video game killer: gamers call norway killer’s bluff
Anders Behring Breivik, on trial for last summer’s bombings in Oslo and shooting massacre on an island summer camp that killed 77 people, testified that he used an edition of the first-person shooting game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare to train for his heinous crime.
During the fourth day of his trial, Breivik also boasted of spending 16 hours a day playing World of Warcraft online for months at a time.
Breivik said a holographic aiming device used in Modern Warfare helped him develop skills with a real gun. “You develop target acquisition,” he said.
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He also testified about the game: “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.”
Video-game enthusiasts insisted that Breivik’s gaming tendencies didn’t connect to his violent act and that there was no way that playing Modern Warfare would help Breivik use an actual gun effectively.
“The controller’s actually just an Xbox controller and you move the crosshair on the screen,” Brandon Paxton, a 39-year-old gamer in Charleston, W.Va., told The Daily.
“You don’t actually hold up a gun, you don’t look through the sights. It’s not at all similar, it’s none of the same skills,” said Paxton.
John Walker, 34, the co-editor of gaming website Rock, Paper, Shotgun, said that video games are the go-to scapegoat to explain acts of violence. He noted a study released last week from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden showed that gamers show a greater tendency to work together and cooperate, rather than a tendency toward violence and aggression. Researchers didn’t note a link between aggression and gaming at all.
The prosecution’s emphasis on Breivik’s pastime played into society’s stereotype of antisocial and unbalanced gamers, Walker said. In fact, he insisted, social and casual gaming has expanded and changed the demographic, meaning that the average gamer is a mother in her mid-40s.
“If we say a video game can train someone, then we have to say a firing range is a dangerous place and it trains people to be killers,” Walker said. “Video games are the least realistic way to simulate firing a weapon.”
Activision, the publisher of Modern Warfare, did not respond to requests for comment.
Breivik also testified yesterday about a plan to behead former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland on camera. His trial is expected to last 10 weeks.
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