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Australian Christian Lobby demands banning of violent videogames

In the wake of the attacks made within Norway during July 2011, the Australian Christian Lobby has called for the banning of videogames, should they contain "gratuitous or excessive" amounts of violence. Their demands have been made after the discovery of the rambling manifesto 2083: The Dawn of European Independence, supposedly written by the suspected perpetrator of the attacks that left over 70 people dead. The absurd manifesto, totaling over 1,500 pages, speaks of how to train in order to fight for "European independence". The suspect in the investigation, Anders Behring Breivik, spoke of the enjoyment he received from videogames, as GamePolitics reports.

Not only did he enjoy videogames, but Breivik wrote in his manifesto that the Call of Duty titles provided an excellent simulator for future attacks, possibly perpetrated by different people. New South Wales politician David Shoebridge believes that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 should have been graded with the R18+ rating in Australia. At present it is graded with the MA15+ rating. With the game releasing in 2009, and Australia having only recently accepted the R18+ rating, Modern Warfare 2 would have been immediately banned from being sold in Australia.

Brendan O'Connor, Minister for Home Affairs,  had this to say about the situation:

"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. 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."

Jim Wallace, director of the Australian Christian Lobby, disagreed, and also criticized O'Connor over the remark. Wallace's stance is that if the game is significantly violent to push a few people "over the edge by an obsession with violent games", then the game in question should be banned. Wallace's assessment of the situation was as follows:

"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. 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."

The Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA), have said that Breivik is the exception when it comes to violent videogames, rather than the rule. The chief executive of the IGEA, Ron Curry, had this to say about the chaos that unfolded in Norway, and the ACL's response:

"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. To single out a symptom, rather than the underlying cause, does little to understand, or show respect to, the greater tragedy."

Breivik's rampage started in the capital city of Oslo, where a bomb detonated at a key governmental building killed eight people. Two hours later, he was reported to be on the island of Utøya, where he was firing an automatic rifle at youths attending a Labour Party summer camp within the country. He was eventually arrested after having surrendered to the police, and is currently being detained in police custody.

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