And Here Comes The Video Game Backlash Due To The Norway Tragedy

from the tragic dept

We already discussed how the tragic situation in Norway is already being exploited by some politicians to try to ratchet up security theater, but it may impact other issues as well. In the 1,500-page manifesto that the madman, Anders Breivik, posted online before beginning his rampage, he notes that he used Modern Warfare 2 for “training” and “simulation.”

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 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.

Separately, he talks up the value of using World of Warcraft as a “cover story” for why he was busy all the time, and notes that he did actually play WoW for a while to “isolate himself from the ‘consumerist’ world in preparation for his attacks.” I’m at a bit of a loss as to how playing a commercial game like that isolates one from consumerism, but Breivik does not appear to be particularly big on logic.

But, of course, as with past tragedies involving people who played video games, this has only given new ammunition to those who push the moral panic that violent video games are evil. That article notes that the website “Conservapedia” is using this incident to call for the reversal of the recent Supreme Court ruling that laws banning sales of violent video games are a First Amendment violation. When I looked at the site, it was highlighting a stupid quote from a USA Today editorial about how evil violent video games are, predicting that the next tragedy would involve someone who “was first addicted to harmful video games.”

That’s an interesting spin. It’s also ridiculous. There is no indication, whatsoever, that Breivik was “addicted” to these video games. Or that he was driven to do any of this because of the video games. There is no indication that without these video games he wouldn’t have carried out these attacks (or other attacks). He had clearly decided to carry out such a massacre long before Modern Warfare 2 existed.

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Comments on “And Here Comes The Video Game Backlash Due To The Norway Tragedy”

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Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Fine sarcasm but this is sad. The moralism is so wide spread in this world that MAFIAA will use child porn to push for laws and religious extremists will push for laws against violent games. Maybe we should go for the heck of it and push for laws against bad content being released? I bet it would pass. And then we could all live happily with the above mentioned ppl inside country-sized jails. Australia, any1?

Disclaimer: I love Australia as much as I love a good joke. Don’t be offended 😉

Spaceboy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You copied my idea! THIEF! Pay me now the sum of $3,000.00 or I will sue you for $3,000,000.00!

Also, I will call your ISP and tell them you stole from me and get you disconnected from the Internet.

We all know it’s not possible for two people to have the same information set and then come to the same conclusion, THEREFORE, YOU are a thief!


p.s. the above is sarcasm!

KnownHuman (profile) says:

As a combat vet and a fan of violent video games, I’m a bit offended that he would consider MW2 as a training simulator. Having done both, I can say that MW2 is incredibly unrealistic, and that goes doubly for the multi-player.

Perhaps Breivik should have just downloaded and played the video game that the US government had created explicitly to be a combat training simulator? America’s Army is still free, right?

aldestrawk says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I wasn’t really criticizing you. I think there might actually be a valid role for using video games to train soldiers and realism would then be important. The military would be idiotic to try to use them to desensitize soldiers to real violence however. I am baffled as to why Breivik even mentions anything about training. A shooting range is sufficient for what he did.
What I am waiting for is the finger pointing towards the police for allowing the shooter 1 1/2 hours before they came to accept his surrender. Apparently, they even had a helicopter available. In the U.S. that issue would be already be seeing impassioned debate, much like during Columbine. Is this a Norwegian vs American cultural difference?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Breivik succeeded at killing so many people because he was a heavily armed man against a lot of unarmed civilians in an enclosed area. It takes no kind of remarkable training to accomplish that.

Anyone who thinks MW2 is some kind of accurate combat training simulator should have their head examined because they’re crazy.

Oh wait…

Wayne (profile) says:

This is just stupid. The Video games were the problem? Didn’t he use the video games to train himself, what a laugh, to do what he had already decided? Wasn’t he a religious extremist? I would say its not the video games that are the problem to be banned, I would say the Bible was the problem that caused him to be this way, so we should just ban bibles, then these idiots won’t get their crazy ideas and use video games.

freak (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I wouldn’t say christanity has ever been more than just an excuse for anything ‘evil’, persay, but I will say it’s an unnecessary information filter which prevents it’s followers from understanding the world as well as they could without it.

Er, presuming they don’t start believing in something that’s just as or worse in that respect, like, say, multi-level marketting.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The bulk of Christianity itself is just principles like “try to live peacefully with everyone” and “treat others the way you’d want to be treated”.
Any discrepancies are the result of power-mad tyrants manipulating dimwitted populaces. Don’t blame the religion for that; those dimwitted populaces would’ve been manipulated one way or another anyway.

aldestrawk says:

Re: Re: Re: Citation?

I agree that the salient point is Mike’s lack of mention of the mainstream media. Mr. “citation needed” does not refer to an article supporting a connection. Rather, he/she is claiming there was no citation “reporting the link” between Breivik and violent video games.

Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:

Re: Citation?

Forbes isn’t mainstream? Or perhaps you’d like to point out where Mike indicates that the mainstream media is reporting it this way?

Even if I’d done nothing more than read the title of the post, I’d draw the conclusion that this is the beginning, meaning that more coverage slanted in the “evil videogame” direction will follow in the near future.

You’re the one doing most of the extrapolation here. Ironic, isn’t it, what with you making and publishing assumptions just to be noisy.

out_of_the_blue says:

It's obvious that violent video games de-sensitize.

Essentially the same as combat training. All militaries and especially secret police use some form of de-sensitizing and overcoming the reluctance to kill. Only those who think they aren’t affected would argue that exposure to violence isn’t harmful: the degree of denial is more or less proportional to how much your training in civilized conduct has been undermined. It’s irrelevant how much the effect is, because manifestly ALWAYS BAD.

Yes, people have always been violent. In the Bible are MANY exhortations on how make war: kill everyone including ripping unborn children out of wombs.

Civilization is measured by how much we resist such tendencies, NOT by how much we pooh-pooh and diminish them.

Nicedoggy says:

Re: It's obvious that violent video games de-sensitize.

Then probably we should also ban religions since they all create extremism.

Ku-klux-klan was based on christian values, not to mention people being murdered because of abortion, Islamic Jihad, Hindu extremism, Jewish extremism.

Political parties also create extremists.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: It's obvious that violent video games de-sensitize.

Okay, so we should resist all forms of simulated combat and violence. Lets run down the list:

– Violent Video Games
– War/Action/Horror/etc Movies
– War/Horror/Espionage/etc Books
– All Martial Arts and Combat Sports
– All Shooting Sports
– Most Team Sports
– Most Lounge Games, Board Games and Tabletop Games
– Nerf Guns, Lasertag, Paintball & Airsoft
– Most Kids’ Imaginary Games
– Water Balloon Fights

Did I miss anything?

aldestrawk says:

Re: It's obvious that violent video games de-sensitize.

Unless a person is insane, they know the difference between killing characters in a video game and actually killing people IRl. It would be unethical to create an experiment to determine if video games had any real effect in desensitization to real violence. One would expect, as violent video games become more common, that there would be an increase in the rate of violence in any particular culture. That is quite different than just a correlation between violent people and those folks use of violent video games. Also, I think those in the military though would see a change in how soldiers react to their first taste of combat.
I can see that violent video games might offer enough desensitization to those who are assigned UAV control duty and have to fire missiles remotely.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: It's obvious that violent video games de-sensitize.

There are somewhat ethical ways to do it – generally by using actors without the knowledge of the study participant, or by having them watch news footage about real violent crimes. I’ll admit that I haven’t performed a systematic review, but most such studies I’ve seen show that simulated violence only desensitizes you to other simulated violence, not to the real deal.

Bengie says:

Re: Re: It's obvious that violent video games de-sensitize.

There have been studies. People do become desensitized, but in a way to reduces knee-jerk reactions and reduces “shock”. Also, while people are playing games, they become more violent, but when they’re done playing, they’re less violent than if they never played.

If you takes the FBI’s crime rate graphs and mark when major consoles were released over time and even some big name games like GTA, you typically see sharp drops in crime with-in a year of their release.

Correlation vs causation, not sure, but it would be a VERY large coincidence.

Qyiet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: It's obvious that violent video games de-sensitize.

More to the point, if there was a causation running on the other direction you would expect the numbers of violent crimes per capita to grow, not decrease.

Sure there may be other factors ‘countering’ the supposed influence of violent games, but it would have to be a hell of a factor.

My personal belief is that society as a whole is becoming less tolerant of violent behaviour causing a slow drop in the violent crime stats. Video games (like Violent TV, Heavy Metal, Rap Music, Rock and Roll etc) are not really an influence in either direction.

Hell, the idea getting lost in a fantasy world created by new media goes back at least as far 1615 the poor guy in the story was driven to believe he was a knight errant through reading too many books about knights errant. That theory is just as ridiculous now as it was then.

Big Mook (profile) says:

Re: Oh, the irony...

A teabagger is a closeted homosexual who gets off by placing his scrotum on the face of a weaker individual, most likely while other closeted homosexuals hold the victim down.

I have never met a teabagger, but if I did, I’m pretty sure he would not be a right-wing conservative (TEA Party), as 99% of homosexuals are far-left liberals.

So every time you call a conservative a teabagger, just remember that you are really calling them a uber-left liberal, just like yourself.

Pickle Monger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Oh, the irony...

A. Not all people who place their scrotums in other people’s mouths are closeted homosexuls. Some are quite open homosexuals. In fact, not all people who do that are homosexuals at all. If you were to put your balls into your very heterosexual wife’s mouth, that would still be considered teabagging. By ascribing the act of teabagging to closeted homosexuals, you reveal your own prejudice.

B. There’s a difference between teabaggers and Teabaggers. I do not identify all conservatives as Teabaggers. In fact, I am rather conservative/liberatrian. The Teabaggers are the people who roll around spewing outrage about about sand storms being referred to as haboob and changing facts to suit their prejudices and creating their own encyclopediae to suit the imagined “facts”.

Has someone else got any other fascinating insights into my character?

Big Mook (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Oh, the irony...

A. This is disingenuous. No one would call having sex with your wife, no matter what parts are inserted into which orifice, teabagging. Teabagging is reserved for men who get off on placing their genitalia on a weaker individual’s face, in order to bring about humiliation and shame. That’s why the left love to use it, because it’s nasty and perverted and no one wants to be associated with it. I’ve never known a straight man would would enjoy such contact, so I’d say that’s pretty good evidence of homosexuality, or maybe bisexuality. While some people might want to bring humiliation and shame to their spouse, most normal thinking people would not.

B. Again, disingenuous. The TEA Party is about smaller government, personal responsibility and accountability and lower taxes. These would normally be considered to be good conservative values and inline with conservative/libertarian principles. Only in a far-left, loony worldview do these become the most vile and evil ideas floating around.

Wasn’t trying to attack your character, just your flippant use of teabagger. You come off sounding like Janine Garafolo, or Joy Behar, both of which have about 1 functioning brain cell between them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Oh, the irony...


B. Again, disingenuous. The TEA Party is about smaller government, personal responsibility and accountability and lower taxes. These would normally be considered to be good conservative values and inline with conservative/libertarian principles. Only in a far-left, loony worldview do these become the most vile and evil ideas floating around.

You mean like the T-Bag in Winsconsin that is trying to cut everybodies power to negotiate anything?

The T-bags are about crazy policies not anything you said there.

Big Mook (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Oh, the irony...

Unions shouldn’t have that power to begin with. It’s how the status quo gets forwarded and nothing improves other than the salaries of the union members.

Nobody has stopped those employees from trying to negotiate better pay and benefits, they just can no longer do it collectively, meaning that everyone has to be judged on individual merit, not the collective lobbying power of a corrupt union.

Big Mook (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Oh, the irony...

Agreed, but Walker isn’t TEA party. He’s a long-established republican who has been in some form of public office since the early 90’s.

The TEA party is a recent response to the horrible economic policies of the worst president in my lifetime (I was born in 1964). He promised hope and change but turned out to be just another tax and spend democrat.

Nicedoggy says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Oh, the irony...


Nobody has stopped those employees from trying to negotiate better pay and benefits, they just can no longer do it collectively, meaning that everyone has to be judged on individual merit, not the collective lobbying power of a corrupt union.

Which means you don’t want people to organize, you don’t want others to have power that is scary isn’t LoL

I don’t like the Unions but the power to collectively negotiate things is a right of everyone, people have the right to assemble peacefully and should be able to speak with one voice on things, no employer will listen to each and every employee, they will just ignore everybody.

If normal people don’t have the right to negotiate things, there should be no political parties either, why do people create political parties if not to negotiate in a collective?

Also republicans are just idiots just like their counterparts the democrats.

The Tea Party is the craziest bunch of them all, the only good thing they did was to show people that it is possible to elect somebody to carry on any police even if it is crazy or otherwise.

Anyone who believes that electing someone that says they are republican or democrat must be an idiot, because they simply didn’t ask what will you do?

And by that I mean, there was no plan in place, there was no legislation draft agreed on, there was nothing just the emptness of “I will reduce taxes, reduce the government” and that is just crap, why idiots still believe in those lies?

Look at how lobby do things, they do all the work for the congress people, and the politicians don’t even bother to read anything they just vote on it, why people didn’t produce draft legislation that they want enacted?

Why are you cheering for a political party that was responsible for the worst economic meltdown in almost a hundred years along with the other party(democrats)?

Are you dumb?

If you want to vote for “your” party and politicos that will do nothing than you deserve to be cheated and robbed.

Instead of trying to defend “republicans” why don’t you defend the “Tax reduction act draft” oh that is right it doesn’t exist, instead you want to defend a party not actual legislation, you defend liars and crooks instead of the actual laws that could change things and that is really, really dumb.

Nicedoggy says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Oh, the irony...

On a second thought we should abolish every group of people so only individuals have a say on anything, that means no political parties, no churches, no neighborhood committees, no committees, no clubs no nothing.

Lets all negotiate things one on one for now on.

There can’t be collective lawsuits against companies or individuals either.

That sounds silly doesn’t it? and still you want others not to be able to band together to have their grievances heard.

Pickle Monger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Oh, the irony...

As I am rather prone to self-doubt, I thought to myself: “Maybe Big Mook is right. Maybe I am being flippant. Maybe the public face of the TEA party is not the somewhat racist-ish, uneducated horde that we see so much.” So I went on a highest-rated (by Google) site which is and checked out some random blogs of their supporters. I also scanned the news. Here are my findings of the world according to Teabaggers:
1. 27 x 65 = 7555
2. President Obama is a secret Muslim.
3. It’s OK to shoot cops if you’re feeling oppressed.
4. Anders Breivik is a liberal but he’s right that multi-culturalism is a bad idea.
I think I’ll stick with the derogatory term Teabagger for the time being.

Jason Campanella (profile) says:

Why is only violence linked to video games.

I’ve played violent video games since I was 7-8 years old. I just graduated from grad school with a 4.0 why are violent video games not linked to my success?

Sound absurd? Yeah so does saying that violent video games cause these things to happen.

People don’t think about the millions of people that play violent video games that lead completely normal lives. If a mentally unstable person is triggered by a video game its not a reason to ban them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Perhaps we should take the opposite reaction. Perhaps we should make videos games more violent and realistic: to show people how terrible war truly is.

War is no joking matter, but games like CoD and the like turn it into a piss poor joke. Where in the world does it take 20 shots to kill a man with an assault rifle? And explain to me why there is no dismemberment? I’d assume that a claymore mine at point-blank range would blow someone’s legs clean off.

Maybe after they’ve seen some of the actual violence of war they wouldn’t be so interested in trying it out themselves.

Anonymous Coward says:

WoW not

….”notes that he did actually play WoW for a while to “isolate himself from the ‘consumerist’ world in preparation for his attacks….”

Well, that right there should be the hint that he’s lying out his arse. Lessee…

In Game Pets
In Game Mounts
Stuffed Animals with In Game Pets
Faction Xfers
Realm Changes
Trading Card Game
Guild Chat/Remote Auction House
Coming up….ability to party up cross realm..for a fee.
Monthly fees
Software cost to buy the game
Tshirts/Hoodies of your guild/faction crest
3d statues of your character in w/e gear you want them in (or your current toons item set, straight from in game).
Add-on Development/Donations

(Underground Economy)
Gold buying
Account Selling

WoW is anything BUT “isolated from the ‘consumerist’ world”.

You are not a true WoW addict until you have plucked down $1000+ above the game cost/monthly fees.


Anonymous Coward says:

“I’m at a bit of a loss as to how playing a commercial game like that isolates one from consumerism, but Breivik does not appear to be particularly big on logic.

If you play wow 24/7 you sure as sht aren’t out buying stuff. Trust me, you can make bank by playing WoW if you can keep a nice job at the same time. You simply won’t be out buying much stuff.

Bill Surowiecki (profile) says:

Someone please explain to me why on earth I would take anything this guy says seriously? He is clearly a very confused individual. Bombs, shooting children, claiming Modern Warfare is a realistic simulation, its obvious hes crazy right?

Seriously though, why would any organization put any stock in what this individual has to say, other than to fuel their agenda?

TDR says:

To the trigger-happy religion-bashers, I say this: Judge the followers by the faith, not the faith by the followers. Otherwise you’re doing the exact same thing that the witless politicians and nuts are doing about video games, blaming and generalization without any true understanding of the facts, pushed by personal bias rather than pure logic.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Playving video games = Combat training?

So…by pressing certain buttons in sequence along with two analog sticks in relation to what was happening on a screen, he was somehow able to translate that experience into being in real life, holding a gun with two actual arms and hands and pressing an actual trigger? The same people who call Modern Warfare 2 a combat simulator were, by and large, the same people who said that playing Guitar Hero was NOT the same as learning how to play a real guitar.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Playving video games = Combat training?

Yeah, it’s like some Sims players I’ve seen bragging about how they’ve learned time management skills while playing a game for hours at a time to the detriment of everything else needing to be done…

Okay, so it was me bragging, but I came to my senses and called myself on my own bullshit.

Pjerky (profile) says:

So by that logic we should outlaw strong religious views...

predicting that the next tragedy would involve someone who “was first addicted to harmful video games.”

So by this logic we should ban any religious ferver or conviction. Because those first addicted to strong religious bindings and/or beliefs will be involved with the next major terrorist attack.

I guess there goes evangelical Christianity… and Islam and Judaism and Hindu and whatever else you can find.

Prashanth (profile) says:

Cause-Effect Relationship is Backwards

No, violent video game purchases do not cause violent behaviors. Violent behaviors probably do cause violent video game purchases, which is backed up in part by this guy claiming to have gotten Modern Warfare 2 explicitly as a training tool. The people who campaign against violent video games have the cause-effect relationship messed up; they might as well say cancer causes cell phones, as in this XKCD:

FM Hilton (profile) says:

Let's ban the obvious

The ultra-conservative, right-wing political parties. Those the ones that engender this kind of behavior. They loudly endorse all kinds of stupid stuff.
“My masters told me that I was right to kill innocent bystanders because they don’t believe in my tooth fairy!”
Uh oh..there goes Faux News.
Blaming games for violent behavior is just a lazy way to avoid acceptance for all the extremist garbage passing off as news.

Mel (profile) says:

violent effects?

Is it that violent video games, music and movies create violent people?


Is it that violent people are drawn to violent video games, music, movies?

If the first question’s logic were true the world should be one big love fest, since there are many more non-violent video games, and more music and movies about love.

Heck, they are not that real, you sit in climate control, in front of a screen eating food. It’s just a release mechanism. Legalize pot if you want more pacifist.

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:


I am really disturbed by this extremist point of view; it is like Congress, and “don’t tax the wealthy” policies that are destroying us.
Video games do have some influence; shown again and again. Saying there is NO evidence of this merely displays ignorance.
To say there is an acceptable influence (like saying, cars create an acceptable danger to pedestrians) is fine; to say “none” simply reduces the argument to biased reporting.

TruthSayer says:

I play AA (Americas Army) and have for more than 3 years now.
I must say that in that time I have run into MANY that parrot much of what Breivik did in his Manifesto. In the Forums associated with AA (as well as Battle Field and COD). While
I will not say it is the Games themselves that are causing this (I am in Favor of Multiculturalism for instance and I play), I will say there is a Heavy Far Right Radical and Racial Extremist Element playing within this Game as well.
I will not blame the games directly… But they are certainly a Proving Ground for these types to not only communicate with each other but spread their Ideology to our Children.

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