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New Book Cuts Through Violent Video Game Myths 213

Posted by Soulskill
from the with-a-giant-sword dept.
Terry Bosky suggests a recent interview from Game Couch with one of the authors of an upcoming book which fights the "myths and hysteria" surrounding violent video games. Dr. Cheryl K. Olson explains how many of the studies linking aggression with video games were flawed or misguided, and she discusses some of her own findings. Quoting: "Until now, the most-publicized studies came from a small group of experimental psychologists, studying college students playing nonviolent or violent games for 15 minutes. It's debatable whether those studies are relevant to real children, playing self-selected games for their own reasons (not for cash or extra credit!), in social settings, over many years. But media reports and political rhetoric often ignore that distinction. Also, the most-published researchers have built their careers around media violence. Their studies were designed under the assumption that violent video games are harmful, which dictated the questions they asked and how they framed their results. Media violence is just a small part of what we do, so we could look at the issue with fresh eyes and no agenda."
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New Book Cuts Through Violent Video Game Myths

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  • by n3tcat (664243) on Friday March 07, 2008 @07:15PM (#22682428) Homepage
    ... but that last part sounded like they were saying "Our opinion matters more because we just don't give a fuck."
    • by KublaiKhan (522918) on Friday March 07, 2008 @07:16PM (#22682436) Homepage Journal
      Yes, but that's a good thing--because if they don't have a stake in the results, they don't have a conflict of interest, and thus their results will be more trustworthy.
      • by n3tcat (664243) on Friday March 07, 2008 @07:19PM (#22682476) Homepage
        Why does that make their results any more trustworthy? You mean more trustworthy for me? Or more trustworthy for other people who also don't give a fuck? If you mean the latter, then honestly that sounds like this article is not just unbiased, but also fairly unimportant as it's target audience doesn't even care what they are saying.
        • by KublaiKhan (522918) on Friday March 07, 2008 @07:23PM (#22682518) Homepage Journal
          More trustworthy than results put forth by a group sponsored by a video game producer or one sponsored by an anti-video-game group.

          So more trustworthy for you to consider.

          It's one of the things you really want to look for when folks start flinging studies around: who do they work for? Would you trust as accurate a study funded my Microsoft that says that 5 of 6 dentists prefer to use Windows, or would you be more likely to trust as accurate a study funded by some independent group?
        • by Necreia (954727) on Friday March 07, 2008 @07:25PM (#22682550)
          "Why does that make their results any more trustworthy?" Because they don't get paid to come to a directed decision. They don't get money for saying that "Video Games don't cause violence" OR "Video Games do cause violence". They don't have an agenda, so what they say is based completely on the research and not instilled opinion. If you only trust sources with an agenda, then I pity you.
          • by n3tcat (664243) on Friday March 07, 2008 @07:33PM (#22682646) Homepage
            If you think that there are ANY sources without an agenda then I pity you.
            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by timmarhy (659436)
              you can have an agenda that doesn't conflict with your findings. epic fail on your part.
            • I've been thinking about this issue, and my current thought is that, yes, everyone has bias. Everyone is prejudiced in some way. No one can see the world from viewpoint other than their own. However, it is also true that some people have a commitment to find out the truth (where truth = the sympathetic merger of all possible perspectives and biases into a truly universal, impersonal account of the situation with no detail omitted) and some people don't. So, while no one person can find the truth, since the
              • by Miseph (979059)
                Thank you. I needed my daily dose of Sane after a long day working in retail.
            • by Alsee (515537)
              I don't know what the parent's agenda is, but this whole thread sounds like the logic to used create and defend wingnut rationalizations. Leftwingnut, rightwingnut, or whatever other flavor of radical wingnut.

              Reasonable rational neutral people in the "center" don't exist, those people are guilty of opposite-wing bias.
              When
              [unbiased reasonable rational source] says negative things about my wingnut buddies and my wignut sources of information, I ignore it because it just proves [unbiased reasonable rational s
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by eclectic4 (665330)
              True, so let's take the data we have counting millions. What are the murder rates in other countries that play the same, and even more violent games and media, like Japan?

              And then compare it to just one of our major cities...

              It's freaking obvious to anyone who has paid any attention over the last 50 years... social darwinism. Launch the greediest of your society to the top (yay US!). That's just how the rules work in this country. Fuck your neighbor, and if anyone touches my useless shit I'll kill all y
          • by yali (209015) on Friday March 07, 2008 @08:45PM (#22683404)

            They don't have an agenda

            Are you sure? Because when I googled for "Cheryl K. Olson," the first hit I got [pmusa.com] showed that she is on the payroll of Big Tobacco [pmusa.com]. She has also been a "strategic communications consultant" for Big Pharmaceutical and Big Media. I haven't found anything (yet) to indicate that she's on the gaming industry's payroll, but her history reads like that of a professional shill, not a dispassionate scientist.

        • by Weslee (1118943) on Friday March 07, 2008 @07:40PM (#22682728)
          I had a friend who was running for a local political office.

          He got various questionnaires from the various political parties.

          This is the same question on both parties questionnaires, but notice the difference in how its worded -

          * Do you believe in the killing of unborn children?
          * Do you believe you have the right to tell a women whos been raped that she has to carry to term the resulting fetus?

          You don't think that the questions they ask about violence in video games might be just a little skewed?
          • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07, 2008 @08:06PM (#22683026)
            Since the primary definition of "child" [reference.com] is "a person between birth and puberty", I would say no, I don't believe in the killing of these "unborn children".

            Unless, that is, some people reach puberty while still in the womb. I know slashdot has a lot of people still living in their parents' basements, but that's a bit much. If you're 18 and still living in the womb, then yes, I support killing you.
            • by Runefox (905204)

              If you're 18 and still living in the womb, then yes, I support killing you.

              Most awesome thing anyone's ever said, ever. Thank you.
          • by raehl (609729) <raehl311@yFREEBSDahoo.com minus bsd> on Saturday March 08, 2008 @12:44AM (#22684774) Homepage
            * Do you believe in the killing of unborn children?
            * Do you believe you have the right to tell a women whos been raped that she has to carry to term the resulting fetus?


            There are lots of unborn children who are not being carried by rape victims.

            The whole problem with the 'abortion debate' is that the extreme participants argue under the assumption that if you are not universally pro-life, you must be pro-abortion, and if you are not universally pro-choice, you must be pro-government-control of bodies.

            That's not the way reasonable people think.

            I think abortion is bad *AND* I think the government telling a woman what to do with her body is bad.

            On top of that, I realize that not all abortions are equally bad - aborting a one-cell fetus is not even in the same realm of bad as aborting a 38-week-old fetus. And telling a woman who is pregnant as a result of sex she agreed to have that she can't have an abortion is not as bad as telling a woman who never consented to the sex that led to pregnancy that she can't have an abortion.

            Now, there is going to be a lot of variance in where most reasonable people decide the 'badness' of allowing women to choose to abort their pregnancies is less bad than forcing a woman to carry a pregnancy to term. Most reasonable people are going to agree that the death of non-differentiated fetuses is a very small amount of bad. And most reasonable people are going to agree that the death of a fetus that is, but for a few inches of position, about to be a live birth as extremely bad. So most REASONABLE people support *BOTH* abortion *AND* limits on choice.

            6 weeks pregnant because you were raped? Abort if you want.
            38 weeks pregnant because you were raped? Sorry, too late.

            A debate about whether abortion is OK or not is stupid. A debate about government intervention in a woman's choice is stupid. There is no debate - both are bad. The debate needs to be about at what point a woman's control of her body is outweighed by the interests of the fetus.

            So back to your original questions:

            #1) Sometimes.
            #2) Sometimes.
            • by Alsee (515537)
              All you have done is proven yourself psychologically unfit...

              to ever get hired for a political push polling outfit.

              -
        • Split hairs much? I suspect you're being a contrarian for its own sake (I can smell my own!). Anyway...

          like this article is not just unbiased, but also fairly unimportant as it's target audience doesn't even care what they are saying.

          Good thing the article is about a Doctor who wrote a book, which will be discussed and read by a much different, and by your metric, important audience, eh?

          Well, I guess you got some nice mod point out of that, but next time, RTFS.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LordLucless (582312)
      s/don't give a fuck/haven't made up our minds before we started
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AxemRed (755470)
      It is sort of saying that... but it's true. They're just saying that they don't care how the results turn out, so they won't be trying to push the results one way or another.
    • by SeaFox (739806)

      "Our opinion matters more because we just don't give a fuck."

      That's right. Another way to read it is "I'm an impartial observer and don't have a vested interest" which is someone I'm much more likely to pay attention to.
  • aaargh. (Score:5, Funny)

    by notgm (1069012) on Friday March 07, 2008 @07:15PM (#22682430)
    this article makes me so mad at the biased video game researchers. i need to go down to my local ammunation, get strapped, and start taking them fools out.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Jarik_Tentsu (1065748)
      I'm waiting to see what Jack Thompson's reply to this would be...

      "DON'T LISTEN TO THESE PSYCHOLOGISTS! THEY ARE GAMERS THEMSELVES!!!" or something.

      ~Jarik
    • by Alsee (515537)
      this article makes me so mad at the biased video game researchers.

      I feel exactly the same way.

      i need to go down to my local ammunation, get strapped, and start taking them fools out.

      Well I'm gonna go find a jam-packed server, get strapped with heavy artillery and tons of ammo and blast everyone to flying giblets instead.

      -
  • WHAT?!?! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wandering Wombat (531833) <mightyjalapeno@@@gmail...com> on Friday March 07, 2008 @07:22PM (#22682506) Homepage Journal
    This book makes me so ANGRY!!! I just want to launch a plasma grenade at this 'doctor'!!!!!!

    But seriously, folks, it's about damn time someone stepped up to the 'personal responsibility' plate and didn't get hit in the head by the ball (man, I pwn'd that metaphor). I grew up in the age of violent video games, as did most people here... come on, this website's name involves SLASHING people. My favorite movies growing up were Beverly Hills Cop and Aliens (I was all of six years old for those), and not once did I feel the urge to be more violent, or to shoot anyone. I thought "Wow, those movies are an awesome escape from boring reality. I'm gonna go read some Calvin & Hobbes now, maybe eat a cookie."

    Yes, this is anecdotal, but if ten million people have (and apparently do) have similar anecdotal stories, that adds up, and this book is just the long-overdue sober second look at a popular, convenient myth.

    PS: Jack Thompson needs to be clubbed with this book.
    • Re:WHAT?!?! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Friday March 07, 2008 @07:58PM (#22682932) Homepage
      "Personal responsibility" is a code-word for a refusal to look at contributory factors. It's a kind of simple-mindedness. The master-narrative you're playing into is this: social scientists are going to push through a bunch of regulations and restrictions because they correlate some influence with an unwanted behavior, when people should just be held responsible for their behaviors.

      That populist sentiment misses a lot of the point of that kind of research. It may not have much to do with "banning" anything at all, but, for example, giving parents information that will help them decide if and when to bring videogame consoles into the home, or whether someone who is having trouble with violent behavior should be advised to stay away from videogames. That research is worthwhile even if there isn't a direct public policy connection.

      I'm all in favor of the more nuanced view of the topic of media effects on behavior, and I think the authors of this book are right on. But the old canard of "what about personal responsibility?" strikes me as anti-intellectual crankiness.
      • Re:WHAT?!?! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mdwh2 (535323) on Friday March 07, 2008 @08:19PM (#22683162) Journal
        "Personal responsibility" is a code-word for a refusal to look at contributory factors.

        But how come it's only ever the "unpopular things" that are questionned as to whether they affect behaviour - fictional violence, video games, rock music, Marilyn Manson, porn?

        No one questions the violence in religious texts when it turns out a murderer was obsessed with the Bible or killed someone because "God says so". Unless they're a pagan or satanist, in which case, it's back to the "unpopular things" which must be banned again.

        I've nothing against providing parents with information, but note that people do use these claims to ban things, even for adults. I think "personal responsibility" is a valid response when the claim put forward is that media alone can turn people into violent criminals.
        • Are you talking about science or society? Because when it comes to society, you practically answered your own question. Unpopular things are popular targets for criticism. Popular things are unpopular targets for criticism. When it comes to science, more research is probably going to be done where demand is highest, for example whatever a popular target in society is. At the same time there is research done on less prominent possible causes, but sometimes the possibility of a socially unacceptable solution
      • "t may not have much to do with "banning" anything at all, but, for example, giving parents information that will help them decide if and when to bring video game consoles into the home, or whether someone who is having trouble with violent behavior should be advised to stay away from video games. That research is worthwhile even if there isn't a direct public policy connection."

        You seem to criticize the "personal responsibility" mantra, but in doing that you ignore the reality that studies of this sort by
      • by tgibbs (83782)

        That populist sentiment misses a lot of the point of that kind of research. It may not have much to do with "banning" anything at all, but, for example, giving parents information that will help them decide if and when to bring videogame consoles into the home, or whether someone who is having trouble with violent behavior should be advised to stay away from videogames. That research is worthwhile even if there isn't a direct public policy connection.

        Except that I doubt if the research in question does any

    • by Itninja (937614)

      I grew up in the age of violent video games
      Since this 'age' you speak of only started like 15 years ago (if that), I would say you haven't grown up at all.
      • Really? There was nothing violent before 1993?

        My son's favorite driving game is Carmageddon. Do I think he'll be a bad driver? No.
      • by pokerdad (1124121)

        Since this 'age' you speak of only started like 15 years ago (if that), I would say you haven't grown up at all.

        For some reason the violent video games of my youth didn't count as violent video games. Perhaps they were too pixelated to count as violence. Perhaps people just weren't that concerned about violence against space invaders, ghosts, or goombas. But most likely the people who came to blame video games for all of societies woes were just so busy blaming Dungeons and Dragons for all of societies woes that video games were flying under their radar. (which change when Mortal Kombat got so much negative publici

  • by Itninja (937614)
    From TFA: "Our survey involved over 1200 kids in two states"

    I am not versed in acceptable survey sampling standards, but given the 100's of 1000's (if not millions) of gamer-kids all across the country, this seems small to me. Just an uneducated observation....
    • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Friday March 07, 2008 @07:37PM (#22682688)
      You really aren't versed in survey sampling standards, most surveys only involve a couple hundred people, if that. The way surveys work is you use a small number of people but you statistically balance the people involved based on catagories (they call these demographics). For example, if 40% of kids who play video games are between the ages of 6 and 10, white, and come from middle class families, then 40 out of 100 kids in the study need to be between the ages of 6 and 10, white, and come from middle class families. Depending on how accurate you wanted to go, if you have accurate demographics to start with you could get decent results using 100 kids in a single town, but that would be very very hard to do, and hard to verify your results. It's not 1200 that should worry you for accuracy, that's actually a pretty large number; it's the two states part. It seems to me they may not be taking region of the country into account for this, which might be a factor or might not.
      • by Itninja (937614)
        So these demographics are based on what? Previous surveys? I guess my question is, who gets to say what the demographics are? Since this isn't exactly Census data we are talking about here...that is to say, no one has come to my house and asked me the ages of my kids and what games they play.
    • by esme (17526) on Friday March 07, 2008 @07:45PM (#22682780) Homepage

      You're being to simplistic -- the sample size needed for good predictions isn't directly related to the total number of gamers. The size of the sample needed is related to error introduced by the measures used and the phenomenon measured. If you have a robust methodology, you may need only a few subjects. If there are huge errors introduced by your methodology (political polling is a good example of this), you may need thousands of subjects.

      I didn't read the article (this is slashdot, after all...), but any good psychologist would include statistics indicating the probability that the results were caused by error or random chance, usually this number should be very low, 5% or lower. See the wikipedia article on P-values [wikipedia.org] for more on this.

      But to answer your question: many psychological experiments are done with a much smaller number of subjects (50 or so), and get very low P-values. The effect being tested here may be harder to reliably measure, but the sample size is also pretty large. So there's no reason to think that 1,200 is too low, unless the stats say otherwise.

      -Esme

    • by hey! (33014) on Friday March 07, 2008 @07:55PM (#22682894) Homepage Journal
      Well, that happens to be one of those funny ways that mathematics likes to grab your intuition by the red rubber nose and give it a resounding snap.

      IANAS (I Am Not A Statistician), but this is the situation as I understand it.

      Suppose I have a room with a hundred people in it. Some of them are mathematicians, whose noses I've blackened with a magic marker. Everybody is wearing red rubber clown noses. Your job is to snap enough noses that you have a reasonable estimate of what proportion of them are mathematicians. Let's say you check five people, and two have smudgy noses. That gives you an estimate of 40%, but it's not very reliable, so you continue checking until you have snapped 50 rubber noses, and found twenty mathematicians. Now you're pretty confident the ration is about 40%, right?

      Now suppose there were a thousand people in the room. You're a bit less confident in your 40% effort, but you're still almost as confident. But look: increasing the sample by a factor of ten made you a LOT more confident; increasing the population by a factor of 10 makes almost no difference (at least with these numbers; a 1 in 50 result would be a different kettle of fish).

      Samples over a certain range get rapidly better -- much faster than linearly, and then they kind of run out of steam because they can't really get much better or they'd be perfect. The upshot is that for many experimental designs you aren't much better off having 500 subjects over having 50, whether the population you are sampling is 10,000 or 100,000,000. In fact you might be worse off it the population size is, say, 500 -- at least if you are interested in gaining any insights about your null hypothesis.

      It's a good thing too. If you think about it, if you do something like a drug trial with a hundred or so subjects in it are supposed to stand in for all of the 6.7 billion people on the planet.

      In any case, I'm always a bit skeptical when I see studies with sample sizes in the thousands. It's not financially efficient to conduct real studies this size, so they tend to be hashing together data from sources collected for other purposes. Such studies have their place, of course. They also have their limitations.
      • by Itninja (937614)
        How do statisticians account for the 'willing to take a survey' factor? I often wonder that when I hear survey results. In your example, what if the mathematicians thought 'I've already had my nose marked, I don't want to screw around here anymore' and just leave? Like phone polls only include people who don't have caller ID and/or people with copious free time to answer a survey.
        • by hey! (33014)
          Well, that's really a different question altogether. It is, of course, to reach wrong conclusions by a process that is mathematically unimpeachable, simply by starting with questionable data.

          This is a problem for the peer review process; you have to disclose how you got the data and people take turns sneering at you for being too stupid to count those fellows smudgy nosed guys running out the door. You of course have to disclose that you lost some, because they know you did, and probably have a pretty go
          • by Itninja (937614)
            Well said. And thanks for giving me intelligent answers without making me feel like an ass for even asking.
      • In any case, I'm always a bit skeptical when I see studies with sample sizes in the thousands. It's not financially efficient to conduct real studies this size, so they tend to be hashing together data from sources collected for other purposes. Such studies have their place, of course. They also have their limitations.

        I depends on what exactly the study is aimed for. You can take 2400 randomly selected registered Democrats, nationwide, and say with a 2% margin of error that 47% percent want candidate A,

    • I am not versed in acceptable survey sampling standards, but given the 100's of 1000's (if not millions) of gamer-kids all across the country, this seems small to me. Just an uneducated observation....

      Correct, you are not versed in "acceptable survey sampling standards" or even the basic theory underlying sampling. The size of the population being sampled is not a factor in the size of the sample needed to draw conclusions to any degree of confidence. see Required sample sizes for hypothesis tests [wikipedia.org].

    • The sample size isn't the issue (it's a pretty good sample size, as surveys go). Rather, it's that the researcher is proposing to throw out a large body of research [psychologicalscience.org] including randomized experiments and longitudinal followups, in favor of her own one-time survey study.

      It's almost as though "you can't show cause-and-effect with a one-time survey." Wait a minute, where did I get that quote? From Dr. Cheryl K. Olson, quoted directly from TFA. It's almost unbelievable that she's apparently saying it with a stra

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Not violence in games specifically, but I have done original research on behavior and its relation to violent video games. My results show a temporary increase (lasting around 15-20 minutes) in violent behavior after playing a selection of video games with varying types of violence. Some of these are first person shooters, some are fighting games, etc.

    Now, before you naysayers get your panties in a bunch, keep in mind, we are professionals. No one in my group had any agenda apart from doing good research.
    • by KublaiKhan (522918) on Friday March 07, 2008 @07:38PM (#22682710) Homepage Journal
      "Trust me" says the Anonymous Coward pointing to hypothetical results of an unnamed study that may or may not even exist.

      "Sure," says I, "When I get bacon delivered through my second-story window fresh off the flying pig."
    • by joe 155 (937621)
      It's a shame you didn't post a link to some of your articles, I'd have liked to have had a look. One thing which seems especially interesting here (other than the methodological issues concerning sampling - but methodology seems to be my hobby horse) is the question of "why" it should be that being exposed to one thing makes you more likely for a limited time to do that thing... I wouldn't have thought that socialisation could work in such a short space of time, and I think normalisation is the same. We can
    • My results show a temporary increase (lasting around 15-20 minutes) in violent behavior after playing a selection of video games with varying types of violence. Some of these are first person shooters, some are fighting games, etc.

      And your control group included kids running around outside playing Cowboys & Indians and Cops & Robbers, too... right?
    • I'm not surprised at all, and I don't doubt you.

      The thing is, and I'm not trying to put words in your mouth like, "VIDEOGAMES MAKE KILLERS," but what level of increased violence are we talking? There's no doubt I'm more likely to punch my friend in the shoulder when we play Tekken, and maybe I'm even more likely to shoot someone, but if the chance that I'm going to get stabby is 0.01% and a game brings it up to 0.0101% who cares?

      Waking up at 6AM gets me pissed off too, but I do it every day. Should we out

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      My results show a temporary increase (lasting around 15-20 minutes) in violent behavior after playing a selection of video games with varying types of violence.

      I would be interested in how that's measured. Do you induce a stressful situation after and see if the response is violent or non-violent? When selecting these violent videogames, what was the violence scale? Was bowling violent because all the aggression towards the pins? Did you measure heart rate during the game and see if more stressful gam
    • by rhakka (224319)
      I have no doubt that any competitive endeavor causes violent tendencies to rise temporarily. That's been proven several times at this point, hasn't it? What makes that original research I wonder?

      What the real question is, does it have any latest effect on developement, specifically on attitudes toward violence. Judging by the sheer number of people who play and the fact that domestic violence, murder, and the like are not exactly shooting through the roof, I'd have to say, no. But I"m not researching it.
    • by Hatta (162192)
      Not violence in games specifically, but I have done original research on behavior and its relation to violent video games. My results show a temporary increase (lasting around 15-20 minutes) in violent behavior after playing a selection of video games with varying types of violence.

      Well that's pretty easy to understand. Playing intense games leads to a heightened state of arousal which leads to more violent behavior. But how relevant is that to crime? I mean we all have sympathetic nervous systems and we
    • "My results show a temporary increase (lasting around 15-20 minutes) in "violent behavior"..."

      It all depends on what you defined as 'violent behaviour' and it should be compared to kids who play sports for fairness, if we're going to study win/lose situations (like games) then sports is fair game.

      I'd say sports is far more prone to people being violent then games, when was the last gaming riot that caused an uproar? I can't remember either.
    • Any increase in violence after playing non-violent video games? Perhaps intense concentration and frustration leads to an increase in violent behavior?

      Did you look for other correlations such as competitive games versus constructive games? (racing versus sim city for instance)
    • Even if I did, why should I believe somebody ignoring one simple fact : in nearly all western country where video game boomed (and thus violent one too), juvenile violence went down.
    • Where is your study?
      All of the studies I've read, and I've read all of the ones that I've heard about, use the term "aggression" rather than "violent behavior."
      The problem with this is that none of the studies I've read have defined "aggression." Craig Anderson is the main "aggression" guy and nearly all of these studies cite him but I've never read him define "aggression." In fact, in one study that he co-authored there is a table that lists a couple examples of "aggression" and one of them is raising yo
  • People are always concerned about what the effects of playing violent video games might be, but nobody seems to question whether there are any undesirable effects of programming these games. I imagine that a programmer, stressing out to meet the game's shipping deadline in the face of a show-stopping heisenbug somewhere in the code, might be more inclined to do something violent during a particularly frustrating midnight debugging session, such as take the computer up to the roof of his company's 12-story o

  • When it comes to self-selected behavior like what movies people see, what games they play, what drugs they partake of, etc., it is very difficult to determine cause and effect.

    If people who watch R-rated games tend to be more violent than those who don't, are the movies making them more violent than they otherwise would have been? Maybe, but determining a "yes" or "no" answer is far from easy and far from certain.
    • If people who watch R-rated games tend to be more violent than those who don't, are the movies making them more violent than they otherwise would have been?

      It's not impossible, or even overly difficult, for egghead researchers to answer this question...but it IS more work. Besides, a mere correlation seems to be all that is required for making voter-friendly knee-jerk policy, so very few people or institutions ever request or fund the extra work required.

      Playing violent games (or watching violent films or
      • by Hatta (162192)
        Playing violent games (or watching violent films or whatever media you're consuming) does not cause violent behaviour...it IS violent behaviour. I don't think it matters if you kick your neighbour's dog, drown your sister's cat, stab some random person you've picked a drunken fight with at the local pub or blew the head off of some virtual being in a video game...

        That might just be the stupidest thing I ever read on /. Of course it matters what the target is, violence is only wrong because it hurts others.
    • I guess this is a place where running studies on a broad sample of the population - different ages, ethnicities, genders, backgrounds, and - most importantly - tastes in games/movies/whatever - would be beneficial. "People who like violent movies are more likely to commit violent crimes" could be rewritten as "People who commit violent crimes are more likely to like violent movies." It's difficult to show any kind of causality there. But if your sample shows that people, whether they actually like violent m
  • Its just something (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BigJClark (1226554)

    That gives lazy politicians something to do! Lets save our children from the violent video games! Instead of, oh, I dunno, managing tax reform, social problems, basically stuff you were elected to do.

    Violent media has been around since the dawn of time, in the form of TV, books, sports etc etc etc. Its not going anywhere, kids, so don't worry about it. Wherever there is a market, the product will get served.
  • This would mean that Jack Thompson really is a crank.

    Won't somebody think of Jack??????????

  • by edwardpickman (965122) on Friday March 07, 2008 @07:44PM (#22682774)
    I've developed violent tendencies towards zombies, trolls and robots.
  • No mater how hard someone doing a study tries, there will be some bias and it may be completely unexpected.
    That's OK. that's why studies are done open, done many times, and looked at.

    Certainly who sponsored the study is something to look at, but it doesn't automatically mean the study is flawed. It's especially important when a study goes against previous studies.

    So stop with the 'study is biased ' crap. Of course it is. Look at the result and see if it skewed the data, or id the study used bad techniques.

    For the topic at hand, It is clear that violent games have a short term effect.
    Adrenalin, acting out violent behaviors are all common to some degree.
    It will go on for as long as the adrenalin is their system, and/or until it stops being funny.

    I think there can be a point where the game can cause problems. We're not there it technologically, but it doesn't mean we won't cross the threshold.

    If someone had a holodeck, could playing war games cause someone to be shell shock? desensitize someone to violence? I don't know and i hope not. That doesn't mean we shouldn't study it.

  • No amount of studies will convince the anti-video game people they are wrong. They ALREADY KNOW they're wrong. The reality is that they're either front groups for religious organizations trying to get donations by focusing on the "hot button" issue of video game violence, or they're front groups sponsored by television and film groups afraid of the competition. They exact same thing played out with comic books and roleplaying games.

    Religious organizations pretend they're "fighting" X to solicit donations so
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Friday March 07, 2008 @08:21PM (#22683180) Journal

    It is in the summary, we need to look at the issue with NO AGENDA.

    Be honest, how many of us does that rule out?

    If have undergo military training in the past, and looking back, I know that through carefull management of my emotions I was being trained to be a killer. I really didn't notice it at the time, but training like that is designed to make you feel part of a group and you want to protect and fight for that team and kill those who are not in the same colors.

    So I KNOW you can be manipulated.

    Are claims that violent games decensitize you to violence then really that odd?

    I noticed something, the same people who scream that goverments are training killers are the same who say that violent games have no influence on people. The two don't add up.

    Any normal person can be influenced by media. A simple experiment, play the theme from love story and the theme from jaws over the same scene, wanna bet you look at each clip with a different heart rate?

    But it doesn't really matter if the influence is there or not, first we got to accept that scaremongering politicans and selfish players are NEITHER suited to give an unbiased opinion on this subject. What next, we ask smokers about the danger of smoking or the tobacco industry? No, we ask doctors who are supposed to start each study with an open mind.

    It is sad to see so clearly that this hasn't happened when it comes to games BUT this by no means proof that games are harmless. We really need independent study in this area AND then IF games are shown to have an influence, ask ourselves wether the influence is worth basic freedoms. For instance, we know drinking is bad for you, but we still allow it.

  • It's really quite simple - violent people like violent video games. This does not mean that games make people violent.

    Think of it this way - there is a stereotype that coders drink a lot of coffee. This does not mean that drinking coffee is going to make you into a coder.
  • New Book Cuts Through Violent Video Game Myths

    Meh. I would've written it as "New Book Rips, Tears, and Slashes Violent Video Game Myths Then Spatters Their Guts All Over The Place While The Other Myths Look On In Horror, Paralyzed With Fear"

  • by maillemaker (924053) on Saturday March 08, 2008 @12:24AM (#22684652)
    Look, I love video games. I've been playing them for years. COD is currently my favorite addiction.

    Today, video games look pretty much like video games. You can tell you are not watching something real, though single-player COD is getting pretty photo-realistic. Flying bodies, spurting blood. But it's still cartoonish. Cartoonish enough that you know it's a game.

    What happens when the game becomes indistinguishable from reality? When it becomes photo-realistic? We know that people can become desensitized to stimuli by constant exposure.

    If we had games that simulated warfare like, say, a "holodeck", would there be any debate as to the harmful effects it would have on the psyche of the players? Would we not see traumatic stress issues?

    If you agree that we would see such problems with hyper-realistic games, then I think it is reasonable to debate and discuss what happens as we approach that level of realism. At what point does the game become realistic enough to start being harmful?
    • by tgibbs (83782)

      What happens when the game becomes indistinguishable from reality? When it becomes photo-realistic? We know that people can become desensitized to stimuli by constant exposure.

      If we had games that simulated warfare like, say, a "holodeck", would there be any debate as to the harmful effects it would have on the psyche of the players? Would we not see traumatic stress issues?

      If you agree that we would see such problems with hyper-realistic games, then I think it is reasonable to debate and discuss what happe

  • At my school, the University of Michigan, two years ago. They had me play Quake 2 (ah the memories) for about ten minutes and then had me unscramble words. The thing is, each string of letters could form either a word with violent or nonviolent connotations. Presumably, if the virtual violence affected a player's actual state of mind, he'd make out the hostile words over the innocuous ones. I got paid $10 for my time. So if you were wondering how they really worked, that's how.

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