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Role Playing (Games) Entertainment Games

Warriors Of Freedom Prompted Rampage Attempt? 771

Posted by simoniker
from the scapegoat-time-again dept.
Thanks to an anonymous reader for pointing to a Philadelphia Inquirer article linking videogames to an alleged spree killing attempt. According to the article, "Investigators suspect the three teens arrested.. as they allegedly were about to launch a killing rampage in the small town, found inspiration in violent computer games.. [police] learned that the name the three reportedly had given themselves - Warriors of Freedom - is also an Internet-based combat game." But only a few media reports mention that the violent game connection was made by Jack Thompson, a Miami lawyer and outspoken critic of violent video and computer games - is this a case of shameless Googling to find any obscure game with a similar name and make a connection, or is there genuine evidence here?
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Warriors Of Freedom Prompted Rampage Attempt?

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  • by Ignorant Aardvark (632408) * <cydeweys.gmail@com> on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @10:40PM (#6397727) Homepage Journal

    Do videogames cause violence? No, I don't think so. The capacity for violence must already exist within a person; I don't think a videogame is capable of creating that in you. But it is possible for videogames to bring out the violence in someone. A person with a capacity for violence might play a computer game such as Counter-Strike and go out on a CS-inspired killing spree. Did CS cause the violence? No. But without CS, perhaps they'd just go out on a baseball bat killing spree if they only happen to play sports games.

    It's much like guns. Are guns in themselves evil? No, they are tools. But when put into the hands of an evil person, the give the evil person a much increased capacity to harm others. Videogames are the same way: a person who learns S.W.A.T. strategies in a videogame can put that to use in his killing spree, allowing him to evade death longer and inflict more casualties.

    I'm not arguing that we should prohibit videogames because they give the inspiration to make sick, twisted killers even more efficient. It's very much a freedom of speech issue to me. But people that deny that videogames are associated with violence in any way are just wrong - we must understand the link, so that we can lessen its power.

    On a personal note, I do enjoy playing violent videogames. But I also enjoy playing non-violent games, such as SimCity 4. It's not the violence for violence's sake that I enjoy: I don't enjoy Soldier of Fortune 2 because, frankly, I don't think it's a fun game. Now that I think about it, all the "violent" games I've liked in the past were in their own rights good games. The violence could've been removed (assuming it left the fun elements intact) and I'd still enjoy the game. Perhaps it is someone who plays a game solely for the pleasure of the violence, not for the gameplay, who is responsible for acts such as those outlined in this article.

  • Wrong on both counts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by El (94934) on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @10:52PM (#6397800)
    It seems to me that poverty and easy access to firearms is much more of a cause of violence than videogames.


    The vast majority of multiple murderers are middle class white males, not poor folk. And in places like I grew up in Alaska, where lterraly every 10-year old has a rifle and several knives, we had zero problems with violence, because we were taught to have respect for damage that weapons can do. Anyway, your applying the same "Post hoc, ergo proctor hoc" fallacy to all three "causes".

  • Ironic (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Archie Steel (539670) on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @10:55PM (#6397827)
    If find it highly ironic that Video Games are quick to get the blame, while no one cares to consider that having guns and weapons close at hand might also make good scapegoats...only in America!

    Now, please, before you get all second-amendment on me: this is not intended to start a flame war over your "right to bear arms" - just a reflection on the fact that video games are always quick to get the bad press. Probably because the sound-bite media is always eager to find simple explanations to complex problems.
  • Easy way out (Score:5, Interesting)

    by metatruk (315048) on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @10:55PM (#6397833)
    I absolutely agree with this. I think that some types of video games can incite certain types of behavior in certain types of people. Certain people tend to resonate with the violence they see more than others.

    It does not make sense to ban violent games. In doing that, you'd have to ban anything that could be construed as an influence on people who react violently to their environment.

    Video games are an easy target because the very name "video games" is so general, and so broad. It's more difficult to do finger-pointing at a specific target because the public may not identify with it. Also, the solution to a general problem is to simply limit it, because then its impact on society will be limited.

    I think the real problem here is these kids are in home or social situations that are fundamentally unstable, and have been a good portion of their lives...let's see you ban that! yeah, I'd love it if we could. It would solve a lot of problems
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @10:56PM (#6397840)
    I grew up in Oregon with easy access to firearms. In the early 1980s the economy was in the shitter. Consequently, lots of loggers and carpenters used those firearms on one another. When the economy came around, the rates of homocide decreased. Thus, both poverty AND easy access to firearms, in combination, do tend to cause more violence than anything else.
  • by fishmonkey (301785) * on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:15PM (#6397940) Journal
    The British author (amongst other things) Ben Elton wrote on the topic of violence in movies in his book 'Popcorn'. One of the main themes was about violence in movies spreading into real life, he pointed out many times that it's not that people emulate the characters they see directly, but that movies STYLIZE killing and violence - they make it seem COOL. Killing and violence is shown as a quick and effective way to get revenge, achieve goals, make a name for yourself etc..
    Think of how they portayed killing in the basement scene in the first matrix, how 'COOL' was that; a computer hacker/nerd in sunnies and a trenchcoat, with a hot female in latex blasting away numerous innocent people without even flinching - with the propellerheads soundtrack pumping.
    How many people play violent video games and imagine that the people they are shooting are real? Or use the simulated violence to release agression? What happens when life becomes too much and they SNAP and decide to do something about their situation - get revenge on all those motherfuckers in the coolest way you know, bust into school in trenchcoats with semi automatics and spray it with bullets - fantasy becomes reality.
    I'm divided on the issue, as I don't think any sane person would snap like this and bring something patently evil into action, but what about the nutcases that do - have videogames and movies made killing SO cool that it appeals more than anything else? Should we start -constantly- portraying killing and violence as negative, highlighting the consequences and making these actions TABOO in our society, rather than revering them on Screen and in Play?
    Something to think about I guess, rather than the prevailing view among gamers that videogames don't affect people, and are good because you can release tension through your onscreen avatar.
  • by Godeke (32895) * on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:42PM (#6398066)
    Browser based games are probably the last thing Jack Thompson wants to try to explain as a source of violence. Hair trigger reflexes required? Nope. Adrenal gland stimulated by realistic graphics? Nope. Suspension of disbelief the size of Montana to accept that the 16 pixel by 32 pixel graphic of an orc *represents* an ork. Hmmmm, maybe something to work with there...
  • by DeadWizdom (665732) on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:45PM (#6398081)
    Although some red pixels are very far from violence in my opinion, I'll grant you: desensitization might occur from video games. But this begs the question: so what? I don't quite see how that creates any problems, unless taken to an extreme, ofcourse. I think that it is a mamillian instinct to be curious towards things that are shocking and scary, for the simple reason that it WILL desensitize. Thus if the creature was put into a bad situation that is similar to what it curiously watched it would, a. understand it better, and b. not become stunned. Now this understanding of horrible things is knowledge; knowledge is power; power can be misused just as it can be used. Thus, we cannot say that the knowledge of horrible situations will produce in the person a tendancy towards creating these situations. Effectively, you lock a boy in a white room for his entire youth and keep him from being desensitized, you will create one scared, freaked out, and unfunctionable man.
  • by Minna Kirai (624281) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:00AM (#6398162)
    Are you referring to the popular "Apocalypse Now" movie? Or is that a reference to the real Anthony Poshepny [bangkokpost.net], who just passed away? (I'd be suprised if many US citizens have heard of him- even his obituary didn't circulate much in the American press)
  • by failedlogic (627314) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:20AM (#6398247)
    The context of violent video can easily be mis-constrewed. For instance, Mario and Zelda are violent as it involves killing. Zelda is depicted w/ sword blows (the newer version illustrates it better) while Mario stomps heads. Its the amount of gore which should be questionned. Gore has arguably gotten much worse. Mortal Kombat, GTA, Postal, Doom (sorry J. Carmack if you're reading!!)..... as a series have depicted killing w/ more blood and gore as graphics have improved.

    From a quick search on Amazon, interestingly enough, Mortal Kombat the movie is rated PG-13 while the video game is Mature (17 or older). Why the difference? Afterall, if you've watched the movie, "Finish him" -- "Fatality" and all the other notions which made the game "bad" appear in the movie.

    Just like all rock and roll is about Sex, Drugs and Rebellion, people listening to Elvis, the Beatles etc haven't generally become drug addicts and criminals as the media and parents believed. Same w/ violent video games. There are those that follow the norm and those that fall out of it.

    If nothing else, the amount of weapons, the hitlist etc, all goes to show the mental state of the teens. It proves nothing about violent video games.
  • by 3liz3 (615856) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:21AM (#6398248)
    • extremely socialized nature of human sexuality
    Right. That's why the porn industry is having such a *hard* time staying afloat.

    Numerous studies have shown that men are visually aroused. Of course they can be aroused intellectually or can be aroused by being challenged, etc. etc. etc. But the fact remains that men usually get their rocks off based on a woman's physicality. Men may not require the ultimate-in-attractiveness woman to become aroused, of course; sometimes *any* woman will do.

    • oft-mentioned enjoyment of fat women during the renaissance as compared to our current heroin-chic
    Rubenesque women were the norm in art, etc. because their largesse suggested wealth. There's no data that I'm aware of that indicates that men were aroused more by this type of woman at that time. It may be true; it may not. It may differ from man to man (most likely).

    Point: what society deems attractive may or may not dictate (and to various degrees) what any particular man finds stimulating. Life is not the Parisian catwalk.

    Now, how this has to do with "desensitization." It suggests that one can be sufficiently desensitized to something yet not fully immune to various neurological forces that are at play.

    In short, I think it's too simplistic to say that: video games --> desensitization --> dehumanization. One can withstand a significant degree of "desensitization" (in double quotes b/c I'm a bit suspicious of the term) without having this necessarily lead to deHUMANIZATION which is certainly present in any folks knocking off large groups of other folks (though of course these kids didn't do that).

    ---
    I'm with you 100% re: parenting. An ounce of prevention and all of that...
  • Re:racist (Score:3, Interesting)

    by The Only Druid (587299) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:32AM (#6398285)
    The question is far more socio-economic than racial, actually. The majority of murders committed by minorities (in the US, statistically) are commited by individuals in the lower-class (alternately called "working class", although both of these terms are nebulous) i.e. those who live on or below the poverty line. A significant portion (I believe its the majority, though I'm not positive) of these occur inside ghettos or the penumbra of those ghettos, and are perpetuated against other lower-class individuals living in those areas. A significant portion are also gang-related (i.e. "warfare").

    This is, among other things, due to the extremely bleak outlook for a poor individual (minority or otherwise) living in a ghetto. There are limited avenues for escape, and the quick-fix of a "family" and economic support of a gang (or pseudo-gang) can often seem like the best choice for such underpriviledged youth. A cursory glance at autobiographical and ethnographic literature written by authors from the working class (consider "Bone Black" or "Bastard Out of Carolina" for examples by a Black woman and a White Gay Woman respectively, both of which are national best sellers, and continue to be used in Universities) clearly confirm this. Whether its the urban ghettos of the Bronx or the rural ghetto of bumble-fuck Carolina, it can seem imposssible to escape.

    Remember, coincidence isn't causality: just because only white kids have their [attempted] mass-murders blamed on media, doesn't mean that the blame is because they're white. It just means that there aren't any [to my recollection] cases of minorities committing such crimes when coming from middle or upper class communities in such a situation.
  • by ratfynk (456467) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:32AM (#6398286) Journal
    Why doesn't some bright game company come up with a realistic Cops and Robbers. The object of which is to catch bad guys, if you choose to be a bad guy you cannot help but leave clues. If you off another player then you get hunted by the cops etc. If you are a cop and you need to use your gun then you will wind up on a desk filling out paper and processing reports till your incident is reported as a clean shoot.

    Making games a little bit closer to reality would even interest the older generation.

    I personaly find that the first person shooter crap that is so popular with the Xbox style "gamers" is mindless drivel.

  • Re:does it matter? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nelsonal (549144) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:36AM (#6398302) Journal
    The first oregon trail I played had text stating that somehting attacked you and to shoot back you had to type bang boom or another gun sound quickly to shoot back.
  • Re:Who is to blame? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by epyT-R (613989) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @01:00AM (#6398371)
    What does a cornered dog do? it bites. Who's to blame? the dog? or the kids that teased and threw rocks at it for the last 8 years?

    I realize that in our system, the dog would be put down, and that's REALLY FUCKED UP. DONT tease the dog, and it won't have to get violent. Same thing applies here. People who bully are sticking their hands in a tinder box (someone's mind) they know little about and striking matches to see what burns. In the case of Columbine, I guess some people have already found out. Darwin in action, I love it. If you don't like someone, LEAVE him ALONE. GET a god damned clue already, people.
  • Re:does it matter? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by l1_wulf (602905) <l1wulf@gmailYEATS.com minus poet> on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @01:04AM (#6398381) Homepage Journal
    Think of how they portayed killing in the basement scene in the first matrix, how 'COOL' was that; a computer hacker/nerd in sunnies and a trenchcoat, with a hot female in latex blasting away numerous innocent people without even flinching - with the propellerheads soundtrack pumping.

    Should we question the sanity (or the potential to "snap") of the people who had a hand in this particular scene? The actors, screenwriters, sound crew, etc... Can we make a reasonable leap of faith and say that they are not all riding the edge of sanity and insanity? How can one say then that the ability of a group of moderately sane people can visualize, then act out and produce a scene that can not be visualized by a creative but mentally unstable person -- a person who has "snapped"? Remember the postal worker fiasco? Should we assume this person played violent video games or had an above average desire to watch bloody action flicks? Remember the Dungeons & Dragons fiasco? I don't recall how they killed but I am pretty sure they did not wander around with a Bastard Sword +2... Maybe this whole vengeful killing spree is triggered by the carbinated beverage Coke? Ah, maybe there's some strange chemical in Wonder Bread; have we checked to see if all these killers liked white bread???

    Sorry, this isn't a flame on you and I agree, I'm divided to a point... Sure I concede that it's possible that violent media may provide a seed for an idea that has already started festering. Is that bad? Let's look at this a different way.

    Let's say Joe Shotgun is a farm kid way out in the boonies, no TV, no movie theaters, no computer, but an excellent collection of books are available for his enjoyment. Now Joe Shotgun is not ignorant, nooooo. In fact he's pretty damn intelligent, is a voracious reader and is even more advanced in his home schooling than a typical city kid. But therein is the problem. Joe spends most of his time alone (awww). None of the other farm kids like him because he's different from the norm and they don't understand him. Now kids will be kids and poor Joe has lived with the occasional pranks and name calling which is all too common the world over.

    The thing is, Joe is slightly, um... unstable. Maybe pa dropped him on his head when he was young, who knows? But the Shotgun's have always known about Joe's dark moods. They usually leave him alone and after a while he's back to his good old self. One day Joe just snaps... Pa's been yelling at him, Ma got mad at him because he knocked the apple pies from the sill. The kids have been unmerciful lately, etc. Poor Joe hatches a plan. He hates being different, he's tired of always being alone. Nobody ever understands him and in his teenage angst ridden mind, it is just not worth going through what, 50 or 60 more years of this shit. Suicide??? Hrm, let those little bastages grow up and make more little shits that will make some other kid's life miserable? Hell no, if he's going out, Joe's gonna take a few with him.

    So a few days later Joe has a plan. What's his plan? I leave it to you to think of various violent ways a farm boy could take out people based only on literature you've read.

    My point? Joe is isolated from all the vast media that is (ironically enough) so big in the media as being responsible for inspiring killers. We give him one link to the rest of the world (the books) and now we have to place the blame on this one form of media. Should we revert to book burning in this farm community? Whatever means Joe decides to use as his vehicle of vengence, it is resonable to assume he will be influenced by the literature he read. Maybe Ma and Pa (if they survived) should go through the books and censor out the violent parts of this vast library, you know, to keep other kids from getting these crazy ideas in their heads.

    In my opinion, this is very similar to the idea that there are many bad things to be found on the Internet, so let's heavily regulate it and make it completely 'G
  • by DingoBueno (461129) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:12AM (#6398574)
    I can't even begin to see where this guy links this plot to GTA. I pretty sure GTA never inspired a carjacking. Could it maybe be that carjackings inspired GTA?

    Also, I'm not a fan of anime and I don't know much about it, but I've seen random acts of violence in some of those movies. Is anime exempt from the violent media theory? Not only that, but this kid is now an artist because of it?

    Are you friggin kidding me...
  • by NiteHaqr (29663) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:42AM (#6398645) Homepage
    But not the Bible?

    The article comments on how the guy referred to himself "the Neo" and then comments on the Matrix.

    Later on a better "extract" the quote from the letter is expanded.

    "I thought you'd like to know that I am a warrior, I am fighting for mankind's freedom. Freedom from this society," said the letter, which was signed "Sincerely, Me. Matthew. The One, the Neo, the Anti-Christ, etc. etc. etc."

    So there are 2 references to self-identity ("Me. Matthew") 2 to the Matrix ("The One, the Neo") and 1 to Christian "mythology"n with "the Anti-Christ"

    Yet there is no comment on THAT one.

    Funny that.
  • by quinkin (601839) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:48AM (#6398662)
    Sorry to go autobiographical - but I am struggling to illustrate my point without personal experiences to relate it to.

    I am an avid computer usr/programmer/gamer now, but in my youth I grew up in the bush.

    My formative years were not spent playing violent computer games, but instead wandering through miles of thick bush, practising survival skills, and highly intellectual pursuits like trying to catch live Goannas (6 foot long lizards with huge claws/teeth) armed only with a hessian sack (yes, I still have the scars).

    I made napalm, black-powder, and nitro-peln bombs with gay abandon (spare time and sheds full of farm chemicals are a dangerous combination). Then I turned my attention to projectiles and hand weapons (my favourite was the 8 foot, 12 kilo pike that I made, although the old style scythe was pretty cool too) both offensively and defensively (which meant getting two neighbours to repeatedly fire stone headed arrows at me from a variety of ranges).

    I lived on a farm and was expected to be able to hold my own when it came time to kill a chook or a snake or whatever. The realities of death were neither glossed over, nor glamourised. You understood what it meant, how you could do it, what it looked like, what it felt like, why you would do it, and why not.

    A few years later and I was being consistently bullied at school. Not because I was small or slow or whatever, but because I chose not to follow the "cool kids" and their self-supporting persecution of others to appease their own insecurities. I also made no attempt to hide my opinion of them - unforgivable from their perspective. (And I was smart - nothing pisses of a dumb jock more than that).

    Although I had spent a lot of time "playing" with various deadly weapons (and school did nothing but provide me with a plethora of additional ideas and resources) I did not choose to target these individuals.

    (At least not willingly: Once I found a friend being held down and beaten by a number of the "in crowd", I tackled the main offender off my mate and dared the rest of them to take me on as well - they didn't. After that incident I was cornered by an even larger group of them, out for some "retribution" for being made to look like weak fools - I still think I would have taken a pretty severe beating if I hadn't had a large knife in my pocket to convert the situation to a stand-off (I had been teaching myself knife juggling at the time)).

    Unlike much of the student body I was always certain on two things:

    1. Knowledge is a hell of a lot more deadly and fear inspiring than strength. (Someone overpowering you? Stomp on the bridge of the foot and sweep your palm sideways across their nose. I don't care how strong they are, their bones aren't.)

    2. School will end, I will leave, and the next time I meet one of the bullies they will be smiling and saying: "Would you like fries with that, sir?"

    So tell your children, tell your friends, tell your neices and nephews: THERE IS LIFE AFTER SCHOOL.

    We need to do something about the horrendous situation the current youth is facing: depression, suicide, hoimicide - they are all different faces of the one die (or dice for the uneducated). It is not the fault of computer games except in as much as they continue the bizarre abstracted existence we are taught to call life.

    Thanks for reading, spread the word to those who need most to hear it.

    Q.

  • Stereotyping? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cl1mh4224rd (265427) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @03:03AM (#6398699)
    There are plenty of little "details" dropped all over the article, in the most inappropriate spots, and have seemingly no importance other than to stereotype these kids as sociopathic computer addicts.

    The 15-year-old, who is tall and heavy, was represented by Cherry Hill lawyer John A. Underwood, who said his client maintains he is innocent. The other teen, tall and thin, did not have a lawyer.
    Why is their physical build and height important to this article? I don't need this information to know that, for whatever reason, these kids were messed up.

    He said he could not believe that Matthew Lovett, who had no job, would carry out the alleged plan. "If he was determined to do that sort of thing, he would have shot at the officer," Crymes said. "All it was was a call for help."
    Again... why do the authors feel that this information is important to me?

    "Matt was an easy target," said Paul Phillips, 18. "But he never lashed out. He just took it."

    "Everybody picked on him," said Tom Urick, 19, a 2002 Collingswood graduate
    This, along with the revelation that the oldest of the three had lost his mother and an older sister, are fairly quickly glossed over and not even mentioned as potential sources for this kid's problems. Typical media...

    And Jack Thompson is an ignorant fuck...
  • And to countries (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @03:56AM (#6398808)
    And funny how, in Denmark with 5,1 million and extremely strict gun laws we had 36 murders in 1996. Wouldn't that equate to 0,7 murders in 100,000?

    Funny how that works in completely the opposite way ... and btw murder rates are about the same in Sweden (61 in about 10 mil, same gun laws).

    (http://www.mm.dk/filer/Tabeller_13_11.PDF - page 11)
  • by master_p (608214) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @04:41AM (#6398910)
    Is neither video games nor guns. It's the nature of our society that becomes more and more competitive, leaving people frustrated and unable to cope with it.

    Free purchase of guns makes the problem a little bigger, but that's it. Look at the UK: guns are not free, but they have a problem with knives (to the point that there are public advertisements of giving your knife to the nearest station!!!).

    Look at other countries that people play video games. There are not any spree killings. Why ? it's the society, that's why.
  • by Paddyish (612430) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @05:45AM (#6399040)
    The media is hardly "government-run".

    I continue to disagree with this. Ever since the staged [antiwar.com] Baghdad Paradise Square incident [uscrusade.com] with Saddam's statue, I'm a firm believer that US news media only shows us what the Pentagon and White House wants us to see. Nothing more, nothing less.

    I laughed hard when they compared Paradise Square to the fall of the Berlin Wall [wall-berlin.org]. It was hardly that.

  • by PainKilleR-CE (597083) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @08:20AM (#6399642)
    You're talking about a different phenomenon from nearly everyone else here. In fact, the post was a response to a post which specifically set aside copycat violence. Copycat violence is a very specific type of crime, and is much more rare than non-copycat violence.

    The game Doom didn't involve making pipe bombs in your garage and then planting them around a school before unloading your guns into people (in fact, the only 'person' I remember in Doom was John Romero's head on a stick, the game was about fighting demons to save the earth from Hell's wrath). Yet people blamed Doom when a couple of teenagers (one of which was legally an adult) did just that.

    Whether or not exposure to violent media is responsible for the actual violence is the question. Even studies of copycat violence can't tell you whether or not a copycat would have committed a violent act in the absence of violent media.

    As for your claim of 'how often sceptics about the link between portrayals of violence and the actuality of copycat violence often shelter behind demands for unusual levels of evidence':
    It's not a demand for unusual levels of evidence, it's a demand for any level of actual evidence. Not 'violent people play violent games', not 'oh my friend watched Beavis & Butthead then walked around saying 'fire, fire' and lit his cat on fire'. If you're going to say that people that play violent games become violent people, then show some evidence. Don't show me that 50% of people imprisoned for violent crimes polled said they played violent video games. Show me that 50% of people that play violent video games commit a violent act. You can't even do that, because if you could, there'd be millions of people in the US alone killing each other because they played Grand Theft Auto or Doom. Fortunately, less than 1500 people were victims of homicide in the US in 2000, so either everyone really sucks at Half-life, or it doesn't translate well into reality.
  • Re:does it matter? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @09:36AM (#6400146)
    I find it troubling that so many people, as soon as they hear someone complain about violence in video games/movies/music, feel the need to go off on a one-side rant on how that is such a ridiculous idea that it should not even be considered. How dare you even think my video games could be too violent and have a negative effect on me.

    While I am not arguing that video games make people violent, i'm appalled at the overwhelming knee-jerk reaction here that is really afraid to even think about that possiblity. I've played my fair share of violent video games and neither I nor my friends have ever killed anyone. But we have gotten into unusually harsh arguments during or after playing a game of doom capture the flag. I know that playing the game does get my heart pumping and the juices flowing, why else would we play? This is a long way from saying that yes, playing this game makes you violent. But its worth thinking about.

    I know there have been lots of studies of people (adults/children) that show that video games do not make someone violent. I'd like to see a study of previously violent people (violent ex-cons maybe?) and see what playing a video game does to them. (I have no idea whether this would be an ethical use of test subjects).

    And its hard to tell how playing a game changes your outlook on life. Does it gradually devalue human life if you continually play violent games/see violent movies? Not all at once, not producing one violent fit of rage, but overtime, how does your perception of reality change. Maybe not at all. I don't know.

    Maybe everyone here is right, video games and violent movies don't matter a lick. Maybe not. I just hate to see people immediately clam up and fall back to their cherished positions on an argument and refuse to even think about it.

    I almost wrote "but this is slashdot after all", but I'm pretty sure this happens in broader society as well, with all the hot topics. Gay marriage, abortion, legalized drugs, whatnot. There is a distinct lack of thought, people seem to be more interested in adhering to a particular political doctrine rather than debating the point and trying to work to find the Truth about the problem. I think the 'market place of ideas' concept is dead. Too few people want to really discuss and understand all sides. Most just want to make you believe what they believe. Maybe its laziness. Maybe no one wants to be wrong. Maybe its about power and control. Its probably about money.

    I dont know.

  • Re:does it matter? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @10:11AM (#6400382) Homepage
    Or use the simulated violence to release agression?

    Everyone has aggression, and releasing it in a non-harmful way is a very good thing. Not releasing aggression is how perfetly sane people end up snapping and doing something destructive, either to themselves or others. People who don't release their aggression end up in therapy, where the therapist will make them release it.

    I often use video games to release aggression. My game is Street Fighter 2 Turbo. I play lots of other games, but for some reason I always feel better after busting out the SNES, loading up SF2T, picking M. Bison, and kicking Ryu's big, stupid head in.

    Bison is my therapist, and he'll kick the shit out of yours. :)

    What happens when life becomes too much and they SNAP and decide to do something about their situation - get revenge on all those motherfuckers in the coolest way you know, bust into school in trenchcoats with semi automatics and spray it with bullets - fantasy becomes reality.

    Okay, and here you have both exposed and ignored the fundamental problem with the "games cause violence" argument. If they have already SNAPPED, who gives a flying fuck if they kill people while wearing trenchcoats and calling themselves "Morpheus" or buck fucking naked calling themselves "Napoleon"?

    The problem is kids SNAPPING and deciding that killing is not only okay, but their only option. NOT what movie or video game or book they immitate while butchering people.

    The fantasy that becomes reality is the fantasy of having control of their life, of making their enemies pay, or whatever is their actual motivation. If they also fantasize that they are Jet Li, who really cares?

    Should we start -constantly- portraying killing and violence as negative, highlighting the consequences and making these actions TABOO in our society, rather than revering them on Screen and in Play?

    You mean they're not? I was pretty sure there was a strong taboo against killing people. I know most people are pretty offended when it happens in real life.

    Now, I'm all for showing more real consequences for actions in film. But I don't think the problem is that we aren't showing them -enough-. If a teenager is not aware that killing is bad and has bad consequences, then the least of your worries is what video games he plays.

  • by good soldier svejk (571730) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:34PM (#6401387)

    The Media shows what people want to see


    It happens to be that the majority of Americans don't want to see the anti-American retoric of Moore and other hard-core left-wingers.
    This comment is based on the assumption that audiences are the media's customers, and that each of these customers is equally valuable. Both ideas are incorrect. Audiences, and more importantly demographics, are the media's product. Their customers are advertisers. The media shows what specific people want to see at specific times in order to package them up for sale to corporations.

    Apparently a lot of Americans do want to see Michael Moore's "Anti-American rhetoric," because Bowling For Columbine is the most commercially successful documentary in history. I mean, how many documentaries have a whole episode of Oprah devoted to them?
    When the Dixie Chicks got banned from many radio stations, do you think it was a US Gov't directive? Hardly. It was the intense demand from PEOPLE.
    Mainly by people who happen to be Clear Channel [clearchannel.com] executives lobbying Colin Powell's son Michael [fcc.gov] and Congress to "deregulate" TV and radio.

    The Dixie Chicks continue to pack large venues. Their next two shows, Houston and Atlanta appear to be sold out. A lot more people are paying $65 a ticket to see them than are paying $.05 to call radio stations and demand their removal from rotation.
  • by PainKilleR-CE (597083) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:52PM (#6401508)
    Otoh, I see no need for the proof you demand of some percentage of the population (50%?!) converted to violence from any cause before there is reason to believe that the cause has operated and can operate again. I think you are demanding exactly an unusual level of evidence. I'd say it is some evidence of copying when even a single person uses characteristic features like some model of violence.

    50% was partially a number I pulled out of my ass, and partially based on the idea that roughly 67% of the population aged 26 and under plays at least some video games in the first place. Again, though, copying is a different area from just stating that exposure to violence leads to violent activity. In many cases copying is a simple result of someone wanting to commit violence, and taking the example of some form of entertainment (or in most copycat cases someone else's violent act(s)) for the manner in which to commit those acts. Some people go around thinking that they want to kill a particular person, and aren't sure of how they should do it, and then see an episode of some crime-drama on TV and decide that they can do it that way.

    What isn't known is whether or not people performed a violent act because they were exposed to violent material. Just because they chose to copy something they saw/read/heard doesn't mean that they were not going to commit a violent act without the influence of the material.

    There were examples of copycat violence using the odd characteristics of the film 'Clockwork Orange'. More recently, a popular TV soap had a dramatic episode of attempted suicide closely followed by a surge of real attempted suicides with similar features that made local hospital staff complain to the soap producers for the strain they had put on already-heavy-loaded hospital services. (IMO they were not speculating wildly without evidence about an unproven cause, they were using their common sense.)

    While they may have been using common sense in figuring out that these people were imitating what they saw, the common sense ends there. People that commit suicide, especially (but also other violent crimes to some degree) are often looking for attention, or are asking for help. Doing so in a way shown by media brings the attention of the press, meaning they get more attention from their action and/or more/better help.

    When book, film, TV soap, and in other examples, real violence reported on news, have all made models for temporally-linked copied violence, it sounds improbable and in need of evidence to claim that video/computer games are somehow different and will be exempt.

    I'm not saying that video games are exempt, I'm saying that the evidence linking media in general to violent acts is flawed, because it is not proof that the media was the reason the acts occured. Copycat crimes are examples in which people utilize examples from media in their crimes, not examples of people committing crimes because they saw/heard/read them. Anyone that's taken basic logic or science courses (especially psychology) and understood those courses knows the difference between the two (A causes B vs. A is evidenced in some people who have committed B).

    But in a given case evidence may or may not be there. If the 'Warriors of Freedom' show an independent source for their name that's believable, and there's no evidence they knew of the game of the same name, then I'd say those facts did not amount to evidence of copying from the game in that case. But if they did see the game, the similarity of names would begin to look to me like evidence supporting with at any rate some probability that they were motivated to copy and did copy in that case. How is that unreasonable?

    And again, the thread was not about motivation to copy, but about causality. If they took the name from said game, then they chose the name and went with it. That still does not say that if they hadn't played the game they wouldn't have gone out and called themselves something els

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