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On Gaming, Breivik > Media

May 4, 2012

A mass murderer, Anders Breivik, has claimed that games like Call of Duty have aided him in his training to shoot people. You can almost hear the grinding of teeth from the Daily Mail. They never fail to disappoint.

Let’s look at this first, from ‘REVEALED: THE VERY REAL DANGERS OF VIDEO GAMES’.

They also came as a British teacher said children as young as four were hitting classmates as they re-enact scenes from violent 18-rated computer games.

She claimed youngsters were struggling to separate reality from their experiences in the virtual world and then copied the scenes at school.

They were coming to lessons too tired to learn after staying up late playing computer games, and were often leading ‘solitary lives’.

Alison Sherratt, a reception class teacher at Riddlesden St Mary’s Church of England Primary in Keighley, West Yorkshire, outlined her concerns at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers conference earlier this month.

She said pupils regularly discussed playing games such as the Call Of Duty series, set in various war zones, and Grand Theft Auto – where players carry out robberies, muggings, killings, drug deals and beat prostitutes with baseball bats.

On one occasion, she saw pupils throwing themselves from a play car in slow motion and pretending blood was spurting out of them.

Her warning came after news that 14-year-old Daniel Bartlam killed his mother with a claw hammer after watching a wide range of violent video games, films and TV storylines.

Age limits exist for a reason. If you are going to give a child as young as four games like Grand Theft Auto, you are -asking- for trouble.  Do you let toddlers play with knives? Do you give them bottles of whiskey instead of milk? Of course not. Media is no different, be it video game, film or book. It is a pet peeve of mine that people complain of violent behaviour in children when they are exposed to games and movies like this. Media like this provides role models for these children. Parents who exercise some restraint on their little darlings and not bowing to the ‘My friends have this!’ peer pressure may find that their children won’t obsess over this type of thing.

More recently, another article was posted.

I’m sorry, but if you give a gun to anyone with an intent to injure or kill another person, it’s not going to matter what their K-D ratio on Call of Duty is. They’re going to kill people, whether or not they aim for someone’s head. Shooting at anyone at any part of the body is going to bloody hurt. The real issue is the person behind the weapon.   Oh, and this:

All participants were instructed in the use of the pistol and wore safety goggles.

Right, so the only difference is that some people had played Call of Duty, and some had not. I’m going to assume that these targets were stationary. Sigh.

The Modern Warfare 3 trailer, because real life dodges rockets

The attitude to video games needs to mature. A lot of people treat them distantly, as if they are weapons of mass destruction or some form of arcane art. They’re not. Film, literature and games all have differing works that try to attempt different things. Some are intellectual and try to tell a story. Some intend to offend. Some intend to inform. Some are difficult to understand (to watch, to read, to play). Some are simply terribad.

So it is perhaps saddening to hear refreshing clarity from Breivik, rather than reputable news sources. From The Guardian:


“WoW is only a fantasy game, which is not violent at all. It’s just fantasy. It’s a strategy game. You co-operate with a lot of others to overcome challenges. That’s why you do it. It’s a very social game. Half of the time you are connected in communication with others. It would be wrong to consider it an antisocial game.”

Very true. As a former player, I can attest to this. In fact, I have made some lifelong friends through World of Warcraft.

I also find myself agreeing with him about Call of Duty, insofar as it develops ‘target acquisition’. However, many games do this. Hell, even Duck Hunt manages this. It hones your ability to recognise and eliminate a target as quickly as possible. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to become a top soldier. It doesn’t even mean that you can handle a gun adequately. This is no excuse for shoddy reporting. From the Daily Mail:

In a chilling admission regarding the efficacy of the controversial computer game he added: ‘You could give it your grandmother and she would be able to become a super marksman!’

… aaand from The Guardian:
“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.”

Crucially, holographic sights could help the geriatric population fend off a zombie apocalypse, and not Call of Duty. The man had also clearly practised with firearms prior to his spree. It is not as if Breivik says that anyone can train to be a killer with Call of Duty. The Daily Mail thinks that. Not Breivik.

This idea that games are enough to train someone how to kill is unfounded. They can hone your awareness and reactions, but unless they actually go to the trouble of providing a step-by-step guide on how to assemble a gun and aim adequately, it will never amount to much.

Besides, if we’re talking about bad influences (fictional or otherwise), the Bible has provoked more death than any other form of media out there.

Image link: UnrealityMag.com

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 11, 2012 1:12 pm

    I’ve read a lot of articles today on this topic and this one seems to resonate the most with me, couldn’t really agree more.
    Written really well also, good job man.
    Insanely controversial to throw in that Bible comment at the bottom though, you should be very careful when making bold religious statements like that when you’re trying to acquire a target audience.
    Still, great article!

  2. May 13, 2012 10:04 am

    Thanks, mate. I figured I’d throw that in there mainly because of the name of the organisation Anders claimed to be a part of. Controversy!

    It really annoys me that this is the scapegoat media choose. Oh, well. Gives me good material to write about!

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