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Video Game Violence: Reality Check


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#1 Guest_Chicano_*

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Posted August 01, 2008 - 08:28 PM

http://www.gamedaily...eck/5753/67019/

We dig deep into gaming's most controversial issue.

Posted by Harmon Daniels on Friday, October 26, 2007

"There is a warning about a new video game that will soon hit store shelves," starts the local TV news report about Rockstar Games' upcoming Manhunt 2, delivered in a typically sermonizing TV anchor tenor, as a montage of disturbing images from the game plays in the background. "Players simulate various ways of murder from strangulation to stabbings with their controllers."

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Video game watchdogs have called Rockstar Games' bloody Manhunt 2 (pictured above) a "murder training device."

Every generation of popular culture needs a boogeyman, and like dime-store novels, comic books and horror films, video games are public enemy number-one for many parents, politicians and pundits. According to them, games desensitize children and turn them into unfeeling killing machines. Controversial anti-game attorney Jack Thompson has called violent games "murder simulators," and has attributed (often without evidence) many cases of school violence to gamers acting out what they see on screen.

Who's right about video game violence?
Gamers and free speech advocates typically cry foul at such claims, claiming that gaming is a harmless hobby, or even better, a constitutionally protected example of free speech, and that industry critics are crying wolf in order to exploit kids for political gain.

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The vocal anti-violence advocate Jack Thompson (left) talks about Manhunt 2 in a recent Fox News broadcast. On Oct. 25, he sued Best Buy, claiming the company sells M-rated games to underage kids.

The reality lies somewhere between these two extremes. Video games have clearly not led to a breakdown of society, and crime rates hover near their lowest points in decades in many large cities -- but at the same time, game developers and publishers have shown a distinct lack of responsibility, constantly pushing the boundaries into new realms of sadistic content and taking only minimal steps to ensure adult products are kept out of the hands of children.

How easily can kids buy violent games?
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is a non-profit, self-regulatory body established in 1994 by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), a trade group representing video game makers. Like the MPAA does for the film industry, this group rates video games with a similar series of letter grades. An M rating (for "Mature") is roughly equivalent to an R rating for a movie; a T (for "Teen") rating is like a PG; E ("Everyone") is like a G rating and so on.

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The ratings, like movie ratings, are voluntary, but retail outlets generally won't carry games that don't have a rating -- much like mainstream movie theaters won't show unrated films.

While store clerks are not supposed to sell M-rated games to children, young people obviously do get their hands on age-inappropriate material, in much the same way kids can be let into an R-rated movie by an inattentive ticket clerk. However, the Federal Trade Commission has praised the video game ratings system, and gradual improvements in retailer practices. In a 2006 study, the FTC sent undercover minors sent into stores to try and buy M-rated games, finding that only 35% of the kids were able to buy an M-rated game, down from 85% five years earlier.

While this is still a major problem, the ESRB points out that out of the 1,285 games they rated in 2006, only 8-percent carried an M rating (although they accounted for 15-percent of games sold).

Do game companies push violent games on kids?
Even the most ardent defenders of the video game industry must answer "yes" to this question. Game publishers clearly have a vested interest in pushing the limits of acceptable content, to both court the free publicity that comes from media controversy, as well to try and grab the attention of jaded gamers.

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A screen grab from Rockstar's Manhunt 2, due in stores October 30, one of the most controversial games this year. Click to see more of the game.
While the ESA reports that the average gamer is 33 years old, and less than a third of gamers are under 18, anyone who has spent any time online playing M-rated games like Halo 3 knows that there are plenty of kids who have gotten their hands on these titles.

Violent games such as Manhunt 2, the Grand Theft Auto series and Mortal Kombat, are almost deliberately dangled in front of politicians and media outlets in hopes of generating controversy and the priceless TV coverage that comes with it. When trying to break through the clutter of the modern media landscape, any publicity is (usually) good publicity, and a C-list game like Manhunt 2 is now virtually guaranteed strong sales by appealing its original Adults Only rating from the ESRB.

Can the government solve the problem?
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This is one area where people on both sides of the argument generally agree. Laws enforcing voluntary ratings systems on protected First Amendment content are generally a non-starters. Since 2000, laws criminalizing the sale of certain kinds of game to minors have been struck down as unconstitutional in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and California. In the case of the Illinois law, a judge declared, "In this country, the state lacks the authority to ban protected speech on the ground that it affects the listener's or observer's thoughts and attitudes."

Do violent video games make people violent?
Pundits on both sides often quote scientific studies that either prove or disprove any connection between violent video games and increased violent behavior. As with many kinds of behavior studies, the real story is not at all clear--or as 19th-century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli is purported to have said, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

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The study of media effects covers everything from video games to movies, TV shows and music. Over the years, conflicting studies have been published showing different correlations between viewing violent media and increased aggressiveness, especially in children. The reason TV talking heads often say there is a "link" between video games and increased aggressiveness, is because even the most negative studies generally go only so far as declaring a "correlation" between media violence and real-world behavior, not a "causative relationship." The difference may seem small, but in scientific terms, it's a gap as big as the Grand Canyon.

That being said, a true causal relationship is nearly impossible to prove, and it is taken as a reliable conclusion that exposure to violent media, including video games, is one possible risk factor for kids who become violent in real-life. But, this must generally be coupled with real world influences and a previous disposition for anti-social behavior. In short, excessive exposure to violent games can trigger problems in children who are already at risk, but much as you can't hypnotize someone into committing a crime, gaming by itself won't turn a normal kid into a killer.



#2 Eureca

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Posted August 01, 2008 - 10:23 PM

I hate these people who say video game violence causes real life violence. They should say that to my face so I can smack them down tie them up and torture them.

#3 SaintNicholasVanExel

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Posted August 01, 2008 - 10:27 PM

i'm all for video game violence.

capping fools on GTA has gotten me through some tough times.

#4 Guest_Chicano_*

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Posted August 01, 2008 - 11:20 PM

^ :lol: Funny & true for me as well.

#5 lyk13

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Posted August 01, 2008 - 11:49 PM

Ppl just have to cross the lines between video game reality and REALITY....if everyone can muster the effort to think differently in these aspects, probably wun be blamed that much.




#6 ファイナルファンタジ

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Posted August 02, 2008 - 02:25 AM

Video game violence is not the cause for real life violence. There was violence way before video games were introduced and you always see violence in television and movies as well. There's a reason there is a rating for these games and if a person can't tell the difference between real life and a video game then they got some issues.

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#7 lyk13

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Posted August 02, 2008 - 03:15 AM

Video game violence is not the cause for real life violence. There was violence way before video games were introduced and you always see violence in television and movies as well. There's a reason there is a rating for these games and if a person can't tell the difference between real life and a video game then they got some issues.


They are meaning that video games brought more options to violence. PLUS, the ESRB ratings are crap when it's THE BUYER that needs to be of that category, not THE PLAYER.

I've been stressing this even in SIngapore that newly introduced games that are deemed Mature or whatever will still be bought by a compatible person, but then PLAYED by an incompatible person.

Get the drift?




#8 Vudoo

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Posted August 02, 2008 - 07:56 AM

Seriously, it's not the video games, it's the person.

I remember when people tried to blame video games for the Virginia Tech Massacre even though it was proven that the lunatic didn't even like video games...

Crazy people are crazy people, nothing changes that...
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#9 Nirvana

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Posted August 02, 2008 - 01:20 PM

To be honest, this crap is rubbish.

I think it's true to an extent. Giving a 10 year old kid GTA would damage them mentally. However, giving a 15 year old GTA would just help them get rid of some stress. People need to relax.
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#10 ファイナルファンタジ

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Posted August 02, 2008 - 01:30 PM

They are meaning that video games brought more options to violence. PLUS, the ESRB ratings are crap when it's THE BUYER that needs to be of that category, not THE PLAYER.

I've been stressing this even in SIngapore that newly introduced games that are deemed Mature or whatever will still be bought by a compatible person, but then PLAYED by an incompatible person.

Get the drift?

Yeh. I'm just saying these people that are playing it have a lack of good judgment or whoever is buying it for their kids. Also incompatible people could be of all ages since a 10 year old may have better judgment than even a 15 year old.

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#11 Nirvana

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Posted August 02, 2008 - 01:42 PM

Yeh. I'm just saying these people that are playing it have a lack of good judgment or whoever is buying it for their kids. Also incompatible people could be of all ages since a 10 year old may have better judgment than even a 15 year old.


I agree. I guess maturity plays a big deal. I definitelty wouldn't give a 10 year old GTA though.
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#12 ファイナルファンタジ

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Posted August 02, 2008 - 01:57 PM

I agree. I guess maturity plays a big deal. I definitelty wouldn't give a 10 year old GTA though.

Yeh, I was kind of basing it off of me like when I was younger. I played a lot of violent video games (dating back to like Mortal Kombat for Sega Genesis) but GTA is more violent than that so the degree of violence will have an effect on the player.

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#13 Nirvana

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Posted August 02, 2008 - 01:59 PM

Yeh, I was kind of basing it off of me like when I was younger. I played a lot of violent video games (dating back to like Mortal Kombat for Sega Genesis) but GTA is more violent than that so the degree of violence will have an effect on the player.


Yeah, the games we played when we were really young are nothing like the games we play now. I've played GTA and I don't think it would bother a mid teenager at all. On the other hand, I wouldn't let a teenager who had known aggression problems play it.
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#14 netlord

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Posted August 02, 2008 - 03:49 PM

It depends on the mind of the person. I remember the boy that killed his parents with a katana here in spain, violent games probably wouldn't help him.

I played carmaggedon as a teen, and I don't run over people with my car now...
I've played all GTA series also, and It's a lot of fun, It doesn't make me violent. But as I said before it depends on your mindset and your mental health, people that are violent after playing a videogame are people that will be violent after watching tv, or after any other activity. It's not the videogame, it's YOU.

Edited by netlord, August 02, 2008 - 03:49 PM.

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#15 Vudoo

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Posted August 02, 2008 - 04:14 PM

People just gotta have common sense. Not like that one Korean kid who played WOW all day, everyday til he died of dehydration...

Or that kid who got his Everquest account hacked and killed himself...
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#16 Nirvana

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Posted August 02, 2008 - 05:29 PM

People just gotta have common sense. Not like that one Korean kid who played WOW all day, everyday til he died of dehydration...

Or that kid who got his Everquest account hacked and killed himself...


That is addiction.

Here we are talking about Violence. There is a difference.
Kurt Cobain - "Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are."

#17 Icker

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Posted August 02, 2008 - 07:19 PM

Woah since when it became an worldly crisis on what overweight kids do in there spare time in instead of going outside,its not a er sophiscted thing really

#18 Vudoo

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Posted August 02, 2008 - 08:10 PM

That is addiction.

Here we are talking about Violence. There is a difference.


And yet, both share theme of people needing common sense. Not exactly off-topic wouldn't you say?



But yea, take it easy man...
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#19 Cookie

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Posted August 03, 2008 - 07:31 AM

Same reason, my parents won't let me by anything with violence.

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#20 GlockFotay

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Posted August 05, 2008 - 08:15 AM

Another excuse of not taking personal responsibility.

Blame the game, not the parents.

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