Digital entertainment is the scapegoat for society’s problems

I am a video game nerd and have been for my entire life. Electronic entertainment is a huge focus of my master’s thesis, so I’m pretty hardcore.

The passion I have for electronic entertainment is always dampened, however, when I see yet another egregious case of the media and society blaming and questioning video games for the ills of humanity.

The most recent example of this is the case of Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, who bombed Oslo government installations in 2011, killing eight people.

He then went on a rampage on an island where he killed more than 60 other people, the majority of which were teenagers.

As a crazed far-right lunatic, Breivik published his own manifesto, a 1,518-page document called “2083: A European Declaration of Independence,” and distributed it to more than 1,000 addresses before commencing his attacks.

In his manuscript, Breivik espouses a clearly racist form of ideology, but what seems to be getting most of the attention is not his obvious mental derangement.

Rather, much of the media has decided to focus on the portion of the manuscript where he mentions playing video games.

According to an article in The Guardian, “he mentioned completing the Tolkien-esque fantasy role-playing game ‘Dragon Age: Origins,’ using the online game ‘World of Warcraft’ to relax, and playing ‘Modern Warfare 2’ as part of his ‘training-simulation.'”

The Mirror, another U.K. publication, claims that “Call Of Duty” allows players to “shoot people on an island,” implying that there is a link between playing the game and Breivik’s massacre.

Another British publication called The Times ran a story containing the headline, “Breivik played video games for a year to train for deadly attacks.”

I guess with all the gaming hours and years I have under my belt the media would consider me to be a criminal mastermind of the highest regard. This is ludicrous.

The problem with these stories is that they are written by out-of-touch reporters who constantly misquote and misrepresent video games as a whole. There is no blatant “island massacre” in “Call Of Duty” that I can remember, and I’ve played them all.

In fact, there are eight games in the series, as well as several other add-ons and expansions, so this kind of finger-pointing at a popular video game series is really nothing but poor reporting and poor fact-checking.

This story brings to mind the controversy produced by the “Grand Theft Auto” series, which has led to several mischaracterizations. My favorite being when Sen. Gayle Slossberg (D – CT) claimed in 2008 that players can earn points for committing rape in “Grand Theft Auto IV.”

Anyone who has played “Grand Theft Auto IV” knows how ridiculous of a claim that is. There is absolutely no rape in the game whatsoever, making Sen. Slossberg’s claim a baseless and incredibly, stupidly misinformed assertion.

In the end, video games will continue to be blamed for schmucks like Breivik doing schmucky things, much like rap music was blamed for violence throughout the ’90s.

It’s important to remember that video games are purely a source of entertainment for most people. Video games are not a rallying cry to commit crimes.

Breivik is simply insane. Playing violent video games does not make someone more prone to commit violence.

The real problem here is not digital entertainment. The real problem is the scapegoating displayed by members of the media and lawmakers who want to desperately make a link where there is none.

Gerry Wachovsky is a graduate student and columnist for the Daily Forty-Niner.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Daily 49er newsletter