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Norway Mass Murderer Trial Brings Violent Video Games Back in Spotlight

Ethan Miller, Getty Image

Here we go again…

That seems to be the reaction of bloggers and video gamers alike during the trial of Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in a massive shooting spree last summer. At one point, Breivik boasted that the used the popular video game “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” as training for his shooting spree, and that he also spent nearly 16 hours a day playing another popular game “World of Warcraft.” This confession has once again brought up the ever-popular argument of whether or not violent video games cause violence.

Whether shoot-’em-up video games can incite violence has been a long-running debate among the public as well as in clinical psychology. This type of discussion tends to come up every time it’s revealed that a high-profile killer also played video games.

Perhaps the most memorable case study was the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado in 1999, during which experts speculated about the influence of the game “Doom” on the teenagers who carried out that crime.

And for years, the controversial “Grand Theft Auto” series, in which players can kill police officers, was targeted by critics who said it glamorizes criminals and promotes violence. The makers of the game were even sued by the attorney for a convicted cop killer in Alabama, who argued the game inspired his client.

OK, how many times do we have to go through this? Playing a violent video game will not cause your average person to go on a killing spree. There have been countless studies on the subject, but there is no concrete proof that violent video games are directly tied to violent acts.

And besides that, keep in mind that I said “average person.” The people who commit these sorts of heinous crimes are not average by any means; they are seriously disturbed individuals who have been corrupted by a lot more than just your standard shoot ‘em up style game. There are other factors besides games that cause these criminals to do what they do.

My point is, as I’ve said before, playing violent games will not make you a violent person. So stop trying to give video games such a bad reputation, OK?

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