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Censorship Entertainment Games

Views on Violence in Video Games 626

CBS News' GameCore site is running a series of articles discussing the ever recurring debate about video games and violent behavior. They start with prominent anti-gaming lawyer Jack Thompson. From the article: "The heads of six major health care organizations testified before Congress that there are hundreds of studies that prove the link. All the video game industry has are studies paid for by them, which are geared to find the opposite result. Lawyers call such experts 'whores.'" Tim Buckley, of the webcomic Ctrl+Alt+Del, had the chance to put forth an opposing viewpoint on the subject. According to the site there will be more coverage on this topic next week from other gaming community members.
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Views on Violence in Video Games

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  • violent games (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dmf415 ( 218827 ) *
    Here's a study that was done...interesting?

    Recent medical brain scan studies at Harvard, Indiana University, and elsewhere prove that adolescents' brain functions are damaged by a steady diet of violent images. The heads of six major health care organizations, including the American Medical, Pediatric, and Psychiatric Associations have all testified before Congress in June 2000 that violent entertainment contributes to teen violence. Video games are literally "murder simulators" teaching our kids how to ki
    • Re:violent games (Score:5, Insightful)

      by crunk ( 844923 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:46PM (#11846861)
      Ya lets get rid of the video games, and movies, and boxing, football, and all other "violent" activities and live your pie in the sky dream.

      You are always going to have people who cannot distinguish between make believe and reality. We should commit these people, not punish the sane people.

    • by DarkMantle ( 784415 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:48PM (#11846882) Homepage
      Another recent study shows that 90% of Serial Killers ate a bread product within 24 hours before commiting murder.

      Therefore, eating bread leads to murder.
    • Re:violent games (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Cheirdal ( 776541 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:51PM (#11846938) Homepage
      Video games don't teach kids how to kill. Absent parenting combined with social retardation (as in the case of Columbine)lead kids to kill. Bad parenting or no parenting is behind most if not all teen murderers.
      • Re:violent games (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @04:34PM (#11847512)
        By "social retardation" do you mean "emotional abuse at the hands of their peers"?

      • Re:violent games (Score:5, Insightful)

        by s0abas ( 792033 ) <shadowphoenix@gmai l . com> on Friday March 04, 2005 @04:51PM (#11847729)
        The problem isn't so much bad parenting as it is Fundamental Attribution Error.

        This is a term in psychology where basically, bad things that happen to me are attributed to external causes, and good things that happen to me are attributed to internal causes.

        For example, if I do well on a test, it was because I studied hard. If I didn't, then it's because the teacher failed me or didn't like me for some other reason, or because I was tired.

        Being a parent myself, one of the last things I would want to do is admit I'm a bad parent. If my son went off and killed some people, it would be very difficult for me to admit that it was my bad parenting that caused it.

        Because I tend to be more open minded then the average Joe in America, I think I would admit it eventually.

        But someone like Jack Thompson is just another ambulance chaser. He just aggrivates the situation the parent is going through by telling them that their kid killing some people isn't their fault, it's the video games' fault. Everyone is prone to Fundamental Attribution Error, and Jack Thompson is just helping that process along. When you're in a state or mourning, it's easy to not see the truth clearly.
      • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @05:31PM (#11848181) Homepage
        Video games do indeed teach people to kill. There was the Mario Killer, who killed 13 interns by jumping on their heads. Then, there was that soldier over in Iraq who, when his unit encountered a minefield, tricked some of his comrades into crossing by erasing some sevens and drawing in ones. There was the construction worker who destroyed a couple floors of the building he was working on while his coworkers were inside by dropping properly shaped girders in the right places. There was that guy with the spikey yellow hair who tried to attack people by hidding them with an 8 foor long, 400 pound sword, and gave up and just knifed them. And then there was that guy who had his X-wing shot down the other day...

        Quite simply, games teach kids to kill.
    • Re:violent games (Score:5, Interesting)

      by notque ( 636838 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @04:01PM (#11847070) Homepage Journal
      Video games are literally "murder simulators" teaching our kids how to kill.

      If you are going to use a term like literally then you need to include accurate statements.

      Video games have nothing to do with murder. Violent video games might.

      Violent video games, do not teach kids how to kill, only to be more used to violents.

      Grand Theft Auto never taught me how to kill someone with a chainsaw, only that it was possible. As if I needed to realize that.

      I think that it makes children less sensitive towards violence, in video games.

      What effect it has outside I bet is largely determined by the teachings of the parents.
      • I disagree, All video games *are* murder simulators. Every time I play Tetris, I just wanna go out and pop a cap in someone's ass, muthaf*&#ah! And Super Mario Kart makes me violent towards women, too.
      • Grand Theft Auto never taught me how to kill someone with a chainsaw, only that it was possible. As if I needed to realize that.

        And what they fail to take into account is that all the video-game addicted fat little teens/tweens with atrophied muscles who can't bear daylght aren't exactly capable of chasing you down while wielding a heavy object.

        Sneaking up on you in your sleep is a different matter, tho. Which would explain the raging success of the "Pillow Snuffer" series of games.
      • Re:violent games (Score:3, Interesting)

        by kingj02 ( 698534 )
        I think that it makes children less sensitive towards violence, in video games.
        I don't know about that. I've spent countless hours playing GTA, zooming in with the sniper rifle and shooting heads off, but on a TV show like CSI, if they have a scene with a dead body, I have to turn away or I'd probably throw up. If a game was too realistic, I wouldn't be able to play it. I imagine most people are the same.
      • Re:violent games (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LoRdTAW ( 99712 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @07:03PM (#11849020)
        Violent video games, do not teach kids how to kill, only to be more used to violents.

        I completely disagree. There is a huge difference between viewing simulated violence and real life violence. I have been playing so called violent video games for a long time now. Yet a while back I witnessed the direct aftermath of a horrible accident on an expressway that turned my stomach. A guy on a motorcycle wiped out after a car had side swiped him. The sight was one that I cannot forget. The blood pouring out of him like the Nile River only made the hunk of ground meat that used to be his head stand out from his white undershirt now half soaked with blood. And I can tell you there is a big difference between virtual bloodshed and the real thing. If I was desensitized to violence and bloodshed don't you think I would have just shrugged it off? And have you ever been in a bar and a fight breaks out? Witnessing someone getting cracked in the face and smash there head on a tile floor and convulse from the concussion is very unsettling. Think about it, how real are GTA/Quake/Doom/Half-life etc.? Even with the half-life 2 physics engine a shotgun blast to the head doesn't shred it to bits splattering brains, skull fragments and blood all over with real life detail. Go to and look at what real life violence looks like. No matter how much counterstrike I play those pictures still disturb me.

        And my good friend just returned from Iraq just a few days ago says he doesn't even think that all those hours spent playing quake 2 online help one single bit. The shit he saw there doesn't compare to what we see in movies or games. One thing that disturbed me was his recollection of an incident when a rebel popped out from behind a building holding an RPG. He was on the gunner's position of a hummer with the m240 bravo 7.62MM machine gun. He says it was slow motion as he paused and squeezed the trigger of the gun and lit the guy up. The blood spray and spatter from the bullets punching holes through the unarmored rebel was less disturbing then the guys' actual body motions as he danced around with about a dozen holes in him then doing a 180 and dropping like a sac of potatoes to the ground. That guy was his first kill.

        Violence in movies can almost compare to real life but still its fake and you know it. Seeing the real thing is a whole different experience. And there is no other like it, you can't simulate it.
    • Re:violent games (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gurps_npc ( 621217 )
      That study, like all the others ASSUMES causality. No attempt was made to prove it. at all.

      Look, to prove the concept you have to do the following:

      One take a random selection of at least 100 people, divide it into two groups of at least 50.

      Force, and I do mean FORCE one group to play violent video games for a period of however long you think is neccesary to make them violent. 1 year, at 1 hour a day seems reasonable to me. If they don't enjoy playing the game, tough. They have to do it.

      Prevent, and

      • Re:violent games (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 04, 2005 @04:40PM (#11847588)
        Back when I was a young lad, I went through a "white boy being a G" phase. This involved a strong appreciation for Snoop Dogg, NWA, Fuck The Police, etc. I dressed up more like these guys, talked a cracker-assed form of ebonics, and hung around with the like crowd.

        One day, while out with "the crew", two of the guys decide its a good idea to steal a couple of handguns from a small mom'n'pop gun store we were driving by. Sure I listened to violent music, had an odd fascination with pimps and ho's, and all that shit, but as soon as it came down to these guys ready to steal a couple of handguns, my better instincts took over.

        We all listened to the same music, so by this logic we all should have been piling into that gun shop stealing what we could. Instead, only 2 guys did, and the rest of us got the hell out of there. I attribute this to good parents that gave me the right tools and skills to handle random situations in life (and I am eternally grateful). It was plainly obvious to me even then that those two guys came from some severely f'cked up homes.
        I wish parents would do more to take personal responsibility for their kids, instead of trying to place blame elsewhere. I know I am.
      • Re:violent games (Score:5, Informative)

        by wawannem ( 591061 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @04:59PM (#11847810) Homepage
        A study such as what you mention is much harder to pull off than you realize. How exactly are a person's "violent tendencies" measured? I wrote a paper on this very topic (the affect of violent video games on adolescents) in undergrad and one study I read equated a small child popping balloons to "violent behavior" or one child recognizing "violent words." The problem is that violence isn't an easily definable behavior. There have been a number of court cases where cities/states have tried to ban violent video games, but each has been thrown out because it is unprovable that video game violence leads to real violence. Now, if only I could find my paper to point to some links.

        This [] is the only one that comes to mind quickly, but many may argue that a trade organization representing video game mfgrs is biased. But, some facts are impossible to ignore.
        1. Adolescent violence is a problem primarily in the US despite other countries having a equivalent number of video game playing adolescents
        2. In the last 20 years (actually since 1983) youth violence has been significantly decreasing, while video game sales has become a 7 billion dollar a year business. The decrease in adolescent violence is theorized to be due to increased youth programs and decreased gang-related activity and membership.
      • Re:violent games (Score:3, Informative)

        by Life2Short ( 593815 )
        Could you cite any of these studies that have been done before and found ZERO, NADA, NO increase in violent tendencies? Could you explain the significance of the number 100 in your thinking? The power of a statistical test relies on 3 things: sample size (which I think is what you're trying to get at), the significance criterion that you set for the test, and the effect size that you're looking for. As far as I know, there is nothing special about 2 groups of 50 people. I'll admit that I don't know the
        • Re:violent games (Score:3, Informative)

          by gurps_npc ( 621217 )
          Go here:

 e o_games.pdf

          They list several studes, some of which showed a DECREASE in violence.

          I just picked 100 as a sample number. Do it as large as you want to.

          Note, there are LOTS of studies where the Authors "Conclude that violence was caused by video games". But NONE of them I have ever seen succesfully show indicate causation of actual violence.

          What the tons of "anti-video game studies consistently prove is that:

          people that play violent video ga

        • Re:violent games (Score:3, Interesting)

          by wawannem ( 591061 )
          I did find it hard to believe, so I did a little searching... Wouldn't you know it, the Surgeon General did a study:
 c e/youvioreport.htm
          But, what does he know, so I figured the Washington State Dep't of Health may know better:
          Again, they're probably just wrong, so I checked the Journal of American Medicine, and wouldn't you know it... A researcher from John Hopkins University had this to say:

          Consensus is lacki

        • Re:violent games (Score:3, Interesting)

          by tgibbs ( 83782 )
          I've read a number of these studies, and they are pretty much worthless. Either they fail to control for overall arousal with an equally exciting control stimulus, confirmed by heart rate measurements, or they call things like "hitting and kicking" violence.

          When kids hit and kick, it is aggression, but it is not serious violence. Kids know that they aren't strong enough to cause serious harm to one another by hitting or kicking, so they have few inhibitions about fighting than adults. That doesn't mean tha
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 04, 2005 @04:04PM (#11847115)
      Yes, thanks to my training with "murder simulators", I am quite skilled at approaching pedestrians on the street and pressing R1, Circle, Circle, Circle.
    • Re:violent games (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bigbigbison ( 104532 )
      First of all, either you are Jack Thompson or you are just cutting and pasting from his web site [] (5th paragraph).

      Secondly, I don't know the specifics of the other studies, but the study done at IU Medical was 1) funded in part by The Center for Successful Parenting [] which already beleives that media can lead to violent actions and is simply looking for support for their beliefs which makes the findings suspect in my opinion.

      2) according to the press release [] for the IU study says that the kids didn't ev
  • New Study, More Time (Score:4, Interesting)

    by moofdaddy ( 570503 ) * on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:39PM (#11846759) Homepage
    As time goes by the studies concerning video games and violence will get better and better. We are finally reaching a point where video games with real detail have been around long enough that major studies can be done on them. Studies that have been done in the past are amazingly accurate because the sample size and length of the study can only be so long.

    A new study was released yesterday by Tulane Medical which tracked video game users over a 8 year period testing how much the video games they play affect their tendency toward violence. The study found that among those who played games 8% went on to have some form of violence conviction while only 6% of the non-gamers did.

    The head of the project though did say that this is something that need a lot more data before any major conclusions can be drawn.
    • by Capt'n Hector ( 650760 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:41PM (#11846798)
      And to sound like a broken record, but it must be done, that is correlation, not causality.
      • Exactly. These 'studies' are the equalavent of saying that breathing causes heart attacks or riding in a car increases your risk of being in a fatal accident.
    • So what were the error bars from these studies? Anything more than 1% is going give totally meaningless results ;)
    • How many people were studied? Depending on sample size, is a 2 percent difference statistically significant? What of the fact that some with violent tendencies may have sought out the games, rather than being influenced thereby? Are these "video games" in general, or was some class of "violent" games studied?

      Sloppy studies of this annoy me, partly because it stigmatizes an activity that I enjoy, and partly because I really want to know the extent of effects, if any, that exposure to violent media has befo

    • Can you provide a link to that study? I searched for it and couldn't find a references to it.
    • by Kierthos ( 225954 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:47PM (#11846872) Homepage
      Correlation, not causation. If video games could so drastically affect behavior, where are all the Pac-Man addicts who should be running around eating everything in sight? Where are the vast numbers of Halo and UT who should be sniping at people off of rooftops?

      Most people can play videogames and not think that the room-mate who refuses to do the dishes needs to be fragged. It's those sad sacks who can't, and their parents (who in all likelyhood are just as responsible for Junior being a clue-impaired moron) who should be held responsible, not the game companies.

      Parents need to actively involved in raising their kids, not letting the TV or the X-Box do it for them. Buckley hit the nail on the head with that one.

    • by BWJones ( 18351 ) * on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:48PM (#11846891) Homepage Journal
      There is a reason that the armed services are looking at video games to desensitize soldiers to pulling the trigger on a human being. As far back as the 1930's, the armed forces have known there is an innate reluctance to pulling the trigger on another human being (in most cases), and this resistance has to be overcome by training. Therefore, whereas the first targets were simply targets, modern targets have become more and more realistic, culminating today in video games that are more immersive. When I did the USMC ROTC bootcamp a dozen years ago or so, we had serious serious training to react, react, REACT! when confronted with an enemy target. This training is deeply ingrained so that at what is called "the moment of truth", you will not hesitate.

      There likely is a small but significant correlation between video games and increased violence, but this will likely not be any greater than if they properly controlled for other means of aggressive expression, like playing football or rugby or simply getting into fights. Properly controlled studies will also have to control for drug and alcohol abuse.

      • by Durandal64 ( 658649 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:59PM (#11847048)
        There is a reason that the armed services are looking at video games to desensitize soldiers to pulling the trigger on a human being. As far back as the 1930's, the armed forces have known there is an innate reluctance to pulling the trigger on another human being (in most cases), and this resistance has to be overcome by training. Therefore, whereas the first targets were simply targets, modern targets have become more and more realistic, culminating today in video games that are more immersive. When I did the USMC ROTC bootcamp a dozen years ago or so, we had serious serious training to react, react, REACT! when confronted with an enemy target. This training is deeply ingrained so that at what is called "the moment of truth", you will not hesitate.
        This is a flawed analogy. The training you went through was designed to not only desensitize you to the idea of killing another human being but also to instill a second-nature reaction so you could effectively defend yourself. Your training did not (I'm assuming) cause you to go on a killing spree. Videogames do contribute to a desensitization, but only when the "moment of truth" arrives. Getting to that moment is an entirely different thing. The Columbine kids consciously decided to go on a killing spree. Now, playing Doom may have helped them desensitize their classmates and pull the trigger, but you'd be hard-pressed to argue that Doom gave them the idea to kill lots of people at school.
        • by BWJones ( 18351 ) *
          This is a flawed analogy.

          How so? Because you seem to contradict yourself in the next sentence.

          The training you went through was designed to not only desensitize you to the idea of killing another human being but also to instill a second-nature reaction so you could effectively defend yourself.

          Look. The idea of a soldier, particularly a Marine, is to kill if necessary. As it was explained to me, ...... If you are threatened, you WILL destroy your opponent. Otherwise you will lose and the first rule

          • No. The question is: Did your extremely thorough, and well planned psychologically effective training in the military desensitise you to violence enough to lower your self control and cause you to commit violent acts in normal social settings?

            If not, then why are you willing to ascribe the lack of self control and tendency for violence in children who have not undergone nearly as psycologically intense and focused training on their gaming?

            If your training and deliberate desensitisation isn't causing yo
    • Study proves nothing (Score:3, Informative)

      by whitis ( 310873 )

      A new study was released yesterday by Tulane Medical which tracked video game users over a 8 year period testing how much the video games they play affect their tendency toward violence. The study found that among those who played games 8% went on to have some form of violence conviction while only 6% of the non-gamers did.

      Correllation does not prove causality. Consider, for example the following hypothetical statistics:

      • 20% of the population is prone to commit violent crimes
  • by Capt'n Hector ( 650760 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:39PM (#11846763)
    But not much can be done about it. Games make money. Lots of money. When there's that kind of power behind an industry, the most critics can do is get warning labels on the boxes.
    • Cigerettes kill people. About 50% of addicts.

      There is enough money in the industry to pay off any politician who wants to seriously restrict smoking though.

      Video games make big money too, but they don't kill one person for every two players...

      Nevertheless, how long till we see the minimum age for gaming raised above smoking?
  • by k3v0 ( 592611 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:40PM (#11846777) Journal
    Violence must be caused by video games. There was no murder or violent crime before Grand Theft Auto came out and tainted all of the children!!
  • ...what does that make Thompson? Seriously, this guy has his head so far up his ass, he makes Helen Lovejoy sound rational.
  • Woah (Score:4, Funny)

    by pHatidic ( 163975 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:41PM (#11846784)
    These people are retarded. If they want to stop violence then they should just ban killing people instead.
  • Lawyers & Whores (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eviloverlordx ( 99809 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:41PM (#11846786)
    I find it funny that Jack Thompson is calling the experts that don't agree with him 'whores'. Seems like that's a pot-kettle-black issue to me.
  • Violence (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blahlemon ( 638963 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:41PM (#11846788)
    I'm sorry, I don't understand people who think that you can expose yourself to hours and hours and hours of violence and not become, at least, desensitized to it or, at worst, enticed to it.
    • I would disagree. It's those who can't tell the difference between reality and entertainment that have the issues with this. I've played plenty of violent video games, and watch violent movies. I may see a car crash or something in a movie and be entertained by the explosion or something, because I know it's all hollywood special effects. But in real life, when I drive by an accident with firetrucks and ambulances, I always feel sad because I know someone got hurt and may have died.

      If people cannot mak
      • Re:Violence (Score:3, Insightful)

        by blahlemon ( 638963 )
        If people didn't get desensitized to violence, at least on some level, then why do producers (any media) feel the need to make things more and more violent? Why do you need more realistic body physics when someone is shot, or more spectacular explosions? Why does it matter if blood pools under a body on the ground or if there are photo realistic, gory death scenes? If people aren't desensitized at all then why feel the need to make it more and more graphic?
    • Why not? If you're a centered, adjusted individual you can be exposed to violence (fictional or not) and not resort to it in real life. People that will resort to violence have problems - videogames have as much to do with it as an action flick or a shotgun picture in a magazine.

      I enjoy bloody games - FPSs specially. I love action / gore movies. I practice kickboxing. And you won't see me killing people a-la-GTA3 any time soon.
    • Re:Violence (Score:5, Insightful)

      by th1ckasabr1ck ( 752151 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:58PM (#11847039)
      I'm sorry, I don't understand people who think that you can expose yourself to hours and hours and hours of violence and not become, at least, desensitized to it or, at worst, enticed to it.

      I love violent games, I've been playing them as long as I can remember. I've boxed, wrestled, competed in jiu-jitsu and submission wrestling tournaments. Those may be sports, but they're as violent as sports get.

      I just love the visceral feeling I get when I blast an imp that jumped out of the shadows and scared the crap out of me. I get a similar visceral feeling when I land a nice punch or tap out an opponent.

      All of that being said, these are just games. Repeat after me: "IT IS JUST A GAME".

      I absolutely detest "real" violence. Every time they showed people in the comforts of their middle-class existance cheering as bombs went off in Iraq I felt sick to my stomache. I am not desensitized whatsoever.

      If people didn't have games to blame things like this on, they would just find something else.

  • by dcarey ( 321183 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:42PM (#11846810) Homepage
    From the article: I'm sure that at one point or another a golfer snapped and beat someone to death with a 7-iron.

    Let's ban golf, shall we?

    Wow, how witty. I completely saw past the simplisticness of the allegory there. My mind sure is made up after that comment! Now just throw in a catchy slogan, and I'm hooked!
  • Age is the key (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jav1231 ( 539129 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:42PM (#11846811)
    That violent games can translate to aggression in young boys I think is fairly easy to illustrate. I don't think that means there needs to be wholesale bans or anything but there should be ratings and limits. We don't allow 12 year olds to see rated R movies (okay, we've all snuck into a movie that aside...). We don't allow them to view porn. We shouldn't allow them to buy violent video games.
    • Re:Age is the key (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:53PM (#11846963) Homepage
      No. Even this is incorrect.

      You made the causality error. The question you have to ask yourself is which came first - the violent tendencies or the games. It is without question that people that enjoy violent games usually grow up to be more aggressive/violent than people that do not enjoy violent games. It is even without question that people that like those games act more violent within an hour after playing them. But despite MULTIPLE attempts, not a single study has ever conclusively demonstrated that if you expose a person to violent games/tv, they will become a more aggressive/violent person.

      You are right that violence is like porn, but both porn and violence are also like dancing. When you see someone dancing in a movie, you think about dancing for a couple of minutes, maybe try out a few steps. But the movie will NOT turn you into a dancer, nor will it make someone that does not really like dancing start to like it.

      There is no reason to outlaw or regulate violent games, anymore than there is to regulate porn - only the people that dislike these things try to stop others from enjoying them.

      P.S. I don't play ANY video games. My porn colletion is none of your business.

    • Re:Age is the key (Score:3, Insightful)

      by crunk ( 844923 )
      There is a rating system on video games, and there has been for years. Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe you are supposed to be at least 17 to buy Grand Theft Auto. We need to enforce these laws that we already have. Seems to me that stores should be enforcing this policy, and that parents should get a clue as to what games (with what ratings) their kids are playing.
    • by ianscot ( 591483 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @04:51PM (#11847719)
      We don't allow 12 year olds to see rated R movies

      My 11-year olds saw at least one R-rated movie years back. "Waiting for Guffman" was rated R (thanks to the totally surreal fundie/Catholic world of the MPAA's ratings board) but I thought it was watchable for them. Tonight we've got a copy of "The Big Night" from Netflix, and it also has an R, probably for language. I have no trouble letting them see that.

      The limits on games right now are advisory, and stores sell according to them basically in order to keep their reputations. That's the way I want it. The power in this situation is with the parents if they will only exercise it. That's as much as we can really hope for.

      (In general I think tons of social problems in the US today come down to economic pressures that force both parents to work without giving us as much flexibility as we need to raise families. Nothing against women working, it's not a gender thing -- but kids need adults in their lives, and it's just plain a bad economic situation when there's this much pressure drawing the attention of adults away. Personally, as someone who's benefitted from it, I think flex time is a much more effective solution to a variety of social ills than most of the "scary problem!" legislation that gets suggested.)

  • by moofdaddy ( 570503 ) * on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:42PM (#11846813) Homepage
    A lot of people compare this whole issue to television and movies. They say that violent games are no worse then the violence that kids see every day on the news and in the movie theaters. I disagree with this greatly though.

    When I watch a movie it is a fairly passive activety. I sit back, enjoy the flick without much involement. When I play a game though, such as grand theft auto or the like, that is a very active thing. I look for pedestrians to run over, I look for police to beat up. Now, I don't think that this nesassarly translates into violence in real life but it is definetly worse then what you see in tv and movies.
  • by Nuclear Elephant ( 700938 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:43PM (#11846817) Homepage
    and do something about the idiot parents who let their kid hang a swastika in their room and collect empty gas canisters.
  • The heads of six major Video Game Companies testified before Congress that there are "hundreds" of studies that disprove the link. All the health care organizations have are studies paid for by them, which are geared to find the opposite result. Lawyers call such experts "whores."

    Shall we insert something on another controversial topic here and continue to use the default template or shall we find a new way to disprove the opposition.
  • by aweiland ( 237773 )
    Being an avid gamer and all, I've never ever seen a study published with conclusive evidence linking violence in games to real life. Since supposedly there are hundreds of them I'd imagine stumbling across one would be easy but it is amazing difficult.

    With millions of people like myself who play violent video games, why aren't we all mass murderers?
  • An excerpt:

    Six major professional societies in the United States--the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Psychiatric Association--recently concluded that "the data point overwhelmingly to a causal connection between media violence and aggressive behavior in some children."
  • Lawyers call such experts 'whores.'

    Takes one to know one, huh?
    • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:53PM (#11846964) Journal
      As a disclaimer, I must first state that I have had no direct interaction with either profession, however it is my understanding that whores provide a pleasurable, possibly valuable, service in exchange for money. I am fairly sure that lawyers do not, and so any analogy between the two is misleading at best, and insulting to whores at worst.
  • by Rude Turnip ( 49495 ) <valuation&gmail,com> on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:45PM (#11846854)
    Think about it...of course major health care organizations are going to find some sort of link between video games and violence. Think of the BILLIONS of dollars in potential revenue to be had by "treating" kids who play too many games. Now who's the whore?
  • English (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hunterx11 ( 778171 ) <hunterx11@gma i l . com> on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:46PM (#11846858) Homepage Journal

    Does age or sex play a factor in violent, aggressive behavior?

    Sure, the sex and violence centers of the brain overlay one another, which is why the increasing mix of sex and violence is troubling. Armies have been known to go on rape rampages after battles because the violence stimulates sexual aggression. How lovely that GTA weds sex and violence in the same game. We are training a generation of teens to combine sex with violence, just what America needs.

    Does this man not understand that in the English language, "sex" can refer to gender? What does he write on forms that ask his sex? "Yes, please?" Probably, "Goodness, no!" actually.

    By the way, I'd like to know where these "sex and violence centers of the brain" are. Maybe we could just lobotomize everyone and cure all our ills.

  • I'll stop playing violent videogames when basketball players no longer strangle coaches, the president/congress stops endorsing war and TV stops broadcasting violent movies/shows.

    American football is basically gladitorial arena combat (which makes it neat), but nobody complains about the violence it induces in our children.

    To the Media: Stop the perpetuation of unfounded fear! It's almost as though they want to keep humanity in constant fear...oh wait, they do.

  • ever recurring debate about video games and violent behavior

    And people will keep on discussing this, until they find another topic to blame on the declining morals of today's youth. Back in the 1950's, we had "Seduction of the Innocent", where the wave of crime that swept the nation in the 50s was blamed on comic books. We still have comic books around, but people don't seem to complain about them much, because they've moved on to different fish to fry.

    As a side note, one of the things that is brough

  • Moot point (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Lovesquid ( 840251 )
    I'm sure that many lazy parents are going to be fully in support of the causality link argument, so they can continue to not have to monitor what their children are playing and can point the finger elsewhere and say "it's their fault little Billy burned down the school".

    An exaggeration, but still... people need to take some personal responsibility for how their children behave. Linking violence in games to children's actions is beside the point when they should not be playing M-rated titles to begin with.
  • hat constitutes violence in video games?

    Any M-rated game has violence levels unacceptable and definitionally harmful to anyone under 17.

    What percentage of all games made would you say are violent

    GTA [Grand Theft Auto series] has sold 30 million units, with San Andreas expected to hit 20 million on its own.

    Is there a correlation between playing violent video games and acting in a violent manner?

    Of course.

    Is gaming escapism?

    Yes, just as Ted Bundy escaped into pornography.

    this guy isn't ver

  • Has it ever occured to anyone that perhaps people more prome to violent outbursts will be more likely to enjoy blowing people's head off in GTA? That perhaps people whose personalities are already tending towards violence are more likely to play violent games? Seems like a pretty obvious suggestion to me. Even ignoring that, these studys are essentially claiming to show that we have no free will, and are mere puppets with strings connected to the playstation.
  • Certainly it is only a very few that transition for what ever nasty psychological reason from console to school cafeteria, but for those few there is no better way to train for a high body count...

  • From TFA:

    Kids took guns to school for 200 years in this country without turning them on one another.

    Clearly, I must have been enrolled in the wrong school district... all I got was a few lousy Pee-Chee folders and those pencils that never erase quite right. =/
  • Anti-game studies tend to be "We found violent kids in urban areas, do they play video games?" (yes, duh); while pro-game studies tend to be "we took a stratified sample of kids and figured out how many were violent, how many weren't, and which were playing video games." In the end it normally comes out that most violant urban kids play video games, thus video games make kids violent; but video game playing urban kids also exist in the more docile persuasion, and thus we're lead to believe that lurking var
  • Kneejerk attorney (Score:5, Informative)

    by nathan s ( 719490 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:51PM (#11846923) Homepage

    I found it difficult to take him seriously after the first question:

    What constitutes violence in video games?

    There's no real debate over that. Any M-rated game has violence levels unacceptable and definitionally harmful to anyone under 17. The industry will rue the day it accepted this labeled scheme.

    Again and again throughout the interview, he basically takes an elitist stance that says "if you don't agree with me you're stupid." Here, if you don't agree that "M-rated means violent" then the implication is that you must be too dumb to accept what "everybody" thinks.

    It would have been interesting to see him actually answer the question, as Tim Buckley did. Compare and contrast:

    What constitutes violence in video games?

    The same things that constitute violence in real life constitute violence in video games. Blood and gore, for instance...
  • by Ridgelift ( 228977 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:54PM (#11846983)
    I have no earthly idea, and no one can guess at that. I can tell you that some crimes would not occur but for the violent entertainment. For the families of the deceased, that is the only statistic that matters.

    Francis Schaeffer once said "Art reflects culture". The fact that so many people buy and play violent video games (which is an amazing art form) tells more about who we are as a culture than will the history books. To blame the manufacturers isn't getting to the root of the problem.

    I don't know what the answer is. I think there probably is some link between people being desensitized to violent and playing violent games, but I also don't think laws will do anything more than to fuel debate and make lawyers wealthy.
  • by sl8763 ( 777589 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:55PM (#11846998)
    If someone has the propensity for violence, and lacks conscience or understanding of right/wrong, anything can be the catalyst for them to act violently.

    Sure, they may play Grand Theft Auto and shoot at people. But they could just as easily get inspiration from the latest 50 Cent album or even a TIME magazine article detailing the Columbine massacre. Hell, there are enough wackos blaming their crimes on God speaking to them, shouldn't we point the finger at religion too?

    The bottom line is that you never know how the mind of a sociopath is going to interpret something - so video games hold no more blame than anything else.

  • Ahh! Game studies! (Score:3, Informative)

    by davecrusoe ( 861547 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:57PM (#11847027) Homepage
    Despite the contentious issue of violent game playing on player health, I concur with James Gee of UWisc. I'll paraphrase one of his arguments, as I can't recollect which precise article it's in:

    While game playing might contain violent aspects, the cognitive engagement is far different than, say, bullying or beating up some poor kid. How the player thinks about their experience - entertainment and fun, for example, rather than punishment or retribution - is important.

    Furthermore, some of my own research asks, despite violence in videogames, what do players learn through their playing? The results have, so far, been a surprise. Younger players use the medium for socialization with older players; groups of players focus on teamwork skills (nothing amazing there) and the game environment requires active thinking about strategy for success. My own next step is to explore "gaming clans," and clan players' motivations.

    Nonetheless, the question we should all be asking is, given that violence is inherant to our humanistic being, in what modes is it possible a constructive experience, and in what modes is it destructive?

    Bandura's social cognititve theory might suggest that the illustration of violence begets further violent behavior. But that we haven't all killed each other, and that we don't punch random stranges on the street, despite having watched violent television programming, indicates a compromise.

    More later, this is a wonderful subject! --dave
  • Whores? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by popo ( 107611 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:57PM (#11847036) Homepage
    So is *every* industry full of whores?

    I challenge anyone to name a single industry which doesn't conduct "studies" which favour itself.
    Nothing's as bad as the pharmaceutical industry. Or how about the world of financial analysis at the end of the 90's? Those were some pretty screwed up "studies".

    And now we've got characters like David Lereah (head of the Association of Realtors) on TV everyday screeching "There is no housing bubble" (although he's sounding very depserate lately []).

    Using the media, the legal system, the court of public opinion, and analysis/forecasting is *how* business is done today. We live in 'spin land'. If you're going to start calling people whores than apparently we're living in one big giant brothel.

    Hey... how come I'm not getting laid?
  • by isotope23 ( 210590 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:59PM (#11847055) Homepage Journal
    Take a look :

    Statistics []

    from the link :

    "Serious violent crime levels declined since 1993. "

    "Firearm-related crime has plummeted since 1993."

    "Violent crime rates declined for both males and females since 1994. Rates for males and females have been getting closer in recent years."

    The last blurb I find particularly interesting.I am willing to bet that most girls DO NOT play violent video games, whereas most males probably do. Perhaps the games are allowing people to work out their aggression in other ways?

    This chart [] is also interesting. Remember DOOM came out in 1993, at almost the peak of the chart.
    • What problem? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tgibbs ( 83782 )
      In every generation, we have some idiots running around trying to blame some aspect of youth culture for the fact that teenaged boys are, on average, more violent than grownups.

      The fact that violent crimes, and even violent crimes by young people have steadily declined as games have become both more violent and more realistic proves that any possible pro-violence effect of games is statistically negligible relative to other social and cultural factors.

      The possibility that violent videogames actually decre
  • Other Studies: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DrugCheese ( 266151 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @04:08PM (#11847156)
    Other studies have proven that kids that are raised on alcohol and heroin grow up to be druggies.

    That's why it's the parents responsibility to keep them out of their hands, not the governments nor anyone elses.


    When I have one I will think of them, and being the huge gamer I am I know there will be many games my kids won't even see untill I think they're at the age where they can handle them.

    I'm just so god damn sick and tired of lazy parents pointing the fingers everywhere else.

  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @04:08PM (#11847158) Homepage
    The anti-violoence people always ASSUMES causality. Attempt to prove causality consistently fail. It is NOT hard to prove causalit. Look, to prove the concept all you have to do the following:

    Take a random selection of at least 100 people, divide it into two groups of at least 50. Force, and I do mean FORCE one group to play violent video games for a period of however long you think is neccesary to make them violent. 1 year, at 1 hour a day seems reasonable to me. If they don't enjoy playing the game, tough. They have to do it.

    Prevent, and I do mean PREVENT one group from playing violent games for the same period.

    Compare both groups violent tendencies, IQs, etc. etc. with the people deciding who is "violent" etc. having no idea which group the subjects belong to.

    Such studies have been done before. They found ZERO, NADA, NO increase in violent tendencies.

    So of course the fools claim "you got the age wrong" or "You didn't force them to play enough" etc. etc. etc.

    Not a single study has demonstrated causality. I personally think this is because there is NO causality. People that like violent games grow up to be violent. People that watch violent games think violent thoughts for a short period after (24 hours is the max I have seen tested). But neither of those things means that watching the games makes you act violently.

  • by cfalcon ( 779563 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @04:19PM (#11847296)
    There really *are* more and more studies that show this statistical correlation. Studies where the control group plays a nonviolent game and the experimental group plays a violent one... and then, afterwards, are the various experiments. One involves the subjects leaving the way they came, and seeing a person in pain. The response times to help the person vary dramatically between these otherwise peer groups.

    There's not much question that seeing violent images desensitises you to violent images anymore (whether these are lasting is up for debate).

    One reason why this isn't taken seriously is because they've been decrying video games since Pac-Man- and earlier studies, IIRC, didn't show much correlation.

    The important thing to get out of this is not a bunch of freedom-trashing legislation though: a movie about WWII would cause the same kind of desensitisation. Many things would. Scientists haven't tested for it (and lacking video, the effect wouldn't be as strong probably), but don't you think they could link antisocial / violent behavior to the "wrong" kind of books? Using this logic, why stop at video games?

    What we are seeing isn't scientists making interesting notes about how sights, sounds, and thoughts condition us to accept more things *like* those- we're seeing a pack of lawyers circling like sharks to try to attack a group of newly "liable" "perpetrators"- and if they beath the hell out of the first amendment doing so, oh well.

    Like all good things done to destroy your rights, this one will be "for the good of the children".

    If you back this, just remember it in a few years when they prove the same thing about adults (easy, since conditioning works just as well for both), living with a "more violent than average family" (which will be half of families), or... well... political disagreement.

    You either have free speech or you don't. Protecting free speech doesn't mean being able to say that purple is my favorite color: it means allowing speech that everyone disagrees with and may, in fact, be harmful.
  • by fuzzy12345 ( 745891 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @04:19PM (#11847301)
    Whenever violence in games comes up here, there's a chorus of people who say that there's no causality between violence in videogames and violence in real life.

    Similarly, gun nuts say "guns don't kill people, people kill people" and fans of violent movies deny their role.

    Are Americans HAPPY with the level of violence in their society, or perhaps accepting of it because it is a necessary trade-off for some other desirable aspect of their culture? Because it's undeniable that compared to other civilized first world countries, the level of violence in America is very high. Yet every interest group insists that their pet recreation has nothing to do with it. If videogames don't contribute to violent behaviour, what IS causing America's disproportionately high levels of violence?

  • by Anthony Boyd ( 242971 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @04:49PM (#11847689) Homepage
    The heads of six major health care organizations testified before Congress that there are hundreds of studies that prove the link.

    True. Anyone who has read "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" knows all about suggestability and the Werther's effect. The basic concept -- which works for TV, games, books, anything -- is that the more closely someone can relate to what they see, the more likely they are to mimick that behavior. So a little yellow pac man eating ghosts isn't going to influence anyone to eat ghosts, but a bunch of bunch of Burger King ads featuring black males in their 20s and 30s suddenly makes their sales demographic skew toward black males in their 20s and 30s.

    This is why when my daughter sees grandparents in a commercial advertising a drug, she doesn't care. But when she sees an ad featuring 3 9-year-old girls fawning over their cool Bratz journal, she suddenly wants one. Her Amazon wish list is almost a perfect mirror of every ad that has appeared on Nickelodeon in the past 6 months. That's not by mistake. When someone targets your demographic, you can be influenced.

    Of course, some people are immune to this stuff. Any free-thinking person who is remotely self-aware can sense when their buttons are getting pressed. But it gets harder to sense manipulation when it's not deliberate. I think games are art. As such, they often do nothing more than hold a mirror up to society, possibly to provide a jarring wake-up call. Or possibly just to be jarring. :) But in any case, as they become hyper-realistic, we get pulled in and influenced. For example, I love Vampire: Bloodlines. My wife and kids have called me a vampire for years -- I love the movies, I love being awake at night and sleeping at day, I think the culture is sexy. When I'm in playing that game, nothing breaks the illusion that I'm in that game world. It feels comfortable. The problem? It completely objectifies women, something I do not get in my real-world life. But there, in the game, it's quite nice. How much carries over into my real-life thinking? Enough that I have to check myself. I don't think the game developers intended for that to happen, it just did.

    You can take a jab at me and say that I must have a weak mind if I let that affect me. But I don't mind, it IS in fact a defect that I can be so suggestable. And that's the point. These studies are not about strong-willed Slashdotters who have their shit together. These studies are of the huge number of weak-minded people who have no idea that they are internalizing what they see. Those people are a problem, and there are a lot of them.

    My wife is a shrink. About half of her clients' problems are simply that they have surrounded themselves with negative influences for so long that they're stewing in it, and can't see what it's doing. For the other half of her clients, she uses these techniques on THEM. In other words, if a 30-something mom is scared of wide open spaces, my wife will show the her videos of 30-something women enjoying the outdoors. For many people, this stuff seeps into the psyche and changes thinking.

    In the end, the point I would make is twofold. First, it is nice to see some Slashdotters understanding this finally. Three years ago when this stuff would come up here, it was always 100% rejected as baloney. Second, while our environment influences us, and what we fill our minds with influences us, it is only the extremely violence-prone who are so susceptible to this that they cross a line. So I do not want to be penalized for their mistakes. I don't know how you work that out, but there must be a way. For example, instead of banning something, make it available only to adults.

  • Game from Bible (Score:4, Insightful)

    by slothman32 ( 629113 ) <> on Friday March 04, 2005 @04:49PM (#11847698) Homepage Journal
    Actually I had the urge to commit violence and did it. But not by playing a game. I just read a book. In fact I duplicated various human sacrifices mentioned in the Bible. Actually I was playing the game, "The true Bible," and got it from there.

    *Not this is not really true but what if someone said that.

    ** This game does not exist but if it did then it would contain more violence than most movies. If, "The Passion of the Christ," the game came out, that depicts torture, though it was for "good" reasons. Would playing that be a factor? Is it because it is real? Because it is religious or Christian? What about a game where Christians fought back against ancient Romans in the 100's AD? You try to kill as many Roman guards to allow you religion, Christianity, to flourish.
  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @06:25PM (#11848660) Journal
    Broadcast media slams games. They have since they first began to show up. They do it now. They always will.

    Their newsrooms hype every study purporting to show a connection between violence and games (while simultaneously burying any making the same connection between violence and TV). Ditto between anything else bad and games. (Low test scores, low income, alcoholism, etc.)

    Their made-for-TV movies have main plots or subplots slamming games. Their sitcoms have episodes on games. Their commedians make cracks about games.

    They did it to RPGs and the did it to video games. They do similar things to home computers, computer programming, and a number of internet activities (blogs, news outlets, mailing lists, online entertainments, file swapping, social contact facilitating 'ware of every sort, etc.).

    Why do they do it?

    Because it's their COMPETITION!

    Video games and RPGs compete for eyeball time against their shows. This costs them advertising revenue. Online entertainment ditto. Social networking also takes time away from viewing, AND may lead to other non-TV-watching activities far beyond the time spend in front of a screen.

    Network news outlets and news-related blogs scoop theirs regularly and expose their errors and malfesance. This reduces both their audience-related revenue and their effectiveness as a political tool.

    TV networks are part of media conglomerates. So online "content" production/distribution tools (in addition to the "piracy" issue) pose a threat to their own offline operations.

    And so on.

    So when you hear them claim things are bad you need to consider the source, and dig down to the underlying meat, to discover whether there's anything behind the hype - or whether it's just something that either matches their current templates for an eyeball-attractor or promotes their own interests by slamming their opposition.

    Which is, of course, what we're doing here. B-)

Each new user of a new system uncovers a new class of bugs. -- Kernighan