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Senior Game Designer Talks About Game Violence, Real Violence, and Lead (Video)

Roblimo posted about a year and a half ago | from the chemicals-can-outweigh-nurture-and-even-nature dept.

Games 223

William Volk may not be the world's oldest game designer, but he's up there. He started out as a play tester for Avalon Hill in 1979, and since then has worked for Activision and other major players in the game space. His current job is with PlayScreen, where he's working on their Word Carnivale iOS game, which is not violent at all. But over the years Volk has worked on slightly violent video games and has watched public outcries over video game violence since 1976. He's also tracked how much less violence we've seen since lead was removed from gasoline. (Editorial interjection: Aren't most remaining pockets of massive gun violence in cities where many poor kids grow up in apartments that have lead paint?) Due to technical problems during the interview, some of the conversation is missing, primarily about the recent spate of multiple murders. It seems, for instance, that Newtown shooter Adam Lanza was heavily into violent video games, which is sure to spark plenty of new discussion about how they affect players. But then again, as Volk reminded me in an email, "If people were influenced by video games, a majority of Facebook users would be farmers by now," a meme that has been floating around Facebook since last year, if not earlier.

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223 comments

Facebook users would be farmers by now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42946477)

if farming wasn't hard work with high overhead and a risky payoff.

Re:Facebook users would be farmers by now (2, Funny)

Dahamma (304068) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946811)

They're LEAD FARMERS [youtube.com] , motharfucka!

Actually, this explains why lead farmers seem to be so violent, as well.

Re:Facebook users would be farmers by now (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947381)

My father was a lead farmer, you insensitive clod!

Re:Facebook users would be farmers by now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42947467)

Red lead (lead oxide) used to be used in the '60s (at least in the UK) as a preservative for seed barley (to stop it rotting before it got sown among the "actual" clods), so there were quite a few "lead farmers" around back then!

It's not a matter of heavy metals (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42946485)

It's abortions and stronger morals that have allowed this reduction in violence.

Re:It's not a matter of heavy metals (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42946529)

I 100% agree, if people would keep aborting children they are not ready for instead of having them anyway and then just ignoring them I bet a lot of problems would go away.

Re:It's not a matter of heavy metals (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42946619)

And to curb the the violence in inner cities, perhaps we could put birth control in their drinking water.

Re:It's not a matter of heavy metals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42947411)

They don't drink water. Would have to put the birth control in cheap soda, 40s, menthol cigarettes, and fast foood.

Re:It's not a matter of heavy metals (2)

RazorSharp (1418697) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946595)

It's abortions and stronger morals that have allowed this reduction in violence.

This is much more likely than the lead theory, but you should include some evidence to back it up [wikipedia.org]

Re:It's not a matter of heavy metals (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946849)

This is much more likely than the lead theory

What makes you say that? I note you yourself fail to back that statement up, instead trying to piggy-back it on a link that has nothing to do with it.

Re:It's not a matter of heavy metals (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947051)

Take a look at the excellent documentary, Freakanomics...it has a pretty interesting explanation of this theory that the drop in violent crime over the years seems to coincide with the legalization of abortions.

Re:It's not a matter of heavy metals (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947677)

... the drop in violent crime over the years seems to coincide with the legalization of abortions.

Furthermore, a number of states legalized abortion prior to the 1973 Roe-vs-Wade decision that legalized it throughout the USA, and their crime rates began to drop earlier than the states that legalized it later.

But the lead theory has some strong evidence as well, and is probably a contributing factor. The CDC [cdc.gov] has found a strong correlation between blood lead levels and poverty, and between lead and low IQ. Low IQ is very strongly correlated with being convicted of a crime, especially violent crime.

Re:It's not a matter of heavy metals (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42947751)

Chicago, for every 3 live births 1 abortion.
Pheonix, lowest rate for big cities, 1 abortion for 8.6 live births.

Chicago murder rate 500 per year. 2.7 million people
Phoenix 117 per year. 1.4 million people.

Chicago with 2 times population, 3 times abortion rate, has nearly 5 times the murders.

Your point is invalid when looked at with ACTUAL numbers instead of a book someone wrote with an agenda.

Re:It's not a matter of heavy metals (2, Interesting)

RazorSharp (1418697) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947489)

I say that because there's little evidence to support the lead theory aside from a correlation that abortions also share. The difference is, the abortion theory is backed up by much more statistical evidence and even a control group (Romania banned abortions about the same time the U.S. legalized them -- crime in Romania skyrocketed about 15-20 years later and crime in the U.S. plummeted). The linked article explains this, which is why it has everything to do with the topic at hand. The research was done by Steven Levitt and published in a paper. [wikipedia.org] He also wrote about it in the book Freakonomics. The documentary the poster above me mentions is based off this book.

My criticism of the original poster was that he didn't cite Levitt or Donohue, not that he didn't elaborate enough.

Re:It's not a matter of heavy metals (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946651)

It's abortions and stronger morals that have allowed this reduction in violence.

How exactly does one measure the strength of morals at a population level?

Re:It's not a matter of heavy metals (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946687)

I would imagine crime rates would be one direct measure.

Re:It's not a matter of heavy metals (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946733)

Why would you imagine that? There are crimes, e.g., pot smoking, that have no connection to morality whatsoever. And there are crimes, e.g., those commited by bankers, that are deeply immoral but never get prosecuted so they can never affect measured crime rates.

Re:It's not a matter of heavy metals (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947097)

I mean the crimes that reflect this morality.
Yes some crimes are not immoral and some are more immoral than others.

Re:It's not a matter of heavy metals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42947337)

Funy, I thought sobriety (keeping the mind free of deleterious mind-altering substances) was a moral issue.

Along with the issue of damaging your lungs and those around you through smoke inhalation.

Re:It's not a matter of heavy metals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42947413)

Nope. Only the part where you damage other people's lungs is a moral issue. The other two are health issues.

Re:It's not a matter of heavy metals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42947471)

Then what's the issue with alcohol?

Re:It's not a matter of heavy metals (5, Funny)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947545)

Then what's the issue with alcohol?

I keep running out of it.

Re:It's not a matter of heavy metals (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947747)

You could argue, in a socialized health care system, that the optional damage to your own lungs is morally wrong, since you increase health costs for everyone so that you can maintain your otherwise pointless habit.

Re:It's not a matter of heavy metals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42947679)

Funy, I thought sobriety (keeping the mind free of deleterious mind-altering substances) was a moral issue.

You were wrong.

Re:It's not a matter of heavy metals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42947745)

Then why is drinking considered immoral behavior?

Re:It's not a matter of heavy metals (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947759)

Since when is it?
I drink it all the time, I don't generally do immoral things.

Re:It's not a matter of heavy metals (1)

jythie (914043) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946883)

I use a spring scale personally.

Re:It's not a matter of heavy metals (3, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946749)

It's probably video games themselves that have contributed to the decrease in violence. Those who are prone to violence are attracted to violent media and this keeps them off the streets where violence is more likely to occur.

Re:It's not a matter of heavy metals (1)

westlake (615356) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947189)

It's probably video games themselves that have contributed to the decrease in violence. Those who are prone to violence are attracted to violent media and this keeps them off the streets where violence is more likely to occur.

Violence is often rightly associated with the adolescent male.

He'll watch the video or play the game, but he is far too restive to remain indoors.

Re:It's not a matter of heavy metals (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42947307)

So apparently video games are highly addictive and people will play them and play them and not do anything else, but at the same time they'll go outside. Something's not adding up.

Re:It's not a matter of heavy metals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42947715)

Your comment only makes sense if you decide that abortion doesn't actually require violence itself. But it's violence that is "OK", so we don't call it that. Nothing like killing and then defining our way out of problems instead of actually improving ourselves.

False equivalence (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42946531)

Farmville does not realistically represent the manual labor or complexity of farming in the slightest, whereas FPSes compete with each other to include the most gore.

(Granted, the gore isn't realistic either but, if anything, it's exaggerated for dramatic purposes.)

Re:False equivalence (2)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946579)

by your definition neither does call of duty

read most accounts of war and firefights take hours compared to seconds on the consoles. you lay down covering fire and have maneuver elements. you call in air and artillery. you find good fighting positions and use cover to stay alive and move around. unlike cod where all you do is move in a straight line to play the level

Re:False equivalence (1)

chill (34294) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946721)

America's Army would be a better comparison than CoD.

Re:False equivalence (1)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946795)

nope

american soldiers are smarter than to fire at an enemy in an unprotected position. that's why our casualties are so much lower than everyone else's

look at any photo or youtube video and the americans are always firing from cover. the enemy is almost always in the middle of a field or the street in the open firing from the hip and playing rambo.

Re:False equivalence (1)

Westwood0720 (2688917) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947041)

America's Army would be a better comparison than CoD.

There no game out there that can compare to that of real warfare. None.

Re:False equivalence (1)

lgw (121541) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947207)

The US Army actually did a lot of research on this, somewhat associated with funding/making the America's Army game. They found almost nothing from FPS games carries over to real combat, but there were a couple of exceptions.

At the individual gamer level: paying attention to how much ammo is left in your clip. That's it. Not quite nothing, but close.

At the team level: small teams that take the game seriously (like CS players who play for money) do learn some of the team dynamics important to modern urban combat, such as the importance of communication and acting as a group (when moving or clearing a room or etc). Basic stuff, but important (but most gamers don't play that way).

Re:False equivalence (1)

ogar572 (531320) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946831)

There are a few things you forgot to mention while comparing to cod 1. You dont see soliders jumping around like kangaroos to avoid being shot 2. Waiting 10 seconds doesnt automatically put you back to full health. 3. The main rifle can have more that 2 attachments 4. And the most important, once you die, you aren't respawning.

Re:False equivalence (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947241)

3. The main rifle can have more that 2 attachments

And jacketed rounds aren't an "attachment" (upgrade); they are a requirement from the Geneva Convention.

Lead Paint Theory is Flawed (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42946545)

Most homes in New England (especially in Northern New England: New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine) have lead paint. Yet, New England (and especially Northern New England) has some of the lowest levels of violence in the USA.

Re:Lead Paint Theory is Flawed (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946611)

Lead Paint is pretty sketchy sounding anyway, most folks don't eat paint chips. Lead in gas however you have no choice to not breathe.

Re:Lead Paint Theory is Flawed (2)

CaroKann (795685) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946829)

I can imagine kids eating paint chips. However, from what I've heard, it's not so much the paint chips as it is the dust from deteriorating paint. Have you ever run your finger along a dirty windowsill? A lot of that is not just regular dust and dirt, it also contains paint dust.

Re:Lead Paint Theory is Flawed (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946623)

Having lead paint around is not an issue. The problem occurs when the paint is not maintained and chips off where it is easily ingested by children. Perhaps the standards of maintenance are better in New England.

Re:Lead Paint Theory is Flawed (4, Insightful)

Medievalist (16032) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946865)

Having lead paint around is not an issue. The problem occurs when the paint is not maintained and chips off where it is easily ingested by children.

Yep. And crime already correlates incredibly strongly with poverty (go figure!) so it's hard to separate the effects of poverty from the effects of the heavily polluted, badly maintained environments the poor often inhabit. It's probably even harder to sort out when the poor live in close proximity to crime targets; poverty-stricken inner-city youth live near stores and wealthier people, whereas subsistence farmers in less polluted environments usually live prohibitively far from any large number of easy crime targets.

Re:Lead Paint Theory is Flawed (2)

jjsimp (2245386) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946685)

...Yet, New England (and especially Northern New England) has some of the lowest levels of violence in the USA.

probably due to the prolonged winters. Hard to kill someone when there is three feet of snow blocking you in.

Re:Lead Paint Theory is Flawed (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947459)

It seems to work up here in Minnesota but slightly different. People don't want to go out and commit crime when it is 20 below out side yet the first nice weekend there is always a spike in crime.

Re:Lead Paint Theory is Flawed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42946739)

Most homes in New England (especially in Northern New England: New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine) have lead paint. Yet, New England (and especially Northern New England) has some of the lowest levels of violence in the USA.

Actually, its pretty uncommon these days in most of New England, since they started requiring disclosure in rentals and sales. Even the crappiest of apartments and homes are largely cleaned up these days because its almost impossible to rent or sell a property anymore if its got lead paint. (And at the very low end of the market, section 8 requires you to have mitigated lead paint, and the "slum lords" make so much money from section 8 rentals, they'd be morons to not clean it up!)

Re:Lead Paint Theory is Flawed (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947053)

Yes, but there are laws in place to mitigate the impact of lead paint. I live in Massachusetts, where landlords are required to remove lead paint [mass.gov] from a rental dwelling if the tenants have a child under age 6.

I have two things to say about this. One, it's a burdensome regulation that disinclines me to invest in rental properties in Massachusetts. Two, it probably works as a public-health measure.

Re:Lead Paint Theory is Flawed (1)

Knuckles (8964) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947447)

One, it's a burdensome regulation that disinclines me to invest in rental properties in Massachusetts.

I can only see this as a good thing.

Re:Lead Paint Theory is Flawed (1)

Westwood0720 (2688917) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947063)

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that our open carry laws contribute more to low level of violence instead of the lead paint. =]

Re:Lead Paint Theory is Flawed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42947257)

Most gunshot victims have lead in their body, it can't be a coincidence!

Matter of Perspective (4, Interesting)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946601)

One thing that is important is to keep in mind is perspective:

The millions murdered in World War 1 & 2 never played video games.

So I'm not sure ready to jump on the "video games == violence" bandwagon; no doubt "video game violence" and the "causation vs correlation" will be debated till the end of time so I did my own experiment. As both a game programmer and designer I have found that when take a month long break from gaming I have found that my mind is significantly calmer. I have also done experiment with Aikido, meditation and yoga (found Aikido to be very interesting, meditation to largely be a waste of time, and found yoga to be extremely helpful.) Gaming with my online buddies is also a great stress reliever since we're almost all 40+, can joke around with each other, have fun cooperating, and don't have to worry about the typical bullshit drama. I would wager to bet that we all find it therapeutic after a long day at the office. The point of all this is that each person needs to find out what works for them. i.e. Listen to a new genre of music and keep a log of how it effects you, etc.

Since the human brain is at least a threefold structure ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triune_brain [wikipedia.org] ) I wouldn't be at least bit surprised if the reptilian complex ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basal_ganglia [wikipedia.org] ) is responsible for some of the inherent violence in men. A civilized person doesn't want to beat the living crap out of another person -- yet our species is "entertained" by such mindless violence -- one has to wonder if it isn't deeply ingrained in our genetics.

--
Only cowards use censorship.

Re:Matter of Perspective (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42946867)

One thing that is important is to keep in mind is perspective:

The millions murdered in World War 1 & 2 never played video games.

You say perspective and then talk about WWII violence and its link to video games? What the fuck? lol. Countries were at war back then you idiot.

On Killing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42946991)

If you want to learn more, I strongly suggest you read Grossman's _On Killing_. While it's not a rigorous scientific study, it's the best I've seen. Ethics boards won't allow the rigorous study, fortunately.

Re:Matter of Perspective (1)

Algae_94 (2017070) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947021)

The millions murdered in World War 1 & 2 never played video games.

And I'd wager most of those people didn't want any of the violence of that war.

As an aside, the killing of enemy soldiers during an active war is not usually referred to as murder.

Re:Matter of Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42947429)

As an aside, the killing of enemy soldiers during an active war is not usually referred to as murder.

The first two world wars had a combined total of about 61 million civilian deaths. Even in a war, those are typically called "murders".

Re:Matter of Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42947087)

"The millions murdered in World War 1 & 2 never played video games."

Who the fuck cares if the VICTIMS played video games or not?

Re:Matter of Perspective (2)

westlake (615356) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947485)

The millions murdered in World War 1 & 2 never played video games.

An interesting example of a statement that is demonstrably true but utterly meaningless.

Para-military training and open field war games for young boys began at around age ten or so in Nazi Germany.

You joined in the games and played to win or else.

There were no video games, of course, But an abundance of violently anti-Semitic board games, books, films, radio programming and classroom exercises targeting all ages,

Re:Matter of Perspective (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42947599)

Some people are so intimidated by violence that they do not want there to be any form of it anywhere, fanciful or otherwise. Their claim that video game violence causes real violence is just justification for their real motivation, which is to ban violence in video games (for everyone) simply because it makes them feel uneasy.

This is very common among humans:

1) something intimidates them.
2) they come up with some arbitrary way of associating that with something bad.
3) they use the "something bad" to try and justify forcing all humans to stop doing the intimidating thing (whether it actually impacts anyone or not).

Oppression of homosexual rights has been subjected to this treatment for a very long time.

Cause or Effect (3, Interesting)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946605)

Does playing violent games cause people to be violent in real life or do violent people in real life prefer to play violent games? In both cases there is a correlation but the cause and effect are reversed.

Re:Cause or Effect (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42947503)

American WWI soldiers trained with bullseye targets, and in real life battle they were highly disinclined to fire their guns at human opponents. The army noticed this and began training soldiers using human shaped targets, and thus soldiers became more desensitived to firing on another human. Ramp up that desensitiving via todays realistic war games. Let a young person who hasn't developed a personal moral code play these games unsupervised for unlimited periods of time. You end up with one screwed up young person. Now add access to real weapons, and don't expect love and hugging.

Lead paint isn't the cause of every social woe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42946609)

See: http://xkcd.com/1138/

Once again (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946617)

Talk to any marketing 'professional' about the effects of various forms propaganda on humans.

Not so sure. (1)

sunking2 (521698) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946635)

I'd be willing to bet $1 that there is at least one person out there that has tried to duplicate at least some part of their Farmville crop at home, even if it's buying a tomato plant. Why would the effect only be legitimate if a majority of people follow it?

Re:Not so sure. (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946781)

In general, we geek types don't argue against positive impacts of video games. We only cry foul when negative impacts are suggested.

(yes, I put "buying a tomato plant" in the "positive impact" category ;) )

it's not "tomacco", either... (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947141)

yeah, "tomato" plant...

Source for Lanza info: a tabloid (1)

Psyborgue (699890) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946667)

They quote the Sun, as a source the Lanza played video games? Supposedly going off the word of a plumber who supposedly heard this from his mother? Why am I not surprised no other major news outlet has claimed this despite the fact the Sun published it's claims in mid December. Even if it were true, I'm willing to bed a significant portion of the younger generation has played CoD at one time or another. I have. I'm willing to bet they breathed air at some point or another. Are we to ban that?

Re:Source for Lanza info: a tabloid (2)

CannonballHead (842625) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946777)

Because it's clearly a logical assumption that interactive media has the exact same neutral effect as breathing air... ?

I'm not one to argue that video game violence causes real life violence... but I see lots of "I bet they all ate bread, too!" type of retorts ... which don't seem to make sense. Interacting with a virtual reality sot of thing is pretty different from breathing air, and it seems illogical and silly to try to say they should be treated in the same way.

Do video games affect us? Yes, we know they do. Do they affect us negatively? That's the part that studies don't seem to know. I mean, using slashdot as an example; when stories come out about video games affecting us positively (e.g., increasing spacial awareness or increasing image recognition, or response times, or whatever) ... nobody complains and says "yeah, well, I bet they all breathed air, too, so clearly air also increases our spacial awareness!" ... because we realize that that would be a silly argument due to the inherent differences in activities. Playing a video game is remarkably different from breathing air. Or eating bread or drinking water. Or sleeping. Or putting your shoes on.

Re:Source for Lanza info: a tabloid (3, Insightful)

Psyborgue (699890) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946953)

Well. Maybe it's a bit silly to go so far as air, but how about this: obviously any media or art we consume, whether book, painting, tv, music, or video game, affects us in some way. Billions have been killed as a result of direct commands originating in violent books (ones we revere out of tradition and political correctness), yet nobody would dare ban them. We don't, because we realize that while a book can command a person to kill somebody, it cannot load the gun and pull the trigger. Yet the very same people who revere those violent books will have us believe that video games can do exactly that. It's throwing personal responsibility out the window. That's even avoiding the fact that religious books contain direct commands to commit violence and video games are very explicitly works of fiction.

Re:Source for Lanza info: a tabloid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42947049)

And training skills via use isn't the same as instilling violent urges. Your rant at the end would make sense if it were something like, say, Ouendan making a bunch of people want to be male cheerleaders.

Re:Source for Lanza info: a tabloid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42947473)

"I'm willing to bed a significant portion of the younger generation"

I don't think we should trust anyone who makes such an admission!

The meme goes: (4, Funny)

i_ate_god (899684) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946675)

If video games affected kids, then they would all be running around a dark room eating pills and listening to electronic music.

Unfortunately though, that happened. It was called the rave scene.

To all of the doubters of the lead theory (5, Informative)

greg_barton (5551) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946723)

Here [motherjones.com] is a better article than the small blog post cited. Read the whole thing. The clincher for me was that when lead was removed from gasoline in different states at different times the reduction in violence in those areas tracked perfectly two decades later. Not only that, but the shape of the violence reduction data tracked well with the shape of the lead reduction data. (i.e. a fast phase out of lead resulted in a fast reduction of crime twenty years later. [nber.org] )

Re:To all of the doubters of the lead theory (1)

Zeromous (668365) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946943)

While I agrree, (and read the same article) we must be careful to mind this as only an obvious contributing factor. It does not tell the whole story, though. There are so many inputs relating to violence it's hard to blame any one thing.

Those findings refer to a measurable and documented case of environment affecting/causing various neurosis. This is great. However does not prove that there are no other contributing factors. It would appear that videogame violence only heightens the risk of real violence in cases where these neurosis might exist or even as you say, be prevalent.

But, since this is immeasurable, we will continue debating the endless possibilities without concluding what is obvious to any civilized gamer. There will always be fear, uncertainty and doubt as long as complex systems such as violence amongst humans remains wholly immeasurable, no matter how many other convincing quantitative observations we can make from other potential causes/vectors.

Re:To all of the doubters of the lead theory (1)

greg_barton (5551) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947137)

You can't prove a negative.

Anyway, you can argue all day that the waves aren't knocking your sand castle down, but after the tide comes in you look like a complete idiot. :)

Re:To all of the doubters of the lead theory (2)

Zeromous (668365) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947341)

Indeed. Just pointing out there is a whole cottage insurance industry for "sand castles" that does not apply scientific method in any meaningful sense. My post only predicts that these morons are not going anywhere, so we're going to need more than 'leaded gasoline directly correlates to increased violence in nearly all cases enumerated' to make our point.

Video games/violence (5, Insightful)

RazorSharp (1418697) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946771)

The video games/violence debate is extremely flawed from both angles. In this regard it reminds me of the nature/nurture arguments -- whenever someone takes a side one way or the other I'm convinced they're wrong. The problem with the 'video games cause violence' argument is that people are free to make choices of their own. The problem with the 'video games don't cause violence' argument is that the choices people make, especially among children, are influenced by environmental factors.

I'm critical of video gaming as a lifestyle. I have no problem with them as an occasional diversion, but playing for hours on end is like running a screensaver on your computer -- it's keeps things active enough to stay on, but nothing useful is happening. I've seen children who act violently, mimicking video games/tv/movies/etc., but that's not what really concerns me. What concerns me is that the children who play lots of video games have an extremely adverse reaction to any suggestion that they should read, do something constructive, or exercise. All too often these 'gamers' are confused for nerds (or geeks or whatever word you choose to use). They are not. They're morons and they'll remain morons as long as they spend the majority of their free time on XBox Live or the Playstation Network.

That's not to say I think video games are a scourge to society. They're no different than TV in this regard. The problem is parents who allow their children to plug into these diversions from actual life on an almost permanent basis. Many of my friends have children. The ones who limit video game/tv time and only offer it as a reward for doing constructive things have well adjusted children who are bright. The ones who let their kids zombify themselves in front of the boob tube have maladjusted morons for children who think an example of fine art is a Michael Bay film.

When people claim that video games cause violence they're oversimplifying the issue -- however I can't disagree that children who are raised by video games moreso than their parents will be more prone to becoming violent adults than those who aren't. When people dismiss the idea that 'video games cause violence' that's not really what they're objecting to -- they're objecting to the very true assertion that playing video games extensively has a negative impact on an individual's life.

Re:Video games/violence (4, Insightful)

shadowofwind (1209890) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947005)

I think these video-game-violence /. threads are mostly an exercise in rationalization and justification, not an effort towards understanding the nuances of the issue.

If you play violent video games, you have violent images and patterns in your mind which you are reinforcing by repetition. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing isn't easy to answer, since as omnivores we already have such patterns hard-wired in, and expressing an instinct in a relatively harmless way can be better than suppressing it. But there's absolutely no doubt that violent gaming affects a person's thinking. And the barrier that separates 'pretend' from 'real' is never completely impermeable.

Almost anyone who has kids can see the addictive and adverse effects of gaming. As with candy, some kids will limit themselves to a healthy level without parental intervention, but in my experience and observation those kids are the exception.

Note that I'm not making an argument for any kind of government regulation, or saying that nobody should play violent video games in moderation.

Re:Video games/violence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42947075)

do something constructive

Which is subjective. Nice try, though.

Maybe you should go scuba diving.

Re:Video games/violence (1)

Knuckles (8964) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947533)

do something constructive

Which is subjective. Nice try, though.

Maybe you should go scuba diving.

What concerns me is that the children who play lots of video games have an extremely adverse reaction to any suggestion that they should read, do something constructive, or exercise.

Re:Video games/violence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42947727)

You're so predictable, but unfortunately for you, that would only apply to me if he had said "children and adults" rather than just "children."

But I fail to see how that was an appropriate, logical response to my comment. Hopefully it was just a joke, but it's hard to tell over the Internet.

Re:Video games/violence (1)

Knuckles (8964) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947773)

You're so predictable, but unfortunately for you, that would only apply to me if he had said "children and adults" rather than just "children."

But I fail to see how that was an appropriate, logical response to my comment. Hopefully it was just a joke, but it's hard to tell over the Internet.

Well yeah it was a joke, but you did act like an 8 year old whose XBox had just been taken away.

Re:Video games/violence (1)

SteveAstro (209000) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947661)

I just sent a copy of your comments to a whole bunch of my friends who say the same thing.
Absolutely right.

Hyper Farming (2)

dittbub (2425592) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946785)

No one would play a hyper realistic farming game. On some level though we all seem to enjoy throwing stuff at moving stuff, even if simulated. It seems logical to me that repeated simulated murder could warp the mind of a young or weak mind. But what I heard was Adam Lanza played WoW...

Re:Hyper Farming (2)

Zerth (26112) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946873)

No one would play a hyper realistic farming game

You have no idea how wrong you are.

http://store.steampowered.com/app/220260/ [steampowered.com]

Not the video games (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946809)

Video games might have been a factor without being a cause. From the reports I've heard (which, admittedly, might still be pure speculation), he saw his shooting body count as a "score" and was trying to top the "high score" set by the Norwegian shooter. Of course, your average gamer into games of that nature might try to top a "high body count" score within the game, but isn't likely to try to replicate this outside of the game.

He also trained at shooting ranges for this so it's not like video games were his only "target practice." Is anyone calling for shooting ranges to be shut down because they're "obviously training killers"?

This was likely a case of a mental illness causing fantasy and reality to blur. People like this should steer clear of violent video games and seek help to manage their conditions. Sadly, too many fall through the cracks or aren't diagnosed at all (until they go on a rampage). Banning violent video games to keep a small population of mentally vulnerable people from turning into killers is like banning peanut butter from all stores lest someone with a severe peanut allergy ingest it.

Everyone knows it's not the violent games... (5, Funny)

Zaphod-AVA (471116) | about a year and a half ago | (#42946925)

Everyone knows it's not the violent video games, it's that evil Jazz music corrupting our youth!

Re:Everyone knows it's not the violent games... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42947109)

No, it's the pool hall!

What about movies (4, Insightful)

synapse7 (1075571) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947013)

What games compare to movies like Saw?

Re:What about movies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42947375)

Dead Space?

leading the speaker (1)

fazey (2806709) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947111)

- The guy doing the interview is completely leading the speaker.
- The speaker is talking about the history of people being overly butthurt by violence in games. Then speaks about the media being hyper sensitive to violence in games.
- We are asking a guy who has never worked on a violent video game, his opinion on video games and expecting there to not be a bias?

HOWEVER! I was in a car accident, and my car flipped, and landed upside down. The first thing I did was kick out the driver side window, crawl out, and get some distance between me and the car. Then wait for police to arrive. Why? Because when you flip a car, it slowly catches fire and explodes. I will admit, that sounds like I was trained by video games. Namely GTA. Could it have been because I got hit in the face with the airbag? Trauma from the accident? Either way, I dont go around shooting places up. So take it how you will.

Neither side is right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42947383)

Both sides of the "violent video game" argument are idiots.

The "pro" violent games people never seems to come to grips with the fact that as living things, we've been evolving for millions of years and this whole video games thing is such a RADICALLY new form of sensory input requiring unprecedented (from an evolutionary standpoint) sensory/emotional/cognitive processing.

It's a little like the internet porn thing. One could say the same about TV. They are pretty new phenomena. To argue that it has no effect on people, or that any effect is purely benign, reflects a naivete that is difficult to overstate. I'd argue that TV is FAR worse for people's minds than porn or video games, but that's another topic for another day.

People who describe themselves as "gamers" - just because you THINK you are well-adjusted doesn't mean that you ARE. IMO there is something wrong with people who need to sit in front of a screen being entertained for hours every day to feel normal.

The "anti" violent game people just don't see reality. It's the same shit as the anti gun people. So there's a small minority of people who will react adversely to violent games, just like there's a small number of people who sometimes go crazy and kill people with guns. I KNOW, LET'S BAN GUNS AND VIOLENT GAMES, THAT'LL SOLVE THE PROBLEM!

Idiocy.

Re:Neither side is right (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947789)

just because you THINK you are well-adjusted doesn't mean that you ARE.

Well, to begin with, whether you're 'well-adjusted' or not is rather subjective. But I think what they usually mean is that they're not murderers and such.

Regardless, I think that argument is rather weak; it's just anecdotal evidence.

It's the same shit as the anti gun people.

Funnily enough, some of the anti-violent video game people are also anti-gun control. It's like when the NRA tried to blame video games for that shooting.

Another commonality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42947415)

Centers of violence in big cities; there are a lot more points of commonality than just old buildings with lead paint.

- Industry or the remains of it (with possible associated environmental effects)
- High 'welfare state' environment (probably most of the big cities)
- Very bureaucratized government, and associated organizations (school districts, teachers unions).
- Run for decades or longer by democrats or left leaning governments/bureacracies (hence the welfare state and 'strong' governmental organizations and NGO/unions resistant to change)
- Police more restricted in options for dealing with gangs and crooks for political/racial reasons (for this look at New York which 'got tough' under Giuliani and saw noticeable reduction in many areas of crime along with years of complaints about racism and profiling)
- Criminal gangs. There was an article in the local paper (sorry, no link I could find) that claimed 80% of the shootings in Chicago were gang caused or gang related. If you listen to the Chicago police bloggers they are both badly undermanned and also politically restrained from dealing effectively with (largely minority based) gangs.

What a lovely theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42947551)

" Aren't most remaining pockets of massive gun violence in cities where many poor kids grow up in apartments that have lead paint?)"

Care to venture any actual evidence for this?

Famers? Dark rooms, pills, and repetative music (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42947621)

I believe the quote goes:
"If video games influenced kids, we'd all be running around in dark rooms eating pills and listening to repetative music."
The joke being that Pacman is the game they're using as an example and it shares a lot of simularities with raves and nightclubs in general.

Real f*cked up people... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42947651)

Crack-heads, street gangs, the mafia, drugs cartels, the 1%, etc... don't care about video games. They care about power, they like to spread fear in people's eyes, this feeling is much more powerful than playing video games. We should ask what Genghis Khan thinks about that.

Farmers... (1)

skelly33 (891182) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947675)

"If people were influenced by video games, a majority of Facebook users would be farmers by now"

This made me laugh for the "in your face" factor, however quip hardly closes the door on the debate. I would submit that generally it is much easier to influence socially undesirable behavior in people than it is to influence desirable behavior. It's human nature - the forbidden fruit is always calling. The appeal of the easy score, and "being bad" for real excitement has no substitute in farming vegetables, paying taxes and enjoying a good round of Go Fish. Just because Farmville players are not easily subdued into actual farming, it does not follow that more violent games cannot have a subversive effect on its players...

bad analogy (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42947749)

"If people were influenced by video games, a majority of Facebook users would be farmers by now"

Idiotic statement. A) We're not talking about farming, and B) just because everyone had not transformed into a farmer does not mean people are not influenced by those games, and C) farming and killing (in games) most likely stimulate completely different parts of the brain. You're comparing apples to pineapples. Yes, they sound similar but are mostly different. Every single thing you see or do has an influence on you at some level.
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