Gamers Are Psychos (Again) - Letter to Editor of the NYT

"Verlyn Klinkenborg asks, “What are you getting good at?” when you spend hundreds of hours playing video games (Editorial Observer, Dec. 16). Research is making one answer clear: killing.

New findings from the University of Indiana Medical School show that violent video games disrupt the functions of the frontal lobe, desensitizing the brain and making habitual players less able to understand the effects of actual violence. The brain changes are most apparent among heavy users.

We know, moreover, that the military has effectively used computer simulations for many years to desensitize soldiers and make them able to kill, overriding their natural human aversion to extreme violence. This same technology is now our fastest growing form of children’s entertainment.

This is not a First Amendment issue. It is child abuse, pure and simple. The marketers of these games, and the parents who buy them, should be held accountable.
Wellfleet, Mass., Dec. 16, 2002
The writer is a former editor of the Harvard Education Letter."

Finally, a positive spin on FPS games! No more post-traumatic stress disorder treatment for our soldiers. We’ll be saving millions in the defense budget.

I’m surprised the Army isn’t taking a little heat for producing its own FPS. Isn’t that a glorification of killing, as well?

Personally, I enjoy FPS games, but I’m scared to death of guns. Don’t these brilliant psychologists realize that long before video games, humans used to actually hunt and kill animals? (Today, most people are removed from this process.) I think bringing down a live animal then butchering it is a bit more desensitizing than blowing up polys on a 21" monitor.

It’s a GAME. I enjoy blowing up bad guys, but put a real gun in my hand and I’d be hard-pressed to actually take someone’s life. The jackasses who kill people will kill whether they tinker with games or not. Fifteen years ago, it was television that made people kill – before that, movies. Every now and then, it’s books.

It’s funny how there just aren’t bad people in the world.

Who here thinks scientists are salivating at the idea of connecting VG violence with RL violence? Any modicum of evidence connecting the two can be exhaustively researched and have more factors connected to it no matter how inane or specious. Huge reports can then be published with medical professionals, parents, and politicians quoting said reports and joining up for the videogame witch hunt. Just think of the prestige, fame and grant money that would pile up on that scientist’s door step.

Ooooh! I just hate friggin’ science! What good has it ever done me?!?!

The thing is, the research is more or less accurate. It is the findings and results which go too far. It is CLEARLY true that violent video games desensitize gamers to violence, just like violent movies and music do the same thing. Noone in their right mind argues this.

But connecting desensitization with “getting good at killing” is the leap of horseshit. Or connecting video games with “weapons training” is another leap of horseshit. I think the difference is important for us as gamers to know so we can point out the flaws in these arguments. If someone wrote a response letter <hint hint> to the NYT editor pointing out this difference and the flaws in Mr. Hah-vahd’s letter, this would be much more productive in swaying the masses than us sitting on this forum with like-minds talking about how full of doo-doo the argument is. Just my two cents.

Hell I’d be willing to help with drafting such a letter to the NYT if others want to chip in with bits and ideas. We could just sign it “members of the video game community”.

“natural human aversion to extreme violence”

I get a chuckle every time I see this phrase.

“It is CLEARLY true that violent video games desensitize gamers to violence, just like violent movies and music do the same thing. Noone in their right mind argues this.”

Please stop speaking for right-minded people. They abhor you.


And who the hell is “Noone”?

Well, what do you know? I was abused as a child and liked it. Go figure.

Webster’s New Universal Unabridged 1996, page 1320 lists it as an alternate spelling of “no one”. No listing at though. I wonder who I should listen to? Hmm…

Like any other artistic medium, you don’t really get good at anything by experiencing it.

The most you can say on that front is like movie watchers who get good at watching movies, video game players get good at playing video games. That’s why an experienced gamer is usually better at a game (even a game he has never played before) than a non-gamer.

I would say action video games help in reflexes, which is a broad-based “skill” with many applications regarding movement and physical position.

As games move into realistic simulations (which is at least a decade off and more likely two) then just like an Air Force pilot simulator, the gamer will get better at whatever the simulator is simulating.

But even then when a version of GTAIII which is a realistic simulator develops, training for being a mobster lets say, that doesn’t mean that it leads people TOWARD being a mobster, just that it provides training for it.

And by that time, game developers will understand that they are producing simulators with real-world applications and create accordingly. Businesses might hire a game developer to develop a game as a training simulator for its employees, for example.

Although since gaming will still be largely entertainment, many people will enjoy receiving training as a mobster, or a hacker, or whatever develops culturally over the next couple decades.

This will create a situation in which humans can explore reality in great detail and in great breadth, and it presents those humans with a challenge unlike what they can experience now.

Right now its very hard to receive training as a mobster without BEING a mobster. You can’t try now and buy later, in other words.

A world of exploration is going to be opening up. Humans will be trying many things out to see what they are like. Many forms of curiosity will be satisfied.

The result? A discovery of what this culture is really all about.

Bring it on!

Take it easy on the carriage return there, champ.

You’re showing your age there, Gramps.

Wumpus with toothless frown: “Why… in MY day there actually was a carriage return. These young fools have it easy!”

Aren’t you guys using voice recognition yet? 'Course, that’s only until I get my frontal lobe implant for Christmas.

Your frontal lobe still works!? My frontal lobe functions have been completely disrupted by violent video games. Lucky son of a bitch.