Oslo Terrorist Used Modern Warfare 2 as "Training-Simulation", World of Warcraft as Cover

Illustration for article titled Oslo Terrorist Used Modern Warfare 2 as "Training-Simulation", World of Warcraft as Cover

The accused shooter in yesterday's massacre in Norway has been linked to a 1,500 page manifesto that recommends using Call of Duty to train combat skills for an upcoming war with Islam.


Anders Behring Breivik also suggests that an obsession with massively-multiplayer role playing game World of Warcraft, which he was known to play, is a useful cover story to explain the time one is actually spending plotting attacks.

"I just bought Modern Warfare 2, the game," he writes, under "Andrew Berwick" (an Anglicization of his Norwegian name). "It is probably the best military simulator out there and it's one of the hottest games this year. ... I see MW2 more as a part of my training-simulation than anything else. I've still learned to love it though and especially the multiplayer part is amazing. You can more or less completely simulate actual operations."

Police have not officially confirmed the manifesto is Breivik's but it contains multiple references to his actual name, his height, weight and place of origin, his World of Warcraft activities, server and his handle ("Conservativism" and "Conservative"). The manifesto was originally found by Kevin Slaughter, who posted a Google doc link to it through his Twitter feed.

Breivik, 32, is in custody after Friday's horrific attacks in and outside of Oslo, in which seven were killed by a bomb and another 85 were gunned down at a youth camp. Police described Breivik as a gun-loving, right-wing religious fundamentalist who saw Muslim immigration as a threat to his country's culture.

"2083: A European Declaration of Independence" identifies not just Muslims as a target but also agents of multiculturalism and "cultural Marxism" (or "political correctness") which he sees as abetting a Muslim immigration that will overrun Europe. Indeed, yesterday's shooting rampage targeted a youth camp where children of Norway's current ruling party were vacationing.

In addition to more practical means of gun training, such as visiting firing ranges and countries with relaxed gun laws, Breivik also says that military shooters like Modern Warfare are a way to keep one's skills sharp.


"Simulation by playing Call of Duty, Modern Warfare is a good alternative as well but you should try to get some practise with a real assault rifle (with red point optic) if possible," he writes under a section titled "Marksmanship Training".

As preparations for what are essentially terrorist operations can raise suspicions, typically over one's lack of money or time spent away from friends and family, Breivik suggests that "using social taboos is an extremely effective method from preventing people who know you well from digging too much." One such taboo is an obsession with World of Warcraft.


"F[or] example, tell them that you have started to play World of Warcraft or any other online MMO game and that you wish to focus on this for the next months/year," Breivik writes. "This "new project" can justify isolation and people will understand somewhat why you are not answering your phone over long periods. Tell them that you are completely hooked on the game (raiding dungeons etc)."

"You will be amazed on how much you can do undetected while blaming this game," he continues. "If your planning requires you to travel, say that you are visiting one of your WoW friends, or better yet, a girl from your "guild" (who lives in another country). No further questions will be raised if you present these arguments."


Breivik says he spent three years writing the manifesto. In the first year, he played World of Warcraft "hardcore", living "very ascetic" and in isolation. "I feel that this period was needed in order to completely detach myself from ‘the game,' my ‘former shallow consumerist lifestyle' in order to ensure full focus on the matters at hand."

Elsewhere, in diary entries, Breivik mentions playing Fallout 3, BioShock 2 and Dragon Age: Origins but does not ascribe any training or ideological purpose to them.


Since the shooting, Breivik's former guildmates have taken to European World of Warcraft forums to make sense of the killings and Breivik's alleged involvement. In forum posts they have described him as a down-to-earth, "overall nice guy," unable "to harm a fly."


His WoW page, under the handle Conservativism, was inaccessible as of this morning but Breivik had apparently stopped playing Warcraft five months ago.

Although Breivik calls "hardcore dungeon raiding" a "dream" of his in the manifesto, he suggests that friends found his Warcraft involvement a good explanation, as intended, for his double life. "I have managed to channel these suspicions far away from relating to my political convictions. Instead they suspect that I am playing WoW (and trying to hide it)," he wrote.


Reached for comment Monday, Activision had this to say about the Oslo tragedy:

"We are shocked and saddened by the tragedy in Norway and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims," a spokesman wrote to Kotaku. "We do not believe that this senseless tragedy is in any way connected to any form of media or entertainment."


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Nick Ha

I think that we as humans have largely forgotten (or perhaps never really even realized) what it means to end a life. What it means when someone dies. We have forgotten empathy.

It's something that I'm conscious about every time I play a video game. So many games charge me with the task of ending lives. Most of the time, I can distance myself from the fact that I'm committing a crime in a virtual world. But occasionally, it comes to the front of my mind. I put an enemy in the crosshairs. I pull the trigger. At that very moment, I have ended a life. Years and years of memories, of a man or a woman growing up from infancy into adulthood, their motivations, their beliefs, their interests, their passions, the people they love, the things they love to do... gone. Gone forever, to never again exist in this world.

Of course, I can do it in a video game because I know for an absolute fact that I'm not ending a life, that it's just a bunch of pixels in some moderately accurate representation of a life, and hell, he'll probably respawn in ten seconds anyway (unless this is Search and Destroy). But deep in my heart, I know what my actions are representative of. In the real world, no matter how much I do it in a video game, I will never be able to take a life. Not while knowing how much I'll be destroying in the process. Well, unless it were in response to a heinous crime that can never be forgiven and deserves no less. But I digress.