By Sidrah Zaheer
People who maintain prejudice and convert that negative feeling into extreme hatred for other people exist everywhere. They are not exclusive to any caste, class, creed, culture, religion, philosophy or place. The shootings that occurred in Norway last year in July killed several Muslims. This time the culprit was someone harbouring extremism against the minority in his own country and the only way he thought to somehow equalize things in his mind, was to shoot at them.
The man, Anders Behring Breivik, is a name that will surely not be distinctly mentioned than in the category of where Adolf Hitler’s name is placed. Extreme nihilism, narcissism and racism; these are just some of the negative shades in the continuum of violence that Breivik adheres to. Apparently, he was also a member of the Lodge of St. Olaf in Oslo and was proud of his association that he displayed his photographs in the Masonic regalia on his Facebook profile. But after what he had done, his acts were not one that Grand Master of the Norwegian Order of Freemasons wanted linked with their “organization with secrets”. Hence, he was disbanded. Already the Masons have a lot to clear about their acts, they could not take more of such blames. The very display means breaking the rules of “the game”. However, the games that did teach him things, rather trained him, were supposed to be harmless.
During the recent trial on Breivik, he admitted to practicing shooting through playing the computer game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, with the help of holographic aiming device. This fact not only shows the cunning evilness behind the means of preparation that he had thought that no one can suspect him, but also highlights the reality of how much brutality is being taught through these video games that are in easy access to young kids.
They can foreseeably get a negative influence out of such games. And what is worse is that they can utilize the game’s means to achieve their end aims of hatred. The reason Breivik chose Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was because he said different armies use war-games to train for gun-shooting. He also mentioned another game, World of Warcraft as part of his practicing routine. However, he tried to save these game-makers by saying that they have nothing to do with his attack. Of course, the games did not teach him to hate Muslims, but they did teach him to shoot.
The big question is also can video games be blamed for such acts of extremism? Where does real responsibility lie? The answer to this question is very important to every community that faces such threat from people who base their hatred on someone’s skin colour, ethnicity and religious outlook. The issue has always resided in people’s mindsets and how they approach life and what respect they give other fellow human beings.
It is something that is lacking in an environment that nourishes a person’s heart and cherishes in it compassion for a fellow-being. Does it mean that potential negative mindsets are being created through video games which can cause such threats? Will the trial prove to be exemplary for others who might follow suit? Only time can tell.