Jimquisition: Desensitized to Violence

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Can't say i like this episode, in fact I feel sick just commenting on it for how much I dislike it... and it's because of that unease that I say thanks Jim, no irony intended. I have never once seen a piece of media that has portrayed an actual death in real time. I could have looked hard if I wanted to find one, but the thought never came to my mind, and so I never looked. Although I'm not very happy or comfortable with the video, it did induce a reaction, and gave me seriously tangible, personal proof in regards to real- world violence and video games. I actually wrote a research paper on this topic; I've read Ferguson's articles in regards to school shootings and video games (The article makes the claim that there is no connection between media violence and real world violence, and provides great substantial and circumstantial evidence), Anderson's Meta-analysis (Most researchers who claim violent media leads to violence site this meta-analysis or other pieces of Anderson's work), Anderson's General Aggression Model, as well as a wealth of other papers from both sides of the argument. Despite all the work I had to do, there was always one piece I felt I missed, and I felt like you were able to fill that gap. It's a gruesome piece of information that has made me very uncomfortable, but with it I feel that my personal argument as in regards to violent content and tangible violence has been effectively completed.

This video allowed me to walk away more informed than any of the hundreds of rants I have seen elsewhere. For that I am thankful. Keep up the good work.

compared to allot of things on the internet, and allot of the real life atrocities that are committed by real people every year games are exactly that, games. there's nothing else to be said.. you might upset someone if you kill their avatar in a game but so what?

it's not the same as creeping up on someone in the dark and ramming a blade through them and enjoying how the serrations catch on their ribs and coating themselves in the warm sticky blood to get some kind of thrill from it

heck, allot of soldiers sent to real wars come back totally mindf* by what they've seen when real violence
kicks off.. what's an average gamer going to do? break down and cry i'd bet

such a good point jim.

Second time I've seen that clip and it still disturbed the shit out of me! I gotta think that's a good thing.

I am 24 with a lot of gaming experience, and i wasn't shocked or disturbed all that much by this sight. But i don't this is because of games. 7 years ago I am sure i would have been very shocked, and that would be after my most intense gaming period. At that age i was very sensitive to violence and felt sorry for every single bug i ever accidentally stepped on. The two most personaly disturbing things i have experience were: t he cerbral accident of my grandmother and the death of a kitten the next day after i rescued him.
The thing that disturbed me the most i a game was the time when i got hooked up with a bunch of pirates in Eve Online and joined their gang, and once intentional befriended a player to loore him into a trap where the gang ambushed him and took most of his in game posessions, he quit the game after that. After this i had a dirty conscience and several nightmarish nights. As a result i quit pirating and the game soon after that. But still i think that Eve Online was the best game i ever played.

It's been said so many times already, but I skipped the footage, I switched to a blank tab and just listened to the audio. I couldn't bring myself to actually watch it. I've never felt that way playing a video game before. Thank you Jim for presenting such a strong argument. This is your best video yet. Thank you Escapist staff for letting him show it.

It is saddens me though that you needed to show this footage to get the point across, and it's even sadder that the people who need to know probably won't listen.

SlightlyEvil:
I watched this video right after playing the last level of Spec Ops: The Line.

...I'm just gonna go sit in the corner and cry for a while.

Your psyche seems well intact,so you'll be fine...it's all over now.

Excellent video and a very well made point.

As to those who don't feel all that fazed by the video, I'd say that's differences in human empathy. Some of us are very emphatic and thus react strongly to other people whilst others are not and thus show much less of a reaction.

The main point is though you (should) still feel something on seeing the suicide video, whether it's outright shock and horror or just a minor sadness, our empathy kicks in and in some part attunes our own emotions to the real people we're seeing.

When you're seeing a video game this simply doesn't happen unless a great deal of characarization has been put into the character being killed. Our empathy 'knows' it isn't real and thus doesn't react, we simply don't feel anything.

I'd say it's downright impossible for video games to ever cross that line. The moment they theoretically do any sense of fun would cease to exist and they wouldn't be games any more.

I skipped the video because I find some gore too much. Even phantasy's gore. Sadly I saw the last few second. Perhaps exhadderate the end time stamp to avoid this.

Pretty much what was said is the same as Penn and Teller and Charlie Brooker. I agree. I hate the media.

Yesterday, when I saw Django Unchained, the scenes when Django would shoot down 3 or so men were so ridiculous that they couldn't reasonably be considered real. The way he pulls out a six-shooter and shoots 3 men in their hearts before they get to shoot a single bullet is almost magical. Then blood flies everywhere in Tarantino's signature style, and Django makes the man he hated most of the gang blow up.

That is not real violence. Django is a mythical character, like Hercules or the guy who saved Broomhilda.

I remember a vid some guys at my old school had on their phones, of a prisoner having his throat cut. I still don't know if it was real or not but... yeah, that shit still haunts me over a decade later.

I'll be perfectly honest with everybody, When I heard the scream, I thought it came from the guy. That was more uncomfortable then the image (Until that dreaded closeup). I have no problem with Two Girls, One Cup, or any of its parody/knockoffs. I find that stuff to be quite funny in most cases. I have maintained as a gamer that the one thing I would never be privy to is watching murder, which is why I find the dnepropetrovsk maniacs video to be the one I will never watch, ever. This video was another story, but the maniacs stuff I can't get myself to even try and watch.

Video games have allowed me and many others to do brutal things in some oddly clever ways sometimes, but murdering somebody is the one thing I have an aversion to, despite being a guy that sort of kind of likes the Manhunt game (All my praises stems from the Piggsy Level).

Many people like to maintain that games encourage violence, but I've always carried the flag of "Games Don't encourage violence" and many others, because despite all the awful things I can do in games, watching someone die is something I have too much of a moral compass to be involved with. It may be preaching to the choir in many cases, but sometimes it's all people need to be convinced of something. You have no disagreement with me, Jim. Whether I skipped the video or not, we are in the same camp as far as I'm concerned.

It's kind of strange. I didn't react when I saw it. I just sort of froze. I guess, maybe it didn't feel very real? I mean, I know it happened, but it was nothing like what I thought it would be. It was so fast. He didn't even hesitate. He just put it in his mouth, pulled the trigger, and fell right down. And there was blood coming out of the back of his head.

And then it was over. Maybe it's because I wasn't there myself, but it didn't HORRIFY me, just sort of... I don't know, shocked me? Did anyone else have that reaction?

Roofstone:
Well.. I really expected it to look worse, but at the same time I.. Well, now I've seen that. I didn't like.

On a lighter note: What is the game that started at around 3:05? It looks awesome!

Ninja Gaiden 3 for the Wii-U. I thought it looked awesome too, so imagine my disappointment when I found that out.

OT: Eurgh. Yeah, real gruesome violence is always more disturbing than video game violence. Hell, even in movies or television shows it's usually simple things like surgeries or big, ugly cuts in a medical drama that get me more than over-the-top shooting and stabbing in action films. Because it's just that much closer to reality, and reality can be disturbing.

Coming out of lurk mode to thank both Jim and the Escapist for going ahead with publishing this. To a degree, it is preaching to the choir, but in my opinion people can't be enlightened enough about the state of our mass media. Even if 100% of the people here were aware that video game violence is a caricature, if just one person became aware of the level of real violence shoved in their face as entertainment, and the genuine glorification that goes on, then this was truly a victory.

I don't think I've been desensitized by violence in video games, or at least not as much as by the media.
For years the media and news agencies have been bombarding my brain with gruesome images that no game would ever show (or no tasteful game). Images like Auschwitz, the mass graves in Bosnia, the Jack The Ripper victims, Syria and much more.
Seriously, there is nothing that desensitizes more than seeing those images constantly appear on your TV.
So, if you think you can handle it, open this spoiler tab and follow the links.

These are the images that the mainstream media constantly throws into our faces and were just watch them, processing them as information. How can that not desensitize a person?

In the age where the ability to watch a human being get hanged is one youtube search away, the media constantly showing blown apart bodies to illustrate violent deeds in foreign countries, where mass murdering douche bags get more media coverage then actual worthwhile human beings it's strange to point at video games and blame them.

They constantly give these murderous human beings the complete attention that they want and then wonder why suddenly more of them show up. Surely it has nothing to do with giving them complete attention and getting their name in the history books, no, it must be video games...

Bunch of ....

God dammit, I didn't skip well and caught a glimpse of his lifeless face. Another thing I prefer not to have watched on the internet.

Anyway, one of the few videos where I agree with pretty much everything you said. I hate it that if you asked random people on the street, most of them would know the killers name but barely anyone could even name 2 or 3 of the dead children.

I had seen the Budd Dwyer footage before, because I had sought it out in a moment of morbid curiosity. Knowing what it entailed, I skipped it this time, because I had absolutely no desire to see it again.

So, yeah, in that regard, point made.

I do sometimes wonder, though, at the need of games like Mortal Kombat and God of War to keep "upping the ante", if they aren't serving the tastes of gamers who are increasingly jaded about violence. I'm not saying such games shouldn't exist or that they promote real-world violence; I think games should have the same freedom as any other artistic medium, and I don't buy the premise that they promote long-term real-world aggression in otherwise balanced human beings. But I do sometimes wonder that there are so many games that feature the murder of simulated sentient beings, whereas games like Spec Ops: The Line that double back to examine the act are still relatively few and far between.

I wasn't actually shocked by the footage, then again i have been to a gore thread so nothing can really shock me at this point.

on topic: i do wonder when the next big media thing will come out, then we may have people stop blaming violence for everything and just blame that thing instead.

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.

You're not the only one.

OT: I think that this is the first time I completely agreed with him. I always found the news' attitude towards violence much more desensitized: "Some people in some country got slaughtered by a mad gunman. Now for sports".

Mearly scrolled down when I realised what was going to happen in that clip. Watched it but was quite nauseated... it is really quite different from violent video games.
Now, I don't care much about the violence in video games either way. I think the violence could be toned down on many games (and doing so and using dev time on other stuff would be much better) but I'm not offended by it either.
And I agree with you. There is quite a difference between video games and real violence. However, there are also people who seem to enjoy both, at least speaking from my experience of receiving rotten links from someone who somehow found that site hilarious and used to text me about how cool blood splashes in some game of his was...

I guess there are people who find both video game and real violence appealing but those are messed up in the head and probably would still be if there weren't any violent video games at all, considering violent some movies/comics/literature are. We don't see those used as scape goats for violence as much, do we? So why should it be "the fault" of video games that some mental people massacre children? Considering the number of "copycats" after said shooting, over-the-top news coverage really seems a much likelier candidate.

How about an oddball data point for you, Jim? I'm not a gamer (for all but the more liberal definitions) anymore. I came to this realization when I saw the "Game of the Year" stuff and realized I hadn't seen any of them anywhere but on this site, that skimming the Escapist front page was my entire involvement with mainstream gaming for the entire calendar year.

The only first person games of any sort I've played in the past five years have been Minecraft and Legend of Grimrock, which definitely aren't Call of Duty clones. (Well, I played Hard Reset for 30 minutes before I realized it was another Painkiller-esque series-of-locked-rooms load of BS and packed it in.) Other than that it's been indie/casual stuff. That's it. And even when I was a gamer, I wasn't really into FPSs. I played a lot of Doom when I was younger, some Deus Ex and Unreal Tournament when slightly less young. But it wasn't really my "thing". I was out of it before the military shooter really took root. I'm probably the closest thing to a non-gamer that you're going to see in your audience.

And honestly, the anticipation was substantially worse than the video. I've seen so many vile things on live news and in real life that an actual death... eh, some discomfort but that's it. The excessive warnings completely oversold it.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't pleasant, but it wasn't really notable. Perhaps I did get desensitized, but if I did it happened after I stopped gaming.

Not so fun fact: This happened on my fifth birthday since I was born on January 22nd 1982. Yeah... shocked and disturbed.

Huh, I didn't expect to feel anything after hearing Jim explain what he was going to show. As the clip started, I figured it didn't look so bad, and then he pulled up the gun and I was prepared for what was going to happen... and I still twitched and shouted "OH FUCK" out loud at the actual deed. Well. Guess I'm not completely desensitized either.

I've got to the admit that I was feeling uneasy just hearing Jim describe what was about to happen and the actual footage I've found to be one most chilling things I've seen. A great point made Jim, real life violence is neither entertaining or glorified.

I am sick to death of outlets blaming games for the disturbed and mentally ill people who make school shooting news. It's as if they think games, movies, comics, and music all had a hand in the death of innocent people. The NRA in particular. To quote Jerry Holkins of Penny Arcade: "It's a very odd sort of patriot that would destroy the First Amendment to protect the Second."

That's really harsh Cynik; I disagree with him too, but that's no reason to rail on him like that.

People can be afraid of guns without being "just a child". In some cases it can be due to a traumatic personal experience, or just due to a lack of exposure. For anyone who only sees guns in the hands of criminals, it's not that irrational to see guns as tools of the criminal.

The way to fix that is to be a good example of a peaceful gun owner, not to call people names. I'm reporting you myself.

Edit: Fixed typo.

Bravo. Honestly. Bravo.

I'd forward it to my fairly alarmist mother who's somehow convinced that in order to prevent violent shit from happening, all forms of violent shit have to be excised from ALL media. Problem is, she has trouble with some levels of English and some accents. Being from rural Quebec, she's never had to hear a British guy established in the southern States speak. About two thirds of the content would fly right over her head.

Makes me wish we could have a transcription option for videos. I'd totally take some time to subtitle the entire thing if I could.

That said, this was one of the best Jimquisitions ever.

Edit: as far as guns go, I'm terrified of the things. I have a handful of American friends who consider conversation-openers to be forwarded links to this or that tank-buster or one-shot elephant killer, and who then proceed to gush about how freaking awesome it must be to fire that kind of piece.

That just chills me, honestly. My uncle owns a hunting rifle and I treat it like it's radioactive material. If I moved to the States, I'd be the weirdo who flat-out refuses to own a gun.

Closest thing to a piece I've handled is a Laser Tag pistol, so... Yeah.

I didn't feel a damn thing about that guy dying.

Welp. I guess it's time to run for the hills, kiddies. Because clearly, I am a mass murdering psychopath.

A point very well made.

I'm not deeply disturbed by the footage but I recognize it as disturbing. I possess at minimum an inclination to not watch the footage a second time as I did not enjoy seeing it.
That is an incredible number of steps away from the video game parody of violence where I go out of my way to make sure I'm removing every limb in Dead Island and Fallout NV.
When it isn't real violence sure burning things is a grand old time, I get called a pyromaniac all the time for my excellence and enthusiasm about Fire Mages in World of Warcraft, and some other games as well.

I've seen a video of a bunch of stupid kids lighting a dog on fire.
That is not the same thing.
It is not even similar.

I actually watched my father commit suicide when I was 16 in pretty much the same exact manner as the footage Jim played (BTW thanks for the warning).

I'm a very avid gamer who has played literally thousands of hours of various violent videogames starting at GTA 3 when I was 8 and most recently Farcry 3 and Skyrim. Even after all those games that footage was hard to watch with me zooming out and even scrolling the page up and down several times when it was playing.

According to the NRA my years and years of playing videogames should have made me desenatized to it but Jim is right by all accounts. In videogames I've killed thousands of people and only remember those who died in a special manner, when you see someone die in real life even if it's only video like this you always remember it.

There is a weight to seeing a actual human die, to truly know that someone's life is ending, that no known form of media can ever hope to replicate to the point where it doesn't affect you.

I saw the pre-Escapist episode, so I pretty much knew what was coming, especially when I saw that age verification. It was disturbing then, and it's disturbing now. The point is valid.

Sadly, I actually was desensitized to what he showed, thanks to seeing stuff that was infinitely worse on /b/. Needless to say, that stuff disgusted me.

That was, quite simply, brilliant. One of the simplest, best, and most pointed demonstrations of exactly why an apparently self-evidently false argument is wrong.

Bravo Jim Sterling. Bravo.

I'd heard about the Budd Dwyer thing because it happened the day I was born, but never saw the footage. It's shocking even when you know what's coming.
Another very well done episode Jim.

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