The Anders Breivik case seems to be turning more and more into a media circus. The latest trend in the case is a rather sad attempt to blame video games for the actions of this monster. I’ve spoken out before on how the media loves to blame an easy target but this is the court system itself trying to lay the blame now.
We feel that playing a lot of computer games gives the impression of a working cognitive function. It is however, something completely different to relate to something in real life, have committed relationships to other people, arrange meetings, go to work in the morning, have a healthy relationship with a girlfriend, or having common social skills. I would still like to point out that sitting alone in your room and playing games, no matter what the scope of the matter, call it addiction or whatnot, is not normal for a man in his 20’s.
– Synne Sørheim
Let’s dissect that argument a little shall we, line by line.
We feel that playing a lot of computer games gives the impression of a working cognitive function.
Yes it is obvious that computer games increase your cognitive skills somewhat. This is true for reflexes as well as reasoning but the degree to which skills are increased and the particular skills that are increased depend on the content of the game in question. A team based MMO like World Of Warcraft would likely raise patience along with tactical planning skill. So yeah, that’s actually a strike against it with the first line of the argument. The one in which he was trying to sound like he sees some upside.
It is however, something completely different to relate to something in real life, have committed relationships to other people, arrange meetings, go to work in the morning, have a healthy relationship with a girlfriend, or having common social skills.
Yes, most hobbies are different that way. Seriously, can you imagine a ventriloquist being told that their relationship to their dummy isn’t the same as a committed relationship in real life? How about someone who sets aside an hour a day to read being told that it isn’t the same as arranging meetings? Going to the gym is obviously not the same as going to work in the morning, yet we wouldn’t point it out to a gym member, whether they’d been on a rampage or not. How about having a pet? Is that the same as having a healthy relationship with a girlfriend? Nope.
And then there’s that throwaway line about having common social skills. There is a growing argument that being a gamer is a common social skill these days. People don’t just play games to shoot each other, they play them to communicate with people from all around the world, while shooting them. Okay, I’m doing my argument no favours here. The fact of the matter is that the largest multiplayer games in the world are on Facebook (that place set up by the devil to steal your soul – you may have heard of it). These are social games set up with peaceful objectives, long term missions that need people to play together and therefore make people inundate each other with requests to play a game they have no interest in, and the objective of selling adverts and premium items. I personally hate them but the fact of the matter is that they’re the games with the highest player base in the world. Gaming has become a common social skill because people take a lot more interest in what you say when you’re willing to give them a fake tomato for their fake farm on their profile page full of non-fake but slightly edited photographs.
I would still like to point out that sitting alone in your room and playing games, no matter what the scope of the matter, call it addiction or whatnot, is not normal for a man in his 20’s.
With that final line he has decreed that any man in his twenties who has ever played video games alone for any amount of time is not normal and, due to the time and place this argument is being presented, a danger to society. And this is the one that really got to me. “No matter the scope of the matter” he says, ruling that any amount of gaming alone is not normal. I played video games in my 20’s. At times my fiance would leave the room. During those times I was not normal as I was playing alone. This means I’d be prime material to put down the controller, let poor old Tidus get hit by lightning, and go on a rampage around Norway instead. Tidus and Yuna know what I think about that suggestion.
The fact of the matter is that, by concentrating on things like this, the case has gone off the rails. Norway is looking for an answer still, shocked by the events they simply couldn’t have seen coming, and they want to know why. They want to stop it happening again. I get that, believe me, I do. The problem as always lies with people like Synne Sørheim, or more specifically the people who brought him into the trial. Sørheim himself admits that he’s not an expert in the effect video games can have on a person. Rather someone with an axe to grind is trying to subvert this case by making it entirely about what is at best a tangent of information from the case – that Breivik played video games. By doing so the monster hides behind the fear that has been stoked and fanned and pointed somewhere else. He gets away with it in a way while innocents get blamed.
We may never know why Breivik did what he did. We may never get a straight answer from him for his crimes. Despite that we shouldn’t throw the blame around at others. It should rest solely with him.