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Do Violent Games Hinder Development of Empathy?

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the doth-not-the-zombie-weep dept.

Games 343

donniebaseball23 writes "Although there's yet to be a study that conclusively proves a direct causal relationship between video game violence and real-life violence, psychologists are continuing to examine the effect violent media can have on children. A new study in the Journal of Children and Media notes that violent video game exposure can actually hinder a child's moral development. 'Certainly not every child who continues to play violent video games is going to go out and perpetrate a violent act, but the research suggests that children — particularly boys — who are frequently exposed to these violent games are absorbing a sanitized message of "no consequences for violence" from this play behavior,' said Professor Edward T. Vieira Jr."

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"No consequences for violence" (4, Insightful)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35713928)

I believe that only a few of them would get that message. But even if they did, instead of having parents ban the games for the child, why don't they teach them otherwise and then let them play them?

Re:"No consequences for violence" (5, Interesting)

AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714026)

They're concerned with the varying percentage of kids whose parents won't take the time / know better to talk to them and give context, etc. Ideally, sure, all the world's parents would have a bit of guidance and insight for each of the things their kids see/hear/experience, but we know that's not the case.

I'm usually all-for telling parents to get their shit in order and to do a good job raising their kids, but going on about the ideal situation is to miss some valuable details about what effect these things have on development. We should accept the fact that many, many families lack parental guidance, and the results should be studied and understood.

Re:"No consequences for violence" (3, Insightful)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714060)

They're concerned with the varying percentage of kids whose parents won't take the time / know better to talk to them and give context, etc. Ideally, sure, all the world's parents would have a bit of guidance and insight for each of the things their kids see/hear/experience, but we know that's not the case.

I see. However, the number of children who would get such a message from a fictional piece of entertainment are few in number, I think. That number can be thinned even further if they have responsible parents. What you're likely left with is a few children who do get this message, but they are so few in number that they are likely not worth worrying about (well, in the sense that games should be censored or banned for children, anyway).

We should accept the fact that many, many families lack parental guidance, and the results should be studied and understood.

Then those families shouldn't have children.

Re:"No consequences for violence" (5, Insightful)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714262)

Perhaps a similar study or "side by side" study should be performed on basketball, baseball, soccer, hockey, and football.

Because, we all know hockey and football are the worst for anger issues, then soccer (if outside the US and Canada).

I will bet it will be higher percentages for physical contact sports. A PR term for "violent sport"

Re:"No consequences for violence" (4, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714384)

However, the number of children who would get such a message[...] are few in number I think

Exactly. "You think"!

And that right there is why its worthy of study. Lets actually find out how few in number it is.

Then those families shouldn't have children.

And the only way you get to enforce that is a policy of eugenics, forced abortions, and sterilization.

I may well agree that many people shouldn't have children, but I have no desire whatsoever to live in a society that actually tries to decide who and then enforces it.

Re:"No consequences for violence" (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714444)

And that right there is why its worthy of study.

Yes, it is. But, I just don't see how someone, even a child, could believe that something so obviously fictional is reality. I doubt even more that something 'terrible' would happen even if they did (but that claim has more statistical evidence to back it up).

Re:"No consequences for violence" (2)

japhmi (225606) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714500)

Yes, it is. But, I just don't see how someone, even a child, could believe that something so obviously fictional is reality.

Who said anything about the kids not understanding that it's not real in order to have an effect on them?

Re:"No consequences for violence" (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714574)

I suppose that no one did. However, based on statistical evidence, it does not have much of an effect on them at all. Perhaps some temporarily aggressive thoughts, but it almost always never goes beyond that.

Re:"No consequences for violence" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35714674)

By that logic, we can scrap ALL of children's TV programming and gaming everywhere forever unless it solely involves real people in real situations. Kids aren't stupid. They know that Dora is a cartoon, Sesame Street is full of muppets, and Barney is not in fact a real dinosaur. It doesn't mean they don't take the lessons they learn in those shows and apply them to real life. The same goes for violent video games. There is a massive difference between understanding that the MEDIA you are consuming is not real life and understanding that the LESSONS it teaches are not applicable in real life.

Re:"No consequences for violence" (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714702)

Yes, and many of them likely realize that they are not applicable. Many know that they do not want to hurt others in that way. Supposedly. According to statistics, anyway. We don't see too many children trying to apply violent video game lessons to real life, as far as I know.

Re:"No consequences for violence" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35714770)

But, I just don't see how someone, even a child, could believe that something so obviously fictional is reality.

All the wackos in world history killing for religion and you don't see how kids can get misaligned in the head because of video games. Nice. :)

Re:"No consequences for violence" (2)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714582)

I see. However, the number of children who would get such a message from a fictional piece of entertainment are few in number, I think. That number can be thinned even further if they have responsible parents. What you're likely left with is a few children who do get this message, but they are so few in number that they are likely not worth worrying about (well, in the sense that games should be censored or banned for children, anyway).

Even adults can get dumb messages they believe from entertainment. How many people pick up a fad they first saw on TV, or pickup lines, or political beliefs whether from news or from fictional storylines? To think that children are only effected is silly.

Yeah, the average person that sees Batman might think it's silly, but then someone can watch kick-ass and think "Maybe vigilantism really is okay" or something like that.

I don't think adults are more logical thinkers than kids or more immune to it necessarily, they just have more experience and recognition/fear of some type of consequences.

Re:"No consequences for violence" (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714646)

I don't think adults are more logical thinkers than kids or more immune to it necessarily, they just have more experience and recognition/fear of some type of consequences.

I agree, and that is why they should help the children whenever possible.

Re:"No consequences for violence" (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35714028)

My son went through a phase where he watched a lot of dysfunctional family shows like Family Guy and American Dad. After a while his personality started changing; he was angry, frustrated, snappish, and not really an asset to the family, very much like the characters on the show. We talked it over and he stopped watching the shows. Within a week he was back to being his "normal" self.

Say what you will, but young kids (my son was 9 a tthe time) are heavily influenced in their behavior by what they see on TV and do with video games.

I know a lot will argue that violent games don't have any impact on kids' behavior. This is slashdot after all. But as a parent, yes they do.

Re:"No consequences for violence" (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714134)

That's anecdotal evidence, but it doesn't matter to me. Are slight changes in behavior noteworthy? Education should suffice. Even if it doesn't, I don't believe that it's a reason to stop the children from viewing the fictional entertainment.

Re:"No consequences for violence" (2)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714214)

You have weird kind of values priority, being a functional member of a family is more important than viewing the fictional entertainment. A family cell is not a democratic environment, it is an autocratic one and it should stay that way.

Re:"No consequences for violence" (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714284)

being a functional member of a family is more important than viewing the fictional entertainment.

A "functional member of the family"? Anyway, as I said, I really doubt that the number of people who would change merely by viewing a fictional piece of entertainment is large at all. I also can't see any reason that someone would become angry, frustrated, or snappish by watching those shows.

A family cell is not a democratic environment, it is an autocratic one and it should stay that way.

For issues as small as this, why?

Re:"No consequences for violence" (2)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714578)

For issues as small as this, why?

according to anonymous he was : he was angry, frustrated, snappish. It is not what I consider small issue.

Re:"No consequences for violence" (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714634)

According to him, yes. But I'm having trouble believing that someone, even a child, can have those tendencies instilled within them merely by watching cartoons that have comedic value. Especially since there's no hard evidence that states that that actually was the true cause. Perhaps he changed merely because he didn't want anymore of his hobbies banned, or something such as that.

Re:"No consequences for violence" (0, Troll)

Skidborg (1585365) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714226)

Then I pray that you'll never have kids, and if you already have them, that they get away from you as soon as possible.

Re:"No consequences for violence" (2)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714300)

Why is that? Because I don't think that exaggerating the number of people who would change merely because of said fictional entertainment is very large, and therefore I don't think it's justified to ban the entertainment for kids? I just think that education is a far better solution than outright banning.

Re:"No consequences for violence" (3, Insightful)

KillAllNazis (1904010) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714216)

I can agree with this. Children are very impressionable of course and they are not very good at distinguishing fact from fiction. Parents probably sometimes forget this or view it as normal childish innocence, forgetting that a child can draw conclusions on other things based on their false knowledge and ideas seeded in formative years are of course persistent. Long running shows particularly become a fixture in the lives of children, and sometimes entire families. Disclaimer - This post based on limited personal experience.

Re:"No consequences for violence" (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714694)

I think we should start by banning /. users with "Kill All _" as their user names - surely such constant exposure to incitement to violence can't be good for the children!

Plenty of kids I knew growing up had strong tendencies towards violence and cruelty with no video games to blame that on. It's just a natural behavior that it's up to the parents to correct - fictional entertainment is pretty far down on the list of society's problems, really.

MOD PARENT UP (1)

martyros (588782) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714490)

+1 Informative

Design consequences into the game (3, Interesting)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714208)

Such as if you play a game and you play violently, maybe your enemy just attacks you harder, forcing you to be more tactical rather than just trying to rambo your way through the AI.

Also dying in a game should be a bit more painful. You lose all your gear and you start at the first level, thats how it was when I played growing up. They didn't have a "save" feature.

Because from the kid's perspective... (0)

quickgold192 (1014925) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714296)

Parents don't know anything; they're so out of touch with the way the world works today.

Parents may work for whomever (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714342)

A parent may work for a violent corporation that builds weapons to kill people, but expect that banning violent games will keep their kids from having violent thoughts.

The real world is a violent place, get used to it.

Re:Parents may work for whomever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35714572)

I work for a violent organziation and spend about half of my time looking for people to kill. I don't expect banning violent violent video games to change my children, but I do expect that teaching them empathy and consequences will make them much less violent people then my liberal neighbors who think that punishment and pain will scar their children, who demonstrate no empathy and currently suffer no consequecnes of their violent behavior. On the other hand, their approach gives them a lot more time to work, so they can afford his & hers & punk's BMW's. Probalby the lack of discipline that caused their punk to be fat, not food additives, but that might be my right wing opinion.

Re:Because from the kid's perspective... (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714358)

It's Spawning Induced Stupidity SYndrome.

Re:Because from the kid's perspective... (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714408)

Well, that may be true about more controversial issues, but I doubt they'd have trouble believing their parent if they merely claimed that a fictional piece of entertainment was fictional.

Re:"No consequences for violence" (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714346)

Pretty bad programming on the part of the video game story writer, I'd think. Seems to me that a much more fun game would have severe consequences for violence- if nothing else than those who live by the sword should die by it, quite often....

Re:"No consequences for violence" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35714404)

I agree with this. The reason children get that message is because parents aren't doing their job of instilling morals and values in their children. Personally, I wouldn't let my 6- or 7-year old (theoretically, I don't have kids yet) play a game rated T for Teen because pretty much any theme that shows up (be it sexual or violent, or even humor) is just inappropriate for a child of that age in most cases. Some kids are wiser than others and can separate games from reality on their own, others need guidance from parents to teach them, there's no hard and fast rule, but I'd rather err on the side of caution as the developmental years have some of the strongest impact. I'd much rather see my kids playing educational games at the age of 6 or 7, since it reinforces the idea that learning and doing well in school can be a fun and rewarding process. By the age of 10-12, I'd probably let them play games rated T if I reviewed it and talked to them about the messages in the game and how they differ from reality and why.

Honestly, the burden is on the parents to make sure their kids come out right, and it's not the fault of the video games themselves. Children experience school yard bullying and other things where the perpetrator goes unpunished in real life all the time, so the fact that it shows up in games is irrelevant, imho. The message that children take home from any stimulus is largely up to how it is explained to them. If there is no explanation provided, they're going to try and puzzle it out themselves, that's just how it goes. If you give someone a poem and ask them what the meaning is, they're going to come up with their own interpretation, but if you tell them what the interpretation is before they read it, they are far more inclined to agree with you (at least on average, there are some people that are just inclined to argue).

Kind of gives me an idea ;) (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714438)

You know, I was just thinking how you'd teach a kid that they're not supposed to do that. And then I look at the whole "no consequences for actions" idea again, and I'm thinking... as opposed to what? As opposed to their just needing to not live under a rock to notice that there are no consequences if a few bankers cause yet another bubble, and they even get to congratulate themselves and give themselves millions of dollars each in bonuses for a job well done, just as the government is taxing everyone else to bail them out? Getting to watch them give interviews to the effect of, "the computer is to blame! We just fiddled with the parameters (e.g., risk percentage) until the computer gave us the answer we wanted (yep, give money to no-income no-job applicants), and then only did what the computer told us, so we're not to blame"... and still keep their lofty posts and bonuses in spite just having admitted that they're too fucking stupid to even be trusted to tie their own shoes, much less handle the world's finances? Watching CEOs getting paid tens of millions and actually get bonuses, for driving a company into the fucking ground and selling it at bargain basement prices? Yeah, great message about personal responsibility and consequences for actions that gives.

Oh, wait, stupid me... that's only for the rich enough guys, isn't it? If as a shitkicker from Bronx you drive your finances into the ground, you get the collection agency at your door. You have to be too big to fail to get bailed and get a bonus.

So here's my plan: any violent game will have to have the protagonist be a multi-billionaire. Iron Man and Batman are still ok to make games about because they're loaded. Guys like The Punisher or the Postal guy or the humble delivery guy from Fallout New Vegas are, sad to say, out. The next Duke Nukem instalment (which probably will happen around 2085;) will have to feature a Duke who inherited a bank. Or an actual duke. Actually the latter would work for the next The Elder Scrolls too. Or for that matter, just make a game where Scrooge McDuck is mowing down gangsters. Seeing him dive into a vault full of money should drive the point home that whatever stuff he gets away with, is totally not the kind of stuff you get away with.

That should work, right? :p

Re:Kind of gives me an idea ;) (1)

xwizbt (513040) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714586)

This is so massively wonderful that its swollen gorgeousness drags on the ground like some over-eating ant who's been fed and subsequently produced 'yellow' without even knowing what the beardy bloke said. Go, girl...

Re:"No consequences for violence" (1)

Aldenissin (976329) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714466)

They study is likely done/pushed by those that oppose any or certain violent media. As with much "science" there is an obvious bias from the get go. Certainly what a child learns has an effect, this has been proven. Obvious even, that we can only do what we know, or build off of that. And you are right, they would be better off studying how to effect children in a positive way and allow video games to be merely an constructive outlet, than wasting time on studies that will continue be "inconclusive" or disagree with others since they aren't going into this with honest intentions. The rest of us that are smarter than the scientist are scratching our heads and going mad watching the idiocy.

Re:"No consequences for violence" (4, Interesting)

martyros (588782) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714480)

But even if they did, instead of having parents ban the games for the child, why don't they teach them otherwise and then let them play them?

Because we don't learn primarily through word of mouth instruction, but by example and imitation. Our subconscious learns things by inference, not by logical deduction. Inference comes from stories, example, and our behavior. When we act consistently with a belief (such as, "I'm not that interesting to people"), we tend to strengthen that belief.

I've definitely noticed this, for example, in watching movies. In the last year or so a friend of mine has been organizing "movie nights" for our group of friends about twice a month; and since I don't really care much about what kind of movie to see (it's more about hanging out and having a shared experience), and he really likes action flicks, we see a lot of action flicks -- where violence is really the only solution to most problems. I've definitely noticed a change in my gut reaction when I encounter aggressive behavior in real life.

Now, I think you're right, if a child is getting a moderate amount of violence in video games (a few hours a week), and is getting a lot of positive examples in other areas of life -- interaction with parents, friends, coaches, &c -- on the balance the video games won't really have that large of an effect.

But if there aren't many positive influences, it can go into a negative feedback loop. For example, say his parents are mostly absent, so he's a little more aggressive when playing with friends or playing sports. So most kids don't really like being around him, and his coach tells him he can't be on the team. So he ends up with mostly more aggressive friends (whom he doesn't really like either, but at least they put up with him), and not many rewarding things to do in his free time other than play violent video games. And if his aggressive friends are more likely to get him into other kinds of things... you see where this might go.

There's a lot in this example that went wrong of course -- parents who weren't really doing their job, the unlucky lack of an adult to step in and invest in him for the better, or the particular circumstances of the people at school. No one thing would cause all the badness; but it's not hard to see how violent video games could definitely contribute to the problem.

Re:"No consequences for violence" (0)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714554)

Because we don't learn primarily through word of mouth instruction, but by example and imitation.

Primarily or not, it's not that difficult to instill the idea that fictional pieces of entertainment are fictional in someone's mind. I've personally never had a problem with realizing that.

I don't care (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35713936)

Shut up or I'll punch you.

The sponsor is always right (4, Insightful)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714690)

Every sponsor of the study has its own angle on the issue, as such the result of the study is already predestine to prove the sponsor right. It's largely irrelevant what the result is as the result is pegged long before any data is collected or interpreted.

Studies that disproved their sponsors' views have ways of disappearing into unfunded abyss.

Violent or anonymous (1)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35713954)

Given the behavior I see in multiplayer games and forums, I'd say it's not violent content that destroys empathy.

It's anonymity and the lack of consequences for bad behavior.

Re:Violent or anonymous (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714172)

Given the behavior I see in multiplayer games and forums, I'd say it's not violent content that destroys empathy.

It's anonymity and the lack of consequences for bad behavior.

Considering the recent events in Afghanistan, I beg to disagree, in part. Lack of consequences, yes. If you can kill people under the orders of your church and with the tacit approval of the government of your country, that's surely an incentive to bad behavior.

About anonymity, I'm not so sure. There seems to exist people who enjoy broadcasting to everyone how obnoxious they are.

Re:Violent or anonymous (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35714322)

It's anonymity and the lack of consequences for bad behavior.

No, it's just bad parenting. With the correct upbringing, people won't try to destroy others' fun simply because they can.

Still, I doubt they believe there are no consequences for violence. The only people who can't distinguish real-life from computer games are these so-called researchers (ok, there may be some people with some weird brain disorder who can't see the difference either, but there shouldn't be more than a few of these).

Re:Violent or anonymous (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714518)

With the correct upbringing, people won't try to destroy others' fun simply because they can.

Sadly, this just isn't true. Some people are born assholes.

Re:Violent or anonymous (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714726)

A few fatal beatings will sort that right out.

Humans do not exist in a void... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35713982)

Ok, this one has really bugged me. Does anyone else think most studies like this miss a huge glaring point?

We don't live in a void. If you remove one form of entertainment, another will fill it's place. Throughout history our great entertainments, our plays, our songs, our stories, have had tales of battle and the glory to be won through conquest of our foes.

So while i feel it's obvious exposing people to violence alters their worldview, I want to see some data on how that compares to the other things that would normally be occupying their time if they weren't playing the violent game or watching the violent movie.

ya know, like how does playing cowboys and indians, vs soccer, vs football, vs violent movies, vs video games, vs read books like world war z and 1984.

Help us find the lesser evil! Because sorry, blowing stuff up will never be less cool.

Re:Humans do not exist in a void... (3, Insightful)

Skidborg (1585365) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714330)

The thing is, when you actually go outside with your friends and play swordfight or war, you learn a degree of empathy that you don't get from video games since you won't have anyone left to play with if you insist on actually harming people. With video games, there's an entire internet full of strangers for you to remorselessly frag/spawncamp/teabag so there's no reason to learn how to actually socialize with them or even consider them to be human beings.

Re:Humans do not exist in a void... (2)

lgw (121541) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714786)

The thing is, when you actually go outside with your friends and play swordfight or war, you learn a degree of empathy that you don't get from video games since you won't have anyone left to play with if you insist on actually harming people.

That's not how it worked when I was growing up (pre-computer-game). Instead, you learn that your gang needs to go bully someone weaker than you, so you can indulge in all the violence you care to, without consequence. Empathy? Some people enjoy hurting others - being there in person makes it better for the bullies.

another useless comment (3, Funny)

demonbug (309515) | more than 3 years ago | (#35713990)

Looks like Professor Edward T. Vieira, Jr. is in need of an ass-kicking.

Right after I finish clubbing this baby seal to death in Grand Theft Orca.

Or Maybe, (2)

Bobfrankly1 (1043848) | more than 3 years ago | (#35713996)

Maybe it's boys (and girls for that matter) that spend all their time playing video games (violent or not) and no time socializing. The lack of social interaction would hinder the development of empathy. How are you supposed to empathize, with "that which has no life?" (Oblig. southpark quote)

Re:Or Maybe, (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714200)

That thought has crossed my mind as well. I'm not sure how one would develop empathy if the limit to ones social life were even the old school Atari and NES games. They aren't particularly violent, but they don't provide any sort of basis for developing empathy either.

Ah but that IS part of empathy (0, Troll)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714452)

Part of showing higher intelligence and empathy is being able to empathize with that which has no life.

That the southpark makers cannot do this, is telling.

:)

What is the emotional state of the above? Of two symbols? How many immediately thought "happy face"? How can you think two symbols next to each other are happy?

A lower animal seeing another animal will feel next to nothing, it will register it is as either food, a mate, or a hunter. It does not have "emotions" about it. Higher animals do have some capacity for emotion. How far this goes is not a debate I want to get into today but there is some proof that some animals can become attached to other animals (including us) and regonize feelings, state of emotion, in that other.

We humans are so good at it, that we can even do it in object that really have no emotion one way or another. Cartoons are one of them. CGI characters in a game are another.

In the game Mafia, if you shoot somebody, they don't die instantly, instead they might get wounded and try to crawl away, begging for mercy. It is a very easy to believe animation. It ain't all that hard to act as if they are real. So you walk up to them, and still kill them for little to no motivation in game... why?

Because it is just a game? It ain't real?

That is what the various evil people out there claimed about their victims. Blacks are not real people so enslaving them is okay. Jews are only sub-humans so killing them is okay. Children are not real, so raping them is okay.

No vicious criminals has ever been found to have a high sense of empathy. Find yourself a killer in jail and you find yourself someone who pulled the wings of flies or set cats on fire and STILL cannot see what is wrong with it.

Empathy is what we human beings need to avoid being reptiles who happily eat their own young. It allows us to live in large groups because hurting someone else on purpose makes us feel bad so we don't.

What is kinda amusing is to see those who lack empathic skills is to defend their lack by attacking those who have empathy as being to soft. "Oh how could you cry when Bambi's mother was shot, it is only a cartoon". Yes, it is, and I am only human and humans do that. You don't, what does this make you then?

That this field of study generates such hatred among some gamers is proof enough in itself. It is well known that what the parent said is true, an animal that does not socialize is not socialized. The most obvious and common examples are cats. If a kitten does not get used to human interaction early on, it becomes a wild cat. Socialize, and it will not only live happily in a pack with humans but even with other cats. A social animal becomes social from interaction with others.

Do violent video games change this more then other ways of non-socializing? Consider this, a cat raised in a barn with barely any human interaction will still be less hostile to humans then an animal constently mistreated by humans. A barn cat will simply see humans as other animals that are to big to eat, don't hunt it and don't want to be mated with. Ignore and move on. A mistreated cat will see a hunter and seek to avoid.

Young children are NOT automatically nice responsible social creatures. Their interactions with the world around them, shapes them. This includes everything from the time spend with their parents, to advertizing, to video games.

Some kids play video games, and this shapes them. Some kids play ONLY violent video games and go out of their way to make them more violent. This shapes them. There are ways to play violent video games that makes any observer chill to the bone. When a player goes out of his way to be violent, take PLEASURE in killing that which has no life, then you got a disturbed mind.

BECAUSE IF A VIDEO GAME CHARACTER IS NOT REAL, WHY DO YOU DELIGHT IN HURTING IT?

It is here that the "violent video games have no effect" crowd often fails. If it doesn't make you feel anything, why do it?

There are some people who have mental disabilities that really do cause them to have a demonstratible lack of empathy. These people are NOT psycho killers by nature. While they cannot feel the pain of another, they also take no pleasure in that pain. They are neutral, not hostile to others. A person who truly cannot empathize with that which has no life, takes no action towards it. Why would you?

Only those that gain pleasure from killing, kill. And where is the pleasure in killing that which has no life? For those who walk up to the crawling woman in Mafia and kill her, there is fun in it, because they treat it as real. It is negative empathy and that is a whole other ball game then having some kids who just lack social skills.

Re:Ah but that IS part of empathy (1)

wolfsdaughter (1081205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714778)

I'd mod you up if I could

Public School (2)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714002)

I wonder what they would find if they ran a similar study of a semi-controlled environment filled with their peers with regular violence that was inconsistently punished rather than video games.

Bullying is worse. (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714228)

But they never make the connection that most violent adults were bullied as kids.

Re:Bullying is worse. (1)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714324)

How many violent adults played videogames as children? How about watched violent tv? Read a violent book? Baited a hook with a worm?

Oh, this again. (1)

Gavin Scott (15916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714010)

Personally I think violent TV is probably worse than violent games. Kids learn to behave by copying behaviors they see in other people, so when they see violence on TV it's a passive experience that may leave them wanting to try it out for themselves, to see what it feels like, etc.

In a game, they've already committed the violent act so perhaps there will be relatively less chance they will want to act it out in real life as they will have to some degree gotten the violent acts "out of their systems".

G.

And if they aren't rich preppy kids? (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714274)

And they live in a violent neighborhood? What good would any of this censorship do when they get to see people being shot and stabbed IRL?

Re:Oh, this again. (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714340)

"The concern arises when children are taking in this message and there is a convergence of other negative environmental factors at the same time, such as poor parental communication and unhealthy peer relationships."

These things don't happen in a vaccuum.
Science and world events undeniably show us that even the most stable individual will turn into a brutal sadist under the wrong conditions.

It's the parents, stupid.

No Studies? (2)

Grindalf (1089511) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714022)

I've read about quite a few studies in the media into causality between video game violence and criminal activities. They all said that there was none as I recollect. I wonder if there is there a purient reason why people must cast around to locate a brick to lob at video games (or television / film as used to occur in bygone eras). If you don't like video games, don't play them – that's the morally correct response as you are then not interfering with someone else’s property and personal boundaries.

A comment on Fark sums this up perfectly (5, Funny)

heypete (60671) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714030)

Fark user FloydA: I think if boys play this game, they will grow up to abuse women, in exactly the same way that I played Asteroids when I was young, and I grew up to be a triangle.

(said in regards to the "Capture the Babe" multiplayer level category in Duke Nukem Forever)

Re:A comment on Fark sums this up perfectly (4, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714264)

It's a valid point, you don't see people getting up in arms when it's a female protagonist beating or generally abusing male antagonists. I gave up watching most prime time TV because it was typical for the wives to behave like abusive bitches and for the husbands to more or less cower.

One has to wonder whether it's not as big a problem as is advertised or whether men just have that little value in modern society.

Re:A comment on Fark sums this up perfectly (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714504)

I grew up with quite violent video games, and I must say there is some truth to what these guys are saying - I may not want to go out on a rampage, but I sure am emotionally distanced from bad stuff. Granted, might just be a defect or lack of good care - or it may stem from games, but I sure as hell lack a lot when it comes to "normal" emotions.

Re:A comment on Fark sums this up perfectly (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714534)

Play Asteroids; Don't Be A Square.

I'm torn on this one (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714074)

I have a feeling that game violence desensitizes people to real violence, but it doesn't appear that stats back that up. However, I do know for a fact that entertainment violence produces a Hollywood impression of how violence goes down in real life; like bullet effects, injury stamina, etc.

Only games tho. (5, Funny)

dadelbunts (1727498) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714092)

Yes but only violent videogames. Other forms of media that depict violence such as movies, magazines, books, comics, and songs no. Actual violence no. Videogames yes. THEY ARE THE WORK OF ALAN TURING'S HOMOSEXUAL DEVIL MACHINE.

i don't know (1, Funny)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714094)

I don't know. Let me punch you in the face after I play GTA and I'll get back to you on how much I can empathize with how your broken nose makes you feel.

jesus may not have been god, may have been queer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35714114)

then he/she or it should have been killed violently? again, the trouble with part-non-fiction? bring it home for a moment with, say, us?

do we seek the truth?

do we really know how queer we are?

is all life more important than anything else?

do we hide our feelings for/hurt others?

are we always afraid of somethings we can't see, & the deception that we can see?

a little queer? jesus (or a nameless cave dweller?) could have been like us? all the same. line up.

jesus was god, not as queer as we are? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35714644)

looks like any way it was re-written, sub-deities & cave dwellers almost always get the ax. the violenter, the better?

Do Auto Manufacturer Ads Hinder +1, Informative (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35714128)

Safe driving [youtube.com] ?

Yes.

I am looking for a class action lawsuit against the automotive manufacturers!!!

Yours In Detroit,
Kilgore Trout

Probably (1)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714130)

Probably, but not as much as killing and torturing smalls animals. There is nothing like removing the skin of a living thing while keeping it alive to hinder a child's moral development.

BS, when you die it hurts. (2)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714180)

Even when playing a violent game as a child, I hated to lose the game or die and have to start over.

So when you die in a game it hurts. If they don't think it hurts enough then perhaps the punishment for death in the new games should be like it was in the old games. When you died in some of the old school games that was it, or you'd get 3 lives and after losing all 3 that was it, and you had to start from scratch to get back to where you were. So dying in a game meant something.

How did they test this? (1)

nzac (1822298) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714220)

I think that one aspect of violent games is that you lean to realise that the violence is fake (did not actually happen), even though is right in front of you. This can then be extended to all acting real actors. Of course less social interaction stunts growth as well. As for types of more types violence being acceptable to them this influence comes from all media they watch from the tv and internet as well.

If you show a bunch of (potentially very badly) acted out videos to them then ask them how they feel then i could defiantly see some differences.

The 'no consequence because you can try again' idea, i think is bullshit unless you are talking about some really thick kids. Generally i would think less real experience would make them more scared to try things.

I'm starting to think maybe (1, Insightful)

grapeape (137008) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714236)

For quite a while I was an advocate of the idea that since I've played games for years and it hasn't had an effect on me that its not an issue. However, one cannot ignore a drastic change in the behavior of kids today, empathy being one of the biggest changes I have noticed. I have witnessed some truly horrible things that have happened at my kids schools that simply didn't happen or were even thought of when I was young. I can remember when I was a kid shooting a bird with a bb gun, I felt so guilty about it that I don't think I ever used that bb gun again, but here in my neighborhood we had a couple of kids going around and killing pets repeatedly and after being caught they laughed about it.

One difference I have realized that I had ignored previously is that I didn't grow up with even semi realistic games, in fact when I was a small child games didn't even exist beyond pong, space invaders, etc...in fact the most violent games I can remember were things like death race and boot hill. While I know one of the popular arguments has been that movies, tv and books have depicted violence since their beginnings, but there is a big difference that I think is ignored. In other media the person perpetuating the violence is someone else, in modern games even if the character is visually on screen its still the player directing their actions. As adults we are able to separate fantasy from reality, for kids thats not so clear. While I would never advocate banning games, I do think that children can be far more susceptible to influence than we want to believe. It should be a parents job to mold and guide their children, I know that I try to, but many parents don't which brings up the dilemma of how to deal with it when parents dont do their jobs. The easy answer is to blame bad parents but that doesn't fix problem and society is still left to deal with it.

Society has less empathy for children. (2, Insightful)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714310)

As a result children have less empathy. Empathy isn't rewarded in society. Look at this society and tell me why you'd expect any other result besides less empathy from children?

Do the corporations have any empathy? So why expect it from children?

Re:Society has less empathy for children. (1)

grapeape (137008) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714350)

Thats a good point, parents, friends and family can help curb that and help develop good well rounded people, but until society in general steps up to the plate those who dont have a good structure around them are basically destined to fail.

Re:I'm starting to think maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35714388)

I have witnessed some truly horrible things that have happened at my kids schools that simply didn't happen or were even thought of when I was young. I can remember when I was a kid shooting a bird with a bb gun, I felt so guilty about it that I don't think I ever used that bb gun again, but here in my neighborhood we had a couple of kids going around and killing pets repeatedly and after being caught they laughed about it.

Kids have been going around killing pets for fun since before writing existed. I guarantee that there were kids, probably near you, that did that when you were young, you just didn't hear about it.

Re:I'm starting to think maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35714392)

Actually, the easy answer is blaming violent games and/or society. The games of your formative period were as they say, but the games of my formative period were rather violent, and yet, I have no trouble distinguishing between fantasy and reality. The argument remains, it's just that you've gotten old :) (I'll get off your lawn now :p)

Re:I'm starting to think maybe (1)

codazoda (2019440) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714528)

There is no solution to the problem of parents that "don't do their jobs". Banning one thing or another certainly won't help.

Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35714254)

Once again, what excuse did Hitler have? Or Charles Manson? Or the biblical Cain? Here in the states, I don't know if it is even possible for people to have less empathy than they do.

A better study (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714280)

"no consequences for violence"

Not in any game I've ever played. You take a level 1 trainee mage up against a "boss" dragon, you get turned into ashes. Not fun at all.

I think a better way to study the influence of violent video games would be to study attitudes in boys about sizing up the opposition, and estimating the oppositions abilities, having a plan for running for it, and sharing gossip with their buddies about the best way to beat the other kid.

I'm thinking there is no influence... Stories about my grandfather getting into fights as a little kid sound about like my sons stories, yet my grandfather was too young for video games by about half a century.

Typical boy fight for the last couple centuries or longer: "Well he said some $#%^ so I decided to whack him one to teach him a lesson and one thing led to another and next thing you know we're in the principals office getting disciplined"

Theoretical boy fight, when affected by video games: "Well I heard he drops phat loot and my buddy told me he's vulnerable to bludgeoning weapons and I need a defense against his poisonous spit, and I figured he's about a level 9 boy based on his STR and CON, and I'm about a level 10 boy based on my WIS and INT and CHA, so I figured I can take him pretty easily, and I got a cellphone-rune-of-recall if I need help, and a level 2 flask of bactine and a healers kit of bandaids, so I'm all good, I'm gonna camp his respawn point and get him when he steps off the school bus".

Pretty obvious which is more realistic.

Re:A better study (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35714710)

Theoretical boy fight, when affected by MMOs: "I'm bigger, stronger, and faster than this little kid and therefore I'm allowed to beat on him without consequences." Wait, that sounds about right for bullies doesn't it?

Your rhetoric is about the same as what religious people use to attack scientific research that is counter to their deeply held beliefs. It's hard to hold yourself to the same standard you hold them, isn't it?

How do they tell? (1)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714282)

Video games aren't the only thing that represents violence as a consequence-free and effective way to solve problems: TV has been doing that for a lot longer. Most children in the US are exposed to a lot of violence that is presented as good, or fun, or useful.

Empathy Version 2.30.3 unchanged (1)

moteyalpha (1228680) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714294)

I spoke to the devs and they say that violent video games will not change their code. In fact, they will continue to make Empathy the best IM client they can, even if it is used to coordinate attacks in WoW.

Fear Propaganda To Support Development of Empathy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35714302)

Fear Propaganda To Support Development of Empathy?

Yes... of course!

Usual Liberal Crap! (0)

barv (1382797) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714312)

Nowadays I barely have to read a source article to establish the likelihood that the latest "discovery" supporting a liberal issue is crap. Primus, the link is not to a scientific paper, secundus, there is no mention or hint that the "researcher" has eliminated self selection among the players of video games. Logic suggests that persons who had fewer issues with violence (perhaps because of their environment) would be attracted to violent games. Maybe this researcher should use his "U Beaut" test to compare "moral development" between different cultures in the USA? Or between the Arapesh and the Mugdugumor?

Liberal elite crap. (0)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714370)

Why don't they go to the slums, or to the prisons and talk to some liberals in there about whether or not banning violent video games or movies would have changed their life in a significant way.

Honestly, there are neighborhoods which are so violent that kids have to carry knives or join gangs to feel safe. Try telling that kid that banning violent video games and movies will make any difference. It will only make a difference to the kid going to the elite school with the elite parents.

Re:Liberal elite crap. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35714472)

Ironically, that kind of analysis makes you a marxist...

NO COMMA DAMMIT! (1)

hduff (570443) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714338)

THEY DO NOT!
NO!

Empathy is for sissies! (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714382)

Nuff said... and no, I've never played violent video games. The closest I've ever come to playing violent games was playing Quake 1 CTF for weeks and weeks almost 24/7 in college... but Quake isn't that violent... :p

Fools. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35714394)

Stalin, Hitler, and Mao all loved video games.

Why is this controversial? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35714396)

Garbage in, garbage out. Just like anything else. Children are influenced by what they experience. It's obvious.

Not that every kid who ever played a violent video game will grow up to be a violent thug, but that exposing children to anything influences their psychology and attitudes. No shit. Who would have guessed it? I mean, wow, that's some next-level stuff right there.

What's important to remember is that it's the day-to-day influences that effect kids the most. What they see their parents and peers do every day over and over again is what really messes them up or nurtures them in healthy ways. Video games effect kids (and anyone else who plays them), but they're really only "dangerous" to those kids who play a whole lot of games every day, all the time. Why is anyone arguing over this either way? Let's acknowledge the obvious facts so we can all move on and get down to the business of actually raising children.

No video games during the Crusades (1)

rjejr (921275) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714486)

Good thing video games hadn't been invented during the Crusades or violence may have broken out.

Society (1)

Bensam123 (1340765) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714498)

That really depends on what else that 'child' is being fed while he's growing up. If someone grows up in an environment with absolutely no empathy they will have little tolerance or understanding for it. If a child is already in a bubble devoid of any normal interactions, they will obviously skew towards what they know best. A healthy look at feral children who grow up in an enviornment completely devoid of social interaction is all the proof you really need. There are plenty of famous psychological studies done around this as well. A violent video game could easily be countered (for the children that don't know better) by telling the child that they love him and they shouldn't do those things in real life.

Society isn't responsible for raising children. Violent video games are no different then growing up around the typical violent movies. People in midevil, roman, and greek days grew up around violence as well (especially REAL war). They built empires and eventually reached the Renaissance era even after midevil days. This is just another jump on the violent video game bandwagon.

No but.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35714622)

Reptilian genetics do.

Meh. (1)

TerryT (2032892) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714660)

I always have my doubts about crap studies like this....No real details are given. Info on the children should be mentioned as well, do they come from divorced homes? How about homes where the parent's don't interact with the kids on much more than a "have to" basis? Where do the kids come from, an "inner city" environment or rural areas? What kind of interaction do the kids get beside playing the video games? Is there structured "family time" there or merely leaving the kids to their own devices? More of the issue actually comes from "parents" using a device like a video game to pass for entertainment rather than actually doing something with the kid, pitching around a ball or going for walks. There's just way too damn many variables to consider before a real valid opinion can be formed, as it stands this is little more than an "it would appear that" piece. The only thing that bugs me are people who are "against" games reading stuff like this and yelling "See!"

I have a fix ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35714682)

Dont let children play violent games and give me my R18+ category. Problem Solved.

awwww you poor gamers have no empathy! (1)

Cyko_01 (1092499) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714698)

hey, you did it to yourself. I don't feel bad for y--

hmm, they might be on to something

Yes I would feel great sympathy for zombies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35714724)

If there were any zombies!

some children are suggestible (1)

bugi (8479) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714746)

In other news, studies suggest that some children are more suggestible than others. This correlates with, among other variables, the degree of parental involvement in rearing the child.

What say we focus on identifying at risk children and make sure their parents have the tools to handle this special case?

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