Twitch and the dark side of gaming

The first thing that got my attention this morning was the news about the Buffalo shooting, in the Dutcj NOS app. (English news is often too much screaming and mud-slinging and too much celeb-focused for me.)

Twitch, on which the Buffalo shooter live-streamed, is a live-streaming platform for gamers. A bit like YouTube for gamers.

I have in the past written about how gaming can help people develop better problem-solving skills, how it can help people solve the world’s problems, and how it helps scientists solve chemistry and water management problems in much less time than it normally takes.

I’ve done an interview with one of the world’s top scientists, now a provost, who used to be an avid gamer and whose colleagues were often into gaming. Mostly World of Warcraft. Her dad was Irish, her mother native American. (I may still have that video fragment sitting on YouTube; will take a look later. Yes, I do, but Skype was acting up badly at the time and this fragment is sound only. This second fragment, too, is sound only.)

But in recent years, I’ve also realised that when gamers lose the distinction between gaming and real life, they can do things like target people like me and see nothing wrong with it because I am not really an actual human being to them, merely a target in a game. (I’ve noticed that when I “fight” back in order to regain my autonomy, the autonomy I am supposed to have as an adult human being, I turn myself into a challenge for them, but when I don’t fight back and pretend that nothing is going on and all is well, they think that I haven’t cottoned on to what they are doing and that does not deter them either.)

This darker side of gaming needs more attention. I think this is up to the creators of games. They can build in playful check points, to check that the gamer in question isn’t losing the plot and adjust what happens next in the game accordingly.

If someone seems to be losing the plot, you could then turn the game slow and boring and/or insert very brief images of food and real life people to make them reconnect with the real world, make them get up and go into the kitchen for a sandwich or images that make the person want to stop gaming and go to bed. Mind manipulation? Yes. But in this case, the mind manipulation had already been happening and a corresponding remedy is needed. That makes it justifiable.

This is also in the interest of the game creators.

(By “game creators”, I don’t mean “people in Portsmouth” in this case but companies).

And, yes, you can bet your breakfast on this shooter having been on 4chan and/or 8chan.

What you may also see here – as with the 2011 riots in England – is that boredom sometimes plays a role. If he hadn’t gone online during the pandemic…

Gaming can make a better world, but it can also turn the world into a nightmare for a while when gamers lose the plot and run amok.

Not all gaming is bad – to the contrary – but safeguards may need to be built into gaming, possibly with potential serious problem cases being flagged.

And no, hackers and others in Portsmouth, I am not responsible for the negative effects on my health of your 13+ year crusade against me (or for the bad quality of a lot of English housing, for that matter). Yes, my immune system has gone into overdrive, apparently. Yeah, great fun to make fun of that. Ha ha. (Hacking activity in my phone all morning and some of the usual other crap overnight, too.)

Feel free to share your opinion below, please.

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