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New Mexico Newspaper Row Shows Game Violence Microcosm 78

Thanks to the Albuquerque Tribune for its pair of editorials, one praising violent games, tongue-in-cheek style, by lauding "the sheer joy of freeform gaming mayhem", and the other a rebuttal suggesting children are genuinely at risk. This provincial echoing of the ever-present worldwide debate starts with Sue Vorenberg's contention that: "There's nothing quite as satisfying as running over virtual French people with a souped-up sports car", and ends with Bob McCannon's statement that "the correlations between violent media and aggression are stronger than between smoking and lung cancer." What can be done to make such arguments a little more evenhanded?
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New Mexico Newspaper Row Shows Game Violence Microcosm

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  • "Bob McCannon's statement that "the correlations between violent media and aggression are stronger than between smoking and lung cancer."

    This is all baloney, and is just a smokescreen to argue for censorship. Also consider the Baby Boomers that grew up on the BLAM BLAM BLAM of television westerns. You didn't see them going out and shooting Native Americans.

    If you don't like these games, don't play them. If you don't want your children to play them, keep track of what is on their computer or console.

    • by be951 ( 772934 )
      I want to see some unbiased statistics that indicate how often children who play "violent" games were involved in violent incidents (in school, e.g.) vs. a control group. How come the studies we hear about only seem to contain vague terms like "agression", rather than anything about actual incidents of violence? Could it be because when it comes to actual violence, the correlation becomes statistically insignificant? I'm guessing, not stating that as fact.
      • The only thing I would say needs to be added to this study is a pre-study control. One of the things that studies, which damn video games, tend to ignore is the whole chicken-egg problem. More specifically, does playing violent video games make a child more violent; or, do children who are more prone to violence tend to play violent video games? Its a rather important question, and is rarely mentioned in the studies. As it is, I have know children who are generally non-violent, but get a kick out of spl
  • Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SansTinfoilHat ( 759207 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @09:28AM (#9017775)
    "the correlations between violent media and aggression are stronger than between smoking and lung cancer." Really? Show me. I've seen studies that say that the correlation between viewing any media and violence is strong - be it Rugrats or The Sopranos. I'd also like to see a comparison between how many people are actually hurt because of video games and how many people are actually hurt because of smoking or automobiles or even kitchen utensils. I assure you it isn't even close.
    • Using such flimsy standards, I guess any media can be linked to violence: the Declaration of Independence led to thousands of deaths in the American Revolution. You could probably make a similar arguement about the Constitution. We might as well censor all of the media completely, because you never know when someone might have something from media in mind when they commit a violent act.
      • If violence (among other messages) in media leading to death and other woes is a valid reason for banning media, then we should outlaw the so-called "Holy Bible" of the Christian faith immediately. Most other religious texts would follow.

        More lives have probably been lost due to misinterpretation of that book than all other forms of media ever. And people show it to their children!

    • Re:Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by PhotoBoy ( 684898 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @11:12AM (#9018892)
      I think that there is link to be made between violence in games/films/TV and violence in real life but this link is not what you might expect.

      I think people with violent tendencies will always exist, and even if there is no violent material in the media these people will still likely commit violent crimes.

      For example, those kids who decided to hop into their parents car and go shooting other drivers on the freeway like in GTA; would they have done this if they hadn't played GTA? Possibly not, they'd probably have just wandered next door to shoot their neighbours instead.

      Removing violence from the media just deprives those who are well adjusted of some forms of entertainment. Broadcasting the Teletubbies 24/7 will do nothing to fix the problem these people have in their heads. TV/games/films didn't make them unstable, so changing what people watch/read/play won't fix them.
      • Re:Really? (Score:2, Funny)

        by C0rinthian ( 770164 )
        Broadcasting the Teletubbies 24/7 will do nothing to fix the problem these people have in their heads
        Broadcast the Teletubbies 24/7, and I would be willing to bet that violence increases dramatically. I dunno about the rest of you, but that would definitely drive me psychotic within a few days.

        NO MORE TINKY WINKY! (Blam!)
    • I would suggest that people just look at violent crime rates, which have been dropping across North America for several years now. This at a time when games are more prominent and "realistic" than ever before. Not that I'm saying games don't have any effect, but that any effect it does have is nowhere near where the people who use words like "killographic" would have you believe, and is not necessarily even negative.
    • And in context:
      Equally problematic is that
      social science research hardly ever proves anything conclusively; it makes correlations. Nonetheless, the correlations between violent media and aggression are stronger than between smoking and lung cancer.
  • Even handed (Score:4, Funny)

    by BoomerSooner ( 308737 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @09:29AM (#9017785) Homepage Journal
    To make it more even handed we simply need to put them all in a padded room together and whoever comes out alive wins.

    • To make it more even handed we simply need to put them all in a padded room together and whoever comes out alive wins.

      and of course, you then have that guy on murder charges. Do it all in TX and give him the chair
  • Cartoon view....... (Score:3, Informative)

    by MrIrwin ( 761231 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @09:31AM (#9017810) Journal
    This is a similar re-hash of the arguments that went on in the 60's and 70's about violence in childrens cartoons. The BBC nearly banned Tom & Jerry!

    But these fears have been allayed by the phsycologists view that children, right from an early age, can tell the difference between fantasy worlds of cartoons and the real world.

    I would have thought the same is true for video games?

    • "The BBC nearly banned Tom & Jerry!"

      Tom & Jerry wasn't orginally intended for TV to begin with. Like the old WB cartoons, they were intended for movie theaters. When the creators of Tom & Jerry moved on to television (a couple of nobodys named Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera) they started making material they felt would do better by the FCC, hence the Flintstones.

      And even then the Flintstones pushed some limits. Don't forget that Fred and Wilma were the first television couple to share a bed on
  • VG violence (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I think that anything, albeit violence, sex, drugs, etc. when taken too seriously by anyone can be dangerous. If a person can differentiate easily between fantasy and reality(some can't, trust I know a few) then they can become more succeptable to acting out on these things that are contained in the "microcosm".

    Also, what game features sports cars running over Frenchmen? Hook me up!!(-1 Contradictory, right?)
  • Evenhanded? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Improv ( 2467 ) <> on Friday April 30, 2004 @09:37AM (#9017869) Homepage Journal
    I think you're mistaking evenhanded for
    noncontroversial, or making small claims. If the
    correlation is true and as strong as said, it's good to know, even if it appears to be saying something really strong. On the other hand, if it's wrong, then that's also good to know. The pure fact that it's a bold claim doesn't make it a bad thing to present, nor does it speak to its truth content. In sum, don't bemoan it's boldness.
  • WHOA! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rhinobird ( 151521 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @09:40AM (#9017904) Homepage
    "the correlations between violent media and aggression are stronger than between smoking and lung cancer."

    Holy crap! We are a hair's breadth away from suggesting we censor media on medical grounds. Media causes reactions in peope? Why that's a big red "DUH!", people.

    Just talking and spreading ideas, can incite riots and revolutions. We can't have that now can we? I mean, think of all the people that could get hurt. Best we tell the media what they can and can't say so people don't get all riled up. Especially those nasty, icky video games.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Actually, your reading it wrong. What it plainly states, until someone gets a license to put a kid in a Skinner box, is that people with reactions are reached by media.

      Wow. You mean the media machine that can put california girls jogging in slow motion into a mongolian yurt can also reach people in america? Fascinating. Given that even homeless people can watch TV, you're going to get a strong correlation for nearly anything. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy makes people GAY. American Idol turns people
  • Who cares what the foreign press of New Mexico [] thinks about American video games? :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 30, 2004 @09:52AM (#9018013)

    "the correlations between violent media and aggression are stronger than between smoking and lung cancer."

    Yes, but what about causation? Aggressive people seek out violent media. That's pretty fucking obvious. Of course there's going to be strong correlation.

    Correlation != causation!

  • by t1nman33 ( 248342 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @09:56AM (#9018047) Homepage
    The major problem with this argument--and all violent media arguments--is that everybody wants to ban the violence "for the children." It's all well and good, and socially responsible, I might add, to keep 8-year-olds watching Robocop II or Reservoir Dogs or what have you. But there would be an uproar if it were suggested that we ban violent movies for adults because of those (real or imagined) correlations between violent media and aggression.

    The simple response is that we tend to assume that video games are a young person's medium, when the truth is that gamers range across ages, genders, and preferences. Remember that the young gamers of the 80s are now in their 20s and 30s. You wouldn't lump a Disney movie in with Tarantino when discussing what is inappropriate for children. Why would you lump a Spongebob Squarepants game in with GTA?

    Some games, like some movies, are appropriate for children. Some games, like some movies, are most certainly not.
    • The comic industry faced the same thing decades ago. The resulting Comics Code Authority effectively halted growth of that medium. Not getting the CCA seal on a book was pretty much a deathmark as no retailer would touch it with a 10 foot pole. This is only recently starting to change and the medium is finally getting a chance to mature.

      The last thing we need is a version of the CCA for games. Imagine if all major retailers like Best Buy and Wal-Mart stopped carrying anything with an ESRB rating high
      • It's a bit before my time, so I'm asking. Did the motion picture industry face the same thing early on?

        Yes, where do you think movie ratings came from? They aren't government mandated. One of the few positive things to come out of the MPAA was movie ratings.
      • The last thing we need is a version of the CCA for games. Imagine if all major retailers like Best Buy and Wal-Mart stopped carrying anything with an ESRB rating higher than E (everyone)? You would definitely see a shift in what projects publishers would fund. Many of the most critically acclaimed games would never see the light of day, as the publishers couldn't hope to recoup development and publishing costs.

        Yeah. Ever since the MPAA was founded, we haven't seen any R or XXX rated films...
        • Yeah. Ever since the MPAA was founded, we haven't seen any R or XXX rated films...

          I sense a bit of sarcasm to this.

          The movie industry is alot futher along than the comics industry, and I would bet that at the beginnings of the MPAA it was very rare to see a R rated movie. In the comic industry, things are just starting to open up to more mature content with newer publishers (such as Image) and independants. However, the mainstream (Marvel, DC) still stay away from anything that would not be approv

          • In the comic industry, things are just starting to open up

            Only if by "just starting" you mean "fifteen years ago."

            As for Marvel and DC--they generally follow the very-defunct "comics code" (aside from the things like "never show cleavage" that, believe it or not, Marvel tossed out before Image or Sandman) because that's their target audience. Just like you'll never seen hardcore nudity on Nickelodeon.

            • I would consider 15 years as relatively recent, as the CCA was established in the early 50's if I recall correctly. Mature books started really happening in the 90's. 30-40 years of almost no development in any other genre than "superhero" is pretty stagnant.

              Even now, most of the mature books are just the same "superhero" formula with more mature subject matter. It's a step in the right direction, but the medium remains largely stuck in the traditional genre. Work by people like Neil Gaiman, Frank Mi
              • standpoint [of] artistic maturity

                Now, I like comic books the same as anyone else. And I like art--real art, which says something--as much as anyone. And I know that comic books are art.

                But I don't look for violent action in ballet.

                It is a foolish thing to supose that comic books, a medium born from superheroes, will ever change dramatically to something that is not very much superherolike. You may as well demand that publicly aired television become more than a simple-story setup. Even the most "mat
                • Again, we need to seperate the mode of communication from the actual content. Your analogy of television being broken into episodes is a description of the format of the medium. The format has nothing to do with the content. Comics come in monthly issues. Those issues are broken down into pages, and further broken down into panels. Where does "need superhero" fit there?

                  Some examples of comics that completely avoided the superhero formula:

                  1) Maus by Art Speiglman. It is a biographical book about t
                  • Where does "need superhero" fit there?

                    I must correct my previous statement. "Superhero" should be amended to "Superhero and/or fantasy-like [fantastic, fanciful]".

                    Maus by Art Speiglman

                    And, despite the clear historical wave Art rode, he still chose to render the characters as animals. (And, like most Holocaust retellings, its imagery absolves the victims of any wrongdoing they might have done. Just because a serial killer murders an adulterer doesn't mean that the adulterer should be posthumously fo
                    • Again, we're kind of getting away from the point. I was simply pointing out that the medium is not tied to a specific genre.

                      You may not agree with Speiglman's views or his portrayal of them. But that does not change the fact that the book is in a decidedly different genre from the mainstream of comics. Using animals to portray the characters is more akin to literary device than fantasy. The characters animal appearance is not to be taken literally. They are not talking mice and cats. They are peopl
                    • You may not agree with Speiglman's views or his portrayal of them.

                      Screw the comic book debate. I want to clear this point up.

                      It is entirely possible to critizise someone and point out a shortcoming without disagreeing with them. I'm not some brain-dead freak who thinks that the Jews caused the Holocaust, or that there isn't literary merit in works about it. I just know that, as a matter of our black and white society, whatever crimes the pre-WWII Jews might have done are ignored because of the Holocau
  • by Jtheletter ( 686279 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:07AM (#9018152)
    Bob McCannon's statement that "the correlations between violent media and aggression are stronger than between smoking and lung cancer"

    Ah but the difference here is correlation is not causation, as the media seems to need to be reminded of time and time again. Sure there are some unstable few who see violence in media and emulate it, but there is quite often strong evidence that there was more wrong with those people than just their choices of movies, games and music.

    There's a huge leap between pressing buttons on a controller while watching a TV screen and actually going out and purchasing weapons and using them on people in the real world. A leap that any stable-to-begin-with person is not going to make, there are just too many times along the way where they are going to realize that what they're doing is wrong.

    People gravitate towards what interests them, violent people play violent games, that's all there is to it. This doesn't mean all people who play violent games are violent, and vice versa, (all generalizations are false, etc etc) but someone who ends up going out and stealing a car and running over pets and people to play real life GTA is most likely going to be someone who had the choice to buy GTA or Tetris and chose the former because that kind of media is what interested them before they even bought their game system.

  • If you truly understand yourself, you will stop liking to view violence. Those who like violent games are only seeing the game as a symbol for their own anger. If they work on their anger directly, they will not need the game.

    Read The Primal Scream: Primal Therapy: The Cure for Neurosis []
    by Arthur Janov [].

    Also read Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality []
    by Frederick S. (Fritz) Perls [], Ralph Hefferline [], PaulGoodman [].

    I don't profit from book sales. Those are Amazon's
    • What you're not getting is that the enjoyment is not ALL about the violence. Most of us are grounded enough in reality that we realize that we are not actually shooting people, and it becomes more of a skill testing exercise than anything else. The violence is only therebecause it is something that is understood fairly easily, something being there and then not being there. The concept of death and destruction are things that we learn about fairly early on. That's not a bad thing. You need to understand tha
  • by *weasel ( 174362 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:20AM (#9018304)
    ...with it's real crime rates.

    Even though the ridiculous claim isn't backed up whatsoever, let's grant them the benefit of the doubt (undeservedly) and say that there is a correlation between virtual violence and emat-space violence.

    Well guess the f* what?
    Correlation does not equal causation.

    If you want to prove something - you tend to need this thing we call evidence. There isn't a correlation between smoking and lung cancer -- there's a direct causal link between smoking and lung cancer. And that casual link is backed up with peer-reviewed, reproducible, scientific studies.

    Not half-cocked editorials.
    Not half-witted armchair social commentary.
    and not contrived anecdotal evidence.
  • Huh? (Score:2, Troll)

    by nacturation ( 646836 )
    From the article:

    'Suggest that she/he limit total "screen" time to an hour or, at most, two hours per day. If the child reacts severely, you might need to consult a mental health or pediatric professional.'

    If the child reacts severely to a suggestion, perhaps it's an indication that you're a lousy parent with no control over your children. Sadly, the TV/PS2/XBOX-is-the-babysitter syndrome appears to be all too common these days.
    • That was a troll? Anyhoo - yeah, that point in the article was dumb. Well, pretty much the whole thing was dumb - but that point especially. It's like, "Your child is used to playing games 5 hours a day. Limit him to 1. What?! You mean he doesn't like it?! He's mentally ill!"
  • Not about censorship (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ian_Bailey ( 469273 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:28AM (#9018408) Homepage Journal
    The anti-violence article is actually quite even-handed and fair except for the one "correlation" remark.

    Firstly, she mentions that the studies that claim videogames are not determental to society are funded by the videogame companies themselves (sound like a certain OS maker we all know here?). She then mentions that there are beneficial games out there too.

    But everyone here is talking about censorship, when she doesn't even mention it in her article!

    What she does recommend is (gasp!) spending time with your children, and closely watching what they do, especially if certain signs appear (they only like violent games, spend too much time, etc.).

    In fact, this article seems to be promoting common sense among parents, a stance usually quite popular here!
  • To be honest (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I understand the concern posed by McCannon.

    From what I see of his work in general (including this article), it appears that he tries to get people to examine who's bias is being presented in media content, and the possible motivations involved in presenting that bias. If you consider that as his main objective, the majority of the article is totally fair.

    The one major fault in his article is the smoking/cancer correlation statement. My guess is that it was inserted as flamebait so that the rest of the art
  • It doesn't try to prove anything. It's supposed to be a humor piece (except it's not that funny). This isn't your normal country-bans-games-by-mistake news, just some d00d writing about something he seems to enjoy doing, commenting on why he thinks people enjoy it.

    This isn't worth spending any time on. The general population can generate opinions faster than they can be educated. It's really only worth stepping in when they consider doing something harmful with their opinions.
    • Whether it's worth responding to this article or not, that's a frightening attitude.

      It is ridiculous to wait until someone tries to (do something harmful) pass a law banning videogames before you speak up. By the time that popular opinion has moved people to act it is too late to really do much about the situation.

      Yes, columnists can generate FUD pretty fast, but it takes time for an idea to really set in.

      I think that part of what is preventing "something harmful" from happening is the constant excha

  • by DarkGamer20X6 ( 695175 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @11:15AM (#9018910)
    A recent study shows a strong correlation between raping wombats and breathing air, even stronger than that of the correlation between smoking and lung cancer.

    Did you know that 100% of people who rape wombats also breathe air? This astonishing statistic puts anyone who breathes air at risk of wombatphilia. If you breathe air, please, seek professional psychological help immediately.
    • Re:This just in... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by C0rinthian ( 770164 )
      While the parent was a complete joke (and a funny one at that) it actually made me think of something applicable.

      With media as it is in America today, has ANYONE not been exposed to violence in media? How do you find a control group for these studies? You'd have to find people who never see movies or television, never listen to radio, and to an extent do not read newspapers, magazines, or books. Otherwise, you cannot be certain that it is only videogame violence that correlates to physical violence. B
  • by Crash Culligan ( 227354 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @12:52PM (#9020003) Journal
    Given some of the comments I saw on the previous posting about D&D celebrating its 30th birthday (from the perspective of many gamers, it might as well have been born in the Cretacious period), some of you might not remember all of the anti-D&D hype. Remember the time, when religious groups were practically crawling out of the woodwork (or out from under rocks in some cases) claiming how dangerous these things were?

    Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

    The way D&D got its breathing room back then was by taking note of which research the critics cited, noting which research specifically refuted that research, and making sure that got brought up whenever the bad research cropped up. Note especially the efforts of the CAR-PGa [] in that advocacy; they were set up primarily as a clearinghouse for that information.

    The goal was simple and straightforward: find the false information that got repeated as gospel (irony intended) by those groups, and refute it hard whenever it got quoted. Eventually, most got the point. Anti-gaming groups were shamed, reporters who relied on sensationalism had their reputations sullied for not checking facts, and people either decided that it either wasn't really worth attacking or was too dangerous to attack.

    But you know what? It's still going on. Groups sufficiently uneducated (including police organizations) [] are much fewer and farther between, but they can occasionally still be found. Just head for the center of the ever-expanding cloud of methane.

    (This is a big day for questions for me!) What computer gaming advocacy groups are there out there that we can turn to in our hour of need? And if there aren't any, who wants to form one?

  • "the correlations between violent media and aggression are stronger than between smoking and lung cancer." That's funny. I've personally known three people who've aquired lung cancer after a lifetime of smoking, but only two people who've robbed hookers after beating them to death with a baseball bat.
  • "the sheer joy of freeform gaming mayhem"

    sarcasm Gee I wonder which game inspired that quote... /sarcasm

It's fabulous! We haven't seen anything like it in the last half an hour! -- Macy's