Saturday, July 23, 2011

Oslo Terrorist calls 'Modern Warfare' "Part of [his] training-simulation" (UPDATED)

 Source: KOTAKU

Okay, first things first: I want to be crystal-clear that, while ancillary issues of gaming, media, censorship etc., along with other things I plan to speak on in a moment are always extremely important - at this time they are a very, VERY small issue next to the immediate bigger picture of the moment: Yesterday, a Norwegian man named Anders Behring Breivik is alleged to have bombed the headquarters of Norway's Prime Minister, then disguised himself as a police officer and embarked on an hourlong shooting rampage at a Youth Camp containing the children of Norway's ruling Labour Party - ultimately taking close to 100 innocent lives before being taken into police custody. It is the worst act of domestic terrorism in Norway's modern history, and is being called the most devastating violence to occur in the nation since the Second World War. I know that there are Norwegian fans and readers of this and the other blog, plus others with friends/family in Norway, and I ask that everyone responding to this post keep their feelings in mind - ANY responses, comments, posts etc. of a hurtful, confrontational and/or insensitive nature directed at the victims of this terrible tragedy or the people of Norway will be summarily DELETED.

Also, if anyone reading this is in or near Oslo, I am told that Ullevaal Hospital - where some victims are being treated - is in need of TYPE O BLOOD DONATIONS. Thank you. The remainder of this post continues after the jump...

At this time, little is known (or has been officially confirmed) about Breivik. He is believed to be a Christian Fundamentalist with sympathies to Norway's right-wing political fringe (two of his online handles were "Conservative" and "Conservativism," allegedly) and gun-culture, who may be the author of a lengthy manifesto which calls for armed action against (among other "enemies") Islam, multiculturalism and "cultural Marxism" in his country.

According to Kotaku, video-gaming has an unfortunately promiment place in his life and his "plans" - specifically, he reccomends that those similarly inclined use a devotion to online gaming like "World of Warcraft" as cover for their activities; and cites "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" as part of his "training simulation." So... yeah, Christmas just came early for the "violent games are murder simulators" contingent.

Now, obviously, this is going to become a "thing" in the ongoing violent-games discussion once the dust settles on the much more important immediate issues of the tragedy itself; and it will be important for gamers to remain (respectfully) steadfast in pointing out the various logical fallacies of the "other-side's" argument: Namely, that even if one was to try and affix blame for Breivik's actions upon external stimuli; it would seem readily apparent that his political-philosophy and religious views were MUCH more influential than his gaming hobbies. Also, not to put too fine a point on it, but... madmen are generally NOT the most reliable source of information as to their own motivations.

However...

Gamers should also NOT fall into the trap of declaring ANY implications of correlation (NOT the same thing as causality - a vital distinction) to be off the table - because that would be intellectual dishonesty, and helpful to no one. Just as (thoughtful) fans of horror movies and heavy metal are obliged to concede that, while those mediums do not CAUSE serial-killers, those with such tendencies are more likely to be fans of the material than not; I consider it to be encumbent on the serious-minded gamer to consider and/or ultimately concede that while games like CoD are not the "cause" of Breivik's actions... the fact that he is a fan of military-FPS games - and that he may have used them as fuel for his fantasies of violent insurrection - is completely unsurprising.

Let's not mince words: Here in the U.S., we've all seen and heard the same basic tripe Breivik is alleged to have spewed (anti-immigration, multiculturalism-is-evil, "Marxism"-is-out-to-get-us, coming-holy-war-with-Islam, etc.,) plastered across protest-signs and bellowed from radios; and I'm given to understand that it exists to one extent or another in much of Europe as well. And I don't think it to be a betrayal of either gaming, gamer-culture or free-speech advocacy to admit that it makes complete sense that "Modern Warfare" and it's ilk - with their fetishism of realistic weapons and gear combined with consequence-free use thereof and you-are-the-shooter first-person immersion - would find a lot of fans among the gun-hoarder/paramilitary subculture(s).

This does NOT make the games "responsible" or in need of "control" or "banning;" but I DO think that the THEMATIC appeal of much of the miltiary-FPS genre's material to what we might've previously called the "Timothy McVeigh's" or "Turner Diaries" mindset - and what, if anything, could be done about it - is part of a discussion that's LONG overdue among gamers, game designers and the whole gaming community.

UPDATE: Not thrilled that I need to clarify that last point for some, but I probably do: I don't want anyone's "takeaway" from this to be that I think FPS games or FPS gamers bear ANY kind of automatic kinship-with or responsibility-for Breivik. All I'm asking is for introspection and honesty: It's NOT a secret (nor a surprise) that the military-FPS genre is popular with fringe elements of the gun/paramilitary subcultures with which Breivik was of-a-kind - is it not worth at least considering that it'd be a good thing for gamers and the games industry to A.) make it overwhelmingly clear that guys like this are NOT representative of "us," and that they are in fact not welcome? and/or B.) take a hard, critical look at the genre and ask if MAYBE there are things that could be done/said to ensure that it ISN'T attractive or welcoming to people like this? I'm NOT at all certain that the answer is "yes," for the record...

As I've said in comments already, metal musicians and metal fans worked earnestly to distance the genre from it's onetime popularity among "skinheads," Confederate Civil-War Re-Enacters have worked similarly hard to distance themselves from the "Rise Again!" racists. Hell, I attended a scifi convention last year where one of the panels was about keeping the "Steampunk" genre free of racism or ethnocentrism given it's grounding in an idealized-fetishism for the 19th Century. Other fan-cultures are capable of having these discussions, gaming should be no different.

80 comments:

Hawkeye In the Sky said...

First off, I would like to send my condolences to any readers of this post who knows someone who is, or who themselves is, a victim of this horrible tragedy.

Secondly, yes. There is a correlation with video games and serial killers. You know what else serial killers all have in common: THEY EAT FOOD. Just because you can point out that something correlates between individuals, that doesn't mean it caused it.

Some Swedish Guy said...

"First off, I would like to send my condolences to any readers of this post who knows someone who is, or who themselves is, a victim of this horrible tragedy." <- What he said. I'm not trying to make fun of this tragic accident and my thoughts go out to all the great people in Norway.

With that said;

Fellow gamers, grab your raincoats and umbrellas, 'cause we're in for a massive shitstorm.

DetectiveKen said...

I suspect there would be many religious activists using the game connection as a scapegoat.

Like WBC, who I don't believe would EVER go further than picketing since they're only in it for the attention (Kevin Smith having received a signed poster from them when screening Red State in their town). I'm not sure if it would be down their alley considering it may paint them in a good light(only "good" because it's actually something people outside the ridiculous church would rally for, in their ignorance) but this could inspire groups in the same vein to protest against video games to take any heat off them.

Hawkeye In the Sky said...

I suspect there would be many religious activists using the game connection as a scapegoat.<--

Which is ironic, seeing how there's a stronger argument to be made that religion caused this tragedy than video games.

antecedentless said...

I'll just leave this here.

The MorphBall said...

What a sad tragedy; my condolences and support to that country and its citizens.

That said it is predictable what is going to happen after they finish matters of the tragedy; some one will probably try to blame it on video games. But we must think intelegently and give good anwsers when the inocentness of the gaming comunity is questioned.

Bob if you are reading this you might want to put a link to your GO ep about violence that you posted in screwattack sometime ago.

Ralphael said...

Video games had nothing to do with the deaths of these people. Religion had nothing to do with the deaths of these people. "Thematics" had nothing to do with the deaths of these people.

The road to becoming a sick fuck who kills children for no reason is a very long one, and a game or a political mindset alone will NEVER cause someone to think or act otherwise.

Anyone saying religion OR video games caused this man to do this are completely clueless.

Could they have been fuel for his actions? No shit. But I can make a pretty damn long list of things that can be considered fuel. So long, that it would be pretty pointless, stupid, and counter productive to try and ban everything that can be fuel.


The gaming community has nothing to talk about.




And where the hell is the "games don't make people kill" Bob I know and love?

maxxedout said...

Holy crap, this is a huge tragedy-- does anyone know where I can donate toward the hospital bills of the victims? I can't spare much but I'd send something.

I agree with the salient point of your post, but one turn of phrase caught my attention. I think you are very close to falling into the same trap that game censorship activists fall into, but in your case you implied an association gun-rights and anti-socialism activism with murderous scum like this guy. Am I reading your post wrong, or do you actually think that?

maxxedout said...

Make that "causal association."

Francis said...

Religion, political ideals, obsessions, habits, trauma, psychological problems. Trying to find a specific reason to explain something so horrible is a natural thing we all try to do, but ultimately it is misguided. People don't go into rampages for singular, simple reasons, it almost always requires a big nasty cocktail of them. Human minds are just more complicated than that, especially for the people on the fringes. In the end all you are left with is a bunch of circumstances that hint at a bigger picture... but its all they do. Trying to find something specific to blame other than the shooter himself is an exercise in futility.

MovieBob said...

@Ralphael
"And where the hell is the "games don't make people kill" Bob I know and love?"

He's right here - but he's ALSO the Bob who says that clear-headed intellectual honesty has to cut both ways.

Obviously, playing "Modern Warfare" did not MAKE this monster murder almost 100 people. I should hope most longtime readers/fans would not assume I would ever think or say otherwise.

However, I don't think it's beyond the pale to point out A.) the ugly and inescapable fact that the military-sim-FPS genre *IS* extremely popular with right-wing xenophobe/gun-nut/paramilitary culture; B.) that thusly, it's unsurprising that a right-wing gun-obsessed terrorist who hated immigrants was himself a fan of the genre. And I certainly don't think it's out-of-line for gamers and game-makers to do some soul-searching and ask themselves "What is it about this genre of games that's so appealing to these particular people, and do we maybe want to think about ways that may perhaps simultaneously make the genre BETTER and make it less-appealing to them?"

For a comparison - please keep in mind I'm not a music historian, but I do remember that at a certain point the whole "skinheads love certain bands/subgenres of metal" was a HUGE image problem for metal musicians and their fans; and there was a REAL genuine movement within metal fandom to say "No, we're not those guys. Fuck those guys. They aren't welcome in our tent." And you also saw a concerted effort among metal artists to NOT be of-a-kind to that culture; i.e. expanding the makeup and "themes" of the genre beyond just being "pissed off whiteboy rock."

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Either we let gaming be strictly a silly, fundamentally-worthless disposable thing so that we don't have to have difficult or challenging discussions like this about it; OR it's an art-form and a serious medium and thus we DO have to think about these things.

Antonio Black said...

This a tragedy that greatly overshadows Columbine and Virginia Tech. Not to downplay the trauma experienced by the survivors and victims of those incidents, but it puts the power of a sociopath with a gun (and the know-how to make a bomb or two) in a startling and palpable perspective. To see people walking the streets of Oslo with blood running down the sides of their heads and bodies of young men and women not even old enough to drink is horrifying. Its both shocking and unexpected for a country like Norway to be struck by such a sudden act of terrorism and mass-murder.
Its too much to bear, and it is certainly horrifying that this man can claim his gaming habits as preparation for his unforgivable act of violence. This claim will fuel the arguments of Thompson, Leiberman, and Clinton alike. And none of them will see that his political motivations were probably his major drive. A man was so openly defiant of his government that he bombed a government building; injuring and killing many innocent people, and then disguised himself as a police officer to gun down people who aren't even old enough to drink in this country. So what then, does that say about any political extremism? It makes it seem like any protest in any country, against any form of government is just a meek, cowardly act of barking at the end of one's chain. But once that chain breaks, it becomes the worst tragedies of this decade. Its sick. I apologize to the people of Oslo and the families of the youth slain at the island camp. I apologize for the stupid, narrow-minded generalizations that will spring up (especially in the US and UK) about a man who should just be hung from the neck until dead and then set on fire with no debates, trial, or imprisonment.

Patman_Forever_51 said...

This does NOT make the games "responsible" or in need of "control" or "banning;" but I DO think that the THEMATIC appeal of much of the miltiary-FPS genre's material to what we might've previously called the "Timothy McVeigh's" or "Turner Diaries" mindset - and what, if anything, could be done about it - is part of a discussion that's LONG overdue among gamers, game designers and the whole gaming community.

How dare you use this tragedy to grandstand your own ignorant view of the gaming industry. Go to hell, Bob. Go straight to hell.

MovieBob said...

@Patman_Forever_51

I was hoping I wouldn't get one of these, probably naive on my part. I went back and forth on whether or not to even get into the question of whether or not we ought to do some inward-looking and soul-searching over this regarding what - if anything - makes an otherwise innocuous game or genre of games "attractive" to a guy like this; because I "get" that there's a perception that I "hate" the FPS genre and that as such there was a chance for accusations like the one you've made to take over the discussion.

I went ahead with it because I think the discussion is more important than my annoyance at having impure motives erroneously ascribed to me; but forgive me if I hope that this thread can remain largely respectful and on-topic - the important thing is what's happened in Norway, the thing of DISTANT secondary importance is how the gaming community responds both to the broader culture and also to itself to having a real-life mass-murderer declare a game to be his "training-simulator." Whatever gripe you may think you have with me oughtn't even register, frankly.

Nathan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nathan said...

@Patman_Forever_51:

everyone is allowed an opinion and for the record Bob really didn't pull this "games don't make killers" out of nowhere, especially not to sell his own agenda. Countless other media right now is jumping on the bandwagon of looking for a scape goat. This blame game of anyone but the perpetrator: and it's really a shame that are so very few saying that it's false...

More of us need to stand against this ignorance like the people who stood against book burnings.

p.s: and as a point of irony they told those people to "go to hell" too.

Ralphael said...

@MovieBob

"What is it about this genre of games that's so appealing to these particular people, and do we maybe want to think about ways that may perhaps simultaneously make the genre BETTER and make it less-appealing to them?"

Well, ill be surprised if we do, but unfortunately I believe there is no hope for the FPS genre as of now with Call of Duty titles outselling BioShock titles.

I remember you saying something along the lines of "if it sells its going to get made" in one of your resident evil 5 over thinker videos, and I think its the same in this case.

I believe that like movies, books, etc. there will always be games that appeals to the audience with the low attention span.



While I do have your attention, I wanted to apologize for my past accusations of you being someone who didn't care about what your fans who disagree with you had to say. That "fuel for killing sprees" I mentioned earlier has been building up on me lately and I've cowardly blown my steam off on your blog by calling you names. I know that sounds like a shitty excuse, because it is, but I'm hoping it can be at least an explanation.



And if I may ask you one more yes or no question...... I've heard you call games "just a toy" and "art form." Can a game be both? Does it have to be one or the other?

MovieBob said...

@Ralphael,

I believe that games are toys, and that being a toy in no way excludes something from being an art form. I do not consider the word "toy" to be a perjorative, nor an indicator of a lack of worth.

21464cb6-9181-11e0-bedb-000bcdcb8a73 said...

I agree with Bob in that we need to have plenty of thought about this issue. There are a lot of vectors to take on this issue.

Firstly, one has to consider the increasing realism and cinematic graphical choices of current games. For example, most people didn't think Doom was responsible for Columbine, because you'd have to be pretty screwed up to link the zombie soldiers and Imps with cowering school children. Doom, and most violent games previous to Modern FPS have enough fantastical elements to differentiate themselves enough from reality.

But it's less of a stretch to link a game whose enemies are innocent, cowering, defenseless civilians who don't even fight back to serve some higher political purpose, to innocent, cowering, defenseless, civilians who don't fight back to serve some higher political purpose. And it would be intellectually dishonest to deny that link.

I'll say that of course the game itself is not responsible for this act of violence, although the inclusion of that kind of gameplay scenario is irresponsible itself.

This reminds me of Bob's previous video about the origins of D&D being from old tabletop wargames, in that those new to wargames heavily disliked the rampant militarism and instead replaced it with fanciful, Tolkien-esque tales of mystical warriors. These kinds of events and a growing distaste of militarism make me believe a similar event to occur soon.

Of course I must end by saying that I do not say the game is responsible and I don't think we should be rounding up violent game makers (Although a self-imposed 3 year moratorium might result in some more creativity on the gamer's side.) but just saying that this requires deeper thinking and less reactionary defense doesn't lump me in with the censors. We can't reflexively say games aren't in any way responsible, because if we do, we are the same as our opponents, who reflexively say games are responsible, always and forever.

MovieBob said...

@ 21464cb6-9181-11e0-bedb-000bcdcb8a73,

FWIW, I feel completely comfortable saying that games are not in any way RESPONSIBLE. "Responsible" is a big word with a very specific meaning that I do not see as applying here.

The questions I'm more interested in asking are: What draws THIS sort of guy to OUR hobby/culture? What, if anything, could we be doing to make them LESS welcome? If so, why aren't we doing it? That sort of thing.

Dzonatan said...

To put it in most short and simple version:

That terrorist is trying to drag whatever he can down with him

Kindberg said...

Brevik is also a fan of two political figures from Denmark, who both is right-winged (as right-winged you get in a carebear country like denmark).

I think he likes the two people, because they appear as two strong men, whews belief is unrockable.

Just like a Modern Warfare also might attract people like Brevik, then he is also attracted to politicians.

It makes "sence" that Brevik is attracted to the two politicians, because of their beliefs, and it makes "sence" that Brevik is attracted to Modern Warfare.

piesandwich said...

I just had a conversation with my friend who lives in Norway, and it turns out we both used to play World of Warcraft with this guy on the Nordrassil sever. She looked back over her screen shots of the time and she has pictures of us all raiding together with him. When we realised this was the case, we both felt quite ill. I know this is quite an insignificant little link to a terrible man, but it severed as a reminder to me that you have no idea who it is you’re playing with online. You have less of the social tells (e.g. body language etc) that give you warning a person might be a little bit unhinged. >.< creepy. Mind you I suppose the people who knew him in real life might not have realised either.

Jensev said...

Firstly, my condolences to all the victims and their families and the whole of Norway. I seriously hope this will never happen in The Netherlands, seeing that we here have one of those right winged nationalist parties in the parliament and they are quite popular.

I suspect that they man figured that if he went down, he might as well take something his party stands against with him.
Everyone knows that shooting a gun in a game has no relations to the workings of an actual gun, and COD is a pretty crappy military training simulation for actual warfare.
Also the mention of WoW seems really strange, since that game is about as far removed from what happened as can be.

I simply suspect that the man took 2 games that he heard of and that are popular and simply tried to take them down with him.

He's an irrational hateful lunatic and the only reason I can imagine why he named games, is because either he thinks he can shift the blame from himself onto the games or because the media have been very eager to jump on games and he figured they might forget about him and focus on games if he said that.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

No, of course it's not the easy scapegoat that you affiliate with, Bob. It's the other easy scapegoat that made him do it.

I took heat for calling you a bigot toward Christianity before, but it's pretty fucking inescapable at this point. There is exactly the same amount of evidence to suggest that his religion had anything to do with it as there is for his hobbies... absolutely none.

To point the finger at Christianity so quickly, you are just as bad as the people pointing the finger at gaming.

Andrew said...

@TheAlmightyNarf

But. . . bob didn't do that. He pointed out that this man had heavy christian fundamentalist leanings. You do understand the difference between Christianity and Christian Fundamentalism, right? They are not one in the same, and in many aspects are quite polar opposites.

Illessa said...

@maxxedout there won't be any medical bills - Norway has a really robust healthcare system (Scandinavian countries in general are well-known for their hefty taxation but fantastic public services in return http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nordic_model).

I sent some cash to the Red Cross in Norway as it's always a safe bet http://www.rodekors.no/red-cross-in-english/

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Andrew

That's even more suspect, though. They guy called himself a "christian" and a "conservative" in the same way he called himself as "WoW player" and a "CoD player". The guy was clearly setting up easy scapegoats that he could pin it on at trial.

Bob admits that virtually nothing is known concretely about Breivik, but jumps to assume his religion played the strongest role. And regardless of whether his religion was Christianity, Fundamentalist Christianity, Islam, Hindu, or Pastafarianism, that's a complementary unfounded assumption to make.

Sylocat said...

@antecedentless: And I'll leave this here.

@Narf: MovieBob mentioned Christianity ONCE, in ONE paragraph in this entire post. He explicitly states that gun/paramilitary subcultures have a much stronger association with this stuff. Which is demonstrably true.

Does "Christian" equate with "right-wing" to you? Is that why you Jump To Conclusions™ and assume that Bob and the rest of us are bashing Christianity, when Christianity is not mentioned?

TheAlmightyNarf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
theUncommon said...

I agree with you Bob.

Playing violent video games doesn't mean you're a gun crazed killer.
But a gun crazed killer is likely to play violent video games.

If someone actually is affected by a violent video game to the point of murder then the game would at most be the trigger, not the cause.

My heart goes out to those effected by this horrible tragedy.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ sylocat

To quote Bob exactly:

"Namely, that even if one was to try and affix blame for Breivik's actions upon external stimuli; it would seem readily apparent that his political-philosophy and religious views were MUCH more influential than his gaming hobbies."

So much as Bob blames anything, he blames religion. Yes, he blamed politics too, but frankly, that's just a scapegoat too (simply one I'm less inclined to argue about).

Antiochus said...

Im sad to admit that I am almost as sad about some of the reaction to this tragedy. A depressing amount of people actually defend what this man did, or at least the reason he did it, as a logical act in the face of multiculturalism, which they define as a modern form of social dictatorship.

People have been slaughtered, many of which children, and yet some people are so blinded by their hate that they will see this as collateral damage in the broader fight against immigration. A sad day for humanity on so many different levels.

Patman_Forever_51 said...

@MovieBob

I made that post late at night after work. I was angry, and I apologize, because I was going to come up with a more mature response the next day, and I just wanted to get my general feelings down. Once again, I apologize for it.

That being said, it doesn't change my feelings about how you twisted this situation so you can trumpet the "correct" side. I am well aware that the lives that have been lost in this tragedy are the most important thing that should be kept in mind. I was sickened by after several great paragraphs of treating this situation with the respect it deserves, you would turn it around into a discussion about what YOU perceive to be a negative theme among the gaming industry, essentially preaching that we ALL are in need of soul searching just because of this tragedy. Why you would choose to do this, when you have written posts on your other blog that treat similar situations with a far greater amount of consideration than you have chosen to designate this one absolutely mystifies me. I am angry not because you are a so-called “hater” of a certain genre, but because you seem to be using this tragedy so you can bash the so-called “gun worship” of the gaming industry. I am actually surprised that the point of that post I made earlier has gone completely over your head.

You may make whatever overly flowery response you wish to make from this. What I want made clear is that what you have done is disgusting and I will not be following your work any longer. I've disagreed not with your opinions, but the manner in which you voice those opinions, several times in the past. This blog post was the last straw and I cannot be a fan any longer.

Enjoy your discussion.

Mads said...

@ maxxedout

Norway is on a government run single-payer healthcare system. In other words, you can't contribute to the health care bills of the victims, because they're already paid for.

Similarly, you can't really donate to cleanup, because it's being taken care of by heimevernet(all-volunteer paramilitary organisation sponsored by the government, kindof like a militia), the military police, and probably civilian contractors soon. It's likely that most of the victims had life insurance coverage too. The Norwegian government may very well commit to a relief fund for survivors and loved ones, since this happening was partly a failing on the part of counter intelligence.

It's one of the upshots of a nanny-state; your donation would be better spent elsewhere, because it probably won't make much of a difference in this case.

This isn't a case of me grandstanding on behalf of nanny-states, btw - it's just relaying the facts. It's being taken care of.

antecedentless said...

@Andrew
>You do understand the difference between Christianity and Christian Fundamentalism, right?

The founding fathers and many underground railroad members of the 19th century would probably be considered Fundamentalist Christrians today. Probably all of the african american churches of the 1940's-1960's would be considered fundamentalists.

The difference typically made between "Christains" and "Christian Fundmentalist" is that one group believe God preserved His Word among men, while the other does not. Guess which is which.

jojjo said...

TAN/
Would you say Al-Qaida or Hamas "call" themselves Muslim? Would you say the Rote Armee Fraction "calld" themselves Marxist? Would you say the Unabomber only "calls" himself a Primitivist Anarchist? Or how about the Lord's Resistance Army (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord%27s_Resistance_Army), do they only "call" themselves Christians. I'm not trying to be offensive, but this so extremely common and so extremely tiring: Muslim fanatics are called Muslim fanatics, Marxist fanatics are called Marxist fanatics, Nazis are called Nazis and so on; but Christian fanatics are (often) simply called lone nuts. Remember the Yugoslav Wars; where the Muslim (mainly Bosniak) militia was called Muslim, while the Catholic militia was called Croat, even though it included other peoples (mainly Slovens).

Bottom line: Anders Breivik is a Christian, a Nationalist AND a madman; together these tings explain what he did; the fact that he also is a gamer does not explain anything.

Mads said...

@Patman

If this was a climate change blog, and the terrorism was perpetrated by an eco-terrorist, Bob would write about.

It's a gaming blog, and there's a link to gaming in the terrorists statements.

What was he supposed to do?, what reaction did you want? Because what he wrote in the beginning wasn't related to gaming. It was off topic.

Gaming, in the grand scheme of things doesn't matter. It's an entertainment form; I doubt you can get much more meaningless. Terrorism, and dealing with it, is very meaningful. Yet I bet you've been a fan of moviebobs rather than any number of terrorism blogs.

For whatever reason, you care more about gaming than about terrorism, or at least, you care enough to read a blog on one even though the other is markedly more important.

If importance and gravity was what determined what blogs you frequented, you shouldn't be her in the first place.

You're here because you're interested in gaming, even though it's a fairly useless subject. So, please. Don't feint surprise or offense if bob covers a very minor gaming angle on a seriour piece of news; that's _what he does_.

@Bob and the discussion:

I'm a scandinavian citizen; this is close to home for me. Here's the thing: Our society is generally very loosely policed. Someone intelligent and willful could commit this kind of attrocity anywhere in scandinavia.

Every scandinavian country has a national militia of volunteers that are taught how to use firearms, if they so desire. It's unpaid service, and you need to be active for a certain number of hours, but the people active are generally well meaning patriots or gun nuts. Nearly anyone can sign up. They can then proceed to take home a rifle or other firearm, like a light machine gun. You have to sign papers saying you have a gun cabinet, and it's illegal to own ammunition for it, but most weapons use nato rounds, and civilian equivalents are available in hunting stores.

Then you modify it using videos from youtube, so it's fully automatic.

I believe similar restrictions or looser are in place in Norway and Sweden. In a sense, the gun control laws in Denmark are weaker than in the US, because even though all this is illegal, it's easy to do. You just need to know how, and be willing to do it.

10 or 20 years ago, this man would have merely been a psychopath, and perhaps an occasional criminal. He would still have had access to the weapon. He likely has a high-school diploma, so he would have known how to make a fertilizer bomb. Probably the least obvious requirement was access to a large privately-owned piece of land with a barn, but he would have had that too.

But noone did this 10 or 20 years ago. Someone assasinated the swedish prime minister, Oluf Palme, yes, so the fringe elements of society were undoubtedly there...but they didn't bomb anything, or kill 100 people in an act of terrorism.

But this man, this terrorist, acted today, now. And you know why?

The Internet. It's the single largest polarizing entity ever known. People can communicate anonymously, so finally, these darker forces of society can rely on an impetus other than themselves to drive their madness.

Everything else, truthfully, is just circumstantial. His religion could just as well have been atheism, or even agnosticism, or any kind of funamentalism or extremism; all have perpetual haters of diversity and muslims. He wouldn't have needed gaming; he could've poured over maps, or partaken in many paintball games, to get a sense of the mechanics of warfare. He would not even have needed political affiliation; even a declared humanist or pacisfist could commit extreme acts of agression, if he believed it would ultimately be for the better, and he kept his extremist feelings more or less to himself.

But he _was_ polarized, and again, the internet is more polarizing than anything else, if you frequent the wrong circles.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ jojjo

Would you say Al-Qaida or Hamas "call" themselves Muslim?

I absolutely would. Their beliefs and actions have absolutely nothing in common with the teachings of Islam. Calling them "Muslim" or "Islamic" is completely inaccurate and I often call people out on it. Even calling them "Arabic" or "Middle Eastern" would be inaccurate since many of their members are North African and Persian. They're "terrorists", plain and simple... I don't think there needs to be any adjectives tied onto that.

The others I'm not familiar with, but I'm sure I would think the same.

Bottom line: Anders Breivik is a Christian, a Nationalist AND a madman; together these tings explain what he did; the fact that he also is a gamer does not explain anything.

He's a lunatic, and whatever rationalizations he used to justify what he did were entirely incidental and irrelevant.

jojjo said...

Mads/
You are probably quite right, the internet is an incredibly powerful tool that allows madmen to organize and encourage each other in unprecedented ways. Still, being a history geek I feel it's my obligation to point out the big picture in these days of darkness, and try to prevent unnecessary despair wherever I can.

Less 150 years ago murder was a nearly weekly occurrence in any city with more than 10 000 inhabitants, and knife fighting a monthly one in most villages. Earlier then that minorities and freethinkers where systematically purged in almost every nation of the world; and millions perished in dynastic or religious wars that makes the Vietnam war look relatively civilized. The general trend is a positive one, towards tolerance, wealth and peace; it's just so very, very slow.

jojjo said...

"Their beliefs and actions have absolutely nothing in common with the teachings of Islam."

It has everything in common with many teachings of Islam; nothing in common with many others. Heard of the concept of Dar al-Harb?

"He's a lunatic, and whatever rationalizations he used to justify what he did were entirely incidental and irrelevant."

A simple lunatic or psychopath can never do as much harm as one who is guided by a higher cause. To give an extreme example: the holocaust was not perpetrated by mere brutes but by something infinitely worse: relatively normal people, some mad and some rational, some bloodthirsty and some kind, who all thought they where saving humanity and doing God's work by slaughtering millions. Ideas are NOT irrelevant, they guide us and inform everything we do; in this case, with a lone mass murderer, they are less relevant then with a larger group of people, but they are still relevant.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ jojjo

"It has everything in common with many teachings of Islam; nothing in common with many others. Heard of the concept of Dar al-Harb?"

After doing a bit of research is seems that most Muslim leaders world wide consider "Dar al-Harb" heretical. I'm not especially familiar with the Qur'an, so I don't know that it is or isn't.

So, we have an issue of definition here... is "Dar al-Harb" a legitimate Islamic teaching simply because it claims to be or does it have to correlate in some way with the teachings of the Qur'an or be excepted by the majority of Muslims? If it's the former, than the term "Islam" has no meaning because anyone could call anything Islamic. If it's the later than, "Dar al-Harb" does not qualify as an Islamic teaching.

"A simple lunatic or psychopath can never do as much harm as one who is guided by a higher cause."

That problem is that you're assuming that the "motive" and the "higher cause" have anything to do with each other. Frankly, more often then not they don't. The holocaust is a great example of this... many were bitter at Jews for not suffering as much economically as they were after WWI and at the rest of the world for causing that... Hitler simply gave them the rationalization for what they wanted to do anyway (bit of a note here: while I don't think it's entirely accurate to call Nazi Germany "atheistic" as they for the most part treated Hitler like a deity, they certainly didn't care about "doing God's work"). That's just how the human brain works... we decided what we want to do and rationalize it after. The "higher cause" isn't the motive... it's just the rationalization that lets them do what they want to do anyway.

Humans are far more guided by simple subconscious biological instincts and drives then I think most of us would like to admit, and "ideas" and "causes" are nothing more than how we make sense of that.

Mads said...

jojjo

Oh I agree completely. I'm far from a luddite, and I believe the long-time consequences are a good. I'm not a historian(but I can tell your evidence supports your thesis and you're undoubtedly right), so my reasons are driven by my own perceptions, and my understanding of complicated systems.

The underlying problem of current day polarization isn't the internet; it's that the free exchange of information, rapid reduction of privacy, and ability to connect for people with fringe beliefs with others of like mind, taken together, has had a polarizing effect on our society as it currently stands.

The internet itself is perhaps just a side-effect of technological discoveries in hyper-efficient information dispersal, that would have caused those very same effects even without a global, unified network. What I'm saying is, we've figured out how to communicate, as a society, in a manner disparate from how we previously did it. Saying the internet cause the polarization is easy to grasp, and I stand by the statement, but it's just the easiest to grasp face of a much deeper root issue.

I think society as a whole learned to "hide" the grim underbelly of the various political and militant mechanisms beneath ideological perceptions. I think we did this "learning" as our democracy rose to our current level of equality and freedom. But now, I think those underlying mechanisms are coming to light, and a lot of people cling to the older ideological perceptions.

In a sense, if you were a hyper-comitted ideologue, the world as it is has been revealed to be very different from what you used to believe it was. Some people want the world to change back, because they sense the incongruency between what they see and what they believed in, whereas others accept that perhaps things were never quite what they seemed.

But there is no longer a need, or even a base, for most ideological perceptions to stand on any more. With massive and rapid information dispersal, counter examples are provided. People growing up should get far more nuanced views within the next 100 or so years.

For now, the incongruency between ideology and our hightened perception forces us to take sides; would we rather cling to ideology, and accept a world where our reality is twisted and, to a degree, confusing and inconsistent and try to perfect it according to the older metrics, or do we ease out of our previous ideological underpinings as they prove insensible?

Nomatter what you do, you are forced to feel much more strongly about it than you did yesterday: Either by rejecting your ideology or by building a mental wall in your mind, deciding noone can convince you that you're wrong.

One example of what I'm talking about, in relation to the gap between ideology and reality:
The US Congress currently has massive debt ceiling negotiations. One party wants to default on the national debt if they're not given what they want, the other party is willing to risk defaulting on the debt to avoid giving concessions, perceiving that they should be equally interested in avoiding a default. How does that measure up to the system of checks and balances all american school children are taught is the foundation of their democracy?

Mads said...

@ Narf
I agree in so far as the reasons a terrorist gives are only ever coincidentally the actual reasons. But I believe every terrorist is deeply rational, and with a massive breach of perception. Terrorism takes immense conviction. It likely appears rational to the terrorist, but irrational to us. As such, the reasons of the terrorist may not be interesting (seeing as they're likely unfounded), but they're there all the same.

Al Qaeda claims they did what they did to decrease american influence in saudi arabia. I'm not sure if that's the exact reason, but I know it happened, and I know al qaeda caused it, and I know they very much wanted it. That motive is better than any other I've heard, though many individuals probably weren't acutely aware of it.

So terrorists have reasons. They're always ideological, and nearly always political, because terrorism itself has no effect other than scaring the shit out of people without making any real distinctions on an individual level. The end game of any terrorist is always some abstract effect, like a prevention of something that could occurr if they didn't commit terrorism. Very rarely is there a direct causal link to anything, it's always concerned with manipulating people.

I say nearly always political, because usually, it's about power and control of a people. In this case, the motive is overtly political because of the targets; a political youth congress and the PM's office.

This is not columbine, and not cal tech. Those were tragic, horrible mass murders. I doubt you could call them terrorism.

In this case, it is fair to assume his motive was political (but not that it was necessarily in any way correlated with his political affiliates). He says his motive was religious. Not because he was christian, but because he really did not like muslims. Just as the holocaust was religious, while not perpetrated because people were christian, but rather because they were anti-semites.

That makes this act at least political, and also possibly religious, even if it was fueled neither by politicians or piety. I hope you'll forgive me and bob if we consider these things to be of possible concequence and import, while we dismiss the impact call of duty may have had as probably much inferior.

I still believe it was coincidence the terrorist had this exact permutation, but I don't think his ideologies should be allowed to go free; if someone influenced him to go down this path, they're not entirely blameless.
In the same vein, I also think we may want to reexamine hyperrealistic shooters, but the ties are much less overt, if they're there at all. If he claimed he was living out one of those shooters and it appeared that's what he did, I would call it an overt link, but that's not the case here. The facts point towards religious discrimination and politics.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Mads

I started to get at in my last post and might as well elaborate on here: I believe that humans are very much so creatures of their biology and as such all human motivating is inherently biological in nature. Everything we do has some sort of primal instinct behind it, and you can only begin to understand how something was motivated by starting there.

Fortunately, just about every example given on this topic all comes from the same subconscious drive... "That other tribe is threatening our tribe! We have to stop them!"

Whatever he thought his "tribe" to be or what he thought the threatening "tribe" to be is irrelevant. He felt endangered and acted out against it. His ideologies and beliefs did nothing other than to help him rationalize acting out on his biological instincts.

KaiserWarrior said...

@Bob:
"whether or not we ought to do some inward-looking and soul-searching over this regarding what - if anything - makes an otherwise innocuous game or genre of games "attractive" to a guy like this"

There's really no soul-searching to do, Bob. Realistic gun simulators are popular with gun nuts. This is as obvious and as much of a non-factor as the fact that realistic sports simulators are popular with sports nuts.

People like games that are about things they like. Simple as that, no soul-searching required.

Antonio Black said...

To be a realistic as possible here: SOCIOPATHS EXIST. For as long as recorded history has existed, there has always been accounts of people being mentally unstable and finally sounding the alarm by causing terrible tragedies.
And when the dust settles people need to find reason and rationale in such actions. Ninety-nine percent of the time, there isn't a rational reason for any of it.
And I'm not saying no one in the world lacks the potential to instigate an act this horrific or more so. Hell, even sane people have lost all sense of reason once the last straw has passed. Perfect example: postal workers. In the grand scheme of things; arguing about his reasons for committing the crime is ridiculous. If he found a way to do it, if he reached into himself to kill and destroy on this kind of level: he just needs to hang. The only people that should worry about the finer details are future historians and tactless writers willing to publish books about in the years to come.

jojjo said...

Mads/
My comment wasn't aimed at you specifically, and I didn't mean to imply that you were a Luddite; sloppiness on my part. Interesting points over all.

TAN/
Good points as well, and I generally agree with what you say about biology. However Ideas are still what fuels and drives us, that's how our biology works; to just call someone mad or evil doesn't explain much. Of course murderers like this ARE evil madmen, sometimes that's all there is to it, but often there is more.

Yes Dar al-Harb is considered heretical by many Muslim scholars and there is no direct reference to it in the Quran, but many other scholars (not random nuts: scholars) think of it as a valid concept since Muhammad does call for the spread of Islam by peace and by war. The exact same thing can be said of the view of Jesus and God as one and the same: most Christian consider it heretical and there is no direct reference to it in the Bible: does that mean Miaphysitists (almost all of the eastern churches), who believe that, are not Christians?

I agree that it's important to keep definitions clear, but Muhammad was a warlord and he does call for holy war; he also calls for love, compassion, justice and tolerance. I applaud people who focus on the positive aspects of their beliefs, but calling those who focus on the negative aspects liars has no more bearing then when they call you a liar, as long as they actually have a textual basis for there claim.

I should clarify that saying Islam or Christianity is responsible for something does NOT imply that Muslims or Christians in general are responsible in any way, and that I think Christianity played a very minor role in this particular case.

smile said...

It's such a no-brainer that video games were NOT the driving force behind the Olso shooter's motivations or beliefs so why even vindicate the groups against video games by humouring this argument?

I'd rather read your thoughts on Capcom's recent direction, the shooter can go rot.

Mads said...

@Narf

"That other tribe is threatening our tribe! We have to stop them!"

Whatever he thought his "tribe" to be or what he thought the threatening "tribe" to be is irrelevant. He felt endangered and acted out against it. His ideologies and beliefs did nothing other than to help him rationalize acting out on his biological instincts.

I disagree. I'll try to use a counter example, and hopefully you'll see why.

Hate crimes are a type of crime where you convict criminals harder than their actions would normally indicate. This is in order to insure all are equally safe; if not all are equally safe, minority tensions would be likely to rise, and you'd get ghettorisation and fragmentation, and perhaps a stiffling effect on social mobility.

In other words, if you feel like "the other tribe" is, say, jewish people, and you feel like "your tribe" is caucasian people, and you commit crimes acting out some sort of defense against semites, this gets punished particularly hard.
If you feel like the other tribe is the jocks from your high school, and you act out a revenge fantasy against them, we do not punish that nearly as hard. Well, assuming we're talking about beatings, this is certainly the case.

So, according to criminal law, his motivation, beyond his biology, definitely has a bearing on the damage done. So it matters, and it's worth mentioning for that alone, but does it also have a bearing on the fact that he did it? Could his ideology have helped motivate him, such that he wouldn't have done it if he hadn't been influenced by it?

I don't think you can exempt whatever ideologies helped polarize him carte blanche. If someone told him directly, you should commit terrorism, then that makes them partially guilty under the law, for example. So what if someone did it indirectly, without meaning to? We'd usually exempt such a person.

But I don't think it's clear cut. If he was a member of a radical group of neo-nazi's, surely you cannot think they didn't have any effect on him. That's a political group.

At the end of the day, yes, we are biological creatures, but I don't see how that exempts beliefs and ideologies? you've posited it several times now, narf, but I just don't see how being partially driven by instinct completely exempts anything and everything that may have impacted us that _isn't_ biological? It seems like a non-sequitur?

Aqua said...

Oh Bob you silly little man, when are you going to learn to stop showing you care about something much less something so serious? You know there's always the lurker lying in wait to snap at the obvious enticement you're offering them to push aside their decency and instead of making the situation better would rather sit here and bemoan you for one reason or another. You DO know this don't you? Or have you simply re-painted your flame shield with Inviso-Spray?

On that note, while religion is VERY often something the odd psychopath is somehow basing his actions off, (And if Christians would STOP ALTERING THE BIBLE EVERY YEAR, this might change) I don't honestly believe he'd grounded this entirely on that. I'm not going to say it was games either, but between the two I must draw a comparisn in that: Only one of them involves firing bullets.

On that note, while it's common sense to us that unless your war game is hypnotising you or controlling floating guns somewhere, it's not making you kill people nor can it. But Common Sense seems to be a lacking function in the masses these days, and it' pretty obvious which of the two is going to catch the broad side of this when the shit doth indeed hit the industrial-sized fan.

That aside, Narf? I believe Christianity has more things to worry about right now than a game blogger making a tiny slight at blaming this man's actions on his religion, if that was in fact even his intent when writing that phrase in the first place.

I'd like to presume Bob posted this as a heads up because he knows we're gamers watching here. We know, as Some Sweedish Guy said, the shit storm is coming. Why don't we work on gathering our collective forces to handle this, instead of raising a stink at each other over petty little shit. This is not a time for debate, it is a time for action.

Joe said...

If anything, the situation suggests Brevik was mostly motivated by his (extreme fringe) politics. He targeted a political party and people--children!--associated with it, not mosques and Muslims.

But sorry guys, you can't play "No True Scotsman". There's no such thing as a religious fundamentalist, because any large, old, established belief system like Christianity or Islam has accumulated so much contradictory theology and gone through so many schisms there is no consensus which is the "correct" one. If there was, there would have been a lot fewer sectarian conflicts throughout history.

A "fundamentalist" in the modern parlance is just someone who emphasizes the parts of their scripture and tradition that demonizes the "other" (and they all have examples of it) while downplaying or neglecting the charitable aspects of their faith. They use their faith to justify their personal prejudices. Meanwhile a "liberal", "moderate" or "mainstream" member of a religion is someone who emphasizes their faith's version of the Golden Rule (which they all recognize) and tries to brush over or make excuses for the "death to the unbelievers" traditions in their religion.

Mild and Creamy said...

interesting. Although I would say politics and or religion would be more to blame than games.

Politics and religion provide the justification and framework for the violent behaviour. They provide an intellectual basis for the horrid actions. Some times removing the humanity from other people.

Video games don't provide any justification for the behaviour. No one would claim that MW2 provides an intellectually basis for any actions in the real world.

People who want to do violence are drawn to games like MW2 because it allows them to play out fantasies they already have, the game does not provide the fantasies on which to base the behaviour.

Just as Harry Potter does not provide a basis to believe in magic, but those that believe in magic or are inclined to or fantasies about magic might enjoy reading the books, watching the films or play the games.

Introspection and questioning is fine and all part of being a considerate human being but you have to address where the justification is coming from.

Games, like any fiction, do not seek to justify any real world actions. If they did there should be a lot more plumbers out there with moustaches

TheAlmightyNarf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Joe

But sorry guys, you can't play "No True Scotsman"."

If I were to say I was an "atheist" but believed in the existence of God anyway, would I not be a "true atheist"? Of course not... "atheism" means something specific and there's absolutely nothing atheistic about believing in God. In the same way, "Christianity" means something specific. We can debate exactly what it means, but it does mean something.

After all, if anyone could call themselves a Christian regardless of what they believed, and the word was little more than a empty adjective, why even bother mention it?

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ jojjo

To put it simply... I don't know. To pin down exactly what constitutes the beliefs of a specific religion is pretty much imposable when the leaders of the religion itself can't do that. However, simply saying that a religion includes a certain belief doesn't make it so. A religion hasn't to mean something specific, otherwise it really doesn't mean anything at all.

Are the ideas of Islam broad enough the include hateful, violent acts? I don't know, as I'm not especially familiar with it, but I would like to think it isn't. Is Christianity broad enough to allow for hateful, violent acts? I don't think so as that directly conflicts with the teachings of Jesus, and I don't see how Christianity could in any way conflict with the teachings of it's founder. But, I'm aware that's just my personal opinion.

So... yea, I don't know.

@ Mads

Behring Breivik, for whatever reason that we will likely never understand, felt threatened in some way by Norway's Labour Party, so he latched onto an ideology that in his mind justified what he already wanted to do. He could just as easily have latched onto any ideology he thought would do that (and considering it's a given that he was insane, that ideology really didn't need to in any way correlate with what he wanted to do).

"If someone told him directly, you should commit terrorism, then that makes them partially guilty under the law, for example. So what if someone did it indirectly, without meaning to? We'd usually exempt such a person."

Perhaps. But, I doubt someone could be talked into going on a murder spree without already having a strong inclination toward doing that.

"If he was a member of a radical group of neo-nazi's, surely you cannot think they didn't have any effect on him. That's a political group."

Do you think some one would join a Neo-Nazi group with out already having pretty strong motivations? Sure, such a group may push them further than they might have gone on their own, but that's more an issue of peer-pressure than whatever the ideology behind it is.

Dave said...

Bob, I agree with you entirely here. But, perhaps the simplest and most receptive (not to mention scientifically "proper") way of putting it is as follows:

"While there may indeed be a correlation between violence in military FPS videogames and these sorts of events, 'correlation' DOES NOT equal 'causation'."

And then I'd probably add in a bit about how these individuals were clearly off their rocker to begin with - unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality - and their own mental instability perhaps is not only a greater correlating factor but also a causal factor in their actions, which violent videogames - in it of themselves - cannot (nor should they attempt to) take responsibility for.

Please just remember to take this into account if/when you decide to make a video regarding this discussion. :)

I'd like to give my deepest condolences to those most directly affected by the massacre, and will do all I can to contact my European relatives and see if they can give blood (I'm unsure if I can from overseas, vis-a-vis if there are any issues transporting blood that far and keeping it fresh as possible, but I will check immediately).

TheAmazingWeasleman said...

@ Alot of the people who've been going off about the pseudo-religo-political underpinnings and Bob's feelings/opinions about all this.

I beleive we are losing sight of the point. The whys, whens, wheres, hows, its all heresay and when examined from an objective standpoint rather moot. The bottom line is that he -ENDED- pure, innocent lives for what are, I would -hope-, obviously fouly skewed reasons. Bob using this to "geton up on his soapbax" about what we can/could/should do about the inevitable shit storm and beyond is the POINT of his blog (and other numerous mediums). He has stated it before, and most likely have to do it again in the future, this is -his opinion- show. He isnt a newscaster, or an anchor man, he is a geek webceleb. If he had just talked about the incident, as horrendous as it is, without adding in his veiws this would've been a rather out of place post. Not to change topic, but this is the problem with the internet, people (pardon the puns) over- or anti- thinking about peoples opinions and then loosing uneeded angry pseudointellectual counterpoints, or angry flame respectivly. Bobs mentioned before he appreciates all feedback, negative or positive, but this topic I think is alittle more important then nitpicking about this monster's influences.

Also, in the time writing this, I've had time to think about this "self-reflection" that you all seem to have very mixed feelings about. Let me try and work something out of Bob's logic (and bigman, if you feel like I'm wrong and being arrogant, by all means call me out). Its not that the FPS genre has a problem (besides the Brown epidemic) in and of itself. It is the fact that the monsters and madmen who have cited them as "training material" or "inspiration" or what-have-you -are- just the kind of person who get into the nasty and truely violent underpinnings of FPSs. Shake whatever excuse you want, the bottom line is that the majority FPSs are based in the idea of the bloodshed and neobarbarism of our time. Its a needed shade of grey that has colored not only gaming but the human race since the advent of armyman action figures and the BB gun. All Bob was saying (I surmise) was that we should sit down as a subculture and find out if we can do anything to prevent such conections in the future. The sad truth is, agree or disagree, and I'm sorry Bob but you arnt going to like this . . . there really ISNT anything we can do. Humans are a violent bunch, and wrap whatever package on it you want, every gamer at some point finds the prospect of killing digital badies a grand-old time. That being the case, the door to the blurred reality that leads to such attrocities will always be open. Its a "HARD TRUTH" but its one that we should all come to terms with and as Some Swedish Guy said way at the top of these comments . . . we better just invest in alot of raincoats and umbrellas people. The sleeping shitstorm of "games as a corrupting influence" is never going away, no matter how hard we fight . . . sorry.

jojjo said...

TAN/
"I don't know"
Good answer; in fact the only answer anyone can give right now, I don't know ether. I'not saying this was all Christianity's fault, far from it, but I think you are making it a bit too easy for yourself by just dismissing any notion that religion could inspire violence. History is full of atrocities of many kinds, meany of the worst has been religiously motivated.

As for what's a true Christian, I do agree that one has to believe in certain tings, for example that Jesus is the messiah (God, son of God or both) and the Bible is his word, to call oneself that. Trouble is, the New Testament is not as rosy a you make it out to be. How about Luke 19:27 (kill all
unbelievers), or Luke 14:26 (hate all non Christians)? How about the fact that all the horrible laws of the Old Testament are condoned by Jesus in Mathew 5:19 and 5:17 among other places?

counterpoint said...

looking through these comments, i am happy with the number of people that seem to be willing to have a real discussion about this. however, its also frightening that some people are jumping on you over this, accusing you of scapegoating, "explaining" the difference between correlation and causation despite you being so clear about it, and telling you to go to hell.

I am largely disappointed in the lack of critical thinking skills in the gaming community. perhaps your post was TL:DR for some, but that shouldn't justify totally missing your point.

Scary that some gamers are so "knee-jerk" in condemning the ignorant critics from outside that attack the medium, that they've become so apt to jump on other gamers who are obviously not ignorant about such things.

in short, you're right, bob, and its troubling that such is not obvious to everybody else.

my sympathies for Oslo and the families of the victims.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ jojjo

"History is full of atrocities of many kinds, meany of the worst has been religiously motivated."

Humans have been committing atrocities against each other since before religion, before politics, before ideologies... before we even had spoken language.

"Luke 19:27 (kill all
unbelievers)"


Wow, did you ever take that verse out of context. That line was spoken by a character in a parable (Luke 19:11-27). I suppose that could be inferred, but it's really a stretch.

"Luke 14:26 (hate all non Christians)"

Yea, that verse loses a bit in translation and I really don't think that's what it's trying to say. I think the Amplified Bible does it better justice:

If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his [own] father and mother [in the sense of indifference to or relative disregard for them in comparison with his attitude toward God] and [likewise] his wife and children and brothers and sisters--[yes] and even his own life also--he cannot be My disciple.
Luke 14:26

"How about the fact that all the horrible laws of the Old Testament are condoned by Jesus in Mathew 5:19 and 5:17 among other places?"

I have always been of the opinion that while the word of God is perfect, the transcriptions of man are not. I personally don't believe that the law as seen in modern Leviticus was as God originally gave it. That it had been added to and modified over time. Seeing as I work for a Kosher caterer, I can tell you that's it's still being added to even today. This is something Jesus hints at a few times without ever overtly saying. Jesus does, however, overtly say what the law should be:

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:36-40

Mads said...

@ Narf
"
Behring Breivik, for whatever reason that we will likely never understand, felt threatened in some way by Norway's Labour Party, so he latched onto an ideology that in his mind justified what he already wanted to do.
"
But what if the reason we will likely never understand, as you put it, _was absolute belief in an ideology_ ? OR are you saying he already wanted to do it, for some other reason, but there's no way ideological belief was the one. It could be anything, _just not ideology_?

You suggested biology, tribesmanship and instinct, but you really have no more evidence to support that ideology couldn't be an underlying reason than that biology couldn't. I accept the tribesmanship idea, in a sense it can make sense - but how can you just blatantly exonerate one possible type of reason and no other?

If you have the evidence, _show it_. If it's just a theory, _say that_ and I'll try to provide counter examples, or if I can't I'll accept it.

It feels like you're dancing around the meat of the issue.

Look, so far, his manifest is 1500 pages, and they seem to be logically consistent and rationally laid out, even though they're inhuman and sick. A lot of thought and work went into it...and it's quite clearly meant to be the establishment of an ideology.

So why is it that the underlying reason cannot be a belief in his own words? Why is _that_ off the table whilst other reasons aren't?

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Madds

Well, I would readily admit this is just a theory. I would say just about anything regarding human physiology is just a theory.

Perhaps I didn't explain this well enough.. I don't think that ideologies could be motivating factor because I think all motivation comes from biological drives through the unconscious mind. Ideologies exist in the conscious mind serving only to remove cognitive dissonance. That's all. And as such, ideologies are entirely fungible.

maxxedout said...

@Illessa and Mads,
If I can't donate to the hospital bills directly, can I donate to the Norwegian national debt, which is no doubt increasing precipitously to cover this sweetness and light?

jojjo said...

TAN/
If ideology is entirely superficial then how come ALL suicidebombers are Muslims, how come Communists and Nazis are the only people in history to build massive concentration camps; how come, in short, the enormous differences we can see between different nations and epochs?

(Bible comments upcoming)

Ultima Black Mage said...

This issue has sprung up in Australia too. The Australian Christian Lobby wants to ban violent video games on this one even using the excuse that if they can stop something like this happening, even if the odds are a 1 event in 20 years happening, then it's worth it.

It's ridiculous in my opinion. We just started cheering that we are getting the adult rating (R18+) here and now this comes to make it sit on rocky ground. I guess it was a pipe dream.

As for Modern Warfare 2 being the training tool, I hate to say this but I believe it's possible. Look at the skippable mission, it kinda fits. I admit I hate the FPS genre games where I kill people instead of aliens or monsters but I feel maybe we should start looking at the military FPS genre and ask ourselves "Do we need realistic military FPS anymore?" and "Why do we like these games more then the same games but with non existant creatures?".

Events like this are gonna happen more and more, not the tradgedy but the video games are evil thing. But here's my question. Religon hates video games and he was highly religious right? So is it possible this was done just to make video games appear more destructive in the public eye? Think about it.

Mads said...

@ maxxedout
Well, you _could_, but Norway has build up so much national wealth that they could cease collecting taxes on income and trade tariffs and still be in the black in 10 years. I don't really see where or how you would do it; there's no organization for such a thing.

As part of norways national territory are some massive oilfields that the government are taxing, which explains the surplus.

You best bet would be the norwegian division of the red cross. I guess if you wanted to try and counteract the damage done by the terrorist to the political youth party, you could donate to that...but it's really hard to lend a hand since there are already plenty.

Not that norway is perfect; I'm sure you could donate to a lot of good causes, like organisations helping drug addicts and prostitutes turn their lives around...but this exact tragedy is just hard to help bandaid.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ jojjo

"If ideology is entirely superficial then how come ALL suicidebombers are Muslims,"

Does the term "kamikaze" mean anything to you? Looking at Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_attack) that sort of thing doesn't actually seem to be all that uncommon at all.

"how come Communists and Nazis are the only people in history to build massive concentration camps;"

The technology for mass execution really wasn't viable before they started doing it. That's not to say mass execution didn't happen before than, but the industrial revolution and the invention of bio-weapons were relatively recent.

"how come, in short, the enormous differences we can see between different nations and epochs?"

Technology, climate, environment, culture (as in local behavior and activities)... there are hundreds of potential variables.

Mads said...

@ Narf

Perhaps I didn't explain this well enough.. I don't think that ideologies could be motivating factor because I think all motivation comes from biological drives through the unconscious mind. Ideologies exist in the conscious mind serving only to remove cognitive dissonance. That's all. And as such, ideologies are entirely fungible.


I can find no fault with the logic, if I buy into the idea that all motivation comes from biological drives through the unconscious mind, and per extension, that ideologies cannot shape perceptions and affect the unconscious mind.

But that premise is false; provably false, in that, it is most definitely not the case for all humans. From a biological standpoint, a fact is a fact, nomatter what fungible ideology you have latched on to.

Only, people put different weight upon facts (and lies!) depending on what they already believe in:
http://arstechnica.com/media/news/2008/09/does-ideology-trump-facts-studies-say-it-often-does.ars

That's insensible. The democrats in the example should feel equally bad about the republican justice before and after finding out about erroneous facts. Instead, they chose to disregard facts that went against their ideology, and were polarized by the falsehood.

Quite clearly, by being presented with misinformation, so they knew nothing more after the misinformation was cleared up than before, but they had developed a greater antipathy towards the man.

So clearly, the lies they were told _had_ an effect on their oppinion, _even though they knew they were lies_.

I don't know how much more I can do to illustrate that humans can be manipulated by ideological means and messages? I mean, the studies were big. I think my logic is sound, otherwise I'd like you to show me where. I don't really think there's a lot of room for you to exonerate ideology per-default here :(

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Madds

What I think is fascinating is that I see that study and interpret it as supporting my theory.

In both cases the actual ideas behind the ideologies are irrelevant, just that they are ideologies. And like we established earlier, ideological groups can fill the unconscious role of a tribe. People will assume what their tribe tells them is true, and assume the worst about rival tribes for no other reason than that's what their biology tell them. A few thousand years ago human survival depended on the conformity of the tribe and the denial of rival tribes. This is just biology playing out.

That the study's subjects rejection truth in favor of what they want to believe I think shows that there was no conscious thought, and that this is a process happening entirely on the unconscious level.

Mads said...

"
What I think is fascinating is that I see that study and interpret it as supporting my theory.
"
The study has some broad implications. I don't doubt you can find many useful conclusions in it. It does support part of your general theory, but the specific part, (that the oslo terrorist wanted to commit an act of terrorism actually always wanted to do something like it (perhaps without knowing), and simply found a fungible ideology that was to his liking and used it to rationalize what he already wanted to do, meaning the ideology had zero impact) that's what I proclaim may very well not be the case, and is defintely not a universal truth in these matters.

"
In both cases the actual ideas behind the ideologies are irrelevant, just that they are ideologies. And like we established earlier, ideological groups can fill the unconscious role of a tribe. People will assume what their tribe tells them is true, and assume the worst about rival tribes for no other reason than that's what their biology tell them. A few thousand years ago human survival depended on the conformity of the tribe and the denial of rival tribes. This is just biology playing out.

That the study's subjects rejection truth in favor of what they want to believe I think shows that there was no conscious thought, and that this is a process happening entirely on the unconscious level.
"
I didn't argue that the subconscious level wasn't there. I argued that a persons ideology influences their subconscious perceptions. Call it what you want; maybe the democrats developed kinsmanship with fellow democrats, and scorned the republican justice merely because he was a republican. Fair enough, that's fungible.

But suppose the democratic top fed them lies. Their ideology would clearly become less fact-based, but they could be polarized by words and ideas (and those aren't biology now are they? =P).

So call it ideological tribesmanship all you want; if you subscribe to an ideology and are influenced by your tribe, they bear partial responsibility for polarizing you if they do that, and they _will_ make you feel things you didn't before; and that can make you do things you wouldn't have done otherwise.

If the lies are ingrained within the ideology itself, and you're slowly polarized by only being exposed gradually, then the ideology itself is also to blame. If it's a mistreatment of a particular ideology, the ideology is not to blame...except, it's mistreated form can be considered another ideology, which may then be to blame.

Blaming an ideology is obviously silly, you need to blame the practitioners who perpetuate it if it's dangerous; but to say that all ideologies are fungible is wrong, they don't all work the same, they don't appeal to the same people, and they don't change people in the same ways. Some lie, some don't, for example.

Dozi said...

I'd like to thank all of you for the support, I'm from Norway, and dont have a direct connection with anyone on the island at the time, but this has most certainly touched all of us in this little country.

that being said; not one paper in Norway has really gone in depth about this video game link thats been buzzing about, I dont think anyone here is thick enough to even bother blaming videogames for what is obviously the works of a deranged madman.

I see someone asking where to donate towards the hospital bills of the victims. this is Norway, theres no such thing as hospital bills ;) it will however most likely be possibvle to donate towards a memorial fund for the victims, but nothing is certain yet. as i guess most of you can understand we are still in the process of getting to grips with what happened, its been a week and not all of the victims parents have gotten definite news about their childrens conditions yet. At this moment I think there are still about 12 people unaccunted for.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Mads

"But suppose the democratic top fed them lies. Their ideology would clearly become less fact-based, but they could be polarized by words and ideas (and those aren't biology now are they? =P)."

Well, I don't see that "lies" are at all necessary to do that. A truth can be just as abused as a falsehood. And it's not the specific words or ideas themselves that polarize people, it's the vague unconscious fears that those ideas stir up that polarize people.

I don't think there's any question that people can influence each other, and that ideology can be used toward that end. But, it's the people doing that. The ideology is just a tool.

Of course after reading up on what is now known about the man, I don't think any of this has any relevance to Behring Breivik, though, as he doesn't seem to have been influenced by anything other than his own ego-mania.

"but to say that all ideologies are fungible is wrong, they don't all work the same, they don't appeal to the same people, and they don't change people in the same ways."

Well, yes, obviously a Nihilist and a Christian are looking for different things from an ideology. But, I don't think the "ideology" behind the ideology has anything to do with that, but has much more to do with the group of people associated with that ideology.

"Some lie, some don't, for example."

Given the study you posted... how would we know?

jojjo said...

TAN/
Sorry about the late reply; I'll try to keep it brief, and since I think this thread is a bit unwieldy already (and I've steered far enough off topic) this will be my final entry. Rest assured that I'll read your reply and will be happy to have another long OT debate at another time though :)

First on my Bible points:
Luke 19: I'll admit my summary was crude, but my point was simply that it is a possible interpretation. And since the words are spoken as a conclusion by the noble (God/Jesus, depending on how you view Jesus) I'd hardly call it a stretch to interpret it as if Jesus wants his enemies killed before him, even though the most straightforward interpretation of course is that God punish those who squanders his gifts.
Luke 14: Well, it still quite clearly implies sectarian isolation from nonbelievers and abandonment of all worthily aspirations (a common theme with Jesus, and how many Christians follow that)
Old Testament law: So when Jesus says something you disagree with (that OT still applies) i's corrupted text, but when he says something you agree with (that OT is not that important) i's genuine? Again, nothing I'd have any problem with if you didn't seem to imply that any other interpretation than yours would be non-Christian.

My other comment was a bit rushed and compressed so I'll clarify. With "all suicide bombers are Muslim" i meant "all suicide bombers today are Muslim"; however my point is not that Islam necessarily creates s-bombers or that s-bombers must necessarily be Muslim, so I hardly see how your answer matter (in this case or the concentration-camp case): these where just examples the people of a certain culture, religion and ideology acting wildly different than other people, with different cultures, religions and ideologies. You are the one who (at least seems to) makes an absolute claim: that our biology is the only important factor infoming our behavior (or at least that culture, religion and ideology are irrelevant), wheres I just think it is the most important factor. The examples simply served to point out that human behavior is not evenly/randomly spread across the world, which it should be if culture, religion and ideology where irrelevant. And yes, I see you mentioned culture as an explanation for behavior; that, however, doesn't make sens, since all three are hardy separable parts of a persons worldview, which is both conscious and sub-conscious.

I'll leave it at this: Culture, religion and ideology all affects how a person views the world, and therefore how he makes decisions. Of course someones basic personality is biological, and of course it is then mainly shaped by general life experience i.e. the world around him (culture). However: 1) That culture is itself shaped by the religions and ideologies predominant in it (which is why the three are so hard to separate); and 2) The individual stance on religion, politics and philosophy not only affect your conscious decisions (which is important enough), but your emotional responses as well (the communication between conscious and sub-conscious parts of the brain is not one way), and can be the thing that push you over the edge or stop you from doing what you might otherwise have done. Put together I think this makes it quite reasonable to call a fanatic a fanatic and not just a lunatic.

(In the interest of full disclosure: I do believe in (practical) free will and personal respectability, and I don't think anything I've written contradicts that; although I recognize that it might be interpreted that way.)

p.s. "I'll try to keep it brief", it seems like I failed :)

Phobos said...

Bit late here I know, as always. On these discussions I always say the same thing.....

If video games have an impact on violence why do we not see more violence happening where they are played the most. Then I just link to this site: http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm. It shows that since around 93 the violent crime rate in the US peaked and has been decreasing since.

What's special about the year 93 / 94, you guessed it the release of the first FPS's. So you could make as good an argument, as the ban brigade makes, that FPS decrease violence rather than increasing it.

That someone used a videogames to practice killing people, shock horror, you know who else does that most military organisations in the world. Give it up already the ban brigade your arguments just get less and less borne out by reality.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ jojjo

"Rest assured that I'll read your reply and will be happy to have another long OT debate at another time though :)"

Always a pleasure. =)

"Well, it still quite clearly implies sectarian isolation from nonbelievers and abandonment of all worthily aspirations (a common theme with Jesus, and how many Christians follow that)"

I don't think isolationism is an incorrect interpretation... I don't necessarily believe it's a correct one either. It's still a far cry from outright hatred, though.

"So when Jesus says something you disagree with (that OT still applies) i's corrupted text, but when he says something you agree with (that OT is not that important) i's genuine? Again, nothing I'd have any problem with if you didn't seem to imply that any other interpretation than yours would be non-Christian."

I believe I quite clearly said in that case it was just my opinion. Also, I did not say that Levitical law still applying was corrupted text, but the Levitical law itself is corrupted text. The Torah is several centuries older then the Gospels, and passed through hundreds more hands along the way.

Unfortunately, how the law should be observed is something Jesus waffled around a bit on (John 8:2-11 is another good example). I suspect this is mostly because the local religious/political leaders were quite literally looking for excuses to execute him. So, yes, there's a lot up for interpretation there. I, however, choose to believe the interpretation that's most consistent with everything else Jesus taught.

As for the rest of that..

It really can't be under estimated how much of human behavior can be easily explained by our natural tribal instincts. And I've got a bit of an "Occam's razor" stance about that... If something can be explained as nothing more than a biological response, there's really no reason to muddle up the explanation with any more than that. I would need to see some level of empirical evidence that anything else is going on.

I also think that tribal instinct and culture are inherently inseparable from each other. Here's a example I'll pull out of ass: Here in the US (and most western cultures in general) we place a very high importance on punctuality compared to other cultures. While there are all sorts of reasons and rationalizations given for that, none of that matters. People are punctual simple because their tribe tells them it's important, or not because they don't. The actual "ideas" behind we we should or shouldn't be punctual don't even come into play.

"Islamic" suicide bombers also work as an example of this. This likely started out as a tradition in a small local tribe of terrorists, and spread throughout the greater "Islamic" terrorist tribe through social pressure and and posthumous social status. The actual "ideals" and "beliefs" here are irrelevant... just a common tribal association and a biological response.

"(In the interest of full disclosure: I do believe in (practical) free will and personal respectability, and I don't think anything I've written contradicts that; although I recognize that it might be interpreted that way.)"

I would say that I believe in "compatibilism" in that I believe people are wholly capable of learning self control and exercising it over their unconscious impulses, or at least being able to concisely prioritize which unconscious impulse they'll follow, but that by and large most people don't and will blindly follow whatever their body tells them.

Nick said...

There are two distinctions that need to be made with this issue. One is that, as the fallacy goes, correlation does not imply causation. The other is that, even if there IS causation, there's a difference in which way the causation goes.

Those of us interested in defending gaming can agree that playing/liking FPSs does not make someone a gun-psycho. But what Moviebob is conceding here - which he never summed up in so many words, but should have - is that there ARE a lot of people who play/like FPSs because they're [already] gun-psychos. And THAT, unless I'm mistaken, is what he's saying needs to be admitted, discussed, and rectified.

Nick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mads said...

@Narf

I'd written out a reply earlier but my tablet ate it. Either way, we've gone over almost all the points I think can be made by now, so I figure we're near end of discussion if you can stomach it for another post or two =P

Well, I don't see that "lies" are at all necessary to do that. A truth can be just as abused as a falsehood. And it's not the specific words or ideas themselves that polarize people, it's the vague unconscious fears that those ideas stir up that polarize people.

The "lies" part were a necessary part of my argument to create a logical sequitur. Without it, I couldn't have made a strict deduction to where I ended up, I suspect. Or maybe I could, but when you don't know exactly where you're going (as is the nature of most deductive reasoning), sometimes little peculiarities end up in them. A more laborous man than I would go back and try to make a more efficient convincing argument once he'd deduced he had the right of it.

I don't think there's any question that people can influence each other, and that ideology can be used toward that end. But, it's the people doing that. The ideology is just a tool.

This is the meat of the issue isn't it. Is it the practitioners or the ideology itself. Is it the participant who commits extremism, or does the ideology have something to do with it.

To me, these _are not_ seperable. Peoples belief and the people themselves cannot, at least not on an individual level, be distinguished. Did you do something because of a belief you held, or because you had an urge to do it, or because you decided to.

In the end, there is a reason. You can argue however you like; you won't know if the extremist acted out of religious devotion, out of tribal instinct, or out of rational thinking...or even out of personal desire.

I choose to blame the people who scared the shit out of him, in this case, at least a little. I think he was like a water baloon, and he was already ready to burst, but I seriously doubt he would have if it wasn't for people who kept putting more water in him...and I seriously doubt he would have associated with those people in the first place if not for their unforgiving ideological hate-filled indoctrination, concerning the muslim assault on europe and what have you.

Perhaps he simply latched on to something he already thought was true, but didn't know how to put in words; but it was still propagated by ideologoues, it was still ideology, and it still may have been the straw that broke the camels back. Forgive me if I choose to blame the beliefs in him that may have triggered this.

"Some lie, some don't, for example."

Given the study you posted... how would we know?


Because we know to watch for it; and because we are able to position certain ideological priorities above others. Logic can be placed at the top...logic being belief in the truth of abstract causality...and the ability to do abstraction at all fundamentally necessitates this, so most can subscribe to it.
From there, it's just a matter of stumbling upon a logical contradiction within any ideology, and you know you've encountered a lie at some point.

That's just an example. In general, the study does apply to us, but now that we are aware of it, we can take precautions, precautions which the participants didn't take, and suddenly, it no longer applies to us. All experience dictates that knowing about a pit-fall will surely help you avoid it.

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