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Game Design and the Everyday Life

Terrorism, Games, and Racist Remarks

Some time ago the Swedish blog Spelfunderingar wrote a comment on the racism of blaiming violence on videogames. I read it then and wanted to comment on it, but never got around to it until now. The post is in Swedish, but I feel it might be interesting to a wider audience. You may of course try to translate it if you wish.

The article does not talk about whether games are bad or not, but instead about the fact that it is an argument, and only in certain situations. We (you might read ’the media’) often blame video games for violent acts. But this argument is usually only there if the act is performed by white people originating in the western world (as we in the Scandinavian countries are mostly white and in the western world).

In the example Spelfunderingar mentions the terrorist act at Utöya in Norway. The first thing that happened was people started to blaim extremist Muslim organisations, but quite soon it became obvious that the terrorist was white, blue eyed, right-wing and with roots in Norway. This is when the debate turned towards video games. Gratefully people did not buy into that and it died off quite quickly, but it still went there!

Similar things have been seen in many situations (I can think of school shootings in both Finland and USA for example). The thing is, the debate is never there when the terrorist is immigrant or a foreigner! Of course it would be absurd to blaim Al-Quaida on Grand Theft Auto, or Halo for the Bush administration, but  when you look at smaller attacks with a few or a single attacker this difference is there. White guys kill because of video games, Muslims kill because they are terrorists.

Somehow this relates to us wanting to understand what is close to us, why someone, kind of like us, do something so horrible; and that is a natural thing to do. But if the tone of your skin is enough for us to switch explanation, then there is something wrong; both with the explanation and with the society around it!

Both me and the original source write with a Swedish viewpoint. Is this the same elsewhere? The world is a big place, this seems to fit for Europe and northern America. But what about the rest? Is there someone who knows?

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