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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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  • by PhoenixFlare ( 319467 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:46PM (#8211911) Journal
    Umm, i'm not really sure about that.

    I'll probably get blasted for stereotyping here, but many of the "hardcore" linux users and programmers i've observed don't seem to really see the point of/don't want to play video/computer games.

    I think that's one reason why some people can't fathom somebody staying with Windows - Linux may rox0r in almost every other way possible, but when it comes to just being able to grab any old game off the shelf and play it, it's just not there yet. Some people just aren't willing to give that up, no matter how bad Windows' other faults may be.
  • Kids != Adults (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:49PM (#8211941)
    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 influence adults negatively, but kids, with their growing, unwrinkled brains? I think there's a problem, or at least I suspect there could be one, and don't want to risk having to deal with the resultant society after the experiment's over in 15 years.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:53PM (#8211966)
    People said the same thing about "The Turner Diaries" (a novel about a racist White resistance bombing a federal building with a truck full of manure-based explosives in order to provoke a race war).
  • Just violence? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:54PM (#8211970)
    It seems a bit narrow minded just to look at violence really. What about other skills that may be gleaned from games. Is spatial awareness genetic or the result of playing games? How about risk management, resource management and decision making?

    If someone is of a violent disposition, then games will satisfy their need for violence to a degree, although you cold argue that they won't be fully satisfied until they experience violence in real life. After all, computer games never give you a full experience - people who love football will much prefer to go out and play football than stay in an play FIFA Soccer 2004.

    Extrapolating it from games and violence a bit, the BBC also has a story about porn sites []. In the same way maladjusted people view violent games as somehow approving of violence as a whole, immersing yourself in websites that promote strange fetishes is likely to have an affect on your wellbeing, maybe even taking you to a point where it's ok and perfectly acceptable to do things that don't fit in with the rest of society; murder, rape, violence, stealing cars etc...

    Ironically, for me, violent games are a way to let off steam. I'm sure if they were banned we wouldn't see a drop in violent crime, school shootings etc. But for me, I'd have to look for new ways of letting off aggression and anger after a bad day at work, or whatever...
  • Oh yes it does... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by John Seminal ( 698722 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @12:58PM (#8212000) Journal
    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.
  • violence in games (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Sire Enaique ( 637079 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @01:00PM (#8212007)
    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 other people. You have to artificially condition them to get them to shoot at people. Until this was acknowledged after WWII, only about 10% of soldiers actually shot their guns at the ennemy. Modern military (infantry) training is intended to counter that ingrained resistance, and is pretty successful at it - in VietNam, the "shooting rate" was over 90%.

    That's why Western-trained troops regularly trash opponents with similar equipment but different training: a Western-trained 30-man platoon will typically have 27 shooters, while its opponent will most likely have only 3 or 4, giving the Westerners an actual 9:1 fire superiority every other thing being equal.

    Some games (eg, Doom and its offsprings) operate in a similar fashion to military training/indoctrination, but without the control features inherent to military training, and are thereby dangerous.

  • Well (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @01:04PM (#8212037) Journal
    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 always smarter then the criminal and we would have a perfect world. Some playboy to make sure the next generation is ensured. Mmmmm. playboy. Wonder if that one ever been accused of cause teenage boys to become more horny

  • 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.

  • Re:Kids != Adults (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 07, 2004 @01:13PM (#8212101)
    Remind me not to moderate in article like this one again...

    Anyway, I think that is a fair assumption to make. The video game industry is doing everything that anyone can expect to police themselves. They have a rating system that is compatible with the MPAA rating system, and retailers that refuese sales based on ratings. If a kid plays a M-rated game, the blame lies on the parent's shoulder. Ignorance isn't an excuse, as words like "Teen" and "Mature" are printed on the rating label. There comes a point where a parent has to stop being friend and start being a parent.
  • by rblum ( 211213 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @01:25PM (#8212177)
    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 what about the USA makes people agressive, that's the main question. Not who can get guns how fast.

    (Just for the record, I'm pro-gun control: Use both hands when shooting).

  • 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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  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 07, 2004 @02:19PM (#8212549)
    The MPAA ratings system is a completely different animal just because of the relative newness of video game technology. Until relatively recently a parent could buy a video game console and games and not have to worry at all about the content.

    The real problem, IMO, is that this is a transitional period and even with the ratings, everyone isn't yet used to the fact that increasingly larger numbers of adults are playing video games only with themselves or other adults. Blaming parents for this doesn't solve anything, because the existence of one clueless parent in a neighborhood makes the good parenting of the others worthless. Instead of focusing on blame, if we want a solution, we should focus on raising awareness of video games as legitimate art and entertainment suitable for mature tastes. This is the effect the controversy over GTA3 is having, IMO - it's kicking the clueless in the ass and showing them exactly what's out there, and what point video games have evolved to.

    The argument that "video games don't cause violence" just encourages parental laziness IMO. Video games, like any other form of art, do have the power to inspire both emotion and action, and it's time people realized that they aren't just harmless kiddie toys.
  • by Henry V .009 ( 518000 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @02:34PM (#8212687) Journal
    "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: iraq_war.html [] Scroll down to the bottom. You will see that average IQ ranges from a low of 59 in Equatorial Guinea, to a high of 107 in Hong Kong. The numbers should not be taken as exact quantities however.
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Saturday February 07, 2004 @04:40PM (#8213712) Homepage Journal
    Years ago I was playing several hours a day, seven days a week, some games, like Ultima and such. Funny thing, when I went to stores I had to remind myself that things had to be paid for, you don't just pick up stuff and its in your inventory. I think there's some training of the mind that happens when you do play a lot of games and you may be unaware until you catch yourself thinking twice about some course of action.
  • Re:D&D and violence (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bastian ( 66383 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @12:48AM (#8216414)
    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 average suicide rate among kids of the same age group. (I don't remember the exact numbers, but we're not talking just statistically signifigant, we're talking there should have been news stories encouraging parents to buy their children copies of D&D to keep them from killing themselves.)

    This seems to be the case with kids and violence. The violent crime and murder rates among kids has been steadily dropping for most of the past century. Granted, back in the '40s kids used knives rather than guns, but I gather that there was a greater cultural stigma against guns back then. The fact still remains that despite what the news says, kids are getting less violent overall, not more violent.

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