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Violence in Games, Once Again, Not That Compelling 191

One of the great arguments of the digital age has been over the effects of video games on aggression — especially if you have ever heard the name Jack Thompson. A recent study suggest the counterpoint once again, that violent video games really don't have that much impact. "The authors performed six studies in total, but they were in broad agreement, so we'll only discuss the more compelling ones here. For the experimental portion, these involved playing an essentially identical game with different degrees of violent content. One group of participants was randomly assigned to play the game House of the Dead 3 on the different extremes of its gore settings, while a second was split between those who played the normal version of Half-Life 2, and a those who played a modified version that turned the adventure into an elaborate game of tag. In both cases, the primary influences on enjoyment were the sense of competence and satisfaction, along with the immersive nature of the game. Generally, females rated immersion as more important, while males went for competence (and consistently rated their own expertise very highly). Violence didn't register when it came to enjoyment, even for those with pre-existing violent tendencies."
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Violence in Games, Once Again, Not That Compelling

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  • Yahtzee... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chabo ( 880571 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @07:19PM (#26490657) Homepage Journal
    I like Yahtzee's stance on this:

    Controversy and the games industry go hand-in hand like Ico and Yorda, if you'll forgive the incredibly nerdy analogy. And like Yorda, the controversy tends to stay focused for an average of about eight nanoseconds before getting bored and drifting off to do something else. But when it does get focused it can get very exasperating, such as when youthful paragons of self-control are called nasty names and decide that murder would be the wittiest comeback, and then is found to have stood next to a videogame sometime in the past. Then the media generally start drooling the usual uninformed questions as to whether wholesome, boyish pretend violence has any correlation with the real world. Short answer: No. Long answer: No, and go fuck yourselves, you ignorant, scaremongering cockbags. [Text in review: No, and I consider your argument misinformed.]

    Source [] -- Transcription []

  • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @07:36PM (#26490851)

    Well, let's see, what other kinds of video games are there...

    The Sims. Which made me believe that everyone has a diamond floating over their head that indicates how happy they are with life. Watch for red diamonds on bridge overpasses.

    SimCity. Which firmly convinced me that every city will be attacked by Godzilla at least once should they decide to fight pollution by using nuclear power. Also, hurricane Katrina was due to someone misclicking the interface. Also, New Orleans could have been saved if they had built more FDs and PDs near the water front.

    Doom. It taught me that green and red glowing tiles are bad to walk on. For this reason, there are some dance floors I will never go on. Also, if you kill someone, their corpse will disappear within a few minutes. This is why murder is so popular.

    Leisure Suit Larry. Well, where do I start... Changing your gender is a simple matter of having sex with a dozen women and then stepping into a machine that makes a funny noise. Also, changing sex invariably makes you better looking. ...
    But of course violence in video games is different... It's a unique case. All that other stuff you learn in video games (wouldn't it be nice if everyone you killed dropped gold and treasure?) doesn't stick. Nope. Only violence. Because it's special. Well, if you find someone arguing this position, shoot them in the head. And remember, it takes at least three shots to kill them. And they rarely drop anything useful.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 16, 2009 @07:41PM (#26490933)

    continued success of splatter films and torture porn

    How many millions of people saw Saw? How many thousands of them proceeded to chain people up in dirty bathrooms with nothing but a rusty hacksaw blade? Hundreds? Tens? Can you even show a 0.01% correlation?

    The funny thing about "correlation is not causation" is that "causation requires correlation". If you claim that X causes Y and you have millions of X and not one single Y, you're going to have some explaining to do.

  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @07:57PM (#26491103) Journal

    How do you explain the fact that the Columbine kids along with multiple other child criminals played video games?!?!

    How do you explain the fact that the Columbine kids along with multiple other child criminals drank milk?!?!

    While we're at it:

    How do you explain the fact that the Columbine kids along with multiple other child criminals breathed air?!?!

    THAT'S IT! If you cut off all children's access to air you'll completely end school shootings!

    FINALLY a workable solution!

  • by spiedrazer ( 555388 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @08:07PM (#26491205) Homepage
    These studies do not say that the violence does not effect a player's aggression level. They had a completely different focus! The results show that the enjoyment of the players was not impacted by the violence level in the game!!! So, a good game is enjoyable no matter how much violence it contains. Why, then, do certain game publishers keep pushing the limits of violent content?
  • by circletimessquare ( 444983 ) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Friday January 16, 2009 @08:08PM (#26491217) Homepage Journal

    are human beings:

    1. vessels of purity which are corrupted?
    2. vessels of filth which are tamed?

    i think a lot of people think children are corrupted by something in their development, and that something can be videogames. i haven't the faintest idea where these people come from, why they believe this, or why so many do think this way. i think it stems from an inability to accept something about their own human nature (which is not just bad, its good, bad, and ugly)

    however, there are two good arguments against this "vessels of purity being corrupted" view of human nature and childhood development:

    1. look at the behavior of humans during say, the time of the roman empire. violent and bloody and brutal. not many videogames, nevermind movies, or even books, or much of any media outside of a few rooms of scribes and wandering minstrels. flute music makes people axe murderers maybe?
    2. look at the behavior of a group of toddlers for five minutes, many years away from playing their first game of gta. its not love and happiness, its hitting and punching and crying and screaming. its pretty much humanity without the frontal lobe. which, developmentally, is exactly what a toddler is. we're all pretty much a few neurons away from feces flinging monkeys with a superego grafted onto our foreheads

    it all goes to show, if anyone has any problems with violence, its organic, its not something that is taught. nature versus nurture is a huge fountain of debate in human psychology, but when it comes to violence, to me at least, its pretty obvious that nature holds the balance of responsibility

    of course, this doesn't stop unsavory people from trying "the devil made me do it" defense. its a just a same so many well-meaning but clueless people buy this defense

    if you play 5 years of ultraviolent videogames every day, and you are psychologically normal, you have exactly 0% more chance of commiting a violent act in real life. meanwhile, if you are psychologically damaged in a certain way, and you never see a violent videogame in your life, you will still probably commit a transgressive act in your life. the presence, or lack thereof, of violent media, for either person, makes no difference at all

  • by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @09:21PM (#26492049)
    For the same reason that ice cream shops sell rocky road ice cream. Sometimes, your second favorite is what you want at the moment. Sometimes your 10th favorite is what you want. Then there is the fact that since man has started telling stories, violence has been used as a way to generate interest. Have all stories contained violence? No. But many have. Some publishers of other media also push the limits of violent content. Video games are just not that different than other media when it comes to violence.
  • by rentmej ( 775047 ) <rentmej@gm a i l . com> on Friday January 16, 2009 @09:31PM (#26492153) Homepage

    Can we have a study where one group plays violent video games and the other drives in rush hour traffic?

    Then we can compare which group has an elevated level of aggression and which one wants to kill all humans.

  • by tompaulco ( 629533 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:38PM (#26492693) Homepage Journal
    ...or at least crankiness. I know that I have gotten snippy with people during or immediately after playing a particularly challenging game, especially if I didn't do well. I have witnessed other members of my family doing the same thing. One of my daughters was getting frustrated with playing Wii sports and every time she made a bad move, she would yell at her sisters, who were just sitting there, not doing anything.
    This is not even just a video game thing. I have seen fights break out at basketball games, even Church games! I have seen fans throw bottles, bricks and worse at football games.
    It is not just a video game issue. It is games in general which seem to raise emotions high and can end in violence.
  • by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @11:51PM (#26493217)

    Dude, if you think that you're providing some type of public service... you're deluded. Newsflash - people congregate around common ideas or geographic proximity. This means that slashdot attracks people with a certain personality and/or philosophy. Welcome to Slashdot, home of gamers and IT geeks. Bias towards games and IT stuff is to be expected.

    Finally - you attempt to paint people agreeing on something as groupthink. With that, you're not highlighting anything but your own douchebaggery. You deserve every flame you're getting right now.

  • by Sylvanus ( 213197 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @03:59AM (#26494811)

    The problem with violent films and video games is that they do not contain real violence but a 'pornographic' imitation. In real violence the player would be bruised, mutilated or even killed and would see the ghastly effect that weapons have on the human body and people he / she cares about. I used to be in the British Army and I can promise you that real violence is deeply horrifying and frightening. It always involves the soldier / player getting injured in some way and is a great inoculation against violent urges and dreams. Even in a pub brawl you'll get hurt even if you 'win' often with broken knuckles or fingers and a lot of facial bruising. I vividly remember an SAS instructor in personal combat explaining that hand-to-hand fighting without a weapon seldom made sense particularly when you had more than one opponent or they were armed. His three steps in that case were:
    1) Talk
    2) Run
    3) Faint

    Video Games and Films sell fantasy violence just as advertising sells fantasy romance and glamour. We know that Advertising works highly effectively to sell products and alter behaviour. It works on all of us, however little we care to acknowledge it. Adolescent males often have brains that are tortured by testosterone and fantasies of masculine power, significance and violence. Violent Games indulge those fantasies which is why they are so successful and in many cases it is very likely they have the same 'advertising' effect and lower the social taboos against violence or aggressive behaviour. I have young children and even though I run a software company (not games), I keep them well away from violent games and films and spend as much time as possible trying to make sure they get exposure to outdoor sport, real contact with friends and doses of high-culture.

The absent ones are always at fault.