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Geoff Ellingwood

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Video games and violence. [Jan. 13th, 2009|11:20 am]
Geoff Ellingwood

This topic has always depressed the heck out of me. I've played plenty of violent video games, and all I hear about them is that they somehow "cause" people to go do stupid things like shoot up their schools. How exactly does that work? These games don't teach you how to do anything other than use a mouse or gamepad to aim, and they certainly don't show you where to buy or make weapons. There's a cognitive disconnection in making that assumption; a distinct reality gap that's being consciously overlooked.

So, much to my pleasure, I ran across this blog entry (pops, originally from SlashDot). It's written by a psychiatrist, and is a summary of a study done by a psychologist and a sociologist which shows that video games do not lead to violence. They point out that, especially for boys, video games are social activities (and as such, should - in moderation - be encouraged). They do admit that people who already have a tendency towards violence or aggression may be drawn to violent games, and that those may affect them adversely, but that is a far cry from the "causation" that people want to believe.

It's just not there, no matter how much you want to believe it. It's not as simple as that. For children, ultimately the responsiblity lies with (*gasp*) the parents! Did you know that the ratings on video games are put there - voluntarily - by the video game industry? And hey, guess what, they're there for a reason! A game rated "M" (mature) for sexual and violent content is not for kids. If your kids have them, there's a problem - and it's your problem for letting them get a copy.

People should not expect politicians to legislate this away somehow. Laws that impose penalties for selling games to minors aren't very effective, for the simple reason that the minimum-wage people who are selling them often simply don't care. Similar laws have done very little to curb underage drinking, for the exact same reason. Warning labels, which are the latest measure proposed, worked so well on music CD's and cigarette packs, didn't they? All these things are is feel-good measures, that let people suffer the illusion that they are somehow doing something to help, when ultimately, there's nothing that can do on a large-scale level.

If you really want to stop random violence, stop trying to blame video games and other red herrings. Look at the real questions - how are people getting access to the weapons? (gun show loopholes, lax firearm registration, etc.) What sorts of things really drive people to that sort of rage? (bullying, mental illness, etc.)

Now, if you'll pardon me, I'm waiting for my World of Warcraft server to come back up.

[User Picture]From: zanthess
2009-01-13 07:41 pm (UTC)
I did a speech in debate class about how violence in video games. I was given an F because the instructor said that it definitely does cause violence.
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[User Picture]From: neppyman
2009-01-13 09:23 pm (UTC)
Bah. Your instructor obviously doesn't understand the difference between causation and correlation. You can't prove that it causes violence, short of brain monitoring with a level of technology that simply doesn't exist.

Silly instructors and their own agendas.

Besides, I would think that even if you said something that the instructor disagreed with, you'd still get full marks for doing it properly.
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[User Picture]From: anher
2009-01-14 12:04 am (UTC)
That's the problem when you have inductive and deductive reasoning.

I agree that video games don't cause violence any more than playing roleplaying games makes you a Devil worshipper. Some folks just have that knee jerk reaction.

As for an instructor giving someone an F because they don't agree with their biew point in a debate class, that's a failure in and of itself. Isn't that class supposed to be about exploring different viewpoints?
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[User Picture]From: mapjunkie
2009-01-15 01:00 am (UTC)
"What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?"-High Fidelity
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