Norwegian stores have pulled several video games, including Modern Warfare, from store shelves following Anders Breivik’s killing spree.
Remember how I said last week that video games didn’t lead Andres Breivik to kill dozens of his fellow Norwegians? Even Breivik himself already seemed to have terrorism firmly in mind by the time he described Modern Warfare 2 as “probably the best military simulator out there.”
Nevertheless, some Norwegian stores, including Coop Norden and Platekompaniet, have suspended sales of Modern Warfare and other violent video games, such as Homefront, the remainder of the Call of Duty series, Sniper: Ghost Warrior, and Counter-Strike: Source. Coop pulled World of Warcraft while Platekompaniet is still carrying it. In all, 51 games are off the shelves.
It’s unclear why the decision to stop selling some of the top-grossing video games was made. Are they concerned that Breivik’s manifesto — which encourages playing MW2 and WoW — will inspire copycats? Or are they worried about looking insensitive by continuing to sell such games while Norway is grieving?
Coop representatives explained:
In light of Friday’s horrific events, and of respect for those affected, we have chosen to remove simple items from our range … Coop believes that terrorism has been guided by motives other than computer game universes and Coop therefore sees no direct [connection] between them.
Not much of an explanation, eh?
Unfortunately, this decision has the side effect of separating people from a powerful way of processing fear, anxiety, and shock. And Norway is currently a country full of people attempting to process fear, anxiety, and shock. Sure, some of them will find other outlets — but to deny this one seems unreasonable, particularly if nobody truly believes games were to blame for Breivik’s actions.
It also winds up punishing video-game companies for an act of terrorism they had absolutely nothing to do with. Stores usually have the option whether to carry a certain product, so no laws are being broken, as far as I know. But I wonder what the ultimate effect, if any, of this sales decision will be.
What do you think? Should retailers stop selling such games when they’re associated with an act of terrorism? Why or why not?