OSLO Reuters – Norwegian anti-Islamic fanatic Anders Behring Breivik told a court on Thursday that he used computer games to prepare for his attacks, once spending an entire year isolated from society playing a game for hours on end.Breivik, on trial for massacring 77 people last July, said he spent “lots of time” playing Modern Warfare, a first-person shooting game, and also took an entire year off to play World of Warcraft, a multi-player role-playing game with more than 10 million subscribers.
This information may come as a jolt upon first learning it, but really, is anyone surprised?
A few weeks ago I reviewed Douglas Rushkoff’s new graphic novel A.D.D. Adolescent Demo Division, a sci-fi vision of the future in which the hyperlink-minded, video game-trained children of tomorrow have learned to use media and technology to take control of their lives.
No one should be surprised that just as virtual worlds can provide the tools for reprogramming ourselves and our communities, evil people can also use them to transform from incompetent video game nerds into neo-fascist terrorists who murder 77 and injure 319.
I speak often with my Gen-X colleagues and friends and the dynamic is usually the same: they’re wide-eyed about the depravity of human evil and very pessimistic about the future, and expect America to collapse from the poison cocktail of cultural rot and the ever-growing welfare state. They don’t buy (yet) my Ray Kurzweil-style talk of the unpredictable effects of technology’s exponential growth combined with the Howe/Strauss-analysis of what’s coming as the Millennial generation ages into young adulthood and middle age.
They almost delight in sending me items like this to confirm that their pessimism is justified. Technology won’t save us and there will be just as many Millennial devils as angels. Only now they’ll have all that technology to help them kill more effectively and an internet to spread their hatreds. In Breivik we have our worst nightmare come to life.
And the conversation with my friends always ends the same: yes, we agree about the facts and the severity of the threat. I’m just convinced that in the end we’re going to win because our ideas are better. Our ideas actually work — theirs don’t.