Once again law enforcement officials are baffled about why a young man would randomly kill with “no apparent motive.”
This time the toll was two teenage girls killed and seven other people wounded. Three remain in the hospital. One was in critical condition Monday.
The shooter, 24-year-old Erik Ayala, died today from his self-inflicted gun wound.
Everything points to a depressed, out-of-work young man who, for hours on end, escaped to the fantasy world of shooter video games.
Here’s how Ayala’s roommate, Mike Delisle
, described Ayala: “He wasn
’t big on talking about what was bothering him.” He was “down lately,” and “stuck to playing video games,” said Delisle
The Oregonian reported today that among the “numerous” video games was “Grand Theft Auto,” the infamous hyper-violent, shooter game.CAUTION: I’m about to enter into speculation that invites your comment.
The one thing I am not is “baffled.”
Armed with a fully loaded Italian-made pistol and an unstable mind, Ayala took his practiced gamer fantasy out into the very real streets of Portland with very real tragic results.
The gun and its bullets were suddenly real. The dead and wounded weren
’t some animator’s depictions.
One mortally wounded victim was Martha Paz
, cut down at age 17. “Tika
,” as her friends called her, was a Peruvian exchange student. According to The Oregonian, she “loved to dance and had never frolicked in snow until last month’s big storm,”
The other murder victim was Ashley Wilks
, murdered in her 16th
year. She was described as “the consummate best friend.”
I teach at a community college and so I know a lot of good kids and upstanding, bright young adults who play violent video games. Many play for hours on end, yes addictively
. I know this because I have them keep media logs of how they spend their time. They very often are surprised by how much time they spend with "screens."
They would never kill a soul.
But they too are often isolated. They too lose touch with others. For many who are still social, their contacts frequently are circumscribed by a shared virtual world. Human interaction is dependent on a shared game.
They lose touch with reality. They lose touch even with themselves, with the value of their lives to themselves and to us.
Of course, the current economic economic vortex also devalues them in the work place.
It’s a textbook situation for depression.
Then add a 9 mm pistol, so easy to score in our gun-obsessed society, and you have the makings of what happened in Portland on Saturday night.
For an insightful psychological analysis the pathology of the “ScreenWorld
,” I recommend this article
in the current issue of the “Psychotherapy Networker
Labels: Erik Ayala, first-person shooters, Screen World, video games