Video Game Violence?
As the Anders Behring Breivik trial continues, certain details throughout have been catching international interest. Of particular interest is his claim that he used video games as a training tool whilst preparing for his attack on the Labour Youth Party at Utoya island and his bombing of Oslo.
Breivik claimed in court that he had used first person shooters such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 to hone his targeting and shooting skills, apparently saying that “You could give it to your grandmother and she would be able to become a super marksman!”. Experts, however, are dismissing this link between video games and ultra-violence. During this time period, Breivik also took steroids in order to bulk himself up and meditated in order to rid himself of emotions – clearly not the actions of a normal, balanced person. Video games may have helped him to train, but it is clear that from the start he was using them as a tool rather than playing them for enjoyment. Also brought up was the fact that he devoted a full year in 2006 to playing World of Warcraft for sixteen hours a day whilst living with his mother; although the image this brings up is of an often-mocked stereotype, it is worth considering that the kind of individual who isolates himself in this manner and becomes obsessed with achieving goals in one game is perhaps the same type that might have trouble separating killing in the game with killing in reality. It has been speculated that this difficulty in distinguishing life from games is one of the factors that eventually lead to Breivik’s attacks, though clearly his premeditation seems to preclude insanity.
Although many studies over the years have seen increased instances of violence in children exposed to violent video games, recent suggestions have been that video games alone are not enough to cause violent behaviour. In other words, where there’s a will, there’s a way – and violence has existed much longer than video games have.