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03/18/2005 Archived Entry: "Friday Boredom"
I'm bored, and I stumbled across an interesting little experiment over at CBSNews.com in relation to violence and videogames. Basically, he's asking people on either side of the issue the same set of questions and gauging their response. I must say, personal bias aside, the people who are against regulation seem to be a lot more logical while the pro-regulation put me in mind of those loud-mouthed, myopic Bible-thumpers that piss me off to no end. All fire and brimstone, no actual thought. Anyway, since I'm bored, I figured I'd pretend that I was important enough to be asked these questions...so here goes:
What constitutes violence in video games?
About what you'd call violence in real-life. I'd consider the destruction of any element of the game's environment to be a form of violence.
What percentage of all games made would you say are violent, based upon your previous definition of violence in video games?
Heh, about 99% I'm sure. Is violence bad though? That's another matter. Violence towards others and things that are valuable most people agree is bad, but violence is an outgrowth of aggression. Aggression a result of competition and competition is the undisputed impetus behind human development. Any creature that is unchallenged grows weak...so going down the logic train, violence would be a required part of human development. What needs to be done is to educate what violence is proper and what violence is not. Anyone who says that violence can be avoided is an idealistic fool, an idiot, or both. Violence is in nature, everywhere...it's not something that can really be avoided. Despite all our arrogant pretensions, humans are a part of nature...and nature is quite violent. Ask the victims of the typhoon or any of the hurricanes if nature seemed particularly non-violent.
How many hate or violent crimes would you say are linked to or directly related to violence in video games?
Probably a great deal fewer deaths as can be attributed to any other form of human stupidity you want to name. I'm sure there are a few out there, but that's just the thing that the person's particular psychosis hooked onto. There are people who are simply mentally flawed for whatever reason and who are going to do these things. The key doesn't lie in regulating violence...the key is paying attention to what is going on in the lives of those you care about. I doubt you could show me a single case where someone played a game (or watched a movie or read a book for that matter) and went out and committed an act of violence without there being ample warning beforehand.
Is there a correlation between playing violent video games and acting in a violent manner?
I've grown up playing videogames, and I admittedly have some slight aggression management issues (and have since I was a child). I can't think of a single time I even *wanted* to kill someone because I played a violent videogame. There are some fights that broke out between my brothers and me when we'd play videogames, but that'd have been just as true if we were in any sort of competition like sports or even school...as a society we're trained to hate losing as that's the natural instinct. Second place was the first eaten and what not. See my previous comment about aggression being a by-product of competition.
Generally speaking, I don't feel any elevated levels of aggression playing a violent videogame. Any aggression I have generally stems from being unable to progress in said game...but I get that annoyed if I'm working on some math equation and can't get it to work right too. Can we ban math? Please?
Is gaming escapism?
Isn't all entertainment? I mean...isn't that why you read books and watch TV/movies and play "normal" games like Monopoly too? You're trying to get away from the stuff you need to deal with to experience some new adventure that you couldn't otherwise. Videogames just happen to be a bit more interactive.
Do you think the interactivity of game violence makes it different than violence on television, which is passive?
Is it different? Of course...much like reading a book and watching a movie are different. Does that mean there's a correlation between that difference and increased aggression? I doubt it. It seems to me that there have been a few violent outbursts from parents at Little League games even though that is passive...hell, baseball isn't even really that violent of a sport in comparison to football or soccer. Stupid people do stupid things...no real way to address that.
Different mediums, as they've come along, have had their share of controversy. From pulp horror, graphic novels, to movies, music and television; is this part of a cycle?
Of course, the older generations fear that which they don't understand rather than admit they don't know something. It's a cycle that repeats endlessly throughout history but has just recently become more pronounced by the dividing line between those who embrace technology and those that view it as nothing more than a fad. It's always easier to blame some faceless concept than it is to be held accountable for your own shortcomings as a parent or as a member of the community. Plus it's easier politcally to blame corporations than individuals, nobody likes corporate America.
Is the self-imposed rating system for video games enough? Is the ESRB working? What is the relevance of a rating system for video games if the powers that be will black-list certain games because of their graphic content?
A rating system is only as good as the people who look at it. Places are starting to not sell rated M games to people who are minors, but there's nothing stopping a kid's 20 year old brother from buying the game for him or for the 20 year old to legitimately buy the game and have his kid brother play it without asking (I know I did this quite often as a child). It's a nice visual indicator for those parents who pay attention, but then again those parents weren't really the problem in the first place. Of course, it's easy to demand that the government do something rather than...you know...give a flying rat's behind about your own offspring.
How does free speech factor in?
Without getting into a really big rant about this, free speech applies completely. A game manufacturer should be able to make whatever kind of product they want to. If you want to make a game where the whole objective is to kill people and rape women and do drugs...then go for it. I won't buy that game because I'd object to it on personal moral reasons, but that's me exercising my right to not buy it. There is nothing prohibiting stores from refusing to carry that game, nor is there anything that entitles the manufacturer to be reviewed or any of that sort of thing. Saying "you can't put this, this and this" into ANYTHING strikes me as a great perversion of what this country is supposed to stand for. I think Patrick Henry summarized it the best with "I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death to defend your right to say it." Sometimes I wish more of the country remembered the ideals that we were founded under.
Are parents paying attention to what their kids play?
Some are, some aren't. Whether that's a comment on society where some people are forced to work multiple jobs just to support their families or parental laziness is somewhat irrelevant. People need to raise their kids to know right from wrong. Really, paying attention to what your kid plays in your house is somewhat meaningless as they'll just go to Johnny's house and play the game. You're far better off teaching the child how to behave rather than trying to regulate that behavior yourself. Give a man a fish versus teach a man to fish in action.
Do you think that video games are similar to sports? There are much-touted statistics that link aggression levels to video game playing, but isn't that precisely what happens in any kind of competition?
Exactly. Hell, my brothers and I got into fights over grades because they always did better than me and had no qualms about touting that fact. OOO! Let's ban all grades too! Man, maybe these people have something...banning is fun, even if completely pointless. Competition (growth) leads to aggression and aggresion very readily equates to violence. Natural law and not much you're going to be able to do to fix it. Again, contrary to our common belief, we are not God.
According to the Center for Child Death Review, 1,242 kids were murdered with guns and 174 children died from accidental firearm-related injuries in 2000. Aside from stories that get covered in the news [like Columbine], there are few, if any, actual statistics that show how many children's deaths are directly linked to video games. Do the facts speak for themselves? Or is it just that nobody is really keeping tabs?
And really, most of those deaths can be chalked up more to stupidity than to videogames. The first question that springs to my mind isn't so much "Were videogames somehow involved?" as it is "How the FUCK did a child get their hands on a gun?!" Really, that one deserves the expletive. That is horrendous supervision and I think that is more the cause of such deaths. Parents not paying attention and doing the things that they should. Again, much easier to demand that the government find ways to prevent your stupidity from becoming a problem than it is to stop being stupid.
Where does the accountability lie? Are parents responsible for their children's behavior? Society?
As much as I like to say that the parents are to blame, there are some kids that are just screwed up. So sometimes it's just bad luck with genes and experiences and there's not much you can do about it. Society can be blamed for certain stereotypes...but I don't think they can be blamed for the lack of supervision and proper instruction on right from wrong. In the end, the majority of the problems with children and violence comes back to that.
Might elaborate on that stuff more later...but that was a fun way to kill off some time. Till next we speak!