Electronic Murder? First person shooter video games

Admitted Norway killer Breivik says he trained on video games

Anders Behring Breivik, who admits killing 77 people in Norway last summer, used a video game as training for his shooting spree, he testified Thursday at his trial for homicide and terrorism. He played the game “Modern Warfare 2” for practice, he said. Breivik, who boasts of being an ultranationalist who killed his victims to fight multiculturalism in Norway, also went through a period of playing the game “World of Warcraft” up to 16 hours a day, he testified.

This is not the first time that we have seen this happen. I remain amazed at the lack of concern particularly among those claiming to be Christ followers about what kind of video games their children play. Many will claim that Breivik’s case is an extreme isolated incident. Is that the point? Most Christians would be appalled if they walked in their child’s room and found them looking at a pornographic video on the internet. However, that same parent can walk in their child’s room and witness them killing another person (electronically) and declare, “Nice shot son!” Is electronic murder/killing different than electronic adultery/fornication? The general consensus seems to be that there is a difference. Parents don’t entertain the possibility of the destructive training that could be taking place.  Hauntingly, one parent reviewer wrote:

I find the ESRB ratings to be a bit overboard, but I guess they have to since there are some immature kids who would see a guy get shot in a video game and then go decide to shoot someone them self.

Yet another parent on the same review site asserts:

It’s all a matter of whether you trust your kid not to curse or kill people. (honestly, do you think your kids gonna wake up in the morning going, “mommy! I just played mw2 and it inspired me to kill people! bye!”)

What words would these forum posters have for the family of Breivik’s victims? What about to Breivik’s parents? Most in our society cannot see their way through this issue. Is it because they don’t want their children embarrassed at school when they can’t join conversations about these games, or is it parents that have to admit to other parents that they don’t allow these games? Either way, it is time to start parenting again. We can’t allow intimidating comments such as, “If your not an aggressive parent like the ones who won’t even let there kids watch Bambi, then this game is ok for your kids” to deter us from rearing virtuous citizens.  First person shooter games desensitize our children to violence.



Filed under Community, Ethics, Theology

3 responses to “Electronic Murder? First person shooter video games

  1. maxinilianr

    Very interesting. I have often been bothered with many Christians regarding the blatant discontinuity in their ethical and orthopractic positions. Why are Christians against abortion, porn and dancing (in extreme cases) but revel in violence, care nothing for environmentally sustainable practices and generally refuse to adopt the children who would otherwise be aborted.

    I myself have been guilty of watching a violent movie or playing a violent video game, and I do see some room for discussion. For instance, the bible is very violent in some cases, and for good reason. Can we apply these same violence we consume now? In most cases I would say absolutely not.

    do you be live there is room for violence in movies or games? Or would you take a completely non violent stance for all Christians?

    Where should we draw the line?

  2. I too think there is a disconnect between certain areas of culture and its relation to Christianity. The two you mentioned are definitely near the top. Maybe it has to do with being an “American Christian” in that our national identity has transferred properties over to our Christian identity. I think this creates a synthetic Christian perspective about certain issues.

    In the issues of violence, the line of participation is probably negotiated by liberty of conscience, but what happens when that has been seared in this area and there is no prophet (pastor/mentor) to call one to repentance/awareness? I do think there is a difference at some level between observing violence and participating in violence. First person shooter games invite the player to participate in unnecessary violence. To me that is a whole different level than observing violence. The observation of violence is bad enough and it too can be destructive. I would ask questions of it (ex. violence in movies) such as is it violence for violence sake (Saw, etc.) or is it violence that finds a place in the normal plot line of the movie (Saving Private Ryan)? Even those selections are not always clear choices.

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