well that’s not very nice.

  28. thegooseking says:

    What’s wrong with blaming games? It’s not blaming the games themselves; they’re just games, after all. Sure, it’s slightly distressing to see people’s hard work dismissed like that, but that’s not the big problem. What’s wrong with blaming games is that it stigmatises gaming, and therefore marginalises and ostracises gamers. It’s tantamount to hate speech. Unlike being black or gay (I’m neither, incidentally), being a gamer is a choice, of course, but I shouldn’t have to choose not to. Not when the arguments against being a gamer are all lies.

    One thing that’s clear is that news outlets who spew this kind of crap have far too much credibility. As said here, if they said similarly ignorant things about sports or movies, they’d be “laughed right out of their careers”. It’s probably quite easy for someone who doesn’t quite understand games to mistakenly assume that their video game reporting is, then, just as accurate as their sports or movie reporting. Needless to say, the media abuses that to score political sensationalist points.

    Things should be getting better. Games are becoming more popular, and games journalists are becoming more articulate in talking about games to the outside world (by which I mean they’re getting better at avoiding the “gamers’ argot” problem of impenetrable terminology). But mass media isn’t a forum in which popularity or articulacy count for much. It’s a culture that fetishises the dumb, loud and righteously indignant. This creates a no-win situation, because when gamers get loud and indignant about the way they’re portrayed by the media, someone’s going to come along and say, “See? Look at the aggression caused by video games!” But when they’re moderate and persuasive (like this article)? Well, that doesn’t make good news, does it?

    I feel like there’s a way forward, but I can’t quite see it yet.

    • ankh says:

      Good post. Im just wondering about these “political sensationalism points” how are they retrieved.

  29. Lantzalot says:

    COD MW2 is a realistic shooter that can “completely simulate realistic operations”? What?
    I can’t think of any way training in MW2 would help someone in operating a gun or performing a ‘military operation’ in real life. Well, maybe that shooting from prone or crouch is usually more accurate than standing.

    • Stupid Face says:

      The trend of him having no idea at all what he’s doing continues throughout most information regarding him and shooting.

  30. ucfalumknight says:

    The Forbes article is poorly written. Give it a read and you will be left with “Huh”? The author uses the headline to grab readers. He also uses the first 3/4 of the article manufacturing the story. Then, the last 2 paragraphs he “flip-flops” and seems to come to the defense of games:
    “The deadliest shooting incident by a single gunman in U.S. history resulted in 32 students killed and 25 injured. Killer Seung-Hui Cho committed suicide after the spree. Although there were no video games found in his home and no writings or any evidence around Cho being a gamer, Florida attorney Jack Thompson blamed Valve’s popular online multiplayer Counter-Strike game for the tragedy.”
    This article demonstrates the problem with main stream media. There is so much pressure to grab readers/viewers coupled with the pathetically short attention spans of said viewers, a headline means everything.

  31. electristan says:

    thanks for the article, it been interesting reading all the reactions both in the international press and in Norway.

    luckily here in Norway the games aspect hasn’t been played up that much. there were a few stories when COOP and Platekompaniet decided to take games and toys off the shelf, but there has been little since. they are also fairly small players when it comes to game sales here.

  32. Paool says:

    On a side note…yall can’t use cell phones at gas stations in UK? Thats pretty damn funny. Hell here in Texas I still see people smoking at some stations (of course thats dumber than shit, but hey, Darwin will take their ass outta the gene pool.)

    The most important lesson I think can be learned from this extremely unimaginable and grotesque incident is that we can’t let fear and hate get a grip on us and change who we are or what we think.

    People get so gripped with emotion that logic goes out the window and dumb shit like taking games off the shelf (WoW being the most ludicrous of examples, good lord.)

    Thanks for the post John, something that has been said before, needed to be said again, and sadly (with the way history always repeats itself) will need to be said again.

    • ankh says:

      Here in sunny South Africa I don’t even get any funny looks smoking at a petrol station. This phone thing is absolutely ridiculous. Weirdos.

      Disclaimer: I’m pretty sure you cannot set petrol on fire using a cigarette. I tried.

    • Paool says:

      I think that all depends on the octane level if I’m not mistaken, but idk.

  33. mandrill says:

    I posted a long comment but it got eaten.

    basically it was about the fact that the main reason this happens is because old media are running scared and have declared war on games and other new media because they are a direct threat to their bottom line.

    I was quite proud of my comment and now it’s gone :(

  34. Stupid Face says:

    Apparently (According to a forum poster from Norway) the gun grabbing started-apparently the plan is to seize everything remaining from citizens outside of O/U shotguns, and require those owning them to have them in a safe, registered, and be a member of a shooting/hunting club. They also previously seized “battle rifles” such as M1s, SKSs (SKSii?) and FALs a while back-without compensation to the owners.
    Here’s a link to a Norwegian gun forums comments.
    http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=auto&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.kammeret.no%2Fforum%2Fviewtopic.php%3Ff%3D59%26t%3D57397%26start%3D120

  35. Butler says:

    It’s PR by a small-time game’s retail joint. Move along.

  36. rivalin says:

    Right, so when a crazy person goes on a killing spree, it shouldn’t be an excuse for those with an axe to grind to push their own agenda…

    Cue you blaming nationalism and loose gun laws… not that attacking them are part of your agenda or anything. I do so love the hysterical middle class fear of guns so prevalent in this country.

  37. Matrix101 says:

    This sad event doesn’t need such article here.
    Note the irony of my modest contribution to an article that should have been done done. :o)

    People (especially public/politician and of course media) are just… stupid. Yeah, in general.
    Or pretend to be, to have audience… :( (or both ;)

    I’m pretty sure we could find he said he like to eat say…. French fries (I like French fries), or pork sausages (anti-Muslim ;) or Nutella, or he used to masturbate every day. :D
    Or he is blond (or just has hair). Or just he is Norwegian.

    LET’S PUT IN JAIL all people who are: Norwegian, like French fries, masturbate every day, eat sausage, like Nutella, have hair (one criteria enough ;).

    Basically almost any association can be found, and of course one where you can display gun fight and blood (virtual) is much more TV friendly than saying he liked Jules Vernes or philosophy books .

    That’s the usual bullshit from media, let’s ignore it, people are more and more learning to like games, and understand more and more such arguments are total bullshit.

    Maybe the guy was watching Pixar movies, or looking football games too!
    Or eating peanuts! Or liking smurfs!!!!
    omg…
    EVERYONE IN JAIL!!!!!!! For safety.

  38. thehollowman says:

    Do we have to explain this EVERY. SINGLE. TIME? We should just shoot the people who believe it >:|

  39. nyck says:

    I played shooters all my life and i’m completely normal (well, almost). I never tried to kill anyone. Videogames dont kill people, people kill people (like Stan says: guns dont kill people, people kill people)
    Those fucking annoying alarmist newspapers want to blame games to earn more money.
    Videogames aren’t the problem, Sick people IS.

    So because i play racing games i want to get a F1 car an compite in a world tournament without experience?

    Or do i want to a professional football player because i play FIFA?
    Or do i want to have a portal gun? well, yeah, but that’s not the point!

  40. Jason Moyer says:

    I always thought if you wanted a military training simulation where you shot people on an island you’d go with one of the BIS games.

  41. Dobleclick says:

    Excellent article!!

  42. PetiteGreve says:

    and… newspaper carefully avoided :
    – What were the psychological evaluations for gun owner (especially for that semi-auto rifle Ruger Mini-14), and what could be done to make a better evaluation system
    – Why the guy was placed on a watchlist (for purchasing large amount of chemical and products that could be turned into a homemade bomb) and wasn’t subject of any additional investigation, and what could be done to have a better watchlist system
    – Why the gov cut the emergency response police force budget that much, to the point of not having a single helicopter or a boat ready for intervention
    => The police force had to borrow a small boat and bail out the water during the travel, since the team + the heavy equipement were too heavy for the poor little boat.
    => Delay + exhausted troops + small speed vehicle = asking for a disaster like the Munich massacre in 1972. What if there was a team of 5 or more shooters, waiting on the shore ? Armor-less exhausted policemen with buckets in hands in a fishing/leisure boat are pretty easy targets to me.
    – Why a youth summer camp with more than 600 participants didn’t have a single armed (real one, not that disguised psycho) policeman for security reason. A group of 5 policemen patrolling to see if everything is okay wouldn’t hurt and could have reduced the amount of casualties (hard to take aim at kids swimming away when under pistol fire).
    Personally, I blame politics for not talking about muslims, islam and cultural influences. The only people with a public opinion on these subjects are far-right-wing extremists, it shouldn’t be their exclusive topic.

  43. JackShandy says:

    I get the feeling they’d also find that he listened to music, watched TV, and went to the movies.

    It sounds so trite to say it, but there’s no other reaction to such stupidity – these people don’t seem to understand that games are part of our culture now.

    One of my lecturers today asked “How did you first get into games?” There was general confusion. Imagine the question “How did you first get into television?”

  44. Blackcompany says:

    As a student of psychology, I can safely say two things about the arguments regarding violent behavior and video games. The first argues that there is no causal link between violent behavior and video games. The second is that some of the more educated in the field have begun to consider the question from a whole new angle: what if people who tend towards violence in order to express themselves, are drawn to more violent media. What if violent people choose violent media – including video games – as opposed to the other way round?

    Psychologists have performed numerous studies, up to and including studies of brainwave activity and heart rate, on gamers actively playing “violent” video games. Yes, there are changes in brain wave activity while playing video games. Just as there are changes in brain wave activity while eating, sleeping, dreaming or playing piano. Brain wave activity changes when we undertake any activity or change from one to another. Any task we undertake changes brain wave activity, but none of these changes has been correlated with, more less linked causally, to violent behavior.

    Moreover, educated psychologists who approach behavior with an open mind, as opposed to the intent to prove a theory in which they strongly believe for personal reasons, have begun to look at violent behavior and violence in media in a new light. Many believe in the possibility that people who tend towards violence as a means of expression are attracted to violence in media. That’s right: they have turned the popular but unreasonable belief on its head: Violent tendencies in behavior may well attract people to violence in media, as opposed to violence in media creating or engendering violent behavior.

    Its an interesting possibility. Certainly the argument that violence in media causes violent behavior in individuals ignores a couple of important facts. Firstly, any reasonable human being understands the distinction between fiction and reality. Secondly, a goodly number of people in this world – several millions of us, in fact, possibly a good deal more than that – are perfectly capable of playing video games or watching violent action films and acting entirely reasonably throughout the entire expanse of our lives. We are not driven to violence or violent acts because of the media to which we choose to expose ourselves. To claim, then, that this media drives people to violent acts is simply absurd, as the proof lies in another direction entirely, namely, that sane, reasonable, emotionally stable individuals can partake of violent media and behave in perfectly rational, acceptable ways. Any claim to the contrary is made patently absurd through the empirical evidence of millions of people doing just that.

  45. Nero-San says:

    I have AS, among other things, and my biggest interest is gaming, I don’t have a job, so I play games for over 10 hours every day, and have done so for 14 years.
    I hate humanity, I am a misanthrope, partially because of people that claim video games make you want to kill people.

    But I still don’t want to go on a killing spree, I do not want to kill anyone!