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Peacock’s “Perfect World: A Deadly Game” documents how a group of online gaming friends teamed up to try to stop one of their own from killing his family.
In 2019 Menhaz Zaman, then-23, began taunting fellow gamers on Discord; he had regularly talked to them about their characters in Perfect World, an online game in which they were all players.
The taunting was nothing new. The group was used to him saying outlandish things. But, this time it was different. Zaman uploaded an image of dead bodies, claiming he had killed his relatives and was about to kill more.
Soon, his fellow gamers were able to determine that the images were real. They began working around the clock to try to save the surviving family members. While they successfully pinpointed where Zaman lived, by the time police knocked on his door, four people were dead: Zaman’s 50-year-old mother Momtaz Zaman, his 70-year-old grandmother Firoza Begum, his 59-year-old dad Moniruz Zaman and 21-year-old sister Malesa Zaman. Many of Zaman's online friends saw photos of all their murders in real-time as they tried to halt the killings.
Zaman pleaded guilty in September of 2020 to all four murders, Global News reported in 2020. Two months later, he was sentenced to life in prison.
How has this affected his former online friends, who tried in vain to save lives?
“You can see that it has had a jarring and traumatizing effect on some of them,” Criminologist Dr. Michael Arntfield told Oxygen.com in a phone interview, citing some of the gamers interviewed in the two-part Peacock documentary. He said that to “varying degrees,” they all “witnessed a catastrophic event and it’s going to stick with them for some time.”
The fact that Zaman involved them in his murders appeared to be part of the “fun” for him. In fact, for months before the murders, he began dropping hints about the killings.
“That's part of the fun,” Arntfield told Oxygen.com. “People misinterpret this as that these people [mass killers who may also have schizoid personality disorder] are looking for help or for someone to stop them. And that’s not it. They have completely retreated into fantasy and this is very exciting for them, to leave these breadcrumbs and to visualize what’s going to happen.”
In effect, Zaman —whom Arntfield says has no remorse — tried to make his fellow gamers complicit in his crimes.
“In cases of multicides there are dozens and if not hundreds of collateral victims that the public never really thinks about or hears about,” the criminologist told Oxygen.com. “In this case there are a group of people who are essentially a captive audience to his crimes and scripted into the crimes to sort of maximize the theatricality of it. They are themselves victims.”
“Perfect World: A Deadly Game” debuts on March 8.
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