Norway Retailers Pull Violent Video Games off Shelves after Massacre
Are violent video games unfairly targeted as the cause of violence?
By: Khristopher Reardon, Staff Writer
Norway’s biggest retailers are pulling 51 video games from shelves following the terrorist attacks in Oslo that left over 90 people dead.
Coop Norway and Platekompaniet pulled numerous titles, including Call of Duty, Sniper Ghost Warrior, Counter Strike and Homefront.
Time’s Techland blog reported statements from Coop Norway’s Retail Director, Geir Inge Stokke. He said that the decision was made when the scope of the attacks was realized.
“Others are better suited than us to point to the negative effects of games like these,” he said to Norway’s Rogalands Avis newspaper.
Stokke said it was an appropriate time to pull the titles.
[pullquote]Justice Antonin Scalia…said video games are like books or movies in that they communicate ideas.[/pullquote]
It’s worth noting that many of these titles are the same ones listed in Anders Behring Breivik’s ‘Knights Templar Log.’ He wrote that he thought Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was a great simulator to prepare himself for the killings.
“I just bought Modern Warfare 2, the game. It is probably the best military simulator out there and it’s one of the hottest games this year,” he wrote in a February 2010 post.
Even World of Warcraft, a fantasy/roleplaying title, was pulled from shelves, in spite of being somewhat benign. Breivik used Warcraft as a cover for his activities to explain long periods when he was absent and unable to pick up the phone.
Pulling these from shelves has alarmed some people in the video game community, who believe that the violent actions that happened in Oslo are not the fault of games and that this may bring on a string of censorship within the medium.
Video games have often been in the limelight before when it’s come to acts of violence or juvenile delinquency.
In June, a Supreme Court decision struck down a law banning violent video games for sale, saying that the new regulation prevented free speech. Justice Antonin Scalia, in his majority opinion, said video games are like books or movies in that they communicate ideas.
The Justices also said that evidence regarding the violent effects of video games was lacking. They stated that there was little to tie violent behaviour to violent video games; therefore, it’s surprising that two major retailers in Norway would pull violent video games while the music that Breivik listened to or the movies he watched stay on shelves in spite of being listed in his log as well.
It should be noted that World of Warcraft reached 12 million subscribers in October of last year and Modern Warfare 2 has sold 22 million units since its release in 2009.
With no timeline as to when the stores are bringing these titles back, it looks like Norwegians are going to have to look elsewhere for these games.
“We have to think very carefully about when to bring these goods back. The economy is of no importance,” said Stokke.
Business News with BITE.
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