The events that recently transpired in Oslo, Norway are absolutely horrific and tragic. 77 Norwegians lost their lives at the hands of Anders Behring Breivik, a political crackpot who is currently detained. Breivik detonated a bomb outside an Oslo government building and then proceeded to gun down a large gathering of youth at a political retreat situated on a nearby island. Unfortunately, as it is so many times that abhorrent events like this transpire, there are those who seek to place the blame on video games. The fact that Breivik actually cited videogame titles in his "manifesto" certainly doesn't help matters.
Norwegian retail store, Coop Norway, has responded by removing video game merchandise from their stores.
According to Norwegian newspaper Rogalands Avis (via VG247), the retail chain has removed 51 gaming-related brands and merchandise, as well as toys that resemble weapons, from their locations. A spokesman for the company claims that the products were removed in response to the recent attacks. However, the decision as to which particular items were removed, and for how long, is a bit unclear.
"The reason is Friday's horrific events," Coop's Geir Inge Stokke told Rogaland Avis. "This is a temporary [action] we're doing out of respect and in respect of those affected. The decision to remove the games, we made immediately when we realized the scope."
What Stokke is referring to is Breivik's mentioning of specific video games in his bizarre, right-wing manifesto. In the sprawling 1,500-page document, Breivik specifically mentions both "World of Warcraft" and "Call of Duty." He apparently used "World of Warcraft" as an excuse for a year, telling friends and family that his addiction to the massively-multiplayer online role-playing game was the reason for his aloofness while he planned the politically-motivated attack.
It's implied that Breivik actually only played the game part-time, using it primarily as a means of cover. He also mentions "Call of Duty" as a potentially effective "training tool," which makes perfect sense, because ridiculous, Michael Bay-inspired experiences with a plastic controller are precisely what I think of when I ponder over effective military techniques.
Video games actually play a very small role in Breivik's twisted document. Large portions – in all likelihood the true impetus behind the psycho's attack – ramble on with anti-Muslim rhetoric. He even goes so far as to call for a return of the Knights Templar. The killer also claims himself as a fan of television series "The Shield" and "Dexter." Strangely, no reports yet on either show being yanked from retailer shelves.
The reality is that Anders Behring Breivik is a political nutjob. Based on his writings, the man is a mentally imbalanced individual with a proclivity to believe in the same kind of hateful, xenophobic rhetoric that's currently swilling around this country. However, it's always easier to blame a scapegoat than look at the very real vitriol that is slung on a daily basis across political lines. For Coop Norway's part, however, they're removing video games from their stores until further notice.
"Now we'll think twice before we decide to take the goods back," said Stokke. "Economy means nothing."