Anywhere in the world where any race or religion or cast fanatic takes violent supremacist step with gun and population start talking about psychological impact of interactive media such as gaming on children and young adults as if that is their fundamental right to get closure on such violent anarchy. Its old story; even ancient one when we thought of inception of shooter computer games. Let’s instead of political arguments, de-construct the whole scenario and focus the subject in different light. I would try to address “why” of the blame game and might in process raise more ominous view ( this post is in response to recent tragic violent shooting in new Zealand mosque in response to which one educated intellectual friend of me has pointed finger towards currently most popular battle arena game PUBG as victim in jocular fashion. It came as shock to me how people are perceiving games; even in jokes.)
Why computer games or movies or any other popular media.
“Because it’s there” – this famous quote from world famous Everest climber George Mallory can also work as an answer to our dilemma. It’s easy to blame popular media. And our minds are happy to blame abstract “cause” which can act as righteous step to all of the wrongs. Human minds are bad at comprehending chaos, especially of a scale of gun attack in public places. It represents chaos in otherwise “stable” system. Hence there is need to find settlement to ease the terror or fear. And popular media is readily available for that. Shooter games themselves act as shooting target with bulls eye.
Games are not conditioning environment
All the popular media comes with their governing restrictions either in name of issued age restriction certificates or as moral values when we consider impact of them over minors. Doesn’t matter if such restrictions are carried out strictly or not; games, movies, books etc. should be conceived as the mind influencing environment rather then mind conditioning. They don’t have power to brainwash. If shooting games could have such power then lot of people including me were, by this time, could have been brandishing guns in both hands and having our poor lives “blasted” out of proportion. But looks like after so much digital gun toting, I came out decent and even violence-averting in nature. And the same can be said for those whom I knew as long time dedicated computer gamers.
Child’s malleable mind is far better in fantasizing; no matter what. Given right catalyst, it can be molded with care into something superior. But what we are talking about is not product of any such exposure. Empathy is part of natural behavior expressed from eons old evolved genes. What we are seeing as violent retribution is part of heavily subdued brain with either life altering trauma or tight conditioning or brainwashing.
And when we are talking about conditioning, most frightful conditioning parents expose their child to is religion which not even have any governing body to issue any age restrictions. It is more potent and effective than any violent game nowadays. See any of those ancient religion tomes and scriptures and try to glean the direct or indirect form of violence present (towards non-believer or evil); you will be amazed by ferocity and content.
Why shooting is fun in games
The fact is, gamers worldwide are not actually enjoying the killing spree in games. They enjoy the “feel” of it. That is, games have already established virtual context and world which is in sync with killing “bad guys”. It’s already been established as safe environment. Players enjoy the tactical decision making or super power fantasy or reflexes or mastering challenges; which is far away then actual real world shootings. Evolution has already instilled aversion towards real blood or carnage. Even given the right context, players feel guilty over killing NPCs ( player with no role or context in games. In short, innocent) even in computer games. So any argument pointing towards computer games playing key role in introducing real world apathetic behavior is utterly hogwash.
What’s the ratio
How many gamers worldwide actually converted to homicidal maniac ? Or how many deranged killers are actually gamers ? I bet even though we come up with exact statistics, numbers are quite high if we asked the same question with some other general attributes such as how many killers have dogs or how many go to religious places or how many are single or ……
Is it that having dogs or no-dogs is killing factor ?? Absolutely foolish, right !! Then why games have such attention. Games get the disadvantage of being “special” apart from other common variables. Games are highly visible. They are unique. And have high attention grabbing visibility. And playing games is still not the norm, hence has to face scrutinized stare of the society over such incidents.
It’s time we need to reign our basic instincts and think rationally before generalizing.