Discussion: Violent video games - do they promote real life violence?


Becky

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It has previously been mentioned that it would be great to see some topical discussions on PC Review, and I want to say a big thank you to @Taffycat for sending Ian a list of suggestions :) We'd like to start having regular topical discussions on the forum, maybe one per week depending on how popular they are, so feel free to send through any topic suggestions you might have.

So the discussion for this week is:

Violent video games - do they promote real life violence?

Some points to prompt discussion:
  • Is there causation between playing violent games and real life violence? If there is, which way does causation go? ie does playing the game bring out a violent side, or are more violent people more likely to be drawn to them?
  • How much responsibility should the parents take over what type of games their children play?
  • Violence in video games is often rewarded - isn't that a bad thing?
  • Are the current age restrictions appropriate? If not, what would you change?
  • Even if violent video games don't make people more violent, do they make people more aggressive?
 
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Right, I have a view on this, I do not mind the space games as they are not real they are imaginary, but the ones of WWW1 & 2 and the ones based on currant events are too close to home. For example My Grandfather was a Company Sargent Major who won in 1915 the MC was Injured with shrapnel and one piece was missed and it was that piece that killed him in 1942. My family during WW2 lost several relatives during that conflict and I lost several Mates in the Malayan conflict, so no sorry to close to home.
Yes parents are responsible for the types of games they play on their PC's, laptops and other digital media.
When you have seen a mate lying there with his guts hanging out, or his head split open and his brain a foot or so away from his head sort of puts things into perspective.
 

Urmas

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Funny timing... last week, I happened to read THIS (in Finnish, sorry!) article where professor Perttu Hämäläinen says that with vast advances in "all things virtual reality", it might be time to rethink age limits.

He gives an example: Before he visited NYC for the first time, he had been playing GTA. And when he saw a yellow cab for the first time, his first thought was, "OK... here's how I hijack it".

Being an adult, of course he did not.

But children can not manage such impulses the same way adults do. Not to mention that children simply can not manage feelings and experiences the way adults do, either. And when you think a small child hearing a fairy tale, s/he can not tell what could be real and what would be... impossible. And the more realistic (in VR terms) a gaming experience...


That's what he (and a shrink who was also interviewed) said. I don't do games, so...


P.S. @bootneck02:


(Click on the subtitles icon.)
 

Abarbarian

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Urmas's point about VR gaming certainly changes things and will definitely cause everyone to think hard about the effects of gaming.

At the present though I think that games do not really cause more real life violence.
It is one thing to sit in a comfy room playing at killing folk and thinking that you could do so in real life. Folk of my age used to do the same thing with plastic soldier models or child sized cowboy guns and the world is not full of murdering maniacs.
Gaming is totally different to the reality of holding a real gun, a solid heavy lump of cold steel. An shooting a gun for the first few times is a pretty frightening experience, even more so if you are a child or youth no matter how tough you may think you are.

:cool:
 

Becky

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Abarbarian couldn't agree more :nod:

Right, I have a view on this, I do not mind the space games as they are not real they are imaginary, but the ones of WWW1 & 2 and the ones based on currant events are too close to home. For example My Grandfather was a Company Sargent Major who won in 1915 the MC was Injured with shrapnel and one piece was missed and it was that piece that killed him in 1942. My family during WW2 lost several relatives during that conflict and I lost several Mates in the Malayan conflict, so no sorry to close to home.
Yes parents are responsible for the types of games they play on their PC's, laptops and other digital media.
When you have seen a mate lying there with his guts hanging out, or his head split open and his brain a foot or so away from his head sort of puts things into perspective.

I see what you mean there bootneck, and that's a very good point indeed. To play devils advocate though, you could also say that video games and films depicting the events that took place during actual wars increase understanding of the terrible loss and conditions that people were forced to endure. In a way it brings history to life.

But children can not manage such impulses the same way adults do. Not to mention that children simply can not manage feelings and experiences the way adults do, either. And when you think a small child hearing a fairy tale, s/he can not tell what could be real and what would be... impossible. And the more realistic (in VR terms) a gaming experience...

Moving on from this, I think the age limits applied to games tend to be appropriate. However you get a lot of parents who would buy popular games for their kids no matter what - what do you think should be done about this? Should there be some accountability with the parents if they buy age restricted games for their kids? How would you control it?
 

Urmas

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Should there be some accountability with the parents if they buy age restricted games for their kids? How would you control it?

Mayhaps there should be accountability bet there is no way to control it. Most sensible parents see the point, anyway. Bad idea to make laws that a) can not be enforced and b) are thusly more social-moralistic infomercials than laws in traditional sense.
 
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Abarbarian couldn't agree more :nod:



I see what you mean there bootneck, and that's a very good point indeed. To play devils advocate though, you could also say that video games and films depicting the events that took place during actual wars increase understanding of the terrible loss and conditions that people were forced to endure. In a way it brings history to life.


In films it is not a first person game you are not doing the shooting, the child mentally is not taking a life Becky, where as in a first person shooting game they are not physically but mentally and as we know that children have impressionable minds
 
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floppybootstomp

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I don't think violent video games promote violence. Not to your average sane rational adult, anyway.

But not every adult is sane and rational are they? And children are impressionable so to me, this leaves questions.

I believe age restrictions are in place but how many parents actually enforce these restrictions?

Another thing to consider is a great deal of video game violence is cartoon comic book type violence and anybody with a modicum of intelligence will understand this.

World War II games are by far the most popular it is true and one of the early Call Of Duty Games (number 2 I think) had a very intense sequence based upon the D-Day beach landings depicted at the beginning of the 'Saving Private Ryan' film.

Talking of Saving Private Ryan I've often thought that opening sequence should be on school's curriculums for around age 14 and above as it would probably impress upon teenagers just what their ancestors put up with and how horrific war is, it's not a game.

What is it they say about war? Started by bitter old men, fought by naïve young men and funded by hateful rich men and arms dealers. Or something like that.

There are very few recorded incidents of murders or acts of violence that have been triggered by the perpetrator playing violent video games. To censor video games is just the same as censoring films, imo, and I will concede there may be a small risk of mentally unstable individuals being influenced by this media.

But those individuals could be pushed over the edge by something else anyway, it's a sad fact that there are some people who are going to commit violent crime, with or without the influence of video games.

So, to answer the question - no, I don't think video games promote violence and I would oppose their censorship.
 

Becky

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I think certain people can be negatively affected by video games, but only if the trait is there to begin with. Like @floppybootstomp says, games like Call of Duty are among the most popular out there, and there has been a big rise in the number of games sold over the past couple of decades - if violent video games made people more violent then we would also be seeing a big rise in violent crime too, but actually it seems to be the opposite.
 

Taffycat

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I think the more concerning aspect of violent video games - or, for that matter, violent TV shows - is that we are all becoming increasingly desensitised to some pretty gruesome sights and scenarios.

People such as @bootneck have witnessed the reality of conflict at first hand, which thankfully, most of the rest of us have not. So in a way, I guess some of us find it "easier" to view blood-and-guts scenes (whether in a game, or certain popular tv shows) with a degree of detachment. We see the viscera, realistically depicted, but we cannot smell it, nor do we have any emotional attachment to the scene.

When we take into account that much of this stuff is being viewed by children, some of whom receive very little parental guidance, is it any wonder that some of them are unable to separate their fictional viewing, or gaming habits, from acceptable levels of behaviour in real-life? Could this be why some of them think it's a justification to carry a knife and use it on one of their peers?

I actually agree with @floppybootstomp that some individuals "could be pushed over the edge by something else anyway." But unfortunately, it does seem as though games can be one of the triggers which will light the blue touch-paper in quite a few people. For some, the game forms an overly large part of their lives. The PvP element in particular can become pretty toxic; all kinds of comments fly around which, in real life, would be considered highly inappropriate. Confined to game-chat, it's probably not so bad, because we all have the ability to use the block-button. But how much of their aggression and frustration will spill-over into real-life situations? And how many of them will take-out their anger on others? It's hard to know.

At best, perhaps gaming is actually a useful way for some of us to let-off steam. After a really bad day at work, or whatever, engaging in some online mayhem can be quite cathartic. I guess in part, it depends upon one's personality.
 

Becky

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You've made some very good points there, @Taffycat :nod:

I agree with you about how violence in games/TV/films desensitises us to gore etc. That being said since watching The Walking Dead I've become a lot less squeamish about seeing blood and guts on screen, but I'm sure if I saw it in real life I would be horrified.

It's funny how different things get blamed for society's problems; music, books, penny dreadfuls - heck, even Shakespeare! - have been blamed over the years.

There may be a correlation at times, but that does not necessarily mean causation. You can find correlation between all kinds of random statistics!
 
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Abarbarian

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The question posed in the opening post has some similarities with the furor created by A Clockwork Orange in 1972.

Here are a few points from an article about the film which is well worth reading.

http://www.visual-memory.co.uk/amk/doc/0012.html

Who Was Affected? -- The Clockwork Orange Controversy


Violence and crime were on the increase. The total figures for reported crime in the sixties were as follows, "11,592 in 1960, 15,976 in 1964, and 21,046 in 1968".[23] In Northern Ireland the problems had gone from bad to worse, forcing the problem of violence into the public conscience. Continuous news reports of bloodshed and semi-warfare within the United Kingdom had created a greater awareness of violence as a major problem in society. As Marwick explains, "The most bitter year since the war of confrontation between government and unions was certainly 1972: it was the year of the IRA bomb outrage at Aldershot in which five civilians died; and it was the first year since before the First World War in which a picket had lost his life".

The problems really started when the press reported a spate of supposed copy-cat crimes. The first and most famous of these was the case involving a 16 year old boy called James Palmer who had beaten to death a tramp in Oxfordshire. As Edward Laxton reported in the Daily Mirror, in a convincing enough manner that the more reactionary reader might suspect that, A Clockwork Orange was terrible enough to influence even the most unassuming and hitherto quite innocent of young men, it was clear that the press were going to make the film even more controversial. "The terrifying violence of the film A Clockwork Orange fascinated a quiet boy from a Grammar School...And it turned him into a brutal murderer". Laxton continues, "The boy viciously battered to death a harmless old tramp as he acted out in real life a scene straight from the movie A Clockwork Orange"



Despite Burgess's continued efforts to point out that A Clockwork Orange was being carried away on a storm of hysteria by commenting, "The notorious murderer Haig who killed and drank their blood said he was inspired by the sacrament of the Eucharist - Does that mean we should ban the Bible?"[35], people in positions of authority were loathe to agree. Reverend John Lambert, former chaplain to Pinewood studios commented in the Evening News, "I am utterly convinced in my own mind -- and from talking to many young people -- that this celluloid cesspool has done damage to more young people than just the boy who beat out a meths drinkers brains with a brick". Furthermore, just to add fuel to the case against A Clockwork Orange the reverend threw rather an exaggerated attack at Stanley Kubrick, "Old people tremble to go out of doors and young girls are abused by bands of louts imitating your bizarre world."[36]

Despite the fact that James Palmer had never seen the film and his knowledge of it came merely from his friends accounts, the ball was rolling. Even the local pud landlord felt obliged to comment, "I see the effects on youngsters who come in here afterwards and act out what they have seen.

Cases were springing up all over the country leading judges to conclude that even minor assault charges had something to do with the effect of A Clockwork Orange. When a 15 year old boy was assaulted by another, a year his senior, in Heywood Lancashire, judge Desmond Bailey said that A Clockwork Orange presented "an unassailable argument for a return to censorship."

It seems that even the police were carried away by the "Clockwork Orange" hysteria. When Frank Boulton a 50 year old wood seller was murdered in Newton-le-Williams in May 1973, despite no evidence to support their rationale, detectives started a search for a "Clockwork Orange Gang". A police spokesman said, "Teenagers in Newton-le Williams have been buying similar make up and dress to that used in the film. Special squads have been detailed to check out fancy dress shops in the area...

This wave of hysteria even affected local authorities who had the task of deciding whether or not A Clockwork Orange should be shown in their cinemas. All sorts of committees were banning the film, public health and licensing committees, fire brigade committees. All of them were unfit to pass judgement on films, particularly in this situation of media sensationalism. In one such case in Hastings in February 1973, A Clockwork Orange was ruled unfit for viewing after being seen by only two members of the Public Health and Licensing committee. Although one of them did not even see the whole film it was described as, "violence for its own sake".

So how did all this effect the youngsters? Were they really affected in the way that the moral majority feared? It appears not. In fact the youth of the day saw A Clockwork Orange in a completely different light.

I'd argue that the film did not make folk more violent and that violent games do not either. They may be used as an excuse by supposedly decent folk and the establishment to create a hysterical wave of outrage for their own purposes. I like the conclusion to the article.


A film expert, Claude Chabrol, gives his opinion,

Of course everybody is worried about screen violence, of course everybody stigmatises it. What nobody seems to point out is that screen violence opens up dark corners and expresses to public scrutiny a side of life that might otherwise remain hidden...Occasionally, film can open people's eyes. Do violent films incite violence? I don't believe a word of it. Since Aristotle's day, it is common knowledge that people go to public entertainments to purge their baser instincts, and they return home calmer. They are liberated not corrupted, by the screen depiction of criminal perversions."

So was A Clockwork Orange really a rotten fruit? To many it seems that it was. But had it avoided sensationalising in the press and evaded the moral crusade of politicians and the Mary Whitehouses of the reactionary cause, it is quite possible that Burgess and Kubrick's story could have rode the waves of controversy and still be showing in cinemas today.

So are violent games rotten fruit ? :cool:



 

nivrip

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Check HERE first.

I suspect video games are slightly more violent and realistic now than they were before but I do not think that the levels of violence out there in the wide world are any different whatsoever.

Therefore, the answer to the original question has to be a resounding "No."
 

Abarbarian

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apMKL.png

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Like the advert at the bottom of the page for this thread. :lol:
 
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Ian

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Funny timing... last week, I happened to read THIS (in Finnish, sorry!) article where professor Perttu Hämäläinen says that with vast advances in "all things virtual reality", it might be time to rethink age limits.

I agree that virtual reality games could be a turning point in how we classify games and perhaps influence the answer to the question "Violent video games - do they promote real life violence". My own view is that current generation video games don't encourage violence in the real world, as it is easy for most to separate fantasy from reality (same applies to films and books). Of course there will be exceptions, i.e. people who would be influenced by something else anyway.

However... once we start to have very realistic games played using VR headsets, we may find that some people do find that the two things blur into one - as that is the aim of good VR technology. Playing a game like GTA where it feels real could be very worrying indeed. I imagine that some people will be able to get very lost in VR games, perhaps not very far off in to the future.
 
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Urmas

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However... once we start to have very realistic games played using VR headsets, we may find that some people do find that the two things blur into one - as that is the aim of good VR technology. Playing a game like GTA where it feels real could be very worrying indeed. I imagine that some people will be able to get very lost in VR games, perhaps not very far off in to the future.

I posted this on another thread today — but it is relevant in this context as well:
http://www.lteto5g.com/elisa-achieves-5-gbps-5g-trial-nokia/
 

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