The Australian Christian Lobby is calling for a ban on violent videogames in the wake of the Oslo massacre, but the government says it’s unreasonable to blame games for the behavior of a “madman.”
As expected, the horrific mass murder in Norway last week that claimed the lives of 76 people was linked, however tenuously, to videogames, as the killer referred to Modern Warfare 2 as part of his “training regimen” in his manifesto and said that a professed addiction to World of Warcraft is a great cover for more subversive activities. That’s enough of a connection for Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director Jim Wallace, who said that any game that can push even just a few nutcases “over the edge” should be banned.
“The studied indifference of this killer to the suffering he was inflicting, his obvious dehumanizing of his victims and the evil methodical nature of the killings have all the marks of games scenarios,” Wallace told the Sydney Morning Herald. “How can we allow the profits of the games industry and selfishness of games libertarians to place our increasingly dysfunctional society at further risk? Even if this prohibition were to save only one tragedy like this each twenty years it would be worth it.”
But Federal Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor, who has pushed hard for an R18+ videogame rating for the country in recent months, said the Oslo murders would not change his support for a mature rating and also had some surprisingly level-headed comments about the purported connection between videogames and real-world violence.
“Look, because there is a madman who has done just such atrocities in Norway, I don’t think that means that we are going to close down film or the engagement with games,” he said. “I think it really points to, of course, a person who – clearly there is something wrong with this person to sort of cause such devastation in Norway. But I’m not sure that the argument goes that as a result of watching a game you turn into that type of person. I think there is something clearly intrinsically wrong with him.”
Does it seem weird to anyone else that it’s an Australian politician who’s going on record saying that videogames do not turn sane people into mass murderers? And he’s not the only one; a representative for New South Wales Attorney-General Greg Smith, who abstained from the recent SCAG vote on mature game ratings, promised that the state’s forthcoming support for the rating wouldn’t be derailed by the murders.
“On the reporting to date there has been no evidence that this game was causative of this man’s appalling actions. It appears this very disturbed man formed his murderous intention before playing this computer game,” the rep said. “The bigger concern is his history of active hunting, with high powered weapons, rather than his playing computer games.”