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Posted: 07:35 17 Aug 2019
by Frank_Butcher
Was having a chat with someone last night about recent events. The tragic and devastating events in Berkshire and Newcastle where young people are suspects. And of course the spate of stabbings over the last year or two mainly associated with young people.

Most certainly disenfranchisement, social support and policing are factors, but we were pondering whether our young people are becoming desensitised. In fact it's not just the young. I heard a little while back of a middle-aged person who said they had watched an online video of mass shootings on social media, and who made a clear connection that having played so many shoot-me-up video games, it really wasn't particularly shocking to them (though they did at least admit to a sense of guilt).

I'm not pretending shocking things haven't happened through time immemorial, but is it now more common?

Are we inadvertently creating a desensitised world where real death is routine on certain social news feeds - and of course available to all ages? You can't unsee these things once it's done, and I can't imagine seeing some of those images when I was in my development.

And I must confess to remembering playing Doom to the early hours and having motion sickness because the grahics were so poor. But as a result the distinction between that and reality was very clear. Is that distinction now blurring as games creators strive to make their product as realsitic as possible?

Is all of this contributing to the perceived value of a life in the minds of some people?

Pornography is of course another example of desensitisation, though in this case I'm specifically talking about perceived value of a life.

To be clear, I recognise there are other factors at play but I'm interested in other people's views on desensitisation.

Re: Desensitisation

Posted: 08:22 17 Aug 2019
by signalspast
Agreed. The forces have been doing it for years. When u go on the ranges the wording is at the target in front shoot to kill shoot to kill. The reason for it is so that if you have to do it in real life the person just becomes a target not a person

Re: Desensitisation

Posted: 10:12 17 Aug 2019
by Pogleswoody
signalspast wrote: Agreed. The forces have been doing it for years. When u go on the ranges the wording is at the target in front shoot to kill shoot to kill. The reason for it is so that if you have to do it in real life the person just becomes a target not a person

Yes think of a drone pilot in an actual conflict happening miles away 'live'. Very little to differentiate that from a game with good graphics really.

What interested me was the young guy in Australia who was confronted by the Brits. He was all strutting, posing and bravado, waving his knife around, jumping up on the car, all very 'gameplay' even tho' he had actually killed someone by then?
But when the older guys came after him with poles, makeshift weapons, whatever, you could see him change: 'This isn't supposed to happen. I'm supposed to be a 'hero'. This is real! I'm going to die!'

So reality is totally different but, by the time reality hits, it can be too late, damage done!! :sad:

Re: Desensitisation

Posted: 10:23 17 Aug 2019
by Ham Green
Tricky one this.

I don't know of a video game where you just go out and shoot innocent people. Such a game would surely not make it past the censors. The graphics are better but the enemies haven't changed. I don't feel it's that much different to playing cops and robbers out in the street - there's still a sense of good prevailing over evil.

The reactions to El Paso and Dayton would suggest that people aren't desensitised. The USA isn't the only country that has it's share of risque video games - the Japanese have cornered that market - but it is the only country with a mass-shooting problem.

I really don't think people are becoming desensitised - quite the opposite. There seems to be a large number of people who live on a hair-pin trigger, and the slightest upset causes huge offence. People like Peter and Chris Hitchens (God rest his eternal soul), Toby Young, Katie Hopkins, Richard Littlejohn and Julia Hart-Brewer have basically made careers from exploiting this. It's a good earner.

We can't take one or two nutcases and extrapolate it to the whole population. And we certainly can't make sweeping generalisations about where the real problem lies - as I said, virtually the whole world has access to violent video games, and many countries have relaxed gun laws, but there's only one country where schools have safety drills in case of a gunman on the premises. The mass-shootings are a specifically American problem and they have to figure out why it's happening. The stabbings are a London problem, just as complicated and nuanced, and they have to figure that out. That's going to be tough. That might involve previous and current generations having to face up to the sort of world they've created, but it needs to be done.

Re: Desensitisation

Posted: 11:10 17 Aug 2019
by Ave_IT
Good post Ham Green - think I agree. I guess the fact that the people who witness or are directly caught up in these awful events do find it deeply traumatic - even requiring professional help - must mean they aren't 'desensitised'.

Then again maybe that's 'normal' , well balanced people who can easily distinguish between reality and fantasy. Maybe there are a small minority, perhaps with mental health issues who can be badly affected. I'm not sure what the evidence is but it wouldn't surprise me - it makes intuitive sense.

If that is the case then it's a conundrum - should the great majority have their freedom to enjoy such games, movies etc. be curtialed because of the few? You could argue the same about alcohol or gambling..... or the American gun lobby say the same. I dunno.... my head hurts :sad: