Violence: An Open Discussion

A preface first, if you will: I personally do not believe there is a 1:1 correlation between video game violence/violence in media and real world violence.

This is a position that I have held for a long time, and with seven years worth of time behind the counter of a LAN gaming center where kids can come in and play a game where they chainsaw the Locust in half or play game modes called Team Deathmatch, I still firmly believe it. Very few people ever get to see physical proof on a daily basis that video game violence and real world violence are two separate occasions like I might be able to see.

Nonetheless, we as gamers have continually found ourselves as a scapegoat; in the media, the minds of parents, the arguments of politicians, and sometimes within our own community. We have cried foul on every occasion, but in the last few months, it has almost felt like we are not just crying foul...but we are turning deaf.

Infinity Ward touched on the idea of senseless violence against innocent civilians in Modern Warfare 2 with the now infamous "No Russian" sequence. Was its message and purpose lost? Was there a message at all?

After the events of Aurora, Newtown, Oregon, the crime spree in Chicago, and so many other moments of pure violence, people have tried to search for reasons. The news media and politicians particularly singled out video games in the case of Newtown, saying that the shooter played violent video games. This could easily be true. Within the same time period that he was playing a violent video game, many other people could have been playing the same violent video game or watching a violent movie. The rest of those people were not going out and making an effort to commit murder. While that is a generalization, the point still remains: there is no 1:1 correlation between violence in media and real world violence.

However, we say that to ourselves without realizing the hypocrisy of it: if violence in media holds no influence over us, then why do advertisements exist...or inspirational films? Advertisements are 15-30 second spots that are used to sell us as consumers products that we most likely do not even need. This is media specifically created to influence us. Beyond that, we have the world of film - an art where many filmmakers specifically try to convey a message to audiences, make them feel emotion and empathize with characters on the screen, and try to mentally affect the people watching it. The whole purpose of cinema is to try and affect the audience member into a suspension of disbelief that will help them meld into the world that the film creates.

...and then we say that violence in media holds no influence over us?

Leland Yee has been at the forefront of attempted legislative action against violent video games. He also has a Ph.D in Child Psychology. We continually write him off rather than having an open discussion with him.

Yes, there is no scientific or survey-based evidence to support that there is a 1:1 correlation between violence in media and real world violence, but there are other studies. For instance, there was a release of study in April 2000 from the American Psychological Association that pointed out how people playing violent video games showed increased signs of aggression in thoughts, feelings and behavior. Hell, there have been multiple studies over the years trying to find a link between (specifically) video game violence and real world violence. Psychologists nationwide over the last twelve years have stated this multiple times, even saying that prolonged play time on violent video games led to more aggressive behavior. While we would like to outright ignore this "propaganda", we simply cannot.

We must open this discussion up. Instead of sitting back and playing the defense card, we must talk about it in as open a forum as possible. If we do not, we simply cannot understand all of the issues.

Yes, parents need to take some blame. Allowing a kid to play something named after a felony crime (Grand Theft Auto) without distinctly specifying and teaching the difference between fantasy and reality does nothing more than teach a child that violence is okay, acceptable in the world at large, and often rewarded. The ESRB can also be at blame here. As a voluntary self-regulatory board created to offer guidance for parents who do not know much about video games (as well as offer ratings in order to keep their asses from getting sued over content in the game in general), it seems there have been massive failures at times on their part. How is a game like Battlefield: Bad Company rated T for Teen while Halo is rated M for Mature? One involves far more foul language, outright destruction, realistic gun sounds and battlefield design, and graphics...while the other one is a space opera where you shoot aliens who do not even bleed the same color as a human and are obviously trying to wipe out entire galaxies if they can. One is a war game where neither side is a clear enemy with a necessary reason to die other than "this is war, shoot shoot shoot" while the other is the equivalent of virtual goddamn paintball. However, since Bad Company does not feature blood "and gore" (which Halo apparently has gore...that I cannot ever remember seeing?), it can be rated T for Teen. In turn, the gaming industry itself fails in truly informing the parents properly in my own honest opinion.

At the end of it all, it does come down to the person with the controller in their hands. To say that there are not people more sensitive to the material of a violent video game is to be naive. We can blame it on mental healthcare in the United States (or the world, take your pick on that one). We could say that it is the fault of parents. We can point our fingers at politicians trying to make us into scapegoats, offering nothing in defense beyond "there are no studies to support that." We might even try to pull the trump card of sounding like wise-cracking smartasses that say "well, Mario was violent but you don't see me jumping on the heads of turtles." However, when all is said and done, it's all about the individual themselves.

...and maybe stop making plastic replicas of weapons if you want to be taken a tad bit more seriously, video game industry?

Parents, raise your kids with the difference between right and wrong. Politicians, look at the violence you create before pointing fingers at pieces of art. ESRB, work harder to ensure that you are providing as much information as possible to parents in all outlets where games are sold. Psychologists, keep doing your studies and offering us some enlightenment.

Gamers, stop playing the role of Helen Keller in this play that we are all a part of. Be more open-minded as well as open in discussion. Instead of taking the goddamn defensive ever five minutes that someone attacks your hobby, be willing to see it from all points of view and try to find the common sense in it all.

I've said my piece. Now say yours. Use this as a place to offer reasoning and logic, not trolling and bullshit. This isn't a place for arguing, but rather a place for healthy debate and topical discussion.

49 Comments
49 Comments
Posted by jakob187

A preface first, if you will: I personally do not believe there is a 1:1 correlation between video game violence/violence in media and real world violence.

This is a position that I have held for a long time, and with seven years worth of time behind the counter of a LAN gaming center where kids can come in and play a game where they chainsaw the Locust in half or play game modes called Team Deathmatch, I still firmly believe it. Very few people ever get to see physical proof on a daily basis that video game violence and real world violence are two separate occasions like I might be able to see.

Nonetheless, we as gamers have continually found ourselves as a scapegoat; in the media, the minds of parents, the arguments of politicians, and sometimes within our own community. We have cried foul on every occasion, but in the last few months, it has almost felt like we are not just crying foul...but we are turning deaf.

Infinity Ward touched on the idea of senseless violence against innocent civilians in Modern Warfare 2 with the now infamous "No Russian" sequence. Was its message and purpose lost? Was there a message at all?

After the events of Aurora, Newtown, Oregon, the crime spree in Chicago, and so many other moments of pure violence, people have tried to search for reasons. The news media and politicians particularly singled out video games in the case of Newtown, saying that the shooter played violent video games. This could easily be true. Within the same time period that he was playing a violent video game, many other people could have been playing the same violent video game or watching a violent movie. The rest of those people were not going out and making an effort to commit murder. While that is a generalization, the point still remains: there is no 1:1 correlation between violence in media and real world violence.

However, we say that to ourselves without realizing the hypocrisy of it: if violence in media holds no influence over us, then why do advertisements exist...or inspirational films? Advertisements are 15-30 second spots that are used to sell us as consumers products that we most likely do not even need. This is media specifically created to influence us. Beyond that, we have the world of film - an art where many filmmakers specifically try to convey a message to audiences, make them feel emotion and empathize with characters on the screen, and try to mentally affect the people watching it. The whole purpose of cinema is to try and affect the audience member into a suspension of disbelief that will help them meld into the world that the film creates.

...and then we say that violence in media holds no influence over us?

Leland Yee has been at the forefront of attempted legislative action against violent video games. He also has a Ph.D in Child Psychology. We continually write him off rather than having an open discussion with him.

Yes, there is no scientific or survey-based evidence to support that there is a 1:1 correlation between violence in media and real world violence, but there are other studies. For instance, there was a release of study in April 2000 from the American Psychological Association that pointed out how people playing violent video games showed increased signs of aggression in thoughts, feelings and behavior. Hell, there have been multiple studies over the years trying to find a link between (specifically) video game violence and real world violence. Psychologists nationwide over the last twelve years have stated this multiple times, even saying that prolonged play time on violent video games led to more aggressive behavior. While we would like to outright ignore this "propaganda", we simply cannot.

We must open this discussion up. Instead of sitting back and playing the defense card, we must talk about it in as open a forum as possible. If we do not, we simply cannot understand all of the issues.

Yes, parents need to take some blame. Allowing a kid to play something named after a felony crime (Grand Theft Auto) without distinctly specifying and teaching the difference between fantasy and reality does nothing more than teach a child that violence is okay, acceptable in the world at large, and often rewarded. The ESRB can also be at blame here. As a voluntary self-regulatory board created to offer guidance for parents who do not know much about video games (as well as offer ratings in order to keep their asses from getting sued over content in the game in general), it seems there have been massive failures at times on their part. How is a game like Battlefield: Bad Company rated T for Teen while Halo is rated M for Mature? One involves far more foul language, outright destruction, realistic gun sounds and battlefield design, and graphics...while the other one is a space opera where you shoot aliens who do not even bleed the same color as a human and are obviously trying to wipe out entire galaxies if they can. One is a war game where neither side is a clear enemy with a necessary reason to die other than "this is war, shoot shoot shoot" while the other is the equivalent of virtual goddamn paintball. However, since Bad Company does not feature blood "and gore" (which Halo apparently has gore...that I cannot ever remember seeing?), it can be rated T for Teen. In turn, the gaming industry itself fails in truly informing the parents properly in my own honest opinion.

At the end of it all, it does come down to the person with the controller in their hands. To say that there are not people more sensitive to the material of a violent video game is to be naive. We can blame it on mental healthcare in the United States (or the world, take your pick on that one). We could say that it is the fault of parents. We can point our fingers at politicians trying to make us into scapegoats, offering nothing in defense beyond "there are no studies to support that." We might even try to pull the trump card of sounding like wise-cracking smartasses that say "well, Mario was violent but you don't see me jumping on the heads of turtles." However, when all is said and done, it's all about the individual themselves.

...and maybe stop making plastic replicas of weapons if you want to be taken a tad bit more seriously, video game industry?

Parents, raise your kids with the difference between right and wrong. Politicians, look at the violence you create before pointing fingers at pieces of art. ESRB, work harder to ensure that you are providing as much information as possible to parents in all outlets where games are sold. Psychologists, keep doing your studies and offering us some enlightenment.

Gamers, stop playing the role of Helen Keller in this play that we are all a part of. Be more open-minded as well as open in discussion. Instead of taking the goddamn defensive ever five minutes that someone attacks your hobby, be willing to see it from all points of view and try to find the common sense in it all.

I've said my piece. Now say yours. Use this as a place to offer reasoning and logic, not trolling and bullshit. This isn't a place for arguing, but rather a place for healthy debate and topical discussion.

Posted by believer258

Mine is the same as its ever been - I will not make a move towards any sort of censorship.

I'd read and elaborate further but I have to go to class and, really, the above is what anything I say will boil down to. That and "People of sound mind do not suddenly start killing others because of video games."

Posted by jakob187

@believer258: I also personally agree with no censorship. I'm very anti-censorship. This is not about censorship, however, and instead is about opening up the discussion of why we play violent video games and getting the people who don't understand to see it from our point of view and perspective. Perhaps through understanding of our medium, people in general can stop turning us into scapegoats.

With that said, there are plenty of studies that show the exact same results: playing a violent video game results in raised aggression. That is a game directly correlating to feelings and emotions in real life. Can we continue to deny the existence of that research forever?

Posted by Video_Game_King

@jakob187 said:

...and then we say that violence in media holds no influence over us?

Possibly because it's the norm. It is a culture that glorifies violence in many ways, after all.

Allowing a kid to play something named after a felony crime (Grand Theft Auto) without distinctly specifying and teaching the difference between fantasy and reality does nothing more than teach a child that violence is okay, acceptable in the world at large, and often rewarded.

And to be fair to GTA, the violence isn't entirely forced. The game offers a wide array of activities for you to choose, so what does it say that you go immediately for the violent options? Without cheats, powerful weapons (IE anything that isn't a bat) are hard to find, meaning you have to make the greater effort to be a violent dickhead...and yet it still occurs.

Posted by Ravenlight

@jakob187:

I was onboard with pretty much all of your points but the caption under the last picture rubbed me the wrong way.

...and maybe stop making plastic replicas of weapons if you want to be taken a tad bit more seriously, video game industry?

You probably didn't mean it this way but it seems like you're calling the video games industry to censor itself. I'd agree with this argument if it was real guns but plastic replicas? That's just drawing a parallel between real-world and video game violence. I'm gonna toss an analogy out because fuck yeah: Fake guns are to real guns as video game violence is to real violence.

On a semi-related note, it seems like the worst of the shitstorm has passed and we're seeing some meaningful discussion about the perceived negative aspects of the video games industry (violence, sexism, et al) on the forums now and that's pretty cool.

Posted by ZeForgotten

Weird 
I just got done reading this article that someone wrote and then this thread pops up. 
I wish I had more fancy things to say other than, read the article but that's really all I can say.  
 
At least if people really wanna see it from a third persons perspective instead of just "Gamers vs Politicians in this round of "Herpa derpa insults are fuuuhn" 
 
Also, fancy that, an article worth reading on Kotaku

Posted by jakob187

@Video_Game_King said:

And to be fair to GTA, the violence isn't entirely forced. The game offers a wide array of activities for you to choose, so what does it say that you go immediately for the violent options? Without cheats, powerful weapons (IE anything that isn't a bat) are hard to find, meaning you have to make the greater effort to be a violent dickhead...and yet it still occurs.

That is an excellent point in and of itself. There are plenty of games that have been created where you have to go out of your way to be a "violent dickhead", to cause the most amount of damage possible to both lives and property. In turn, this would lead one to believe that not only is a video game an interactive experience, but sometimes it is using your own psyche as a way to lead you to making specific decisions.

A recent example I could offer would be in Hitman: Absolution, specifically the Chinatown level. You have to go out of your way in order to pick up plastic explosives (after killing a police officer as well), and then you can personally plant those explosives near the assassination target and blow him up...along with many innocent civilians. The fact that the option is available is one thing, but actually making the decision becomes an incredibly compelling piece of active thought process for the player to make, knowing very well what the consequences happen to be. Mind you, in a virtual space, there are no real people...but do we consider this a way to let out pent-up aggression within a video game rather than real life or is it actively offering a justification in our psyche?

Edited by believer258

@jakob187 said:

@believer258: I also personally agree with no censorship. I'm very anti-censorship. This is not about censorship, however, and instead is about opening up the discussion of why we play violent video games and getting the people who don't understand to see it from our point of view and perspective. Perhaps through understanding of our medium, people in general can stop turning us into scapegoats.

With that said, there are plenty of studies that show the exact same results: playing a violent video game results in raised aggression. That is a game directly correlating to feelings and emotions in real life. Can we continue to deny the existence of that research forever?

Probably the same reason people watch porn. We like it. Humans like it. We'd never admit it in person but find a human who has never wished violence on anyone, ever, and I'll find you one who has no desire for friends. And video games (along with any other form of art) are a way of expressing that*, and safely too!

*Not just violence, obviously, but go all the way back to the beginning of human history and you'll find our most ancient ancestors either killing each other or coming up with representations of us killing each other. Does that bother you? Am I wrong in saying so? I think that the desire for animalistic catharsis is probably just as natural to us as the the need for some knowledge, the need for friendship with others, the need to feel accomplished (which is potentially what this whole thing is rooted in) etc. So to answer the question of why we play violent video games, it boils down to "we like it".

EDIT: Also, fuck going to class.

Edited by jakob187

@ZeForgotten: I actually read that article already. Fancy that, an article worth reading on Kotaku! = D

I'm the same way, though have no mental illness or intellectual disabilities. If anything, I do my violent deeds in-game as a stress reliever from the problems I may face in the real world. That's not to say I would commit violence in the real world, but violent video games that led me pound in some heads has definitely curbed my anger levels. Therefore, when I point to research that says "violent video games lead to raised aggression," I ponder on it a bit because it has the opposite effect on me. I have raised aggression levels when I PLAY the video game, but only towards the video game. Violence is, after all, an abstract instinct of mankind in general. Through civilization and society, we have done what we can to offer laws, morals, and ideals that would suppress those urges within us.

Maybe we should break down the eras of gaming as well as generations? Personally, I started playing back in the NES and Atari days, so I have an appreciation for gaming in general that some kids today may not have because they have been raised in a world filled with first-person shooters? I don't know. Again, open discussion.

@Ravenlight: It's more me saying "if you want to stop being a scapegoat, you should possibly look at the fact that making plastic weaponry to replicate the almost exact look of the real thing probably isn't helping your argument very well." That picture in particular went our in a worldwide AP press release a few years back and became a rather well-known image. It was demonized by the media and ridiculed/laughed at by internet gamers. Nonetheless, it's a bit poignant, right? I'm not saying "censor yourselves, industry," but I am saying "that's not helping your argument much, industry." Does it HAVE to be a replica of an actual gun? Can it not just be something basic...like the NES Zapper? Let's be honest: the Zapper was basically amazing and still a great symbol to many of us as the "future."

Posted by Video_Game_King

@jakob187:

Given what I was saying before, I guess I'd have to lean toward it being justification for the darkest parts of your psyche just coming out in these spaces. Without proper characterization, your violence against these neutral parties isn't entirely justified.

For some reason, I'm reminded of this scene from The Matrix, and am now wondering if there's some criticism linking that scene with video games. There has to be, right?

Posted by Ravenlight

@believer258 said:

EDIT: Also, fuck going to class.

Are video games contributing to lower test scores? A new study may surprise you!

Posted by jakob187

@Video_Game_King said:

@jakob187:

Given what I was saying before, I guess I'd have to lean toward it being justification for the darkest parts of your psyche just coming out in these spaces. Without proper characterization, your violence against these neutral parties isn't entirely justified.

Interestingly enough, you are severely punished in Hitman: Absolution for killing innocent civilians that "are not a part of your direct mission." Nonetheless, it still gives you the option to use this method that will kill quite a few innocent civilians in crowded, open streets.

I only explain that because I don't know if that game has made it to the Moon...or if you'd even play it if it were made available.

Posted by believer258

@Ravenlight said:

@believer258 said:

EDIT: Also, fuck going to class.

Are video games contributing to lower test scores? A new study may surprise you!

No! Video games have ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with my bad grades! At all! Zilch! Zero!

(Is it ironic that I'm avoiding an academic institution to do something more mentally stimulating than listening to an old fart talk about Saul Bellow for 50 minutes?)

Posted by jakob187

@Ravenlight said:

@believer258 said:

EDIT: Also, fuck going to class.

Are video games contributing to lower test scores? A new study may surprise you!

If it's public education, you aren't missing much. If it's private education or college...well...I won't be responsible for your slump into welfare-ridden baby-making gold-grin-wearing madness, .

There is no direct correlation between my blog and your failing grades. = P

Posted by Video_Game_King

@jakob187 said:

I only explain that because I don't know if that game has made it to the Moon...or if you'd even play it if it were made available.

I would if somebody gifted it to me on Steam.

Posted by believer258

@jakob187 said:

@Ravenlight said:

@believer258 said:

EDIT: Also, fuck going to class.

Are video games contributing to lower test scores? A new study may surprise you!

If it's public education, you aren't missing much. If it's private education or college...well...I won't be responsible for your slump into welfare-ridden baby-making gold-grin-wearing madness, .

There is no direct correlation between my blog and your failing grades. = P

I'm a junior in college. And I'll be fine. Just remember that you made me miss a class by writing an engaging and interesting blog post that I, admittedly, have commented on without actually reading because I wanted to comment and didn't have time to read it all before leaving.

Posted by ZeForgotten
@jakob187: You know the world is going to shits when Kotaku is worth reading! we better hide! :P 
 
I'm totally there with you, games for me are entertainment as well as a way for me to get what little agression I do build up during the day out of my system. Hell, people with more agression built up inside them than me probably use it the same way just to make sure they don't go out and punch a baby or kick a puppy or something. At the same time I could also see violent games as maybe a trigger-like thing for someone to just go nuts one day but to only blame a videogame for that would be a terrible mistake(but also a mistake made very often) 
 
Every person is different so what might be just relaxing and getting some "raaaaaaage" out of our system for us could be a sign from a higher power for someone to go out and kick that puppy. 
Edited by PHenry1991

I don't know how I feel. While I've played violent video games, watched Violent movies and TV, and read violent comics and books, I've never once felt increased aggression. Never felt the urge to go do something bad to someone because I got the idea from something I played/watched/read. But to say there is no effect, that media can't have a negative impact on an individual, well, that's naive/asinine. Parenting, or lack thereof, is a variable. They should actually be parents, and be aware of what their children are doing. I'd day retailers are culpable, but while I remember a time they sold me M-rated games without caring what my age was( Fourteen), I've seen what it's like now, with constant ID checks to ensure you're of the proper age to Purchase/interact with a particular product. Movie theaters still don't really care who goes to see an R-rated film, 70% percent of the time they ask for ID, 30% they can't be bothered to look at you.

Censorship is not the way to go. Maybe informing the consumer of the product in a more detailed way would be better. Maybe the industry should be more aware of the content going into a game. Sometimes it does feel like gore for the sake of gore. God of War Ascension doesn't help the situation(do we really need to see anthropomorphic Elephant brains?). Maybe retailers should do a better job at describing the product, or directing customers to the ESRB. I don't know. It's hard to say what would work.

Edit: I'm not fourteen now, obviously. (21 now).

Posted by Clonedzero

well i know correlation and causation are two different things. but if video games really did make kids more violent, wouldnt the violent crime in kids be skyrocketing due to the sheer mass of kids playing games?

video games are also now considered art. so uh, you want congress to pass bills censoring and preventing art? i dont want to go down that road, sets a dangerous precedent that could be used far beyond video games. i dunno its worrisome.

if they just wanna make it harder for kids to get games without actually effecting games, im ok with that i guess though it'd still hurt the industry with less sales.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@Clonedzero said:

video games are also now considered art. so uh, you want congress to pass bills censoring and preventing art? i dont want to go down that road, sets a dangerous precedent that could be used far beyond video games. i dunno its worrisome.

Something about this argument is rubbing me the wrong way, whether it's the "now" or the fact that I'm pretty sure governments have been censoring art for a while (or at least encouraging environments that do), although I've no good examples on hand. The best one I have is "World War II", and that's pretty much it.

Posted by Sweep

@ZeForgotten said:

fancy that, an article worth reading on Kotaku

Haha. Oh wait, you were being serious?!

Moderator
Posted by jakob187

@Clonedzero said:

video games are also now considered art. so uh, you want congress to pass bills censoring and preventing art?

Never. Not in a million years. Again, I am anti-censorship. I am saying that we need to have a discussion of how we as a society...WORLDWIDE...glorify violence and need to make sure we personally can hold ourselves in a light of understanding while also being less stubborn and so "nah nah nah nah boo boo stick your head in doo-doo" when the subject comes up in mainstream media and on the lips of politicians. At the same time, I am pointing out that there are plenty of theories, ideas, and moral implications that can show how violent video games could be hazardous when the controller is in the hands of someone that is sensitive to the material they are interacting with.

Essentially, I'm saying "people need to learn that there is a difference between fantasy and reality, but we also have to know that we are indeed in love with an industry that caters to violence and the glorification therein...so let's understand it all and actually talk about it rather than being stubborn pricks."

@PHenry1991 said:

Maybe retailers should do a better job at describing the product, or directing customers to the ESRB. I don't know. It's hard to say what would work.

This is very much something I agree with. Again, the ESRB does not exactly give me confidence that they are relaying the message very well, especially when everything is written in broad strokes. The case for Halo specifically says "blood and GORE", yet I cannot think of a SINGLE instance of "gore" in the game. Just blood. Alien blood. Sometimes the blood of space marines wearing a literal weighted ton of armor, but mostly aliens.

Personally, hear at the gaming center, we do not carry any form of games that feature what we call "graphic and heinous criminal acts." Essentially, we don't carry Grand Theft Auto, Saints Row, Sleeping Dogs, etc. Mind you, I understand the slight hypocrisy in there of saying "we have Left 4 Dead, Gears of War, and Dead Island...but we won't carry GTA or SR." There's a certain disconnect we feel when it comes to shooters, especially because we are all pro-2nd Amendment as well as believe that shooter video games are no different than going to the paintball field in many ways. It's a justification that I constantly struggle with, but I see on a daily basis kids play games where they kill hordes of zombies and play team deathmatch games for hours on end, but when they turn in their controller, I just see a guy that wanted to be competitive in a virtual space, not someone that wanted to murder people when he left the store. In turn, it helps to keep that justification in line for me.

Posted by ZeForgotten
@Sweep said:

@ZeForgotten said:

fancy that, an article worth reading on Kotaku

Haha. Oh wait, you were being serious?!

Of course!  
A copy/pasted article on Kotaku is better than anything actually written on Kotaku! 
Posted by WasabiCurry

If I am going to take part of a serious discussion, then I shall partake. I see that many people who play video games are offended by the idea that video games cause an increase in aggression. As you have stated in the article, aggressive thoughts, behavior, and feelings can be attributed by playing violent video games. I feel that the word aggressive has been tied in with the word violence which has caused a huge misunderstanding. I see people that simply do not want either words to come into our gaming culture. We wish to pretend that we are all normal folks that have lives and video games are just our hobby. However, it is okay that we have aggression in our hobby. Many other hobbies do as well; football, soccer, exercising, driving, and so many more.

I am stating that aggression does not have to be demonized.

Posted by Mike76x

I know my son who is 14 has been playing Call of Duty for years along with all of his friends.

He played it first at his friends house, this friend hunts with his dad.

So I know several really good kids, a few who have hunted animals and have access to guns.

None of them have even gotten into real fights, though they can be internet douche-bags.

I also have known "special" kids who would fly into a rage and attack the nearest person simply because someone sang a song from a commercial or TV show.

There was a guy I had a few classes with in school, who several years back stabbed a high school kid to death during a (weed) drug deal, because he had gone off his meds and "saw the devil".

-

When I read "Mentally ill person with access to guns kills people" I don't need to know what his hobbies were.

Give a kid a video game, and it might make him a douche-bag.

Give a kid a gun he might accidentally shoot himself or someone else.

No simple combination of the two will make someone go on a murderous rampage, and then commit suicide.

Mental illness, trauma, prescription side effects/reactions or any combination of those would.

I have personal experience with somewhat minor prescription drug side effects and they can be completely...surprising if you aren't ready for them.

Blaming the video games makes it so they don't have to confront the prescription drug companies, or real mental health/insurance issues.

Posted by Mike76x

@jakob187 said:

With that said, there are plenty of studies that show the exact same results: playing a violent video game results in raised aggression. That is a game directly correlating to feelings and emotions in real life. Can we continue to deny the existence of that research forever?

Studies show competition results in raised aggression.

Posted by Pezen

My problem with the discussion of violent video games is the simple fact that KIDS are not supposed to play games made for people 18+. If they do, it is not the game at fault. Likewise, if a kid is allowed to get drunk it is bad parenting, not time to stop alcohol.

As I've said before; as an adult I shouldn't need the state controlling what entertainment I can consume.

As for elevated signs of aggression; you don't need violent game for that. Just a fun hard game that makes you really frustrated.

Posted by PHenry1991

@jakob187: I get it. There's a huge difference between games like Grand Theft Auto, and a game like Left 4 dead or Halo. Grand Theft Auto is a game about committing crime. A twelve year old, or some one with a mental illness shouldn't be exposed to that. They get the freedom to kill everything and anything that's in between them, and the next mission. It's a type of game focused on doing wrong. Halo, doesn't have any real gore. Just blood spatters.

Posted by jakob187

@WasabiCurry: I can agree with that sentiment to an extent. You point out specific instances of aggression in real world applications, even specific ones that many parents encourage their kids to join through school athletic programs and such. At the same time, the only one I can think of outside of gaming that involves "guns" would be skeet shooting or rifling (which one of our local public schools has a rifling team). The difference there is that the rifling class also goes over gun safety, respecting the weapon you are using, and education about guns in general. It's actually a really good program, one I wish more schools would actually offer. Maybe it would give a deeper appreciation and respect for guns in general within this country? I don't know.

The point is that the aggression from football could lead you to punch someone in the face maybe, or you could walk off the field and shake it all off. Move forward. The same can be said for video games, right? Shooting innocent civilians in "No Russian" or blowing up multiple civilians with plastic explosives in Chinatown in Hitman: Absolution COULD lead you to shooting or blowing up innocent civilians in real life, or you could walk away from the game and just feel a little frustrated that Ashe decided to go mid and feed Ahri 12 kills in 10 minutes just to be a thoroughbred fuckstain...or it could lead to you saying "I want a sandwich now" and thus making a sandwich.

Okay, so that last statement was me still being pissed about a ranked 5s match on League of Legends the other night...but seriously, fuck that bitch.

Anyways, I'm not saying that killing innocent civilians in a game is GOING to lead to the same in the real world, but are we honestly going to fool ourselves forever in saying that there is NO WAY POSSIBLE WHATSOEVER that it COULD? Do we continue down that path and continue shrugging off any form of responsibility as a community and industry for the glorification of violence that we inherently love? I think it comes down to the people around that person teaching them the difference between fantasy and reality, showing them that games are meant to be a GAME, and making sure that a person gets the attention they need in order to prevent any issues from arising.

Preventative measures without censorship: I'm glad my parents knew them. lol

Edited by jakob187

@Pezen said:

My problem with the discussion of violent video games is the simple fact that KIDS are not supposed to play games made for people 18+. If they do, it is not the game at fault. Likewise, if a kid is allowed to get drunk it is bad parenting, not time to stop alcohol. As I've said before; as an adult I shouldn't need the state controlling what entertainment I can consume. As for elevated signs of aggression; you don't need violent game for that. Just a fun hard game that makes you really frustrated.

I was allowed to get drunk when I was 14, 15, 16. Hell, my friends and I would provide the money for all the alcohol. The parties we threw were INTENSE. At the same time, my parents were also present at all of the parties, and all of the parents for our friends knew exactly what was going on. We were not only extremely informative to them, but also showed that we understood our own personal limits and that we weren't a bunch of dipshits that were going to drink and drive or even destroy property. This all took place at our house every single time. They knew we smoked weed to.

We all became productive members of society. Therefore, I can easily say that I'm living proof that the instance of letting your kids get drunk CAN occur while also being responsible parents. No one ever got alcohol poisoning, turned into a meth-head (except one, but his father helped him down that path), or was arrested.

Also, you point out that kids are not supposed to play games rated Mature. That is a mere guideline, not a law-enforced creed. I saw Nightmare on Elm Street when I was 7. All it did was make me a fan of horror films and the schlock that they bring. I've played Mortal Kombat since the day it came out. My parents freaked out about it like all other parents did at the time...until they rented Mortal Kombat 2 for us after we begged them for literally 20 minutes straight at a rental store. Upon seeing what the contents of the game were (cheesy, goofy-looking, and meant to not be taken seriously), they joined in laughing at the ridiculous levels of gore in the game.

If anything, I'm sitting here able to say "I'm proof that good parenting, teaching your children the difference between fantasy and reality, and knowing what the hell they are doing works better than any form of legislation ever could." I would never support the state, federal government, world police, or God him/herself controlling what entertainment people consume.

@Mike76x said:

@jakob187 said:

With that said, there are plenty of studies that show the exact same results: playing a violent video game results in raised aggression. That is a game directly correlating to feelings and emotions in real life. Can we continue to deny the existence of that research forever?

Studies show competition results in raised aggression.

Studies also show that snitches get stitches.

The point is, again, there are numerous psychologists that are pointing out something that we as a community and industry keep flat-out denying, then trying to justify in our own way. Why the hell can't we sit down for a moment and look at the correlation possibility from a person who is deemed an expert in the field of the mind and the ways that media could possibly affect it? Why can't we have that discussion? Why do we instead have to shrug it off, say "bullshit," and pretend it doesn't exist?

Also, it's worth noting (to me at least) that I'm trying REALLY hard to put my punctuations INSIDE the quotation marks. O____O Yes, these things do matter to me, and I found myself slipping pretty hard on it lately.

Posted by WasabiCurry

@jakob187: As you have stated, any form of aggression can lead to punching a dude the face or just walk away. Fundamentally, it breaks down to that people who do have a normal mental status will move forward. People who tend to have higher aggressive tendency or any number of other mental illness. I think you may have hit the point. You said that your school offer skeet. However, they go through a number of steps in order to ensure that students understand the full knowledge of guns. If those same knowledge were to be applied for all to understand, then maybe it could decrease aggression.

I believe that sharing knowledge and making it easy to understand by parents, kids, and politicians could fundamentally change the stance on video games outside from our community. We need the ESRB to take charge. They need to be there answering any questions that parents might have. Not only does it create a sense of trust for the parents, but also shows that gaming can be professional. Unlike now.

Knowledge is power.

Posted by Galiant
@believer258

Mine is the same as its ever been - I will not make a move towards any sort of censorship.

I'd read and elaborate further but I have to go to class and, really, the above is what anything I say will boil down to. That and "People of sound mind do not suddenly start killing others because of video games."

You expressed it better than I ever could. I agree with this statement.
Posted by Ravenlight

@jakob187 said:

but seriously, fuck that bitch.

Sexism!

Also, it's worth noting (to me at least) that I'm trying REALLY hard to put my punctuations INSIDE the quotation marks. O____O Yes, these things do matter to me, and I found myself slipping pretty hard on it lately.

Holy shit, I've been going through almost the same thing. Lately I've been trying to feel out when it's appropriate to include punctuation inside vs. outside the quotes. Sometimes it just looks really wrong if I do it the way I'm used to doing it.

Posted by Slag

@jakob187:

I don't particularly enjoy most violent videogames. I used to, but nowadays I just fight to be a lazy mechanic that's been badly overused. There's a lot more to life than killing things, yet games have barely scratched the surface of what could be.

What bothers me and why I tend to have a kneejerk anti-censorship reaction to these sorts of stories in the media is that Video Games gets blamed first.

Not Movies, not books, not radio, not the internet, not the newsmedia

not parenting

not our increasingly dysfunctional society that isolates shy people more than ever

Not our society's near complete disregard for the mentally ill. (I'd love to know what % of homeless are mentally ill who are incapable of caring for themselves since mental institutions were shut down. I'm going guess it's upwards of 50% in my city)

and of course not the actual weapons. God forbid we actually do something about the actual weapons used in the actual incidents.

No reasonable person is claiming that video games have zero impact on a person's propensity to violence. Do Video games maybe have some role? Probably, but are they one of the primary causes in these incidents? I sincerely doubt it.

And that's what bothers me, games get singled out because they are an easy target with lobbying power that the powers that be don't engage with much. Because they are different from what the Baby Boomers who rule congress know. As large as the industry has become the video game industry lobby is still nothing compared to the others. We get picked on because we're different. And it's not like the Newsmedia is going to volunteer that they themselves have any role in this , depsite the fact they love themselves a good tragedy.

It's the same stupid witch hunt reaction Congress had to Comic Books in 1950's which forced the creation of the Comic Book code. Which of course didn't address any of the problems Comic Books supposedly created. Easy target that allows Congress to say they did something, without upsetting the entrenched special interests around the actual causes or asking tough questions about our way of life.

You'll notice the President commissioned a CDC study of whether Videogames can influence these incidents, not what actually causes these incidents. That's two very different questions, with the former almost rigged to generate a certain answer.

I don't want these violent incidents to happen either, but let's actually study what is the cause of these incidents. And if Video games are shown to be a primary cause of them, well then we need to do something. I'm going to bet It's not even in the top 5 causes of things like this.

But let's not even concede games are responsible until there is proof that they are a primary cause. If congress actually does something about assault weapons and mental health treatment, then we'll talk.

Posted by Brodehouse

I don't have the time to completely get all up ins, I'll just drop some basic comments and hopefully get back to this later.

The "1:1 correlation" is kind of a misnomer. Because a 1:1 correlation implies that 23.5 million people were made violent (or more violent) by playing Modern Warfare 2. Secondly, correlation does not imply causation (an old horse that gets dragged out here more than 'straw man' and Godwin). There's only one piece of media that has ever had a 1:1 correlation with anything else, and it's the videotape from The Ring.

Even assuming you can put together a 1:0.01 correlation, it doesn't change the nature of people's right to free expression. I am an adult, and if I want to watch or do something potentially dangerous to myself, I will not tolerate interference. If I want to smoke knowing the risks of lung cancer, if I want to base jump knowing the risks of splat, if I want to play Spec Ops knowing the risks of violent content absorption, it's my Goddamn rights. This line of thinking strikes me as no different than the moralistic nonsense regarding pornography or -gasp- sodomy. Just the continued intrusion of society into the lives of consenting adults.

Posted by Jams

Violent video games are just another form of escapism. For stress relief or for conflict resolution in a casual link sort of way. That same way the therapist wants you to punch the pillow so you feel better. Getting rid of the stress so you can think more clearly.

Posted by Milkman

I don't believe in a direct correlation between violence in video games and violence in real life and when it comes down to it, art should be as violent as the artist wishes it to be. That being said, I still think it's a good idea to sometimes look at the culture that surrounds video games and ask yourself "is this too much?"

Posted by jakob187

@Milkman said:

I still think it's a good idea to sometimes look at the culture that surrounds video games and ask yourself "is this too much?"

That's kind of the question I've been asking myself a lot lately. Mind you, video games are unique in comparison to movies, music, or books because it allows the audience to actually go through the motions. Within that somewhere, we should be able to create a much stronger bond and emotional resonance with the situation and character...

...or get high scores, whichever you prefer as your definition of a "game."

That's the other problem that I have, which is kind of separate to this subject in particular: games aren't games anymore, but more often than not are "interactive experiences with playable portions." Metal Gear Solid as a franchise is my primary example of this, as you are led through a rather linear story (which is the mainly important part that people know and remember) while you play for a fraction of the time to get from Cutscene A to Cutscene B. In essence, I just don't know what to make of games anymore. "Games", in their purest essence, are stuff like Super Meat Boy and Faster Than Light. The indie scene seems to be bringing us back to "GAMES" as a pure thing while the AAA studios are trying to push us into the same area as cinematic experience. The problem there is that in order to match a cinematic experience, the gaming industry seems to believe that it continually needs to push for grittier and more realistic, and they fail to see some of the implications that can result from that glorification. I think it's why I have found Spec Ops: The Line to be an incredible breath of fresh air from a storytelling and interactive point of view. Such a great game with such mediocre gameplay.

Then again, I guess we also aren't opening the other Pandora's Box of violent video games, particularly of the 21st century. Here's some interesting correlation:

The popularity of war and first-person shooter games started rising around what time in consoles? 2001? Right after Halo came out on Xbox? Anyone want to dig into the correlation between war games and first-person shooters games and the fact that America has "been at war" since around the same time that this popularity occurred? Essentially, I'm saying that it's not like the government who is condemning the gaming industry in the first place has really done anything different with their inherent need to go overseas for reasons they shouldn't, kill innocent civilians and pretend it's justifiable, then claim we're the bad guys.

Posted by Slag

@jakob187 said:

...or get high scores, whichever you prefer as your definition of a "game."

That's the other problem that I have, which is kind of separate to this subject in particular: games aren't games anymore, but more often than not are "interactive experiences with playable portions." Metal Gear Solid as a franchise is my primary example of this, as you are led through a rather linear story (which is the mainly important part that people know and remember) while you play for a fraction of the time to get from Cutscene A to Cutscene B. In essence, I just don't know what to make of games anymore. "Games", in their purest essence, are stuff like Super Meat Boy and Faster Than Light. The indie scene seems to be bringing us back to "GAMES" as a pure thing while the AAA studios are trying to push us into the same area as cinematic experience. The problem there is that in order to match a cinematic experience, the gaming industry seems to believe that it continually needs to push for grittier and more realistic, and they fail to see some of the implications that can result from that glorification. I think it's why I have found Spec Ops: The Line to be an incredible breath of fresh air from a storytelling and interactive point of view. Such a great game with such mediocre gameplay.

Isn't that just more of a reflection on what you choose to play rather than all video games?

not saying there aren't some really brutal games out there (there's plenty I have no desire to play), but it's not like there an't less violent games to play.

Ni Ni Kuni, for a recent example, is not exactly what I'd call a very violent game.

Still you are right that AAA games could do a whole lot better in using violence less gratuitously.

The popularity of war and first-person shooter games started rising around what time in consoles? 2001? Right after Halo came out on Xbox? Anyone want to dig into the correlation between war games and first-person shooters games and the fact that America has "been at war" since around the same time that this popularity occurred? Essentially, I'm saying that it's not like the government who is condemning the gaming industry in the first place has really done anything different with their inherent need to go overseas for reasons they shouldn't, kill innocent civilians and pretend it's justifiable, then claim we're the bad guys.

I've noticed similar things, but I'm not so sure it's anything more than a coincidence . Shooters were getting big in the mid to late 90s', Most of the mega hits SciFi themed (Quake, Doom, Marathon etc). The tech was just really getting good around the time the towers fell in New York.

And that's where they went in the early 2000's as well (Halo). Then you had the run of WWII themed shooters and it's only been in the last 5-6 years that Modern Shooters have really dominated.

That being said it's not like FPS games are very popular in Japan, so maybe there is something to that. Or maybe it's just an American cultural thing. It's not like Goldeneye, Medal of Honor and Wolfenstein weren't popular before the wars started.

Edited by jakob187

@Slag: One was a movie based property, one started getting popular right around the time of Saving Private Ryan/The Thin Red Line, and one was already a classic franchise that got an excellent rework. Call of Duty was something original (that also basically tells the story of Band of Brothers) from the guys behind Allied Assault, and Call of Duty 2 was what introduced what would eventually become the majority of the status quo for FPS games overall. True, the last six years is where Call of Duty 4 and after have reigned supreme, but before that, we still saw FPS games becoming an increasing trend. It could very well just be the accessibility of the games. Danny O' Dwyer actually did a really great Escape From Mount Stupid on first-person shooters that talks a little bit about how the popularity of shooters on consoles really has been drab, and whether or not there is much life in it going into the next generation.

I've just found it highly coincidental that Call of Duty 2 came onto consoles in 2005 when the "height of the Iraq War" happened, and the popularity of the genre has risen since then. As you pointed out, the genre isn't very popular in places outside of America and Europe, but both of those countries have heavy investments in the military presence within the Middle East. It just...makes too much goddamn sense.

Nonetheless, I have to point fingers at Capitol Hill more than anywhere else. They ask why our nation has this culture of violence...and then illegally occupy foreign nations, bully the world, try to nationalize them in the vein of the U.S., and murder innocent civilians with drone attacks on a daily basis. To say that video games are the cause of the violence seems hypocritical in light of what they pull. Then...if you don't support the war, their jingoistic bullshit makes the mainstream say you are unpatriotic or un-American. It's stupid.

Sorry, didn't mean to get to a political lean...but it seems unavoidable when the genre in gaming that is the most popular could easily be correlated to the actions the government takes abroad and how it is readily available information in the news and on TV.

Posted by Nodachie

I would like to present evidence of horrific violence before the existence of horrific media.

Bath School Disaster

It happened in 1927. A man blew up part of an elementary school. There is no known reason, no evidence to a motive and he did not live to be questioned why.

Correlation does not imply causation. In regards to violence that people do, I would like to remind them that we are a violent species. I cannot argue that children who watched Power Rangers didn't act out poor karate but all kids act out what they see. It's part of social learning called imitation. Social learning usually leads to appropriate and acceptable behavior but that can be perverted by environments that encourage inappropriate activity. (Like neglectful or asinine parents for example.)

People are comforted by knowing who, what where and why. Even if that reason is God, the Devil and an ancient popular guy. Blaming the unknowable reasoning of others on unfamiliar stimuli has been happening throughout history. Often it's later accepted to be falsified and based on irrational hysteria. It is just that video games are still a "new" thing and the media is so provocative and pervasive that we see the blame be put on it.

Just wait...maybe in about 10 or so years these ignorant fools will die off. Then WE (as in our younger, hipper, generation) will get to blame all the awful of the world on what ever is the new hot thing. Maybe it'll be those damn space elevators or wearable computers.

Posted by Slag

@jakob187 said:

@Slag: One was a movie based property, one started getting popular right around the time of Saving Private Ryan/The Thin Red Line, and one was already a classic franchise that got an excellent rework. Call of Duty was something original (that also basically tells the story of Band of Brothers) from the guys behind Allied Assault, and Call of Duty 2 was what introduced what would eventually become the majority of the status quo for FPS games overall. True, the last six years is where Call of Duty 4 and after have reigned supreme, but before that, we still saw FPS games becoming an increasing trend. It could very well just be the accessibility of the games. Danny O' Dwyer actually did a really great Escape From Mount Stupid on first-person shooters that talks a little bit about how the popularity of shooters on consoles really has been drab, and whether or not there is much life in it going into the next generation.

I've just found it highly coincidental that Call of Duty 2 came onto consoles in 2005 when the "height of the Iraq War" happened, and the popularity of the genre has risen since then.

That's true they were, but shooters were always popular here basically since the moment they existed and pretty much never were popular in Japan. And that's what I'm saying is that this trend started well before 2001.

From the moment they hit their growth in popularity was exponential. Especially in those early years. Deathmatching just became the ultimate multiplayer experience, it really diminished fighting games (which at the time had comparatively more violent "moral outrage" games like Mortal Kombat). Every college computer lab across the US likely had some version of Quake on them at some point in the late 90's. That was already happening before the wars happened.

I guess I'm saying I think Shooters would likely be just as large today if 9/11 never happened probably for a multitude of reasons (tech, gameplay acessibility, cultural preference, cost of development being among them). I do agree that maybe the theme of said shooters might be different (maybe we'd still be shootin Aliens). But I think the reason they are this popular goes well beyond the fact we are at war. Especially wars that are barely even acknowledged by our own media anymore.

Let me propose an alternate hypothesis why Modern shooters continue to dominate post Call of Duty 4 and we haven't yet moved on to whatever is next.

The Economy.

Since these games happened to be popular when the economy collapsed in 2008, it could also be that devs & pubs facing nonstop growing costs and losing market share (and mind share) to mobile do not feel like they can take risks. So Activision et al, worried about joining the ever growing list of closed gaming companies, stick to what they know what works.

If Infinity Ward went to Kotick and said "hey, we think we need to mix it up with Call of Duty to keep it fresh. So let's set the Call of Duty game in Ancient Egypt and have you shoot Mummies with crossbow bolts" I bet they'd say hell no.

Considering that Respawn is supposedly making a Scfi themed Shooter for their next game, it wouldn't surprise me if something similar happened behind closed doors that led Zampella and West to leave Activision.

Posted by AiurFlux

Freedom of Speech. So no we don't have to open this issue up. Games, movies, books, television, everything is protected under the First Amendment in the United States.

Also a study has been done awhile ago. It found that most mass killers use books or a diary as inspiration. Does that mean we ban the written fucking word? No. Because it's stupid. Games are the new rock music. They're the new thing for out of touch moronic cunts to pick on instead of looking at themselves in the mirror. And because of the PC pussy filled world they have a good chance at censoring it now because people cave in immediately instead of standing up for themselves. We're a bunch of pansies, and if games get censored and the right to freedom of speech and expression gets infringed on then we deserve it. All because we decided to open the issue up instead of tell these idiots to fuck off.

Here's a really absurd idea, how about parents take responsibility for their children. What a shock I know. Being responsible. Fuck, if only we thought of it sooner. There are rating systems in place. Stores card people. After that it's the responsibility of the parent, and if they can't do that then they shouldn't be a parent.

Violence in games and movies is a far cry from violence in real life. Watch the suicide of Robert Budd Dwyer if you don't believe me. An intelligent mind can discern the two. A sane mind can show empathy.

Posted by Karkarov

The problem with scientific studies into violence in America (perhaps world over) is their goal is not to find an explanation, their goal is to prove "that thing over there" is the cause. Once you study is determined to find a link between violence and video games all your research simply goes to proving that link which proves nothing. Hey look there was a school shooting, that kid played CoD, CoD is partly to blame! He also watched a syndicated episode of friends yesterday too is friends linked to violent behavior too? There is more than just a desire to find an answer as well, these studies are funded and paid for based on their ability to prove what they claim. It is literally in the best interest of the people doing the studies to make the study say whatever the people paying them want.

To quote a recent semi okay Robert Downey Jr. movie.... You are bending the fact to your theory instead of bending your theory to your facts.

This is why most scientific studies in the US are pretty much no more useful than toilet paper. They are driven by financial gain and in this case politics.

Posted by Slag

@Karkarov said:

The problem with scientific studies into violence in America (perhaps world over) is their goal is not to find an explanation, their goal is to prove "that thing over there" is the cause. Once you study is determined to find a link between violence and video games all your research simply goes to proving that link which proves nothing. Hey look there was a school shooting, that kid played CoD, CoD is partly to blame! He also watched a syndicated episode of friends yesterday too is friends linked to violent behavior too? There is more than just a desire to find an answer as well, these studies are funded and paid for based on their ability to prove what they claim. It is literally in the best interest of the people doing the studies to make the study say whatever the people paying them want.

exactly.

This is why most scientific studies in the US are pretty much no more useful than toilet paper. They are driven by financial gain and in this case politics.

well that may be an overstatement as some fields are more prone to this than others, but yeah it's a definite problem here.

Posted by boj4ngles

Awesome post jakob. I agree that violence in media is something we should not be afraid to talk about and in fact we need to be able to talk about if we are responsible gamers.

Here's my two cents: The problem is the mythological status that The Gun holds in American culture. There is a myth that any American can be a hero just by owning a gun and shooting it. This comes from the myths of our founding as a country and from all the mythology of the American West. As a cultural and mythological symbol, The Gun represents power, masculinity, authority and independence. Our own cultural subconscious tells us that anyone with a gun possesses these qualities contrary to reality. Thus when a person uses a gun for a violent act, they probably feel infused with these qualities. This is not to say that every act of gun violence is first and foremost an attempt to achieve these qualities (on the contrary I think most gun violence is committed for traditional, criminal motivations), but I think it is a factor in why people choose guns over other weapons. It is not a coincidence for example that men generally prefer a gun when committing suicide and women choose some form of poisoning.

Now this is an American problem. But it is also to some extent a video game problem as well because video games are a subset of American culture, and the most prominent manifestation of this is the FPS. I think that as gamers we tend to have trouble stepping back and objectively looking at some of the games we play. In an FPS, the player is a gun. You are a disembodied gun navigating a virtual world and exerting your influence over it by shooting. That is mostly all you can do, shoot. Power, masculinity, authority, independence. These are your qualities.

When I watched the news and saw the Aurora killer, and the Sandy hook killer, the Virginia Tech killer, and years ago when I saw Harris and Klebold, the reaction I eventually came to was that these men were creating a drastic and violent bid to take on those qualities. They even killed themselves rather than let police kill them, which seemed to be an act of authority in and of itself. They were the ones in charge and they were the only ones doing any killing. It is a perverted inversion of the American West mythology, where the hero has a final shootout.

Is the solution censorship? I don't think so. Are video games part of the larger gun culture in America? Yes. Do we as gamers have a responsibility to be a critical audience and to realize the cultural symbolism that our games are based on? Absolutely.

@AiurFlux said:

Freedom of Speech. So no we don't have to open this issue up. Games, movies, books, television, everything is protected under the First Amendment in the United States.

No, we do have to open this issue up.

Posted by Voshterkoff

@Mike76x said:

@jakob187 said:

With that said, there are plenty of studies that show the exact same results: playing a violent video game results in raised aggression. That is a game directly correlating to feelings and emotions in real life. Can we continue to deny the existence of that research forever?

Studies show competition results in raised aggression.

You beat me to it. Most violent games involve competition, PvP or PvAI. Cheering at a sporting event raises aggression, usually no violence on part of the sport.

Online
Posted by Voshterkoff

@boj4ngles said:

They even killed themselves rather than let police kill them, which seemed to be an act of authority in and of itself. They were the ones in charge and they were the only ones doing any killing. It is a perverted inversion of the American West mythology, where the hero has a final shootout.

Only where there is no real shootout, only slaughter with no real resistance. Your examples all took place in "gun free zones" which enabled the shooters to inflict the maximum number of casualties with little risk to themselves. I find far more fault in news media for giving these people the attention and coverage that they desire than the influence of violent games.

Online
Posted by boj4ngles

@Voshterkoff said:

@boj4ngles said:

They even killed themselves rather than let police kill them, which seemed to be an act of authority in and of itself. They were the ones in charge and they were the only ones doing any killing. It is a perverted inversion of the American West mythology, where the hero has a final shootout.

Only where there is no real shootout, only slaughter with no real resistance. Your examples all took place in "gun free zones" which enabled the shooters to inflict the maximum number of casualties with little risk to themselves. I find far more fault in news media for giving these people the attention and coverage that they desire than the influence of violent games.

Notice that I called it a perverted inversion, not a real shootout. Of course they took place in gun free zones against defenseless people. The killer wants authority. They want it to take place on their terms, not the police or anyone else's terms.

I don't think that they desire attention and coverage from the media. If they did then I think they would go the route of Lee Harvey Oswald, the Zodiac Killer or the Unabomber. Those killers wanted attention, they wanted the world to know the impressive deeds (in their sick minds) that they were committing. The mass shooters I referred to were suicides (although I guess Joker guy wasn't), so they didn't want attention. It wasn't about what other people thought or anything, it was about them and the manner in which they killed themselves.