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Don’t play the blame game with actual games

As an avid gamer, I’m always disappointed when the media turns on computer games and blames them as inspiration for violent acts. As the trial for Anders Breivik goes on, the prosecution has started to use images of Breivik’s characters in World of Warcraft and accounts of Breivik’s time playing Call of Duty as evidence.

For those of us who follow games in the news, this is hardly surprising. Call of Duty and World of Warcraft are probably the most recognisable games for those outside of the gaming world, and thus make them easy targets for reactionary finger pointing.

However there is one major difference in the Breivik case that may suggest why video games have come to take center-stage in the prosecution. Behind the narcissistic rantings in his manifesto, Breivik’s ideologies have a lot in common with the Islamophobic fear-mongering of the Daily Mail et al. Columnists of the right-wing press have been churning out endless diatribes over immigration, Islam and Europe and are now faced with the harsh reality of what such opinions can bring. Terrorism is no longer the exclusive property of Muslim extremists or left-wing crazies.

So the conservative press is faced with a dilemma; either they condemn the attacks but show sympathy for the motives, opening themselves for attack, or they find a new root cause which they can use to disassociate themselves from any similarities with Breivik. The trials handed them this straw man in the form of Anders’ gaming addiction.

As such, this article from the Daily Mail turns Breivik’s admission of a virtual mentor into a full-blown attack on video games. Making no mention of his Islamophobic motives, the right-wing press is trying desperately to turn attention away from their own ‘crusades’ they have conducted for years, and instead focus our opinions of Breivik on something that neither the press nor their audience understand.

It’s a shameless trick that the press has used in most cases involving video games. Particularly in cases in the UK, often involving boys apparently re-enacting scenes from games, broken homes, child abuse, social isolation and poverty are ignored. Ignored too are the violent films and television programmes, because the British public enjoys these things too much. Instead the emergent, publically neglected and unknown medium of video gaming is used as the punching bag, and this sly turn of focus is allowing the right-wing press to absolve itself of any of the hypocrisies it exhibits.

Referred on Liberal Conpiracy April 23 2012

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