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BBC Argues Games Don't Cause Violence 398

RandBlade writes "BBC News has an article on the argued link between violent games and real violence. It examines both scientific evidence, different theories and the facts in order to conclude 'that it is trite and irresponsible of ill-informed commentators to claim that games like Grand Theft Auto are central to terrible crime.'" It's good to know that gamers are not all killing machines lying in wait, or that E3 is not the most potentially dangerous convention ever.
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BBC Argues Games Don't Cause Violence

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  • Nonsense. (Score:4, Funny)

    by grub ( 11606 ) <> on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:30PM (#8211826) Homepage Journal

    I can't agree with their conclusions. Three days after I bought Thief: The Dark Project [] I was out shopping for a blackjack, dark cloak and rope arrows.

    The rope arrows were a bit hard to find..
  • Of Course (Score:5, Funny)

    by pagaman ( 729335 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:30PM (#8211828)
    Of course games dont cause violence. Man do I want to kill those people who think it does....
  • really (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mabhatter654 ( 561290 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:33PM (#8211844)
    considering most people that live the "Grand Theft" lifestyle probably never even SAW a PS2! ...they are way too poor and screwed up. GTA:VC is mostly a hollywood-syle diversion for spoiled little middle class kids...who wouldn't have the guts to walk down the streets depicted in the game anyway!!!
  • by another misanthrope ( 688068 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:33PM (#8211848)
    Itchy and Scratchy and Marge already covered this:

    Meyers: I did a little research and I discovered a startling thing...
    There was violence in the past, long before cartoons were invented.
    Kent: I see. Fascinating.
    Meyers: Yeah, and know something, Karl? The Crusades, for instance.
    Tremendous violence, many people killed, the darned thing went on for thirty years.
    Kent: And this was before cartoons were invented?
    Meyers: That's right, Kent.
    -- `Smartline', ``Itchy and Scratchy and Marge''
    • the cool thing is that you got Score:5, Insightful

    • Now it should be abundantly clear to everyone that Video Games do not cause violence: rap music does.
    • by dandelion_wine ( 625330 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @03:51PM (#8213358) Journal
      Man, the way those lines were delivered was clearly an indication that this was a parody of the way news interviews simplify complicated issues, scoring cheap, but not decisive, points.

      I'm on the same side here -- I'm from the generation that Dungeons and Dragons would turn into evil, raving, psycho-killers.

      But this whole -- there was __ before -- logic is crap. Maybe *I*, as an individual psycho, decide wholly on the basis of AC/DC lyrics to do some unspeakable act. Fact 1: I'd have to be pretty screwed up to begin with. Fact 2: "There were killers before AC/DC" doesn't really have anything to do with this particular killing, the fact that I strangled him with bells painted red in his own blood. Maybe my natural violent tendencies would have found different expression instead -- maybe I just would have beaten the silly bastard. Who's to say?

      Everybody wants to deny the influence of everything, because absolutely unencumbered free will is a God-given (heh) right. "X determines behaviour" is a straw man, because the real argument is "X influences behaviour". Video games? Not in any way we can measure yet, in terms of violence. Just cause the kids in my elementary school were doing "Street Fighter moves" a few years ago, doesn't mean they wouldn't have been doing Bruce Lee moves a decade or two back.

      But put the "there was violence before" argument in the specious reasoning bin, along with the "I played video games and am not a psycho" anecdote logic, which coincides nicely with "what about Columbine" anecdote logic. Anecdotes prove nothing but what happened in an individual case (if you have insight on it). Leave it to the stats, people. So far, they show no relationship.
      • Re:D&D and violence (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bastian ( 66383 )
        I actually read a case study on the whole D&D scare.

        Apparently, it all stems from a news article about how such-and-such percent of kids who play D&D commit suicide. The case study talks about the hysteria about D&D a bit. It then proceeds to mention that the reporter who wrote the article did bad research, and that she got the suicide factor completely wrong - it was actually TWICE what she reported. On top of that, this doubled suicide rate was still signifigantly lower than the national a
  • Quote (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:36PM (#8211863)
    "These media types make us out to be dangerous, violent, ready to snap and kill people on a daily basis; which is just a damned, nasty lie - I haven't killed anyone in weeks."
    • Re:Quote (Score:3, Informative)

      by UserGoogol ( 623581 )
      For reference, this seems to be a quote from Rodney Caston, also known as "Largo" from Megatokyo, although he hasn't actually worked on the comic in ages. He said it in his rant for Episode 33 [].
  • yet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WormholeFiend ( 674934 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:37PM (#8211868)
    violent games and the statistically insignificant, high-profile gamer-related violent crime are very popular scapegoats.

    think of the children! especially the ones we don't want to take responsability of raising!
    • by lazypenguingirl ( 743158 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @01:45PM (#8212312) Journal
      I've seen many parents in articles and on TV talking about violent video games and saying such things as "I never knew that game was violent" and then complain that stricter labeling or even removing them from some stores is needed (thus barring legitimate adults from easily purchasing them). While ironically Sam Goody now has a large DVD porn section with only cute opaque plastic slips with playboy bunnies on them in front of the first DVD to hide them.

      The other day I was at a Gamestop (getting Gothic II), and there was a mother there with her two little boys. Her little boys kept looking at games and saying, "Mommy, get me that one, and that one." To which she was very acquiescent. She was there purchasing a few new memory cards for the Game Cube. When the clerk said, "Okay, here are two Game Cube memory cards," she said, "Game Cube? I need memory cards for the Nintendo." Meanwhile in the background, the two little kids were in fact discussing GTA... and acting it out against each other. It was.... disturbing. But more than anything, it made me rather angry. If this woman wasn't even too clear about what console she was buying memory cards for, you can be sure as hell she has no idea about the content of the games she buys for them, and didn't really seem to care either. I've seen similar sights before too. It seems people like her are using games as a proxy for parenting, keeping the kids quiet and out of their way. I admit, I was playing Doom with my dad as a middle schooler, but it wasn't a substitution for parenting. I may have played games like that with their knowledge, but I had the parents who demanded to know who I was with, where and why 24/7 and any applicable contact info. My parents called the shots.... nowadays it seems the kids themselves are.
  • by October_30th ( 531777 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:39PM (#8211877) Homepage Journal
    It examines both scientific evidence, different theories and the facts in order to conclude

    Scientific theories and evidence have never been any good in convincing the hysterical please-think-of-the-children crowd. These people have already made their minds and nothing will change their position.

    • by Trelane ( 16124 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:42PM (#8211890) Journal
      Scientific theories and evidence have never been any good in convincing the hysterical please-think-of-the-children crowd. These people have already made their minds and nothing will change their position.

      The same can be said of the other party in this debate, fwiw.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 07, 2004 @01:29PM (#8212212)
      I grew up in a pretty conservative family that tends to respond to this type of hysteria, so I understand what's necessary to make these people to reconsider their ironclad position.

      I've gotten a lot of milage out of the following teenage homicide graph (other violent crime trends are similar).

      DOJ Homicide Trends by Age []

      I would like you to note the trend from 1993 to today. Please note that it wasn't until around 1993 that the most violent 1st person genre took off.

      In fact, if you continue to reseach the DOJ's site, you'll find that our crime rates are comparable to the more "innocent" times (50's, 60's) of the last century, where our war on drugs in the late 80's and early 90's reflect similar crime rates to that of the prohibition.

  • by cy_a253 ( 713262 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:41PM (#8211888)
    The people you kill in videogames are not real.

    The danger arises when something goes wrong in someone's mental development and that person comes to believe that people's lives *in reality* are worth nothing, just like in videogames.

    This "sliding" of definition (imaginary people = real people = ok to kill) is NOT caused by videogames. Someone who is mentally unstable enough to kill over a videogame would be triggered as well by violent movies, books or his own violent mental imagery.
    • But surely a person's "mental development" that you refer to is not entirely biological? Culture plays a large role in crime. Look at the crime boom in the 60s.

      There are a lot of factors that go into whether or not a person turns into a criminal. The media is not the biggest one, but it is not a small one either. And since low IQ is also a very big factor, video games and movies are generally far more dangerous than books will ever be.
      • Canada and Japan have violent media, but fewer instances of actual violence (even adjusted for population).

        Given that IQ would be consistent across all nations, then IQ might be a component, but not a big one. It would be nice to see someone run an IQ test of people convicted of violent crimes.

        I think the issue is a LOT more complex. It involves (in my opinion):
        #1. Biology (as mentioned in the article)
        #2. Early social development (it's amazing how many violent people had violent parents)
        #3. IQ (the dumber
        • "Given that IQ would be consistent across all nations"

          Japan has a average IQ 5-10 points above the U.S. In fact, within the U.S., group crime rates vary by group average IQ as well -- showing a spectrum from black to Asian populations with whites in between (though closer to Asians).

          For data on how nations differ, you may wish to check out "IQ and the Wealth of Nations" by Lynn. IQ ranges a great deal by country. My weblog actually has a table with Lynn's data on the subject here: http://thrasymac []
      • And since low IQ is also a very big factor, video games and movies are generally far more dangerous than books will ever be.

        Can you point to any evidence that IQ has a significant relation to the possibility for a person to be criminal?

        The high IQ crimes are probably white collar crimes mostly. Can't make any popular game or movie on that :).
  • Motivations (Score:5, Insightful)

    by johnhennessy ( 94737 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:42PM (#8211894)
    You often hear people claiming that games/films influenced their actions but at the end of the day its a cop out for taking responsibility for their own actions.

    People have been taking inspiration from Art for years - whether film, books, or in more recent time you could claim video games. No one forces people to read these books, watch these films or play these games - they choose to. If someone decides to go nuts, its their own personal decision - a game doesn't make that decision for them. Now the manner in which they go nuts - thats a different story.
    • Choice? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Gldm ( 600518 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @02:44PM (#8212794)
      But you forget that children aren't people so they can't choose anything. They're just some weird cross between pets and property until they turn 18 and then they magically become human beings with the capability of sentient thought and equal rights... unless they're gay. Oh and they can't drink... or get a credit card... or rent a car... and have to pay outrageous insurance rates. But other than that they've got the same rights as everyone else under the constitution once they've passed the arbitrary temporal threshold without regard for physical, mental, or emotional maturity or capability.
  • "Social, cultural, ethical and neurobiological issues remain in ... a tangle ... Before such accusations [terrible crime] are explicitly made, more credible work has to be done in this area. Scientific conclusions may well remain elusive for decades."

    More credible work? Maybe ... Asimov's Foundation? []

    How far can psycho/socio metrics go?

  • by MonkeysKickAss ( 735143 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:48PM (#8211924) Journal
    Games do not cause violence but they do desensitize children to violence and they don't take crimes of violence serious. When they play wrestling games they usually will imitate the wrestling moves and hurt someone without realizing it.
    • When they play wrestling games they usually will imitate the wrestling moves and hurt someone without realizing it.

      As opposed to when they watch it on tv?

      These are the same kids that will push others down the stairs because they think it'll be funny. Just because the lil' psychos choose to imitate their violence from things they've seen does not in any way mean that they woulnd't have been violent if they hadn't seen it.
    • "but they do desensitize children to violence"

      I think video games might desensitize children to video game violence, but there's little chance a child's reaction to real-world violence would be greatly affected. The two experiences are fundamentally different. Imagine the difference between seeing a castle made of Legos in a toy store and going to Buckingham Palace. If a child acts out a video game and hurts someone, that child was already capable of violence.

  • Weak article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mostly a lurker ( 634878 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:48PM (#8211925)
    I am emotionally in favour of the notion that games do not influence real life behaviour. The article, however, is mostly fluff. There is no concrete backup for any of the statements made. I remain unsure as to whether (and if so to what degree) games role playing can bring out violent behaviour.
    • I agree... this is no more a respectable article than the one blaming MyDoom on the Linux community. It's just an opinion piece portrayed as fact.

      Come on BBC, you can do better than this...

  • blame someone (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stocke2 ( 600251 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:48PM (#8211926)
    the big problem is no one wants to take responsibility for their actions, and some parents don't want to take responsibility for not teaching their kids well. The easiest thing for these people to do is blame someone else....and video games are just really convenient.
  • by geeber ( 520231 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:49PM (#8211940)
    In fact if you read the article, the author only takes the controversial stance that more study is required, and no conclusion can be reached yet.

    Basicly the guy says that there is no clear winner in the evolution vs enviroment debate. Then he uses Canada and Japan, where violence in games is common but murder is much more rare than the US, as an example to counter the situation in the U.S. It's a much more reasoned article than the sentationalistic headline would lead one to believe.
  • Kids != Adults (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The Beeb's argument is based on the assumption that kids don't play M-rated games just as they don't see R-rated movies. I think that's completely false. For one thing, any parent that shares the common Slashdot opinion that video games don't negatively affect youth should have no compunction against buying M-rated games for their kids. Add to that the large number of clueless parents that stampede on malls in the winter, buying games willy-nilly, and you have a problem.

    I think M-rated games don't influ
  • by Zordas ( 596510 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:51PM (#8211950)
    I've herd these arguments all my life and I just have one question. What video game did Hitler or Stalin play ?
    • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @01:00PM (#8212009)

      > I've herd these arguments all my life and I just have one question. What video game did Hitler or Stalin play ?

      Panzer General.

    • by wirelessbuzzers ( 552513 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @01:04PM (#8212040)
      Nobody claimed that video games cause all violence, just that they contribute to it, i.e. that people are more likely to be violent after playing video games. I don't have any evidence one way or another on this.

      Asbestos can cause lung cancer, but lots of people have died of lung cancer without being exposed to it (say, by cigarettes).
      • by tgibbs ( 83782 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @03:49PM (#8213340)
        Nobody claimed that video games cause all violence, just that they contribute to it, i.e. that people are more likely to be violent after playing video games. I don't have any evidence one way or another on this.

        However, as video games have become more popular, more violent, and more realistic, the rate of violence by the age group that plays videogames has steadily dropped. Now that doesn't prove that videogames don't cause violence, but it does prove that any such effect would have to be negligible compared to other social factors.
    • "In the 30s, Hitler, Czechoslovakia, Poland, France, World War II -- the Russian front, not a good idea! Hitler never played Risk when he was a kid! Cause you know, playing Risk, you could never hold on to Asia. That Asian-Eastern European area, you could never hold it, could you? Seven extra men at the beginning of every go, but you couldn't fucking hold it!" --Eddie Izzard
  • by ir0b0t ( 727703 ) * <mjewell@openm[ ] ['iss' in gap]> on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:51PM (#8211951) Homepage Journal
    There is a well-documented connection between actual guns and violence. Yet many would prefer to regulate simulated guns and simulated violence.

    Despite studies of this nature, I worry that there will continue to be resistance (in the Western US at least) to *any* type of regulatory initiative directed at actual guns, no matter how reasonable.

    Its also troubling because regulation of simulated violence presents a greater burden and risk to principles of free speech and expression --- without any corresponding social benefit except for those who object to the content of the games being regulated.

    • There is a well-documented connection between actual guns and violence


      It has been repeatedly shown that taking guns away from law-abiding citizens makes them easy targets for violent criminals, who, by definition, do not obey laws, including gun regulation laws.

      Just picking an example at random, the University of Arizona is a gun-free zone, which did nothing to prevent []the shooting there.

      • Just picking an example at random, the University of Arizona is a gun-free zone, which did nothing to preventthe shooting there.

        There's one thing lacking in the evidence provided to back up your argument: while you cited evidence (and there's plenty) of cases where unarmed citizens failed to prevent violence, you do not cite cases where armed citizens succeeded in preventing violence.

        Said evidence would be much more informative, esp. if provided with a study comparing the death toll under the different s

      • It has been repeatedly shown that taking guns away from law-abiding citizens makes them easy targets for violent criminals, who, by definition, do not obey laws, including gun regulation laws.

        And yet, many countries do just well with gun regulation. Maybe it's time the good old US of A look past gun regulation and at culture.

        I'm an immigrant to the States, and one thing that really surprised me is the general level of agressiveness. And it's contagious - I find that I'm getting more agressive, too.

        So wh
  • True! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:51PM (#8211956)
    "If computer games had affected my generation as kids we'd be running around in dark rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive music."
  • by Pure Diluted Reality ( 745905 ) <> on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:51PM (#8211958)
    Solitare for years. No violence to date.
  • by dberton ( 178101 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:54PM (#8211968)
    "There's so much comedy on television.
    Does that cause comedy in the streets?" -- Dick Cavett
    • Well (Score:3, Interesting)

      Cooking programs make people cook more. Each new DIY show increases the sales at DIY stores. When playbacking shows were first done I remember that all the street festivals also had a playback show.

      Comedy certainly causes people to repeat bits of it or to use it as a base for their jokes. Just watch slashdot discussions sometimes.

      So why not violence then eh?

      Of course if that would really be reliable then we would just show comedy and romance stories and some columbo to remind everyone that the police is

      • Cooking programs make people cook more. Each new DIY show increases the sales at DIY stores. When playbacking shows were first done I remember that all the street festivals also had a playback show.

        All those things are socially acceptable and ordinary.

        So why not violence then eh?

        Because it's not a normal state? When someone unloads with an AK47, it makes headlines. Not so with cooking a roast.

  • by DrMindWarp ( 663427 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:54PM (#8211969) it doesn't argue anything!

    It's reporters might discuss the issues but the BBC itself is not putting forward any of it's own ideas.

    Can't Slashdot distinguish the message from the messengers ?

  • In the words of the very funny British "executive transvestite, thank'you" stand-up comedian: " They say that guns don't people, people kill people- but I think the gun helps, y'know?"
  • by Cthefuture ( 665326 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:54PM (#8211974)
    Like so many things out there that people try to link to certain behaviours there is a certain amount of truth to it.

    Be it music, TV, games, whatever, they all have some effect on most people and more of an effect on others. So if someone has tendencies towards violence then violent games may help fuel that fire. Not that they wouldn't be violent without the game, but the game probably doesn't help.

    I remember my teenage years and I remember thinking that such-and-such doesn't effect me. However, looking back I can see that certain things helped justify unhealthy behavious and so I continued to do things that ended up hurting me in the end. Again, this is not to say that I would not have ever done anything like that anyway but having those fuels definately made it easier.

    It would be better if people could take notice of what effects them and not do those things (be it alcohol, violent games, whatever). But people are just too stupid to do that so maybe we do need rules. Isn't that why we have laws in the first place? Too many stupid people.
  • Oh yes it does... (Score:2, Interesting)

    Our actions are based on two things. Genetics and experiance. So to those who say that violent games do not cause violence, then what does? Was that person born evil? I think the relationship between violent games and violence is like the relationship between carcinogens and cancer. Think of it another way.
    • by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @01:49PM (#8212349) Homepage Journal
      So to those who say that violent games do not cause violence, then what does? Was that person born evil?

      Oh, I dunno, maybe being slapped around a lot? Maybe watching daddy punch and push mommy 'till she's on the floor?
      I was the nicest sweetest kid until I went to school, there I met kids who weren't the nicest and sweetest they could be. I learned violence at school: ban the schools.

      I think the relationship between violent games and violence is like the relationship between carcinogens and cancer.

      And I think the relationship betwee violent games and violence is like the relationship between made-for-tv movies about cancer and cancer.
  • violence in games (Score:2, Interesting)

    There's a powerful argument at the end of Grossman's On Killing that it's not the violence itself that's a problem, but how it is presented.

    The games that are actually dangerous are those in which are realistic enough that there is no doubt that it's human beings that you maim or kill, but at the same time depict those human beings as not really human, thereby introducing a conditionned psychological distance between the player and potential victims.

    95% of people have an ingrained resistance to killing ot
  • thank you, finally (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dindi ( 78034 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @01:01PM (#8212015)
    I just have to say, that I agree...

    Ratings on games are important imho, yes a 5 year old might think that grabbing someone out of a car and beating the person with a baseball bat is cool after playing GTA, but I do not think that a grown up is really inspired that way by violent games...

    I am a fan of Silent HILL, Fatal frame, and many Rainbowsix3, GTA, and many FPS shooters and fighting games, and I feel the gaming violence entertaining.... however I think it settles down my agression/violence, not improves it ...

    Yes after playing offroad fury, I ride my ATV/Bike aggressive in the woods ....
    Yes after playing Silent Hill 3 for 4 hours in the dark I have the tendency to scare my wife just for a laugh ..

    NO after playing Rainbowsix-3 I won't get a sniper rifle and start playing jungle fight in my neighborhood ... and after playing GTA I won't beat up grandpa for his pickup or beat up hookers for their money ...

    If someone is dangerous, they will get more violence influence from any Hollywood movie, from any local horror-video-rental place.

    • I feel the gaming violence entertaining.... however I think it settles down my agression/violence, not improves it ...

      That is called catharsis [].

      The people who think games cause violence are the people who are in denial about heir own violent thoughts and impulses and who repress them continually. When exposed to art that brings these natural emotions to the surface they stay in denial but cannot continue to supress them, and so blame the game for generating these feelings.

      Then there's the moms that blame
  • gamers are not.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cheeze ( 12756 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @01:01PM (#8212017) Homepage
    ...all killing machines lying in wait

    but some are, so those pesky reporters better keep their mouthes shut.

    no really, people that think movies and video games spark violence act like there were no violence before tv and games. This isn't star trek. All animals have some sort of violence built in for survival. If anything, the violence from just watching the local or national news is the one doing the corrupting.
  • by hoggoth ( 414195 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @01:04PM (#8212041) Journal
    > E3 is not the most potentially dangerous convention ever.

    No, perhaps THIS [] is the most dangerous convention ever.

    Or, depending on your point of view one [] of these [] may be the most dangerous convention ever.

  • Bowling (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Flyboy Connor ( 741764 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @01:04PM (#8212042)
    Michael Moore, of course, covered this in Bowling for Columbine. Since the teenagers that killed their classmates went bowling before going on a killing spree, obviously bowling must be the cause of their actions...

    Statistics actually show that people who play violent games are most unlikely to commit violent crimes. Take the two premises: (1) someone who plays violent games will commit violent crimes; and (2) someone who plays violent games will NOT commit violent crimes. I now pull a statistic out of my hat, which will probably be more or less correct, that out of 10,000 people who play violent games only 1 commits a violent crime. That means there is 99.99% confirmation for premise (2), and only 0.01% confirmation for premise (1). So the odds are that premise (2) is correct and premise (1) isn't. Conclusion: someone who plays violent games will very likely not commit violent crimes. Therefore, to avoid violent crimes more people should play violent games.

    Yes, I know, this is no way to do statistics. But it actually is the way statistics are often applied in the media to "prove" very simplistic stands.

  • by Jameth ( 664111 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @01:09PM (#8212068)
    I Do.
  • by kaan ( 88626 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @01:12PM (#8212089)
    I admit I did not rtfa, but I already believe games are not to blame for violence in this country. Why? Well we hear it all the time in the mainstream news -heavy metal music is making kids kill each other, Grand Theft Auto is making kids kill each other, freely available handguns and high-power firearms is why kids kill each other, violence on TV and in movies is what makes kids kill each other, the broken marriages, high divorce rates and single-family homes are robbing kids of the stability at home and thus they grow up insecure and want to kill each other, ......

    The interesting thing is this:

    - the United States is not the only country with alienated youth, check out Japanese kids (in Japan) or countires throughout Europe. In fact, isn't it part of growing up to be alienated and not fit in? Most of us didn't fit in when we were growing up, but who cares?

    - the divorce rate in the U.S. is not the highest in the world, Brittain is higher. But we don't see the Brits killing each other left and right, or blaming everyone and their dog for why the other is so violent.

    - mainstream music and movies can't be blamed, because they are ALL available in other countries, and in some cases might even be "taken more seriously" by foreigners who idolize the American way of life, so how can we blame movies, TV and music?

    - the availability of guns in this country isn't totally to blame either - look at Canadians, they've got millions of guns throughout the country, but we don't see the Kanucks blowing each other's heads off.

    I never really had a cohesive perspective on this stuff until I watched Bowling for Columbine []. This is exactly what the movie is about - investigating why this country is so obsessed with violence. The answer, according to Michael Moore (and I totally agree with him), is that we live in a society that thrives on fear.

    We're afraid of being robbed, insulted, embarassed... We're afraid we'll get too fat, or get too thin, or be unhealthy about our diet.... We're afraid we won't fit in, or won't get laid this weekend, or can't get a promotion at work, or might get fired, and what the hell am I gonna do when I retire? and how are my kids going to possibly afford college on their own?! and jesus what is up with social security?....

    It just goes on and on, and we finally get to fear over our kids, and that's where all the blame lands on TV, movies, music, and video games. If the average parent would spend real quality time with their kids instead of plopping them in front of the fucking television night after night, things in this country might start turning for the better.

    I wrote about this on my blog [] when I saw the movie a few months ago. For any interested parties, here's a link to The Charlie Rose Show [] where Michael Moore was interviewed.
  • Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet, but do not possess. You kill and envy, but cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but do not receive, because you asked wrongly, to spend on your passions.
    James 4,1:3

    Violence has been around since Biblical times, and I don't think video games have, nor will they ever have, anything to do with it.


  • by tommck ( 69750 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @01:15PM (#8212112) Homepage
    "Masturbation does NOT, in fact, cause blindness!"

    Story at 11!

  • For the last 6 years or so the rates of violence in the US has dropped drastically, especially with the 13-30 range, peak age for gamers. Seems like since gaming has really caught on, violence has gone down... veeeeerry interesting, and completely against those idiots who will blame the easiest, largest, and most profitable target.
  • by James Lewis ( 641198 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @01:26PM (#8212182)
    I don't think arguements such as the kind this article presents will ever convince those in the "please think of the children" crowd. The reason may partly be that they don't care about the facts, but I think the stronger, more important reason these arguements don't work is that the main objection this group has with these games isn't that they really think it will turn everyone into killers. That is just FUD. The real reason is that they have a moral objection to violence in games, and that's not something you can fight with facts. Their perspective is, "How horrible! Why would anyone want to pretend to kill people!!!???". They see these games as being EVIL, and their perception that it is a threat to society is based more on that than anything else. Even if somehow, no murderer had ever played a video game (which would seem statistically impossible), these people would still object to violence in games based on moral and religious grounds.
  • by heironymouscoward ( 683461 ) <heironymouscoward AT yahoo DOT com> on Saturday February 07, 2004 @01:30PM (#8212214) Journal
    Surely wishy-washy attempts to trace cultural influences of violence ignore the basic evidence that the human male character and physique have been selected for violence amongst other traits, and this for at least millions of years.

    I've seen violent behaviour in children from the ages of 7 up, and it is not influenced by watching others any more than children who doodle patterns in the sand are influenced by watching art.

    From watching people, I would say violence is latent in most young men (and the occasional woman, but it's much rarer) especially between the ages of 16 and 25. You can definitely shift these limits - see child soldiers who kill at the age of 7 and up. But violence is almost never random and spontaneous, except in sick people. Violent behaviour is almost a predictable and (from the individual's point of view) a rational response to an environment where it's the best strategy for success.

    In other words: place a normal young male in a social setting where violence is the best route to success (which simply means reproductive success through whatever short or long-term route), and you will see a violent young male emerge. Place the same male in a setting where intellectual and commercial ambition are better strategies, and you will see a young man who puts his energies into those directions.

    There are extreme cases - people who are violent in most settings, and people who are not violent in most settings - but we're talking about mass influence here, right?

    Video games are in no possible way a factor in deciding how to proceed in life. They are fantasy, and even a six-year old child can maintain totally coherent fantasy worlds that do not affect their real life.

    So the debate about video games is on the wrong track entirely... we can solve problems of violence in youth only by changing economics of behaviour so that non-violence works better. It's quite possible that suppressing violent video games could even increase violent tendencies, since they provide an avenue for expression of violent nature, in the same way as porn provides an safe avenue for sexual fantasy.

    Luckily the formula for reducing violent behaviour seems clear: a stable system of government where long-term good behaviour is rewarded and short-term bad behaviour is suboptimal.

    Modern societies are incredibly pacifistic compared with historical ones. The USA may seem violent compared to Switzerland, but it's a haven of peace and calm compared to most places on earth.
  • by sbaker ( 47485 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @01:31PM (#8212216) Homepage
    Society has still not decided whether TV violence causes actual violence - let alone the lack of conclusive proof for Rap music lyrics-induced violence, Board-game-induced violence (remember Dungeons-and-Dragons?) Cinematically-induced violence, promiscuity after listening to Elvis records, Radio Play-induced violence, Book violence, Bayeux-tapestry-induced violence (have you *seen* that thing? It oughta have at least a 'PG-13' rating), Cave painting violence or racial-memory induced violence.

    Until we understand the impact of all of those other things, there is little hope that this issue will ever be conclusively resolved for Video games, Holodeck novellas or any other story-telling media we may come up with in the future.
  • hmmm (Score:4, Interesting)

    by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @01:34PM (#8212234) Homepage
    So if someone watches CNN with all the glorious anti terrorism violance and then goes out and kills a middle eastern person cause CNN made it look like they are all terrorists can we then blame CNN for it? Man wouldnt that turn the tide on the media machine. Watching US news can cause your kids to kill!!

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  • by stubear ( 130454 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @01:34PM (#8212235)
    When I was growing up it was Ozzy Osbourne,KISS and D&D that caused kids to kill and commit suicide. Ozzy is still wailing away to this date, KISS is still jumping round on stage with make-up on and D&D has grown way beyond the pamphlets I sarted with. I'm sure my copy of Grand Theft Auto: Double Pack (XBOX) will seem tame by comparison to the level of reality obtained in video games 10 years from now. The only thing to do is just ride the wave and let the "grown-ups" fight it out.
  • Look at this article [] how BBC covered the latest MyDoom outbreak.

    Basically they just spouted the SCO byline with no effort to avail themselves of any information concerning the origin and purpose of the virus.

    Now why would you want to concern yourselves with anything else they write.

  • real science (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @01:50PM (#8212350) Homepage Journal
    I never believed that videogames enhanced the possibilites for violence, until it happened to me. I'm not violent, having learned martial arts while a volatile teen, mastering my violent impulses to let them pass and remain rational. In NYC and elsewhere, my risktaking activities and confrontational attitude have occasionally landed me in physical confrontations, but I haven't taken the bait for a fight for decades.

    I don't play videogames much, as I'm always too distracted by the programming behind their simulations. But I got a PS2 to play DVDs, and picked up the new _Grand Theft Auto: Vice City_ as long as I had the console. After a few days of playing that tour de force of human failings, I was in a dive bar in NYC's Hell's Kitchen. I've frequented that bar for about 10 years, and have seen several fights. I've even been "invited" to join over a half dozen, but always "laughed" them off before. But that night, when challenged by a guy actually grabbing my drink out of my hand to impress the girl who favored me over him, I had the unusual feeling that I should take the drunk up on his offer, and beat him senseless out back.

    It was actually a different feeling of my own identity. I would otherwise have rejected the image of myself actually settling things with this animal with my fists. Getting up and going out to fight, or even throwing a preemptive punch with a fist full of shotglass into his face, would have conflicted with my self image enough to stall in my subconsious, let alone emerge for serious consideration. But that night, I found myself visualizing those strategies, and more, and thinking "I can do that", "I should do that", "I will do that"; "that's me kicking that guy's ass". I remarked to my friend that I was going to go destroy this clown, when he quoted a prior, more sensible me, saying "clowns are to be laughed at". Reminded of my actual personality, I snapped out of the hypnotic testosterone downwards spiral, and just laughed at the clown until he disappeared, over by his buddies at the other end of the bar. The girl fled before this display of masculine idiocy.

    I realized immediately that what was different about me was playing GTA dozens of times in the previous few days. I could feel the difference in my ego, that I now accepted some violent, antisocial behavior, that I had previously rejected. I stopped playing the game, and the feeling left. I have since had more opportunities to fight, and passed them all by, as usual.

    I would like some real behavior research on the effects of different kinds of games on violence inhibitions. I want to separate the basic effects of antisocial dissociation and immersion in fantasy worlds, to the exclusion of socialized real world play, from the imitation of violence. The dissociation/agression relationship was demonstrated so clearly in 1990s research that it was finally accepted even by the AMA, in recommending that even childhood TV watching be rationed and mediated by parents, through supervision and even discussion. I want to know how much the further roleplaying of violence, especially in emulable characters, with narratives, and realistic immersive visualizations, enhances the development of violent tendencies. I'm a pretty peaceful guy, whose behavior was influenced well into my adult life. I want to see some quantified research into how this way of life influences kids, for good and for ill.
  • by Killswitch1968 ( 735908 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @02:01PM (#8212437)
    Video games cause violence as much as golf video games cause me to shoot a 60 over 18 holes.
  • Whew, now we know. It looks like in-game violence is in fact not the prime and only cause of all variations in levels of violence across cultures after all. So I guess that wraps the debate up.

    Although personally, I think a heavy diet of computer gaming makes people pasty, fat, slow, house-bound and unenterprising and thus unlikely to be able to commit spectacular atrocities. I'd love to see the the statistical comparison for crime rates between gamers vs. pro and college athletes, for example...
  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @02:49PM (#8212847) Journal
    ...but please: if you are seriously saying that playing violent video games and seeing a constant barrage of simulated violence DOESN'T have a behavioral effect on people, then someone should tell companies that every penny they are spending on advertising doesn't work.

    If they are spending million$ on showing you a lifestyle or a fashion or a behavior that will lead you to buy their product, they must have some justification?

    So is it inconceivable that a similar series of totally negative images and behaviors would have a negative effect on kids?
  • Easy way (Score:3, Funny)

    by Jesus IS the Devil ( 317662 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @05:19PM (#8213964)
    The best way to rid ourselves of violence? Castrate little boys before they reach puberty. What has the world come to?

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.