The Australian Christian Lobby has called for games to be banned if they contain violence that is "excessive or gratuitous." The call came as the world digests the bizarre rambling of a 1500-page manifesto written by Norwegian killer Anders Behring Breivik and released online shortly before he killed 76 people in and around Oslo, Norway.
The Australian federal government said yesterday that Breivik committed his crimes because there is "something clearly intrinsically wrong with him", not because he played violent video games.
NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge did say that Modern Warfare 2 should be reviewed to have a more restrictive R18+ rating in the country. It is currently rated MA15+.
Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O'Connor was asked yesterday on ABC's Insiders TV program about the link between video games and the Oslo shooting. He responded by saying that it would not change his support for the R18+ rating, which he argued would prevent adult video games from getting into the hands of teens because it is rated MA15+ or lower.
"At the moment the most popular adult-themed games that are played only lawfully by adults around the world are played by 15 year olds here," he said.
O'Connor promised that this would change once an R18+ rating for games becomes law.
"But 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."
The Australian Christian Lobby managing director Jim Wallace disagreed and criticized O'Connor over his remarks. He said that if even a few deranged minds could be "taken over the edge by an obsession with violent games" then the game should be banned.
"The studied indifference of this killer to the suffering he was inflicting, his obvious dehumanising of his victims and the evil methodical nature of the killings have all the marks of games scenarios," said Wallace. "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."
A spokesmen for NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith, who abstained from the recent SCAG meeting vote on R18+, said that the AH agreed with O'Connor's comments on Insiders.
"It won't make any difference to our support, which should be confirmed shortly," said the spokesperson.
The Australian games industry trade group Interactive Games & Entertainment Association, said that the video game connection to Breivik is the exception rather than the rule:
"I think it's fair to say that in our communities there will always be individuals who will have a predisposition towards violent behaviour, the causes for which fall into a very wide range of factors," said IGEA chief executive Ron Curry. "To single out a symptom, rather than the underlying cause, does little to understand, or show respect to, the greater tragedy."
Source: Sydney Morning Herald