Confessed mass murderer Anders Breivik explains how he trained for the killings with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
Anders Behring Breivik explained to a packed Oslo courtroom today how he used Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 to "train" for last summer's shooting spree which left 77 dead, many of them teenagers.
He also defended his World of Warcraft gaming habits, which peaked with him playing the game 16 hours a day, calling it just a hobby and saying it was unrelated to the attacks.
Reached for comment today, Activision decried the mass killing.
"We remain shocked and saddened by the tragedy in Norway," a spokesperson told Polygon. "We do not believe that this senseless tragedy is in any way connected to any form of media or entertainment."
On July 22, 2011, Breivik set off a car bomb outside government offices in Oslo, Norway. Then, dressed as a police officer, he traveled to a nearby island where a youth camp was being hosted by Norway's Liberal Party. He gathered the campers together under the pretenses of a security check and then began shooting them with weapons he had named after Norse gods. Breivik surrendered to police when they arrived about 40 minutes after the shootings started.
Breivik was later linked to a 1,500-page manifesto that recommended using Call of Duty to hone combat skills in preparation for an upcoming war with Islam.
Breivik was indicted on terror and murder charges on March 7. His trial started on April 16. Two court-ordered psychological reports reached differing opinions on his sanity. If found sane, Breivik could face a maximum of 21 years in prison; if declared insane, he would be committed to psychiatric care. There is no death penalty in Norway.
Today, during day four of the trial, the 33-year-old confessed mass-murderer talked at length about his use of Modern Warfare 2 in preparing for the series of attacks last summer. He told a panel of five judges that he used the game to familiarize himself with holographic sights. He later purchased the same sight for the weapon he used during the killing spree.
"Some people like to play golf, some like to sail, I played WoW"
"If you are familiar with a holographic sight, it's built up in such a way that you could have given it to your grandmother and she would have been a super marksman," The Guardian reports he said. "It's designed to be used by anyone. In reality it requires very little training to use it in an optimal way. But of course it does help if you've practised using a simulator."
Breivik told the courtroom that Modern Warfare 2 is used by armies around the world for training, calling it a war simulation game.
"It consists of many hundreds of different tasks and some of these tasks can be compared with an attack, for real," The Guardian reports he said. "That's why it's used by many armies throughout the world. It's very good for acquiring experience related to sights systems."
While it may be an exaggeration, both retail video games and video games specifically designed by the military are used in some countries to augment real-world training. The U.S. military's use of video game technology includes adapting it to create real world shoot houses that combine life-size video game graphics with real weapon use. But it doesn't make use of retail video games.
Earlier in the trial Breivik described how he took a "sabbatical" between the summers of 2006 and 2007 to devote his life to playing World of Warcraft "hardcore." He said he spent up to 16 hours a day playing the game from his bedroom in his mother's apartment. The Telegraph reported that Breivik broke into a broad smile when an image of his in-game avatar was projected on a screen in the courtroom.
He later insisted that World of Warcraft had nothing to do with the attacks.
"Some people like to play golf, some like to sail, I played WoW," The Guardian reports he said. "It had nothing to do with 22 July. It's not a world you are engulfed by. It's simply a hobby."
"WoW is only a fantasy game, which is not violent at all. It's just fantasy. It's a strategy game. You co-operate with a lot of others to overcome challenges. That's why you do it. It's a very social game. Half of the time you are connected in communication with others. It would be wrong to consider it an antisocial game."
Breivik said his mother was shocked when he told her he was planning to spend a year playing the game fulltime. What he didn't tell her, he said, was that he was taking the break because he was going to "blow himself up in five years' time," according to The Guardian.
The game also served as what Breivik called convenient cover, allowing him to concentrate on preparing for the mass shooting and bombing attack.
At one point during the testimony the prosecution pointed out to Breivik that many of the families of the children he killed were sitting behind him in the courtroom.
"How do you think they are feeling," the prosecutor asked, according to The Guardian.
"They are probably reacting in a natural way," he responded, "with disgust and horror."