From Fortnite to 'Alt-Right'

There's a reason video games are such fertile ground for white nationalist recruitment

Let's get one thing out of the way: No, the shooter who live-streamed himself killing 50 worshippers in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand this month, was not being serious when he wrote that "Spyro the Dragon 3 taught me ethno-nationalism" and "Fortnite trained me to be a killer".

Rather, with this statement, the killer was ridiculing a trope that has circulated in the media increasingly since the Columbine killings in 1999: that video games are capable of brainwashing vulnerable teenagers and turning them into violent sociopaths. Some media outlets have described this section of the manifesto in particular as "trolling" or as "bait" - and it is both of those things, certainly.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 29, 2019, with the headline 'From Fortnite to 'Alt-Right''. Print Edition | Subscribe