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New Mexico Newspaper Row Shows Game Violence Microcosm

simoniker posted more than 9 years ago | from the love-like-life-in-miniature dept.

The Internet 78

Thanks to the Albuquerque Tribune for its pair of editorials, one praising violent games, tongue-in-cheek style, by lauding "the sheer joy of freeform gaming mayhem", and the other a rebuttal suggesting children are genuinely at risk. This provincial echoing of the ever-present worldwide debate starts with Sue Vorenberg's contention that: "There's nothing quite as satisfying as running over virtual French people with a souped-up sports car", and ends with Bob McCannon's statement that "the correlations between violent media and aggression are stronger than between smoking and lung cancer." What can be done to make such arguments a little more evenhanded?

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Arguments for censorship? (1)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 9 years ago | (#9017753)

"Bob McCannon's statement that "the correlations between violent media and aggression are stronger than between smoking and lung cancer."

This is all baloney, and is just a smokescreen to argue for censorship. Also consider the Baby Boomers that grew up on the BLAM BLAM BLAM of television westerns. You didn't see them going out and shooting Native Americans.

If you don't like these games, don't play them. If you don't want your children to play them, keep track of what is on their computer or console.

It's not baloney!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9018054)

Lung cancer really does cause smoking!

I grew up on Roadrunner cartoons and it hasn't affected me in the least. In fact in the course of my job as a professional cliff diver I've even found it useful on occasion.

What I want to see... (2, Insightful)

be951 (772934) | more than 9 years ago | (#9020414)

I want to see some unbiased statistics that indicate how often children who play "violent" games were involved in violent incidents (in school, e.g.) vs. a control group. How come the studies we hear about only seem to contain vague terms like "agression", rather than anything about actual incidents of violence? Could it be because when it comes to actual violence, the correlation becomes statistically insignificant? I'm guessing, not stating that as fact.

Re:What I want to see... (1)

Sylver Dragon (445237) | more than 9 years ago | (#9022111)

The only thing I would say needs to be added to this study is a pre-study control. One of the things that studies, which damn video games, tend to ignore is the whole chicken-egg problem. More specifically, does playing violent video games make a child more violent; or, do children who are more prone to violence tend to play violent video games? Its a rather important question, and is rarely mentioned in the studies. As it is, I have know children who are generally non-violent, but get a kick out of splattering a persons brains against a wall, in a game. I have also known children who are violent and play violent video games. I think that a lot of it comes down to the individual, is the child violent by nature, or not? If they are, then they probably shouldn't be playing such games, as it might make them worse. On the other hand, for those children who are not violent normally, a violent video game can be a great way to work out agression. I think that this is something that needs to be determined by the parents. Of couse, too many parents are not willing to put in the time this requires to figure out, so we get the knee-jerk reactions of government.

Re:What I want to see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9022746)

You miss the point and you misunderstand the studies.

What the studies do is randomize the study group, and measure pre- vs post- video game play aggression.

What difference does it make whether aggressive people are attracted to video games? If a study shows that a video game makes a person exhibit MORE aggressive thoughts/behavior, what difference does it make if he/she was naturally aggressive to begin with? Whether it's impacting a naturally aggressive person or a naturally non-aggressive person, it's still feeding someone's aggression.

In fact, if aggressive people are attracted to video games, then we should be MORE (not less) worried about the games' impact on society.

Really? (5, Insightful)

SansTinfoilHat (759207) | more than 9 years ago | (#9017775)

"the correlations between violent media and aggression are stronger than between smoking and lung cancer." Really? Show me. I've seen studies that say that the correlation between viewing any media and violence is strong - be it Rugrats or The Sopranos. I'd also like to see a comparison between how many people are actually hurt because of video games and how many people are actually hurt because of smoking or automobiles or even kitchen utensils. I assure you it isn't even close.

Using flimsy standards (3, Insightful)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 9 years ago | (#9017817)

Using such flimsy standards, I guess any media can be linked to violence: the Declaration of Independence led to thousands of deaths in the American Revolution. You could probably make a similar arguement about the Constitution. We might as well censor all of the media completely, because you never know when someone might have something from media in mind when they commit a violent act.

Yeah, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9018110)

I think we can safely assume a near 100% exposure rate to violent imagery, and there are something on the order of 11,000 or so murders in the US each year. Where many people don't smoke and it's still the leading killer nation wide, and a leading cause of fires.

But seriously, this sort of fear mongering is choking the life out of america. It's reached pandemic proportions, we've got to act now! I recommend having a post-traumatic stress reaction and going on a rampage killing all the irresponsable so called journalists.

Hell, the survivors would be thrilled. Best. Newsday. Evar.

Re:Using flimsy standards (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#9027403)

If violence (among other messages) in media leading to death and other woes is a valid reason for banning media, then we should outlaw the so-called "Holy Bible" of the Christian faith immediately. Most other religious texts would follow.

More lives have probably been lost due to misinterpretation of that book than all other forms of media ever. And people show it to their children!

Re:Really? (3, Insightful)

PhotoBoy (684898) | more than 9 years ago | (#9018892)

I think that there is link to be made between violence in games/films/TV and violence in real life but this link is not what you might expect.

I think people with violent tendencies will always exist, and even if there is no violent material in the media these people will still likely commit violent crimes.

For example, those kids who decided to hop into their parents car and go shooting other drivers on the freeway like in GTA; would they have done this if they hadn't played GTA? Possibly not, they'd probably have just wandered next door to shoot their neighbours instead.

Removing violence from the media just deprives those who are well adjusted of some forms of entertainment. Broadcasting the Teletubbies 24/7 will do nothing to fix the problem these people have in their heads. TV/games/films didn't make them unstable, so changing what people watch/read/play won't fix them.

Re:Really? (2, Funny)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 9 years ago | (#9020369)

Broadcasting the Teletubbies 24/7 will do nothing to fix the problem these people have in their heads
Broadcast the Teletubbies 24/7, and I would be willing to bet that violence increases dramatically. I dunno about the rest of you, but that would definitely drive me psychotic within a few days.

NO MORE TINKY WINKY! (Blam!)

Re:Really? (1)

TheLoneDanger (611268) | more than 9 years ago | (#9019889)

I would suggest that people just look at violent crime rates, which have been dropping across North America for several years now. This at a time when games are more prominent and "realistic" than ever before. Not that I'm saying games don't have any effect, but that any effect it does have is nowhere near where the people who use words like "killographic" would have you believe, and is not necessarily even negative.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9022867)

The drop in violent crime is easily explained by other factors.

It's possible that the prevalence of violent video games has had a negative impact on violent crime, but was offset by other factors, like an improving economy.

Besides, why is violent crime our only concern? What about overall violent, antisocial or aggressive behavior that is not criminal? I think the impact of violent games is more likely to be much more subtle than turning a teenager into a mass murderer (dylan and klebold aside).

Re:Really? (1)

TheLoneDanger (611268) | more than 9 years ago | (#9023765)

Besides, why is violent crime our only concern? What about overall violent, antisocial or aggressive behavior that is not criminal? I think the impact of violent games is more likely to be much more subtle than turning a teenager into a mass murderer (dylan and klebold aside).

Violent crime isn't the only concern, it's just the one that is easiest to get hard data for. It also happnes to be obviously directly harmful to society. Most violent behaviour in general is criminal, and any real increase in violent behaviour should result in increased numbers in violent crime.

I would like clarification on what you mean exactly by antisocial or aggressive behaviours that are not criminal (please provide examples).

Re:Really? (1)

Deraj DeZine (726641) | more than 9 years ago | (#9025982)

And in context:
Equally problematic is that
social science research hardly ever proves anything conclusively; it makes correlations. Nonetheless, the correlations between violent media and aggression are stronger than between smoking and lung cancer.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9025992)

Oops, that wasn't supposed to be a direct reply to the parent post; it was supposed to be a general response to all the Slashbots that immediately whine about correlation and causation.

Even handed (3, Funny)

BoomerSooner (308737) | more than 9 years ago | (#9017785)

To make it more even handed we simply need to put them all in a padded room together and whoever comes out alive wins.

Re:Even handed (1)

cornjones (33009) | more than 9 years ago | (#9024595)


To make it more even handed we simply need to put them all in a padded room together and whoever comes out alive wins.


and of course, you then have that guy on murder charges. Do it all in TX and give him the chair

How bout (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9017799)

I don't exactly see the children of the world rising up and killing people. I see some terrible outbursts occur, but to blame media?

Let's see, the last absolutely horrific inhuman killings IMHO would be the Rwanda Genocide. Now I don't mean to stereotype, but something tells me Doom wasn't to blame for the murder of hundreds of 1,000's of people including many children.

Should children be exposed to such violence in media? I don't think so. They should be watching 321 Contact and Nova :-P but that's something that a child's PARENTS have to decide. But we won't start that flame.

Serbian holocaust (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9017883)

"Let's see, the last absolutely horrific inhuman killings IMHO would be the Rwanda Genocide"

While it wasn't as big as the Rwanda genocide, the Serbian holocaust, happening during the same decade, put a few hundred thousand Croatians, Bosnians, and Kosovars in the grave and added "ethnic cleansing" to the genocide lexicon. I would count it as "absolutely horrific unhjuman killings", and I don't think the serbs were playing videogames either.

Re:Serbian holocaust (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9018009)

Yup good point. Didn't mean to overlook any other atrocities of recent history.

Point in the end is, people were killing a whooollle lot of each other before video games and violent movies.

And they still are and will continue well into the future.

Re:How bout (1)

mike_mgo (589966) | more than 9 years ago | (#9021278)

Of course in Rwanda, violent media, radio broadcasts in this case, was an important part of the genocide. The government controlled radio was a primary vehicle for inflaming the Hutus to kill the Tutsi.

Obviously, radio broadcast calling for you to go out and kill others is different from a game or movie. But where is the line drawn? Is any fictional violence ok? Is it ok as long as we make the targets annonymous (or alien) and don't attach a race or nationality to them?

Cartoon view....... (2, Informative)

MrIrwin (761231) | more than 9 years ago | (#9017810)

This is a similar re-hash of the arguments that went on in the 60's and 70's about violence in childrens cartoons. The BBC nearly banned Tom & Jerry!

But these fears have been allayed by the phsycologists view that children, right from an early age, can tell the difference between fantasy worlds of cartoons and the real world.

I would have thought the same is true for video games?

Re:Cartoon view....... (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 9 years ago | (#9024013)

"The BBC nearly banned Tom & Jerry!"

Tom & Jerry wasn't orginally intended for TV to begin with. Like the old WB cartoons, they were intended for movie theaters. When the creators of Tom & Jerry moved on to television (a couple of nobodys named Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera) they started making material they felt would do better by the FCC, hence the Flintstones.

And even then the Flintstones pushed some limits. Don't forget that Fred and Wilma were the first television couple to share a bed on screen.

VG violence (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9017855)

I think that anything, albeit violence, sex, drugs, etc. when taken too seriously by anyone can be dangerous. If a person can differentiate easily between fantasy and reality(some can't, trust I know a few) then they can become more succeptable to acting out on these things that are contained in the "microcosm".

Also, what game features sports cars running over Frenchmen? Hook me up!!(-1 Contradictory, right?)

Frogger 3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9017924)

"Also, what game features sports cars running over Frenchmen? Hook me up!!(-1 Contradictory, right?)"

No big deal. It's the latest version of Frogger, in which you play one of the car drivers instead of the Frog.

Re:VG violence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9022109)

Twisted Medal 2 on the Eiffel tower level. You can also run over mimes, or my favorate, blow up the tower and go roof hoppin.

Evenhanded? (2, Insightful)

Improv (2467) | more than 9 years ago | (#9017869)

I think you're mistaking evenhanded for
noncontroversial, or making small claims. If the
correlation is true and as strong as said, it's good to know, even if it appears to be saying something really strong. On the other hand, if it's wrong, then that's also good to know. The pure fact that it's a bold claim doesn't make it a bad thing to present, nor does it speak to its truth content. In sum, don't bemoan it's boldness.

WHOA! (4, Insightful)

Rhinobird (151521) | more than 9 years ago | (#9017904)

"the correlations between violent media and aggression are stronger than between smoking and lung cancer."

Holy crap! We are a hair's breadth away from suggesting we censor media on medical grounds. Media causes reactions in peope? Why that's a big red "DUH!", people.

Just talking and spreading ideas, can incite riots and revolutions. We can't have that now can we? I mean, think of all the people that could get hurt. Best we tell the media what they can and can't say so people don't get all riled up. Especially those nasty, icky video games.

That can't be right. That's inside the room. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9018210)

Actually, your reading it wrong. What it plainly states, until someone gets a license to put a kid in a Skinner box, is that people with reactions are reached by media.

Wow. You mean the media machine that can put california girls jogging in slow motion into a mongolian yurt can also reach people in america? Fascinating. Given that even homeless people can watch TV, you're going to get a strong correlation for nearly anything. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy makes people GAY. American Idol turns people in to black women! There are some really out there conclusions we could be drawing. TV causes violence a little, well unimaginative.

For the last time... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9018013)

"the correlations between violent media and aggression are stronger than between smoking and lung cancer."

Yes, but what about causation? Aggressive people seek out violent media. That's pretty fucking obvious. Of course there's going to be strong correlation.

Correlation != causation!

Re:For the last time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9019575)

Aggressive people seek out violent media. That's pretty fucking obvious.

It's so obvious that researchers already know this. That's why they test aggression before and after playing violent games, and why they use control groups. Even controlling for selection bias, time and again studies show the link between violent games and aggression. Of course correlation doesn't equal causation. But no scientific study ever purported to show anything more than correlation. The studies showing the link between smoking and lung cancer show a correlation (even down to the cellular mechanisms). All science does is show correlations. That doesn't mean we don't act on them.

Video Games Aren't Always For Kids (3, Insightful)

t1nman33 (248342) | more than 9 years ago | (#9018047)

The major problem with this argument--and all violent media arguments--is that everybody wants to ban the violence "for the children." It's all well and good, and socially responsible, I might add, to keep 8-year-olds watching Robocop II or Reservoir Dogs or what have you. But there would be an uproar if it were suggested that we ban violent movies for adults because of those (real or imagined) correlations between violent media and aggression.

The simple response is that we tend to assume that video games are a young person's medium, when the truth is that gamers range across ages, genders, and preferences. Remember that the young gamers of the 80s are now in their 20s and 30s. You wouldn't lump a Disney movie in with Tarantino when discussing what is inappropriate for children. Why would you lump a Spongebob Squarepants game in with GTA?

Some games, like some movies, are appropriate for children. Some games, like some movies, are most certainly not.

Re:Video Games Aren't Always For Kids (2, Interesting)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 9 years ago | (#9020645)

The comic industry faced the same thing decades ago. The resulting Comics Code Authority effectively halted growth of that medium. Not getting the CCA seal on a book was pretty much a deathmark as no retailer would touch it with a 10 foot pole. This is only recently starting to change and the medium is finally getting a chance to mature.

The last thing we need is a version of the CCA for games. Imagine if all major retailers like Best Buy and Wal-Mart stopped carrying anything with an ESRB rating higher than E (everyone)? You would definitely see a shift in what projects publishers would fund. Many of the most critically acclaimed games would never see the light of day, as the publishers couldn't hope to recoup development and publishing costs.

Now, god forbid, something like this happens, I don't see it having as drastic an impact as the CCA did on the comic industry, but mature titles would shift to smaller, independant publishers with lower budgets. The big dogs would protect their sales by focusing on games that would get the most retail exposure. I would expect consoles to be hit the hardest by something like this. Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft would never license a game that would never be seen on a retail rack. (In much the same way that Marvel and DC kept all their stuff CCA compliant)

It's a bit before my time, so I'm asking. Did the motion picture industry face the same thing early on?

Re:Video Games Aren't Always For Kids (1)

Sylver Dragon (445237) | more than 9 years ago | (#9022227)

It's a bit before my time, so I'm asking. Did the motion picture industry face the same thing early on?

Yes, where do you think movie ratings came from? They aren't government mandated. One of the few positive things to come out of the MPAA was movie ratings.

Re:Video Games Aren't Always For Kids (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 9 years ago | (#9025152)

The last thing we need is a version of the CCA for games. Imagine if all major retailers like Best Buy and Wal-Mart stopped carrying anything with an ESRB rating higher than E (everyone)? You would definitely see a shift in what projects publishers would fund. Many of the most critically acclaimed games would never see the light of day, as the publishers couldn't hope to recoup development and publishing costs.

Yeah. Ever since the MPAA was founded, we haven't seen any R or XXX rated films...

Re:Video Games Aren't Always For Kids (1)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 9 years ago | (#9028840)

Yeah. Ever since the MPAA was founded, we haven't seen any R or XXX rated films...
I sense a bit of sarcasm to this.

The movie industry is alot futher along than the comics industry, and I would bet that at the beginnings of the MPAA it was very rare to see a R rated movie. In the comic industry, things are just starting to open up to more mature content with newer publishers (such as Image) and independants. However, the mainstream (Marvel, DC) still stay away from anything that would not be approved by the CCA. Even today, the things that DC publishes that are not approved are generally listed under their Vertigo line and don't carry the DC logo.

Re:Video Games Aren't Always For Kids (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 9 years ago | (#9029451)

In the comic industry, things are just starting to open up

Only if by "just starting" you mean "fifteen years ago."

As for Marvel and DC--they generally follow the very-defunct "comics code" (aside from the things like "never show cleavage" that, believe it or not, Marvel tossed out before Image or Sandman) because that's their target audience. Just like you'll never seen hardcore nudity on Nickelodeon.

Re:Video Games Aren't Always For Kids (1)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 9 years ago | (#9030837)

I would consider 15 years as relatively recent, as the CCA was established in the early 50's if I recall correctly. Mature books started really happening in the 90's. 30-40 years of almost no development in any other genre than "superhero" is pretty stagnant.

Even now, most of the mature books are just the same "superhero" formula with more mature subject matter. It's a step in the right direction, but the medium remains largely stuck in the traditional genre. Work by people like Neil Gaiman, Frank Miller, Art Spiegelman, etc. are whats really expanding the medium. People who don't let the medium of expression dictate the story they are expressing.

To tie back into the main topic, we already have a games industry where similar artistic innovation is happening. Thanks to the openness of the industry, it's development has been much faster than that of movies or comics. I would say that games are at about the same level as the comics industry from the standpoint artistic maturity, and further ahead on public awareness of that maturity. Considering the timeframe that gaming has developed, it's quite impressive. I just don't want to see something done to stunt that growth, but people ignorant of the possibilities the medium has will do just that.

Re:Video Games Aren't Always For Kids (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 9 years ago | (#9031599)

standpoint [of] artistic maturity

Now, I like comic books the same as anyone else. And I like art--real art, which says something--as much as anyone. And I know that comic books are art.

But I don't look for violent action in ballet.

It is a foolish thing to supose that comic books, a medium born from superheroes, will ever change dramatically to something that is not very much superherolike. You may as well demand that publicly aired television become more than a simple-story setup. Even the most "mature" television art still neatly breaks into episodes--which is simply part of the medium.

Comic books aren't all about superheroes because of the relatively stagnant market or any real artisitc barrier preventing them from being about, oh, an ordinary family dealing with a divorce. What keeps them about superheroes and locked into the superhero formula is part and parcel of what makes a comic book a comic book.

That said, there's nothing that says a comic book can't tell whatever story it wants--it just has to be against the backdrop of superheroes and supervillians. (And, while I'm making my arrogant claims, there's nothing that says just because someone's story is old means it isn't good, or that just because a story is new means that it's worth the paper it's printed on.)

Re:Video Games Aren't Always For Kids (1)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 9 years ago | (#9031653)

Again, we need to seperate the mode of communication from the actual content. Your analogy of television being broken into episodes is a description of the format of the medium. The format has nothing to do with the content. Comics come in monthly issues. Those issues are broken down into pages, and further broken down into panels. Where does "need superhero" fit there?

Some examples of comics that completely avoided the superhero formula:

1) Maus by Art Speiglman. It is a biographical book about the authors experiences in the holocaust. The caracters are portrayed as different types of animals to symbolize the relationship between the different factions involved in the story. Happened to win a Pulitzer by the way.

2) Strangers in Paradise by Terry Moore. Not the deepest story, but its story is based on a kind of contemporary love triange. The story itself is not original, but it is new to the comic medium.

3) The Sandman by Neil Gaiman. Tons of mythology, and a character that is one of the most powerful in known creation. However, he is not a noble character, he is not threatened by evil, all of his conflict is actually self afflicted. Again, very far from standard good/evil superhero fare.

I get to go home now, so I'll post more later.

Re:Video Games Aren't Always For Kids (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 9 years ago | (#9031710)

Where does "need superhero" fit there?

I must correct my previous statement. "Superhero" should be amended to "Superhero and/or fantasy-like [fantastic, fanciful]".

Maus by Art Speiglman

And, despite the clear historical wave Art rode, he still chose to render the characters as animals. (And, like most Holocaust retellings, its imagery absolves the victims of any wrongdoing they might have done. Just because a serial killer murders an adulterer doesn't mean that the adulterer should be posthumously fogiven.)

Strangers in Paradise by Terry Moore

A love triangle is hardly new to comic books. The Superman/Lois Lane/Clark Kent love triange is a clever take on a classic literary device, and even the X-Men and Fantastic Four have love triangles between the characters.

The Sandman by Neil Gaiman.

The Sandman is, by an objective measure, a "superhero." So are the Watchmen (also Gaiman, IIRC)--who, as I understand them, very much reflect the intertwining of comics and the impossible people they show, be they talking mice, men who can withstand bullets, or cosmic characters of godlike power.

Re:Video Games Aren't Always For Kids (1)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 9 years ago | (#9032299)

Again, we're kind of getting away from the point. I was simply pointing out that the medium is not tied to a specific genre.

You may not agree with Speiglman's views or his portrayal of them. But that does not change the fact that the book is in a decidedly different genre from the mainstream of comics. Using animals to portray the characters is more akin to literary device than fantasy. The characters animal appearance is not to be taken literally. They are not talking mice and cats. They are people. The animal appearance is simply an abstraction. (and again, I am not saying anything about the correctness of his views, as that is not the issue. Just the methods he chooses to portray them.)

With the love triange in superman, it was never the focus of the plot, and the main character is still a superhero. In SiP, the characters are normal people. The emotional ties ARE the story. Not a sub plot to a superhero book. Theres a very big difference there, and nothing "Superhero and/or fantasy-like"

I admit, the example of the Sandman is a bit more ambiguous. However even if the character has powers that even gods fear, his actions are far from heroic. The character does not wield his power to defeat evil, save mankind, or any other ideal. He does as he sees fit, and aften in a way that is especially cruel. (condemning a former lover to 10,000 years in hell for spurning him, for example)The story of The Sandamn is ultimately a tragedy. With the main characters destruction brought about by his own actions and failures. Fantasy? Yes. Remotely the same genre as standard superhero fare? Hell no.

As for Alan Moore's The Watchmen, it is most definitely a superhero book. However it uses that genre to explore concepts that the mainstream would not touch with a 10 foot pole.

You also mention "comics and the impossible people that they show". Is this any different from books, movies, television, radio, music, and theatre in the impossible and fantastic characters and situations they depict? Again, me central point is that the medium of expression does not in any way dictate or limit what you can express with it. Games are no different. Good discussion! It definitely kept me sane at work. :)

Re:Video Games Aren't Always For Kids (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 9 years ago | (#9034035)

You may not agree with Speiglman's views or his portrayal of them.

Screw the comic book debate. I want to clear this point up.

It is entirely possible to critizise someone and point out a shortcoming without disagreeing with them. I'm not some brain-dead freak who thinks that the Jews caused the Holocaust, or that there isn't literary merit in works about it. I just know that, as a matter of our black and white society, whatever crimes the pre-WWII Jews might have done are ignored because of the Holocaust.

That said, back to the discussion at hand.

Is this any different from books, movies, television, radio, music, and theatre in the impossible and fantastic characters and situations they depict? Again, me central point is that the medium of expression does not in any way dictate or limit what you can express with it

But it does. It does in so many ways, that thinking that you can really seperate the medium and the story you're telling is at best sophmoric. When an artist attempts to do a comic book that isn't superhero or fantastic, as often as not it simply comes out bad.

In fact, it's not just comics that color and affect as a medium of expression. Movies, novels, paintings, television shows, radio dramas, music, dance, spoken word, performance art, and every other possible kind of artistic medium imposes its own limits and requirements upon art done in its medium.

Chicken and Egg Dilemma of media causes violence (4, Insightful)

Jtheletter (686279) | more than 9 years ago | (#9018152)

Bob McCannon's statement that "the correlations between violent media and aggression are stronger than between smoking and lung cancer"

Ah but the difference here is correlation is not causation, as the media seems to need to be reminded of time and time again. Sure there are some unstable few who see violence in media and emulate it, but there is quite often strong evidence that there was more wrong with those people than just their choices of movies, games and music.

There's a huge leap between pressing buttons on a controller while watching a TV screen and actually going out and purchasing weapons and using them on people in the real world. A leap that any stable-to-begin-with person is not going to make, there are just too many times along the way where they are going to realize that what they're doing is wrong.

People gravitate towards what interests them, violent people play violent games, that's all there is to it. This doesn't mean all people who play violent games are violent, and vice versa, (all generalizations are false, etc etc) but someone who ends up going out and stealing a car and running over pets and people to play real life GTA is most likely going to be someone who had the choice to buy GTA or Tetris and chose the former because that kind of media is what interested them before they even bought their game system.

Re:Chicken and Egg Dilemma of media causes violenc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9019703)

"violent people play violent games"

Do you have evidence that that's true, or is it just your hunch, based on anecdotal evidence? In any case, the issue is whether video games have a tendency to promote violence or aggressive behavior. Assuming what you say is true, that violent people are attracted to violent games, it doesn't negate the overwhelming research that exists showing the link between video games and aggression. These studies use control groups to screen the selection bias that you suggest. It also doesn't negate the fact that video games are likely to increase aggressive behavior in people who already aggressive.

Re:Chicken and Egg Dilemma of media causes violenc (2, Insightful)

TheLoneDanger (611268) | more than 9 years ago | (#9020091)

Have you seen what researchers consider to be aggressive behaviour in those studies? Some of the dumbest things imaginable, and also attributable to just being excited (or frustrated if it's a bad game). That is the point of most games, to make you excited. Pretty much every study I've seen has participants being tested shortly after playing the game, when they are still excited. Maybe you can point me to a few studies that show people testing appreciably more aggressively long-term (ie games and only games are making people more fundamentally aggressive and/or violent). I would be very interested to see them, and be proven wrong.

Besides which, why is aggression necesarily always a bad thing? Consider that Canada and various parts of Europe (some countries, such as Germany, have censorship laws) have access to EXACTLY the same media and in some cases are even more lenient about it (many movies rated R in the US are 14a or lower in Canada), and their violent crime rates are appreciably lower than in the US. Also, violent crime rates have been dropping in both the US and Canada for at least the last 5+ reported years (from FBI statistics). So if videogames have such a negative effect, and they're now more widely available and explicit than they ever were before, where's the serious harm to society? I still see people killing each other for all the reasons they've always killed each other (love, money, power, sociopathy).

Re:Chicken and Egg Dilemma of media causes violenc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9022648)

Actually, the APA study controls for mere excitement as a result of video game play compared to aggressive thoughts/behavior.

LoneDanger, you're asking for the impossible requiring a study to show "games and only games" making people more aggressive over the long term. Obviously, there's no easy way to test for this without locking people in a lab for a year. Even if the only evidence points to short-term flairs in aggression, it's not unreasonable to posit long-term effects. If you do something often enough, it becomes a habit. Similarly, for kids (especially) who regularly see violent behavior modelled in games and who are active participants in the way that only games (vs TV or movies) allow, I find it hard to believe that this has no ill effects in the long term when the short-term effects are obvious.

I'm not sure what your crime rate and video games argument is. Do you honestly think that you can point to media as the sole explanatory factor for something as multi-faceted and complex as the rise/fall of violent crime?

I recognize that the bias on this forum is strongly in favor of games. The attitude of gamers towards the ill effects of violent media is like the Bush administration attitude towards global warming. They keep saying, I won't admit there's a problem until I see overwhelming evidence that "proves" it. The evidence is there, but gamers (and game publishers for that matter) have a vested interest in ignoring it.

Re:Chicken and Egg Dilemma of media causes violenc (1)

TheLoneDanger (611268) | more than 9 years ago | (#9023684)

I'm not sure what your crime rate and video games argument is. Do you honestly think that you can point to media as the sole explanatory factor for something as multi-faceted and complex as the rise/fall of violent crime?

Actually, what I am trying to point out is that media can not be the sole explanatory factor in rise or fall of violent crime. I am trying to point out that the effect of violent media compared to many other more critical factors (social, economic, political etc.) is practically NIL. People keep hearing about how games get more realistic and violent and more kids are playing them. Then they maybe turn on the news and there's a report of some gang-realted murders, and think "things are getting worse, games are part of the problem".

I hear it from my parents, from older people around me especially, thinking that things are worse than they've ever been and they're getting worse. But violent crime is dropping, and has been for quite a while. Then there's always the argument that even if we aren't committing more violent crime we are still more aggressive towards each other in everyday life. If this is true (and how could you actually prove this?), it is STILL more likely that the other things mentioned are a bigger factor than games.

As for the control for mere excitement in the study, (this is directly from the study): "Our findings do not rule out the possibility that under some circumstances violent video game effects on subsequent aggressive behavior might be mediated by increased feelings of hostility or by general arousal effects. Indeed, GAAM explicitly notes that thoughts, feelings, and arousal are intricately interconnected, sometimes to such an extent that they can't be disentangled." They are essentially saying that the very formula they used to calculate the aggression itself says that excitement can not necessarily be accounted for.

They keep saying, I won't admit there's a problem until I see overwhelming evidence that "proves" it. The evidence is there, but gamers (and game publishers for that matter) have a vested interest in ignoring it.

The evidence is NOT there. You INFER it from the studies showing short term spikes in aggression/excitement, and assume that short term behaviour has to have long term effects. Hasn't there already been plenty of time for these long term effects to emerge (since Wolfenstein, the game in that APA study has been out for over 12 years now)? If not then how long? What type of behaviour should we be looking for? And IF it doesn't manifest itself in behaviour, what is the problem?

Understand yourself and stop liking violence. (1, Insightful)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 9 years ago | (#9018159)


If you truly understand yourself, you will stop liking to view violence. Those who like violent games are only seeing the game as a symbol for their own anger. If they work on their anger directly, they will not need the game.

Read The Primal Scream: Primal Therapy: The Cure for Neurosis [amazon.com]
by Arthur Janov [amazon.com].

Also read Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality [amazon.com]
by Frederick S. (Fritz) Perls [amazon.com], Ralph Hefferline [amazon.com], PaulGoodman [amazon.com].

I don't profit from book sales. Those are Amazon's codes for the books exclusively.

Here is an article I wrote for a friend about other books I would recommend: Read the Recent Great Books. [hevanet.com]

Psychobabble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9018313)

"If you truly understand yourself, you will stop liking to view violence. Those who like violent games are only seeing the game as a symbol for their own anger"

That's nothing but psychobabble! I like some violent videogames because I like good entertainment, and some violent games are good entertainment. There is nothing else. Shooting a guy in GTA is just pressing a joystick button and affecting pixels on the screen. It has nothing to do with non-existent desires for real violence.

"Read The Primal Scream:Gestalt Therapy: "

Or better yet, ignore them. These are baseless pop-psychological works that have absolutely no scienctific validity; created by scammers who got nicely rich.

Re:Psychobabble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9021613)

Of course, you didn't read those books, and have no idea what is in them.

Mod parent down, Troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9018531)

nm

Re:Understand yourself and stop liking violence. (1)

TheLoneDanger (611268) | more than 9 years ago | (#9020140)

What you're not getting is that the enjoyment is not ALL about the violence. Most of us are grounded enough in reality that we realize that we are not actually shooting people, and it becomes more of a skill testing exercise than anything else. The violence is only therebecause it is something that is understood fairly easily, something being there and then not being there. The concept of death and destruction are things that we learn about fairly early on. That's not a bad thing. You need to understand that things die and that its not good to truly realize that murder is bad.

When you don't agree, kill. On Slashdot, mod down. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9021676)

Moderators: Remember, when you don't agree with something, it is a Troll.

All those who agree with you are fine people, all others are trolls.

That's a violent kind of thinking. How did you get that kind of thinking, rather than learning social sophistication? Where did you learn that? Hmmm. Was it playing violent fantasy games rather than actually talking to real people?

You'd think Mexico City would be more concerned... (4, Insightful)

*weasel (174362) | more than 9 years ago | (#9018304)

...with it's real crime rates.

Even though the ridiculous claim isn't backed up whatsoever, let's grant them the benefit of the doubt (undeservedly) and say that there is a correlation between virtual violence and emat-space violence.

Well guess the f* what?
Correlation does not equal causation.

If you want to prove something - you tend to need this thing we call evidence. There isn't a correlation between smoking and lung cancer -- there's a direct causal link between smoking and lung cancer. And that casual link is backed up with peer-reviewed, reproducible, scientific studies.

Not half-cocked editorials.
Not half-witted armchair social commentary.
and not contrived anecdotal evidence.

Re:You'd think Mexico City would be more concerned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9018503)

"...with it's real crime rates."

Uh, Mexico City is not in New Mexico. RTFM and take a geography course.

Re:You'd think Mexico City would be more concerned (3, Informative)

Pizzop (605441) | more than 9 years ago | (#9018708)

Um, read the article again. It's NEW MEXICO, not Mexico.

Re:You'd think Mexico City would be more concerned (1)

*weasel (174362) | more than 9 years ago | (#9021185)

Gak.

Vehemence still applies, fairly rude poke at Mexico's crime rates retracted.

Re:You'd think Mexico City would be more concerned (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9019220)

You're right that correlation does not equal causation, but you naively assume that "reproducible scientific studies" can "prove" causation. They can't. What you call a "direct causal link" is nothing more than a strong correlation.

Further this "half-cocked" editorial is not talking about "anecdotal" evidence. The link between aggressive behavior and violent video games has been found time and again in "reproducible scientific studies." A 5 second Google search will back me up, for instance:

http://www.apa.org/journals/psp/psp784772.html

Re:You'd think Mexico City would be more concerned (1)

TheLoneDanger (611268) | more than 9 years ago | (#9020202)

See a previous response I wrote to this article here [slashdot.org]. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the issues I bring up. That article shows up all the time because it is readily available, but it is not a good one in my opinion.

Re:You'd think Mexico City would be more concerned (1)

ameoba (173803) | more than 9 years ago | (#9027752)

...and this is -exactly- why the license plates in New Mexico say "New Mexico USA" on them.

Re:You'd think Mexico City would be more concerned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9029600)

Failed geography did we?

Huh? (1, Troll)

nacturation (646836) | more than 9 years ago | (#9018336)

From the article:

'Suggest that she/he limit total "screen" time to an hour or, at most, two hours per day. If the child reacts severely, you might need to consult a mental health or pediatric professional.'

If the child reacts severely to a suggestion, perhaps it's an indication that you're a lousy parent with no control over your children. Sadly, the TV/PS2/XBOX-is-the-babysitter syndrome appears to be all too common these days.

Re:Huh? (1)

josh glaser (748297) | more than 9 years ago | (#9026480)

That was a troll? Anyhoo - yeah, that point in the article was dumb. Well, pretty much the whole thing was dumb - but that point especially. It's like, "Your child is used to playing games 5 hours a day. Limit him to 1. What?! You mean he doesn't like it?! He's mentally ill!"

Not about censorship (2, Informative)

Ian_Bailey (469273) | more than 9 years ago | (#9018408)

The anti-violence article is actually quite even-handed and fair except for the one "correlation" remark.

Firstly, she mentions that the studies that claim videogames are not determental to society are funded by the videogame companies themselves (sound like a certain OS maker we all know here?). She then mentions that there are beneficial games out there too.

But everyone here is talking about censorship, when she doesn't even mention it in her article!

What she does recommend is (gasp!) spending time with your children, and closely watching what they do, especially if certain signs appear (they only like violent games, spend too much time, etc.).

In fact, this article seems to be promoting common sense among parents, a stance usually quite popular here!

To be honest (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9018606)

I understand the concern posed by McCannon.

From what I see of his work in general (including this article), it appears that he tries to get people to examine who's bias is being presented in media content, and the possible motivations involved in presenting that bias. If you consider that as his main objective, the majority of the article is totally fair.

The one major fault in his article is the smoking/cancer correlation statement. My guess is that it was inserted as flamebait so that the rest of the article may get more attention (such as a sign that starts with "SEX! Now that I have your attention..."). It's unfortunate that it seems necessary to insert such claims.

The article isn't even serious (1)

lightspawn (155347) | more than 9 years ago | (#9018864)

It doesn't try to prove anything. It's supposed to be a humor piece (except it's not that funny). This isn't your normal country-bans-games-by-mistake news, just some d00d writing about something he seems to enjoy doing, commenting on why he thinks people enjoy it.

This isn't worth spending any time on. The general population can generate opinions faster than they can be educated. It's really only worth stepping in when they consider doing something harmful with their opinions.

Re:The article isn't even serious (2, Insightful)

manonthespoon (607414) | more than 9 years ago | (#9019208)

Whether it's worth responding to this article or not, that's a frightening attitude.

It is ridiculous to wait until someone tries to (do something harmful) pass a law banning videogames before you speak up. By the time that popular opinion has moved people to act it is too late to really do much about the situation.

Yes, columnists can generate FUD pretty fast, but it takes time for an idea to really set in.

I think that part of what is preventing "something harmful" from happening is the constant exchange between two camps for and against videogames. If the pro-game faction stopped speaking up (until people consider doing "something harmful"), that's when these "harmful" things would be most likely to happen.

Another way of looking at it would be that simply telling people that videogames are violent and that cause violence is "something harmful", because it shifts opinion towards banning or placing controls on games.

Re:The article isn't even serious (1)

lightspawn (155347) | more than 9 years ago | (#9019484)

This one column isn't really likely to change anybody's mind.

And by calling the factions "pro-game" and "anti-game" instead of "pro-art" and "anti-art" you're already doing your faction a disservice.

This just in... (3, Funny)

DarkGamer20X6 (695175) | more than 9 years ago | (#9018910)

A recent study shows a strong correlation between raping wombats and breathing air, even stronger than that of the correlation between smoking and lung cancer.

Did you know that 100% of people who rape wombats also breathe air? This astonishing statistic puts anyone who breathes air at risk of wombatphilia. If you breathe air, please, seek professional psychological help immediately.

Re:This just in... (2, Interesting)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 9 years ago | (#9021096)

While the parent was a complete joke (and a funny one at that) it actually made me think of something applicable.

With media as it is in America today, has ANYONE not been exposed to violence in media? How do you find a control group for these studies? You'd have to find people who never see movies or television, never listen to radio, and to an extent do not read newspapers, magazines, or books. Otherwise, you cannot be certain that it is only videogame violence that correlates to physical violence. Basically, the results are worthless with multiple variables.

How dare he say that about video games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9019098)

It makes me so angry. If I ever see him I will kick his ass!!!!

Re:How dare he say that about video games (1)

manonthespoon (607414) | more than 9 years ago | (#9019245)

GTA Player:
"I will steal his car and run him over with it."

Quake Player:
"I will frag him with my rocket launcher."

Answer: Better Fact Checking. (4, Insightful)

Crash Culligan (227354) | more than 9 years ago | (#9020003)

Given some of the comments I saw on the previous posting about D&D celebrating its 30th birthday (from the perspective of many gamers, it might as well have been born in the Cretacious period), some of you might not remember all of the anti-D&D hype. Remember the time, when religious groups were practically crawling out of the woodwork (or out from under rocks in some cases) claiming how dangerous these things were?

Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

The way D&D got its breathing room back then was by taking note of which research the critics cited, noting which research specifically refuted that research, and making sure that got brought up whenever the bad research cropped up. Note especially the efforts of the CAR-PGa [theescapist.com] in that advocacy; they were set up primarily as a clearinghouse for that information.

The goal was simple and straightforward: find the false information that got repeated as gospel (irony intended) by those groups, and refute it hard whenever it got quoted. Eventually, most got the point. Anti-gaming groups were shamed, reporters who relied on sensationalism had their reputations sullied for not checking facts, and people either decided that it either wasn't really worth attacking or was too dangerous to attack.

But you know what? It's still going on. Groups sufficiently uneducated (including police organizations) [theescapist.com] are much fewer and farther between, but they can occasionally still be found. Just head for the center of the ever-expanding cloud of methane.

(This is a big day for questions for me!) What computer gaming advocacy groups are there out there that we can turn to in our hour of need? And if there aren't any, who wants to form one?

Personal Experiences Suggest The Opposite (1)

TheScogg (609746) | more than 9 years ago | (#9020044)

"the correlations between violent media and aggression are stronger than between smoking and lung cancer." That's funny. I've personally known three people who've aquired lung cancer after a lifetime of smoking, but only two people who've robbed hookers after beating them to death with a baseball bat.

Which game? (1)

MMaestro (585010) | more than 9 years ago | (#9020098)

"the sheer joy of freeform gaming mayhem"

sarcasm Gee I wonder which game inspired that quote... /sarcasm

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