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Posted by Renahzor

Great article.

I think a big part of this really is the overarching narrative taken on by the big players in government. The President has said "If we can save even one child, we must do everything we can". People are willing to look at throwing ANY freedom or rights they have but don't exercise regularly under that umbrella. People who don't play video games (albeit an increasingly smaller number) or especially those who play only "Family Friendly" games are very willing to talk about banning violent games because it doesn't affect them, and we have to "Just do SOMETHING" right? It's way easier to use Video Games, or Assault Weapons, or Comic books or the Opera as a scapegoat than to take a look at the underlying issues of a broken mental health system and a culture that ostracizes individuals to the point of breaking in some cases.

That's whats really scary about this whole discussion. It doesn't matter how vague the link is, if you show there is any link at all to the tragedies we've seen(real or imagined, doesn't matter when you have the media behind you) you can stir the masses into demanding the government take away individual rights.

Posted by Vigil80

@ReV_VAdAUL said:

Associate the withdrawn, disturbed young male stereotype of a gamer on gun ownership instead.

Take the fight to them rather than trying to explain to groups who have no interest in listening to you.

There are already plenty of people doing that. And they're just as slimy and wrong-headed as the Jack Thompsons of the world.

I can understand the desire to put someone else in the line of fire between your issue and the long arm of the government. But that isn't exactly a victory.

And remember, the handful in the firearms lobby frowning on video game makers and players are wrong, but they're not the only people doing so. If that's what people are taking away from these articles, then perhaps they have done a disservice. The politicians and media policing groups that have had it out for video games have not needed a good excuse or a lobby egging them on. In other words, when they finished with guns, games still wouldn't be safe.

Posted by towolie

@Nailbunny said:

The video game industry is not absolved of accepting responsibility. While the medium has diversified, you can't ignore the popularity of Cal of Duty and various other shooter games. The games industry shares equal responsibility in our culture of glorified guns and violence. We should not be afraid of some introspection as long its equally divided across our cultural influences.

we play the same game's and watch the same movie's here in holland. yet we have at most 150 deaths due to violence a year, bear in mind that most of these are "relation's gone wrong" deaths. ( 150 in a population of around 17 million people. )

thats why i think media has little if not nothing to do with real life violence.

Posted by Neonie

Videogames have been the scape goat for so long because there is not a new scape goat to move to, it's pretty simple. If there's nothing else to blame then it doesn't matter how many "studies" are done or how many times it's disproven, Videogames will always be the fall guy until or unless something new comes along.

Also just for the record, being a loner is is not a negative character trait. Being socially awkward is rarely ones own fault (show me the last socially awkward person you met who went "YEAH, BEING SOCIALLY AWKWARD IS FANTASTIC! THANK GOD I FAIL AT SOCIAL INTERACTION!" To be quite frank, this country has demonized introverts in a way that's pretty sick.

Ultimately, people are going to think what they want to think. The amount of peoples opinions you change will be few and far between and the best you can really hope to do is change the minds of those closest to you, because those are the people who will listen, the people who will hear you out, and the people will who then tell the people closest to them. Enacting change in a nations mind set is not a nuke of change you can set off, it's an inside job by the people who love the medium.

Posted by ToyDoll

This is a fantastic article, promoting our beloved medium is something we all do and focusing on the diversity of it is important. I find that you almost have to stand by someone and forcibly show them the other types of games out there, especially if they are not action or violence orientated.

I know many people who will only play Call of Duty or Hitman and they ignore games that have a proper message or even just some that give that level of enjoyment but without the need for an gun or rocket launcher. If we can start educating the gaming society as a whole that will spread out to the public in general.

Posted by Sunjammer

@Vigil80: If you read that article as "sensationalist" you either didn't actually read it, or you don't know what sensationalism is.

Online
Posted by Vigil80

@Renahzor said:

I think a big part of this really is the overarching narrative taken on by the big players in government. The President has said "If we can save even one child, we must do everything we can". People are willing to look at throwing ANY freedom or rights they have but don't exercise regularly under that umbrella. People who don't play video games (albeit an increasingly smaller number) or especially those who play only "Family Friendly" games are very willing to talk about banning violent games because it doesn't affect them, and we have to "Just do SOMETHING" right?

Good point. Sadly, I even see our folks on this site falling into that trap, too. I'm surprised and disappointed by the number who seem to be nodding along and saying things like, "Yeah, stuff like Call of Duty, that's the problem."

I hope that it just has something to do with people trying to take CoD down a few pegs, which people love to do, but still. Even people who should know better are buying into the narrative.

Posted by ReV_VAdAUL

@Vigil80: Shifting the focus to the underlying causes of these mass shootings and the truly terrifying number of gun owner suicides; mental illness, would absolutely be a victory.

Politicians do not particularly hate videogames, a few do like Leeland Yee do, but most simply want an easy excuse for society's problems so they don't have to risk upsetting any of the groups who are funneling bribes campaign contributions into their pockets. In the past they blamed novels or films or TV or opera or whatever. Every time it is a lazy attempt to avoid addressing society's real problems and their failure to address them, to avoid being forced to live up to any of their campaign promises.

Posted by Voysa_Reezun

I don't know if the video game industry should be concerned about how well they defend themselves. Look, media is a consistent scapegoat for violence. It always has been.

Why? It's easier to decry the nihilistic message in Catcher in the Rye than to talk about how we consistently underfund mental health services because we'd rather continue to be one of the least-taxed first world countries in existence.

It's easier to panic about GTA's "Hot Coffee" mod than to actually deal with the fact that a large part of our country is disinterested in honest, early sex education for our kids, and an even larger part of the country is too greedy to pay more in taxes to fund our schools to do so.

It's far easier to have a panel on violence in Call of Duty than it is to have a panel on inner-city violence and the multi-faceted reasons that ethnic minorities have been reduced to shooting at each other over petty drug money.

This whole Sandy Hook thing has been exceptionally painful for our country, but apparently it hasn't been painful enough to get us to actually address some of the very real problems our society has with our time, our attention, our patience, and our money. But hey, having a panel on violent video games will at least provide cover for politicians and provide an easy way for people to think that they have adequately addressed these difficult issues.

Posted by RE_Player1

@Vigil80: That being said I do feel we have to grow as a medium and have games that don't have a gun in your hands be the poster boy of the industry.

Posted by gustl

Good read Alex, keep doing those!

Posted by Baal_Sagoth

Another excellent article! I'm so glad this feature continues to push GB written content to an outstanding level.

One little note: cleaning up the representation of our hobby seems like a terrible idea. I think I know what the gist of your article is and I whole-heartedly agree. I am saddened by the lazy stereotypes and discussions in the same way. I don't think you want gaming in all its diversity to be "cleaned up" but this concept stuck out to me regardless.

Because this really is a perception issue. Gratuitously violent games are already just a fraction of videogames at large (just like exploitation movies are a mere fraction of cinema), the angry 15-30 year old male gamer is already just a small part of the whole picture. Respectless, inflammatory forum posts are not usually the norm and most definitely not more so in gaming than on many other websites. Just look at the discussions on political sites, movie reviews, youtube music videos, gun forums etc.

We could play adorable little lapdogs that adhere to every silly social norm all we want. The ignorant, mean-spirited as well as those searching for an exploitable scapegoat won't stop bullshitting, lying and pointing fingers. Facts mean nothing in those discussions. Furthering the trend that now finds sexism, racism, homophobia, murder fantasies, bullying and whatever else everywhere in gaming will appease nobody. It only has a (probably minor) chance to make gaming more bland, boring and tame. And that wouldn't be good, especially not for those that like to see it as a form of expression up there with the best of them . Gaming needs to be wild, unpredictable and sometimes even insane to push boundaries and be truly creative. Political correctness never helped any medium in my opinion.

Posted by ChrisTaran

@mithical said:

Another great read, Alex. I feel like there's a little something every gamer can do to help dispel the image of the socially awkward gamer, and that's simply letting others know. If you meet someone and they cringe when it comes up that you're gamer, take the time to talk to them about it and let them see for themselves just how far off the stereotype is. Not being a dick while you're online helps too.

But what if you are a socially awkward gamer?

Posted by Vigil80

@Sunjammer: I did read it, I do know what it means, and I stand by my assessment.

It poses as an exposé for a phenomenon that anyone who thought about for a minute could figure out (brand name items are licensed, including firearms). It's pandering. It has a cherry-picked, editorialized example to disturb the reader.

I could go on, but I know at some point I'm arguing against personal and political preferences, and I'm not looking to do that.

@ReV_VAdAUL: Focusing on mental illness was not what I had read in your previous post. But if that's your main point, I can certainly go along with it.

Posted by benu302000

So here's a question. If there was a preponderance of evidence that violence in video games was linked to violence in real life, would our position change? That is, are we reactively circling the wagons because we think there's no evidence of a link (and there doesn't seem to be), or merely because we like violent video-games? The evidence so far seems to indicate that there is no link, but that doesn't mean we should be in a rush to inoculate ourselves from further evidence. Beyond that concern, I think there's a deeper, more interesting question: Are we satisfied with having the vast majority of our games being 13 year old male power fantasies? I've played tons of first person shooters, RTS's, etc. but, you know what? I'm 30 now. And the Marty Stu thing is getting conceptually old. We're seeing lots of new and interesting stuff from smaller developers, so maybe we're headed in the right direction. My point is, it'll be a lot easier to navel-gaze, and complain about not being taken seriously by people outside of gaming once gaming looks more like something that can be taken seriously. If you disagree with me, just ask yourself which games you own that you'd want to show to your parents. It's a short list, but its growing.

Posted by Zamir
Posted by Coketruck

@Renahzor: Spot on. This is a viewpoint you don't see enough in the gaming community, sadly.

Posted by bearklaw19

Red Dead Redemption is a good game.

Posted by Alex

@Baal_Sagoth: When I say cleaned up, I don't mean as in 'getting rid of' the diversity we have in our group. I mean we need to stop letting the negative aspects become our most visible. Maybe my choice of words was poor.

Posted by jasondaplock

Outstanding article, Alex.

Having only glanced at the media side of this issue, I have to say our Achilles' heel is ambassadorship. Whenever CNN or Fox or MSNBC needs an "expert" on games, there is no go-to individual that can cogently argue one-on-one on camera in favor of video games. We don't have a Michio Kaku or a Christopher Hitchens, and we need one to stop this cycle.

Posted by Sunjammer

@Vigil80: If you found that content cherry picked to offend, I wonder just what kind of content would not offend you. That article is plain as day; It presents the elephant in the room in simple, direct language. It doesn't blow it out of proportion. It simply shines the torch on it.

If you don't think a thing is worth reporting on because "it's obvious", you are failing to see the difference between correlating evidence to build an understanding, and simply telling people how it is. The latter, done right, is more valuable than trusting public intuition, which is generally speaking pretty shitty.

No, it seems to me you are Quixoting your way through this. The article is, in actuality, fairly respectful of every party involved, and leaves you to draw your own moral conclusions. The purpose of it, I feel, is to make us discuss guns not as a FUCK NO GOTTA GET RID OF THAT SHIT and rather observe the debate on gun control in the light of the industries that perpetuate their popularity; Both games and gun manufacturers are equally complicit in this.

It is not sensationalist to simply report. Nothing in Parkin's writing is blowing anything out of proportion.

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Posted by GnaTSoL

Awesome Alex. You should definitely be doing more articles than PAtrick. It ain't fair.

Posted by Jams

@Renahzor said:

Great article.

The President has said "If we can save even one child, we must do everything we can". People are willing to look at throwing ANY freedom or rights they have but don't exercise regularly under that umbrella.

Oh man, the President said that? That's how it starts right there. Because if saving all the children meant forcing everyone to take a pill that killed all emotions, destroying any works that brought about emotion, then he'd do it. And that's fucking terrifying. Because if you truly want to save everybody, then you have to control them like robotic sheep. That's always going to be the only way to save everyone.

Posted by Rox360
@jayjonesjunior said:

This is "Video Games", we are the biggest entertainment industry in the world, are you really afraid some redneck-creationist-mouth-breathing-politician is gonna make us go away?

Money Talks.

I understand what this post is saying, but it also worries me. There are plenty of things in this world that I wish could go away, but no politician, redneck or otherwise, is bothering to stand up against because it's a pointless battle. Cigarettes. Recreational narcotics. Intentionally fuel-inefficient modes of transport and intentionally unclean power sources. Illegal drugs will never be controlled, nicotine will continue to be lobbied for and advertised and alternative fuels and greener technology will continue to be shut down time and time again. Because money talks.
 
Until someone with enough power decides that's not how things should work. So I don't think we should be relying on that as a defense for our form of entertainment.
Posted by JCGamer

@Jimbo7676 said:

Video games will eventually be such a part of our culture that this will no longer be a problem. The reason we have this image is that the Jack Thompson and the news media decided we had it. The media will do whatever it can to scare people because that makes them money. Fear keeps their eyes on the news and the news media doesn't give a damn about reporting the truth or using yellow journalism spin if it will make them money. This will go away when people who play video games make up a large part of elected officials and show themselves to be not crazy.

Yea--that has been the argument for years, but I feel that until a new medium comes about to replace video games, it will still be marginalized. Remember that Tipper Gore was someone who grew up on Rock and Roll and she really pushed for the parental advisory labels and such against the music industry. Even as video games become more mainstream, what many "gamer" consider "hardcore" are still very niche.

Posted by Baal_Sagoth

@Alex said:

@Baal_Sagoth: When I say cleaned up, I don't mean as in 'getting rid of' the diversity we have in our group. I mean we need to stop letting the negative aspects become our most visible. Maybe my choice of words was poor.

I hear ya! As I said I didn't get the impression that you were too weirded out by the more outlandish aspects in gaming. They just are a (sometimes unneccessary and unfortunate) part of it. And its very true: it would be nice if some of the mainstream attention would be a little balanced for a change, wouldn't it. I just wonder how much can be done to hasten that process realisitcally. The moods will cool eventually almost inevitably. Maybe I'm too cynical, one just gets weary from all the discussions. I've tried the best I could for years now but the change comes ever so slowly.

Posted by videogamesarenotart

i wonder how much these articles are the authors point of view or the point of view of gamespot trying to protect their investments

the most sensible thing to do would be to have a better rating system that might warn parents that these products will reduce the empathy your child has after having seen the 50000th head blown apart by a bullet and that in turn would enable your child to be more prone to conduct violence as they have no understanding of the ramifications because video games have rewarded them for hundreds of hours for conducting violence.

Posted by CatsAkimbo

Nice article, though "making [those critical of gaming] recognize the good this industry is capable of" is much easier said than done. Just as people in the gaming community can be stubborn jerks, people outside the gaming community can be equally stubborn and jerkish. Maybe I'm just feeling particularly defeated in more ways than one right now, but it just doesn't seem possible to change some (unfortunately the most important some) people's minds.

Posted by Bistromath

To quote Jamie and Adam's Tested.com's Will Smith, "Parents just don't understand."

Edited by Roboculus92

@videogamesarenotart said:

i wonder how much these articles are the authors point of view or the point of view of gamespot trying to protect their investments

the most sensible thing to do would be to have a better rating system that might warn parents that these products will reduce the empathy your child has after having seen the 50000th head blown apart by a bullet and that in turn would enable your child to be more prone to conduct violence as they have no understanding of the ramifications because video games have rewarded them for hundreds of hours for conducting violence.

Regarding your first statement: LOL. What are you smoking?

As for the second one: I don't think that would work. The key thing that needs to be done is that parents/guardians need to explain to their kids the difference between video game violence and violence in the real world. I have younger cousins who play violent video games but they themselves are not violent people in real life because they know that shooting dudes in a game is very different from shooting someone in real life. Certainly violent video games may desensitize you a bit but its not different than watching a violent movie or reading a violent book. As long as kids know the difference, there shouldn't be a problem.

Posted by EricSmith
@Zamir: The video of that asshole talking in his condescending voice makes me want to hurt people more than any videogame ever has.
Posted by Nightriff

And again Alex proves he is the only person who should be writing up articles on GB, love it

Posted by crcruz3

Great article, Alex. You are on spot as always.

Posted by videogamesarenotart

@Roboculus92:

why even bother replying when all you are going to do is some "LOL !!! XDD" response?

Posted by pvstrong

Indubitably

Posted by ArbitraryWater

Great article, as always Alex.

Edited by Gold_Skulltulla

@Sunjammer: I second this! That article was wonderfully crafted and not-at-all sensationalist. I'm happy to see so many people picking up on it despite its by-the-book journalistic nature. No cheap tricks, just good reporting.

Let's keep in mind that the NRA's primary interest is boosting the sale of firearms, not scapegoating other industries, though that is a part of the agenda. Every time controversy like this occurs, firearms sales go through the roof. It's important to spread the word on the links between firearms manufacturers and video game licenses because not everyone is informed enough to see those links as obvious.

Posted by TheDudeOfGaming

We need our version of Frank Zappa.

Great article Alex.

Posted by capthavic

I think that we (gamers and the industry) have done about the best we can to fight back, but no matter what we do it will never go away. The people who paint videogames and gamers as evil aren't going to let a little thing like facts or logic to get in the way, they have an agenda of one sort of another and that's all. No amount of debating or figures or even shouting will shut them up...not for long anyway, Media outlets like Fox don't care about giving news, only getting attention and ratings by scaring the masses of gullible morons.

Maybe in another decade or so videogames will have become such an ingrained part of everyones lives and all the old fogies who want gamers off their lawns have gone that people will realize the truth. Until then all we can do is be heard and keep the few loud (actual) crazies from passing their inane and ineffectual laws.

Edited by mnzy

"It's difficult for the game industry to turn the tables on the NRA's hateful video game rhetoric when you consider that the same arms manufacturers that fund the group are the ones who hold the rights to the guns we license for those same violent video games that the NRA supposedly is lambasting."

Funny though, that the games they called out by name have no licensed guns in them. They were super careful about that. I mean Bulletstorm and Splatterhouse, really? Who even knows those games? Why not Call of Duty? Everybody knows that. Oh wait, in that, you kill people with guns that pay for your entire organistaion, that's why.

edit:

Another thing: there was an interesting thread on neogaf, asking for non-violent 3rd party AAA titles this generation. People could name about 5. Which is incredibly sad.

Posted by raginghawk

Great article Alex! More of this!

Posted by EarlessShrimp

Many, many thanks go to you for this article. You write so very well, and I quite enjoyed your tabling the snarkiness for this heavy issue. I mean, that in and of itself makes a statement. This issue of violence in video games has become defined on our side by those, as you said, loud painful minority of our culture. I think it's great to see a well thought out piece that brings a competent rational thought process while at the same time systematically breaking down the arguments of the other side by making them look like our loud, crazy minority. It's like you're a true debates-man. Good on you sir.

Posted by Judakel

There is nothing worse than combating one type of essentialism with another type of essentialism. I am actually more concerned about video games becoming so widely accepted that no one thinks twice about letting their children play violent games. Many gamers actually do this on a regular basis. "My child is mature enough, it is fine." It has been shown time and time again that the media we consume has a tangible impact on the way we behave. What it doesn't do is turn someone into a raging maniac all by itself. Sadly, because games have been used as an escape goat for so long, now we're getting a backlash of sorts within the gaming community. A backlash that has caused many gamers to completely ignore the negative aspects of violent media in order to defend their hobby against a group that over-reaches when it comes to censoring violence in media. As a result, both sides are over-simplifying things.

Posted by Renahzor

@Jams: The direct Quote: "...if there is a step that we can take that will save even one child from what happened in Newtown, we should take that step." Source is his press conference, he was referring specifically to gun control at least by inference, but that sentiment is dangerous regardless of the qualifier behind it. The Press secretary re-affirmed that quote without the qualifier of referring to gun control as well: "“if even one child’s life can be saved by actions taken in Washington, we must take these actions.”

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/president-obama-signals-he-will-push-assault-weapons-ban/

Posted by Veektarius

I think we need to look at what we're saying about violent games (and when I say we I mean you) and consider the implications vis a vis the gun industry. I'm not just playing devil's advocate; this is the result of some soul-searching I've done in response to coverage of this issue recently.

If you think about it, most people who have guns have never shot anyone. The same is true of games (much lower rates, I'm sure.)

The real concern, many agree, is that someone who's proven them to be in some way dangerous should not have a gun. At the same time, we say, there are these 'creepy misanthropic loners' who are giving us gamers a bad name. Similar.

Moderate voices argue that while individuals have a right to defend their homes with guns, when it comes to high-capacity clips and automatic weapons, it's simply inviting trouble with more gun than is needed. Can't the same be said for games like Postal, even if one like GTA is let off for its artistic value?

If you agree that these parallels exist, it'd seem that you should conclude that A) Background checks should be required for violent videogames that keep them out of the hands of violent offenders and those diagnosed to have dangerous mental illness and B) There are some games that invite more risk with violence than they can redeem with artistic value.

Don't get me wrong, I hate censorship as much as the next person - Freedom of Expression is a constitutional right in the US, after all. However, so is the right to bear arms.

So, should I favor controlling video games, or should I oppose gun control & background checks?

Posted by crow13

Lacking empathy doesn't equal being violent. It just means you can't sympathize with victims of it.

Posted by Alex

@Judakel: There's no question it's a more complex issue than just "violent games are fine" or "violent games are terrible." And yes, violent media in general does have its impacts on the human brain, but games have never proven to be any worse really than movies, music, or any other aggressive form of media, and because of that, my reaction is that continuing to single us out not only does a disservice to our industry, but a disservice to the notion of trying to actually solve a problem.

It's not simple. Not by a long shot.

Posted by mrcraggle

America needs to look at the effects on video games within other countries that don't have guns widely available and i'm sure they'd soon see that there is little to no correlation between acts of violence and video games.

Posted by TheSouthernDandy

Great article @Alex really happy you started writing regularly.

Posted by DJKommunist

I love you don't ever change