Videogames cause violence

FOX reports:

It’s true. I’ve been playing videogames for 30 years, and I am suddenly gripped by a desire to cause violence to the executives of Fox News.

My earliest memories are of Galaxian and Pole Position on the 2600, and for most of my life all I’ve wanted to do was fly a spaceship, shoot aliens, and drive cars really fast.

I uhh… I’m not violent though.

I can’t intelligently voice my opinion on that article because of how mad it makes me to think about it.

Just the media (well, Fox) randomly once again discovering the same damn paper they’ve previously extensively misrepresented. Search qt3 for “bushman” or for “craig anderson” to dredge up previous discussion of this third-rate research. There is no compelling evidence that video games cause violence.

Men in their early 20s who had a healthy dosing of violent TV and video games from ages 6 to 9 were twice as likely to push, grab or shove their spouses and are three times more likely to be convicted of criminal behavior, according to the research.

Seems like the research isn’t just singling out video games (although the headline is). And it’s primarily saying that ultra-violent fare is bad for very young, developing brains, which I have a hard time arguing with.

That said, I’d say there’s a pretty huge difference between sitting down with your four-year-old to play Manhunt and watch 28 Days Later, as opposed to Street Fighter and a Jackie Chan movie.

This study is saying that if you let your 6 year old play Manhunt, he might come out a little screwed up. 'Course, if you’re letting your 6 year old play Manhunt, what else are you letting him do/doing to him?

There’s no way video games have made me more violent. More foul-mouthed though, especially after failing a daredevil comet for the umpteenth time in a row…

That’s exactly it – I know a family whose kids have watched all kinds of violent, horrible slasher gorefests from the age of 2 or 3. While those kids are pretty messed up, I can’t put the blame on the movies.

In fact the rise of gaming has been matched by a fall in youth violence.

Then again, the decline of pirates was matched by a rise in global warming.

Oh no, that’s two strikes against K&L!

I don’t let my kid watch or play violent games or movies not because I think it’ll turn him into a murderous sociopath (although, it might…I’m not an expert). But I don’t want him growing up with a warped view of the world as some horrific dystopia where he’s afraid of being tortured and murdered at any moment. I just want him to grow up to be a happy kid, with as non-cynical a worldview as possible.

Last week the University of Michigan released a study that links playing violent video games and viewing violent content as a child to adulthood violence. The research, which dates back to the 1960’s when the lead scientist interviewed 856 third graders (and then tracked them for 30 years), found that repeated exposure to violent television shows and video games have a stronger influence on aggressive behavior than being poor, having a substance abuse or growing up with abusive parents.

Okay, violent video games weren’t even around until the 80s, basically. So these “kids” were at least, what, 27 or older before their media habits included violent games?

The study wasn’t about violent games. It was about playing violent games and viewing violent content (movies, TV shows, etc). It’s like shooting a fly with a shotgun, and when it dies, trying to claim that there was one particular pellet that killed it. (like my violent metaphor? must be all the Call of Duty 4 I have been playing.)

Men in their early 20s who had a healthy dosing of violent TV and video games from ages 6 to 9 were twice as likely to push, grab or shove their spouses and are three times more likely to be convicted of criminal behavior, according to the research.

I want the study to lay down for me what violent video games these early-20-somethings were playing 15 years ago. Not that they didn’t exist, just that they were far less prevelant than today. Especially the “first person shooters” the “researchers” go on about.

These studies are bunk. They’re conducted by regular interviews, and subject to the typical control problems of interviewee responses. You need direct observation to rule out the very real possibility that a woman who played violent games and watched violent TV as a kid isn’t twice as likely to have thrown something at their spouse (as the study claims), but rather twice as likely to have admitted it in your interview.

There’s a very real possibility that viewing violence on TV, or movies, or playing violent games on a regular basis alters people’s internal barometer for acceptable behavior. But these “correlation not causation” and interview-based studies are poor “proof” of that. They may just as well prove that people who are more violent for other reasons, and thus more likely to commit violent acts as an adult, would also gravitate toward violent entertainment as a kid. Because they like violence.

Context is important.

Letting a six year old play Street Fighter isn’t going to turn him into a fucking wife-beater. It’s going to inspire him try to dragon-punch his brother.

While I don’t think that letting a six year old kid play Grand Theft Auto is going to fuck him up for life, the sort of parent that would let his or her six year old play Grand Theft Auto probably is.

When I was six, one of the kids in my neighborhood had parents who let him watch slasher flicks and eat sugar cereal and all that evil shit. Basically, they let him do whatever the fuck he wanted to. That guy turned out to be pretty fucked up, and it had nothing to do with violent video games.

Take it for what it’s worth.

I wonder if there’s a correlation between violent behavior and people who watch FOX News.

  • Alan

With the exception of AC and COD4, everything on that list should probably be avoided anyway.

Hey, it could be worse, they could declare gamers/devs as hackers on steroids! (beware: loud BGM/might NSFW)

So… only idiots let kids play a game you believe would do no harm?

WTF kind of argument is that?

Your example has nothing to do with games or movies, it has to do with that kid having no boundaries. I’d let my kid play Grand Theft Auto, and not because I won’t set boundaries, but because I would like to set ones based in reality. Sometimes when your kids rail against your decisions, it’s because your decisions are idiotic and a five-year old would crush them in any kind of logical debate. If a kid asked you why you banned them from playing Grand Theft Auto, what are you going to tell them… gut instinct?

When my mum was a kid they used to play a game where you had to throw a knife as close as possible to the next kid’s foot. And so on, round the circle. Thank God for the healthy 60s upbringing.

My brother was playing Quake from the age of five and didn’t bat an eye, but Cinderella gave him nightmares. Frankly, this is an area which needs a depth of study it simply isn’t getting. Rather than these shallow “Do computer games cause violence?” idiot studies we get, how about one which looks at all the possible effects, behavioural changes, etc. Why not compare some of the effects, such as increased adrenaline, to other areas where such things happen, like sports? And if these games are inspiring such a violent generation why is youth crime falling across the West? Is something else declining faster than game inspired violence is increasing, or is it a knee-jerk nonsense based on the simplistic premise that we take everything we see literally? Is the effect on adults, a more literal age, more pronounced than on children who are just as often imagining shooting each other in the playground?

I’ve been playing games of all sorts since I was about 3. Probably played Wolfenstein 3D and Doom around the ages of 8-10, and most of the other ultra-violent games (Carmageddon, GTA, etc.) at whatever age I was at when they were released, all those millions of years ago.

And I’m a pacifist. Go figure. I’m sure I’m horrendously screwed up in many, many ways, but violence and aggression sure as hell aren’t amongst them. It’s perfectly possible that I’m anomalous, but then, I don’t think I know anyone who plays a lot of games who’s turned out particularly violent - generally, the friends I had who’ve turned out that way played the occasional game, but spent a lot more time being violent outdoors. “Occasional gaming causes violence?” “Violence in real life causes violence?” Shit knows.

(And no, this isn’t a “lolz im machoor my pops let me play GTA3 wen i wuz 10 coz he sez i’m reel machoor wai more machoor than most 10 yeer oldz” post. Though I hope to God I’ve proven that I’m not the type to post that, by now.)

Quitch makes a decent point, though. It’s generally the more innocuous things that messed me up, certainly, and it’s only my personal experience I can speak of without much speculation. The point that if you let your tiny tot play Manhunt, you’re likely to be messing them up in other ways, probably bears some thought too.