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I'm an IT geek, so as you might imagine, video games have been a part of my life for almost three decades.  Starting with a crummy Odyssey2, moving forward through Nintendo and Super Nintendo generations, plus Mac and PC games, and now the XBox and Wii.

I've always been more of a simulation geek, games like SimCity, the "Tycoon" series, and Flight Simulator have always been my favorites.

But, I have, throughout my years, played plenty of "violent" video games too.  Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, and in recent years, the "Grand Theft Auto" series.

I never believed critics (mostly Republicans) who decried video games as damaging to our society.  "Violent video games don't make people violent," I scoffed.

And I still mostly believe that.  I don't think a video game like "GTA" turns a non-violent person violent, or teaches someone to kill.

But after Newtown, I'm not sure.  And I have to ask -- do these games contribute to a larger problem?  Follow me under the orange squiggle.

Do games like "GTA," like "Halo" and "Fallout," contribute to the overall fetishization of guns, and of killing, that has permeated our society?

I'm nearly 40 years old now, growing out of the video game demographic.  But for people aged 15-30, and especially males, there's an attitude that guns are cool.

I see it in movies, in video games, in advertisements and commercials.  I see shooting ranges offer customers the chance to shoot an AK-47, an M-16, an Uzi.

Our society is fascinated with guns; and especially for males, a love for guns and shooting and killing and death seems to be some sort of sign of virility.  Guns are sexy.

Killing an animated human being in these video games is "fun" and "cool" -- regardless of whether it's done in the course of committing a crime (i.e. GTA) or serving as a pretend soldier, as in "Call of Duty."

Some GTA games have even had bonus rounds called "kill frenzies," where the player has to kill a certain number of people (or specific people) in a limited amount of time.


I am not calling for a ban on video games like GTA.  I do think that it's pretty clear that they should be sold only to adults, not children.  (And incidentally, how ridiculous was the "Hot Coffee" GTA scandal a few years back, when some pixelated sexual activity was seen as the end of the world, but blowing someone's head off was just fine, as far as gamers and critics were concerned.)

I'm not saying that violence should be banned from video games, or movies.  (Movies, while ultra-violent, are different -- they aren't interactive, they don't allow the viewer to participate, to live out fantasies in the same way.)

All I'm saying is that, as a parent and a concerned citizen, I can't in good conscience play these games any more.  My copies of GTA3, "Vice City," and "San Andreas" -- all recently enjoyed -- are going in the trash tonight.  I'm not going to resell or give them away, because I think the world could use a few less copies of these games in existence.

And I'll never buy one of these games again.  My six year old, for at least the next 12 years, will not play these games, will not own a toy gun, will not pretend to shoot anyone, EVER.

These games are fun, and I'll miss them on some level.  But on another, more important level, I think they're indicative of a horrible, horrible dysfunction in our society, and after Newtown, I can't participate in that any longer.

EDIT 12/17/12 11:40PM CST: Thanks all for some fascinating discussion in the comments thread tonight.  I wasn't at all sure about posting this diary, wasn't sure there was even a point, but it sparked some discussion and I always think that's a positive.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (15+ / 0-)

    SUPPORT MARRIAGE EQUALITY!! Lovejoy: ...I believe marriage is described in the Bible! Homer: If you love the Bible so much, why don't you marry it?

    by erzeszut on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 05:24:06 PM PST

  •  just play a (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ace Nelson, zubalove

    "Lets take turns and slap each other" type turn based rpg.

    Enemies don't "die" they either faint or disappear or blow up in an explosion of pretty lights.

    Plus the strategy and vibrant, almost bookish type story lines, I believe, are stimulating.

  •  Ender's Game! (3+ / 0-)

    It's hard to recommend a Card novel as the ultimate message with respect to how we educate our young people about war and violence.

    But one of the most telling novels about how we can corrupt our young is Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game"--a book about how a child is nurtured to play violent video games, only to discover that this genius child is actually fighting a real war and committing genocide.

    THe next two books in the "Ender" saga are just as progressive. (What happened to Card's conscience?)

  •  You do realize that's on par with (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Steve Canella, Oh Mary Oh

    saying that rock and roll really makes you worship Satan, and that hip-thrusting from Elvis will lead to "moral corruption."

    But as long as you are aren't advocating censorship, that's your call. You can play what you like.

    I think you might regret giving up GTA though when you see the features they got planned for GTA V, though! It's looking good.

    I'm not a shooter fan (they bore me mostly), and RPGS and TBS are my fav, but I'm a sucker for a good third person action game.

    •  no.... (4+ / 0-)

      .....I don't see that at all.  Rock and roll doesn't fetishize Satanism -- while a very few songs did play around with some devilish analogies, it didn't contribute to any great rise in Satanism in our society (that I'm aware of.)

      I do think that these games, GTA included, are a contributing factor to the "guns are sooooo cool" attitude which is unique to American society.  Not the only factor, perhaps not even the largest factor, but a factor.

      I'm no advocate of censorship; I believe adult Americans should be able to play the games and watch the movies they want.  But I do wonder -- what would our society look like without ultraviolent games, movies and TV shows?

      Would it make a difference if we didn't have shows like "The Sopranos," "Homeland," and "Dexter," with its serial-killer protagonist?

      Not sure it would make a difference.  But also not sure it wouldn't.

      SUPPORT MARRIAGE EQUALITY!! Lovejoy: ...I believe marriage is described in the Bible! Homer: If you love the Bible so much, why don't you marry it?

      by erzeszut on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 06:23:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Um, no. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Your first sentence is flat wrong.  They aren't equivalent at all.  

      Political compass: -8.75 / -4.72

      by Mark Mywurtz on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 06:27:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sure they are. (0+ / 0-)

        It's demonizing media and saying it negatively effects people without any proof or facts.

        It's been around for years.

        Since before I was born.

        Where you been, Mark?

        •  Your equating Elvis (2+ / 0-)

          with video games that completely normalize and dehumanize violence?  

          I would agree that worrying about rock music corrupting kids is stupid, but concerns about games that "put the gun in your hand" and give you little object other than to kill a lot are NOT unfounded.

          Political compass: -8.75 / -4.72

          by Mark Mywurtz on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 06:38:36 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The comparison isn't that extraordinary (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Steve Canella

            Since that's precisely what a lot of critics did in the 1950s. They all had an opinion, or a theory without evidence, that rock and roll music/comic books/television/youth culture led to juvenile delinquency and/or violence. And they had reason to be familiar with their parents and grandparents, who trotted out suspiciously similar arguments regarding jazz music, or cinema.

            But, they promised their audience, this was clearly different. Their forebears may have been wrong, but this was entirely different. Why, it only takes basic common sense to realize that, right?

            This is why this argument singularly fails to convince me. if you want to make the case that this time is different, then prove it. Merely asserting it, no matter how heartfelt your proclamations are, no matter how eloquently you state your case, is no different than generations of concerned parents stretching back centuries.

            •  And you don't think there comes a point (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              where it actually IS different this time?  At what point do we say, "Yeah, this media actually does present some kind of a danger."?  

              Would you say the same thing about a fps game where the object was to shoot up a school or a mall?  How about one where the player "experienced" cannibalism?  Or tortured a victim?  What about a serial killer game that 'trained' you in that crime?  

              Think the game designers and media will never go there?  Think those are ridiculous examples?  Well, not one, but TWO Human Centipede movies suggest otherwise.  (UGH!)  Media producers will always try to push the envelope, but that doesn't mean there won't be consequences.  

              By the way, if you are even moderately adept with the Google, you'll find that at best, the evidence is mixed.  There are studies that showed no link between violent games and violence but there were also studies that showed changes in behavior among kids who played violent games.  Also, there are a number of cases where criminals either stated they were imitating games or investigators noted the crimes were strikingly similar to games they had recently played.  I'm not getting into a link war here because 94.3% of all link posted in comments sections don't get clicked, but the information is there.  You're far from being able to definitively state that there is no link between violent fps games and actual gun violence.  

              Besides, these games keep evolving.  The graphics, reality, and availability of these games continue to progress as such that more people can have a more "real" shooting and killing experience.  How can we be sure that a study done even 5 years ago is applicable?  What we also have little information about are the long term effects of these games--if a kid or disturbed adult plays violent fps games for 6 months, is that different than playing them for 6 years?  

              Your analogy and argument is similar to releasing a new pharmaceutical that hasn't been fully tested into the market and saying, "We'll pull it if people die."  Then, when people question that, your response is, "People were scared of aspirin when it first came out too", as if they were in any way the same.  

              So cut the garbage....this isn't "Footloose 2" where a bunch of puritanical busybodies are all worked up over nothing.  

              Political compass: -8.75 / -4.72

              by Mark Mywurtz on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 03:10:48 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Prove it, then (0+ / 0-)

                Centuries of "puritanical busybodies" have made the exact same argument. Is there a point at which it is conceivable that "it actually IS different this time"? Sure. And there is a chance that, this time, if I throw myself off a twelve story building, I won't end up splattered across the pavement. But the burden of proof is on me to make a compelling argument why the most obvious, most familiar outcome is no longer in play. If you're going to limit an individual's rights, you'd better have a stronger reasoning than an appeal to emotion sans facts or evidence.

        •  show me a song that has the line "worship satan", (0+ / 0-)

          or "satan is cool" or something like that that has the well known ability to invoke the listener to rewind and listen to it again, then again, then again, then again, then again, each time being stimulated by splashes of light and color that are designed to make them repeat the performance immediately, for a further reward.

          Until then you're wrong.

          Send conservatives to for re-education.

          by filthyLiberalDOTcom on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 08:02:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  They've plasticized and sanitized all the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    awful things that happen to the human body after a trauma via video games.  We're presented with a scrubbed version of the horror and have an unrealistic expectation.

    They don't show the aftermath of a drone strike, hell, BushCo. didn't even allow pictures of coffins being unloaded at Dover AFB (not to mention his disgusting display of giving a speech on top of bodies still buried in the rubble of the WTC).

    They used to show us slides of smoker's lungs to prevent underage smoking, before and after pix of meth addicts.  Maybe we should be showing the repulsive reality of violence?

    Have you hugged your Boeuf Bourguignon today?

    by wretchedhive on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 06:13:18 PM PST

  •  It appears that I'm in the minority here (4+ / 0-)

    but I think violent video games and other media ARE part of the problem.  

    Now, I don't think they "turn" perfectly sane people into killers.  I DO, however, think they can provide a fantasy world for people on the edge and that the first person shooter experience blurs the lines of reality for some of them.  

    I also think for kids (and kid-like adults), providing the feeling of first-shooter "power" without the screaming, guts, pain, and emotion takes dehumanizes violence....and some people can't figure out the difference.  

    Virtually all of us Kossacks at one time or another have remarked about how right-wing media has brainwashed the mental midgets of the Right into believing crazy ideas and fantasies.  Then, some of us simultaneously believe violent media that isn't political in nature can't do the exact same thing.  Wake up.

    I'm not saying the culpability of violent video game manufacturers (particularly first-person shooter games) absolves the gun lobby from responsibility.  Rather, I think the 2 can come together in a toxic brew when mentally unstable people are concerned.  

    By the way, the first-person shooter game fanatics I know of are all RWNJ-types....that alone should tell you something.  

    Political compass: -8.75 / -4.72

    by Mark Mywurtz on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 06:35:25 PM PST

    •  That is some awesome anecdotal commenting (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      420 forever, seancdaug
      By the way, the first-person shooter game fanatics I know of are all RWNJ-types....that alone should tell you something.  
      Then You don't know many fps players - unless of course You decry someone such as Jon Stewart - a self declared FPS fan ... as a RWNJ
      but I think ...Now, I don't think ...I also think for kids ... Rather, I think ...
      See -- what would work well here instead of just what You 'think' -- is what evidence do You have about all these assertions?

      "I want to keep them alive long enough that I can win them to Christ," - Rick Warren, Professional Greed Driven Scumbag

      by josephk on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 06:43:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nope - I don't know many fps players. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Which is fine by me--I don't understand the appeal AT ALL.  

        I think I made it perfectly clear that I was offering up opinions.  Disagree if you think I'm wrong.  

        It takes only the tiniest of jumps to reach the conclusions I've offered up.  

        Political compass: -8.75 / -4.72

        by Mark Mywurtz on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 06:55:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  "It's just my opinion" is poor rhetoric (0+ / 0-)

          Your opinions do not trump evidential reality. Especially when you explicitly offer them as evidence ("that alone should tell you something"? What, that you think the plural of anecdote is data?). When evidence fails to correspond to your suggestions, your anecdotes are, at best, unreliable. More likely, they are wrong.

          This is the same sort of unscientific, insidious rhetoric we would all rightly call out as BS if it were used to explain why women can't hold high-paying jobs, or why African Americans are more violent, or why rock and roll music creates juvenile delinquents, or why all homosexuals are child molesters. It doesn't matter how "tiny" your jumps are. In the absence of evidence, they're wrong, and nobody gets a free pass from the burden of proof just because it's their opinion. Opinions can be wrong.

    •  I have played several FPS games (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      seancdaug, Eric Stratton

      And I have always hated guns, and I'm definitely not a RWNJ. Making uninformed generalizations such as this will not help you prove your already weak point.

      “In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.” Terry Pratchett

      by 420 forever on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 07:47:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ban movies and tv shows then, first... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eric Stratton, seancdaug

      because my guess is that many more people have easier access to those two things.  Violent video games are played by a much smaller subset of people than those with netflix DVDs or cable.

      I don't see how moving around and pushing a trigger by mouse outweighs the realism of real people acting out much more brutal acts on screen.

      Both could be problematic in individuals with preexisting issues.

      It's the real guns and the mental illness that are the largest part of the problem. Remove those, and you remove the real-life slaughter.

      Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
      ~ Jerry Garcia

      by DeadHead on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 07:59:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  agreed.... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Neuroptimalian, DeadHead

        ....that the real life guns and mental illness are the bigger parts of this problem.  Obviously.

        But I disagree that movies and TV shows are a bigger problem.  The interactivity of video games, the fact that the PLAYER is the one causing the death, destruction and mayhem -- to me, that runs a much higher risk of romanticizing or fetishizing the use of assault weapons.

        For example, as a kid, I felt much more like a "real" fighter pilot playing Flight Simulator than I did watching "Top Gun."

        SUPPORT MARRIAGE EQUALITY!! Lovejoy: ...I believe marriage is described in the Bible! Homer: If you love the Bible so much, why don't you marry it?

        by erzeszut on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 09:27:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I can agree that somewhat (0+ / 0-)

          I'm not going look you in the "virtual" eye and tell you that I haven't become incredibly immersed in a FPS. Almost trance-like. That's why I play them, because it does indeed take me somewhere else.

          But that's for me more the environment or the world it takes me to, than the actual "killing." I'd rather be scared in a video game experience than be acting violently in a video game, but the two are often inseparably intertwined, I admit.

          But I still think you're making it a bigger issue than it really is, in the aggregate, at least.

          Whatever you choose to do personally is, of course, your decision.

          Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
          ~ Jerry Garcia

          by DeadHead on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 03:58:17 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Yes. And no. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    astral66, looseleaf, zubalove, rcbowman, guyeda

    Some years ago I spent many an hour with favorite computer games - Sim City, Civilization, Myst. Still, a limited selection. So I obvioulsy can't "report" from that perspective very thoroughly. However, I am a reader. Always have been. And I learned long ago that the tone and flavor of a book I was reading could, at least temporarily, influence my attitude and perspective. Whether the protagonists were upbeat or depressed, striving or despairing, positive or negative - I could sense in myself some resonant reaction.  I have learned to approach my reading with that awareness.

    However, I will disagree with your emphatic pronouncement that your six year old will never pretend to shoot someone. S/he will. Absent a toy gun, it will be with index finger and thumb -pow, kapow, pow. I've been in heavy debates over what toys should be "not allowed", where I took a minority view (including against ex-military folk) that banning GI Joe at a time when a lot of kids moms and dads are serving is hypocritical and counter productive. It's not the imaginary play of pretending to shoot bad guys as a soldier, or police, or space guy with a laser. Kids will role play good guys/bad guys; fights that are fair, justice winning out. Parents need to guide those  impulses for the good, but the practice and role play WILL happen even if that guidance is absent.

    "No one life is more important than another. No one voice is more valid than another. Each life is a treasure. Each voice deserves to be heard." Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse & Onomastic

    by Catte Nappe on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 06:47:23 PM PST

    •  So true (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zubalove, rcbowman, Catte Nappe

      We said the same thing 20 years ago. Our son would never own a toy gun -- too violent and unnecessary.

      But then, everything became a gun.  His  index finger and thumb, as Catte said.  Play dough guns.  Battles on notebook paper.   And then, an undying wish to own a sword.  Please oh please, can't Santa bring me a sword!!

      We gave in -- and he's a fine child.  He plays violent video games now (we call it killing games), but was deeply disturbed by the news from CT, so I don't think we've lost him to the dark side yet.

      •  Yes. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        looseleaf, Catte Nappe

        My parents didn't want to buy me toy guns, but every stick in a slanted L shape became a gun for me and all my peers. Same with my 'alternative' (hippie) school and teachers, who would rather have had us do anything but pretend to shoot each other.

        But we all played War, Cowboys and Indians, etc. My father, having grown up with BB guns and blowing things up with firecrackers, knew better than to fight it too hard. Kids, especially boys, will, absolutely will play at war, be fascinated with guns, violence, and power. And yet most of us will grow up to be civilized, rational people in most respects. Especially the ones who don't grow up with real guns in the house.

        Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end.

        by rcbowman on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 08:40:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  all of you are correct.... (0+ / 0-)

          ....of course -- I cannot control what she plays at school, etc.

          But I will not allow pretend gunplay if I see it.  Ever.

          SUPPORT MARRIAGE EQUALITY!! Lovejoy: ...I believe marriage is described in the Bible! Homer: If you love the Bible so much, why don't you marry it?

          by erzeszut on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 09:41:55 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  These mass shootings are pretty much (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    seancdaug, Eric Stratton

    Exclusive to the US. Yet, the same violent video games sold here are also sold pretty much everywhere else in the world, so I find that blaming video games is not only premature, but also unfair to those in the gaming industry. The same goes for movies and TV. IMHO, the problem lies in the country's bizarre relationship with guns -the US is  a country where owning a gun  can be considered as trivial as having a DVD player or a microwave oven, whereas other countries see them as dangerous, dodgy, and typically associate them with crime. A lot could also be blamed on the way the country glorifies murder through its endless wars and military interventions.

    “In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.” Terry Pratchett

    by 420 forever on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 07:14:51 PM PST

    •  Japan is like, the home of video games. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eric Stratton, rcbowman

      To say nothing of glorification of violence in Japanese culture.

      And yet..........

      "See? I'm not a racist! I have a black friend!"

      by TheHalfrican on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 08:05:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  but what kind.... (0+ / 0-)

        ....of violence?  I'm honestly asking.  Are shoot-em-up, assault weapon type video games as popular in Japan (or anywhere else in the world) as they are in the US?

        Or is it more "Street Fighter," fist on fist type of violence, or bladed/melee weapon violence?

        I honestly don't know.  I just wonder if there's something unique about American video game audiences, given our seemingly endless romance with firearms in this country.

        SUPPORT MARRIAGE EQUALITY!! Lovejoy: ...I believe marriage is described in the Bible! Homer: If you love the Bible so much, why don't you marry it?

        by erzeszut on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 09:30:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The fighting game genre is huge in Japan (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          420 forever

          and yet there's not that much evidence of a street fighting epidemic in Japan.

          There are certainly differences between American and Japanese gaming audiences, just as there are differences between English and Russian gaming audiences, or Korean and Australian audiences. But, by no accounts I've read are games like Call of Duty or Fallout or the Half-Life series unpopular abroad. It's hard to imagine that being the case, given how much of the gaming industry's output such games make up.

          Given that, I think it's reasonable to invoke Occam's Razor  when you wonder if "there's something unique about American video game audiences." The simpler and more logical explanation is that, if Americans do not appear to have a more voracious appetite for violent games, then violent games may not be a major factor in violent crimes committed in America. There's a certain circular logic in the idea that Americans have a certain unique disposition to committing violence when exposed to video games based on the idea that certain violent criminals are known to participate in a hobby that millions of completely non-violent Americans and non-Americans also enjoy.

          •  You actually have to have skills and physical (0+ / 0-)

            ability to put down a game and go become a street fighter.  Not so with guns.  You can just go buy one and live out the game an hour later.  The comparison isn't apt.  

            Political compass: -8.75 / -4.72

            by Mark Mywurtz on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 03:45:59 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  good for you erzeszut (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I've been suspecting much the same thing, about these games, especially with those of vulnerable to the power-trip implications.

    Thanks for expressing it.

    Thanks for taking a stand.

    Isn't it time to fix the Filibuster?
    -- Here's how.

    by jamess on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 07:23:20 PM PST

  •  I personally won't discontinue playing them... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but I won't ever see them in the same light again.

    You say movies are different because they're not interactive. They're also different in another way: real people moving around in a "real" environment, even if it isn't true.

    And the means for taking that violence to incredibly brutal extremes far surpass anything that's been done in most video games, imo.

    The only disturbing images that have stuck with me, or nightmares that resulted, have come from movies I've watched, never because of a game I've played. YMMV.

    Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
    ~ Jerry Garcia

    by DeadHead on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 07:30:38 PM PST

    •  true.... (0+ / 0-)

      ....but with each generation of video game consoles, the graphics get more and more "real."

      We're still on the wrong side of the "uncanny valley," where the soldiers in Call of Duty or the hookers in GTA are clearly cartoons.  But will it be like that forever?  Or will "GTA7" feature animations that are indistinguishable from live actors?

      SUPPORT MARRIAGE EQUALITY!! Lovejoy: ...I believe marriage is described in the Bible! Homer: If you love the Bible so much, why don't you marry it?

      by erzeszut on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 09:31:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And if it does? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DeadHead, guyeda

        Television and movies don't have the same uncanny valley issues that video games do, and it's not historically been an issue there.

        You're concerned and you mean well, but I think the problem is that you've strung together multiple concepts that are hard to prove to begin with to suggest that there's a casual link between video games and the gun/violence fetish in American society. This is not that far off from Glenn Beck's old "I'm only asking questions" weaselry, and video game fans have been dealing with the same thing for decades. Longer, really, if you want to broaden the issue to deal with popular/youth culture in general, since there's precious little unique or different in that regard between video games, rap music, the Internet, rock and roll music, comic books, television, movies, radio, phonographs, and penny dreadfuls.

        There's an expectation that such cultural objects need to constantly prove their innocence which is neither reasonable nor fair to the people who find expression in those objects. With age, I find it increasingly difficult to see that expectation as anything other than a conservative attack (intentionally or unintentionally) on the new and/or unfamiliar.

        Not all modes of expression are necessarily acceptable, certainly. If a certain medium causes harm to people or society, then we don't necessarily need to accept it. But there's a certain burden of proof required of an enlightened society before we can justify such action, and if decades of uproar over video games hasn't supplied that proof, it seems unlikely that such action can be justified.

        •  Great comment. /nt (0+ / 0-)

          Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
          ~ Jerry Garcia

          by DeadHead on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 03:47:38 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not pointing a finger at ALL video games.... (0+ / 0-)

          ....or even all violent ones.

          My point can be distilled to simply this: is it beneficial for society to have video games where it's "fun" or you score "points" for aiming a gun at a cab driver and blowing his head off?

          It isn't fun for me any more, and I can't in good conscience play these games in the future.  I don't want to see them restricted (for adults).

          I just wish people would choose not to play them.

          SUPPORT MARRIAGE EQUALITY!! Lovejoy: ...I believe marriage is described in the Bible! Homer: If you love the Bible so much, why don't you marry it?

          by erzeszut on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 06:26:41 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  no need (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    There is absolutely no positive reason for a "shooter" game.


    What good can become of the experience?

    What bad can become of the experience?

    Enagaged activism wins elections. 100 million words on liberal/progressive websites gets beat by one new GOP voter casting their vote.

    by Nebraska68847Dem on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 07:45:50 PM PST

    •  There's no positive reason for a lot of things (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zubalove, guyeda

      I'm no fan of the genre, but it entertains people. And that's as good a justification for anything, from rock music, to cinema, to television, to the Internet, video games. If we started banning things because someone posited (sans real evidence) that they might be damaging to someone, then none of those things would ever have made it past their infancy.

      And yet, our collective social memories are so short, we always play out this same nonsensical battle every time some new media shows up.

      •  OK, but.... (0+ / 0-)

        ....there's a line that society's comfortable with.  Even without hard evidence, there's an invisible line that defines what's acceptable in our media, and what's not.

        For example.  The GTA series has been deemed OK, if just barely.

        But what if a new version of GTA, or a knockoff, involved killing animated CHILDREN?  Even before Newtown, the outcry would prevent it from ever being sold, or get it pulled from store shelves quickly.

        But why?  Is there evidence that people who play "GTA: KidKiller" or whatever turn out to be actual child-killers?  Probably not.  But society as a collective would rule a game like that to be on the wrong side of that invisible line, I believe.

        We have standards for movies, in the form of the MPAA, and standards for network TV, enforced by the FCC.  Cable networks have their own loosely-defined standards here in the US.  These things often don't have any "real evidence" behind them either.

        But certain things are deemed outside the bounds of society, and I just wonder if games like these will reach that point in a post-Newtown world.

        SUPPORT MARRIAGE EQUALITY!! Lovejoy: ...I believe marriage is described in the Bible! Homer: If you love the Bible so much, why don't you marry it?

        by erzeszut on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 09:47:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I find it hard to credit that line, then (0+ / 0-)

          There's enough social libertarian in me that I find the concept of legislating morality merely for its own sake quite distasteful. If something does social harm? That's a different story, but I apply the same standard there that I would in a criminal trial: prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there's a casual connection between the object and the supposed harm its causing, and we'll talk.

          Pointing to the MPAA, or the FCC, or the ESRB doesn't do much to convince me, because I think the same burden of proof should be extended to those organizations. Something can be widely regarded as distasteful or even inappropriate in many contexts. But unless there's a evidential case to be made that said thing causes direct harm to people, it's a case of dictating/legislating public morality. And that has serious negative implications for freedom of speech (if we're dealing with legal authorities) and an open-minded society.

          •  I'm not that libertarian (0+ / 0-)

            that I would refer to banning a game about killing children "legislating morality".  

            If you can't see a point where something is just flat out wrong without going all lawyer about it, you might be a little too open-minded.  

            Guess I'm a prude.  

            Political compass: -8.75 / -4.72

            by Mark Mywurtz on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 03:50:50 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  If not legislating morality, what is it, then? (0+ / 0-)

              A game about killing children (which, keep in mind, does not exist: we're talking about a hypothetical) is distasteful, and, I would agree, "flat out wrong." But, so what? No one is actually dying, and the best you have is a "common sense" argument that it leads to actual violence that is, at best, hotly disputed by psychologists, and, at worst, flat out wrong.

              The lack of historical context is astounding. When you can simply drop in any moral outrage of the past five hundred years (miscegenation, homosexuality, civil rights, etc.) and your statement makes just as much sense, you might want to reconsider your views. It's not that one's right and one's wrong (and, to head off that inevitable storm, I'm not claiming that there's any moral equivalency between interracial marriage and child murder), it's that the logic, used for one, can all too easily be re-appropriated for the other.

              Just because something is "flat out wrong" doesn't mean it should be banned. And if you view any attempt to point that out as "going all lawyer," then you scare me almost as much as this hypothetical game does.

              •  I guess you're right (0+ / 0-)

                ....nothing is beyond the pale.  If a direct A to B causation link to death can't be proven, then it ought to be legal.  No limits.  

                Sounds wonderful.  

                Political compass: -8.75 / -4.72

                by Mark Mywurtz on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 06:35:41 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Appealing to emotion is fun, huh? (0+ / 0-)

                  You're serving as a perfect example of why you never want to legislate morality for its own sake. "No limits" is the exact same rhetorical cop-out used when the radical right argues that gay marriage will inevitably lead to pedophilia and bestiality. Or by the corporatocracy when they liken a bare minimum of financial regulation to Stalinist purges. If we can't ground legislative debates in facts and evidence, then it's simply a matter of who can shout the loudest with the most emotion.

                  If there's a compelling case to be made, it shouldn't be that hard to make it. People have been trying, for video games alone, since the mid 1970s. Longer, if you see it as the logical extension of the outrage against television, music, movies, etc. That you can't make that case, and fall back on sarcasm, is rather telling, don't you think?

                  •  Can we ever really "prove" anything (0+ / 0-)

                    in regards to the cause of mass shootings?  I mean that in a serious way.  I mean, usually the shooter is can we ever KNOW what was a factor or motive?  We can't blame parenting, can we?  We can't blame mental health.  We can't blame media or gun culture or demographics or the availability of guns or ANYTHING really.  I mean, we can't possibly have evidence that a particular shooting would not have occurred if factor "X" were changed.  By your logic, we really shouldn't address anything at all regarding mass shootings.  Ever.

                    Never mind that some of these games give you the experience and power of having the gun in your hand, shooting "people", and not having to experience all of the downsides.  Never mind that there are people (young kids, mentally ill) playing them who likely don't grasp the difference between the immersing experience of a first-person game and real life.  We can make no inferences about this experience because it's exactly like rock n' roll and Teletubbies.  Or something like that.  

                    So, I'm not sure if you have young kids, but if you did, would you let them play these games?  If not, why not?  Keep in mind, lots and lots of kids ARE playing these games, regardless of the ratings systems.  

                    Political compass: -8.75 / -4.72

                    by Mark Mywurtz on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 04:33:08 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Except that that's not "my logic" (0+ / 0-)

                      You're moving the goalposts again. Is there a plausible psychological reason to believe that video games, or rock music, or whatever contributes substantially to an individual's likelihood to go on a killing spree. If that's true, then whether or not it motivated Adam Lanza, specifically, is beside the point.

                      And, lo and behold, there's an entire classification of disciplines called social sciences dedicated to exploring that question scientifically. And that's without even getting into the traditional sciences like Neurobiology that can be brought to bear on the question. That you seem almost willfully blind, if not openly hostile, to an actual evidentiary approach is, bluntly, horrifying. That entire line of reasoning can be boiled down to belief trumps reality. Which is hardly conducive to a self-described "reality-based community." Your inferences are, in fact, no such thing. They are, at best, "common sense" aphorisms. They may be perfectly reasonable to you and like-minded individuals. Heck, they may even be true. But it's still up to you to prove them. It's the same burden of proof we apply to creationists, or climate change denialists, or any number of other people who sincerely and fervently believe in things that are provably false.

                      And I cannot believe you don't understand the difference between parenting and legislation. No small children of my own, but I have been a preschool teacher. There are any number of things I would never have allowed in my classroom that I wouldn't suggest should be addressed by the government (pretend gun play, for instance, which was mentioned elsewhere in this discussion). As a parent or guardian figure, you have powers (and responsibilities) for a child that a government cannot exercise. The reason is fundamentally the same as why we need to demand fact-based reasoning for the legislative process: the potential for misuse of that kind of authority is too great, and it can cause far too much damage. It would only take a reversal of political fortunes to put the GOP back in the driver's seat, with the precedent to enforce all kinds of "common sense" rules that have more to do with bigoted, reactionary prejudices than reality.

                      •  Funny you mention the GOP (0+ / 0-)

                        since the Supreme Court ruled on this issue last year and your opinion lines up neatly with that of ultra-conservative Justice Scalia.  Myself, I am more on board with the dissenting opinion of Justice Breyer.  

                        I question your assertion that this shouldn't be legislated because parents can handle it.  Fact is, violent games are so pervasive that it would be difficult for even the most vigilant parents to keep their kids from them.  You may note that absolute gun rights supporters have fought gun restrictions and safe/lock requirements using the exact same argument of parental responsibility, yet kids still die in gun accidents and use their parents' guns in shootings.  Not to mention, we're not just talking about children here...I believe violent games can be a problem for certain mentally ill people as well.  

                        You throw the words "provably false" out there.  Where is your proof that that violent fps video games never contribute to violent behavior in any person who plays them?  

                        Political compass: -8.75 / -4.72

                        by Mark Mywurtz on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 04:27:11 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  You don't prove a negative (0+ / 0-)

                          Sound reasoning is sound reasoning, no matter who is responsible for it. Even a stopped clock (or Justice Scalia) is right twice a day, as much as it pains me to admit it.

                          The games industry has followed the same playbook as every other industry when it comes to facilitating decent parenting. Ratings system enforced by every major retailer? Check. Multiple studies covering just about every aspect of the violence question? Double check. Repeated Congressional hearings from legislators who seem to pride themselves in their lack of knowledge? Triple check. Yes, parenting is a difficult job, but just because something is difficult does not make it the government's responsibility.

                          At some point, this all begins to look suspiciously like scapegoating: video games have been subjected to an extreme amount of scrutiny since the very first "violence in video games" scandal in 1975, and the people applying that scrutiny have yet to demonstrate any trustworthy support for their basic contention. All of which, again, is straight out of the classic "parental uproar" playbook, which has previously been applied to rap music, rock music, and the like. Sure, things might be entirely different this time, but there's plenty of reason to be skeptical of that claim, since everyone always claims it's "different this time." Saying it loudly doesn't make it so.

                          I don't ask you to prove that the moon isn't made of green cheese; it's up to you to prove that it is. How are you not aware of this basic tenet of logical reasoning? "Provably false" does not mean proving a negative assertion: it means the facts do not support the claim being made. If I argue that it's possible for me to fly, and I cannot do so, then my claim is provably false.

      •  I understand what you say. (0+ / 0-)

        But... you know, something inside me says doing real good instead of playing a video game involving the cold blooded...  is a better option for community building, developing a sense of human interaction, and promoting "group" as opposed to alienated loner.

        I do disagree that with your statement, "it entertains people. And that's as good a justification for anything, from rock music, to cinema, to television, to the Internet, video games. "

        Utter hogwash.

        It is entertaining to watch a 47 year old man having sex with a 13 year old girl.
         Hell no! At some point, we decide there are things that are not conducive to society.

        Again, I say, "there is no good" in shooter games.

        Enagaged activism wins elections. 100 million words on liberal/progressive websites gets beat by one new GOP voter casting their vote.

        by Nebraska68847Dem on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 06:47:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's a bit of a non-sequitur, though. (0+ / 0-)

          Don't get me wrong: I'm not arguing that such games are a positive influence, or that they do much for "community building, developing a sense of human interaction, [or] promoting 'group' as opposed to alienated loner." But that seems like shifting the goal posts. Arguing that video games didn't cure Adam Lanza is not the same thing as arguing that video games contributed to Adam Lanza's psychosis. And why would we expect them to? McDonald's chicken nuggets didn't cure him, either, and yet no one is arguing we ban those (well, not for those reasons, anyway).

          The point is, video games don't need to be justified. They get the same benefit as every other form of media, from rock music, cinema, television, the Internet, etc. If they cause social harm, then yes, we can have that discussion. But it's up to you to convince that they cause harm, not up to video game developers or players to convince you that they don't.

  •  Good luck. I've been saying this for years. (0+ / 0-)

    Send conservatives to for re-education.

    by filthyLiberalDOTcom on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 07:56:54 PM PST

    •  The "no limits on violent games" crowd (0+ / 0-)

      sounds an awful lot like the "no limits on guns" crowd.  You could practically take the word "games" from their arguments and replace it with "guns" and have pretty much the same results.  

      I always heard rhetoric about liberals in the entertainment industry having an "anything goes" attitude about this stuff, but I didn't really believe it.  This is the first time I've ever discussed video game violence online and I definitely did not expect that the majority of DKers would favor no limits on fps video game violence.  I guess I've learned something new--this and a couple of other threads have been a real eye opener for me.  I suspect there are very few parents on these threads.  

      Bottom line, there's nothing healthy about letting people act out violent incidents in a way that is dehumanized and normalized and supposed to be "fun".  Killing people isn't supposed to be "fun" and "easy" and "powerful"...but that's what these games allow the players to experience.  The vast majority of people who play these games will not commit a violent act--but I'm concerned about kids and people who are already unstable.  

      And comparisons of people concerned about games based on letting people act out violence to people concerned about Spongebob and Ozzy Osbourne are disingenuous at best, obnoxious and ignorant at worst.  

      Political compass: -8.75 / -4.72

      by Mark Mywurtz on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 06:06:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's a militarization of our culture (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    We've been on a wartime footing since Vietnam. This is the inevitable consequence. I grew up with realistically modeled toy guns, I played the video games, GI Joe, I watched the movies, I was a soldier for Halloween every year. It's a wonder I never had an interest in joining the Armed Forces.

    I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

    by CFAmick on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 07:58:46 PM PST

  •  I appreciate what you are saying.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and I can agree to some extent, but I have to say something.

    I LOVE Halo. I have played it since launch, moving to it from Team Fortress 2 and Half-Life.

    I'm a few months away from 40, so you and I are in the same boat.

    To me there is a difference between a game like Halo and a game like Grand Theft Auto. Or the Russian Airport level in COD Modern Warfare 2. To me, this is not about violence. It's about motive. Why are you playing? What is the motivation?

    Anyone who is mildly interested in violence in video games should read up on Spec Ops: The Line. This game basically begins as a mildly entertaining Call of Duty clone, and then slowly begins to reveal to the player just how horrific their actions are. It has been described as an excruciating experience much in the same way a novel can thrust the reader into a distasteful spiral of events. I recommend Spec Ops: The Line as an indictment of franchises such as Call of Duty.

    At any rate, my thoughts are games don't turn people violent. However, I suspect that people with some mental/social problems are likely drawn to video games. And the games they play may reinforce their anti-social behavior.

    As for me, I'm a goody two shoes. Every Bioware game I play, I can't help but be a boyscout.

    My xbox live handle is zubalove73. Feel free to add me.

    I love Halo, but the honest truth is that I'm absolutely horrible at it in multiplayer!

    •  agreed.... (0+ / 0-)

      ....and there are moralistic/ethical decisions, and logical problems to solve, even in GTA4.  It isn't all mindless violence, unless the player wants it to be.  I didn't mean to imply that it was.

      I don't think this games created the fetishization of guns, or the worship of the military-industrial complex.  But I do wonder if they further it.

      SUPPORT MARRIAGE EQUALITY!! Lovejoy: ...I believe marriage is described in the Bible! Homer: If you love the Bible so much, why don't you marry it?

      by erzeszut on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 09:35:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  One of my teachers, an Iraqi, (0+ / 0-)

    who had been a conscript in Saddam Hussein's army during the '91 Gulf War, made an observation when talking to some of his class. They were all millennials, I'm GenX. He asked what movies they'd seen recently, and several were described, and almost every one involved in some way someone getting killed. Even things that weren't action movies almost all involved homicide somehow. The teacher found this awful and shocking and crazy, and dismayingly typical of Hollywood. Most of the students looked at him like he was nuts: that's what movies are...

    Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end.

    by rcbowman on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 08:29:29 PM PST

  •  I love games (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Steve Canella, Oh Mary Oh

    When I was a kid, I played a lot of Scrabble with my mother and a lot of Chess with my father. With my siblings, I played Monopoly and Risk and Strat-o-matic Baseball and Poker and various other games. I like games. Here's what I think: You try to win the game and try your hardest to win, but when it's over, it's just a game. You move on. Congratulate the other guy if you lost. Don't gloat too much if you won.

    I don't think violent video games make people more violent. Unless maybe the person is violent to begin with. I don't think violent games or movies or books or TV shows  make people more violent.

    I'm not arguing with you. If you want to stop playing video games, that's fine with me. Do what you want.

    “If you misspell some words, it’s not plagiarism.” – Some Writer

    by Dbug on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 08:58:03 PM PST

    •  I love games too (0+ / 0-)

      But the games you're describing (1) are played with other people; and (2) don't involve mass murder.

      I think these games are one piece -- maybe a small piece, maybe a large piece -- of an overall serious problem in our society, that we see guns (in the abstract) as "sexy" and

      These games didn't create the problem, but they may in fact perpetuate it.

      SUPPORT MARRIAGE EQUALITY!! Lovejoy: ...I believe marriage is described in the Bible! Homer: If you love the Bible so much, why don't you marry it?

      by erzeszut on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 09:37:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Idiot Logic 101 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nogo postal

    Well sparky you may work in IT, but you sure aint no sharp tool. Just a tool.

    FACT - the exact same supposedly violent video games are played by kids and adults all across the rest of the western world.

    FACT - The US applies a quite restrictive censorship regime in respect of supposedly violent video games that is NOT applied in other western states. Even compared to the relatively (for Europe) censorship heavy UK, US censorship is stricter.

    FACT - Compared to supposedly violent video games available in the US, the games played by Japanese and other SE Asian gamers are ultra violent. Copies of mainstream games such as MORTAL KOMBAT actually have the "kill move" and "kill shot" violence toned down from the SE Asian versions.

    FACT - a study conducted by the US FBI in 2006 found NO correlation between video game "violence", the gamers who play the games, and actual real world violence. Their findings agree with the overwhelming body of medical and psychiatric studies conducted on the potential links between violence in media and its frequency of occurrence in societies.

    FACT - Studies carried out since 2001 by US researchers and international bodies from the UN to the OECD found no correlation between any of the suggested drivers of violence, and in particular gun violence, other than the availability and frequency of gun ownership.

    FACT - the only real difference between the USA and the rest of the developed nations is THE AVAILABILITY OF GUNS, THE NUMBER OF GUNS IN CIRCULATION, THE LEVELS OF GUN OWNERSHIP and THE GUN LAWS.

    Its NOT about video games. Its NOT about films. Its NOT about mental health issues. Its NOT about prayer or non prayer in schools.



    •  I'm glad for you.... (0+ / 0-)

      ....the world boils down to such a simple state of black and white.  While I agree that access to guns is the main problem here, I don't think it's the only problem.

      Also, thanks for the name-calling.  That's productive, mature, and a sure sign of a reasonable adult.  Appreciate it.

      SUPPORT MARRIAGE EQUALITY!! Lovejoy: ...I believe marriage is described in the Bible! Homer: If you love the Bible so much, why don't you marry it?

      by erzeszut on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 06:23:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It might be MOSTLY about the guns (0+ / 0-)

      but it is absolutely about mental health and cultural issues too.  We've created the perfect storm here in America.  

      Political compass: -8.75 / -4.72

      by Mark Mywurtz on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 03:54:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And why is America different from everywhere else? (0+ / 0-)

        I don't agree with Dave The Sandman's tone, but his points are valid. You've asserted that "we've created the perfect storm here in America." If, as he argues, the "cultural issues" are not so very different in America and, say, Japan or Europe, then why are they so central to this argument? If the difference is mental health and guns, then that suggests that there's not a real difference, and that addressing those issues addresses the problem. Your "cultural issues" don't enter into the picture.

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