In a 90 minute courtroom diatribe, Anders Breivik, the confessed perpetrator of the murder of 77 people last year in Norway, stated that he spent an entire year playing massively multiplayer online game World of Warcraft full time and used the incredibly popular first person shooter game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 to train for his attacks on unarmed civilians.
“I see [Modern Warfare 2] more as a part of my training-simulation than anything else,” Breivik’s manifesto reads. “I’ve still learned to love it though and especially the multiplayer part is amazing. You can more or less completely simulate actual operations.”
Prosecutors have stated the Breivik lost touch with reality after spending most of his time on the internet in online multiplayer games.
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No stranger to claims by politicians that a link exists between violent behavior and gaming, the online gaming community was forced back on the defensive on Thursday. Making the same jaded online posts citing the same research that debunks the link, the gaming community was again forced to assert itself, albeit begrudgingly, as a group of average folks.
“Here we go with this shit again,” read several frustrated posts across the internet in reaction to headlines like “Admitted Norway killer Breivik says he trained on video games." While Breivik claims that Modern Warfare is a realistic training tool for combat, the franchise itself has fallen out of favor with hardcore gamers because of its perceived lack of realistic functionality.
In Modern Warfare, players often run headlong around multiplayers maps, firing from real-life weapons with almost no recoil and hardly any consequence for dying. The casual play style and lack of strategy has attracted huge numbers of fans from all walks of life, from foul-mouthed pre-adolescents to middle-aged working stiffs.
For most hardcore gamers, the notion that Modern Warfare could be used as a training tool is laughable — if it weren’t for Breivik’s claims to have done so and the potential demonizing effect it may have for gamers in general.
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After Breivik’s admission to playing games like World of Warcraft for long hours, the community made the Norwegian into an enemy last July following his attacks. Indeed, militaristic jingoism is almost wholly antithetical to most online games, which sometimes act as an international forum for discussion.
In professional gaming tournaments, some even make light of their own nationalities. Top French Starcraft 2 professional Ilyes "Stephano" Satouri often takes the stage, grinning, to ironic chants of, “USA! USA!” American Shawn "Sheth" Simon has similarly been assigned a French nationality as fans make light of national allegiances common in global competitions like the World Cup or the Olympics.
“One Islamic terrorist doesn't make all Muslims terrorists. One video-gamer terrorist doesn't make all gamers terrorists. Bad people will always find tools to commit evil by or through religion, games, etc. That shouldn't discredit what is used without evil by millions of others,” said one poster on Reddit, fearing a backlash against gaming from politicians around the world.
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“Excellent point. You are using logic though, something I don't believe those people tend to know a whole heck of a lot about,” said one poster in response.
In spite of what inconclusive research is cited, not a single child psychiatrist has ever claimed that forcing an Italian plumber to jump on the heads of sinister turtles while riding a cute baby dinosaur has been linked to violent behavior. Neither has simulated violence been tied to real-life violent behavior by independent, peer-reviewed researchers.
In spite of the research and the evidence, global gamers across the internet are preparing for a backlash.