Video Game violence “debate” in wake of Breivik trial

Video Game ViolenceOn July 22nd, 2011, Anders Behring Breivik, a “cultural conservationist” and self-proclaimed Knight of the Templar Order in Norway and Europe, allegedly murdered 77 people in a pre-emptive strike against “Imperialist Islam”. In the wake of Brieviks’ five day trial in Oslo, the media have discovered that the 33 year-old apparently played video games such as Call Of Duty and World Of Warcraft in preparation for his attack, and have thus reopened the mundane can of worms that is the “debate” on whether virtual violence contributes to real violence, which has left gamers across the world face-palming in their millions.

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For years, controversy has been linked to games such as the Grand Theft Auto series and other adult titles because of the freedom they grant players, controversy usually conceived in ignorance of what video games actually are. Video games are a means of communicating an idea, a vision, to a wider audience through technology, in much the same way as film-making. They are not a mass-murderer’s B.F.F.; nor are video games a means of training the “impressionable youth” of today to commit atrocities. Since before Columbine, the media have perpetuated the myth that video games are solely responsible for the atrocities committed by those who happen to be gamers. However, witch-hunts of this nature are not uncommon. In the early 20th century, TV was the devil; in the mid-20th century, rock music was the devil; meanwhile, in the present, video games are the devil. Video games are the latest in a long, long list of scary new creative media outlets, that paralyze the over-reactionary with fear.

Getting back onto the topic of Breivik, the real issue is with his political views rather than his hobbies, as you can read in his manifesto, Breivik admits to using World of Warcraft in his plot, not as a means of training, but rather as a decoy to avoid arousing suspicion from family members and friends. He described his social life as ‘non-existent’ while using video games as a ploy to distract attention away from his true intentions. In his own words:

Video Game Violence

“Announce to your closest friends, co-workers and family that you are pursuing a ‘project’ that can at least partly justify your ‘new pattern of activities’ (isolation/travel) while in the planning phase. (For) example, tell them that you have started to play ‘World of Warcraft’ or any other online MMO game and that you wish to focus on this for the next months/year. This ‘new project’ can justify isolation and people will understand somewhat why you are not answering your phone over long periods.”

To put it bluntly, the above quote pretty much clears the video game industry of responsibility in Breivik’s case. The video game industry has over the past 20 years received copious amounts of stress from pressure groups to regulate or censor video games, and it comes as no shock that there is a backlash against these claims. Statistics show that as video games become more realistic and engrossing, and of greater availability, there is a similar, correlative decline in crime in western nations; one might infer that people with psychotic urges find they are able to suppress or relieve said urges by killing virtual characters rather than real, live people. The fact of the matter is, video games don’t create the Breiviks of this world – chemical imbalances do.

Source: Edition.Cnn


Posted By LocalFinn

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  • Cory Knose

    I wrote a paper on the positive effects of video games and i pretty much said the same things. That video games are a way of freely expressing emotions in a safe and non judgmental way and that i would rather have my kid playing video games then wondering the streets.

    • LocalFinn

      Exactly, hey if you had a Pdf of the paper I’d love to read it sometime 

  • Emir Saric
    • LocalFinn

      Oh I agree with that 100%, creativity stems from interaction with things like art forms and clever entertainment, which is what videogames are.

  • oReBouNdZo

    I think that the whole video games aspect of it is just a huge overeaction!

    • LocalFinn

      Yes it is, unfortunately there’s always some need to focus on a entertainment medium and give it bad credibility, where the only thing you can really blame is how a parent brought up a child, the real life environment and their chemical imbalances.

  • Broiler590

    I’m actually studying psychology right now (in high school, but it is a college level AP course), and although studies do show that video games and TV do make people more prone to REACT violently to frustration/provocation there is no evidence that it causes people to seek out violence or provoke others with violence.  In the case of Breivik, psychopathy is almost entirely the result of genetics and prenatal development.  There is essentially nothing that can cause a normal person to become psychotic, for example none of the survivors of the holocaust (at least none that I am aware of) became emotionless serial killers as a result of their horrific experiences.  So in short, the article is pretty accurate (except about society causing psychopaths).  I do suggest finding scientific evidence about these sorts of things in the future to help back up your arguments.  Anyways the article was a good read, and I completely agree with you that it’s sad to see people like Breivik and the media attempt to casually attribute something as serious as insanity to something as casual as gaming.  (P.S. the idea that video games could suppress violent urges by providing an acceptable outlet for the violence, an idea known as the Catharsis hypothesis by psychologists, is largely dis-proven by research, venting anger or frustration by taking it out on a substitute often leads to continued or even increased aggressive behavior, but not to the scale of murdering 77 people of course, just continued aggravation)

    • LocalFinn

      Fixed that for you, thank you for the insightful post.

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