Read This Article Before You Blame Video Games for Real World Violence

July 26th, 2011 at 9:31 am

Those of you who have been watching the site for a while will, by now, be aware of my general dislike of the mainstream media. Not because of any philosophical or conspiracy reasons, but because I am constantly annoyed at the sensationalist crap that is spewed from the world’s largest media organisations.

Shocking, then, that I would come across an article from an Australian journalist that is actually rational. Nick Ross from ABC decided to post a blog post on the ABC website about the ridiculous jumping to conclusions about the recent Norway massacre’s links to video games.

A little history on the subject for those unaware. The guy who apparently bombed and shot up parts of Norway wrote a massive – and I stress massive – doctrine, complete with instructions on how to plan an event such as the one that was pulled off, and a chronicle of the steps he took. The paper was over 1,500 pages long.

Within the first few pages, a couple of games are mentioned. Dragon Age, World of Warcraft, Bioshock, Fallout and – wait for it – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2; one of the most successful and thus most played games of all time. Nothing sells papers faster than horror and technology stories. Imagine how many newspapers you’ll sell with a horror technology story!

The famous “No Russian” level from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Violent, yes – but does it inspire anyone to run out and emulate it?

Which seems to be the rationalisation much of the world’s media had undertaken. For as Nick Ross points out on the blog post, these references were obscure at best. He points out that while it was written that playing Call of Duty is a way to get target practice – perhaps the most extreme references to video games in the whole document – the mass media has failed to point out that he also gives detailed instructions on how to get real-world training, including advice on what countries to avoid.

The rest of the references for the video games were not a murderer’s means of inspiration; in fact it was the complete opposite. The document points out how he would play video games to take his mind off the planning and the stress of the looming date. Actually, one could say that if he had more games like Call of Duty, he would probably be too busy playing them to bother with the massacre at all!

Of course, I’m not trying to defend this guy’s decision to kill innocent people, I’m merely pointing out, just as Nick Ross at ABC has, that leaping into the deep end and blaming video games based purely on a few mentions of them is completely insane. Let’s face it; the video game industry has exceeded the popularity of the television, movie and even music industries. Many people in this day and age are more likely to quote a video game script than they are a novel. A sign of the times, yes. An assumption that anyone who plays video games is a mass murderer it is not.

World of Warcraft may be popular, but it’s hardly a “terrorist simulator”…

So please, anyone who is even starting to consider linking this event in Norway to any video game, I implore you to read Ross’ blog post on the subject. Yes, it’s long (and much longer than the anti-game articles that “prove” the violence argument), but you’ll live. It may even open your eyes a little. I shall conclude with a little of the actual blog post of which I speak.

Ultimately, in the 1528-page document, there are nine places with mentions of World of Warcraft, (one of which also mentions Bioshock and Fallout 3). Modern Warfare is mentioned in five different sections while Dragon Age is mentioned on its own once. If anyone finds any more, please let me know. I’d be surprised if there were more than twenty in total. I’d be staggered if I missed the one which said, ‘actually forget everything else, I just want to copy the No Russian level from Call of Duty.’

Check out Nick Ross’ ABC Blog post here.

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Ty is the founder, Editor-in-Chief and nice guy of The first console Ty owned as a kid was the Sega Master System II which he used to enjoy games like Alex Kidd, Sonic the Hedgehog and Mickey Mouse. Since the early days, Ty's hobby became an obsession and over the years he has amassed a huge collection of video games from all manufacturers. You can read Ty's weekly opinion column here, and follow him on Twitter.

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