Video Games

Video Game Violence: A Scientific 'Consensus' Cracks

Reel violence does not lead to real violence.

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For decades it has been a shibboleth among most

Video Violence
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social psychologists that increasingly violent media—violent television, movies, and video games—increase the risk of violence in society. As expressions of this alleged scientific consensus, professional societies have adopted various resolutions decrying the toxic effects of media violence on society. For example, the American Psychological Association adopted in 2005 a resolution declaring that "decades of social science research reveals the strong influence of televised violence on the aggressive behavior of children and youth." 

Two of the main proponents of the theory that violent media produces social violence are the Iowa State psychologist Craig Anderson and the Ohio State psychologist Brad Bushman. In 2001, they claimed that media violence is nearly as significant a risk factor for social violence as smoking tobacco is for lung cancer. "Research on violent television and films, video games, and music reveals unequivocal evidence that media violence increases the likelihood of aggressive and violent behavior in both immediate and long-term contexts," Anderson and some colleagues asserted in 2003. In 2007, the University of New Mexico pediatrician Victor Strasburger estimated that 10 to 30 percent of the violence in society is attributable to media violence.

As recently as October, Bushman and two colleagues reported that there is a "broad consensus" among media psychologists and mass communication scientists that violent media increases aggression in children. Affecting puzzlement about why anyone might reject this alleged consensus, a group of German media researchers concluded that "strongly identified gamers" reject media violence research results that threaten their views. Earlier this year, Bushman and a colleague denied being in the thrall of a "moral panic" over violent media, instead accusing dissenting researchers who "use violent media themselves" of being "biased by the force of cognitive consistency and experience a 'reactance' of 'regulatory panic.'" Dare to accuse my side of "moral panic" and I'll rebuke yours for "regulatory panic." Doubters are shills for Big Media.

What is the evidence linking media violence to aggression? A lot of it comes from experiments in which undergraduates view violent scenes or play violent video games for 15 minutes and then are tested for aggression in various ways. Other undergraduates view mild content or play nonviolent games. Typical tests for post-play aggression include how loud a noise blast a player administers to an unseen (fictitious) subject; how much hot sauce he or she adds to food that an unseen subject will eat; and questionnaires designed to find out if the viewers or players are having aggressive feelings or thoughts. Many of the studies do find that viewers of violent content and players of violent games will blast noise a bit louder, dollop a bit more hot sauce, and cop to having slightly more aggressive feelings and thoughts than those who view mild content or play nonviolent games. Interestingly, the researchers do not pause to wonder if providing the opportunity for aggression actually licenses its commission in their experiments. According to media violence proponents, these lab results are relevant to the real world.

Their basic theory linking media violence to real violence can (somewhat unfairly) be summarized as "monkey see/monkey do." They believe that media consumers have difficulty distinguishing between real and fictional mayhem. Violence on movie or video screens supposedly supplies behavioral scripts that viewers and players later act out. Reel violence leads to real violence.

Violence Before Video
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But now the old guard is being challenged by a new generation of researchers who are calling their theories, methods, data, and sweeping assertions into question. Stetson University psychologist Christopher Ferguson is one of their chief antagonists. In their drolly titled 2013 commentary, "Does Doing Media Violence Research Make One Aggressive?," Ferguson and his colleague German researcher Malte Elson invite readers to contemplate a thought experiment as way to think about the plausibility of the "monkey see/monkey do" theory of media violence. "Take 200 children and randomize 100 to watch their parents viciously attack one another for an hour a day, the other 100 to watch a violent television program an hour a day," they suggest, "then assess their mental health after one month is over." Surely they are right when they assert that "to suggest the mental health outcomes for these children would be even remotely identical is absurd." As the thought experiment makes clear, ordinary folks do recognize that people, including children, can distinguish between real and fictional violence and will react accordingly.

Recent research bolsters this common-sense view of how people actually experience media. Last month the Villanova psychologist Patrick Markey and colleagues published a study comparing trends in onscreen violence to America's murder and aggravated assault rates between 1960 and 2012. They report that movie violence has dramatically increased in the past 50 years, and that depictions of gun violence in PG-13 movies have tripled in the last 27 years. Controlling for possible confounders such as age shifts, poverty, education, incarceration rates, and economic inequality, they report, "Contrary to the notion that trends in violent films are linked to violent behavior, no evidence was found to suggest this medium was a major (or minor) contributing cause of violence in the United States." Earlier this week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that the violent crime rate has fallen by nearly 50 percent over the past 20 years.

With video games, players are not merely passive viewers but active participants in pixelated carnage. In the December 2014 Computers in Human Behavior, a team of researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia used the standard 15 minutes of play format widely adopted by video aggression researchers to assess whether playing ultra-violent, violent, and nonviolent video games had any post-play effect on two measures of pro-social behavior. In one, players are paid $5 and then asked to fill out a brief questionnaire about a local children's charity and told that they could donate some money on their way out. In the second, players were told that they were choosing the level of difficulty of a puzzle that another subject has to finish in a limited time in order to earn money. The hypothesis was that the more violent the game, the harder the puzzle and the lower the charitable donations would be. Instead, the researchers reported that there was no difference among the three groups with regard to pro-social behavior, although the players of the ultra-violent games did donate more. "There is now growing reason to suspect that playing violent video games does not impact prosocial behavior in a normal population," concluded the researchers. 

In the November Journal of Communication, Ferguson drolly asks "Does Media Violence Predict Societal Violence?" Analyzing the trends in video game sales and youth violence, he notes that there is likely no incapacitation effect due to incarceration with regard to youth violence trends. "If media violence is a precursor to societal violence the introduction of violent video games in the United States would be expected to precipitate increased youth violence rates," he suggests. Yet as video game consumption increased nearly eightfold since 1996, the violence rate among Americans ages 12 to 17 fell from 35 to 6 per 1,000 people.

How did social science go so wrong? Ideology. As one parses the research, it becomes apparent that well-intentioned liberal social science researchers (and so are they nearly all liberal) engaged in inquiries that they hoped would result in restrictions that prevent school shootings, reduce the murder rate, usher in strict gun control, and, one suspects, elevate their fellow Americans' lowbrow tastes in entertainment. They continue to decry the alleged deleterious effects of violent media even as U.S. violence rates continue their steep decline. The old guard actually cannot see how their experiments and studies are a massive exercise in confirmation bias.

Fortunately, younger social scientists are questioning the ideology that underpins so much prior media violence research. Ferguson and Elson observe that media moral panics eventually abate, in part because the kids who grew up with new media become adults who are less inclined to identify it as a source of social ills.

As the old panic paradigm falls apart, Ferguson and Elson observe, "some scholars actively and aggressively attempt to quell dissenting views, disparage skeptics, question the motives of those who disagree with them, and enforce a highly ideological view of this field." In the April issue of Pediatrics, Bushman and his colleagues somewhat plaintively asked, "Why is it so hard to believe that media influence children and adolescents?" Ferguson's reply is that "the most parsimonious answer to this question is, in fact, 'Because the data are not convincing.'" That's correct.

CORRECTION

My original column read: When the International Communication Association met in September, Douglas Gentile, another Iowa State psychologist, made a presentation titled "The Myth of the Fairness Doctrine: Why Both Sides of the Issue Don't Need to be Represented!" In it, he actually advised journalists to not to quote researchers whose work questioned the alleged consensus on media effects.

This was largely based on the statement in an article in the peer-reviewed Journal of Communication that read:

Regarding news coverage of media violence debates, a recent article documented that news coverage of media violence has become more skeptical in recent years (Martins et al., 2013). The authors conclude that scholars should encourage journal- ists to make more conclusive statements linking media violence to societal violence. Other scholars (e.g., Gentile, 2013) have explicitly suggested that journalists should not speak to scholars who are skeptical of links between media and societal violence, thus appearing to endorse scientific censorship of scholars who disagree with their personal views. (emphasis added).

The Journal of Communication article references: Gentile, D. (2013, June). The myth of the fairness doctrine: Why both sides of the issue don't need to be represented! Presented at the 63rd Annual Conference of the International Communication Association, London, England.

As support for the claim, I linked to the abstract of the paper that reads:

Although no longer an FCC rule, a type of Fairness Doctrine exists when it comes to the issue of media effects and how the media presents these issues to the public. Whether it be the harmful effects of video games violence, food marketing to children and obesity, or sexual content, another viewpoint is always represented leading many to assume that there is still a debate in the academic community. Even if groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics or the American Psychological Association note the harmful impacts of violent media, the press will find "someone" who says the opposite, leading to the assumption that the data are inconsistent and we are still "not sure" of the effects. Is it time to reconsider this approach by the press?  

I also checked the ICA's agenda and Professor Gentile was listed as giving the referenced talk (although I confused the dates).

After publication, Professor Douglas Gentile contacted me: "This statement is defamatory. I never made this argument.  Furthermore, I did not give the presentation that you suggest I did.  Even worse, I didn't even go to that conference!  (As an aside, I believe the conference was in July, not in September.)  Had I gone to the conference, I would not have made that claim. I request that you immediately publish a statement correcting the facts and retracting the claim that I advocate censorship of any kind. 

I work very hard to get the facts right and am eager to correct any mistakes in my reporting. I have no intent to defame anyone nor in any way to mislead readers. Consequently, all references to Professor Gentile have been removed from the article.

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  1. All those hours of Crusader Kings 2 have clearly made me into a murderous Viking who regularly pillages the local Christian churches.

    1. Pshaw. Happened to me years ago. Sid Meyer’s Pirates had me raiding Spanish trade galleons in me trusty brigantine for a year.

      1. I wouldn’t have gotten where I am today, i.e, emperor of a large continent-spanning empire, if it wasn’t for Civilization inspiring me to led my tribe into founding a city-state and then developing our technological and military resources into the conquest of neighboring city-states.

        1. Gandhi, is that you?

          1. He said “conquest” not “scourging with nuclear fire”.

            1. Gandhi is for science victories, not crushing your opponents.

              Now, the Chinese in Civ 5 and their double-speed archers — THERE’S a “are your cities are belong to us” civ.

              1. are your cities are belong to us

                Shouldn’t that be “are your cities are berong to us?” If you’re gonna be lacist, go all the way.

                1. If you’re gonna be lacist, go all the way.

                  What does his hatred of traditional shoes have to do with anything? 🙂

                2. allyourbasearebelongtous

              2. Why would you even consider Gandhi for a science victory when the Koreans have the Scholars of the Jade Hall science bonus?

              3. Yeah, but in Empire Earth those Roman Legions hold their own against Nazi Panzer divisions. Until you nuke ’em with stealth bombers.

                1. Oye, Empire Earth, the only RTS where you could have Neanderthals fighting alongside Laser Mechs. I loved that game!!

      2. My brother still busts my balls about the old Microprose version from 1980. Pirates! is so kick ass.

        Have you played Mount & Blade: Warband? It’s sort of like fictional medieval world Pirates, but not nearly as cartoony. And modded you can lead battles with up to 1,000 individual troops involved. Very interesting game if you’re into a loosely structured sandbox style of play.

      3. And dancing with every Governor’s daughter I ran into. Arrrr….

      4. wow i like that game funny

    2. I played Assassin’s Creed: Unity a Few days ago. I tried to go stab some Frenchmen, but I got stuck in the Architecture.

    3. My roomate’s aunt makes $71 /hour on the laptop . She has been out of a job for six months but last month her income was $12021 just working on the laptop for a few hours.
      You can try this out. ????? http://www.payflame.com

    4. My roomate’s aunt makes $71 /hour on the laptop . She has been out of a job for six months but last month her income was $12021 just working on the laptop for a few hours.
      You can try this out. ????? http://www.payflame.com

  2. How anyone believed it could is beyond me. Who plays violent video games? As a group, middle class young white males more than anyone. If playing them made people violent, middle class white kids should be murdering each other at a huge rate. American suburbia should look like Juarez.

    Of course the real world looks nothing like that. I can’t believe anyone actually thought video games caused violence. No one is that stupid. But lots of people are that dishonest. The only reason this idea was every brought up was because people wanted to censor these things for whatever reason and thought maybe someone would be dumb enough to believe such a lie.

    1. I have met people who genuinely hold this belief. And frankly, in the few instances where I spent a lot of time with those people, I noticed that the “violent games/music/books cause violence in real life” believers tended to struggle with the difference between fantasy and reality.

      BTW, singing “I shot the sheriff/ but I swear it was in self defense” is a very, very low blow when arguing about whether violent art causes violence in real life.

      1. Huh, I used to sing “Sign Sign Everywhere a Sign” by The Band whenever one of my liberal associates demanded more laws and regulations.

        Unfortunately it doesn’t work anymore because now there’s no irony in it.

        1. Not to be “that guy” but “Signs” was a Five Man Electrical Band song.

      2. I noticed that the “violent games/music/books cause violence in real life” believers tended to struggle with the difference between fantasy and reality.

        I’ve noticed that as well.

        1. Not necessarily lost in a fantasy world, but rather having an ideological bias that makes them think the universe, and the people inhabiting it, behave in ways that they don’t.

          Because pretty much every guy I know has played a lot of video games, and yet they’re not going on killing sprees. You have to have a logical disconnect to not see something as obvious as that.

          1. You don’t get it. Someone like Adam Lanza proves that they are correct. You and me and your friends and the tens of millions of other people who play those games without becoming murderers are the exception to the rule.

            1. Of course, it then turned out that Adam Lanza’s favorite video game was “Dance Dance Revolution”…but once the gun grabbers start frothing at the mouth, presenting new information is pretty much a waste of time.

      3. I noticed that the “violent games/music/books cause violence in real life” believers tended to struggle with the difference between fantasy and reality.

        Growing up, I remember the scene where Bugs Bunny shoots Yosemite Sam in the face being removed from cartoons. “Kids have trouble telling the difference between TV and reality.” was the cover story.

        I was irritated to no end that now, Little Einsteins, Mickey Mouse, and Dora wait for my kids to ‘not’ respond. They *want* it to be true so badly that they can’t conceive of a reality otherwise. Kids (mine and others) actively shun it in favor of “more passively” watching entertaining television.

        I take solace in the fact that we can watch stuff like this as family and laugh.

        1. I let my kids watch Tom & Jerry. Does that make me a bad parent?

          1. A good parent. Your kids will rule middle school.

        2. At the end of that clip Youtube suggested this cartoon timely treatise on freedom and capitalism from when the USA was only 160 years old.

          Even uses the phrase “class warfare”.

          Interesting to see how little things have changed. But it is covered in some pretty odd link callouts though.

    2. Some people are that stupid. Or willfully ignorant, perhaps. They decide that it makes sense that violent video games lead to violence and don’t need no stinking evidence to back it up. Just anecdotes that support what they already think. So when some loser shoots up a school or something, that’s enough to sustain their silly ideas about video games.

      1. They can’t accept that some things cannot be prevented, so they find a cause where one does not exist.

        1. Which leads to the point you always make: it ain’t about the video games to these people

        2. People are really good at finding patterns where none exists.

    3. Like monster truck rallies and NASCAR, violent video games are aesthetically distasteful. FPS games are also highly individualistic and chauvinistic.

      Our elites only wish to protect the masses from such influences, and direct the hoi polloi to more aesthetic entertainments like Masterpiece Theatre and other PBS offerings.

  3. biased by the force of cognitive consistency

    I love that quote. Makes me smile just reading it.

  4. The idea that violent video games leads to violent behavior in well-adjusted, average human beings is so condescending.

    Purely anecdotal, but I’ve been playing video games since before I was old enough to even attend preschool, including games like Doom. And I’ll be gaming until the end of my days, ceterus parabus.

    In fact, FPSs are what I prefer more often than not, and while I own at least two guns, I have no inclinations to go out and actually shoot someone, despite what the “murder simulator” taught me.

    1. Purely anecdotal, but I’ve been playing video games since before I was old enough to even attend preschool, including games like Doom. And I’ll be gaming until the end of my days, ceterus parabus.

      I’d been meaning to ask you if your handle was League of Legends-related, but I think I can guess based on that statement that it is 🙂

      1. It isn’t. Wah wah… I’ve never played LoL. I may one day.

        It’s actually D&D related. It was the first character I ever rolled.

        1. Is your handle Riven related?

          1. Like… Myst? No. Wah wah, again!

        2. Ah. Critical miss on my part.

          1. “you miss as your sword goes flying out of your hands and lands with a clatter between your foes”

    2. I didn’t have a chance to respond to you in the PM links on Wednesday.

      Yoga pants are further proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. Yoga pants make women whose asses normally don’t look that great, look good and make women whose asses normally look good look spectacular.

      Yoga pants are always acceptable provided the woman is under 50 and generally attractive.

      1. Sweet. I’m using this as an excuse to wear yoga pants to work.

        “John said I could!”

        1. Yoga Pants are an article of clothing that women find comfortable and that men still find women attractive wearing.

          I honestly didn’t think such a thing could ever exist.

          1. You know what’s heavenly?
            There’s a yoga studio in the first floor of the building where I work, and another yoga studio across the street.

            And the building is at a major MBTA bus interchange.

            The end result is that at rush hour a seemingly endless stream of young women wearing yoga pants with rolled up yoga mats beautify the start of my commute home.

            1. Wow. I hope you have a floor to ceiling window.

              1. Faces the wrong thing fortunately (or I wouldn’t get *any* work done)…

            2. I just saw a couple of pairs at the laundrymat. I mean women wearing them, not just a couple lying around in the baskets…those are boring.

            3. Better yet — my apartment complex has yoga classes, which I’ve started attending. Get my workout and get to chat up good looking fit women.

      2. I saw my first pair of yoga pants in the wild yesterday while eating at a fast food joint. High-school-age cheerleader-type with a spectacular ass. Fortunately, my parents taught me not to rape.

        1. TIWTANFL

        2. Have you been living in a cave?

          On the other hand, I’ve spent the last 8 years of my life in college towns.

          I’m so glad girls are finally past the Ugg boot phase. What’s the point of wearing furry boots with fur ball tassle things and short shorts when it’s 60 degrees outside?

          1. I’m so glad girls are finally past the Ugg boot phase. What’s the point of wearing furry boots with fur ball tassle things and short shorts when it’s 60 degrees outside?

            Boots they can’t get wet. I just don’t even.

            1. I guess the upside is that Ugg boots are the leper’s bell of someone who prefers form over function.

              Although I had a friend in college who wore boots with furry balls on them on occasion, but she used them as a segue into making sex jokes.

              1. That’s what I use Ugg boots for. I’ve never worn them, but I use them as one of the many criteria that indicates a woman is basically dead behind the eyes.

                1. I’m being a little harsh. Where I went to school, Ugg boots were really popular in sororities. The greek system was a big deal, and the sororities had a habit of lining their pledges up and checking the tags on their clothes to make sure they were name brand and not knock offs. That kind of thing is pretty repulsive to me, so I guess I thing of Ugg goots in a really bad context. The frats did things equally as bad and worse.

                2. That’s what I use Ugg boots for. I’ve never worn them, but I use them as one of the many criteria that indicates a woman is basically dead behind the eyes.

                  I actually feel this way about yoga pants. They are like breast implants without the commitment on the part of the woman.

                  Yes, there are women who wear them at the gym, work hard, and look good, but they’re the minority and, IMO, their clothes are largely irrelevant anyway.

                  The overwhelming majority of women I see wearing yoga pants, drink iced coffee from DD, couldn’t find a gym without Siri, wonder why their other clothes make their thighs look horrible, and why men won’t respect them or pay attention to them unless they’re drunk.

                  It feels a little like a nightmare where women everywhere *need* an article of clothing that turns them into Kim Kardashian.

                  1. Oh, you’re no fun.

                  2. I think what you’re describing mad.casual is marketing in a nutshell. Everyone’s looking for the easy way to do things. They want to look like athletes without doing the training, lose weight without working out or dieting, have a great career without putting in the work up front, etc. That goes for men as well as women. Guys do the same thing – try to buy a product that gives them instant status – when they’re looking for a new pick up truck or TV.

                    1. Guys do the same thing – try to buy a product that gives them instant status – when they’re looking for a new pick up truck or TV.

                      No, buying a truck is an investment and marketing takes work. I’m talking about basal race-to-the-bottom groupthink consumerism. More between guys wearing just athletic shirts to show off their body or owning a Che Guevara shirt to show that they’re revolutionary and/or dangerous.

                      If I walked into a bar where all the men were wearing unbuttoned hawaiian shirts and all the women were swooning because they were wearing unbuttoned hawaiian shirts (outside Hawaii obv.), some men would run out and get themselves a hawaiian shirt. I’d probably shoot myself, right after I emptied the magazine at everyone in the place.

                    2. No, buying a truck is an investment

                      It can be, especially if you use it for work. Truck might have been a bad choice – replace it with SUV or sports car. Most successful marketing plays on people’s insecurities. Men and women typically have different sets of insecurities, but that doesn’t mean that the exact same damn thing doesn’t happen.

                  3. Cuts me deep, mad casual!

                    I’m kidding. I go to the gym almost everyday. The only time I wear the single pair of yoga pants I own is when I do yoga at home on the only rest day I take every week.

                    I can agree with a lot of what you’re saying, though; plenty of women wear them because they really do make your ass look fantastic even if it normally looks like a pile of mud.

          2. I wondered that too. Maybe kinnath has been living in Saudi Arabia for the last few years or something.

            1. Worse that Saudi Arabia. I live in Iowa.

          3. I am a 57-year-old engineer, living in Iowa, that does not go to the mall.

            I have seen plenty of adult women wearing something like yoga pants with shirts that just barely cover their ass.

            This was a teen that had a tee shirt tied at the waist and a jacket that did not go below her waist. In addition to watching her ass for a couple of minutes when she was at the condiment counter, she walked directly past me, and I got to see the front seam of the yoga pants disappear into her thigh-gap.

            So yeah. That was a first.

    3. Same here. I’m 48 and have been playing since the Atari / Arcade days. And I’ve never shot, beaten, or assaulted anyone in my life.

      1. You’ve never been inexplicably compelled to eat little white pills while imagining you were being chased by ghosts, either, I suppose?

        1. I wouldn’t say “inexplicably”…

        2. Riven,

          You act like there is something unusual or wrong about that.

          1. Also known as Wednesdays

            1. just say no to sobriety

          2. Well, the idea that you’re being chased by ghosts is uncommon, isn’t it?

            1. Depends on the amount of white pills

      2. Oh yeah – while in the Army National Guard, I played some video games with real damn rifles (hooked up to air compressors to simulate recoil). Somehow me and everyone else in my unit resisted the urge to go on rampages afterwards.

        1. DaveW (remember him old timers?) would argue that was because you are a naif who mindlessly can only obey orders.

          1. Projectors gonna project.

          2. So the truly liberated people do go out and kill people after playing video games?

    4. The idea that violent video games leads to violent behavior in well-adjusted, average human beings is so condescending.

      People like that have said the same thing about theater, music, literature, movies, board games, and television since the ancient Greeks (and probably before). Computer games are just the latest thing to scare people with.

    5. and while I own at least two guns, I have no inclinations to go out and actually shoot someone

      Until you snap!

      1. Urge…to kill…rising…

  5. My classmate’s mother-in-law makes $73 every hour on the computer . She has been without work for five months but last month her check was $14391 just working on the computer for a few hours. why not try this out.
    vi?????????sit hom?????????epage http://www.jobsfish.com

    1. Goddamn gold farmers. They just wreck in-game currencies.

      1. I teamed with a gold farmer leveling up in WoW once. It was a rather surreal experience.

        1. Weird! I figured most gold farmers had gathering professions, but I suppose it makes sense that they’d grind through mobs, too.

          1. That’s really the realm of bots I would think. I mean, I farm gold for myself, but real gold farmers are going to have 10 accounts with bot scripts running all the time.

            1. Chinese prisoners were being forced to farm gold awhile back. A fate worse than death.

    2. That’s 197 hours, ritchbumpsyrg.

  6. I think I know the answer to this, but maybe someone could tell me: Do these cargo-cult “scientists” actually draw any distinctions among *types* of violence? Do they acknowledge the difference between, say, The Lord of the Rings or Mulan, where good guys, forced to the wall, resort to violence as the only way to restrain evildoers, and a film like Natural Born Killers where murderous nihilists go around killing people because they enjoy doing so?

    I suspect that, to these “well-intentioned” cargo-cultists, all portrayals of violence are evil. Saving the world from invaders in a video game is no excuse for showing gunz and shooting! It’s just the same as getting points for running over pedestrians in your car.

    Traditionally, portrayals of defensive, righteous violence have not only been tolerated, but *encouraged* as part of the education of young males. It’s up to the cargo-cultists to show us how every generation before theirs was so wrong, and how wisdom and understanding began only with them.

    1. Do these cargo-cult “scientists” actually draw any distinctions among *types* of violence?

      Of course! They keep trying different categorizations of data until they get a statistically significant result!

      “Blue eyed, dark haired transsexuals between the ages of 30-50 become ax murderers at a significantly higher rate than the general population after playing video games in which they kill pink unicorns by throwing pixie dust at them.”

      1. Transphobia!

      2. not on the PETAcraft servers you dont

    2. I loved this in the book, and again in the movie:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSNPeJAgBzo

    3. I tried playing the liberal approved version where we groveled on our knees and subjugated ourselves to the alien invaders. it got boring after 2 weeks in the re-education camp.

      1. It’s almost as if these “social scientists” *want* boys to grow up to be girly little wimps.

      2. There’s a video game version of V?

    4. Notorious,

      The theory is based on several premises:

      Children are more likely to imitate the actions of a character with whom they identify.
      Video games require active participation.
      Repetition increases learning and video games are repetitive.
      Rewards increase learning and video games have a built in reward system.

      So by playing violent video games, you are reinforcing violent tendencies, at the “behavioral” level. To address your issue as to whether they see different types of violence differently, most of the scientists do.

      1. I think this begs the question of what violence means.

        Teaching young boys to identify with characters who fight evildoers used to be a key part of our culture – and still is in other cultures.

        That doesn’t teach them to go out and shoot up a school, it teaches them that it’s good to fight bandits, commies, etc.

        So if by “violent tendencies” you mean “more likely to join the Army,” maybe you’re right, but if you mean, “more likely to go off and massacre random people,” I’m not so sure.

        And I’d like to see examples of “the scientists” making these distinctions.

        1. And I’d like to see examples of “the scientists” making these distinctions.

          Just out of curiosity, why the scare quotes around scientists?

          “Video games are not inherently good or bad, just as any tool is not inherently good or bad,” writes Douglas Gentile, PhD, who runs the Media Research Lab at Iowa State University where he conducts research on media’s impact on children and adults.

          “For example, an axe can be used to split logs for a fire to keep people warm on a cold day, or it can be used as a weapon. Likewise, video games can have both positive and negative effects. Content matters, and games are excellent teachers. Violent content in video games can lead people to behave more aggressively. Prosocial content, in contrast, can lead people to behave in a more cooperative and helpful manner.”

          1. Isn’t Gentile also the guy who said journalists shouldn’t cover both sides of this debate?

            Yeah, real scientists do this all the time.

            1. And the contrast between “violent” and “prosocial”* illustrates my point. Apparently it’s antisocial to rescue the princess by stomping on the evil turtles, mushrooms and dragons who are holding her captive.

              Why not have a “prosocial” game where Mario and Bowser talk about their feelings?

              *A word which Reason’s spell-check doesn’t recognize.

              1. Isn’t Gentile also the guy who said journalists shouldn’t cover both sides of this debate?

                No idea, you asked for someone making the distinction and I gave you one. Is this why you do not consider him a scientist? Or does that distinction go to everyone in his field (psychology)?

                And the contrast between “violent” and “prosocial”* illustrates my point. Apparently it’s antisocial to rescue the princess by stomping on the evil turtles, mushrooms and dragons who are holding her captive.

                If you accept the premises I laid out above, then what a video game does is reinforce actions, whether “violent” or “prosocial.”

                **yes, he does use violent and prosocial as opposites, but I do not.**

                1. The quote was “Content matters, and games are excellent teachers. Violent content in video games can lead people to behave more aggressively. Prosocial content, in contrast, can lead people to behave in a more cooperative and helpful manner.”

                  And as you recognized, “he does use violent and prosocial as opposites.”

              2. Reason doesn’t have a spell checker. That’s your own browser. If you like “prosocial”, select the English/Newspeak as your dictionary and interface language

      2. “So by playing violent video games, you are reinforcing violent tendencies, at the “behavioral” level”

        Yes, that’s the point of many of these games: defending yourself and your community against malignant outside forces, defending the helpless and innocent, and standing up for what is right. Your problem with any of that is…?

    5. I think I know the answer to this, but maybe someone could tell me: Do these cargo-cult “scientists” actually draw any distinctions among *types* of violence?

      I don’t think this is scientifically possible.

      Asking kids questions like, “Did you enjoy killing clones before or after Order 66 was issued?” and “Do you approve of killing Arcturus Mengsk?” seems like it would be both a “science” and a form of violence in-and-of itself.

  7. Here we see the pathetic evidence put forth by psychologists and why psychology to this day is a mushy, mostly junk science. Look at that stupid expeiment – show some violent video and then see if the viewer shows more aggressive feelings. Number one – feelings are not actions, number two – the claims are that the effects of the video are long lasting, which has no relevance to this silly and pointless experiment.
    I hope eveyone can now see that psychology can’t even measure behavior with any accuracy, making experiments like this hopelessly futile. Psychology is mostly talk and argument and citing junk experiments like this one.

    1. Everybody enjoys some sort of fantasy to some extent. Many of these fantasies involve sexual lust, romance, and violence. The video game industry and the film industry exist to indulge such fantasies.

      It should be obvious that people who spend a lot of time in FPS games enjoy violent fantasy.

      A more interesting study would investigate the correlation between time spent in FPS games by cops and their frequency police brutality complaints.

      I don’t know how that would turn out. However, I conjecture that people who spend a lot of time fantasizing about violence more readily engage in violence if it is sanctioned by their profession. Of course, the result could be just the opposite, or indeterminate.

      If a significant and substantive correlation were found, perhaps it would considering whether folks who simulate wanton slaughter of pixels for three hours a day are suitable candidates to become peace officers.

      1. “Everybody enjoys some sort of fantasy to some extent. Many of these fantasies involve sexual lust, romance, and violence. The video game industry and the film industry exist to indulge such fantasies”

        No, feminists and progressives do not have any bad thoughts. And if they do, they instantly regret them and do penance by beating up conservatives and libertarians a bit more!

        (Actually, I suspect many people calling for such legislation have psychological problems that they are hoping to address by removing stimuli from their environment and assume everybody else must have such problems too)

  8. Counterpoint: WCW / NWO Revenge really did turn all of my friends into would-be luchadors. No table or chair was safe. Or does it not count when the violence is staged?

    1. If it does count, then you could argue the NFL has caused millions of kids to repeatedly hit each other. Are sports considered violence?

  9. My classmate’s mother-in-law makes $73 every hour on the computer . She has been without work for five months but last month her check was $14391 just working on the computer for a few hours. why not try this out.
    vi?????????sit hom?????????epage ????? http://www.jobsfish.com

    1. I should have told your mother about this opportunity when I threw her out of the house this morning. Fuck. If I had known, I would even have let her take a shower.

  10. I’m violent for reasons that have nothing to do with video games.

    1. im violent because the news pisses me off in new and exciting ways every day
      its like “hey whats up with the world?”
      followed by
      “damn society hasnt gone mad max yet”

    2. Fuckin’ aspartame, boo. Makes mice kill each other.

      /scientific embezzlement

  11. Next up: dealing with the assertions that playing video games makes men misogynists.

  12. Okay, WITHOUT LOOKING IT UP, does anyone here know who Casey Jones was?

    A coworker of mine had never heard of him; I was astonished.

    1. “Casey Jones, you better watch your speed.”

      He was a drug-dealer?

    2. He’s the one driving that train, high on cocaine, right?

      1. +1 workingman’s dead

    3. He was the Sportsmaster of the TGMT universe.

      1. That music speaks to my soul.

    4. Oh yeah, that’s the dude that wears a hockey mask in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

    5. Doesn’t he have a locker or something?

      1. This made me laugh.

  13. my friend’s step-sister makes $62 every hour on the laptop . She has been without a job for 7 months but last month her income was $19712 just working on the laptop for a few hours. visit the site…

    ?????? http://www.netjob70.com

    1. Does she own any yoga pants?

    2. if she made $19,712 @ $62 per hour then she worked approx 317 hours, which is more than “a few” in my book (approx 44% of all her time in the last month)

    3. Whose lap top?

  14. Given that crime rates have plummeted as video games have becoming increasingly common, it would appear that if there is a relationship between the two, that it is in fact inhibitory.

    1. funny how a rise in violent media is coupled with a decline in societal violence

    2. yeah kids are too fat and lazy from sitting around playing video games all day to go kill anybody. I know I am.

  15. Two of the main proponents of the theory that violent media produces social violence are the Iowa State psychologist Craig Anderson and the Ohio State psychologist Brad Bushman.

    Shouldn’t that be “The Ohio State psychologist Brad Bushman”?

    1. .. or “the The Ohio State psychologist Brad Bushman”?

      1. “You shall address me as The The Ohio State Psychologist Brad Bushman. Now about your aggression… Do you play a lot of violent video games? Mmmhmm…”

  16. You could actually make an argument that video games aren’t violent *enough* to meet young boys’ needs – they need to get outside and engage in actual physical violence with their friends and sports adversaries.

  17. Some people just can’t accept that there are some things in life that can’t be prevented. Things like lone nutters going off the deep end and killing people. So the people who can’t accept that some random people are going to snap must find a cause, and with that cause a means to prevent these things from happening again.

    “He played violent video games? Well, that must have been the cause! We must ban these games to prevent future acts of violence!”

    1. Some people just can’t accept that there are some things in life that can’t be prevented.

      THIS

      It sucks to think that some little weirdo can walk into an elementary school and shoot a bunch of kids and there is no way to explain it or do anything to stop the next little weirdo who blows a gasket from doing something similar or worse. It is a sense of awful powerlessness to think that the world contains utterly horrible evil that cannot be explained or prevented.

      So people latch on to stupid things pretending it isn’t so.

      1. Look at the actual school shooters – eg, it was eye-opening for me to see that the Columbine killers were basically a modern Leopold and Loeb who thought of themselves as superior beings entitled to kill their supposed inferiors.

        These weren’t little boys fantasizing about defending their homes against Russian invaders, these were twisted little fucks with no regard for other people’s lives.

        Focusing on violent media – especially without regard to context – is pure animism.

        1. And the people who claim to be so concerned about stopping another Columbine are the very ones who think the solution to any problem is just give kids more self esteem.

          1. And there you go! It’s generally safe to do the opposite of what they recommend.

          2. Relation of threatened egotism to violence and aggression: The dark side of high self-esteem.

            Baumeister, Roy F.; Smart, Laura; Boden, Joseph M.

            Psychological Review, Vol 103(1), Jan 1996, 5-33. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.103.1.5

    2. Agreed. Sometimes bad things happen and no amount of prevention is going to stop them. That’s just a fact of life.

  18. I’m with the Steven Levitt from Freakonomics on this one: the major social impact of video games, whether violent or not, is to keep young men, the main demographic for committing violent crimes, preoccupied with doing something other than violence.

    From what I’ve seen, it’s usually the right, not the left, that blames movies and video games whenever there’s a major shooting. The left blames the guns. So whether the researchers are liberal or not, it’s conservatives who use it as a political crutch.

    1. That used to be partially true. But feminists have gotten into the act. They view violence as a product of a patriarchal misogynistic culture, and advocate that putting women in charge is the solution. So, on the left, you have anti gun forces and feminism conspiring.

      Now, progressives also want to abolish violent video games and replace them with uplifting feminist messages, while conservatives wanted to replace them with uplifting Christian messages.

    2. From what i’ve seen, The right also fights against the idea that it’s video games that cause violence. They’re more likely to blame the catastrophe on the mental illness of the perpetrator as well as the laws that stripped the victims of their ability to defend themselves. The only people who are attacking video games, as far as i can see, are leftist feminists.

  19. I’ll buy that in .00000002% of individuals, brain imbalances, media violence (of any kind), and guns/weapons can lead – in combination – to a revolting incident. But then go ahead an draw a Venn Diagram of all three groups, shade the intersection, and justify draconian, liberty stripping laws/regulations against any of the groups. Once one sees the proportions, it should become quite silly to persecute any of the groups at large. Just looking at the initial percentage above shows what an outlier violence really is in terms of the intersections described.

    1. But, but, but… We’ve got to do something!

      1. Think of the children!!

        1. Shes playing GTA V right now, teaching her valuable life skills from a young age

  20. I started off easy, you know with only a little mine sweeper, or solitaire. then Wolfenstein 3D came out, soon after i found myself with the innate desire to start killing fascists… it still follows me to this day

    1. I think terrorists should be shot. I blame having played Rainbow 6.

      1. Left-wing eco-terrorists, no less.

  21. This is really something that should be left to families to decide for themselves. We didn’t have any really violent video games or movies in our house when I was little because my brother and I were prone to nightmares. I don’t understand parents getting political. Your own kids need you. Little Johnny down the street needs his parent. There are enough to go around.

  22. Consensus. Consensus… Where else have I heard that word used in science? Let me think. Consensus…

  23. I grew up enjoying The Three Stooges.

    For some odd reason, I’ve never thought it was okay to hit someone over the head with a frying pan… or poke their eyes out with two fingers.

  24. I Was going to go on a dragonslaying adventure after I got done with my video games

    …Then I took an arrow in the knee.

  25. OMG!
    First Global Warming, now Video Game Violence. What next, the Republican War on Women?

  26. The science is settled. Again.

  27. “…it becomes apparent that well-intentioned liberal social science researchers (and so are they nearly all liberal)..”

    Umm, yeah. Being a middle aged fart, who is old enough to remember the uproar of the religious right over Dungeons & Dragons being a gateway to Satanism, I call B.S. bias on that claim. Plenty of conservative think tanks have weighed in with claims that media violence leads to real life violence.

    From the studies that I’ve looked at, you can make a tenuous claim that there is a link between a great deal of exposure to violent games/movies/music & real world aggression. That doesn’t answer the question of whether people are made violent by being exposed to the virtual violence or if people already predisposed to violence are drawn to violent themes. The ACLU has been making this point for years & they are hardly a conservative group.

    At the end of the day, the real world environment has a lot more to do with how kids turn out than any game. As in most cases, when the libertarians & the ACLU are in agreement, you can find social conservatives & goo-goo government types on the other side.

  28. Pick up that can, and put it in the trash.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNd8iNx1gGk

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  30. My roomate’s aunt makes $71 /hour on the laptop . She has been out of a job for six months but last month her income was $12021 just working on the laptop for a few hours.
    You can try this out. ????? http://www.jobsfish.com

  31. This same thing is happening in climatology. The evidence is getting stronger and stronger that Catastrophic AGW was just ideology based cherry picking. At the very least, They blew the consequences of whatever warming is man-made way out of perportion.

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