Anders Behring Breivik, the Norway rampage killer who has admitted to killing 77 people in shooting and bombing attacks last July, said he used the computer game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare to train for his attacks.
The 33-year-old said he practiced his shooting using a “holographic aiming device” on the war simulation game, which he explained is used by armies around the world for training.
“You develop target acquisition,” he said, explaining how he used a similar device during the shooting attack at a Labour Party youth camp on the island of Utøya, where he gunned down 69 people.
“It consists of many hundreds of different tasks and some of these tasks can be compared with an attack, for real,” Anders said about the popular video game. “That’s why it’s used by many armies throughout the world. It’s very good for acquiring experience related to sights systems.”
“If you are familiar with a holographic sight, it’s built up in such a way that you could have given it to your grandmother and she would have been a super marksman,” he added.
“It’s designed to be used by anyone. In reality it requires very little training to use it in an optimal way. But of course it does help if you’ve practiced using a simulator.”
News that this mass killer used the first-person shooter game in preparation for his attacks may have some concerned parents rethinking their decision to allow their children to play it.
However, according to a $1.5 million, U.S.-government-funded Harvard research project, there exist no causal relationship between those who play violent video games and those who commit mass shootings.
The study’s lead researcher, Dr. Cheryl Olson, co-founder of the Center for Mental Health and Media at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, had this to say about her findings in her blog on The Independent:
My research focused on 13- and 14-year-old students. We found that most children this age (especially but not exclusively boys) routinely played video games with violent content, ones rated for ages 17 and older. As a public health researcher by training, I looked at population data for evidence of changes in youth behavior—crime, school fights, bullying, failing at school—that might track with this increasing access and exposure to violent video games. I didn’t find any evidence.
Moreover, Dr. Olson also dispelled other falsities concerning the link between school shooters and violent video games.
She pointed out that contrary to popular belief, youth crime has declined over the years and bullying seems to be either stable or on the decline despite the fact that video games containing violence have become ubiquitous.
Another interesting fact is that school shootings have not increased, what’s increased is the coverage of such events, with the advent of the 24-hour news cycle, according to Dr. Olson.
Lastly, Dr. Olson debunks the claim that one can become an expert marksman by playing Call of Duty.
She cited her experience in talking with firearms instructor George Harris and concluded that “even with add-on scopes and such, however skillfully a player pushes buttons and manipulates analog sticks on the game controller (even one with camo-patterned plastic, “ergonomic firearm grips” and “vibration feedback technology”), honing skills that increase success within the game will not sufficiently resemble real-life shooting to make a sensible practice method.”
I don’t play video games, so I don’t know to what extent playing one would help me improve my shooting (I’m assuming not much). But I will defer to the gamers out there to clarify this last point, do you find that playing Call of Duty or Halo or anyone of those first-person shooting games improves your accuracy at the range? If so, please explain.
(As for Anders, he is currently awaiting sentencing, to read more on this, click here).