Rated I for Ignorant

In knee-jerk reactions to multiple victim public shootings, speculators look for the easy answers when it comes to the perpetrator’s motivations. The availability of weapons, religious ideology, political impulse, and violent media are rushed to the front of the lines to explain away the events. These easy answers lead to easy to follow plans to take something away from you, the American citizen. At every opportunity events of this nature are publicized, politicized, and pushed into debates about gun control, religious liberty, political ideology, and the violent nature of some of our entertainment.

To the Mr. and Mrs. Average American simple and definite answers to heinous acts will suffice. They are succinct, easy to understand, and even easier to repeat. With the swiftly perceived connection between real violent events and their electronic dramatizations, no critical thought need be applied to the validity of the claim that violent video games equip mass murderers with the knowledge they require to commit their crimes.

“He learned to shoot by playing Call of Duty”

Do you learn to ride broomsticks by watching Harry Potter? No, of course not. Then how can it be asserted that Anders Breivik, the perpetrator of the atrocious massacre in Norway just one year ago, learned to shoot a weapon by playing a video game? This notion is absurd; however for the purpose of the argument let’s explore the idea. It has been reported that Breivik played the popular First Person Shooter genre video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. To carry out his crimes, Breivik used a Glock 34 handgun along with a Ruger Mini-14 semi-automatic rifle. So what exactly did Breivik learn from Modern Warfare 2?


Modern Warfare 2

Real Life

How do you reload your weapon? Press ‘X’
  1. Remove the empty magazine by pressing forward on the magazine latch with your thumb or finger. The magazine will fall out of the rifle when you press the latch.
  2. Load the magazine by aligning each cartridge with the bullet pointing toward the hole in the front of the magazine body and pushing downward with your thumb until each cartridge snaps into place.
  3. Replace the loaded magazine in the rifle. Pull the bolt fully to the rear and let go, which will allow the bolt to close and chamber a round.
What do you do when your weapon jams? … it doesn’t
  1. Tap the magazine to ensure it is seated.
  2. Pull the charging handle to the rear, letting the buffer spring drive the bolt home to clear the chamber.


What does it feel like when you discharge the weapon? Controller weight- Xbox: 9 to 10 oz.- Playstation 3: 5 ozMinimal Vibration effect Ruger Mini-14– Weight: 102 oz.- Recoil strength: ~5 lbsGlock 34

-Weight: 21.5 oz

-Recoil strength: ~10 lbs.

When you’re out of ammunition, what do you do? Walk over dead bodies until your weapon clips are magically fully loaded into the weapon. Load bullets one by one into additional magazines by hand or with a tool. Then see “How do you reload your weapon?”
What do you do after someone shoots you? Hid behind an impenetrable wooden fence until your health returns. Collapse. Call for medical attention.Depending on the severity; expire.
What do you do when you’re caught? Turn off the game and go back to your real life. Suffer the consequences.

The sixteen hours a day that Anders Breivik spent playing Call of Duty, as you and I can both see, bears no resemblance to actual training for firing a weapon. However, drawing stark contrasts such as this requires your attention and time.

The other widely reported video game that Anders Breivik routinely played was the massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG) World of Warcraft. The prosecutors in the case asserted that “between November 2010 and February 2011 … he played for an average of 6 hours and 50 minutes per day”.

So for seven hours a day, Anders Breivik was basking in the fluorescent glow of his computer monitor as he killed boars and casted spells. He joined approximately twelve million other people in this fantasy world as they all fought cartoonishly against dragons and other fantasy styled monsters. There is simply, flat out, no correlation between Anders Breivik’s time in Azeroth (the fictional world that World of Warcraft is staged)  and the crimes her perpetrated in Norway. It is irresponsible and deceptive to suggest such. The fact that Anders Breivik played video games is as relevant as the fact that he drove a car or wore clothes.

On behalf of the defense the Norwegian anthropologist Thomas Hylland Eriksen was brought in for testimony.

“He does not seem to be very successful at distinguishing between the virtual reality of ‘World of Warcraft’ and other video games and reality,” Eriksen said.

Now this is interesting because if Breivik could not distinguish real life from Azeroth he certainly would’ve know that the only ranged weapons that mages can use are wands!

As tempting as it is to trace murderous motivations back to one source, the mind of a killer is far too complex to be able to point to one aspect of their life and say definitively that it is the reason they committed the crime. This however will not stop speculators from trying to sell the hapless average American the one coverall motivating factor for a killer’s actions. Fortunately for you and I, we simply know better.

-Dean Jones