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.
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