Psychologists warn against growing desensitisation due to exposure to violence through video games; press for govt intervention and ban
“It was like watching a live one-player sniper game online. Something like GTA,” 24-year-old Teja said after he watched the video of the horrid New Zealand mosque attack on social media.
The video, which was widely shared across social media platforms but later taken down, was live-streamed by the shooter, 28-year-old Brenton Harrison Tarrant, on Facebook. Armed with an assault-rifle — just like the ones in popular video games — Tarrant mercilessly sprayed worshippers with bullets inside two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 49 people.
While the bigger debate against this act of terror rages, one cannot ignore the influence video games may have had on the Tarrant. In fact, in his 74-page anti-immigrant ‘manifesto’, which he posted on Twitter, Tarrant asks himself if he learnt violence and extremism from video games. “Yes. Spyro the Dragon 3 taught me ethno nationalism. Fortnite trained me to be a killer and to floss on the corpses of my enemy,” he answers sarcastically.
Violence and games are hand in hand?
To say that there is a direct relation between his act of violence and the games he played is a complicated statement to make, says consultant psychologist Dr Purnima Nagaraj. “But, we cannot rule out the possibility either.
People like Tarrant are radicals who believe that they have a higher cause. They are low on empathy and have a different moral reasoning. So, it can be interpreted that the games he played simply offered a ‘creative idea’ of executing his attack that he would have carried out anyway. This way, he managed to attract a lot of attention,” she said.
The attack was more designed for social media — where users are game-savvy, exposed to violence virtually and familiar with ‘first-person’ shooting games format. Keeping this in mind, psychologist Radhika Acharya warns against growing desensitisation. “Nobody is regulating the content in these games. Young children who are being exposed to violence at an early age are increasingly becoming desensitised to gruesome acts. Violence is being normalised and this has to stop. Besides parents and teachers, time has come for the government to take stringent action. These games should be banned,” she said.
Dy Mayor consoles NZ attack victims families
Deputy Mayor Baba Fasiuddin on Saturday met the families of Ahmed Iqbal Jahangir and Farhaj Ahsan, who were the victims of the Christchurch mosque attack in New Zealand.
He said the TRS working president KT Rama Rao was in contact with the New Zealand embassy and all measures were being taken up to provide support to the families of the victims.
He first visited Ahmed Iqbal Jahangir family in Amberpet along with local Corporator
K Padmavathi and later visited the family of Farhaj Ahsan in Nadeem Colony, Tolichowki, said a press release.