SYDNEY: One of Australia's top police officers on Monday criticised violent video games that glorify rape and murder, after a spate of high-profile knifings by young people.
Andrew Scipione, the police commissioner for the state of New South Wales, said the violence adolescents were exposed to via films and console games only needed to affect a small minority of disturbed people.
"How can it not affect you if you're a young adolescent growing up in an era where to be violent is almost praiseworthy, where you engage in virtual crime on a daily basis," he told Sydney's Daily Telegraph.
"You get rewarded for killing people, raping women, stealing money from prostitutes, driving cars crashing and killing people."
The police commissioner said he was concerned that brutal games may encourage some people to re-enact the screen violence.
"That's not going to affect the vast majority but it's only got to affect one or two and what have you got?" he said.
"You've got some potentially really disturbed young person out there who's got access to weapons like knives or is good with the fist, can go out there and almost live that life now in the streets of modern Australia."
Scipione's comments came after three teenagers were stabbed in separate attacks in western Sydney in one week last month, which followed a 22-year-old apprentice chef being fatally knifed on July 8.
They came in the wake of an 18-year-old being fatally punched in Sydney's notorious Kings Cross area the same month, a crime that sent shockwaves through the city and put pressure on police to curb youth violence.
"The thing that's concerning me is the prevalence of people who are at this stage not just prepared to carry a knife, but prepared to use it," the police commissioner said.
"That has increased significantly."
But Jeffrey Brand, an academic who has studied the impact of games, said several major studies found there was no conclusive proof that they made people more violent.
Brand, an associate professor in communication and media at Bond University in Queensland, said most people in Australia played computer games.
"If Commissioner Scipione is part of the one third of Australians that don't play video games it may be useful for him to get to know them before making those claims," he told the news.com.au website.
"Because it might help the police in their work to better understand the medium or dismiss it as potential cause of violence."
In 2010, the Australian government released a report which found links between violent video games and significant harmful affects had not been persuasively proven or disproven.