Jimquisition: Desensitized to Violence

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Thread is TL;DR so I'll just post my own personal feelings on this.

I'm a hunter and a fisherman. I hunt deer, rabbit, and squirrel, and I fish for bass and catfish. Since I live in a fairly rural area I've also butchered cows, pigs, and chickens. Suffice to say, I've killed a fairly large amount of living things.


Every time I kill an animal I feel a twinge of guilt and sadness. I understand the consequences of my actions. I'm ending a life.

Some of you are probably wondering why I still hunt and fish. The answer is complicated. Mainly, I enjoy the overall experience of it. Like a football player doesn't like being tackled but they still enjoy playing the game. Secondly I like the feeling of self sufficiency. That "I can take care of myself" feeling. Also, I don't entirely trust grocery store meat. I like knowing where my food comes from.

So in the end do I feel that I've been desensitized to violence? Most certainly not. I feel bad enough killing animals for food. I can't even begin to imagine how bad I'd feel if I was ever forced to kill a human. But if I see you in-game I won't feel the slightest bit of guilt for owning your ass. =P

You know when that video happened I was just surprised that there wasn't any blood splatter on the wall behind him not really shocked by it.

That said I get way more queasy looking at pictures of real gore than I do by saw films.

I watched the video...

and I feel I didn;t find it disturbing as I should have, probably becase of the lack of gore

I mean yeah it was disturbing, I covered my eyes during the actual trigger pulling and the face with all the blood..but...I don't know, things in fiction have disturbed me on a deeper level

This was an interesting episode, even more so than usual actually, since it demonstrated its message in a great way. I did find the video of Dwyer killing himself disturbing, but didn't flinch at the video game violence and even found the purple haired woman killing people attractive. >_>

so may games i´ve played..so many kills..so many headshots..stabs, slices chop offs..still i could not bring myself to watch that footage.

When that clip came on and with your introduction to it Jim, I decided I was going to watch the whole thing even though I knew I wouldn't like it afterwards. I felt very unpleasant and disturbed by it and still do as I write this, but I'm still glad I watched it and that you showed me it Jim, because I've had my own slight misgivings about game violence, and I think I needed to see *that* and the game footage back to back to understand how truly ludicrous it really is to equate the two. Also your comments throughout the video were great help at putting the whole thing into perspective. Lastly, I just want to thank you for that post-credits bit, which really helped cheer me up again after a truly unpleasant experience.

Thank god for you Jim, and no fucking meta-joke-playing-along-with-your-catchphrase this time. I sincerely mean it.

Though I might sound "me too"-ish these are exactly some the points or counter arguments I raise about this shit too.
So I obviously agree with all the points. You can make more too, but no point going in to them here and now.

What's "funny" too is that when I was young I could watch real-life "gore" on TV etc. a whole lot easier. Without feeling sick. I didn't play as many video games back then either, nor did I play games that looked anywhere near as good or realistic as they do today. Yet as I've grown older I now have a hard time watching things like that clip shown in this video without feeling ill. (I had seen it before though. Almost 10 years ago now) Yet I'm probably playing more games now than I used to.

It's sad that we're STILL in an age where morons try and use things like games as a scapegoat for murders etc. But then again books had that too back in the day. It will pass. But it will take time.

People talk about being desensitized to violence as some evil thing. But being able to handle violence isn't the same as lacking empathy or compassion. Being hypersensitive isn't healthy either.

I've always had a problem with real violence, real violence is brutal, and frightening, it makes me go weak in the knees.

And when i heard about sandy hook i reacted with greif. I think many gamers have reacted like sensible people to this shooting, unlike some more conservative elements who have gone to call Adam Lanza "Evil" the kid wasn't evil, Breivik is evil, Lanza was mentally ill and needed help, the kind of help that you have to be a criminal to get nowadays.

I also agree with Jim, Nobody in real life dies like they do in movies or videogames, it's all over the top and detached from the more disturbing violence in reality, the news however, reports on real violence and does more to desensitize us to it than videogames.

"Any sane civilian is going to be terrified of guns"?

Really Jim? I guess I'm not sane then. I love going to the firing range, it's a bonding experience with friends. Comparing accuracy, talking about what you like more. I RESPECT guns, I know what they can do, and I know that one must practice safety with firearms. But I am not scared of guns.

Well I skipped the footage, watching a man shoot himself is not on my to do list today, needless to say Ok I'm convinced.

Although on the subject of the Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, if you stepson wants to continue with Martial Arts but doesn't want the aggression, can I recommend looking into Aikido or Ki-Aikido, a martial art that emphasises non-violence and self defence.

Nice episode, good argument and an important point well made.

Dwyer appears to be a real unique case, shame on me i haven't heard of him before, but not to uncommon considering i'm not living in the USA. Watching the footage gave me some shivers and felt uncomfortable in a way different to anything else before and still, it was only footage, not the actual experience. I've already seen some minor violence first hand and mayor injuries and death when i was working in a hospital, but still, different circumstances make for different reactions and seeing someone wither from disease, or even suffer in pain from mayor injuries isn't really comparable. Also, the case of Dwyer itself appears to be rather interesting, to bad the part from Wikipedia describing the aftermath is more about the discussion of disturbing footage in media and not about the discussion of his actual intent.

On depiction of violence in media and especially games itself this

It doesn't prepare or desensitize you to what you see when it's right there in front of you. In the same regard to a flight sim trainer for pilots. It doesn't, and isn't trying, to make the action of ACTUALLY flying the plane indistinguishable from the flight sim, but it makes the fear, apprehension, and hesitation from getting into a real cockpit less fearful. Violence in media is the same thing. I don't care how many SAW's you've seen or other gore flicks, when you see a real head blown off someone, it gets to you. But what seeing those movies or playing games like them DOES do is make you far less likely to recoil BEFORE you see it.

sums up what i've learned about it quite well.
I'm studying this stuff at university and interestingly enough, the very next two sessions in a seminar about interactive media [games] is about just that, violence in video games.
As far as i know, media has "some" effect and especially video games have increased effects, considering their high immersion, but often put wrong in public, those effects aren't about actual behavior, but about ideas of behavior. Looking at often controversially discussed topics in comparison: If you watch lots of porn or other media with sexual content, you're neither turning into a sex machine, nor necessarily drawn towards a swinger-lifestyle or whatever, but it does influence the attitude towards sex or may lessen inhibitions. Similar it is with violence, seeing it in media, or playing "killer-games" won't turn anyone into a killer, this is simple make-believe and obviously intended to shift responsibility (i've already ranted enough about this on many occasions), but it does influence the attitude towards violence and may lessen inhibitions, then again our inhibitions towards violence are usually much stronger than those of sex or any other topic and the actual act of violence is a very different thing and that is for reasons: Shame of sex for example is an irrational social construct (at least to a higher extend), considering it is part of our natural behavior and reproduction cycle, while inhibition towards violence is rational, considering it is only useful for hunting or defense, but pretty much useless or actually hindering our survival as aggression towards each other or harmless beings (it only is a "dog eat dog world" if we choose to, which is stupid, but i guess that's another topic).

Breaking it down, to say media would have no effect at all would be denying the effects of societal interactions, while claiming it would desensitize the average human to actual violence or even produce "killers" is responsibility shifting make-believe.

Though, compared to many other episodes, this one kinda feels like preaching to the choir.

Another thing i recognized while reading the comments is how some point out and drag it towards the discussion of guns and gun-owning.
I... think it shows the current public interest... and i've thought about it very hard and even deleted a possible comment about it before posting because i couldn't stop myself from going on and on about it. Just want to say this: Not guns kill people, but people kill people, sure. However even if the relations are often described to simple, just as those of gaming, guns are weapons and in our current age, countries with fewer guns have fewer people killed in general, statistically speaking. Just check and think about it yourself.

Susan Arendt:
Some people will undoubtedly find the overcaution a bit excessive, but I believe enough people will appreciate it to have made it the right approach.

Though i'm legaly allowed to watch it, i didn't bother to take the time putting in my actual date, would've taken "to much time", however, the warning is very much appreciated :)

Enough for now.
So once again, fffffffffuuuck yes and thank god for you Jim :)

Gah, Flower Dafoe is dancing, what the heck?!


People talk about being desensitized to violence as some evil thing. But being able to handle violence isn't the same as lacking empathy or compassion. Being hypersensitive isn't healthy either.

i think you're right, being hypersensitive isn't good, but in context, this is less about the perception, but about the relations and causes of violence and i would say those are deconstructive parts of society.

"Any sane civilian is going to be terrified of guns"?

Really Jim? I guess I'm not sane then. I love going to the firing range, it's a bonding experience with friends. Comparing accuracy, talking about what you like more. I RESPECT guns, I know what they can do, and I know that one must practice safety with firearms. But I am not scared of guns.

Every sane civilian is terrified of guns? So me and every other gun owner is insane now? fuck you jim think before you talk

I think what he means is that if someone holds a gun to you head you'll damn well know whats going to happen if he pulls the trigger and if you point a loaded gun towards a human you in return also know the consequences if you pull the trigger.

Every sane civilian is terrified of guns? So me and every other gun owner is insane now? fuck you jim think before you talk

I think he means every single sane person would be scared of a situation, like a video game, where guns were being waved and shot every which way and your life was hanging in the balance. Thats scary shit. Do you WANT to be in a shoot out? No? Why? Because its scary as fuck and you might die. No one LIKES being in a situation with shooting and killing of real people. It scares us.

If someone waved a gun in your face, even a pistol and you had no way to defend yourself that would scare you. Having a tool designed to kill things waved at you is scary. Its a scary thing to be on the receiving end of.

Great ending on the news media sensationalizing violence itself, but otherwise I think the wrong track is being taken here. The problem with Jim's arguement is very simple: Gamers are normal human beings, and human beings, are by their very nature violent, predatory creatures.

Here in the first world we like to deny human nature, but let's be blunt, the whole reason why we dominate the world and have things like civilizations, first world countries, and lengthy moral debates about right and wrong, is because in the final equasion we've dominated everything else on the planet, except for ourselves. Take the biggest, meanest, most aggressive predator you can think of, and then consider it doesn't rule the world, we do. Watch animal planet documentaries about how cruel nature is, and then understand we dominated all other species the same way to get to where we are now.

Human beings have learned that we can accomplish far more by not murdering each other constantly, and those socieities which have done the best job of cooperation (whether they engaged in conquest or not) rose to become the dominant first world countries that currently wring their hands when they see violence and somehow try and convince themselves that we've fundementally changed. A laughable point of view when you consider what the average person in a second or third world country has to go through to survive, and that even the first world is largely only safe because we have the nastiest killers and most powerful weapons to do the killing.

Violent media like games is a way of expressing these sentiments without it spilling out into society. That said when you put hundreds of millions of apex predators together, there is going to be violence and killing by their very nature, even if society greatly slows and limits these impulses. In a first world country with few threats, and where even the poor are better off than most of the global population, you have a few incidents like Sandy Hook which tend to occur after extreme provocation which rarely gets covered. In other, less civilized parts of the world the violence is constant, you have little kids being handed guns and sent out to fight as shock troops in civil wars on a daily basis. We like to try and forget about the general state of humanity when we decide to decry things like Sandy Hook, which are really only unusual for the enviroment we're lucky enough to find outselves in.

Needless to say a bunch of violent and predatory creatures enjoy these things in our entertainment. Some people go into denial about their own "dark side" and instincts, but the bottom like is this stuff endures because it's what we want. Unlike animals we can control those instincts however, and work together in a general sense. As a result horror continues to endure (and has existed as long as people have told stories), we have games about war, games about killing, and generations of kids have grown up in the shadow of fictional maniacs like Freddy Kruegar or Jason Voorhees, making the actors who play them celebrities (Kane Hodder got quite a line to sign autographs one year at Spooky World).

My basic answer to these criticisms is not that gamers hate violence, or are in any way unusual. Rather I'll say that people who genuinely don't like action and violence are unusual, or at least expressing denial based on modern morality and propaganda. It's simply who we are, and people need to learn to live with it.

Incidently preventing everyone from falling into barbarity is why we have laws, and seek to punish people who do this kind of thing when they step out of line. The point here is not me saying everyone should go running around killing each other because of who we are, just that we need to be aware of what we are and be at peace with it, rather than living in denial, and trying to blame things like video games, movies, books, music, and other things that simply express this side of ourselves for acting as a reminder. Unlike other, lesser, animals, we are capable of not being ruled by these impulses, but once in a while someone goes rogue in an otherwise civilized area and you get "Sandy Hook" or something similar, with powerful media, everyone hears about it. It's a bad thing, it's wrong, and it needs to be dealt with, but in doing so your just going to make things worse if your in denial about the real reasons, and try and convince yourself that humanity is something far differant than what it is. If we weren't violent and predatory we never would have gotten to this point, or be able to hold onto it, our own enviroment would have wiped us out long ago... as nature shows point out, nature can be bloody cruel, but we managed to dominate anyway.

I'll also say as a total aside in this long and repetitive essay, that I do not see humanity's violent tendency as something to be overcome or surpassed, it is after all part of who we are. Those that think this way are a bigger problem than the maniacs, since really in the final equasion socieities are transient and it's our competitive nature and aggression that keeps us moving on, and would ensure we'd survive even if society was to fail. What's more I tend to look at various works about science fiction that ask the question abotu what would happen if we ever DID become entirely non-violent, and get rid of these instincts, and then ran into a group of beings that didn't. Or heck, even without sentinent aliens being involved, if we became a bunch of space hippies could we even hypothetically dominate/colonize another planet without being able to compete with it's own predators and enforce our will to build and hold our habitats. Perhaps most compellingly what happens if we were to become entirely non-aggressive and then something beyond our control destroyed the society that allowed us to get to that point (perhaps of our own doing), Bears, Wolves, and various other creatures that once competed with us (sometimes quite fiercely) wouldn't just lay down and let us rebuild if we weren't able to fight to occupy and control our territory anymore... in short, it's part of who we are, and we evolved this way for a reason, control it, but also embrace it, video game and such are one of many ways we strive for that kind of equilibrium.

Jim, i hate the ego and the "thank god" crap at the end of your vids. But seriously, this vid was very well done. Made a valued point and i think will be one of the best vids of the year already.

I didn't even blink when I saw the footage here. But it wasn't games that desensitised me. Jim mentioned the media. Well, I've seen bodies from war-torn countries all my freaking life. The dead, the dying, the wounded.

Games are not the issue.

It didnt shock me as much as I thought it would, but I think thats because it was a conscious decision for the guy involved.
Granted it was poor choice of venue especially with cameras rolling but the guy was the one who chose what he was doing.

When I was about 14-15 using the old Kazaa p2p for downloading subbed anime that i'd heard about someone had put up a film of a girl being killed and renamed it to an episode name for the series I was looking for.
This was back before I was that internet savvy and downloaded it without looking for filesizes/length etc.

Since she had no decision to be there THAT was shocking, that was 13 years ago and I still remember it, highly doubt ill ever forget it.

And as other people have said in regards to this episodes content, when someone shoots themselves on camera you turn the camera away and give the dead some respect....you don't zoom in on their face for a better picture.

I've never really understood what the advantages are of being sensitive to violence. Everyone complains about being desensitized to violence but why is that really a bad thing? Because it makes you more likely to commit violence?

violence is not inherently a bad thing. violence is often needed to protect yourself or others. it seems to me that all being sensitive to violence means is that if you are caught up in a shooting incident, crime, terrorist attack or the inevitable zombie apocalypse you're going to be one of those useless halfwits who panics and freezes up at the sight of the first corps and will need to be rescued.

murder is what we need to prevent, people who start violence. and if the number 1 reason on your personal list of reasons why you will never murder someone is 'because i'm a little bit squeamish around blood' then i would say there already is something wrong with you. my list stars with 'because God said thou shalt not' and moves on to 'because all life is intrinsically valuable and worth preserving.' and finish with more practical things like 'i rather like everyone i know' 'it is illegal' 'i wouldn't want to be murdered so why do it to someone else?'

and honestly the whole sensitivity to violence strikes me as rather ignorant in this world, like never hearing a curse word to college or needing the public school to explain how sex works. it reaches the point where its not innocence its ignorance.

of course this whole rant may have just been me trying to convince myself that there's nothing wrong with the fact that seeing a real suicide on camera neither disturbed, frightened or had and notable effect on me at all.

Don't know if this was already said, too lazy to read 10 pages.
If gamer were desensitized to violence, a game like Spec Ops: The Line wouldn't be nearly as successful as it is. We wouldn't be seeing threads with people complaining how the game is bad because they didn't have a choice but to use the Phosphorous Mortar...

If only the people ranting about games would see this and accept the logic of it.
Probably not going to happen though.

Yeah, I skipped it.

I opted to play No Russian back when I played MW2, but as soon as I heard what I was about to be shown I started feeling ill and I didn't want to see it. I haven't seen the hanging of Saddam Hussein either, a guy who comes very damn close to what I would describe as "deserved it". It literally sickens me. I've played GTA since I was about 11 and I can't deal with real violence of any seriousness.

So yeah, idiots who say it desensitises, fuck off.

Well played sir.
This was definitely one of your more thought provoking videos.

"Did that footage shock you?" no. it was far too unviolent for a shock. i didnt expect him to do it that soon, at least try to explain what he was tryin to say.

"did you find it disturbing?" no.

but thats not because im a gamer, its jut because im a very bad person :P

"any sane civilian is going to be terrified of guns"
marry me.

and as alway,s a great show Jim, you are the one i disagree with the least of all presenters, and thats quite an achievement. because i disagree with anything.


I dont think it is because you are desensitized to violence, but that you are desensitized to what you see through your computer screen. I mean I think most of us seen some shit on the internet we rather wanna forget.

I cant say that this video clip was disturbing for me, maybe it was because it was explained what i was going to see, but for certain that while watching it, i got a certain kind of respect for Budd Dwyer, as he held the gun upwards, trying to assure people that he has no intentions to hurt anyone... trying is the keyword here, because everyone still got freaked the hell out.

I dont condone suicide, but i just have respect for people that even if they dont respect their own health and life, they respect that of others.

Now i cant say that i am desensitized, i think i just have a natural higher threshold for these things as i really cant recall any major event were i actually felt sad for things happening far away. As real as tragic events are, i feel like if i got sad/shocked/disturbed for everything i hear in the media i might as well start sobbing in a corner and never stop.

Knowing what was going to happen in the clip and knowing that it's real flipped some kind of boolean in me.
I'm sorry Jim. I feel too nauseous to watch the video.

Kind of a shame he got so much of the point, and then started blaming the media instead. The media is also a scapegoat.

There's also huge media coverage of crimes and spree killings in other places, mostly European ones. Yet, you rarely ever hear of spree killings there, or the deathtoll is much much lower.

Like Belgian spree killer Kim de Gelder. He was a loonie who trained for months and months to butcher a kindergarten. A trained psychopathic murderer versus toddlers. It should have been a bloodbath that pales the average school shooting.

But it wasn't, because now we're arriving at what really makes the difference: Belgium has tight gun laws, and De Gelder couldn't prove he had a hunting permit or be a longstanding member of a sports shooting club, let alone pass the required mental health check. So no firearms were available to him, let alone semi-automatic ones. He had to use a combat knife, which is also illegal to carry but still obtainable.
Because his weapon was far less deadly, the inherent strength of humans and our instincts against killing did the rest: De Gelder killed 3 and injured 12 and police arrested him a bit later.

He had everything all other spree killers had, from video games to media coverage, yet his spree was far less deadly despite the preparation. The only difference is in the weapons used.

Same country a year earlier, someone had laid their hands on an assault rifle and a revolver and grenades. His spree killed 6, the perpetrator himself, and injured 125 people.

Go figure for yourself where the cause of spree killings lies then: With the only thing that made a difference, which is weaponry, or with any of a number of scapegoat things.

The only thing that can work against spree killers is reducing the public's acces to weapons. Everything else will not work.

Vault Citizen:
I find the movie sad but it didn't shock or really disturb me...I'm wondering if I should be worried about that.

Seconded. Warned what to expect, that suicide really didn't shock me at all other than it was allowed to be displayed. The reality of it does suck any gaming type 'thrill' or 'entertainment' out of it. Felt like humorless business.

I actually feel very desensitized but I see that as a good thing. Gives you better reaction time in the event of an emergency.

an excellent video presented in a thoughtful way. that said thank you for the warning and the time stamp so i could skip it.

its weird ive seen some of the nastiest pieces of cinema in existance yet ill skip the real life stuff like this when possible. i dont have that morbid curiosity with real violence and death a lot of people do

I think the Escapist should be commended for allowing this, it's journalism. Well done Jim!

I remember the same impending feeling of reality when they showed a guy with a bomb vest go off on one of those cop shows (memory doesn't serve well after a 12 hour shift so forgive the lack of detail).

I wasn't disturbed by the video of "real violence", and I've fired a gun and liked it, uh oh? UHm, well but seriously, there's a big difference between any movie or game violence and actual violence. I mean, I wasn't disturbed by the video, or any video where I assume real violence is going on (unless an animal is getting hurt) but if I'm even close to where a fight is about to happen I... Well shit, I wanna see it, guess I'm a bad example, still, lets put "functioning psychos" between the normal people and actual lunatics.

i skipped to 1:49. point proven i guess. take the swearing out n get this video broadcast everywhere, it gets the message across about how the news media make violence worse, IMO

Nice one Jim, nice to see your super monkey balls once in a while :)

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