A friend of mine narrated this story to me regarding a recent Christchurch Terrorist Attack. He shares his apartment with a couple of friends. On that tragic day, the internet was blocked in the apartment due to non-payment of the bill. He knew that his roommate doesn’t have a data package on his cell phone. As my friend saw the video of that event on his cell phone, he didn’t tell anything to his room-mate about the event and wearing an insensitive face, played that video for him, asking about what it may be. His roommate responded casually that it looks like some FPS (first person shooting) game snippet. Upon hearing that, my friend broke the real news and they shared the shock that the entire world was experiencing.

And, it lightens up a question, is violence in video games making us insensitive to actual human suffering? Have games become so real that we are accustomed now to see humans being butchered so regularly that it doesn’t feel bad anymore? Has the art of photography and movie making, coupled with phenomenal development of digital image processing, increased our immunity levels towards violence? To put a closure to this series of questions, do video games and movies share a blame of increasing violence in human societies?

It’s human nature that if you are watching something regularly, you won’t be shocked if you see a similar thing again, albeit in a different context. It’s a very common technique in psychology which is used to remove fear. For example, if someone fears a cat, a plastic cat model would be placed in his living place for some time so the patient becomes habitual to it. This cat will be replaced by a stuffed toy and the level of reality will be increased. This will help the patient to develop immunity. Same is the case with masses as they develop immunity towards anything that is played around for quite some time, regardless how brutal, inhumane or merciless it looks in the first place.

Prince Harry’s comment about his Afghanistan mission puts this whole discussion into perspective. ‘It was like a video-game’, that were his comments about an actual war in Afghanistan. Fittingly, he was trolled a lot by Taliban as ‘coward helicopter gunner’ who can’t even dare to put his foot on the ground in active war-zone. However, when someone like Prince Harry, who has a huge following base compares a war where people are losing lives with a video game, that too in a TV interview, you can guess the gravity of the situation.

Several studies have been conducted to find a connection between violent video games and aggressive behavior too. For example, a study conducted by Dartmouth College recently concluded that violent video games are associated with increased physical aggressive behavior in children. Add the liberty of operation and access that adults have to the weapons as compared to children and the situation becomes way more serious in the real world.

It’s quite interesting to note that neither in video games nor in movies, a scene or situation is allowed where it looks as if animals are being harmed. Logic is simple, it will desensitize society regarding animal abuse and there is a possibility that if someone is shooting dogs in a realistic video game, the same player can try it out on the streets as well. I don’t understand why the same logic isn’t applied on human beings. Video games, movies, web series, etc. have been showing gruesome scenes with blood and gore in such detail that it mesmerizes the crowds. Camera angles with slow motion and high definition graphics augmented with post-production mastery result in captivating scene. People do appreciate the level of creativity but what they don’t realize is that they are developing a taste for it, which, in turn, can manifest in horrible acts.

Video of Christchurch Terrorist Attach has been compared to a PUBG scene several times in various posts in social media. Although Bluehole, the South Korean video game company which owns PUBG, doesn’t have any direct connection to what happened in Christchurch, it still should be a matter of concern for them. A person ramming a place of worship and killing helpless people who are running for their lives is being compared to the scenes PUBG provide for the players; this fact, even in isolation, should be a big question mark to the developers of PUBG. After all, will EA sports be fine if a situation in a real world where a player is receiving bribe for underperforming in a crucial match is compared to a FIFA video game?

Should violent video games be banned? Frankly, I don’t have a binary answer to this riddle. There can be many arguments, for and against alike, but there can’t be a second thought to a fact that the disastrous effects of violence-based games and movies are harming the society in all. Specially, where a common citizen, dressed in civil clothes, roams around the city and have the liberty to do whatever he or she likes. It puts you in a totally different mindset as compared to the games which show a scene of battle field and two armies are in active combat with each other. Reason is quite simple, a video game player, who is mostly a common person, doesn’t connect himself that strongly to the Army uniformed fighting situation. However, when he sees the scene of a normal day street life which is quite the same that he experiences in his daily life, it connects to a different level.

Sometimes, I really feel that Mario and Snowbros were way better than Counter Strike and PUBG.