I’m slightly bemused by the storm that my CNN opinion piece on the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik has elicited. Some of the reaction on Twitter is unprintable, but there has been some fair criticism, including this interesting blog post arguing that World of Warcraft isn’t a violent game and that there’s no connection at all between Brievik’s affection for online gaming and his massacre of 77 innocent Norwegians last July.
Today’s revelations at Olso’s central court strengthen my argument about the nexus between his violence and video games. Breivik acknowledged in court that he “trained” for the attacks using the “holographic aiming device” on the video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. He said:
“It consists of many hundreds of different tasks and some of these tasks can be compared with an attack, for real. That’s why it’s used by many armies throughout the world. It’s very good for acquiring experience related to sights systems…. If you are familiar with a holographic sight, it’s built up in such a way that you could have given it to your grandmother and she would have been a super marksman. It’s designed to be used by anyone. In reality it requires very little training to use it in an optimal way. But of course it does help if you’ve practised using a simulator.”
I’m not arguing that video games like Call of Duty causes psychopaths like Breivik to commit mass murder. But only the most myopic apologist for electronic gaming could deny that these kind of violent games do play a role in the fantasies of lunatics like Breivik.