Norway’s still reeling from the shocking mass murders allegedly performed by Anders Breivik 10 days ago, and the latest cultural repercussions will make it harder to find certain video games in the massacre’s wake.
Coop Norway, one of the country’s largest retailers, announced late last week that they’d be removing 51 video games and weapon-like toys from their shelves in the aftermath of the Oslo/Utoya shootings.
Among the titles affected are Homefront, Sniper: Ghost Warrior, Counter-Strike, World of Warcraft and four Call of Duty games. According to statements made to Norwegian newspaper Rogalands Avis (Google Translate link), the ban on these games is apparently only temporary, but with no reinstatement date announced.
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Coop Norway Retail director Geir Inge Stokke said, “The decision to remove the games was made around the time we realized the scope of the attack. Others are better suited than us to point to the negative effects of games like these.”
Stokke added, “At the moment it’s [appropriate] for us to take them down. I wouldn’t be surprised if others do the same. We have to think very carefully about when to bring these goods back. The economy involved is of no importance.”
Now, given the nationwide mourning that’s gripped Norway after the killings, pulling certain games from store shelves isn’t a big hardship. But it’s exactly the kind of fumbly gesture that continues to make games (and other creative media) an easy scapegoat when something ugly happens in society. Stokke’s remarks portray a bit of ambivalence, which is expected in the wake of an event like the Oslo/Utoya shootings. This token gesture demonstrates sympathy but arguably doesn’t do much to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.