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How Videogames Became the Bogeyman

Zonk posted about 8 years ago | from the scary-stuff dept.

125

Tom Leupold, writing for the Inside Bay Area site, explores why videogames have become an American bogeyman. Talking with prof. Dmitri Williams, he discusses the rise, fall, and resurrection of games as a part of mainstream society. From the article: "Today, as games have once again infiltrated the mainstream, a growing number of adults are again enjoying gaming and understand there are games that are appropriate for different age groups. But that hasn't stopped crusaders from trying to censor them in the name of 'saving' the children. Williams, 34, said those under 38 have a different view of games than their elders. Most have grown up with games and, like television for the previous generation, games are embedded in their culture. "

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How Videogames Became the Bogeyman (4, Insightful)

rob1980 (941751) | about 8 years ago | (#16238259)

See: How Rock'n'Roll Music Became the Bogeyman in 1950. Bunch of wound-up old people that don't like change.

Re:How Videogames Became the Bogeyman (4, Insightful)

Gnostic Ronin (980129) | about 8 years ago | (#16238545)

You forgot comic books. People honestly thought Batman comics and True Crime comic books would make kids go out and kill people. Before that, I think Flappers were the end of Western Civilization.

In fact, I think everything that came along since the Roman Era has been the "End of Western Civilization". Kids have always been lazier and less interested in knowledge than privious generations. Evil currupting forces have always pulled them from the Straight and Narrow(TM). Even Christianity, when it first came along was a threat.

Re:How Videogames Became the Bogeyman (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 8 years ago | (#16239293)

Even Christianity, when it first came along was a threat.

Considering it is necessary to actually call for a separation of science and church, I could see that happen again.

Re:How Videogames Became the Bogeyman (1)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | about 8 years ago | (#16240075)

Heh. Atheism is the new Christianity. Go figure!

Re:How Videogames Became the Bogeyman (1, Interesting)

rob1980 (941751) | about 8 years ago | (#16239417)

Even Christianity, when it first came along was a threat.

It's still a threat even now, considering some of the shit going on these days.

Re:How Videogames Became the Bogeyman (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16241569)


In fact, I think everything that came along since the Roman Era has been the "End of Western Civilization".


Like those "Goth" type people.

Re:How Videogames Became the Bogeyman (1)

LKM (227954) | about 8 years ago | (#16242397)

Even Christianity, when it first came along was a threat.

Well, seems like they got at least one thing right.

Re:How Videogames Became the Bogeyman (1)

Yaotzin (827566) | about 8 years ago | (#16243351)

Even Christianity, when it first came along was a threat.
Those darn kids with their bibles and their crosses...

Re:How Videogames Became the Bogeyman (2, Funny)

kalirion (728907) | about 8 years ago | (#16244133)

You forgot Dungeons and Dragons [chick.com] .

Re:How Videogames Became the Bogeyman (5, Funny)

Kelson (129150) | about 8 years ago | (#16239095)

Sometimes I find myself wondering: 10-15 years from now, am I going to be the old fogey freaking out about something new that I don't trust, but all the kids are into?

Then I think of MySpace.

Re:How Videogames Became the Bogeyman (1)

Jerf (17166) | about 8 years ago | (#16241399)

10-15 years from now, am I going to be the old fogey freaking out about something new that I don't trust, but all the kids are into?
"Son, I don't care what your friends say. You don't want to directly interface your brain to the Collective Conciousness."

OK, probably more than 10-15 years from now, but, yes.

Re:How Videogames Became the Bogeyman (1)

edunbar93 (141167) | about 8 years ago | (#16241851)

Sometimes I find myself wondering: 10-15 years from now, am I going to be the old fogey freaking out about something new that I don't trust, but all the kids are into?

Not me man. I not only grew up with video games, I grew up with Slayer and King Diamond. Marilyn Manson came a little later on, but by then it was a schtick that had been done before. After that, *nothing* is shocking.

My kids are worshipping satan? Hell man, giv'er!

Re:How Videogames Became the Bogeyman (1)

jackbird (721605) | about 8 years ago | (#16243891)

When your kids start dressing and talking like victorian dandies and being really polite, it's gonna grind your gears real good.

Remember, it's not the content of the youthful fad that's important, it's the fact that it pisses off your parents.

Re:How Videogames Became the Bogeyman (1)

kabocox (199019) | about 8 years ago | (#16244075)

Sometimes I find myself wondering: 10-15 years from now, am I going to be the old fogey freaking out about something new that I don't trust, but all the kids are into?

Then I think of MySpace.


Um, MySpace isn't even wrong. It's just that those kids should be capable of so much more than that. I think webdesign or just basic published page layout may need to be an elementary school class now. Forget reading. Learn the basics of just put 2 ad banners up: one at the top and one at the side, and 2 nav panels and 1 large clean block of content. "Reading" really needs to be seperated out into different skill sets. Looking through a poorly designed website is much harder than just reading a book except if it has any decent search utility. The KISS prinicple in page design needs to be hammered into kids before they start building masses of ugliness.

don't blame all of us.... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16239653)

I'm an Old Person (tm), and a gamer. I've been doing it since line-printer lunar lander games on mainframes. Pac-man is newfangled :). I'm as against this idiotic blame shifting as anybody.

Blame it on stupid people, instead, some of whom happen to be old. We're not all like that.

Some parent's don't like responsibility (5, Insightful)

Eightyford (893696) | about 8 years ago | (#16238285)

First it was radio... then it was television, rock and roll and comic books. After that it was video games, rap, heavy metal, and goth music. Now it's the internet and more realistic games.

Message to parents! If your child screws up, it is probably your fault! Sucks, doesn't it?

Re:Some parent's don't like responsibility (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16238341)

"Message to parents! If your child screws up, it is probably your fault!"

Or possibly the child's...

(That shouldn't seem like a radical idea, yet somehow always seems to be missed.)

Re:Some parent's don't like responsibility (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 8 years ago | (#16239127)

Or possibly the child's...

(That shouldn't seem like a radical idea, yet somehow always seems to be missed.)
Since a child can't exactly be responsible for anything...

Up until a certain age, we (society) pretty much assume that anytime a kid screws up it is the parents' fault. An being oblivious/ignorant does not give the parents a free pass for their kid's behavior.

Re:Some parent's don't like responsibility (3, Informative)

Stalyn (662) | about 8 years ago | (#16239301)

Don't forget the role society plays as well.

Up until a certain age, we (society) pretty much assume that anytime a kid screws up it is the parents' fault. An being oblivious/ignorant does not give the parents a free pass for their kid's behavior.

Which translates to, until a child is able to determine social norms independently, society blames the person who is responsible for instructing a child on how to act within society when the child does not conform to social norms.

Re:Some parent's don't like responsibility (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | about 8 years ago | (#16239407)

It's missed because something causes the child to mess up. Things don't just happen, they happen for a reason. Just blaming "the kid" doesn't get us anywhere.

Re:Some parent's don't like responsibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16239747)

Or, you know, maybe it actually is their fault? I don't care what age you are, if you do something, you ARE resposible for your own actions.

Re:Some parent's don't like responsibility (2, Insightful)

WilliamSChips (793741) | about 8 years ago | (#16239965)

Why did child X do it and not child Y? You can get to your conclusion but not through that logic.

Re:Some parent's don't like responsibility (2, Insightful)

NetRAVEN5000 (905777) | about 8 years ago | (#16240675)

Because they're two different children with different experiences and separate minds. Maybe one gets more attention than the other, maybe one wants a lot of attention. . .
We can blame the child but it would be useless because until a certain age, he doesn't know better and has no idea of the consequence of his actions. And once he's past that point he's already got his own personality and way of thinking, and his own set of experiences that are beyond his control which are affecting the courses of action he takes.

Re:Some parent's don't like responsibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16240129)

When does "the kid" stop being a mindless child and start being responsible for their own actions? Of course it is not as simple as just the legal age of 18. But then what? How do you decide?

Or are you taking the argument further saying that we are fundamentally influenced by our upbringing in a way that never leaves? (In which case, the cycle of irresponsibility never ends.)

Re:Some parent's don't like responsibility (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | about 8 years ago | (#16241353)

When does "the kid" stop being a mindless child

When they commit a crime we really don't like.

For a strictly numerical answer, how about 14? I didn't bother to look for anyone younger.
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/ch ronicle/archive/2004/01/09/BAGRV46SBI1.DTL%20 [sfgate.com]

Re:Some parent's don't like responsibility (3, Insightful)

Nephilium (684559) | about 8 years ago | (#16239443)

And of course... an appropriate quote to refute:

'Juvenile delinquent' is a contradiction in terms, one which gives a clue to their problem and failure to solve it. -- Colonel Dubois in Starship Troopers

One who is a child does need to be instructed on how to behave... the responsibility for this education does not belong to anyone except the parents... it is no one else's responsibility to teach a child how to act well...

The problem is that too many parents now (and most likely in the past as well), think that children can grow up fine with no supervision of their activities... no knowledge of what their kids are doing...

Without a parent/grandparent/aunt/uncle/sibling teaching/raising a child... it's a total crapshoot as to how the kid will turn out... the downside to this is it's actually WORK to raise a child, and not just let the TV turn into a babysitter...

Nephilium

The trouble is that things never get better, they just stay the same, only more so. -- (Terry Pratchett, Eric)

Re:Some parent's don't like responsibility (4, Informative)

tfinniga (555989) | about 8 years ago | (#16241797)

It's almost shocking to see a moderate argument. It seems that the average slashdot poster is an idiot, and half are below average. However, I think it's mostly because a balanced argument is much longer to type and less fun than firing out a quick one-liner, or shooting talking points back and forth.

Here's my take on the whole thing - raising kids is a tricky business. Many people take different approaches, and very few parents will agree on everything. Most parents that I know want their kids to grow up to be better people than they are. Most work quite a bit to reach that goal.

One argument that seems common is that anything that is banned or censored is controlled at the request of parents who don't want to take responsibility for their own kids. So, the argument goes, it is the fault of bad parenting that I can't watch saturday-morning porn on NBC - lazy parents that don't want to raise their own kids. However, the laziest parents I've known don't care about what their kids listen to, see, or do, certainly not enough to try to ban it.

On the other hand, it seems that there are a lot of parents that don't spend enough time with their children, but still act as if they did. It's easy to imagine parents like these being shocked that their kids are into bad things, and going ballistic. Legislating a solution, instead of trying to work one out with their kid. These are not always helpful.

Personally, I try to spend a lot of time with my kids, get a good relationship, teach values and social expectations. (Currently we're working on pooping in the potty.) However, I appreciate the fact that my kids don't have to grow up too fast. I'm glad that Nick Jr. doesn't have violent or racy ads inbetween shows, and I'm glad Dora the explorer doesn't swear. It's nice that there's entertainment that's age appropriate, and I appreciate the help. As kids get older, there's a delicate balance between letting them make their own mistakes and bad judgments, and cushioning their fall. At the end of the day, it's up to the kid to decide whather he wants to take what you taught him and try to be good, or ignore it and seek other pursuits.

So, you try to be a good parent, try to help your kids be good people, and appreciate any help you can get from society in general. Some people would like the world to be adults-only, but I really appreciate that there are some places that are safe for kids.

In relation to the perception of games, I personally hope that the Wii will help change people's perceptions. Unfortunately, the current crop seems to be more aimed at hardcore gamers, who expect adult-themed games to be an option. My 3-year-old probably couldn't handle a dual shock, but I bet she could have a lot of fun with a Wii. Hopefully there will be better content out there which will show a kid-friendly side to this medium as well. Heck, if the devkits are cheap, I'd be happy to make some.. :).

Re:Some parent's don't like responsibility (1)

rts008 (812749) | about 8 years ago | (#16241891)

I understand where you're coming from with this:
"However, I appreciate the fact that my kids don't have to grow up too fast. "

But they will still grow up faster than you want them to, and you will always feel you have not quite have them ready to go out on their own, but go they will- wide eyed and full of energy.

Always try to keep in mind that you will be teaching by example more than any other method. They can emulate you sooner and easier than they can grasp any "instruction" you try. and will.

Like most anything else in life, it's what you make of it;From burden to great joy- like the Prego commercial:"It's in there."

Have fun, and good luck with the young 'un.

Re:Some parent's don't like responsibility (1)

AcidLacedPenguiN (835552) | about 8 years ago | (#16243429)

Too Long/Didn't Read.

Re:Some parent's don't like responsibility (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16238797)

I would actually argue that Rock and Roll is the best comparison to violent videogames for one important reason; in the 1950's Rock and Roll was a musical format which was created to appeal to Teenagers.

As much as people will argue against this, the fact is that the majority of Mature games are targeted towards Teenagers and if they could no longer sell them to teens the sales would evaporate. Being 26 I believe that I'm reasonably representative of most adult gamers and I can honestly say that I purchase 1 or 2 Mature games in a year and the vast majority of games I own are Teen or Everyone rated; on the other hand, one of my friends (who was working his way through university at EB) claimed that 95% of people who were buying games like Soldier of Fortune and what not were 13-17 years old.

I don't know if there is any damage, but people who think they're adult forms of entertainment are delusional.

Re:Some parent's don't like responsibility (1)

sqlrob (173498) | about 8 years ago | (#16239025)

You do know that
a) a vast majority of buyers are over 35?
b) Less than 10% of games are M
c) 2/3 of gamers are over 18?

Re:Some parent's don't like responsibility (2, Funny)

smallfries (601545) | about 8 years ago | (#16239761)

> a) a vast majority of buyers are over 35?

Have you ever connected to any online server, anywhere, ever? 95% of people who play games online seem to be about 12...

Re:Some parent's don't like responsibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16240789)

That's so gay.

Re:Some parent's don't like responsibility (2, Insightful)

DavidTC (10147) | about 8 years ago | (#16241551)

Just because they seem to be 12 doesn't actually make them twelve, it just makes them idiots.

Re:Some parent's don't like responsibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16239171)

on the other hand, one of my friends (who was working his way through university at EB) claimed that 95% of people who were buying games like Soldier of Fortune and what not were 13-17 years old.


Since when did Elder-Beerman [elder-beerman.com] sell video games? *me ducks* ;)

Ummmm (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 8 years ago | (#16239885)

I can't speak for everyone, but speaking for me and my friends, of which I'm the youngest at 26, we love the M rated games and buy lots. GTA: SA rules. Also turns out I can get a lot more games now than when I was a teen since I hold my own job. I'm not saying I don't buy lower rated games, Civ 4 is another favourite of mine, but there's tons of good M rated games. I don't buy based on rating, but I wind up with plenty of them all the same.

Re:Ummmm (1)

Shawn is an Asshole (845769) | about 8 years ago | (#16243243)

Of my friends, I'm the oldest at 24. They're are between 17 and 23. Just about the only games we play are rated M. Like GTA:SA, GTA:VC, True Crime:LA, True Crime:NY, etc. The only games I play that don't have an M rating are some open source games like Dope Wars, Pingus, SuperTux, and Frozen Bubble (damn that game is addicting).

Re:Some parent's don't like responsibility (2, Funny)

lawpoop (604919) | about 8 years ago | (#16238943)

Hey, you forgot Dungeons and Dragons. Who knows how many innocent babies have been sacrificed after their young, unwed parents learned the ritual from the Dungeon Master's handbook?

Re:Some parent's don't like responsibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16239015)

Hey, you forgot Dungeons and Dragons. Who knows how many innocent babies have been sacrificed after their young, unwed parents learned the ritual from the Dungeon Master's handbook?

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say: zero

Not that you'll be able to convince the fundies of that fact. Jack Chick told them D&D had real magic rituals in it!

Re:Some parent's don't like responsibility (1)

Nephilium (684559) | about 8 years ago | (#16239483)

I'm still upset that none of the Jack Chick pamphlet pushers I've met have had a copy of Dark Dungeons with them... I've requested it over and over... and they never have it... bunch of slacking hobos...

Nephilium

"The big foreign car drove itself, but I held the wheel for the sake of appearances." -- Farewell, My Lovely (Chapter 9)

Re:Some parent's don't like responsibility (3, Funny)

Knara (9377) | about 8 years ago | (#16239079)

Not nearly enough because it's still too hard to find tasty baby meat for my sammiches in my grocer's luncheon meat aisle.

Obigitory Fat Bastard: (1)

rts008 (812749) | about 8 years ago | (#16241919)

"Hmmm...Baby, the other, other white meat!"

Re:Some parent's don't like responsibility (1)

wwiiol_toofless (991717) | about 8 years ago | (#16238965)

Before that it was wearing loincloths that were far too big and sagged and they grunted in fashion the elders were unaccustomed to...

Re:Some parent's don't like responsibility (1)

Atzanteol (99067) | about 8 years ago | (#16239477)

Don't forget D&D! It was supposed to suck all those poor children into satanism!

They're just pissy (2, Funny)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | about 8 years ago | (#16238355)

'Cause all their Lemmings died.

Games and Movies and Music oh my! (0)

davidwr (791652) | about 8 years ago | (#16238521)

Games and Movies and Music oh my!
Games and Movies and Music oh my!

We can't be exposing our youth to violence [cbsnews.com] and smut [hbo.com] now can we?

Won't somebody please Think Of The Children?

Nobody under the age of 18 is allowed to read this post.

Movie Ratings in America (1)

brunes69 (86786) | about 8 years ago | (#16238857)

This reminds me of somting I noticed while cruizing IMDB the other day. Ever compare the ratings for movies in other countries to America?

Take for example, The Whole Nine Yards [imdb.com] . For those who haven't seen this movie, it's a compedy. There is nothing beyond comical violence in it. There *is* some nudity when Amada Peet is topless.

Now, take a look at the ratings. Pretty much every single country except the US has it rated for Young Adults 13-14. The US has it rated "R", which means it is barred from anyone under 17.

I will let you draw your own conclusions.

Re:Movie Ratings in America (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16239075)

US has it rated "R", which means it is barred from anyone under 17.

No, it's not. You should probably familiarize yourself with the rating system before criticizing it. It means that it's barred to unattended children under 17. Parents can bring a child of any age they like to the film. Basically the rating says, "We think a significant amount of parents might find this inappropriate for their teenagers, so we'll let them make the call." Sorry but I can't find a single thing wrong with that. Children are subject to the control of their parents.

If they said "Under no circumstances should children be allowed to see this movie" it would be rated NC-17. Some of the other countries listed are actually more restrictive. The famously liberal (especially about sex and drugs) Netherlands rated it a 16, meaning no one under 16 is admitted at all. Germany also gave it the same rating. Many other countries set firm limits as well in their age ratings, overriding the parental authority. That's quite a bit more restrictive than the US, which merely requires the parent to approve.

great example of this (1)

bunions (970377) | about 8 years ago | (#16239533)

I went to Canada a few years back to visit friends. I stayed the night in Seattle because, hey, it's a long drive. At the hotel, there was some crappy movie on broadcast tv with Richard Gere and either Darryl Hannah or that other actress I always think is Darryl Hannah. As coincidence, a week later I saw the same movie on some broadcast channel in Vancouver. In the movie, two things of note for this conversation occurred:

1) Darryl Hannah got topless for about 3 seconds.
2) Some guy got hit in the face with an axe.

In the US, #1 was censored, #2 wasn't. In Canada, you got the boobs but no axe.

One of many reasons I currently have documents filed with Immigration Canada.

Re:great example of this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16242235)

One of many reasons I currently have documents filed with Immigration Canada.

Where you'll get your face hit with an axe before you can ogle any boobs.

Lobbying Money (5, Insightful)

WiseWeasel (92224) | about 8 years ago | (#16238571)

I'm willing to be it's because television, music a movie industry interests are lobbying our representatives to place restrictions on the games industry, which they see as a threat. The games industry just isn't ponying up enough money to counterract the rest of the entertainment industry's lobbying dollars and stay off the regulation radar, and now they're paying the price. It's a terrible way to run a country, but people in power are making too much money to change it...

typo; be = bet (1)

WiseWeasel (92224) | about 8 years ago | (#16238607)

That should read: "I'm willing to bet it's..."... Caught it too late.

Re:Lobbying Money (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 8 years ago | (#16239351)

I wouldn't say it's just lobbying. It's simply knowing a thing and growing up with it, and thus not seeing a threat in it since, after all, you grew up ok as well, so the thing you grew up with can't be that bad.

See D&D for reference. It was a HUGE issue in the 80s, college kids spending nights brooding over some dungeon puzzle, hurling fireballs around and resurrecting their friends. MADD was all over it, and the hype was up.

Today? A sizable population of the RPG market actually IS adults, a wide range of RPG products carters to more mature players that want to get away from hack'n slash and the only ones still going apeshit about it is the religious right who get ridiculed for it by the rest of the population.

And I doubt anyone could say that the RPG biz had any lobbying going akin to TV and comics.

Re:Lobbying Money (1)

DavidTC (10147) | about 8 years ago | (#16241663)

Yeah, D&D is the greatest example. With rock and roll, people can, in fact, seriously argue that did cause a lot of problems, namely, the 60s. It didn't, it was the other way around, but people can stand there and pretend otherwise, even those who were actually around then and participated.

Same with lots of other stuff that got protested, like cop-killing rap (Remember that?) and comic books. They didn't cause problems, they existed at the same times as problems, as outlets, and people looking for scapegoats blamed them. And while they might have read comic books, they read 'good' comic books, and they can convinced thinking comic books have changed. And they never liked rap.

But you point at the big D&D flap and they have no response, because D&D isn't even slightly associated with any bad behavior. D&D didn't do anything, except probably caused some kids to flunk of out college, and I think society at large realizes it's probably better to flunk out of college because you stay up all night playing D&D and skip your classes than because you stay up all night partying and skip your classes, which college students have been doing since time immortal.

And RPG players are everywhere. Computer groups, theatre groups, college kids. There are groups of guys who, instead of catching the game, play a game instead, and you'd never know it. And with the continual release of D&D-based computer games, it can't help but suck in new players. I think, with any random person under, say, 30, you have at least 50% chance of hitting somoene who's participated in a RPG at least once, and another 25% of the people didn't, but know 'normal' people who did regularly and aren't going to think of it as weird.

So the response to 'Grand Theft Auto might make kids violent!' is 'Oh, you mean like D&D?'

And they think 'Hey, wait, I've played D&D, and it didn't make me violent, no matter what those idiots said back then. Maybe the people I've been listening to are the same idiots.'

Incidentally, when you think about it, GTA is actually somewhat like D&D, except that people are encouraged to play evil characters instead of good ones. They've very open-ended, just walking around and doing missions, except the missions in D&D are usually for good, and the missions in GTA are usually for evil, or at least chaos.

Re:Lobbying Money (1)

rts008 (812749) | about 8 years ago | (#16242089)

LOL!
"So the response to 'Grand Theft Auto might make kids violent!' is 'Oh, you mean like D&D?'"

I love that...good stuff.

I'm probably older than than the average aged /.'er (weather changing reminds me I turn 50 this winter), but not what I would think of as "old".
Anyway, we played "Army", "Cowboys and Indians", "Cops and Robbers", and "Space Explorers and Martians" growing up. Real-time RPG at it's finest...massivel destruction frequently entered the plot: EVERYBODY DIES!!! Oh Noooo!

Videogame violence is only new because it's in videogames, which are new.

If you're a Christian, then it's been happening since Cain and Abel. (Any other religion:insert theology here)
If more (arguabley) scientific-minded, it's been happening since Alley Oop picked up a club.

Fundamentalists/fanatics have always pushed for prohibitionist legislation- trying to legislate morality, and it only serves to increase courts and law enforcement's budgets without tangible results. (except in the eyes of the prohibitionists)

This type of approach always seems to backfire. For example- alcohal prohibitions in USA's early 20th century spawned moonshiners, but more importantly, shine runners- the 733t drivin' mofo's that transported the moonshine.

These guys formed the backbone of what would later turn into a multi-billion dollar entity: NASCAR
(cue redneck jokes here:)

Our "War on Drugs" has caused us to invade Panama, covert ops in Columbia, enabled the rise of the Columbian Cartels, etc.

These "videogames are teh evil" campaigns always make me think of the SG1 episode where T'ealc was helping the researchers out by "playing their VR combat sim", and a bug in the software (or design flaw) kept him in a respawn with no exit loop until he beat the adaptive game AI. I want to strap Jack Thompson into that VR interface and let him battle the Go'uld berserker-for real.

Re:Lobbying Money (2, Interesting)

neutralstone (121350) | about 8 years ago | (#16239357)

Agreed. But I think Tycho put it best. [penny-arcade.com]

shoulda fit comic books in here somewhere (-1, Redundant)

mezron (132274) | about 8 years ago | (#16238573)

"Today, as television has once again infiltrated the mainstream, a growing number adults are again enjoying television and understand there are tv shows that are appropriate for different age groups. But that hasn't stopped crusaders from trying to censor them in the name of 'saving' the children. Williams, 34, said those under 38 have a different view of tv shows than their elders. Most have grown up with tv and, like radio for the previous generation, television is embedded in their culture. "

or maybe...

"Today, as radio has once again infiltrated the mainstream, a growing number adults are again enjoying radio and understand there is music that is appropriate for different age groups. But that hasn't stopped crusaders from trying to censor them in the name of 'saving' the children. Williams, 34, said those under 38 have a different view of radio than their elders. Most have grown up with radio and, like books for the previous generation, radio is embedded in their culture. "

then again...

"Today, as books have once again infiltrated the mainstream, a growing number adults are again enjoying books and understand there are books that are appropriate for different age groups. But that hasn't stopped crusaders from trying to censor them in the name of 'saving' the children. Williams, 34, said those under 38 have a different view of books than their elders. Most have grown up with books and, like storytellers for the previous generation, books are embedded in their culture. "

or... well, you get the idea

38? (3, Insightful)

Schemat1c (464768) | about 8 years ago | (#16238613)

Williams, 34, said those under 38 have a different view of games than their elders.

I think he needs to go higher than 38, I'm 41 and I too grew up with video games. I play HL2 deathmatch on a server where the majority of players are older than me.

Re:38? (2, Funny)

DittoBox (978894) | about 8 years ago | (#16238967)

Note to self: avoid HL2, too many old folks. ;)

Re:38? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16239721)

> Note to self: avoid HL2, too many old folks. ;)

Yeah... alays embarrassing to be schooled by one of us gheezers, isn't it. :-)

Re:38? (1)

LoRdTAW (99712) | about 8 years ago | (#16240801)

You wouldn't happen to live in Korea would you?

They're all right (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16238671)

OK, this isn't going to be popular, but here goes anyway.

I think the obvious think that folks on both sides miss, and this is common in many "religious" battles, is that there is truth on both sides. It's too bad that the extremists who _directly_ blame media as the root cause for these types of behaviours, because they are simply detracting from the more probable answer. By the same token, those who shout "it's the parent's fault" or "it's just art" or "it's just a game" and claim absolutely no responsibility are missing it as well.

So why is it that people can derive "pleasure" from playing a game, they can be made "happy" by hearing a tune when they were at one point sad, but many argue that the inverse can't be true. If someone is already depressed and already have a predisposition to say injure one's self be "pushed over the edge" by a melancholy song or a song whose lyrics suggest ways of doing ones self in? I would say that they obviously can, to claim that these types of media only have positive attributions is silly. Now, does that mean that it's the media's "fault" if such an event occurs, well no. Detractors are right in saying that the ultimate responsibility lies in the person. Can the media play a part in such an event, absolutely, many media moves us, sometimes positively, sometimes negatively.

So any view of the debate which takes a stand on either extreme side is basically wrong. Media does have an effect, but it is rarely the cause. So what we have to ask ourselves as a society is, what is the balance between media freedom and the desire to maintain an overall positive societal structure. Right now, it would seem that, other than a few loud voices, that we are leaning much more towards "creative freedom". Now some may disagree with things like video game ratings, the furor over hot coffee, etc. But lets face it, the amount of media that pushes the envelope far outweighs the few instances of righteous indignation.

How Videogames Became the BogeymanMonday Morning Q (2, Interesting)

westlake (615356) | about 8 years ago | (#16238677)

I don't recall any campaign to censor game content for adults.

I do remember a campaign to restrict sales of adult-themed games to adults and a profound distrust of developers who pushed the limits of the M-rated game to protect their sales through Walmart.

If you want to know why videogames became the Bogeyman, you only have to look at adolescent idiocies like Hot Coffee and Super Columbine Massacre RPG!

It is not Fallout, or System Shock, Resident Evil or Half-Life, or any of a hundred other significant, popular, M-rated games published within the last ten years that make the headlines.

It is the handful of games from the handful of publishers we all know are aiming for the flashpoint.

Re:How Videogames Became the BogeymanMonday Mornin (1)

Sigma 7 (266129) | about 8 years ago | (#16240731)

I don't recall any campaign to censor game content for adults.


Two words: Jack Thompson [illspirit.com] .

If you want to know why videogames became the Bogeyman, you only have to look at adolescent idiocies like Hot Coffee and Super Columbine Massacre RPG!


The Super Columbine Massacre RPG was designed to attract media attention (i.e. it was a media whore, just like you know-who). In the same manner of JFK reloaded, it causes a massive amount of "omg-evil" reaction to something that is ultimatly minor - in the same way that Cecil, the brooding Dark Knight, has to prove his goodness in a quest that is ultimatly meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

Hot Coffee was not intended to be released. Also, the video game that it appears for was developed in Europe, not America - wherein the culture has more tolerance for sex stuff but less tolerance for violence. It's no different than a Canadian accusing all American stores of selling "prohibited" automatics and handguns because they are banned in Canada. Regardless, it closed off a loophole in the rating system that excluded content that is not available on the disk.

Hot Coffee is also tame compared to Duke3D.

Also, your list was missing I'm O.k. [imokgame.com] , a video game designed by Jack Thompson that is just as violent as the Super Columbine Massacre RPG.

It is the handful of games from the handful of publishers we all know are aiming for the flashpoint.


GTA3, is rated 'M', which is 17+. If anyone is emotional enough to react negativly to this kind of content to a degree where they want games banned, they are not 'M'ature. (A person emotional enough to react negativly to not like the game is A-OK.)

Re:How Videogames Became the BogeymanMonday Mornin (1)

westlake (615356) | about 8 years ago | (#16241519)

Hot Coffee was not intended to be released

There are three problems with this argument.

The first is in Rockstar's disastrous PR which claimed that Hot Coffee was a third-party mod.

The second is the fact that mini-game could be unlocked in the PC and two console pressings of GTA:SA. That strains coincidence when you have already been caught in a lie.

The third is that you will not be allowed any excuse if you release AO content into the wild. Mark Twain had to pull a first print run of "Huckleberry Finn" because an unknown engraver made pornographic changes to an illustration.

the video game that it appears for was developed in Europe, not America - wherein the culture has more tolerance for sex stuff but less tolerance for violence

Rockstar North was based in Scotland, I believe.

But this is precisely why they ran into trouble. You can't exploit the gang violence of the American inner city in a game without expecting a reaction from the inner city itself. Least of all when your core market is the suburban, adolescent, white male.

Rockstar was blind to the realities of the inner city. Blind to the realites of suburbia. Where it is the instincts and passions of the soccer mom which govern, not the gamer.

Thompson is a distraction. Insignificant in the larger scheme of things.

But a gamer cannot afford to ignore Mrs. Clinton, who is very strong in these very different environments.

Re:How Videogames Became the BogeymanMonday Mornin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16240787)

Wait just a minute!

Super Columbine Massacre RPG is a satire about games and gameplay conventions, and it is also an attempt to encourage serious discourse about a socio-cultural event in the context of a game. It is decidedly *not* an "adolescent idiocy."

Re:How Videogames Became the BogeymanMonday Mornin (1)

NetRAVEN5000 (905777) | about 8 years ago | (#16240799)

No, it's the fact that the people who legislate the games aren't the ones who play them. They also don't realize that "Hot Coffee" wasn't made by Rockstar Games, "GTA" was. "Hot Coffee" was something some bored programmer threw in there as an Easter egg for his own enjoyment.

Re:How Videogames Became the BogeymanMonday Mornin (1)

pNutz (45478) | about 8 years ago | (#16244551)

A bored programmer inflitrated the Rockstar headquarters, set himself up as a regular employee, and stealthily inserted content into the gold master that was never meant to be in there. HE USED MAGIC!!! HOW COULD THEY HAVE KNOWN!?!?!?!?

just you wait... (1)

immerohnegott (949338) | about 8 years ago | (#16238731)

Wait until the Wii drops...imagine small children maniacally hacking their way through hordes of enemies with a machete, FarCry style. Their parents will most assuredly be outraged and write obscen letters to nintendo and ubisoft for creating such a monstrousity. I find it humorous that they would feel so entitled after having disregarded the large 'Mature Audiences' rating on the box and placed it into their preteens' wii little hands.

The culture war (3, Interesting)

VTMarik (880085) | about 8 years ago | (#16238733)

Ah yes, first it was The Novel, then it was Radio, then Movies, then Comics, then Television, then it was Lenny Bruce, and now it's video games. Anything that is new and exciting to the younger generation (AKA what wasn't around for the previous generation) is evil simply because it is new and untested. The game The Texas Chainsaw Massacre for the Atari, which had no blood and only showed death as children flipping upside-down before disappearing, caused a massive storm of controversy for all of two days before everyone started speculating about the end of the fad.

Thanks to Nintendo, the fad has now become a staple of entertainment and everyone's left wondering why. This confusion quickly leads to hatred and FUD which brings us up to date. And now you know the rest of the backstory....

Good day.

Bogeyman is right (5, Insightful)

digitalhermit (113459) | about 8 years ago | (#16238757)

Back in my time it was Dungeons and Dragons. You'd watch the news and see these "exposes" on the kids who are LEARNING TO LOVE SATAN because of the EVIL D&D game. Oh yeah, and Satanism was also a dire threat to our kids. Oh and Styx and Kiss too. Then 2 Live Crew. My neighbor tells me that in his day it was Bob Dylan that was symptomatic of evil.

Re:Bogeyman is right (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | about 8 years ago | (#16238839)

"I cast Magic Missile at the darkness!"

Re:Bogeyman is right (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 8 years ago | (#16239367)

You hit the religious zealot's brain for 1W6+2 damage.

Re:Bogeyman is right (2, Funny)

WilliamSChips (793741) | about 8 years ago | (#16239469)

Wouldn't that require said object to exist?

Re:Bogeyman is right (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16239521)

What, and the magic missile does? A fictional object hits a fictional object - sounds about right to me.

Re:Bogeyman is right (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 8 years ago | (#16239635)

If only I had mod points...

Re:Bogeyman is right (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 8 years ago | (#16240399)

You can't cast MM at a target you can't see.

Fireball on the other hand is an area spell that doesn't demand a target.

Use the right tool for the job.

Re:Bogeyman is right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16244645)

I was right in the middle of the D&D witchhunt thing. I stopped the stupid parent questions by pointing out what was said in a newspaper article and then showed them the books and asked them if they were now crazy and saw spirits rising out of the books. Which was actually what the newspaper said would happen, dementia leading to seeing images of demons floating from the books, sounds crazy but was taken as seriously as the anti-video gamers now.
 
What further amused me was when I was going through my grand parents stuff (and they never threw out anything), I found really old literature that was the same stinking crap - articles and essays on why listening to anything but classical music meant the devil had his hooks in you and looting and murder were next. Seriously, it stated that to go so far as to listen to Jazz meant you were already a lost cause if not a minion of Satan. In comparison to today, there isn't anyone who thinks Kenny G. is dangerous, but turn the clock back and he was worse than Bin Laden, sadly I am actually not joking.
 
Nobody is going to do anything about video games, it's a minority complaining and whining group that the majority couldn't give a crap about. They get some press, I'm sure Tom Hanks will star in some "all my friends are dead by video games" movie or something, but really that's about it. These groups have a short attention span and something else will piss them off next year and they will forget. There have been thousands of Jack Thompons in history and 95% have had little to no effect on the world. Just have a laugh at his expense while he is still around.

Control (2, Insightful)

PresidentEnder (849024) | about 8 years ago | (#16238843)

The vast majority of what goes on in the world, from legislation to war, can be attributed to people's desire to control other people's actions.

Re:Control (1)

miskatonic alumnus (668722) | about 8 years ago | (#16240419)

... and speech, and thoughts.

Re:Control (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16240771)

... which is about actions.

Nobody cares what you think, only what you might do because of what you think.

Ultimately it's all about controlling actions - controlling speech and thought is just a step along the way.

Re:Control (1)

TheFlyingOrc (956704) | about 8 years ago | (#16244423)

That's true, but you can't paint that immediately as if it were a bad thing all the time - I really do want to control other people's ability to kill me and get away with it.

Lower crime is who's fault then? (3, Insightful)

nuggz (69912) | about 8 years ago | (#16238887)

People would rather blame than take responsiblity.

What can we blame for the lower per capita crime rates?
Particularly when we consider some things weren't crimes, or weren't widely reported earlier.

Yes we have had graphic headline grasping crimes lately, but there has always been something. I'm sure there were pissed off kids taking swords or clubs to each other before they invented guns.

Re:Lower crime is who's fault then? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 8 years ago | (#16239167)

What can we blame for the lower per capita crime rates?
This answer is both snarky and serious at the same time:
Immigration

Snarky, because so many people hate the Mexicans for pouring into the U.S.A.

Serious, because immigration and the children of immigrants are pretty much the only thing driving population growth these days.

More people + steady crime rate = less crime per person

(unless you didn't mean to say "lower per capita crime rates")

Re:Lower crime is who's fault then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16239397)

Uh, your math is off there buddy. Unless you meant to imply that immigrants never commit crimes (or commit them at a far lower rate). After all, if you increase the number of people in the country, then you increase the number of criminals (assuming that the percentage of criminals remains the same per unit of population).

Re:Lower crime is who's fault then? (1)

Don_dumb (927108) | about 8 years ago | (#16243059)

Well all the experts who predicted 'a bloodbath of crime' before the crime rate dropped in the mid 90s, sought many reasons why the crime rate dropped so no one would point out they were wrong. But from reading 'Freakonomics' it would seem that the three reasons the authors could actually support with statistical evidence were abortion, stronger jail sentencing and more police officers, many other reasons given simply have no numbers to back them up.
What is also interesting is that it gave evdence to show that what one's parents did to/for their child had no impact on the childs life. What did have an effect was who the parents were (how successful they were) and the child's peers.

And yes they did say abortion. An excerpt from the chapter is here- http://www.freakonomics.com/ch4.php [freakonomics.com]

Attention Jack Thompson... (1)

subl33t (739983) | about 8 years ago | (#16239181)

...What videogames were Duane R Morrison playing that prompted him to kill Emily Keyes in her school in Colorado? What video games made into a sexual abuser?

Games? Oh yes... (5, Insightful)

Criceratops (981909) | about 8 years ago | (#16239291)

Yes, games are a terrible waste of our time and money, and a contributor to drinking, institutionalized violence, and selling sex!

It sucks billions and billions out of foolish peoples' pockets...

More riots, beatings, and other assorted violence take place because of games!

During games, people are exposed to repeated messages selling them alcohol and sex as well!

Did I mention that hundreds of pro and amateurs are permanently injured or killed playing these "harmless" games?

In fact, there are numerous studies proving that these games suck money away from vital education programs and game-players often score lower on standardized tests!


Yes, they are evil.

Wait a sec, we *are* talking about sports aren't we??? ... ooops!

Re:Games? Oh yes... (1)

Solra Bizna (716281) | about 8 years ago | (#16239491)

Very well said. Wish I had mod points today.

-:sigma.SB

Re:Games? Oh yes... (1)

Headcase88 (828620) | about 8 years ago | (#16240251)

Even more interesting is that most politicians love sports, or at least pretend to.

I never understood that... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16239305)

It seems like the media and some parents just point the finger to anything that there child loves. While I never enjoyed it, Pokemon was a good example. Some Christians found it to be Satanic and animal lovers found it supported animal cruelty. However if these people just sat down an watched an eposide of the anime, I'm sure that they would find that it was a good (as in good and evil) show.

Shifting the blame, that's all (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about 8 years ago | (#16239401)

You can usually find those claims at the end of some drama. Some teenager goes bonkers, goes on a killing spree, kills himself or just rapes the girl next door, THEN, and only then, you get those witchhunts for the culprit.

The parents? How DARE you! Those poor people gotta live with what their son did now! They cannot be the ones to blame. So it has to be... ... in the 20s, that aweful dances ... in the 30s, the damn radio ... in the 40s, that aweful swing music ... in the 50s, that godforsaken rock music ... in the 60s, that hippy music ... in the 70s, that disco music ... in the 80s, that devil's spawn D&D ... in the 90s, those gangster-rappers ... and today, violent video games

Glad we found a culprit.

Other bogeymen (reworded) (1)

Original Replica (908688) | about 8 years ago | (#16239415)

Today, as pot ha(s) once again infiltrated the mainstream, a growing number adults are again enjoying pot ... But that hasn't stopped crusaders from trying to censor them in the name of 'saving' the children. Williams, 34, said those under 38 have a different view of marijuana than their elders. Most have grown up with ganja and, like television for the previous generation, pot (is) embedded in their culture.
Off the topic of video games but on the topic of blaming everyone but the parents.

Music is the weapon. Retail is the defense. (5, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about 8 years ago | (#16240125)

Rock and roll used to evoke similar hostility. But that's changed, as rock moved from rebellion to senility and lost its political connection.

It's suprising how little hostility hip-hop and rap evoked, considering that much of '90s rap was about killing people. ("Devil, to gangbanging there's a positive side and the positive side is this--sooner than later the brothers will come to Islam, and they will be the soldiers for the war; what war, you ask; Armageddon; ha, ha, ha, ha, ha" -- "Armageddon"; RBX, The RBX Files, 1995, Premeditated Records, © Warner Brother Records, Time Warner, USA.) But hip-hop and rap switched from guns to "bling", thereby encouraging shopping. "According to American Brandstand, a Web site that tracks brand names on the Billboard top singles chart, of the 111 songs that made the Billboard Top 20 in 2003, 43 mentioned a product; 84 different brands were named."

So we can expect that as in-game advertising becomes more pervasive, media criticism of games will become muted.

Re:Music is the weapon. Retail is the defense. (4, Insightful)

l0cust (992700) | about 8 years ago | (#16242645)

Well said. Though I think there is another aspect of why the hip-hop/rap thing did not get so much OPEN negative publicity. It may sound a bit NPC but the whole hip-hop/rap culture is generally associated with the black community and no politician or major public figure would risk commenting openly against it for the fear of being dubbed a racist. OTH calling games the reason for their sons/daughter indulging in sex/violences/whatever accomplishes two goals - It absolves them of the responsiblities of the actions of their children by providing a proverbial witch to be burnt at stake, plus it there is no obvious race/culture/demographic attached with the games so they can curse it all they want without fear of repercussions from potential voters etc.

I honestly don't know what to make of the current situation. It is really easy for me to imagine all old ignorant hags sitting in the position of power and trying to restrict my choices/actions/thoughts for monetary, power or whatever reason but then it may happen that when our generation comes to that stage and have the same kind of power in our hands, we may end up trying to restrict something which (some of us atleast) genuinely feel is wrong but is really popular with the younger generation. Oh well, I just hope the concept of karma works. Will suck really if things don't balance out in the long run.

Re:Music is the weapon. Retail is the defense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16243573)

So we can expect that as in-game advertising becomes more pervasive, media criticism of games will become muted.
Are you sure? Why would the other media allow a competitor for advertisement dollars take their lunch? Watch the debate get more heated as ingame advertisement gets more prevasive and targeted.

Re:Music is the weapon. Retail is the defense. (1)

jackbird (721605) | about 8 years ago | (#16243849)

What other media? Is Vivendi going to get upset if WoW in-game advertising takes revenue from Universal Pictures product placement?

Apropos Quote from Dr. Edward Castronova (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16241203)

"...it is hard not to conclude that video games are just the latest in a series of bugbears of parents who have become frustrated and frightened about how violent American society has become. In sympathy with those parents, I truly wish that video games, TV, rock n' roll, the nickelodeon, and wireless radio receivers were at fault, because then we could just have banned these things in sequence and our problems would have been solved long ago."

-- "Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games," p. 64

Target #473a: video games! (1)

swordgeek (112599) | about 8 years ago | (#16241355)

As others have mentioned, this is an old saw made new.

At one point, it was it was rock 'n' roll, or jazz for the elite rebels. In the '60s it was pot and long hair. Acid (courtesy of the CIA) has been used as a target at times, as has heavy metal, movies, cartoons, video games, and now online chat/blogging communities.

On the one hand, they're all scapegoats. Someone is always looking for a _cause_ for evil or deviant behaviour. Bad messages for the sake of entertainment are meant as entertainment, and will always be there. It's only the broken psyches that believe in the message or take it seriously.

However, that's not the entire story. There's at least a legitimate cause to question the content. On the one hand, all of these things preached rebellion, and thats a disrupting influence on the norm. Destructive rebellion is generally not a good thing. However, one should also look at the specific details. Elvis' gyrations made girls faint in the aisles at concerts. Did they encourage promiscuitity? Perhaps, perhaps not--the message was still fairly implicit. Compare that to these lyrics:

I see you windin n grindin up on that pole,
I kno u see me lookin' at you and you already know
I wanna fuck you, you already know, i wanna fuck you, you already know

Hard to mistake that for anything innocent.

Likewise with movies. Psycho might have inspired dementia in an already-unbalanced individual. Compare that to something like the remade Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which is more like an instruction manual.

The messages are getting more graphic, and more explicit. It's wrong to point at them as the cause of problems because it still comes down to individual responsibility. However, the medium and the content aren't totally free of blame either. Makers should have some sense of responsibility. However, they don't and they won't--money is money, and the bigger the audience, the more money there is to be made.

Core Issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16244571)



Video games, tv violence, music messages--these have little to do with today's societal problems. Accountability is today's major concern. Three examples:

1. The common acceptability of divorce--people don't have to hold themselves accountable for being careful about selecting a mate and then they don't hold themselves accountable for maintaining the relationship.
2. The lack of accountability for good parenting--I have many friends who 'require' dual income to maintain the Escalade in the driveway and the nice home in the richest neighborhood. So both parent's go off to work and leave the majority of the raising of the children to daycare centers. They comment to my wife and I that they wish they could manage as we do, with me working and her staying home to care for the kids during the work week...but they can't 'afford' to do so.
3. Bankruptcy without accountability--you can claim bankruptcy and the government doesn't hold you accountable for your mistakes, nor do they force you to learn how to manage your expenses. I know someone who has claimed bankruptcy twice. This person now makes a low-to-mid income wage, has a monthly alimony and childcare payment, but just purchased a $30,000 car on credit 6 months after the bankruptcy. The government doesn't restrict the amount allowed for a car or home purchase just after a bankruptcy and the bankrupt individual is doomed to repeat the same mistakes.

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