The Blue Whale Challenge is an online phenomenon that has been linked to the deaths of more than 130 people around the world. The challenge is an online game that encourages participants to complete a series of tasks over the course of 50 days, culminating in the participant completing the final task of taking their own life. It is believed that the challenge was administered by a group of administrators who are able to monitor the progress of participants and encourage them to complete the tasks.
What is the ‘Blue Whale Challenge’?
The result of the so-called “endgame” of the blue whale is nothing short of… death. This horrifying and tragic game is believed to have originated in Russia back in 2015.
This game was passed around among closed and secret groups on social media. In order to participate, you explicitly had to announce in the group that you were interested in playing.
Personal information was then entered in a specific app to access the game. Once their participation was confirmed by an anonymous administrator, players were instructed to complete 50 tasks in a 50-day period. Each one had to be recorded and posted for proof.
What challenges did this game consist of?
The challenge started off with small dares with minimal consequence. For example, a simple enough task instructed players to watch a horror film. Seems pretty harmless at first right?
The more challenges you completed, however, the greater the gravity of each became. Tasks increased in intensity and darkness until reaching particular dark turns.
One particularly gnarly task had players commit self harm and carve a blue whale figure into their skin.
Why did players continue on with the game despite the grave consequences?
What initially seemed like an innocent enough game increasingly deepened in gravity. Players were subject to cyberbullying, intimidation, and blackmail to force them to complete each task.
Furthermore, because players had entered personal information to begin the challenge, the game’s administration team threatened them with this personal information.
Many players were thus pressured into continuing on with the challenges despite feeling hesitant or scared.
The game ended up being a trap that slowly and continuously reeled in some players to unlock the final challenge badge: suicide. The horrifying truth is that these challenges are linked to the suicides of many teens.
What psychological factors can be explored in the context of these games?
It can be argued that issues such as anxiety and depression were the driving factor behind the compulsion to complete these challenges. Many participants of this game were adolescents suffering from emotional and mental health issues.
Isolation, depression, self esteem issues were some key factors that pushed them to jump into this game. They turned to these games and completed them to feel some sort of validation or purpose.
These key factors prompted adolescents to turn to a malicious source as a way of coping. In this instance, social media championed the devastation of the poor participants.
The worst thing about these games is the stark reality of them. They sound as if they are simply the subject of a twisted horror film: something that has never existed.
However, many lives were tragically lost as a result.