Your Daily McMaster: violence in the machine

Title Your Daily McMaster: violence in the machine
Author Jason McMaster
Posted in Features
When August 20, 2013

There are certain issues in gaming that ebb and flow like the tide. People will argue and fret over whether games are art or if the ratings system is effective or whether or not there's a 7-9 scale..

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"Being a university, my workplace is very sensitive to bad weather and the overall safety of its staff and students." - What kind of weather do you have there? I'm picturing the start of the old Flash Gordon movie where Ming the Merciless is causing meteor storms and such..... :)

A nice story and true to my own experience. I kill in games and had a pet rat that needed putting down, I couldn't do it.


Just because gaming has not turned you or I into psychopathic killers it doesn't mean it won't to others. At the very least it creates an excited state of mind that is equated with pleasure. While not necessarily creating murderers, I do wonder if violence in a school playground would be greater if all the kids played Tekken all day?


Putting an animal down is definitely a hard thing to do, especially the first time.While it gets easier to do the more it is done, there is nothing in the virtual world that comes close to that experience.

I can't imagine what sort of virtual experience would make that any more palatable.

I love that pic. Politics will make you more violent than video-games.

Well Mr McMaster you're one of the 99% (or 95% or whatever) of gamers for whom violent games did NOT affect your essential humanity.

I think the debate about videogame violence is not (anymore at least) that it would make all of us psychopaths, but that it would take a very few unbalanced people over the edge.

Also, nice piece of writing. Kudos.

Also, depending on where you live, I hope you got a checkup and told your doctor about it. Dying rats are often sick rats that have picked up all sorts of diseases, and a few of them are communicable to humans!

Violence in video games can be a catalyst for those of susceptible, damaged, fragile or volatile mind, in the same way that violence in film, or violence in books, or violent thoughts from daydreaming, or violent arguments, or violent abuse, or memories of violence, or just about anything else that raises the blood pressure or exacerbates psychological issues could be a catalyst for violent behavior. There are so many potential catalysts, trying to predict which one will affect a particular individual at a particular time, and hence trying to control them universally seems to be missing the point entirely.

I had a mouse problem in my last apartment and found that the sticky glue traps were really good at capturing the little invasive bastards as they always seemed to use the same run behind the fridge, the dummies. Although... that meant I either had to dump them down the garbage shoot alive or kill them first myself. Both are pretty horrible options when you're faced with actually needing to do one or the other. Leaving them alive is - intellectually - not what you are supposed to do. And, as a friend of mine said once in my defense when someone reprimanded me for my actions, "They're vermin." But sliding one quietly into a plastic bag on their glue covered deathbeds as their little chests rapidly rose and fell and then dropping something large and heavy on them was never easy. Poor little guys. I murdered four of them.

Killing things in games is kind of fun. Killing things in real life kind of sucks.

People still play Tekken?

This moved me. Thanks for mostly sticking to what happened and your immediate feelings about what happened. Makes it more powerful.

No amount of gaming will ever make decisions in the reality engine less poignant for me.

Of all the things I saw in Iraq, one of the memories that continues to disturb me the most is the time I saw some kids killing a cat. I can't shake the sight of the cat's paw in the air futilely trying to fend off the sticks that the kids were hitting it with. They stopped when they saw the Army patrol I was on, but the cat continued to paw at the air as it died. I get a sick feeling just writing about it.

I don't want to devalue the immense human suffering I saw while covering the war — a rocket that hit a marketplace, a soldier who died in a roadside bomb and the everyday trials of living in a war zone. But something about the image of that cat continuing to fend off imaginary sticks chokes me up.

A poignant and valuable note that scrolled down the front page entirely too quickly. There is far more violence and faux science in political discourse than any reasonable society should have to stomach, but there it is.

If World War 3, a zombie apocalypse, or some crazy world altering terror event had people running to the hills and their gun cabinets, I think a rabid video game player might be the last set of hands that I would expect a rifle to do much good in. He or she would either be too preoccupied by looking for barrels to smash open in hopes of finding a sandwhich and bullets or they would be too shell shocked at the ultimate HD resolution and FoV of actual violence. Which is contrary to what I suspect you might find expressed by the psychology of folks that had other forms of pre-Armageddon entertainment than video games.

Well done Lord Archduke McMaster PHD. Cheers.

I'm a big cat person (have 5) and couldn't even imagine. I don't know how you guys and gals do it/did it.

The lone charms I carried were a Lego from my girlfriend (now wife) and my cat's old rabies tag. So yeah, I'm a crazy cat person, too.

When I was growing up, we were incredibly poor. No running water or electricity or anything like that. We also lived in a place with a lot of large game. Poaching animals in order to consume them for nourishment was pretty standard. We also raised animals that we'd later kill and eat. Cute little rabbit? Cute, just kill it quickly or it'll squeal and kick and claw!

I think if humans grow up more active in the predation process, killing animals isn't as horrific. Still, I LOATHE killing critters, and if I do kill them, I want to make sure it's accurate and fast.

I agree. Thanks for sharing, Jason. I have to admit it's one of the most profound things I've read in years.

Anything is possible. When assessing risks, we should ask which ones are probable.