Published by: AsiaPacificAML |
Research has shown that video games desensitise humans. In 2016 a study was undertaken with a group of university students who were split into groups of video game players. One group played violent games and another group playing non-violent games.
The results confirmed repeated play of hyper-realistic violent video games desensitised gamers to having emotional responses to acts of violence and numbed their feelings of guilt.
The recent terrorist attack in New Zealand has confirmed the gunman was an avid video game player. This was confirmed by the gunman himself in his writings that he disclosed minutes before his shootings. Family members of the 28-year old have also confirmed he had an addiction to video games – “Tarrant spent most of his time on computer games during his high school days rather than chasing girls”, his grandmother said.
This was the same situation for the Norway gunman who brutally killed school students as they attended a school camp. He too used video games as a training platform before he set out on a mass killing spree of school students.
In 2015 another white supremist, Dylan Roof, shot and killed numerous people as they intended their local church. Investigations into Roof’s background and childhood revealed he had a longtime exposure to violent video games.
Therefore an emerging profile of a western based terrorist is a European, male, aged between mid 20s to mid 30s, a lone wolf, single with a fascination and/or addiction to online video games.
To further push this theory forward, that is, players of violent video games have a higher propensity of becoming a mass killer, a psychiatrist described a man as insane and therefore not guilty or murder “because he believed he was living in another world.”
Jo Pert was stabbed to death on 7 January 2016 as she was out jogging in broad daylight and attacked with a knife. The psychiatrist responsible for examining the mental status of the offender, Dr. Mhairi Duff said the offender suffered from schizophrenia, hallucinations and lived in complex system of delusions, believing he existed in a virtual reality when he killed Ms Pert – a total stranger.
“The rest of us are living in an altered reality and the players within this altered reality are controlled by controllers from the real world from which Mr Filo has been temporarily banished,” she said of the offender’s delusion.
Dr Duff said the offender thought he was doing “missions” to get back to the real world, where he thought he was a king, saying he would have viewed the attack as killing someone in a shooter video game. “He continued to believe the person he killed was not a live human being but rather an … artificial being.” (source).
Moving back to the most recent terrorist act in New Zealand, the gunman referred to a video game, Fortnite, where he described, “…. Fortnite trained me to be a killer and to floss on the corpses of my enemies.”
Coincidentally, Fortnite has also recently been connected to facilitating money laundering.
How much commitment is being made to regulate these games by way of ratings and controlling distributions?
With the above incidents of terrorists being connected to avid gamers, what can society and governments do to prevent children, teenagers and adolescents from becoming terrorists?