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Norwegian Retailer Indefinitely Bans 'Violent Video Games,' Even Though No One Asked

Coop Norway takes 51 games off shelves, including Modern Warfare and World of Warcraft.

Ever since it came to light that Anders Behring Breivik, the psychotic killer who murdered more than 70 innocent people in Norway last week, happened to have a penchant for video games--chief among them World of Warcraft and Modern Warfare 2, which he ludicrously claimed helped "train" him for the attack--the games press has been on perpetual night watch for the first sign of some kind of knee-jerk legislative attack on video games. Let's face it: we've been conditioned to react with defensive aplomb every time someone thinks video games are to blame for anything. I suppose we can all thank the Jack Thompsons, Keith Vazs, and Fox News' of the world for our constant, Pavlovian "Come at me, bro!" reactions to these sorts of things.

Violence! Sort of! I guess...

Thankfully, despite a bit of blowhard lobbying from reactionary political groups, no governments have made any significant moves to try and curtail violent game sales to those who are of the proper age to purchase them. However, that hasn't stopped one retailer in Norway from pulling 51 'violent' titles from their store shelves, including all Call of Duty titles still in circulation, Homefront, Counter-Strike Source, and World of Warcraft.

Coop Norway's decision to remove the games was purely at the behest of the company itself, and done in "consideration for those affected" by the attacks, according to an interview with a company spokesman in the Norwegian newspaper Rogalands Avis (as reported by VG24/7).

"The decision to remove the games was made around the time we realised the scope of the attack," he said. "Others are better suited than us to point to the negative effects of games like these. At the moment it's [appropriate] for us to take them down. I wouldn't be surprised if others do the same."

While this company's decision to do what it feels is respectful to the victims and their families is entirely within their rights, the fact that a title as generally benign as World of Warcraft is being pulled off shelves solely because of Brevik's apparent fondness for it strikes as a slightly reactionary measure. World of Warcraft currently commands a T-rating on North America's ESRB scale, as well as a 12 rating on Europe's PEGI ratings board.

Still, Coop Norway seems resolute in their desire to keep these games off shelves for the foreseeable future.

"We have to think very carefully about when to bring these goods back. The economy involved is of no importance."
Alex Navarro on Google+
283 Comments
Posted by alexl86

Coop and Platekompaniet are two of the most expensive places to buy games. Our local Coop Elektro (electronics branch of Coop) sells games for NOK 599 (think $59,99) or above, and the prices practically never drop, and they almost never have what I'm looking for. I buy all my games online now. I get the games I want, for a much more reasonable price.

Edited by soulfulsoul

I have enjoyed video games ever since I was about 5 years old. But I can't fully support the side of video games here. I definitely wouldn't be surprised if violent video games negatively affect SOME people. Especially now that graphics are so realistic . Not that violent games should be banned, I'm just arguing that perhaps they should be handled a little more carefully. Years ago a relative of mine around the age of 10  came over and played Halo on my XBOX, which caused him to laugh like an absolute maniac as he shot aliens, and over the half hour or so that he played he almost went into some sort of crazy violent frenzy. It was bizarre and frightening to experience his transformation.. 

Posted by MrKadaver

@Marnox said:

As a norwegian I don't think this will resort to any ban. This is just temporary. The CD/DVD seller "Platekompaniet" may have pulled the games off their shelves, but still sell them online. The business Coop govern over are not the places most norwegians get their games. The pulled games will be back soon enough.

THIS

Posted by PieGuy
@pepsimaxofborg said:

Guys, I'm from Norway, and this is fucked up.

Anders also ate bread and took showers, I don't think Coop has any plans on dropping these products from their shelves.

Nicely said.
Videogames are always act as a fall guy with attacks by individuals when there is a tenuous link between them and videogaming.
Glad to see the government ignoring this. Such a horrific event is being used by this shop as a political ploy and to receive free advertising, that is what's wrong.
Posted by Shimakaze

@gale: Well said.

Posted by Spekingur

It's not 51 games though. It's 51 items, that include 8 games (and, as far as I have heard, toy guns).

Posted by LordCmdrStryker

@soulfulsoul said:

I have enjoyed video games ever since I was about 5 years old. But I can't fully support the side of video games here. I definitely wouldn't be surprised if violent video games negatively affect SOME people. Especially now that graphics are so realistic . Not that violent games should be banned, I'm just arguing that perhaps they should be handled a little more carefully. Years ago a relative of mine around the age of 10 came over and played Halo on my XBOX, which caused him to laugh like an absolute maniac as he shot aliens, and over the half hour or so that he played he almost went into some sort of crazy violent frenzy. It was bizarre and frightening to experience his transformation..

Dude, 10 years old? I think I'm a pretty good judge of character and there's no way in hell I'd let a 10-year-old play any first person shooter. And that's only because at that age they haven't fully come to realize the consequences when you do something dumb. Also, "crazy violent frenzy?" We're talking about Halo here, and not A Clockwork Orange.

Posted by Slydotcom

Coop sux for one and also he listened to a band during his killingspree and they got banned from being played on the radio.. THIS IS THE WRONG WAY TO REACT! Det är synd om Norge men Coop Norge är fan dumma i huvudet.

Posted by TheDudeOfGaming
@Catolf said:
*sigh* it has begun huh? Sorry Norway gamers..
Pirate bay is your only answer now, don't worry, no one will point the fingers at you for using it....in this, the time of crisis. 
Posted by BraveFart

Fucking pathetic. Just because ONE psycho killer happened to play WoW and Call of Duty.
   
Old people know nothing of videogames. And often it's older christian people who judge videogames.
 
The younger generation seems far more intelligent than the older generation it seems.

Posted by Squeedom
@TheDudeOfGaming said:
@Catolf said:
*sigh* it has begun huh? Sorry Norway gamers..
Pirate bay is your only answer now, don't worry, no one will point the fingers at you for using it....in this, the time of crisis. 
WHAT! What the heck are you talking about. No this does not make piracy ok. JUST BUY IT SOMEWHERE ELSE.
Posted by forkboy
@Norwaydude: Well, cooperatives are a relic of the 19th century socialist movement (& one of the best ones that sadly gets over-looked in favour of more extreme Marxist-Leninist derivitives).  They aren't capitalists at all.
Edited by snusorten

This is just a reaction to the horrible shootings, I for one think its a nice thing to do, imagine you just lost your kid to mad man with a gun. Then your going to the grocery store and the fist thing that meets you is a shelf full of covers with dudes and guns.

If someone needs a game, just go somewhere else.Its just a way of showing respect.

Edited by Mats

What I find strange is that nobody here in Norway are talking about stopping weapon sales as well or for that matter fertilizer. Go figure the logic.

Posted by fisk0

@alexl86 said:

Coop and Platekompaniet are two of the most expensive places to buy games. Our local Coop Elektro (electronics branch of Coop) sells games for NOK 599 (think $59,99) or above, and the prices practically never drop, and they almost never have what I'm looking for. I buy all my games online now. I get the games I want, for a much more reasonable price.

Your NOK conversion rate is way off. 599 NOK is more like $110.

Posted by EgoCheck616

@snusorten said:

This is just a reaction to the horrible shootings, I for one think its a nice thing to do, imagine you just lost your kid to mad man with a gun. Then your going to the grocery store and the fist thing that meets you is a shelf full of covers with dudes and guns.

If someone needs a game, just go somewhere else.Its just a way of showing respect.

Who the fuck would buy Call of Duty at a grocery store? This example makes no sense.

Edited by snusorten

@EgoCheck616 said:

@snusorten said:

This is just a reaction to the horrible shootings, I for one think its a nice thing to do, imagine you just lost your kid to mad man with a gun. Then your going to the grocery store and the fist thing that meets you is a shelf full of covers with dudes and guns.

If someone needs a game, just go somewhere else.Its just a way of showing respect.

Who the fuck would buy Call of Duty at a grocery store? This example makes no sense.

Because COOP is a grocery store chain. And chill out, many parents would buy a game at the same place where they do the weekley shopping.

Posted by fisk0

@Mats said:

What I find strange is that nobody here in Norway are talking about stopping weapon sales as well or for that matter fertilizer. Go figure the logic.

Norway, like the rest of Scandinavia, will do a thorough assessment of the gun laws after this, so much has been said by politicians so far. I do think Norway and Finland are the countries with the most liberal gun laws of the Nordic countries, and so far these are the ones that have faced the most violent shootings, but you should probably not make try to make that link to causal, as both Denmark and Sweden have just narrowly evaded terrorist attacks and shootings in the past, probably more due to pure luck (there was a suicide bombing attempt in Sweden's capital Stockholm last year, that only seemed to fail due to the bombs detonating prematurely, resulting in only him dying, while only being a street corner away from the most popular shopping street in the city) than the availability of weapons.

Edited by Captainlunchbox

You don't make anything better by punishing the people who have done nothing wrong. Anything happens these days and the solution is to cram as much legislation up its ass as possible or make some stupid arbitrary decision like this.

And it is absolutely a tragedy what happened, but how the hell does taking video games off your shelf stop psychopaths from doing whatever they want to do?

Posted by Ihmishylje

I'm a Finn and a couple of years back there were a couple of school shootings over here and the media tried to make a connection between video games and these mass murders, not by stating any actual causal relationship, but by simply suggesting that "they played video games and they murdered people" as if people should draw the "obvious" conclusion. The only conclusion to be made, however, is that young men play video games. That a few sad souls resort to these terrible violent outbursts is statistically insignificant. It's the same with this Norwegian case.
 
Whatever the motivation behind the act, it will never bring back the dead. Brevik has claimed his actions were politically motivated. If that is the case, all I can say is how sorry I am that some people fail to take a rational approach to politics and somehow manage to convince themselves that harming innocent people is righteous.

Posted by Egge

Although they're mostly intended to be summer blockbuster rollercoaster rides, the CoD/Modern Warfare games have begun to scare me a bit with their relentlessly bleak and implicitly conservative world view (i.e. the world is full of lying war-mongering bastards and only a few hardened (mostly English-speaking) macho men have what it takes to save the day etc.). Given the series' enormous user base, I wouldn't be surprised if there are confused and impressionable kids out there which, at the very least, happen to take this kind of bombastic storytelling just a little bit too seriously...

Posted by geirr

@Tiwi said:

well... Coop is a grocery store. it's disappointing, but it's not actually a big blow.
it's not even a electronic shop. they sell stuff like tomato sauce. why are we caring again?

Edit:
http://coop.no/ Here take a look. had something like Elkjøp or expert stopped selling games I would care but Coop? I've never bought a single game. this is just a charade to stop their game selling, because they're not earning any money on it. It's all economically motivated.

You mention Expert; Remember when they refused to sell Grand Theft Auto and other games because they didn't fit into their "family profile"? The comments then were also something like "who buys games at Expert anyway, let's go to x!"

@Chabbs0 said:

Note that they aren't blaming video games for the killings, merely don't want people shooting people for a while in videogames.

Once again though it's the games media that gets the negative focus. Let's not mention how we watched movies, like the rest of us, I'm sure they had violence in them because that's our world today. There's TV, News media, books, music. He prayed, a lot, should we stop new people from attending church for a while? No, because that'd be ridiculous since people need their own brand of comforting. Well video games is a great comfort to some as well. There were Scientologists in the streets of Oslo that day, offering "talks" and free thetan massages to those who might be in turmoil and seeking "answers" after the disaster struck. Activision was not in the strees trying to sell anything. Ramble ramble mutter..

Posted by BigSteve1983

This reminds me of what happen in the UK when Stephan Lepark was murdered and his mother when on the "Lets ban Manhunt" witchhunt which lead to HMV, Virgin, Game, Gamestation and other retailers banning selling it. The fact that the game was actually Stephan's game and not the killers was quickly overlooked by the Fail and his mother. 
 
The simple thing is everyone needs a villain and a scape goat so the media in the desire to create a media fear factor will look towards what ever is the popluar form of entertainment at the moment. In the 1970's it was movies, 1980-2000 music and 1994 onwards video games. As a good example the Sun run by Slimecorp has on the front page "person killed by Xbox" as there headline blaming a young 20 years death by DVT on Xbox.

Posted by marchismo

What, nobody's made a Suda 51 joke yet? I am disappoint.

Posted by lacke
@fisk0: He said "think $59.99". Because using straight conversion rates are pretty dumb in these cases because prices, salaries and taxes are different. Unless you just made a joke, in which case, it's still stupid. :P
Edited by medacris

I think the people who like blaming comic books, movies, video games, certain genres of music, etc. fail to remember that deranged psychopaths existed prior to these things.

Posted by Able

That is why you don't make decisions right after a tragedy.  No thought just emotions.

Posted by imsh_pl
@snusorten said:

This is just a reaction to the horrible shootings, I for one think its a nice thing to do, imagine you just lost your kid to mad man with a gun. Then your going to the grocery store and the fist thing that meets you is a shelf full of covers with dudes and guns.

If someone needs a game, just go somewhere else.Its just a way of showing respect.

You don't really see film companies pulling their blockbuster action movies out of the cinema screens, do you?
Posted by Kyreo

@Castiel said:

@Dany said:

@Kyreo said:

This will only encourage piracy.

Uhm..quite a leap in logic huh?

Oh please don't ruin Kyreo's shallow excuse for illegal downloading.

Haha... I'm not in Norway and I have both Steam and Gamefly, so I have no need for piracy. :]

Posted by Nekroskop

Platekompaniet and Coop Obs. Well no loss there. Game and Gamestop are still the biggest chains over here.

Posted by snusorten

@imsh_pl said:

@snusorten said:

This is just a reaction to the horrible shootings, I for one think its a nice thing to do, imagine you just lost your kid to mad man with a gun. Then your going to the grocery store and the fist thing that meets you is a shelf full of covers with dudes and guns.

If someone needs a game, just go somewhere else.Its just a way of showing respect.

You don't really see film companies pulling their blockbuster action movies out of the cinema screens, do you?

No, mabye the should, some do have guys with guns. But if you see at for the sellers POV movies dont put you in the posision of a person shooting down people, so I can see why they are removing them and putting them back up when some time has gone.

Edited by soulfulsoul
@LordCmdrStryker said:

@soulfulsoul said:

I have enjoyed video games ever since I was about 5 years old. But I can't fully support the side of video games here. I definitely wouldn't be surprised if violent video games negatively affect SOME people. Especially now that graphics are so realistic . Not that violent games should be banned, I'm just arguing that perhaps they should be handled a little more carefully. Years ago a relative of mine around the age of 10 came over and played Halo on my XBOX, which caused him to laugh like an absolute maniac as he shot aliens, and over the half hour or so that he played he almost went into some sort of crazy violent frenzy. It was bizarre and frightening to experience his transformation..

Dude, 10 years old? I think I'm a pretty good judge of character and there's no way in hell I'd let a 10-year-old play any first person shooter. And that's only because at that age they haven't fully come to realize the consequences when you do something dumb. Also, "crazy violent frenzy?" We're talking about Halo here, and not A Clockwork Orange.

Well the fact is that many 10 year olds get their hands on games like Halo. I know I definitely played violent games when I was 10, though they really don't compare to today's most violent games like Call of Duty F.E.A.R. or Grand Theft Auto. I played games like Mortal Kombat, a bit of one of the early Police Quest games, and the first Metal Gear. By that age I had also seen movies like Die Hard, RoboCop, and Terminator 2. I was a little hesitant to let him play, but he said he had played it many times at a friend's house before, and I figured that the violence is pretty cartoonish. He really was affected by it though. His violent frenzy did not mean that he went around town killing people, but he did strangely enjoy shooting the aliens,  and became more and more worked up the longer he played. It was ridiculous.  
Posted by fisk0

@lacke said:

@fisk0: He said "think $59.99". Because using straight conversion rates are pretty dumb in these cases because prices, salaries and taxes are different. Unless you just made a joke, in which case, it's still stupid. :P

Yeah, sure, there's the 25% VAT, and Norway being one of the richer countries in the EU certainly means the have higher salaries, but 599 NOK is expensive for a game either way, which is kind of the reason people don't buy games at Coop, when you can buy the same games for around 399-499 NOK on web stores or even at GAME. Or for that matter, import from Amazon UK where the prices are about half of those scandinavians have to pay.

Posted by MormonWarrior

Well...that's a bit dramatic. I'm not sure that things like that should be banned, although it is certain that everything we view or participate in has an effect on us, for better or for worse. That doesn't mean that playing Black Ops turns you into a serial killer, but it certainly can desensitize you to violent content. I know far too many parents who do not understand ratings or the content in the games they let their kids play - and that ignorance is what should be addressed. The ESRB is great, but I think that restricting the purchase of M-rated games by those under 17 would go a long way to helping parents realize it's an equivalent to the R rating.
 
That said, kneejerk reactions cause more problems than they help in most cases. This is extreme.

Edited by John1912
@soulfulsoul: Managing a child who works himself into a frenzy is not even in the same ball park, and is the responsibility of the care taker.  Video games being attached to any of these violent shooting rampages is completely incidental and promotes a moronic stereotype.  Which is actually HUGELY detrimental in confusing the issue that these people could not deal with society, were over looked by their peers and family seeing that they needed help, or getting them professional help for their underlying mental health problem 
 
It doesnt matter if games even have an effect on these situations.  Video games are a poor substitute as training or a cause. Better knowledge can come from a book, hunting, joining the army, paintball, taking a shooting class, wtf ever. Lets continue  bury our heads in the sand, not deal with the real issues, and continue to confuse people with this worthless stereotype started by lawyers with no defense for their client.
Posted by roughplague

I guess it wont be affected much elsewhere other than the grocery stores of COOP, so my fear of having to suddenly start importing from UK is relieved, THOUGH I think it's really short sighted and illogical that they again jump to the conservative thought that violent videogames was the cause of this psychopath's outrage, he said himself, his acts were merely politically motivated. Getting this off shelves will not stop psychopaths from mass murdering people, mental treatment of possible candidates at least helps it.
again though, thankfully this is a grocery store chain, not a regular retailer, no one buys games the same place they buy tomato-sauce, but go to actual game retailers such as gamestop, platekompaniet and electronic stores like elkjøp and stuff.

Posted by Luck3ySe7en

Why not set up a fund or donate to the victim's families? You know, something that's actually helpful.

Posted by nail1080

Do the staff never read the forums or just not care about them? Because this story was covered there a significant amount of time ago

Posted by schattenwolf86

There will always be messed up people in the world, no matter what others try to do to prevent that.

Anyways, while they are it, stop selling forks and knives! They could be used to stab others.

Posted by valrog
@nail1080 said:
Do the staff never read the forums or just not care about them? Because this story was covered there a significant amount of time ago
Tell me about it. I guess they justify with other threads not having "(Article)" in it.
Posted by MikkaQ

@Kyreo said:

This will only encourage piracy.

I assume Norway has more than one game store. Like Platekompaniet or something.

Also yeah kind of a weird reaction to that news. Especially where it says it is of no economic importance, which is kinda nuts. Good to respect the victims, but this doesn't really feel like a gesture of respect, more like a paranoid reaction.

Posted by Tomrock

Well if he specifically stated that he used them to train then that's something different altogether, rather than the standard banning of games due to some barely discernable link to the event

Posted by squidracerX

This might sound mean and blackhearted, its not meant to be, its meant as a logic argument to shut these anti-video game people up. i love kids, have many little relatives I'd give my life for, so this is not meant to be creepy or mean.
 
BUT if video games make you a ruthless, cold, calculated, trained killer - I doubt that this one guy would have been able to kill 86 teenagers who probably play more games than he did. They all had the same "evil video game" training he did yet none of them did what he did or had the "skill" he did. None of them had been brainwashed to be be a crazy asshole like him. So by pure logic, if all 200 people in the Norway shooting incident had done similar things with video games, and one went crazy, that is not any sort of proof that video games make you nuts or train you as an assasin.

This guy said he went to the Templar meeting in Britain way back in 2000 anyway, so he was nuts before WoW came out.

Posted by Marz

Sure blame video games for a Knight's Templar fanatic.

Posted by theanticitizen

I do want to say that while Coop pulling the games off shelves is definitely reactionary, my heart goes out to the victims and families of the victims. It's a horrible tragedy and I wish the best for everyone.

Online
Posted by FreakAche

Sounds reasonable. Elf violence is a known predecessor to real violence.

Posted by Tan

You can buy Counter Strike at a retail store...?

Posted by Mats

@fisk0: My point was this still doesn't make sense. One crazy bastard mentions two video games and suddenly coop and Platekomaniet goes haywire. Does this mean that games kill? Why not ban violent films as well? In a sense this guy has set an agenda. I for one refuse to let this guy affect my way of living.

Posted by spoilars

I'll just get in line with the other Norwegians on here in saying that I don't know anyone that has ever bought a game at a Coop store. Platekompaniet is another story, but as previously stated, it's one of the most expensive stores to buy games at in this country. A new PS3 game will easily set you back $100. This is clearly a knee jerk reaction, and I think (hope) that it won't persist or spread to any other outlets.

This might already have been quoted, but another national electronics retailer, Spaceworld, put out a statement in an interview with the NTB linked to this story in which they stated that "We can not see any connection between the tragedy which has occurred and the fact that we sell video games. We have never seen any research concluding that a video game alone has led to events such as this"

Posted by MaxOpower

Yeah really, who cares, no one buys video games in coop anyway  (Beside maybe grandparents).