Counter Strike blamed for Mass Shooting in Munich
In the wake of the tragic mass shooting in Munich on Friday (22nd of July) German officials attempt to incite moral panic around ‘violent video games’ in order to rationalise the irrational. German television network ‘ProSieben’ has pulled its coverage of the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive ‘ELeague’ following the attacks. PCGamesN reports on the official statement from Matthias ‘Knochen’ Remmert, CEO of Freaks 4U, the advertising agency involved in promotion of the ELeague;
“I find it very, very unfortunate that such an act now has these consequences and can not have the chance to show the masses that eSports are sports, and how professional [it is when it] comes to business.”
Displaying respect in a difficult time is admirable; with the hostility towards video games as a cause of violence still prevalent it is reassuring to see those involved in eSports adopting such a professional outlook and approach.
The gunman responsible for the atrocity, Ali Sonboly, has been reported to have been ‘obsessed’ with both mass shootings and first person shooters such as Counter Strike: Source. He took an illegally owned 9mm Glock Pistol and 300 rounds in his backpack to a shopping mall where he then opened fire on innocent bystanders and complete strangers. The attack resulted in the deaths of 9 people and left 35 more people wounded. Words fail to accurately describe such events. The ensuing media circus settled on the term ‘rampage’.
Sonboy has also been reported to suffer from severe depression and paranoia, having received medicated psychiatric inpatient treatment for two months in 2015, and further treatment and care after this. He has been described as particularly obsessed with the mass-shooting and horrendous acts conducted by Anders Behring Breivik in 2011.
German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere was noted as stating “We cannot ignore — and I don’t know the solution, but without a doubt, and this was the case in this instance — that the glorifying of violence in internet games has a damaging effect on the development of young people,” Meanwhile Bavarian police Chief Robert Heimberger referred quite sensationally to Counter-Strike as “a game played by every known rampage killer.” I feel like that last line was made up, a exerpt from a Brasseye-esque parody. Tragically, it isn’t.
Knee-jerk reactions from positions of power are to be expected when trying to quantify and handle such an horrific event. However, one would hope that perhaps we had got past the stage where a scapegoat and a moral panic would serve as catharsis for a populace in mourning.
Retro-actively blaming ‘violent video games’ when warning signs are ignored could well be damaging for the next generation of youths. In a confusing world of fast-paced media coverage and the bombardment of every tiny detail, it can be incredibly difficult to make sense of the irrational acts of extremists – or in this circumstance, the acts of emotionally damaged and disconnected individuals. In a sense, the details are magnified, which makes the lack of rhyme, reason or explanation all the more disconcerting.
Ali Sonboly’s peers; his class mates, his neighbours, family members (and dare I say it, what few friends he might have had) will be trying to come to terms with such a brutally jarring and heinous crime. In some cases, to have their hobbies attacked as the cause of the act is very rough, and distracting from the real issues. Where were the parents, social services, teachers and doctors when Sonboly was acquiring a re-purposed prop Glock capable of killing another human being?
But when pressed on the activities of the gunman on the internet, and his procurement of a weapon, Chief Heimberger explains that he knows little about the “murky world of the darknet”, where criminals and terrorists can communicate and trade weapons and drugs. Perhaps if he spent less of his time sensationalising minor details of a murderer’s personal life and more time doing his actual job then he might begin to understand this modern world he so obviously struggles to effectually police.