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Games Entertainment Science

Violence in Video Games Debate Continues to Rage 411

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the results-driven-by-agenda dept.
ubermiester writes "The Washington Post is reporting on a newly released study by the American Psychological Association, claiming that 'exposure to violence in video games increases aggressive thoughts, aggressive behavior and angry feelings among youth.' This partly contradicts another study released a week before by a University of Illinois Professor claiming that 'game violence does not prompt players to project violent tendencies into real life.'"
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Violence in Video Games Debate Continues to Rage

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  • by bobsacks (784382) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @03:27PM (#13367644) Journal
    How about someone does a study on the parents of the kids who commit crimes that are supposedly caused by video games. I bet you would get some conclusive results from that one.
    • by nwbvt (768631) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @03:40PM (#13367729)
      Yeah, whenever someone blames parents for the crimes their kids commit, they point their fingers at the video game industry. A debate on whether or not parents should take some responsibility turns into a rant about video games and music and violent movies. Whats up with that? I mean supporters of video games would never try to turn the discussion on the impact of video games into a debate on whether or not parents should be blamed.

      What were we talking about again?

      • by infonography (566403) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @04:05PM (#13367844) Homepage
        Sheila: Time's have changed
        Our kids are kids are getting worse
        They wont obey their parents
        They just want to fart and curse!
        Sharon: Should we blame the government?
        Liane: Or blame society?
        Dads: Or should we blame the images on TV?
        Sheila: No, blame Canada
        Everyone: Blame Canada
        Sheila: With all their beady little eyes
        And flappin heads so full of lies
        Everyone: Blame Canada
        Blame Canada

        Ok, I won't any farther with these lyrics but I am sick of these distracting campaines. What's Next on the calender? Meth? Rock Music, Dancing? Pool Halls? Bowling?
        • Re:BLAME CANADA!!!! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Shaper_pmp (825142) on Monday August 22, 2005 @04:24AM (#13370320)
          "What's Next on the calender? Meth? Rock Music, Dancing? Pool Halls? Bowling?"

          Meth? That's "Drugs" - already done that. Rock Music? Never stopped (Elvis, 80s Metal, gangsta rap, Marilyn Manson, Eminem). Dancing? That's so 50s.

          Pool Halls and Bowling? Nope, because parents are used to them - they aren't new, and hence scary.

          Seriously - every new technology is the focus of loudmouth moralist hysteria. Seriously - the board of Eton college wouldn't let the first robber-baron train magnates lay railway tracks across any Eton-owned property. Not because they didn't want a station near the school, but because they feared (and I quote) "the railway may corrupt the morals of the boys" in some undefinable way. Just worried about those well-known 1800s "Ale 'n' Whores" trains, I guess.

          Look at any new technology - popular music, radio, television, the internet, the web - the one thing they all have in common is that they were once new, and they (or the pace of change they implied) scared the shit out of luddites.

          And in our molly-coddling society anything that frightens people without real justification has but one battle-cry - "think of t3h kids!!!!11!!1!one".

          Notice how worries about the real concerns (war, famine, genetic engineering, the DMCA, economic collapse, the ongoing "difficulties" of the US democratic system) are never framed in terms of children. War is obviously bad - no-one needs to start invoking "the kids" to push buttons and get everyone on-side.

          As Bill Hicks famously said, just wave a foetus at people and you can lead them on whatever crusade you like.

          In fact, it's getting to the stage where the second a new technology sparks fears which involve kids, I come down bang in favour of it. If it had a real danger the irrational luddites would publicising that - the fact they're relying on ill-supported, zero-evidence emotive bullshit like imagined, potential effects on "the kids" is just evidence there's nothing, in fact, to be worried about.
      • by ianscot (591483) on Monday August 22, 2005 @09:33AM (#13371563)
        A debate on whether or not parents should take some responsibility turns into a rant about video games and music and violent movies. Whats up with that?

        Your ironic turnaround would make so much more sense if that initial debate about "whether or not parents should take some responsibility" was really taking place.

        And I mean a real debate about, for example, the effects of an economy that essentially requires two working parents on our children. I'm no "social conservative" and it seems to me the only people who're bringing that up just now are the fundies, who obviously have their own ideological axes to grind and who are more interested in manipulating people's anxieties than in allaying them.

        If Americans are especially conscious of how parenting has changed in just my lifetime, I think they're trying not to admit it to themselves. If anything they're pushing their anxieties about the changes into red herrings like "video games are responsible for all our problems."

    • by bigmouth_strikes (224629) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @03:43PM (#13367737) Journal
      > kids who commit crimes that are supposedly caused by video games

      I guess you were in such a hurry for an early post that you forgot to read the article... It doesn't have anything to say about crimes "supposedly" caused by video games. It deals with how violent video games make players more violent. Regardless of their parents.
    • by neo (4625) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @03:56PM (#13367796)
      Freakonomics [amazon.com] does a pretty interesting job of explaining crime rates and a direct connection to parental investment.

      Basically if you wanted the kid and care about them, they commit less crime than if you didn't want them or care about them.
      • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_Windows [wikipedia.org]

        That is basically true (or suspected) across many boundaries. Hell, I've always known deep down that if people tell you they don't care about you and what you do - you'll never care about them either. And isn't that were violence happens? I had to do a report on school violence and found that as more was done to "lock down" a school the more violent the kids became. When given an old grandmother type to be a "security guard" the kids acted more respectfully and wer
    • by Crixus (97721) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @04:19PM (#13367895) Homepage
      How about a general study on family environments?

        I used to be a very angry person, but due to an unusual epiphany 3 years ago, I've learned to deal with it. But what this experience taught me is that there are a LOT of angry people in this country.

          I think a better study would try to get to the bottom of that. I saw a film that touched on this topic briefly a year or two ago, but didn't delve deeply enough.

          That being said however:

          Angry people are going to commit acts of violence whether there are video games or not.

          This sounds like another time when we're treating the symptom, and not the disease.
    • by ianscot (591483) on Monday August 22, 2005 @09:26AM (#13371464)
      As a starting point, hopefully we'd put work out control populations on these studies so as to see whether X set of kids (whose behaviors, thoughts, etc. are affected by the games) also correlate with a certain set of parents. Not that it's easy to objectively categorize "parenting styles" so as to apply those controls, but c'mon -- do some reasonably exhaustive interviewing of the parents to see what their attitudes are toward the games themselves, at the very least. The correlations would be at least as meaningful as those between the kids and the games, surely.

      It would interest me to know how many parents are really the utter zombies I seem to see around at the mall. Just basic checks getting at "Are you making conscious choices at ALL?" might show a shocking level of apathy. (Apathy like that in, oh, American voters?)

      My 12-year-old boy/girl twins both play video games, and I'm pretty attentive about which ones but I'm cool with that. I'm also pretty easygoing about half of what gets an R rating for movies -- the kids see little violence, but skin I think they are familiar with seeing as how they have some, so that doesn't bother me as much. The basic deal is that you have to be making conscious choices about what to expose your kids to.

      The advocacy groups who object most vociferously to video games aren't about those conscious choices at all. They're about arbitrary standards, imposed by some sort of body of authority. I don't trust that impulse a bit.

      The question has never been "Can stuff kids play with affect their attitudes toward the world?" Duh, yes it can. The question is whether video games are somehow the pervasive, destructive influence that luddites and a weird mixture of nannystaters and "social conservatives" think they are. Or are they just a form of media that parents need to keep an eye on, like -- duh again -- everything else including TV? I'm a reasonable parent, and personally I think MTV (for one example) is a much more corrosive presence in kids' lives. It's a nakedly brazen front for all things consumerist and sexist. Video games don't have nearly the same cultural weight behind them. Where game writers are mostly just trying to make a buck building something fun, advertizers are actively, consciously doing everything they can to exploit my kids and brainwash them to spend a lifetime thinking about nothing but products and money. There are whole academic fields -- "advertizing psychology" -- in support of that effort.

  • by ucblockhead (63650) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @03:27PM (#13367645) Homepage Journal
    And it make sense, because it explains why the rise of videogames correlates with a drop in violence among teens.

    Er...wait a minute...

    • Say that again, and I'll kick your ass.

      ~X~

      *Yes, I'm joking.*
    • by billstewart (78916) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @04:58PM (#13368070) Journal
      Certainly *some* people in the US government are all in favor of *some* videogames increasing American youth's aggressive behavior, interest in violence, alignment with one side in conflicts and belief that the other side is evil and should be killed....
  • Stats. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shky (703024) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [yraeloykhs]> on Sunday August 21, 2005 @03:30PM (#13367655) Homepage Journal
    A further study, released some time ago, suggests that there are "Lies, damn lies, and statistics."
    • Re:Stats. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by badasscat (563442) <basscadet75@y a h o o . c om> on Sunday August 21, 2005 @04:04PM (#13367838)
      A further study, released some time ago, suggests that there are "Lies, damn lies, and statistics."

      Well, in this case, I'd say the study released today is closer to the truth than the study that it supposedly "contradicts", because this study is a study of studies. It's a look at the preponderence of evidence in all studies done up to this point.

      It would be analogous to saying violent crime is down 10% this year, although this is "contradicted" by the fact that there was a murder just down the street last night. Well, no, there's nothing contradictory about that. That murder goes into the set of statistics that are then compared with the same set of statistics from last year. One does not contradict the other, because one is the whole truth and the other is just a part of the data.

      The study that's being talked about today went back and examined the findings of all the studies done up to that point, and found that the vast majority of them indicated that violent games lead to an increase in aggression. They did note that "a few" said the opposite. The point is the prevailing view provided by all the research that's been done is that violent games do lead to increased aggression, irrespective of a few individual studies that came to different conclusions.

      I know what people here want to believe, but at some point you have to look at it and say "well, 85 or 90% of all studies say one thing - doesn't that probably indicate that something's there?" I mean it seems like a stretch to suggest that all of the studies that indicate increased aggression were somehow flawed while all of those on the other side were not. There are probably flaws on both sides, but if you toss out the flawed studies the total result would likely be exactly the same.
  • ...they refine the answer we've had for years, which is:

    "It depends on the individual, which means the responsibility falls on the parents or guardians to ensure that their children aren't being exposed to something that is going to alter their behavior in a negative way."

    Figure it out, people.
    • It's not quite 100% fair to put all the blame on parents. It's impossible to keep pop culture away from kids, unless you want to live like some conservative christains do and move to a rural area and homeschool your children. Even if you refuse to allow them GTA, half of their friends will have it.

      I'd be much quicker to defend the games industry if they gave any indication of being remotely concerned about the effects of what they sell on their customers.

      We of course get pissed, because as adults its inco
      • by Space cowboy (13680) * on Sunday August 21, 2005 @04:19PM (#13367892) Journal
        I think you're missing the point - it's not that you ought to be keeping your kids away from pop culture or violence in games, or whatever. The point is you ought to be being parents! No-one said it was going to be easy...

        *You* have a responsibility to raise your kids. It's *your* values that they will start with, if you can be arsed to get off your backside and teach them. Sure they'll rebel (it's part of growing up), but what is learned early is learned best. Give them freedom to choose their actions from an early age, and give them the consequences of their actions as well. That simple lesson is what is missing in most kids that have "gone off the rails".

        Actually I think it's just as negligent to keep the kids away from bad influences (to a certain degree anyway). If you don't let them make mistakes when the consequences are small, they'll make the same mistake when the consequences are large, because they'll know no better.

        It's a bit like when children grow up in antiseptic conditions - smothered by well-wishing parents, they never cut themselves, never get dirty, etc. They grow up with a significantly-impaired immune system, subject to allergies for the rest of their lives. The time put-aside by nature for "learning" things was wasted, and the nascent adult suffers because of it.

        Simon.

        • The point is you ought to be being parents! No-one said it was going to be easy...

          In fact, it may not even be possible. Parents don't have as much control over their kids as most would like to believe. You can go on and on about how you need to instill good values in them, but then there's American Pop Culture coming at them from every angle, every day that probably has a much stronger influence than anything the parent's can dream up. Parents have been teemed up against by a slew of advertising and p

    • Which is the old simple pat answer, but now we know it is more complicated. Most children will be able to play violent video games with little negative effect, but some won't. Since such video games are everywhere, it makes little sense to forbid the child to play such games, unless one is going to create a entire environment in which the games are not present. If the family has a history of violence, or, if the child has experience and access to the tools that might allow him to kill 20 people in under
  • It probably does (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Monkelectric (546685) <slashdot@[ ]kelectric.com ['mon' in gap]> on Sunday August 21, 2005 @03:31PM (#13367667)
    But can they prove that "agressive thoughts" are harmful? Porn increases "sexual thoughts". Could watchin Bill O'Reilly increase my "complete asshole thoughts?"

    Yes everything you see and do influences you to some degree. Unless you're crazy to begin with, you won't act on them.

    • by uighur (818297)
      I completely agree. Being inundated with violent behavior through TV/video games could definatly increase violent thoughts. But until there is some link between video games and an increase in actual violence, I could care less.
    • by Avast Yee (906209)
      How do psychologists control studies like this? It seems to me that video games would score fairly low in influencing kids as opposed to being inundated with real-world violence. Example, from the article:

      Showing violent acts without consequences teaches youth that violence is an effective means of resolving conflict.

      Not to bring politics into this too much, but isn't that exactly the example that the President of the United States set, violence as an acceptable means to getting your way?

      So, do
    • Sports=Death? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by spineboy (22918) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @04:11PM (#13367858) Journal
      Well, then what about sports - i.e. football, lacrosse, hockey. They all involve hitting people, fairly hard too. I can think of many more high school/college jocks that beat up people, than other people who were playing vid games. Let's ban football - oh wait, that would be "unAmerican".
      • Re:Sports=Death? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jtwJGuevara (749094)
        Disclaimer: This post is backed by nothing more than my unqualified opinion.

        In my experience there is no correlation in what you said about football. Football just happens to attract alpha males who have inferiority complexes and decide to take out their aggression on others to hide that complex. If you look outside of the majority of high school football players and a few binge drinking college players you will find a quite benevolent group of people. Just look at the number of college and pro football
      • Re:Sports=Death? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by cowscows (103644) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @04:49PM (#13368031) Journal
        Just as an interesting aside that your comment reminded me of, I was watching Real TV, or at least a similar show, basically video clips of crazy stuff happening. Anyways, there's one of a teenage ice hockey game going on where a fight breaks out. Big brawl, involving a number of players from both sides. One kid out there thinks that the fighting is stupid and a waste of time, so to protest and stop the fight, he takes his shirt off, and drops his pants, while skating around the rink.

        That probably wouldn't have been my first idea had I been in his case, but people started cheering for him, and everyone stopped fighting to see what was going on. So his plan worked. What made it more interesting, however, was that someone in the stands didn't approve, and called the cops. And the cops arrested him for indecent exposure, and took him to jail.

        I'm not anti-sport, or even anti-violent sports like hockey and football, but I think that it's amazing that in the midst of all that fighting, the guy that goes to jail is the pacifist who felt like taking his clothes off. It wasn't really lewd or sexual(unlike the infamous superbowl incident). He caused a fight to stop. He stopped people from trying to hurt each other. And someone found that offensive enough to call the cops. That just, to me, says something very strange about our culture.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 21, 2005 @03:31PM (#13367668)
    If they try to take my violent video games away, i will throw barrels at them until they run out of lives!
  • exposure to violence in life increases aggressive thoughts.

    In other news, it is reported that cats need a heart to live.
  • by nmoog (701216) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @03:33PM (#13367680) Homepage Journal
    After a couple of hours of GTA I always want to punch someone. And I'm a reasonable, dweeby, pacificist nerd.
    • After a couple of hours of GTA I always want to punch someone. And I'm a reasonable, dweeby, pacificist nerd.

      Not me...After a couple of hours of GTA, the only effect I've noticed is I come really close to running red lights when I drive.

      BTM
    • I find that 2 minutes of watching a politician on TV makes me want to punch someone - generally, a politician. 10 minutes of watching politicians on TV makes me want to punch a whole government.
  • by Pluvius (734915) <pluvius3@gmail.WELTYcom minus author> on Sunday August 21, 2005 @03:34PM (#13367685) Journal
    The media is notorious for reporting things like this completely incorrectly.

    The thing I most want to know is whether or not there were controls in place to weed out the influence of children who are more likely to be violent anyway (e.g. kids from broken homes). If not, then there's no way to separate causation from correlation.

    I also have to wonder about possible bias. The APA funded this study, and it wouldn't exactly be surprising if an association of psychologists (i.e. people who get paid to cure insanity) wanted to suggest that a fairly popular hobby like playing video games turns children into sociopaths.

    Oh, and what video games did they play? The GTA series most certainly portrays consequences for violent behavior, for instance.

    Rob
    • TFA (which seems to be a opinion piece) says it's a study, but the link in TFA leads another article which talks about an APA statement [apa.org] which does contain a fair number of references in the linked PDF.

      Nothing really new here, as far as I can tell. It looks like it's just APA reiterating their previous stance on video games.
    • http://www.apa.org/releases/violentvideoC05.html [apa.org]

      Not exactly the actual study, but at least closer to the source. Assuming this and the post article are appealing to the same research (its difficult to say for sure since the article never says anything specific about the actual study, which is strange because I was under the impression that it was considered good journalism to cite your sources), it does appear certain parts were left out of the article, including

      children and adolescents who are attract

    • by ray-auch (454705) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @04:35PM (#13367960)
      Kids ? GTA ?

      GTA was never (even before someone found some sex in it) rated for kids (at least in US or UK).

      So how the f*** would kids be playing it ?

      Oh, right, they're breaking the law, and/or being looked after by adults who break the law. And they have more agressive thoughts than kids who don't. No shit. Next week news that kids who break the law also tend to have less respect for authority...

      Maybe we should ban kids from playing these games. Oh, wait...

      No, second thoughts, maybe we should ban "psychologists" from pretending to be scientific researchers if they don't understand that self-selecting case/control groups invalidates any statistical results.

  • by Blaaguuu (886777)
    I read a study previously taht came to the same conclusion, that playign violent video games led to more aggressive thoughts and tendancies... while, and immediately after playing the games. thre was nothign to show tht these effects continued mroe than a few minutes after playing the game. which is pretty pointless. ofcourse people are going to have agressive thoughts while killing people in a virtual world. but that doesnt mean those thoughts will continue through the day.
  • Some could argue that voilent video games could be used as a law enforcement tool. Law enforcement researchers could perform studies where prisoners play a game vs a normal control group. Using neural nets or some way of generating a player's profile, a model is made to differentiate how violent criminals play vs normal players. Once the game is released to the public, if a player gets flagged as a potential criminal, the police are dispatched.

    BTM
  • Anyone who has taken even a beginners course on statistics knows that statistics can be distorted to tell any tale that you want. This follows the same line as the whole bit about how gun owners are more likely to commit a gun related crime. Well, shiver me timbers. Thats a novel concept. Whats the numbers on knife owners? All construed to tell us the tale they want to tell. And where are their parents?
  • GTA and driving. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by neo (4625) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @03:38PM (#13367708)
    I remember vividly the first time I played a marathon session of GTA and then got behind the wheel of a real car. I had to force myself to acknowledge red lights when there were no other cars around. This was after training myself NOT to stop for them in GTA because the cops didn't care.

    Now this is a small example of how you can train or untrain yourself to certain stimulus, but I never beat anyone with a bat, or rigged a bomb to anyone's car. Perhaps because no one was offering me the jobs.

    We are obviously affected by what we see and hear. We learn from our environment and observations what is acceptable and what isn't.

    Movies, books, conversations, music and games are all ways that ideas get past from person to person. The message can sometimes get confused by the messenger. How many people have refused to read Lolita because they think other people would think they were pedophile?

    As a parent, it's your job to isolate your children from input that might alter their psyche. You don't show 3 year olds Faces of Death.

    Should the industry have some part in that? Yes. They should certainly give a relatively detailed list of the content. But should games be MORE responsible than other industries, like Movie Makers and the Book Industry? No.
    • I've never played GTA, but I did play Carmageddon for a while and noted the same tendancy to want to crash into other cars if I got behind the wheel just after a game. It can take a few hours to let your habits go back to normal.
      • Re:GTA and driving. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Apotsy (84148)
        Some coworkers and I used to play multiplayer Carmageddon after hours. One guy forced himself to go through a mandatory one hour "cooling off" period for that very reason.
    • by mojotooth (53330)

      I remember vividly the first time I played a marathon session of GTA and then got behind the wheel of a real car. I had to force myself to acknowledge red lights when there were no other cars around.

      I agree with the point of the parent. Just wanted to make a comment on the above statement. I also had a similar problem after a recent trip to a indoor go-kart track. It has nothing to do with video games, it's just an adjustment to your frame of reference. For that matter, sometimes after I've played onl

  • by HRbnjR (12398) <chris@hubick.com> on Sunday August 21, 2005 @03:38PM (#13367713) Homepage
    Heh, well, maybe if they put more sex into video games, all those kids would instead decide they want to make love, not war :)
  • by Space cowboy (13680) * on Sunday August 21, 2005 @03:39PM (#13367718) Journal

    There's a line from Latin Quarter's "America for beginners" that's more in reference to right-wing politics, but it fits pretty well here -
    The vigilantes are on their way back, with prime-time fight the good fight

    I've been playing role-playing games since I was 11 (D&D, AD&D, Runequest, MERP, Traveller, etc..). I can't say I've ever tried to translate those fantasies into reality. Because these are social games, I know a *lot* of other people who play them. Not any one of those people has turned out to be a non-productive member of society... Some now work for the M.O.D, some for NASA, some in government, some in companies, some are lawyers, the list goes on... I would say I know (personally) well over 70 people who role-play. All of them are model citizens.

    Perhaps the vigilantes ought to choose a different fight... For every perceived problem ("violence in games"), there is a solution ("ban them") that is simple, obvious and wrong. (With apologies to whomever's quote I've just mangled).

    Simon
  • by stonedonkey (416096) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @03:46PM (#13367749)
    ...And youth violence has been on a steady and significant decline since about 1997. Around when the PlayStation 1 launched, coincidentally.

    Check it out here [bolt.com].

    Of course, you can use statistics to say anything you want... unless the figures are as obvious as they are here. Difficult to tweak for that daily anti-GTA propaganda : /
  • And yet..... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Beebos (564067) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @03:47PM (#13367750)
    ......violent crime is at all time lows, though you wouldn't know that by watching the U.S. media.
  • by MosesJones (55544) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @03:50PM (#13367765) Homepage

    Back in the "old days" it was the Waltz, then there was the Tango, the Charleston and then...

    1950s OH MY GOD THE WORLD IS OVER, Rock and Roll... our children are being corrupted
    1960s OH MY GOD, ELVIS is such a good boy, but those BEATLES
    1970s TV is KILLING my Children
    1980s HORROR MOVIES are KILLING my Children
    1990s NIVARNA are forcing Children to top themselves

    And of course now its Video Games which are forcing Children into a life of violence.

    This is just another great "Aunt Sally" for politicians and "academics" to debate and get money from. If it wasn't this they'd be battering on at Cartoons for glorifying violence (there is nothing in Doom III worse than the violence of Tom and Jerry or Roadrunner). The young are ALWAYS being corrupted in the minds of the elders, and what corrupted them in their youth is now seen as innocent.

    And have you noticed... its always the over 40s who start wars... something must be making them do it.... I blame mugs of hot chocolate.

    And lets not forget when Marge banned "Itchy and Scratchy"
  • by handy_vandal (606174) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @03:50PM (#13367767) Homepage Journal
    Can't we solve this debate using rigorous scientific methods?

    * Expose the test group to violent videogames.
    * Expose the control group to non-violent videogames
    * Compel both subject groups to commit a series of brutal murders
    * Autopsy the brains of both subject groups.

    The answer should be right there, in the brain autopies.

    -kgj
  • I'm not saying some games don't lead to aggression, but I am saying the data are not there yet.

    I'm not saying that apparant plant growth is caused by invisible gnomes that rip up all the plants in the world every few seconds and replace them with slightly larger ones when you aren't looking, but I am saying that the data are not there yet.
  • before they even existed?

    Video games make an excellent scapegoat - they are a modern-day babysitter these days, and someone's gotta be the fall guy for the goals of a bunch of random beaurcrats.

    The key is - you have to know more than whether or not someone plays a violent video game to know if they go whacko and shoot up a classroom. There are a TON of other variables - whether or not they were bullied, their home situations, mental and psychological history - these and many others all play a big factor in
  • by SumDog (466607)
    ...and in Europe their TV has lots of playful nudity, but they are very anti-violence, whereas here we have lots of violent stuff on basic cable, but no nudity...

    Still you have Japan which has lots of both and even erotic adult cartoons, yet their crime rates are lower...and their suicide rates are higher

    So what does it prove? Absolutely nothing. Come on people, think! Art reflects culture, our culture does not rise from art.

    If violent games and porn are high selling items, it is because our culture wants i
  • I'm sorry - is it that

    Violence (in the Video Games Debate) Continues to Rage

    or that

    the Violence-In-Video-Games Debate Continues to Rage

    Either the scientists are trading blows (now that's a story!)
    or it's business as usual.
  • Okay, but what can they do? With the first admendment in place all they can seemingly do is pressure retailers? I'm sorry, but with the most violent games getting the best sales can this really effect the market long term?

    • Re:What can they do? (Score:3, Informative)

      by westlake (615356)
      Okay, but what can they do? With the first admendment in place all they can seemingly do is pressure retailers? I'm sorry, but with the most violent games getting the best sales can this really effect the market long term?

      You bet it can.

      The Hays Production Code (ca 1930) was adopted by all the major studios and rigidly enforced for twenty years. Production Code [wikipedia.org].

      Pre-Code films played on infatuation with the gangster culture of Prohibition and the sexual license of the 'twenties, but tended to spin out o

  • by 7Prime (871679) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @04:11PM (#13367857) Homepage Journal

    Honestly, I do agree that violence (not sex) in games AND IN FILM does highten our appathy toward violence in life. And not just in kids, I think kids are really no more malliable than adults in this case, but it's the adults doing the study, and they want their violent TV, so whatever.

    But I think the more pressing concern is the fact that American video game companies are profitting off the bigger issue, one we seem to refuse to look in the eye: that our society is completely infatuated with voilence, and to the point where children would rather spend their money on a game that's violent as apposed to one that's not. GTAIII was, if I remember correctly, the best selling game in the US, outsellng The Sims and Myst (the two next best selling games at the time). THAT'S something to be alarmed at, the fact that people are screaming for it, not that it's available.

    We always blame the Media and Entertainment industries when all they're doing is giving us what we want. Our first mistake is in our thought-processes behind the blaming of enetertainment. We only get worried, and start making acqusations, after a person has crossed the threshhold and committed a violent act, and then we hide behind a curtin with claims like, but I can distinguish fantasy from reality”. THAT'S NOT THE POINT. These are NOT copy-cat crimes, these are not adults and children who are dillusional about reality. These are children who are being told by everyone in their lives: from the things they see on TV, from the other children they see beat up in school, from their parants fighting, even from the the rising tension due to polarized politics in our country (children aren't stupid), from ALL of these things, it's no wonder they get the impression that violence is just a way of life, because to a certain extent, in our country, IT IS.

    Let's quit with all the studies being used to put the blame on everything but our own violent lifestyles, it just allows people to project their own problems on everything else. America has the highest crime rate of any fully industrialized nation, these games are marketted everywhere (and usually flop), as is hollywood, so it's time to wake up, and face the reality that it's our way of life that's causing the problems, and not our entertainment.

    When Mommy get's a big SUV because it makes her “feel” more secure, and Daddy buys a pistol because he feels he needs to protect his family from the outside world, little Billy's gonna get the impression that fear is a healthy, normal part of life.

  • More Post Hoc BS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Temsi (452609) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @04:14PM (#13367870) Journal
    Post hoc ergo propter hoc. Comes after therefore caused by.

    A common fallacy in many, many arenas, not just this one.

    Studies such as these forget to examine other factors, such as "are violent kids more likely to play violent games?", and "are there violent kids who get their aggressions out through video games?", and "what in the kids upbringing or social situation could contribute to their violent behaviour?", and "do calm and non violent kids get violent or aggressive after playing the games?", and most importantly "what is the responsibility of the parents in each situation?"

    I grew up watching violent movies. Did it make me a violent person? No, quite the opposite. I detest violence. Why? Because I had a mother who actually gave a shit. She cared about what I was watching, and always made a point to tell me that it wasn't real, that it was make-believe, and that there was always someone behind the camera. She also made a point of telling me that violence didn't solve any problems, and she even made me watch movies that showed the effect of war and violence on people, such as In Cold Blood and The Deer Hunter.

    If violence in video games and movies was the real cause, we should be able to compare the amount of violence in the US with that of another country and see a direct correlation with the rate of violent crimes. In Japan, movies and games are far more violent than they are here in the US. Yet the rate of violent crime is dramatically lower, and gun violence is only a tiny fraction of what it is here.

    Anyone who points to video games and movies and says 'this is the cause' has not only failed to do their homework, they've completely lost sight of the issue and are just looking for an easy scape-goat.
    • Re:More Post Hoc BS (Score:3, Informative)

      by learn fast (824724)
      Studies such as these forget to examine other factors, such as "are violent kids more likely to play violent games?", and "are there violent kids who get their aggressions out through video games?", and "what in the kids upbringing or social situation could contribute to their violent behaviour?", and "do calm and non violent kids get violent or aggressive after playing the games?", and most importantly "what is the responsibility of the parents in each situation?"

      RTFA and you won't have to make up straw me
  • Actually, from what I've experienced in real-life, LOSING in a game makes people go ballistic for a moment (not VIOLENT, but 'louder' and so on).

    Hell, I've destroyed joysticks and keyboards (Kempstons, if I remember correctly - ah old Amiga days :) because I couldn't pass a level in logic and platform games ("Another World" being a good example :), etc. Coworker broke a keyboard because he couldn't beat my record in Minesweeper.

    What's violent in those games?
  • I had a "heated debate" with my girlfriend about the subject of computer games and children this evening. Before you ask, we are not married (we don't even live together) and we don't have children. She is vehemently opposed to children using computers at home, even though I am trying to tell her that there are benefits. She feels that to many kids are sat in front of their Playstation playing games when they could be playing more interactively with other children.

    The problem is with games like San Andre
  • Maybe violent videogames make kids violent, I don't know.

    But what about movies/series/cartoons? there is way too much violence in them. You have to reach pre-school cartoons to find non-violent stuff. I know because I have a 3 year-old nephew, and I've seen lots of cartoons lately, out of curiocity.

    And even if movies/series/cartoons do not portrait violence, they are very stressful. They are very fast, with very sharp images and cameras changing rapidly, so rapidly in fast as to induce vomiting. The same go
  • Original Articles (Score:3, Informative)

    by drphil (320469) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @04:37PM (#13367969)
    For those with a brain who like to read the original sources instead of the popular media's hack job of the summaries here are (I think) the two opposing studies.
    Dmitri Williams (University of Illinois, Urbana)
    "Internet Fantasy Violence: A Test of Aggression in an Online Game" Communication Monographs Vol. 72, No. 2, June 2005, pp.217-233, (this is a pdf) which says there's no link [uiuc.edu]

    AND in the other Corner

    Well, no one paper, actually. The APA "Committee on Violence in Video Games and Interactive Media" appearently did a metastudy of several papers on the topic and come up with a resolution (pdf) [apa.org] and press release. [apa.org] At the end of the resolution is a bib of the papers taken into consideration. I certainly don't care enough to plow through all those - but William's paper isn't in the bib. I suspect there was lots of group thought going in that committee -lots of the papers were written by members of the committee.

    I suspect that you can't make a blanket statement on video games. Folks with a predisposition for violence might be pushed over the edge to real life violent acts from habitual video play; whereas there are, I'm sure, many more level-headed people who understand this is all fantasy and escapism and can easily dissociate the video playing with real life. At least I hope so. Otherwise you all better run away from me. Fast.
  • as opposed to... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by timmarhy (659436) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @05:04PM (#13368097)
    when i played army as a young kid and would pretend shoot all my friends - OH WAIT ITS THE SAME THING! morons that thing video games change anything need to be the victim of some violent crime of their own.
  • by stox (131684) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @05:16PM (#13368148) Homepage
    I have found that exposure to politicians increases aggressive thoughts, aggressive behavior and angry feelings along with substantial loss of mass in my wallet.
  • by Hamster Lover (558288) * on Sunday August 21, 2005 @06:58PM (#13368656) Journal
    violence it just makes me so angry that I want to turn off GTA: 3, put down my controller and punch them in the head!

    I mean really, where's the god damn corrolation?
  • by bigbigbison (104532) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @07:40PM (#13368827) Homepage
    I took about five minutes and went to the APA's website and found that this great new study isn't based on original research, but, according to the APA's press release is simply a review of the research [apa.org]. So this "news" isn't anything new at all. And, if you bother to read the subtitle of the press release, it says, "Boys Play Games Longer and May Be More Vulnerable to Increases in Aggressive Behavior." Note the use of the word "may."

    If you read through the press release, we find that the lit review is presented by "Jessica Nicoll, B.A., and Kevin M. Kieffer, Ph.D., of Saint Leo University." Those in academia know that it is kind of unusual for a prof to collaborate on a paper with an undergrad. Looking at his webpage [earthlink.net] I didn't see any paper that seem remotely close to violence or media effects stuff. THe press release says they are from St. Leo, so a search of their website finds that on April 21, 2005 Jessica Nicoll gave a paper called "Violence in Video Games: A Review of the Empirical Literature" [saintleo.edu] (page looks like ass in Firefox). That panel was chaired by Dr. Kevin Kieffer. So, unless the paper underwent serious revision between then and when it was given at the APA, this is really Jessica Nicoll's paper.

    That's right, this paper that is getting a press release and all sorts of media attention is the work of an undergrad. While it is wrong to judge the quality of the paper without having read it, it seems safe to say that *gasp* just maybe this is being blown out of porportion a little bit...

    This seems especially true when WebMD quotes Kieffer as saying [webmd.com]
    "The bottom line is we see three things," Kieffer tells WebMD. One is short-term change toward more aggressive behavior. Two, there are gender differences: Boys play more often and they are more likely to be at risk of behavior changes. And three, some more vulnerable kids are drawn to these games -- kids who are already more violent, and those with low self-esteem."
    ...none of which sounds all that groundbreaking to me and pretty tame.

    Furthermore, this post [slashdot.org] links to the APA's "Resolution on Violence in Video Games and Interactive Media." If you look [apa.org]at the press release about that resolution [apa.org] you will see that at the bottom is states:
    Committee on Violence in Video Games and Interactive Media: Elizabeth Carll, PhD, and Dorothy Singer, EdD co-chairs; Craig Anderson, PhD, Brad Bushman, PhD, Karen Dill, PhD and Lilli Friedland, PhD.
    As this post points out [slashdot.org], If you look at the resolution's references we see 3 papers authors by Elizabeth Carll, 4 by Dorothy Singer, 6 by Craig Anderson, 5 by Brad Bushman, and 2 by Karen Dill. OF all the people on the committee, Lilli Friedland is the only one that has not listed as a reference for the ill effects of videogames. One more cynical than I might think that these people have an agenda or something... (And this doesn't even mention that they start the resolution stating, "...decades of social science research reveals the strong influence of televised violence on the aggressive behavior of children and youth.." as if were a given fact that too much tv makes you violent.)
    • Junk science (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tgibbs (83782)
      It is instructive to read some of the actual studies on which these conclusions are based. Every one I've looked at has been utter garbage. The most common errors are:

      1) No proper control. Games are exciting. So if you are looking for a specific effect of games, you need to control for nonspecific effects of general excitement. It is fairly obvious how to do this--you need another stimulus, perhaps a film of a sporting even that is equally exciting, and you have to verify that the control stimulus is indeed
  • Big Fucking Deal... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @08:57PM (#13369140)
    So people get aggressive when playing videogames. GEE GOLLY WIZ BEAVE... Who would have thought that when you're playing a GAME, you become aggressive? Apparently not the sciencetists.

    And who the fuck are the Who the Fuck are the American Psychological Assosiation? Who do they represent? Who funded the study? My friends and I can call each other the "American Patriotic Institute of violent and Aggressive Studies" and then i can release some bullshit statement as well.

    Lets save the world a whole lot of money and lay it out for everyone to see...

    Football is aggressive.
    Skateboarding is aggressive
    Inline Skating is aggressive
    Baseball is aggressive
    Basketball is aggressive
    Driving is aggressive
    Swiming is aggressive
    Racing is aggressive
    Playing poker is aggressive
    Hockey is aggressive
    Tennis is aggressive
    GOLF is aggressive, YES EVEN FUCKING GOLF.
    Politics is aggressive
    Argueing is aggressive
    Fighting is aggressive
    Excersizing is aggressive
    Rugby is aggressive
    Soccer is aggressive
    Field hockey is aggressive
    Boat racing is aggressive
    Flying planes is aggressive
    RC cars are aggressive
    Guns are aggressive
    Music is aggressive
    BEING A FUCKING MALE is aggressive

    BOO FUCKING HOO world... Aggressiveness is a part of life. It's what fucking formed capitalism along with greed.

    It's what GOT US TO TEH FUCKING MOON.

    ITS WHAT FUELS OUR EXISTANCE AS HUMANS. We strive to better ourselves than we currently are, and to do so... we must be aggressive. That is the nature of a GAME. The nature of a game is to strive to out perform the opponent, that means to better yourself.

    Yes... it takes aggressiveness.

    Dam bible thumpers and the uptight mothers of the world. We're men, we play hard, we build buildings that reach the sky, and we build space ships that go to fucking Mars.

    And yes... we play videogames and any of the other many aggressive activities... AND THAT INCLUDES FUCKING OUR UPTIGHT WIFES! ;)

    Study this!

  • or it could be... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Quixadhal (45024) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @10:54PM (#13369539) Homepage Journal
    It might just be the increasingly stressful environment that today's youth are subject to, where they can look forward to having to find work in a depressed economy, dealing with inflation as gas prices continue to soar (and thus drive transportation costs up, which increases the cost of ALL goods), or having the next 10 to 20 years to enjoy a war which we didn't need and can't afford to enjoy?

    Add onto that the fact that today's youth have very few role models to look up to, and lots of people telling them they can't state their opinions because it isn't politically correct.

    And let's not forget that one of the new non-destructive outlets they have, playing video games, is now under seige as well.

    Answer me this... if kids can't kill things in video games to work off their aggression, do you honestly believe they'll become placid, malleable little zombies that society can mold into productive worker drones? I doubt it.

    Kids don't form gangs to beat people up... they form gangs to relieve boredom and give themselves a sense of self-worth. Right now, many of them are in online gangs (called guilds) in MMORPG's... if you stop that, they'll switch to real-life gangs. Then instead of raiding the elf n00b zone and killing people, they'll hang around town and break stuff, or bully people.

"If truth is beauty, how come no one has their hair done in the library?" -- Lily Tomlin

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