eGamingDark Side of Online Gaming

Dark Side of Online Gaming

Preface: Online gaming has become a global phenomenon, capturing the hearts and minds of millions of gamers, particularly teens. It has changed how we engage with games, stretching the boundaries of traditional gaming experiences. This transition has been caused by two significant factors: the advancement of gaming technology and the introduction of high-speed internet. Gaming is no longer restricted to solo activities on consoles or mobile devices. The rise of online gaming has begun a new era of interconnection in which individuals worldwide may immerse themselves in rich virtual worlds, cooperate with friends, and compete against expert opponents. the youths are the primary audience or players of online gaming. In recent incidents, Uttar Pradesh police say they have uncovered a racket in Ghaziabad that exploited an online video game to target children and teens for religious conversion In this article, we will explore the disturbing episodes that occurred in Ghaziabad, investigating cases of forced conversion through Fortnite, the psychological manipulation and coercive techniques used, and the catastrophic consequences on the victim’s psychological and emotional well-being.

The Insights and Tactics: A disturbing trend emerged in the city of Ghaziabad, indicating incidences of forced conversion occurring via the naïve channel of the famous online video game Fortnite. This revelation has sent shockwaves across the community and put light on the evil strategies offenders use to exploit vulnerable persons such as children, who are the easy targets of these predators to fulfil their motives. Forced conversion via Fortnite perpetrators uses cunning techniques to persuade their victims. They take advantage of psychological vulnerabilities, such as the need for approval or belonging, and use strategies like gaslighting, emotional manipulation, and isolation to acquire control over their targets. These predators steadily destroy victims’ autonomy and agency by misrepresenting reality, coercing beliefs, and developing reliance.

How was the matter highlighted?

The incident was highlighted: On the 30th of May afternoon, we received a complaint from the father of a minor who used to practice the Jain religion. He accused a Maulvi of a nearby masjid and a digital identity named Baddo. They have been instrumental in getting his son converted to Islam. Similar cases have been reported from various parts of the nation. 

The Impact on the Victims: When those are exposed to forced conversion via Fortnite, the ramifications are far-reaching and highly devastating. The psychological and emotional toll of manipulation and coercive methods can be severe. Victims frequently experience a loss of identity, feelings of powerlessness, and a shattered sense of self-worth. The trauma they have experienced can have long-term impacts on their mental health and impair their capacity to trust and build healthy relationships. The instances in Ghaziabad serve as a sharp reminder of the dangers of online gaming. It is critical to promote an understanding of the strategies used by offenders, recognise the indications of manipulation, and build a supportive atmosphere in which victims feel empowered to seek help.

Investigation so far and Legal Actions:   FIR was registered with Ghaziabad police station. The police identified Baddo as Shahnawaz Khan from Mumbra, Thane (Mumbai). Subsequently, police also apprehended Abdul Rehman, a cleric who was allegedly instrumental in the conversion. During the investigation, it was found that ‘Fortnite’ specifically targeted teenagers. Their strategy involved challenging users to recite Quranic verses as a prerequisite for winning. Once the minors successfully completed the game, the accused would send them videos featuring radical Islamic preachers and then fully covert them.

 Further, the police said they have amassed substantial evidence to support their investigation. Documented proof includes affidavits signed by the affected minors and email correspondence, chat transcripts, WhatsApp conversations, and video statements.

The Role of Law Enforcement Agencies: Law enforcement organisations are critical in identifying the perpetrators of forced conversion instances. They try to discover the persons responsible for preying on vulnerable individuals in online gaming areas by comprehensive research, acquiring digital evidence, and applying innovative tactics. Law enforcement may monitor and capture people responsible for these crimes by collaborating with gaming platforms and utilising specialised cybercrime teams.

Collaborative Efforts: The government, Parents, and the Gaming Community addressing the issue of forced conversion through gaming necessitates the collaboration of numerous parties. The government should actively enforce rigorous legislation and policies to protect citizens from such exploitation. Parents and guardians have an important role in teaching their children about internet threats and encouraging open communication. The gaming community, including developers and platform operators, should collaborate with law enforcement authorities to establish safer gaming environments, raise awareness, and adopt methods to identify and prevent such events.

Holding Responsible Parties Accountable

Legal Actions and Consequences

Legal measures and consequences must be implemented to fight forced conversion and safeguard vulnerable persons. Perpetrators who use manipulative methods and coercion should face appropriate legal consequences. This includes claims of psychological manipulation, coercion, and breaching persons’ rights and autonomy. Holding culpable parties accountable sends a clear message that such behaviour will not be accepted and acts as a deterrence to prospective perpetrators.

NCPCR has also Issued Guidelines to ensure the online gaming safety of children. These guidelines aim to protect children from potential risks and provide a safer gaming environment. Some critical points proposed by NCPCR are as follows:

  •  Age Verification: Gaming platforms should have robust age verification mechanisms in place to ensure that children are not exposed to age-inappropriate content that may be harmful to their development.
  • Parental Controls: Parental control tools on gaming platforms should be functional, allowing parents or guardians to monitor and restrict their child’s access to certain games, establish time restrictions, and govern in-game purchases.
  • Reporting: Platforms should have effective content moderation mechanisms in place to detect and remove improper or dangerous content from games. They should also create user-friendly reporting systems with robust reporting mechanisms for abusive or destructive behaviour inside the gaming community.
  • Awareness and Education: NCPCR emphasises the need for awareness initiatives to educate children, parents, and guardians about online gaming safety. It promotes gaming platforms to give resources and information on responsible gaming, cyberbullying prevention, and online risk identification.
  • Collaboration with Stakeholders: The NCPCR emphasises the necessity of collaboration among gaming platforms, regulators, law enforcement agencies, and child rights organisations to guarantee the successful implementation of safety measures and resolve any emergent difficulties.

Conclusion: Fortnite’s enormous popularity and global reach may be ascribed to various causes, including exciting gameplay, interactive features, and cultural effect. The game’s capacity to connect players, give a platform for self-expression, and improve on a continuous basis has contributed to its long-term popularity. However, when we investigate the darker side of its effect in the context of conversion in Ghaziabad, it is critical to balance game fun and player safety and well-being. We can promote a responsible and constructive gaming culture that protects the interests of young players by understanding the attraction and impact of games like Fortnite.


Tanu Shree Saxena, Trainer, Advocacy and Policy Team



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