Scott Shackford Argues in Defense of Violent Video Games in The American Spectator

Nothing to fear hereGTA VI’ve got a contribution in the November issue of The American Spectator, participating in their point/counterpoint feature, titled “Ten Paces.”  This issue’s debate asks, “Should we worry about violent video games?” I argue no, while author and columnist Peter Hitchens argues that we should. A small sample of my thrust on the matter:

At the same time that video games have grown into a mainstream form of recreation, violent crime in America has dropped to the lowest it has been in decades. We can throw psychological studies at each other, but statistically, actual crime figures do not suggest a massive uptick in violence correlated with the explosive growth of video game popularity.

I just realized that I missed the opportunity for an Angry Birds reference. Ah well.

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  • Paul.||

    IF HUGH AKSTON OR EPISIARCH OR CORNING COULD EXPLAIN SAINTS ROW, IT WOULD BE APPRECIATED.

  • ||

    NO SPOILERS

  • Tman||

    WHILST EXPLAINING HOW AWESOME DEEP DISH PIZZA IS.

  • ||

    Which Saints Row? IV? Look, Paul, the opening cutscene stuff explains it all. I mean, you're, like, the President, but also a Saints gang member, and like, aliens attack, and then, like, you become a superhero to fight the aliens, except it's, like, all a simulation, or something. But that's all beside the point: it is, in fact, a metaphor for going off to war.

    Is that clear enough for you, Mr. Smarty Pants?

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    The Ballad of Gay Epi.

  • ||

    You're right, it's not a metaphor for going off to war. It's a metaphor for accepting your own sexuality. And I finally have.

    (gets out pumpkin, cores a hole in it)

  • ||

    never played it.
    My understanding is it started off as a competent clone of GTA III. GTA III being the first GTA to be 3d. (3d as in the world is rendered as a 3d space not 3d like you have to wear glasses)

    Anyway GTA went in one direction of becoming more and more serious story telling. Culminating in GTA 4 which is a really gritty dark story. GTA 5 got a little more light hearted but is still pretty gritty. Saints Row in its history began pretty quickly to become something else. It went off on a more absurdest tangent with each new edition trying to top the previous one as being the most absurd.

    The most current addition Saint's Row the 4th has gone so far as making you the president of the USA and the world is taken over by aliens who have placed you in a virtual matrix world where you slowly gain more powerful super powers.

  • Hyperion||

    I own 2 and 3, but have never played either of them.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Nope. Gay. Totally gay.

  • SweatingGin||

    I played the first one a bit, but had no idea they went absurd. Sounds entertaining.

    I certainly hope Obama gets some cool super powers in it.

  • ||

    You still play the leader of the Saints Row gang...only he (or she if you make her a woman) gets elected president.

    I guess you could make your character look like Obama. From videos i have seen the character creation mechanics are full of features.

  • Paul.||

    This is actually the first full explanation of this game I've ever seen.

    I'm not even sure what to say.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Saints Row in its history began pretty quickly to become something else. It went off on a more absurdest tangent with each new edition trying to top the previous one as being the most absurd.

    So, like progs, and their quest for peak retard?

  • Christophe||

    Except comedy instead of tragedy, yes.

  • ||

    I'm crying because you didn't ask me.

    Though I've only played III.

  • Paul.||

    You struck me as more of a skyrim man.

  • ||

    Oh. Steelport is the city wherein SR III and IV are based.

  • widget||

    just realized that I missed the opportunity for an Angry Birds reference. Ah well.

    By channeling Foghorn Leghorn? Angry Birds is a hen game, rooster Scott.

  • Hyperion||

    Why are we having this conversation, again? Violent video games will continue to be popular and played by millions of Americans, and there's not one fucking thing that anyone can do about it. It would be just as easy to tell everyone in American that they can't eat potato chips and make it a felony to do so. So, STFU already, statist assholes, your days are numbered, you irrelevancy is nigh.

  • ||

    I wish I had your optimism about the future.

  • Hyperion||

    It isn't real optimism. I've slipped into an optimist universe between cynical multiverses. It's very uncertain what will happen next. I can actually be in both modes and several in betweens at the same time. So is the nature of libertarianism.

    But, hope remains.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    The good news is...

    ...we have all the guns. Which is nice...I tink.

  • ||

    Actually it would seem the violence in video games push has mutated into ruining the esteems of young girls.

    There are still talking heads saying that video games create super predators or whatever but it is all talk.

    The bleeding edge to the war on video games has now shifted to be "save the children women folk from the misogyny of video game male power fantasies".

  • Hyperion||

    The bleeding edge to the war on video games has now shifted to be "save the children women folk from the misogyny of video game male power fantasies".

    Yeah, that's going to work just as well as all of the other strategies on banning violent video games. IOW, it's not going to work.

  • ||

    One thing it has going for it that the violence claims didn't is that the gaming journalists are full on behind it.

    Can't read or watch a review now without women's issues being discussed.

  • Hyperion||

    I only read player reviews, they're the only ones worth reading if you need to decide about buying a game. So I don't need to hear that bullshit.

  • Sand Man||

    So, STFU already, statist assholes, your days are numbered, you irrelevancy is nigh.

    I've never understood this kind of thinking. The young people favor statism. The "brown people," as we like to so affectionately call them, favor statism. The academics and the intellectuals all favor statism. Statism is in our future.

    Now to the issue of video games, I can see a anti-video game program succeeding to a great extent. They could easily ban the production of new video games. The internet is much more vulnerable to central control than people tend to think. Internet provider corporations will happily follow an statist suppression, and there goes internet privacy. The NSA already reads everyone's emails. The Tor Browser will be banned from using corporate provided internet connections. Millions of consoles and games already exist, but these break down eventually. Libertarians like to point to the drug war to show that the government "can't" ban things. But it can make them many times more expensive to buy. Would you pay 1200$ for an Xbox?

  • Hyperion||

    The young people favor statism

    Yes, exactly this. That's why Saints Row 4 sold nearly a billion dollars in one day.

    Games prohibition is never happening. Not in a statists wildest dreams, ever.

  • Marshall Gill||

    Ha! American got you.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    At the same time that video games have grown into a mainstream form of recreation, violent crime in America has dropped to the lowest it has been in decades.

    Stop sidestepping the problem. Incidents are in the news all of the time. There are more reports of youth violence in all news sources today than there were at the height of Walter Cronkite's popularity. Until this madness ends, we need to try all options.

    /MSM news copy practice

  • Hyperion||

    There are more reports of youth violence in all news sources

    Is there a game named 'get them crackaz'?

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Neither statistics nor psychological studies matter. Fuck paternalism.

  • Irish||

    If Shackford had any balls, he would have titled his piece "In Praise of Violent Video Games, You Censorious Bitches" and then spent the entire article making fun of Peter Hitchens for not being as famous as his brother.

    Remember: A good argument is 90% smack talk, 5% logic, and 5% pelvic thrusting.

  • SweatingGin||

    A great argument is yelling "Kochtopus!" over and over until your opponent understands.

  • Irish||

    I like the Wonkette Strategy where you just replace coherence with sarcasm and grammar with references to anal sex.

  • Jquip||

    So interactive cartoons encourage violence. But training police officers that every citizen is a hostile subject, that every dog has rabies, and that voluntary compliance only happens with a baton is...

    The fucking smurf village.

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    I think I'd rather have Michael Wacha's parents call the game than Buck and McCarver.

  • ||

    They are absolutely awful. My wife and I decided to take a drink every time they said something blitheringly stupid. We were passed out by the third inning.

    Wacha is a delight to watch- no bullshit, fast worker, like watching Jim Kaat back in the day.

  • Russell||

    TAS infatuation with Snuff Games is a step up from the intellectual violence its authors have done to science on all fronts , from evolution to climate science and general relativity .

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    We need wholesome games like Frogger.
    Or CandyBox2

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    You're all welcome.

    http://www.fullscreenmario.com/

  • ||

    Somebody posted this pile of dung the other day:

    I understand if Goldberg felt no pang of guilt when placing Koji Kondo’s instantly recognizable theme into Full Screen Mario, or even when rendering the “© 1985 NINTENDO” from Mario’s title screen onto his version. After all, he didn’t know his exercise would be so successful. “Back in October when I started on it, I didn't care because I didn't think it would be a big project,” he told the Post’s Lee. But now that it is, “I honestly don't know what to do in this situation.”

    I do: Shut it down. It’s not yours. Giving away the keys to the (mushroom) kingdom doesn’t mean you own it.
  • SweatingGin||

    I was just going to look that up and post it.

    Would it be too conspiratorial to suggest that someone (maybe on a mailing list of journalists) told the progs to get back in line on all the various Democrat causes? Or maybe no one even needed to, with them worked into a lather over the shutdown.

    There's pro-eternal-copyright and don't ally with libertarians against the surveillance state (which might as well say "don't fight the surveillance state"), just in the last week.

    Or is it a shot in the Silicon Valley/Hollywood arena?

  • ||

    As I understand it, both the GOP and the Democrats have typically been pretty pro-copyright, but the Democrats a bit more so.

    However, I think it is probably just a "creative type" thing. There are a lot who are foaming-at-the-mouth-crazy over copyright infringement. He probably blames teh internets and teh pirates for why his byline is "a copyeditor for Slate".

  • SweatingGin||

    It's funny, because he could have had an easy hook into an interesting topic -- that copyright is essentially perpetual at this point.

    Maybe point out that "hey, he should just wait to clone it until 2080, like the law says."

    Copyright is something that a lot of the Dem supporters split on. The GOP had a chance to do something good there, but probably won't (fired the guy who wrote the paper saying they should, etc.) I don't really expect them to do anything, I just find it interesting see a lot of lion towing lately.

  • Hyperion||

    Luddites gotta luddite.

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    Yeah, that was me. I still can't get over the fact that this guy linked to the site, giving it more hits and notoriety, when the whole point of his article was to complain about how awful the kid was for using Mario without Nintendo's permission.

  • SweatingGin||

    Level editor and random levels are awesome.

  • Hyperion||

    We need wholesome games like Frogger.
    Or CandyBox2

    Definitely, because government can never destroy enough productive industry.

  • ||

    Wow. Thanks AvP.

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    It's a fascinating study in game design.

  • atiwari3||

    Guys, it's fine. We all know Christopher was the better Hitchens.

  • Habeas Dorkus||

    Even as a Presbyterian, I miss the old Hitch and his trademark, the incisive Hitchslap.

  • Habeas Dorkus||

    I own GTA V.
    If anything, it is tamer than the previous versions in terms of violence. There are a couple of missions that are particularly disturbing and gruesome, but hell ... fantasy is fantasy.

  • Jquip||

    The fact that you're morally ambivalent about senseless pixel torture proves that you're a dangerous sociopath. The sort of fellow that can quote the law or, worse, Ayn Rand.

    You sir, should be ashamed. And having your virtual avatar digitally raped in a simulated prison is too good for the likes of you.

  • Habeas Dorkus||

    Jquip,
    I am morally ambivalent about "senseless pixel torture" because it is morally agnostic itself.
    What I am not ambivalent about is real torture, and real crime.
    Yes, I can quote the law, and yes, I can quote Ayn Rand.
    But I can also quote another high source of philosophical thinking and ideas -- George Carlin.
    He once said, "Go fuck yourself."
    Ibid.

  • Jquip||

    "Property is theft. Nobody “owns” anything. When you die, it all stays here." -- George Carlin

    Dunno, but calling Carlin a 'high source' of philosophical thinking is akin to accusing Stalin of enlightened benevolence.

  • verlighsoncno1975||

    Asking questions are genuinely good thing if you are not understanding something totally, except this post provides fastidious understanding yet.

    http://farrdesign.com/jerseys/?id=1923

  • Irish||

    Whoa

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    We get the most profound and poetic spambots on Hit and Run.

  • Habeas Dorkus||

    Young people favor statism.

    Young people tend to be more liberal, but that has always been the case. Yet young people are not stupid, and some of them grow up to be wise people.
    I think that young liberal people, feeling and experiencing choice as their birthright, will begin to rebel against statism and progressivism as they grow up only to realize that the government is doing little but robbing them of their birthright.
    I have hope for this generation. Gay marriage, drug legalization, Social Security ... even -- gasp! -- economics.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    On the other hand, the feminisation of our culuture and the infantilization of the public are extending adolescence.

    Leaving the child-citizen in need of a government-father to order their world.

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    OT: Five Ways Sexual Assault about Entitlement

    The Center for Public Policy and the Department of Justice estimate that 95% of college sexual assaults are not reported because victims, regardless of sex, gender or sexuality, do not have confidence that they will be believed, that their schools will help them and that they won’t be humiliated and shamed. Our culture essentially gives rapists the message that they’re entitled to be believed and respected; their victims aren’t.

    Um, our culture and legal system entitles alleged rapists to due process and a presumption of not guilty.

    A false accusation of rape is, indeed, a fearsome prospect. But the likelihood of being falsely accused of rape are no different from that of being falsely accused of any other crime. And women are far more likely to be raped than men are to be falsely accused. The insistence on treating the two as equally prevalent issues is ….an entitlement.

    Holy shit, they won't be happy until due process is shattered, won't they?

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    they won't be happy until due process is shattered everyone is dead

    They deserve nothing but ridicule.

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    "I think, therefore I drink"

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    The problem as I see it, is that the progressive types have such an "ick" reaction to violence (especially gun violence) that they simply cannot make distinctions. To them, having a hero kill the dragon/mobster and rescue the princess/coed is "violence," because omg the hero used an icky gun!

    This the mindset the social "scientists" bring to studies of violent television and video games. Does the hero shoot a villain who is trying to blow up the city? Violence! Soldiers shooting Nazis? Violence! These folks seriously believe that the portrayal of heroic men using violence to restrain evildoers is a Bad Thing which will turn the boys into school shooters, and the only way to make them healthy is to take away the toy guns and have them frolic in the daisies and play with dolls and watch dramatizations of Jane Austen novels.

    So they simply don't have the conceptual tools to distinguish between Captain America defeating Red Skull (with the accompanying I-won't-kill-you-because-then-I'd-be-like-you speech) and the protagonists in Natural Born Killers hunting down and massacring innocent people.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Since most "violent entertainment" is of the Good Guys Defeating Bad Guys and Saving the World variety, I don't think there's enough data to fully measure the effect of portraying nihilistic, NBK-style violence in entertainment.

    I doubt that playing a criminal who shoots prostitutes and hijacks trucks will automatically turn kids into criminals, but I suspect it coarsens the sensibilities, a less dramatic result and not warranting a govt ban, but warranting some parental discretion, as the movie code says (or used to say).

  • Jquip||

    Yep, it's not like a passionate moral dialogue while having a cup of cocoa with the Fuhrer overthrew German Fascism. It was good men going after bad men with guns and pointy... Oh...

    Nevermind, makes perfect sense now.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    Wow.

  • JeremyR||

    The problem isn't violent rape though.

    A lot of rape today is when a woman drinks, says yes, then changes her mind the next day when she sobers up.

    Apparently women can't consent to sex when they are drunk, so every woman having sex while under the influence of alcohol has been raped.

    How a guy is supposed to know when she crosses the threshold that makes consent impossible isn't clearly said. Or how a man is supposed to realize this when he has been drinking, too.

  • ||

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    all to real my good Thane

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    +o

  • ||

    This makes it seem a bit more reasonable:

    It seems like whenever a minority identifying individual “succeeds”, he or she is identified as a “success story.” We will be featuring successful members of different minorities speaking of their own story and success, with a focus on how this idea of “success story” shouldn’t exist. The idea that minority success is “outstanding” means it’s not the norm–we don’t want “success stories.” We just want stories.

    I.e., read optimistically, people should be identified simply as successful, not as successful minorities/women/gays/etc. That would be perfectly reasonable.

    Of course they're doing it by "featuring successful members of different minorities". That would seem to be in conflict with the message.

    I dunno. I need to ignore these things more.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    See my comment above.

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    nah, that's too good for them.

  • Warrren||

    Another late night Obamacare question though I'm not drunk this time.

    What would happen if people who worked in the health insurance industry just started quitting because it was not worth it anymore? That is the hassle and the legal exposure due to the privacy laws and the stress of dealing with outraged customers and former customers.

    Where would we see those stats? What percentage would have to quit before things got jammed up to the point of not working?

  • ||

    HIPAA is not new, not even close, so I am not sure why there would be a sudden uptick in stress on the part of average health insurance employee at having to deal with it.

    Same thing basically goes for upset customers. If you've ever worked in Customer Service, you know that there multiple events in a year (in really any industry) that trigger a flood of upset customers that need you to emphasize with them and validate their hurt feelings.

    I predict that the effect you are looking for will never be found because it is too small to exist.

  • JeremyR||

    Is that a bad thing?

    I mean, shouldn't we care about doctors and nurses and such? People who actually provide health care?

    Instead we are paying the salaries of huge amounts of insurance bureaucrats who basically do nothing productive to actually provide health care.

    That there is a "health insurance industry" is a big reason the costs are so high in the first place.

  • Warrren||

    No, it would be a great thing if those folks started walking off the job.

  • cavalier973||

  • wheelock||

    That is some creepy shit I have to say. The way she was twisting her hands around there was really unnatural. Super bender ending on a really bizarre note?

  • Generic Stranger||

    She supposedly had no drugs in her system.

    My guess is psychotic break. A lot of mental disorders typically start cropping up in early adulthood.

  • wheelock||

    "Her body was found two weeks after her death, after hotel guests complained about the water’s taste and color."

    Oh man. That's not ok at all...

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    Corsi? Fenwick? What happened to hockey?

  • Tman||

    So if not Fire Joe Morgan, would it be called Defenestrate Don Cherry?

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    India.

    This weekend's Indian Grand Prix was given the green light on Friday after the Supreme Court delayed a hearing on a petition seeking the race's cancellation over a tax dispute, legal sources said.

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