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Neuroscience May Cure Videogames Industry's Obsession With Guns

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the stanley-kubrick-presents dept.

Games 254

An anonymous reader writes "Leading developer Chris Stevens tells Edge magazine that neuroscience researchers will soon find 'non-violent triggers to mimic the rush of pleasure gamers feel when firing guns.' Researchers can now use functional MRI scanners to monitor what is going on in a player's brain and search for more optimistic and non-violent pleasure triggers. 'For decades it's as if developers have been driving a car with no speedometer,' Stevens claims, referring to the reliance on reported emotions rather than empirical measurements in game development. The functional MRI now gives a much more accurate indication of when peaceful triggers light up the brain's pleasure regions, opening up alternative game designs, without crude weaponry. 'I would like to see many more beautiful games like Fez and Limbo,' Stevens says. 'When I was a kid, games were more beautiful and magical and immersed you in fantastical, peaceful and enjoyable landscape.' The functional MRI could make these peaceful titles provably superior — no mean feat in a mass-market games industry currently obsessed with the crude dopamine-triggering effects of simulated weaponry."

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Misread the title (5, Funny)

TheInternetGuy (2006682) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746395)

I misread the title as "Neurosurgery may cure videogame industry obsession with guns".
Now I must admit to being slightly disappointed.

Re:Misread the title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40746423)

if only slashdot had a joke plagiarism filter.

Re:Misread the title (2)

TheInternetGuy (2006682) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746453)

if only slashdot had a joke plagiarism filter.

Why did the Anonymous Coward cross the road?

Re:Misread the title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40746491)

Trepanation! Always a good choice for the financially inept.

Re:Misread the title (2)

hawkinspeter (831501) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746595)

I need that like I need a hole in my head

Re:Misread the title (2)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746773)

Good News!

Re:Misread the title (1)

kermidge (2221646) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746499)

If this research is done and shows what Stevens thinks it might, I'd be open to developers applying it if they were candid about doing so. My fear would be if it works and could be applied in advertising, political rhetoric, and incorporated into television news and shows.

Re:Misread the title (4, Insightful)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746513)

My fear would be if it works and could be applied in advertising, political rhetoric, and incorporated into television news and shows.

Too late.

It's called "propaganda".

Strat

They've already invented that (4, Funny)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746403)

non-violent triggers to mimic the rush of pleasure gamers feel when firing guns.

It's called an orgasm, produced by a hand motion similar to squeezing a trigger. You typically fire one of these at a simulated woman in place of firing a gun at a simulated bad guy to get your rush of endorphins. There's actually quite a thriving industry on the internet involved in this gameplay, so I'm not exactly understanding what the scientists hope to achieve.

Re:They've already invented that (4, Funny)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746479)

It's called an orgasm, produced by a hand motion similar to squeezing a trigger.

You really need to get out of your mother's basement more often and find out by personal experience why there are two sexes.

Yiff! (5, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746627)

You really need to get out of your mother's basement more often and find out by personal experience why there are two sexes.

Only two? Pffft. You obviously haven't seen my browsing history.

Re:They've already invented that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40746981)

Listen, I'm kind of busy here. Can't you just tell us why? You seem to know about the subject matter and I really don't want to get away too far from my buckling-spring keyboard.

Re:They've already invented that (4, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#40747193)

You mean the two sexes are not "left" and "right"?

Indeed. Oryx and Crake came to mind (1)

Burz (138833) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746489)

When I read the summary I thought "what would compete with guns would be pr0n".

Re:They've already invented that (3, Funny)

guttentag (313541) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746559)

non-violent triggers to mimic the rush of pleasure gamers feel when firing guns.

It's called an orgasm, produced by a hand motion similar to squeezing a trigger.

Developers have already come up with a video game that simulates the excitement of violence without guns. It's called Angry Birds.

Interestingly enough, it is a fair approximation of this orgasm thing you mentioned:
"Aww... How the hell am I supposed to hit that when you don't even give me a clear shot at it?! You want me to get creative on your ass?! Bounce it off the what now?" (thirty minutes later) "I hit it?! Bam! That's what I'm talking about! Now I'm just going to do my little dance and act like I knew what I was doing all along. I'm ready to take this to the next level! Hey, I need to buy something to continue? I'm just getting started."

Re:They've already invented that (1)

Krokus (88121) | more than 2 years ago | (#40747185)

Bejeweled 3's Diamond Mine game variation does it for me. No guns, just lovely, lovely gems that explode in such a satisfying way. :)

Just Diamond Mine, though. All the other game variations blow.

Re:They've already invented that (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40746577)

Your proposed gaming cafes would be quite interesting places.

Re:They've already invented that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40746755)

Solution: having orgasms with the bad guy?

Irony? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40746409)

Anyone else think there is a subtle irony in the fact the chap that killed 14 people in the Batman movie in america was studying neuroscience.

This obviously wasn't his thesis.....

Re:Irony? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40746567)

Yes, that was my first thought too. Badly timed methinks.

Re:Irony? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40746771)

If I can't have my shooting spree on the pc, let's go to the movies.

Re:Irony? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#40747059)

Makes sense... Who makes better guineapigs for controlled studies than your own grad students?

Lame (4, Interesting)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746413)

A good lot of videogames are not about guns or even about fighting. Those that are about that, unless they're SF or fantasy-based, should strive to have the most realistic experience as digitally possible but there is no substitute for the firing range. And anyway, games are about competition so "peaceful" is a four-letter word here. Take your hippy theories and fire them up your bunghole with an Angry Bird slingshot, loserboy.

Re:Lame (4, Interesting)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746591)

And anyway, games are about competition

Not necessarily, unless you include "competition against yourself to have more fun" which you could apply to anything if you stretched it far enough.

Re:Lame (3, Insightful)

FTWinston (1332785) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746893)

Those that are about that, unless they're SF or fantasy-based, should strive to have the most realistic experience as digitally possible but there is no substitute for the firing range.

Surely they'd be better off striving to have the most enjoyable experience possible? Especially if you say that they'd still be "no substitute." A sniper game that involves hiding in the one place for 2 days straight, for instance, may be realistic, but why would anyone want to play it? Give me TF2 any day.

Re:Lame (4, Interesting)

vivian (156520) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746961)

One of the most memorable games from my youth was an RPG called Ultima IV. In the previous games in the series, you just stole all the gold and levelled entire friendly towns for profit, once you got strong enough - no consequences.

In Ultima IV however all of a sudden there were consequences for mis-deeds. you could still lie, cheat, steal, and lay waste to the friendly citizens, but there were in-game consequences that cost you. Of course a central theme to the game was to become virtuous, but I think more games could do with some of these mechanisms - allow free action still, but make it have consequences.

BUT DOES IT RAG-DOLL ?? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40746417)

I want to see them fall down like the kommie-kraut-ayrab-pakistani-personresponsibleforwin8 they are !! There is no substitute fot the rag-doll effect !! Don't care about red blood and guts !! Just get me more rag-doll !!

Interesting (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40746419)

Really. I would have thought (not being up to speed on the latest in neuroscience) that we know of large numbers of things that stimulate and enchant us, and that one big reason video games seem to follow the simulated fantasy warfare model in their multitudes is that it's a proven money-maker, and coming up with new concepts that you can either develop on your own or find the resources to develop is a very hard creative endeavour that awaits the right people to bring to fruition.

If it's just a matter of identifying which brain loci can be triggered with other stimuli, then I'll have all that data on my rss feed so I can inform and update my educational video-game efforts.

Already been done. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40746443)

You can't take the gun out of games, but you can make the gun non-violent. Take Portals for example. It's an extremely fulfilling game with a gun, that doesn't kill anyone.

The reason why players enjoy game have gun that kill other characters so much might stem from the fact that we as a society know that in real life they kill. Therefor we turn to shooter games to play the hero, and save the people from the evil terrorist, and not harm a soul in real life doing it.

Try all you want but the fact of the matter is, guns are part of the gaming culture and an even bigger part in story telling. That is untill something more harmful and destructive comes along.

Re:Already been done. (2)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746635)

Take Portals for example. It's an extremely fulfilling game with a gun, that doesn't kill anyone.

Small nitpick: I doubt I'm the only one that has fun picking up turrets, using them as a shield, and tricking his buddies into shooting him up.

Re:Already been done. (2)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746785)

Thus fulfilling the inner hostage-taker and human shielder in all of us.

Re:Already been done. (4, Insightful)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746647)

You can't take the gun out of games, but you can make the gun non-violent. Take Portals for example. It's an extremely fulfilling game with a gun, that doesn't kill anyone.

The reason why players enjoy game have gun that kill other characters so much might stem from the fact that we as a society know that in real life they kill. Therefor we turn to shooter games to play the hero, and save the people from the evil terrorist, and not harm a soul in real life doing it.

Try all you want but the fact of the matter is, guns are part of the gaming culture and an even bigger part in story telling. That is untill something more harmful and destructive comes along.

Guns are inextricably linked with First Person Shooter games, for am extremely obvious reason.

Your error lies in assuming that the only game genre is FPS.

Re:Already been done. (1)

cyclomedia (882859) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746659)

And yet when I try to tell people how good the Portal games are they say "But there's no one to shoot, sooo booringgg"

Also, Mirror's Edge. I've played through it a couple of times (Where's the Sequel already!?!?!) without shooting any cops. Just seems wrong and out of character.Though on the other hand I think there should have been less fighting and more tomb raider in that game.

Maybe I'm just too neurological

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40746451)

For science? A noble goal, but it isn't as if this is necessary (for science!) or that there are any problems with violent video games.

This is not neuro-science (5, Informative)

LittleImp (1020687) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746457)

All people want is some false sense of achievement. There are literally thousands of games that do this without guns. And do so successfully.

"no mean feat in a mass-market games industry currently obsessed with the crude dopamine-triggering effects of simulated weaponry" -- This quote just shows another person knowing absolutely nothing about the gaming market, but having an opinion on how to "improve" it anyway.

But Guns are easy (1)

maweki (999634) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746467)

The mouse and the gamepad are very good to simulate 3D-Dimensional motion, as are the Graphics Cards. Having a game that works with space is easy because it is modelled after reality.
So having a game around the notion of moving things through space at a specific target is an easy concept. Acquiring control over said space through excertion of force is easy to grasp as well.

I think there was an article on RPS some time ago that talked about how the video game controls are specifically suited to manipulate a world physically instead of emotionally or through dialogue. And what better physical interaction is there than punching?

Probably Won't Upend Shooters (1)

mentil (1748130) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746475)

If someone actually does the research to find what game mechanics are the most pleasurable, that likely won't lead to other games usurping shooters as being the genre that publishers feel safe pumping $50 million into each.
It's also not just a matter of the intensity of pleasure, but also the frequency. If a shooter is very pleasurable when you're shooting things, but a puzzle game is only very pleasurable when you solve a puzzle, then you get more pleasure per minute from shooting.

Those making manipulative 'social games' who have studied psychology to understand how people feel rewarded already understand this (in theory), and have made games with a variety of methods of pleasing the player. It will probably be found that the theory matches the results of the experiments. This means instant rewards, periodic rewards, sparse rewards, novelty, and different game modes.

What would be interesting is to use fMRI to figure out why certain people consider a game fun and others don't. Then, those elements which prevent people from enjoying your game can be alleviated so that the game's audience can be widened. The trick is doing this without dumbing the game down, of course.

Re:Probably Won't Upend Shooters (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746685)

Those making manipulative 'social games' who have studied psychology to understand how people feel rewarded already understand this (in theory), and have made games with a variety of methods of pleasing the player. It will probably be found that the theory matches the results of the experiments. This means instant rewards, periodic rewards, sparse rewards, novelty, and different game modes.

If you think FPS games aren't equally manipulative, you're dreaming.

Swords ! (5, Insightful)

Jesrad (716567) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746481)

I'm reasonably sure they can safely and successfully replace "shooting guns" with "swinging swords" and other bladed weapons. Remote-control explosives, lassos and whips, Force-lightning and gravity-guns would probably also work. I'm unsure about their untold, implicit objective though, but then, science is about testing hypotheses, and not fulfilling fantasies about human nature - now that's what simulation video games are for !

For decades it's as if developers have been driving a car with no speedometer

Well of course the game designers wouldn't need external measuring tools, not when their own brain can tell them what they, themselves, enjoy playing. Apparently they found out on their own that the most efficient way for getting "crude dopamine-triggering effects" was "simulated weaponry".

I'll even go out on a limb and say that the researchers will find "triggering peaceful-triggers" is best done by solving puzzles that are challenging but not out of reach, repeating a timed sequence of memorized or interpreted actions to a sufficiently close match of a model (like, say, jumping through perilously placed platforms) and the sort of things that have spawned entire casual videogame genres.

Re:Swords ! (4, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746523)

Apparently they found out on their own that the most efficient way for getting "crude dopamine-triggering effects" was "simulated weaponry".

Real weaponry is an efficient way of getting "dopamine triggering effects," thus my obsession as a teen with archery.

--
BMO

Re:Swords ! (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746701)

Apparently they found out on their own that the most efficient way for getting "crude dopamine-triggering effects" was "simulated weaponry".

Real weaponry is an efficient way of getting "dopamine triggering effects," thus my obsession as a teen with archery.

-- BMO

You can get quite a high from real life violence without weapons too, like joining in a riot and beating rivals to death with your fists and boots. That doesn't mean it's a good or clever thing.

Re:Swords ! (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746737)

but it does mean that you could have a very 'rewarding' career wearing blue uniforms and carrying weapons of destruction and torture.

Re:Swords ! (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746765)

>Archery == Senseless violence

Okay.

Plonk.

--
BMO

Re:Swords ! (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746979)

Real weaponry is an efficient way of getting "dopamine triggering effects," thus my obsession as a teen with archery.

Mine was racing. So was many others at my highschool, geekdom comes in many flavors oddly enough, and plenty of us liked computers as cars. Going down to the track, and racing in 1/4 mile stretches, then tinkering like hell for the following weekend. Was just as much fun as fun as going to someones house and having a LAN party weekend, and playing Doom and Quake.

To be honest, this entire thing just stinks. Unless they're going to remove or try and "fix the world" so the high is only in "carefully controlled environments, I can't see the point. I've gotten the dopamine high, back when I could run. When I could climb rock walls, when I fractured my upper back. Though the last one was unintentional, it was doing partial situps. Fair warning, they can seriously screw you up.

Re:Swords ! (5, Insightful)

BoogeyOfTheMan (1256002) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746539)

Reading the summary, (no I didnt RTFA), it seems like they have forgotten that before video games, kids played cops and robbers. And before that, cowboys and indians. And before guns were invented, they played with toy swords. Sure there are other non violent games, ones involving a ball, hide and seek, tag, hopscotch, etc. But for centuries, kids have played violent games. Could it possibly be that humans enjoy a make believe violent fantasy? Nooooo, its the game developers not knowing a better way....

There are already plenty of games that dont involve guns and/or violence. Music games, puzzle games, sim games, racing games, sports games. Like the poster above me said. We already have what they are trying to do. Its just that the violent ones tend to be more popular

Re:Swords ! (4, Insightful)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 2 years ago | (#40747085)

There are already plenty of games that dont involve guns and/or violence. Music games, puzzle games, sim games, racing games, sports games. Like the poster above me said. We already have what they are trying to do. Its just that the violent ones tend to be more popular

Don't lie. Dance Dance Revolution doesn't exist and neither does Need for Speed. And Tetris was just a lie to make the Soviet Union appear harmless. All games involve shooting guns as their only gameplay element.

And before video games came out children were always well-behaved, played wholesome contact-free team sports and got their rushes of pleasure discussing classical literature and working out how to best advance society once they would be old enough to do so. Then computers appeared and it was non-stop Doom.

Not just humans (3)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#40747251)

As I noted in another post: Get some animals together, see how they play. A big part of it is play fighting. They wrestle, chase, chew and so on. Many of their actions are the precise same ones they take when actually hunting or fighting, they just are gentle with it.

For example many cats (which is what I've owned the most of) like to chew on your hand, grip your arm with their front paws, and pick it with their back paws, while laying on their back (often while purring up a storm). This is what they do in combat, just with more force and claws out. They try to bite the neck/face of the other cat and use the back claws to disembowel their opponent.

How they fight and hunt relates to how they play. You see this all over nature. Thus you start to think maybe this is not coincidence, maybe there's an evolutionary reason that play mimics combat. Also you start to realize that humans are not unique in this regard, just more complex in our kinds of play.

Re:Swords ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40746807)

If the goal is just to create something that also create enjoyment, they can just take any other form of gameing. The requirement need to be to mimic the ease and intuitive game of simplistic shooter game.

It looks like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40746485)

One anonymous reader needs to sit down for a spell and drink some tea to calm his or her nerves.

Neuroscience=quasiscience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40746487)

They don't know what they're doing, they just put some electrodes on your head and try to explain what they see : )

Ignorance (4, Insightful)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746497)

I find it quite amusing that their "solution" to violent video games is Limbo.

They obviously never stepped one foot into that world. If anyone got through that game without being impaled or decapitated at least a dozen times, I would be very impressed.

Re:Ignorance (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746561)

I bet they love mario and it's stomping on things. and shooting fireballs.

they'll just replace the projectiles with other projectiles. what's the difference between a nerf gun fps and a normal fps? just graphics. estimating how projectiles fly gives satisfaction, that much was already known anyways.

and journey.. goddamn pfft. do they want really us to go comatose?

Re:Ignorance (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40747081)

they want to solve "guns" not "violence".

Re:Ignorance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40747169)

Or blasted to bits by a chain gun for that matter.

Re:Ignorance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40747187)

Yeah but it is arrrrtsy and deeeeep, even better, it is raw.
Obviously none of these can ever be violent, a lion gutting a sheep is just natural and raw, not violent.
And obviously I am being sarcastic.

"Violence" can be found in almost any game, unless they are pure exploration, puzzle, quiz and things like that.

As long as these people aren't going around killing people, why the complaining?
Its not like all this shooting is new or anything, there are likely less shooting games in percentages than there were back in the days of the arcades and so on.
Back then it was typically shooting, fighting or racing. Then a few odd ones in between such as virtual bowling, tennis or train simulator.
Even the racing, if it was multiplayer, was typically pretty hectic as people crashed in to each other being all kinds of scrubby to try and throw people off course. (don't get me started on racing games that are so pretentiously non-violent because they don't want their pretty cars being banged up...holy hell how 10 of them)

Violent people be violent. Anything can bring this up. Even something completely harmless can turn someone violent.
These people are easy to identify early on and "fix" them, make them realize that violence isn't the way to go about things.
That alone will work more than 90% of standard people who are violent throughout life, and by that I mean people who go out and get smashed and end up in fights all the time, or gang mentality and other idiocy like that.
That other 10% need more serious help, possibly even medication, to suppress possible violence.
But why bother, parents job, etc. Nobody wants to fund helping society in general, everyone is so selfish now.

Re:Ignorance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40747259)

Actually, not to read to much into it, all of Limbo seemed to be about someone who had attempted suicide and was trying to make their way back to the living. There are bodies hanging from trees, and bloated bodies floating in the fetid waters. That's the non-violent game he wants to see more of?

A car without speedometer (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746511)

And in this case, the speedometer is...

The functional MRI now gives a much more accurate indication of when peaceful triggers light up the brain's pleasure regions, opening up alternative game designs, without crude weaponry. So, fix your < $100 car (i.e game) with... someone remind me, please... how much for a "functional MRI" speedometer? ('cause, I s'ppose, each driver is be different, thus the speedometer would read something else)

Re:A car without speedometer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40746573)

Speedometer?! I don't need no stink'in speedometer! I just need to go faster than everyone else!

Neuroscience, heal thyself (1)

petsounds (593538) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746537)

This is just a BIT ironic, or at the least bad timing, considering the Colorado shooter was in grad school for neuroscience.

Neruologically perfect gaming? All for it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40746545)

But let's not forget, you could use it to make the FPSs more fun. I still think if you were to engineer the perfect video game neuron by neuron, you'd still end up with Quake III.

But what will cure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40746563)

But what will cure researchers obsession with political correctness?

These researchers need to try to be more like this guy [youtube.com]

Gamers: Not the NRA's core demographic? (1)

XiaoMing (1574363) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746569)

Remove just the word videogames, and imagine how much ridiculous NRA'esque rhetoric we could expect to see (even here on /.) about how "they" (big brother, gov't, democrats, Obama etc.) are literally trying to brainwash us and take away our rights!

Limbo (1)

tw3lv3 (2141250) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746579)

1. I would prefer if these scientists "cure" peoples obsession with guns - in general. 2. Anyone who calls Limbo a peaceful game hasn't played it any longer than 5 minutes (great game, but peaceful? no.)

Fez? Really? (0)

twocows (1216842) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746581)

I realize this is off-topic (mod me down if you must), but I think it's important. Bad indie developers continue to receive a free pass, and it's something that bothers me intensely because it marginalizes good indie developers.

I don't like Fez, and I don't want to see more games like it. To start with, Fez borrowed heavily from a much better game (Cave Story) by a game designer who isn't a complete jerk (Phil Fish makes me embarrassed to call myself a gamer). And while Cave Story felt like it had a point, moving the player forward toward some sort of ultimate conclusion, Fez meandered about doing not much of anything. Playing it feels like a chore. There's no challenge involved because death is meaningless (you respawn at the last patch of solid ground you were on with no negative consequence) and all there really is to do is collect stuff that feels meaningless while exploring its blocky, unoriginal, and uninspired world. Adding to the feeling of being a cheap knockoff game is the fact that Fez takes advantage of a gimmick that has been done much better in several other games (the perspective shift mechanic was most likely ripped off of Super Paper Mario, a game which came out in the same year as Fez began development).

Some of the indie crowd seems to think Fez shines most in the exploration aspect (like the author of the story here most likely does). But what fun is exploring when there's nothing interesting to see? See, Fez uses what a lot of indie developers are terming "retro style graphics" and what I think would be better termed as "lazy graphics." When I think back on the games from my childhood, I remember them having fantastic graphics that made really interesting worlds in the constraints of some highly limited technology. Look at what Sonic the Hedgehog did on the 16-bit Genesis. There's a game with some interesting art direction. Even in games constrained to 8-bit, you have some classics like Megaman and Final Fantasy that had some really interesting art direction and some varied and colorful settings that really felt alive. One of my favorite games as a kid was an NES game called Faxanadu, a game about a world decaying because the world tree had been corrupted (if I remember correctly). The art direction in that game was fantastic; the outside world really felt like it was drying up and dying, while the inside world felt like something evil had taken ahold.

I understand independent game developers are usually teams of only several people, but that doesn't excuse the downright laziness present in much of the indie community. For example, take VVVVVV. I felt like the designer released an unfinished game. The graphics looked like one man designing an Atari 2600 game. While the core gameplay was solid (if somewhat unoriginal) and the music was good, the game overall felt sloppy because of the poor artistry and I was left disappointed. Contrast that with Braid, which had some of the best art direction I've seen in an independent game. The core gameplay was solid there, too; it really felt like a finished game, a vision of a world by someone who had something of worth to say. I want to see more games like that. Not games like Fez, where the only reason it sold was because the developer had a big head and rode the hype train to cash town.

Non-violent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40746585)

But games ARE a non-violent alternative. Well, except for Wii-games, but those can be made non-violent with some simple safety tips, like always having the left-handed person standing on the left, and the right-handed person standing on the right.

why use games? (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746587)

So if they've identified pathways they want to target and have some good fMRI evidence of what's going on, why use games as the drug delivery mechanism, instead of a more conventional method?

this is retarded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40746601)

personally i think guns are shit "irl" but who cares about in video games. are you going to telling me smashing things with a giant hammer in diablo should be replaced with something "nicer" too? spare me the bullshit.

Game Mechanics & Story (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40746611)

This is not an obsession with guns but simply a question of game mechanics and story.

A game must deliver two things:
a) the player must be able to "do" something for a long time (hours for a game).
b) there must be some sort of threat or excitement in the story. Something you must overcome or else why play?

In a) and b) it becomes obvious we are not talking about casual games here. Many casual games have a simple non-shooting mechanic and no story or explanation at all ("Just solve those box-riddles, will you?". This works to keep someone interested in a game for an hour, maybe two but then it gets boring. The story is no motivation ("I just helped all smiley-balls and evaded the mean red boxes") and the game mechanics come to an end as well (the three variations are done to death).

For a):
You need a mechanic that is relatively easy to create. You can code it with 5 programmers in three to six months and let them finetune it for the next 12. You cannot have a level of variety in your game. So the same set of basic mechanics must be repeated over and over.
Having a mechanic to swing a sword and shoot a gun at various enemies would be an interesting start. If you go beyond that, it becomes quickly less and less than you can do. You can throw balls at people, shoot them with an arrow, with a gun, with an energy blast... games use violence because it's one of the few concepts that holds for hours.
You create the shooting mechanism, then enemies and spawn those in various environments and setups as repetition of the basic principle.
The available "basic principles" games had in the earlier days are not available today anymore, as we'd consider many of them for casual gaming (classic jump and runs etc).

For b)
You need a threat for a good story that is beyond what people usually do in their lives. A game that is about getting the last onion (you need it for your food) in the shop before some old grandma snatches it is not interesting for a game that needs to entertain you for hours.
You need a threat above that. Something that threatens what your are, maybe the entire world and you with it. If you are threatened, then the usual response is running away (there can be two, three games that do something like that) or fighting. Boom, you are at violence again.

Games do use "guns" (swords, magic, whatever) as a mechanic simply because it's a very simple and one of the few ways to blend a) and b) into each other.

As closing notes: I do find guns in games not problematic at all. I find it problematic if military action is seen without any critique or even is heroised. But in itself, shooting at people in games is not worse than throwing bubble gum balls at those evil green monsters.
The context how those guns are used matters much more than the guns itself, and in all honesty, in all but the most extreme cases this is a non-issue as well.

Apart from that: games do not focus that much on guns. There are a lot of games out there that do other things (swords, for example ;)). There are many, many MANY games that do not focus on guns (in some do guns appear, but I guess the people talk about shooters here; a blaster in a Star Wars RPG isn't what I'd call a "gun game"). The gameworld does not consist of "gun games". The layout of this link sucks, but check out how many of those top ten lists have less than 50% gun games: http://www.filibustercartoons.com/games.htm
There also are games that have guns, but that really are not about them. As DeusEx or something. I would not put that in the same gun-category as for example Battlefield (which is about using your guns at people).

The people here overlook this. And I think the REAL question is "Why are they overlooking it?"

If it's not on purpose, it's because they are biased. They wanted to find red cars in the traffic and therefore found a lot of red cars in the traffic and did not notice all the other colours. In that case their findings are useless.
Or they did it on purpose and then ignoring them is even more important.

there was a time in the early 1990s (2, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746615)

where i played hours and hours of 'DOOM' day after day

i did not turn into a massacring monster. the worst thing on my record is a speeding ticket. i am nonviolent

in fact, i am for much stricter gun control in the USA. the second amendment was written before semi-automatic firearms existed

i enjoyed the escapist violence in 'DOOM' because it is just a game, i can tell the difference between real life and a game. everyone can except a few nutjobs

the point is: violent videogames, movies, books, or any media do not turn certain people into nutjobs. certain people are just already nutjobs, and yes: certain media may set them off

however: in a world where all media is unicorns and flowers, the barking dog next door or the roommate's weird style of laughter or the burning red eyes of the toaster oven would set them off instead. meaning they are going to be set off, one way or another, no matter what media exists

so let us enjoy our first person shooters and batman movies. these media might set off nutjobs... nutjobs who would be set off anyways in any media environment regardless

to get quite pointed here about how silly it is to focus on media: if you are concerned about some media creating violent people, then the bible and the koran are the very first things you want to destroy, as those two books have served as the inspiration for the murder of millions. the contents of those two books are very violent, and suggest that an almighty invisible power has absolute authority to command you to obey its violent teachings. great, that's just what you need to tell a crazy person

Fck that shih (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40746665)

where can I get a gun here?

This is not a troll. (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746671)

But I have to wonder about "neuroscience" ASSUMING that an affection for guns has to be "cured".

Other video games have other forms of violence, whether it's punching mushrooms or dumping barrels on somebody's head.

I think there are a number of assumptions here that are probably unwarranted.

Re:This is not a troll. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40746799)

It is dependent on social context, of course. Getting fat (horizontally challenged) is "bad" when there is lots of food available, hoarding is "bad" when lots of stuff available etc. If/when science will extend lifespan, reproduction and even orgasms will be more "bad" than they were before.

In short: there are no thruths.

Re:This is not a troll. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40747373)

It makes me wonder if the recent plague of using bad science to restrict video games can be cured. Scientists have learned that the "think of the children" center of lawmakers and constituents brains lights up when banning something safe and reasonable is proposed if the excuse given involves protecting their little brats. We're not sure yet if this temporary insanity brought on by breeding can be cured, but further study is warranted.

Consider the biggest recent indie games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40746691)

They all share a theme: you don't have to destroy. You can build and explore and create instead. Games as a celebration of creativity really speaks to me on a deeper level than Call of Battlefield #7113.

There will always be a market for thrilling escapism, but as long as there is an alternative, there is hope.

Wrong premise for games! (1)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746699)

Geez, if all you expect from games is to be shown stimuli that trigger pleasure receptors, that's a very impoverished idea of what games could be! Imagine if someone wrote the MRI-perfect novel, so that every page would trigger some neural activity in the pleasure center. Would that even be a good book? I'll answer that rhetorical question: No, it would be a completely pointless, manipulative piece of shit. That happens to describe too many video games already; I don't want this to get even worse. If all we are after is some sort of specific neural stimulation, why don't we just do it directly with wires and be done with it? But, fuck that. I'd rather read an interesting book.

Re:Wrong premise for games! (1)

FTWinston (1332785) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746967)

And reading something interesting doesn't count as a specific form of neural stimulation?

Re:Wrong premise for games! (2)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 2 years ago | (#40747139)

Sure, all pleasure is ultimately a neural phenomenon. I'm just saying that the methodology of this experiment - to correlate what happens on the screen with what happens as an immediate result in the brain - will only reveal things that give us pleasure through giving us some kind of rush. Or do you think that this technique could reveal what's good about the novels of Dostoyevsky?

And suppose that you measured the brain of someone who was deeply moved by p. 412 of Brothers Karamazov. Then you implant wires into someone else, which will reproduce the identical neural stimulation in the person who never read the book. You wouldn't say that the two people both receive the same pleasure but from different causes, would you? In general, I'd say that a good novel aims to give us insight, and that insight happens to be pleasant. This neuro technique presupposes that you accomplish what you want by just skipping the insight and going straight to the rush of pleasure that insight causes. So I was saying that this presupposes a pretty impoverished understanding about what experiences are worth having.

Would not be cheaper... (1)

Lisias (447563) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746715)

Would not be cheaper simply legalize prostitution, gay marriage, et all?

Violence is one possible (and probably the most common) symptom of repressed sexuality!!

Re:Would not be cheaper... (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746739)

prostitution is already legal; what are you talking about?

have you never heard of congress before??

Re:Would not be cheaper... (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746853)

Violence is one possible (and probably the most common) symptom of repressed sexuality!!

Finally the reason for wars had been discovered. That includes wars against oppressors and occupiers, apparently. Should we send sex toys to Syria?

In reality most of simulated violence is necessary, justified violence that the player performs to protect his people. This rule is true from Wolfenstein 3D to Doom to Resistance and Halo. The player there is shown as a good guy, not as a monster. Deus Ex does the same, though the player has to make a few choices along the way.

The rule is not universal; there are games like Postal 2 or GTA where violence is either pointless or outright criminal. Those games give a player a chance to look at things from the other side of the law. And as the player finds out soon enough, it's not a walk in the park. Still, in Postal 2 you can start out peacefully and pay for the milk with cash that is so conveniently dispensed to you by the nearest ATM. But then your AI enemies show up ... and suddenly you are lawfully defending your hide; you are not a psycho aggressor anymore (if you ever played in that role at all.)

Violent games - and books, and shows, and movies - exist simply because violence is genetically programmed into humans. The creature at the top of the food chain got there not because he was nice to saber-toothed tigers. Violence was the necessary survival trait. Today it still may be necessary, depending on where you live.

Is it possible to abandon violence completely? Yes. But then someone must *guarantee* that your life and your well-being will be protected. There is no entity on this planet, except you, who would even try to do that. It is something that only a brain implant can guarantee; and people with those implants will not be quite humans anymore. They will be ... better? worse? Who knows. But they surely won't lift a finger when another batch of The Fithp show up and stomp us into the ground. A single man who somehow frees himself from the control of the implant will have a 100% chance to become the greatest dictator in the history of the planet (see Demolition Man [imdb.com] for a possibility like that.)

The Real Thing Is So Much Better (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40746717)

And I don't mean tossing a few grams of simulated Lead, at a simulated target, a few simulated feet away.

    I mean tossing picograms of Heavy Ions, sometimes Really Heavy Ions. Ions that are maybe accelerated to a few GeV, and finally hitting a target a couple of millimeters wide from the equivalent distance of a maybe a few million Kilometers. Repeatedly, with 100% accuracy. You are in control of thousands of devices, a few dozen computers, dozens of monitors, or if you have an Old School Control Room, just a few computers, a few monitors, and a few thousand switches, knobs and meters.
    There are a couple of hundred people worldwide who are competent enough to do this. Some of them, I was one, could stay up for 72 hours just to see the results start to come in. (It may take a couple of years to grok all the data.) But even I couldn't deal with Bragg Peak Radiotherapy. This time, if your 2mm target being cooked was buried deep in somebodies brain, such as an AVM, being just a couple of millimeters off, or if your energy is just a little off, or if you toss a few too many Ions, this means your target may die. For real.

    Accelerator people are strange. The divorce rate is staggering. Strangely, there isn't much drug abuse or alcoholism. You just can't, and still do your job. Now that is the kind of Neuroscience that should be studied. Not that the studies of antisocial gaming minds isn't worth studying.
    It's just not interesting.

Misconception (1)

lorinc (2470890) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746745)

My bet is the rush of sensation comes from killing the others instead of being killed, not from the tools used to achieve this. Replace the gun by whatever you want, it will still be violent because it triggers some primal feelings deep in your DNA.

When I was a kid, games were more beautiful... (5, Insightful)

skine (1524819) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746747)

"When I was a kid, games were more beautiful and magical and immersed you in fantastical, peaceful and enjoyable landscape."

When exactly did Chris Stevens grow up?

Obviously, it wasn't in the Atari era, where half of all games were space shooters.

Obviously, he didn't grow up in the 8-bit or 16-bit era, where every game involved you killing everything within sight - either with guns, or swords that have the ability to shoot.

Obviously, he didn't grow up in the 64-bit era, where first person shooters became the biggest selling games.

Obviously, he didn't grow up in the modern era, where a good shooter sells a console.

So, obviously, Mr. Stevens either never grew up, or he didn't grow up with video games.

Re:When I was a kid, games were more beautiful... (1)

skine (1524819) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746803)

Then again, he could have been raised on, and only raised on, the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise.

You never kill enemies, because they all turn into bunnies or squirrels when you stomp on them, and Dr Robotnick never dies.

Re:When I was a kid, games were more beautiful... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40747031)

Yes. But some people like me enjoyed the other half of the games and even went from computer RPG to tabletop. I still have fond memories of Dragonflight, Amberstar, Ultima IV/VI. There also was Settlers, Civilization, Colonization. Games where I enjoyed exploring the tech tree.

It is strange, but I know many peeps, which say they like games which don't force them to think and are more like a movie. I myself don't consider those games games. I wouldn't consider them interactive movies either (Not enough choice). I really wish we were back to the time when those games flopped (Like when they relied to much on movies in Wing Commander) or if we would stop calling these games.

Nor is he a student of behaviour (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#40747205)

All the guns and so on in games isn't surprising: It is the human version of play fighting. It doesn't take long watching animals to see that pretend fighting is the #1 form of play out there. Kittens stalk each other, puppies wrestle and chew on each other. Well humans are the same way. Plenty of our games are "play fight" type of games, and videogames are no different.

May well be evolutionary reasons for it (perhaps play fighting helps yo be better at real fighting). However given that it is the kind of thing we see from a lot of animals, not just humans, it shouldn't surprise us. Yes ours is more sophisticated, big surprise there everything we do is.

Then also there's just the bullshit of "peaceful". No, there haven't been many games that would qualify as that. Part of the reason is that there needs to be something to do, and in many environments that means a conflict that needs resolution. There needs to be something for the player to do. In some cases that can just be an inherent part of the environment, like a builder game where people just build whatever they like or a puzzle game. However in many cases, it is going to involve a conflict that needs resolution of some kind. Doesn't mean guns are going to be involved, but conflict of some kind.

Finally if this bullshit is in response to the Aurora massacre, as I suspect it is, then maybe they need to actually L2game and do a little research. To the extent I've seen games reported as something the shooter did (there's rampant speculation all over the spectrum as to what his motivations were) it was World of Warcraft. For those that haven't played, that is a fantasy game where you use swords, cast spells, or just transform in to a giant bear or the like. To the extent there are guns they are flintlock, and very much secondary.

However I'm sure the morons who know nothing about it saw "Warcraft" and said "Oh my god a game about war! Clearly this made him a shooter!"

As a gamer, I'm dubious... (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746751)

I'm struggling to see something that would be that much fun short of... well... boobs. It's primal. You get an adrenaline rush. Your heart beats fast. Time slows down. And you dodge death by inches to kill your opponent.

Try to come up with a kittens and cream version of that.

Are we sick? Is this anti social behavior? I couldn't say. It seems pretty common and normal. It's deep in the blood.

And all the studies have made it clear that people make a clear distinction between make believe killing and real killing. It doesn't make us monsters just because we enjoy slaughtering orcs or whatever.

Invented a new disease (1)

Grindalf (1089511) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746775)

This is a falsified article, there is no disease associated with weaponry. Please review you facts before posting this drivel!

My 7 year olds opinion (3, Insightful)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746813)

We recently bought an Xbox 360. I downloaded some demos and one was Bulletstorm. I was playing it and my 10 year old son was watching. My 7 year old walks in, watches for 3 seconds, and says "I don't think this game is appropriate for kids". Just then I finished the level and the guy in the game said something where he drops the f-bomb. My daughter walks out saying "Yeah, definitely not appropriate". I said "yeah I think you are right.

Re:My 7 year olds opinion (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40746943)

That'd be why Bulletstorm is MA15+, or were you implying that all games must be suitable for kids?

Like jacking off? (1)

destruk (1136357) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746829)

TAIA - maybe have the game controlled by the Shake Weight (as seen on TV)

Put James Holmes on the job (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#40746977)

Sounds like he would be uniquely qualified to study this and has some spare time on his hands.

Worried (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40747003)

I'm actually worried that they will succeed in creating a completely new platform for craving that you can only get satisfied by using their technology.

he sucks at games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40747121)

Otherwise he would have noticed Minecraft and shut the fuck up.

It's obvious what is the second trigger. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40747215)

After violence, the other thing that can trigger pleasure is anything that is somehow related to human sexuality. When I was younger then reading manga where boy and girl were kissing aroused my hormones and I could feel it in my blood. Same with playing visual novels / hentai games. In order to get rid of "bad violence" we need to embrace more sexuality. Even soft pornography or hidden sexual context might work. Make a virtual game where boy is going throught the process of dating and girl and getting at her, describe all the events and signs of progress quickly and often enough and it will work. The girls can be cute or have various personality. In the end there should be virtual sex, so that yougnster can onanise over winnig a game (and try another route...). We need to change laws to legalize soft "child" pornography, meaning animated 17-years old boy fucking (girl from the same school | female teacher | nurse | office lady | young ladies from nearby university | ducth wife | /b/ ) and having fun from that. Then yougnsters in this age instead if firing with guns in virtual reality or bullying someone will spent even more time onanising. The morality of western society must change! What is bad on getting high on getting hard on? I have been onanising almost every day for more than 10 years since I was 13 and I love it!

fMRI (5, Interesting)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 2 years ago | (#40747257)

But what does the SALMON think of violent video games?
http://neuroskeptic.blogspot.com/2009/09/fmri-gets-slap-in-face-with-dead-fish.html [blogspot.com]

(The comedic scanning of a *dead* salmon with fMRI, showing that - without careful correction - fMRI can give you data from absolutely nothing. In this case, "...the salmon was shown a series of photographs depicting human individuals in social situations. The salmon was asked to determine what emotion the individual in the photo must have been experiencing...". "Studies" like this - purporting to explain some sort of human behavior - always remind me of this result.)

surprise surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40747359)

The unsurprising result will be that men find porn more pleasurable than violence.
The really surprising result will be the revelation that women enjoy porn more than men, causing another sexual revolution, this one of biblical proportions.

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