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.
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."