July 26, 2019 2:30 pm

Roy Green: Does gaming lead to aberration?

Speaking to media on Thursday afternoon, a spokesperson for the Manitoba RCMP said the force was not yet able to confirm what weapons, if any, Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod may be carrying.

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This is more of a question than a statement, more of a query than a definitive.

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Reading reports about B.C. murder suspect Bryer Schmegelsky‘s interest in video games, and taking the games so seriously his peers would begin to feel uncomfortable, raises the question gamers and many in the tech community express distaste for. Namely, can violent video games sufficiently impress on the brain to open the door to aberrant behaviour?

Last year, the World Health Organization included “gaming disorder” in the draft of its International Classification of Diseases. I mentioned this on-air, adding I had personally removed the disc of a particularly (in my view) violent game from the PC of two young men, without explanation, but after an admonition that such games would not be welcome under our roof.

READ MORE: What to know about Twitch and Steam, gaming platforms reportedly used by B.C. murder suspects

“Bully,” “censor,” “neanderthal.”  I distinctly remember email critiques of my decision and action included these and additional descriptors, preceded by adjectives you might well guess without my help.

Do violent video games desensitize the sanctity of human life?

An unscientific opinion (mine) might well be this. How can gratuitous on-screen violence, controlled by a game player, not have exactly the effect of desensitizing the value of a human life? Or, many human lives, since winning may well be directly linked to the amount of gratuitous violence dispensed?

Parents have expressed frustration at failed attempts to wean their offspring from engaging in on-screen brutality.  “It’s just a game, Dad. Sheesh. Welcome to the 21st Century.”

WATCH BELOW: Manhunt intensifies in northern Manitoba for fugitive teens

I aired a program several years ago about marriage breakup related directly to the amount of time a hubby spent glued to a screen, controller in hand. “For better or worse,” be damned, “I’m going to finish this game” … and then the next one, and so on.

Ex-spouses spoke of jobs being lost because the games were more important than being on time and/or awake for the paying gig. Head on the desk, eyes closed, snoring quietly, is not the fast-track to career success. Yup — that one was mentioned as well, and by a former employer.

You know you can find whatever opinion most matches that of your own, as far as the impact or non-impact of unrestrained gaming or expressly violent gaming may have on the brain. I know the worms are slithering out of the can I’ve off-topped with this commentary, so far.

READ MORE: Who are Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky? What we know about the suspects in northern B.C. deaths

Perhaps it is ultimately all about the individual and that individual’s ability to separate fantasy from reality. Perhaps. Perhaps, though, the acquired skill to create and sustain on-screen destruction does seep into personal behaviour.

As long ago as 2011, the Daily Mail ran a feature article titled, Video games blamed for divorce as men ‘prefer World of Warcraft to their Wives.’

Does gaming lead to aberration? I wrote at the beginning of this piece the question is “more of query than a definitive.” Well?

Roy Green is the host of the Roy Green Show on the Global News Radio network.

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