Jimquisition: Desensitized to Violence

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Just my two cents some where deep in the comments.

I skipped the footage. I don't think I can bring myself to watch it. In my mind there is a sharp difference between this footage and what I experience in games. I have played several violent games, of which the mass media claims should have made me the next "Americas most violent." In a game I have no problem killing the bad guy or shooting at those that are shooting back. But to actually cause real harm... I dislike it and avoid it. My aunt once asked me to kill her pet rat, a mercy kill. The rat had a tumor half its body weight. I took the rat outside, let it enjoy a few minutes of sunlight and fresh air, then ended it with a hatchet to the neck. Quick and clean. To this day I still feel guilt and sorrow over ending its life. A rat, that most people wouldn't even think twice about ordering its death. The rat was obviously in pain because of the tumor, and the tumor was wrapped around its spine. A quick death was an act of mercy. I still am troubled by my act of mercy... I still play games like battlefield, amnesia, etc. And I will probably continue to play violent games. But to this day, real violence and harm breaks my heart.

EDIT: It was also my first time meeting the rat, I had no history with it. So to me it was just a rat.

Yeah I had to turn my head away from the actual footage there. I learned my lesson when I saw the raw footage of the little girl in China who got run over twice a few years ago. I was shaking for a good hour after that, and was in a very gloomy mood for the next two days. Even now I've got a pit in my stomach and I didn't even watch the actual suicide... I just listened.

Still from what I did watch this was a very good episode, with a very good message behind it. And I agree with you Jim. For someone like me who plays a lot of "violent" games, real violence is something I really would not like to see. My father used to be a heavily active volunteer firefighter... and some of the shit he's seen is just beyond my comprehension.

Too often I have wandered into a modern art exhibit (for my sins) and confronted by the work of some hack who decides that shock is the way to make his pile of corrugated cardboard and masking tape "art". This will usually be the use of unedited war footage and photographs. The result is cheapens any argument the artist is trying to make, it also cheapens the images and events that are used.

So with that, I tip my hat to both Jim and the Escapist for running this video. This is how shock should be used. Thank you.

(As a "keeps himself to himself" 29 year old raised by television and computer games my exact reaction was that horrible bit in my stomach when you experience something truly disturbing)

Eh... I don't remember Jim saying it's wrong to own a firearm. I remember him saying you should be afraid of them, and rightly so. I don't live in the US, and personally, I feel if you own a gun you are mad... ...perhaps not literally so, but it's still not something I'm comfortable with. I imagine Jim meant that you need to be 'afraid' of guns in the same sense as religious people are meant to be 'afraid' of their resident deity - that a gun or deity is powerful, and dangerous.

I took the wording another way; Jim said we should be "terrified" of guns. To me that means more fear than that brought on by simple "healthy respect", which I think is appropriate when dealing with firearms.

Most people, when they first learn to drive, are afraid of everything, and don't like going anywhere near the speed limit. Over time you become more competent, and more comfortable, with having that kind of responsibility. Nobody should ever get complacent with that responsibility, but far more people do with cars than guns.

I own firearms not because I am a violent person, but to defend myself and my family from the violent people in the world. If I ever had to defend myself, I believe that I would feel terrible about it, but I feel it's necessary in order to prevent evil people from using violence to achieve their desired goals.

Was wondering why there was an age verification at the start. Never heard of this clip before, it was quite shocking and disturbing to watch a man die.

Needless to say you make an excellent point in this Jimquisition. I am getting tired of the media blaming video games and movies for violence. And the NRA still trying to justify their gun laws after multiple tragic shooting this year. It just makes me sick.

Jimothy Sterling:
Desensitized to Violence

Description: Warning -- Contains graphic content. If you don't want to see disturbing Internet things, skip the footage starting at 1:20 and ending at 1:49.
As the mainstream news media continues to revel in the Sandy Hook shootings, its pundits point at the finger at videogames for reveling in digital violence. If you believe these hypocrites, your gaming hobby makes you cold and indifferent to scenes of death and destruction. If you believe the Jimquisition - and you should, for its word is law - you'll know that's bollocks.

Watch Video

First off;
Thank you Escapist managers for allowing Jim to show this footage. Without the full impact of the footage the point would not have been made.

Jim Sterling, thank god for you. You have managed to show the same proof I've been using in my local community for quite some time. I have been using the hospital trauma ward to show the difference between being desensitized to media violence and real violence. I first discovered this link in my life. I have been an avid video gamer since I was 6 years old, meanwhile my first choice for profession was medical field. This was, of course, prior to any experience. Well I started working in a hospital at 18 years old (got the job because my mom was the nurse manager). I took 6 months and learned all I could about heart waves and obtained a certification in cardiac telemetry.

The hospital placed me in the telemetry station at my local trauma center. The first time I saw a patient come in with half of his head missing, I vomited. Me, the guy who plays violent and gruesome video games for 4+ hours a day. On top of all the violent action and horror movies I watch. I spilled my lunch all over the floor and had to excuse myself from work. I thought that I would get over it, but I didn't. I ended up having to resign from the hospital and move on to the IT field.

My mother on the otherhand is completely desensitized to the real gore, while she can't handle fake gore. My mother had to walk out of braveheart because of the graphic nature of the film. So the reverse is also true, same deal with violence. People who live violent life styles will become desensitized to it, but not those living peacefully.

Anyway, the point is thank god for you Jim Sterling.

I remember an old Jimquisition episode that dealt with the same thing, back before he joined The Escapist. In fact, he used the exact same footage of the politician shooting himself (although it appears to be much more blurry this time around), and I'll admit, I was very, VERY disturbed when I first saw that... It's nice to fall back on this argument since the issue's become relevant again.

Not to mention, this is the second time I had to verify my age to watch a Jimquisition episode... Not to mention, the age verification system was specifically made for Jim's one episode. He's just causing all sorts of trouble! :P

Edit: HOLY FREAKING CRAP, my YouTube comment is in this video! I'm Rubberman202!

Jimothy Sterling:
It at least affected you on a negative level. I'm willing to bet those that don't find it disturbing have already been desensitized by some *other* form of vile real-life content. The Internet's pretty full of that stuff!

I wasn't really shocked, but after reading the wiki on the mans life i felt an over whelming sense of sadness, especially for the wife and children he left behind.

Whilst you raise some very good points, i think you could of easily argued against the desensitization of gamers by providing your favorite game of the past year as an example. The walking dead was the hit it was because it made gamers feel a whole lot of emotions for fictional characters, and people should be able to acknowledge that there is a difference in being desensitized and being incapable of being empathetic.

I suppose the point i was trying to make is the majority of violence in video games give you nothing to emphasize with. Making the violent encounters nothing but mindless fun. We all know this is the exact opposite in reality.

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.

Bear in mind that I did not get harsh because of the fear, I got harsh because I was described as "mad". I am able to get into a resonable discussion on this matter but not when someone goes all piers morgan on me.

Bleh, I thought I was insensitive to most violence but I didn't have the heart to watch that after the people started screaming at him. Yay for not being a psychopath, I guess :/

The footage didnt shock me all that much, but its most likely because I was expecting it. Had I not been, I would most likely have spit-taked the glass of water I was drinking right onto my laptop.

I'm not going to lie, I wasn't that shocked from the death because I'm fucked up and think death is interesting, I don't enjoy it however. I do think that suicide is the wrong way out, and that it was very fucked up of him to do that in front of other people. Part of what makes those decisions where you have to kill a fleshed out character so hard for me, such as the Kaidan/Ashley decision in Mass Effect, is that I think of them as my friends (Mind you I don't like Kaidan that much, but still was my friend). What makes killing the enemies in video games so easy is the fact they have no humanity. They have no personality, there is a limited number of skins they have. Too much diversity, and you can start thinking of them as real people and that gets dangerous for the mind. The level I have had the most trouble with is the airport level in modern warfare. It was too much for me. I understand why some people didn't mind killing the civilians, because they weren't actually people, but they were non-hostile and it didn't see right to me. Anyway, death shouldn't be something we are afraid of, but it also shouldn't be something we are comfortable with.

This reminds me of when some Facebook group a while back proposed a national 'Cease Fire' day for online shooters and such in light of what happened at Sandy Hook, something that I did not participate in because me playing Halo and what happened in Sandy Hook are two completely different things. I don't flinch at violence in video games, but that video that Jim put in made me feel sick to my stomach.

I have been gaming for 22 years now and I play a heck of a lot more video games than the average person, so if the media was right about video games desensitizing me to violence, why am I not a sociopath by now? And it's not like I was an aggressive child back in the day either - I was always bigger than other kids, but was such a pacifist that it made me an ample target for bullying.

The parents and media that bitch about violent video games need to understand the one thing I have always said on the matter; there is a rating system in place for a reason. Don't want your kid to have an M rated game? Well guess what - almost every retailer out there will not sell an M rated game to anyone under the age of 17 with parental PERMISSION. They even say WHY a game is rated M on the back of the case, and if you go to the ESRB's website and look up the game in question, it will give you even more details. For fuck's sake, you can even just pull out your phone and look up a YouTube video of the game!

Bugger me.
Easily one of the most profound, stark and relevant takes on the subject of videogame violence desensitisationn that I've ever seen and easily the best jimquisition to date.
I've watched all of them on the escapist so far and none of them have made me think like this one.
I think i need to check out your pre-escapist stuff.
Fucking outstanding, carry on Jim.

Ya I skipped, the footage, I can't really deal with that stuff. I can butcher a deer, but humans? No ways. It freaks me out too much I can't even handle some of the scenes in shows like House.

Jim is so right on this one. I had seen this footage a long time ago, and it actually runs a bit longer than what Jim showed. One thing Jim did not mention, and what really disturbs me the most about it every time I see this, is the reaction of the people around the scene. First the screams of "don't do it" and then the screams of horror and the crying. That's the kind of thing you don't see in video game violence: the full consequence after the tragedy. And that is why video game violence is so far from real violence... in real life there is no reset button, there is no way to ignore the fact that a real person is now dead or injured, and you rarely see real reactions from the AI or online players around the scene. Every person of any age, gamer or not, is fully conscious about what just happened (unless you are a psychopath, but that's a whole other conversation).

I remember watching that particular clip on the Jimquisition episode before he came to Escapist Magazine. Even now it is still disturbing to me that i did skip the clip as soon as i could. I play a lot of games that have been accused of turning people into killers, and they don't disturb me. That did.

Now i'm gonna say something that you guys might not like. We need to use this clip in testing. Have people who play games enjoy a two hour gaming session, then show the clip. Record the actions. There's our proof.

Superb episode, Jim.

I've always felt tha what you said is true, but you managed to put the whole thing into words.

Personally, I wasn't shocked by the footage. But that's because the internet took care of my sensitivity to "real" violence long ago.

However, what little violence I have seen in real life HAS been fairly shocking so there's even another level of knowing what's real and whats on a screen.

One final bitchy note: I resent your statement about how we should be terrified of guns. Enjoying guns is no different than enjoying any other hobby or sport.

I went hunting once with my uncle, I ended up shooting and killing a rabbit. I was 17, never went out again, I didn't like what I did. I can tell the difference between reality and fantasy violence, like some boys growing up, I got into my share of scraps. I had never seen this footage before, I watched it, and I had a horrible feeling in my stomach as it happened.

This has to be one of Jims best videos, and I just want to thank him for pushing to get the footage shown as it helps prove a point.

Ya I skipped, the footage, I can't really deal with that stuff. I can butcher a deer, but humans? No ways. It freaks me out too much I can't even handle some of the scenes in shows like House.

I had enough nerve to watch the footage, but only because I had never seen anything like it before and I don't think I will again if I can avoid it. As for animals, I can't handle that either.

Jimothy Sterling:

:( Jim, I was hoping you'd do the gag with the brown paper bag at the end again.

That was a condition of me being allowed to show the footage, although in fairness, I wasn't interested in doing that bit again. I felt it more helpful to just stay on point this time.

Yeah, wouldn't have found you reusing the same gag thagt funny eighter. ^^
Also love it when you put in references to podtoid. xD

When I saw the age gate I was getting ready for something over the top funny.

I got this. :/

Same here, I saw an age gated Jimquisition and thought "weee this is gonna be a good one" but it was some poor dude driven to suicide on camera. The footage was awful but what really struck me wasn't the actual death it was the camera mans response to quickly zoom in his face, its like he wasn't shocked and was eager to catch every gory detail.

seen worse on the internet so the video didn't really have much impact on me.

I remember back during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Nordar Kumaritashvilli died one day before the Olympics began in a training accident. NBC, being the geniuses that they are, showed the footage of the accident multiple times and in slow motion on the night of the opening ceremony. People were thoroughly upset by that and the next day NBC decided not to show it again.

It's worth noting that the footage didn't show any blood or visible injuries.

For those who are worried because the video didn't shock you, don't. I highly doubt it was just because video games desensitized you. And I doubt even more that it makes you a monster. There are people in this world that could watch an autopsy while munching on a ham sandwich. There are others that will get queasy just by reading that sentence. There are a lot of factors that can go into it, only one of which can be media violence. And just because you can watch a video of a suicide without being shocked, that does not mean you could just as easily commit violence against another person with the same dispassion.

Me, I think I could shoot someone if I had to. I might even not vomit afterwards. But that's a test I never want to make. My brother shot at a person that fully intended on killing him. Even though he missed, the very idea of it messed him up for years. This is a man that knew full well how to use a gun, and was enjoys all manner of violent movies. But the act of actually pointing a gun at a person and pulling the trigger still makes him shake when he thinks about it.

So again, don't worry too much on things. You're not a terrible person for not flinching.

This might be just me but I'm getting a weird glitch in the video at 2:53 the video audio cuts and the frame stops (on the car blowing up) and the timer keeps going but sped up. Eventually the video pauses and when I press play again the same speed up occurs

I know this isn't a poll, so I doubt anyone is interested in my response here, but: I watched the video, and I was saddened by it, but not really shocked. One ought to bear in mind that I work in palliative care, though, and watching people die is what I do for a living. I've built up a barricade against it.

As to the contents of the video itself, I can only say, with no irony whatsoever (well, beyond the inherent irony of my atheism), thank god for you, Mr. Sterling.

The whole "games desensitive you to violence" argument has always been one to piss me off, because I personally can't even stand to watch gore in film. I can play Gears of War and chainsaw Locust in half, but films like Hostel give me screaming night terrors. In both I know they aren't real, but in film/television your mind still struggles with "well, that is what it COULD look like." While in movies you know not a single part of it is real. It's just pixels and polygons.

That footage did disturbed me quite a lot and I'm kind of happy, in a way, it did.

Games is not comparable to real violence and most gaming people know this I do find however the news could have a dosage of age recommendations like games I don't think many news media would get a rating less than 18+.....
The warnings were very good, many and big enough, it were disturbing footage but very good prof of what Jim is after.
Might even use it as in argument about games and violence, after warnings though.

It didn't disturb me in the literal sense of the word, but I did felt incredibly uncomfortable after watching it.

This was exactly my thought on violent videogames, they're not real, simple as that and as you said, it's exactly like watching a Tom & Jerry cartoon but with "red water" splashing the screen. I seriously try to explain that to my mom (she got stuck with the "Mortal Kombat is bad for your kids!"), especially after the local news media glorifying the death of a local singer and her telenovelas containing pretty realistic depictions of beatings and such.

In a non sarcastic and serious way, truly, thank God for you Jim.

I skipped the thing. And I like Berserk and Mortal Kombat a lot.

Wasn't expecting this.

Thanks for the lesson about myself Jim. Good video.

EDIT: delete.

First time I saw this clip was in a college journalism course. Everyone in the class was speechless and dead behind the eyes for a full thirty seconds.

I skipped to the very end of the clip this time (thinking I had clicked in the right place to skip the whole thing), but still caught the moment the camera zooms in post-suicide. It never gets easy to watch.

Great episode Jim and gods bless you.

I've been a regular reader of the escapist for a while now but have never felt compelled to comment in the forums before. A powerful point well made, the sense of unease this footage creates says it all. To show an event such as this without it seeming distasteful is quite a feat. The best jimquisition I've seen, well done.

Bad example using the Budd Dwyer video, frankly I wasn't shocked at all because Jim drilled us with 3 minutes of warnings saying "you have been warned!!" and when I actually saw it the first thing I thought was "...huh. So that's it."

Now hear me out. If I had actually been present at the scene and witnessed Budd doing it, I would have been shocked out of my fucking mind. The image would have scarred for the rest of my life, someone blowing their brains out right in front of me.

But unfortunately it was a video, a video on my monitor. And after ~10 years of surfing the internet, my brain has basically come to the conclusion that nothing shown on my monitor is truly going to shock me (other than maybe Amnesia, or Condemned). So watching Budd Dwyer blowing his brains out automatically registered as a scene on any other action movie, a rather poorly done black & white scene where the loud bang and splashy effects were missing. It looked less "real" to me than the movies/games, because I've only maybe seen an actual person getting killed on video one or two other times! This was back in high school when Muslim jihad demonstrations were on everyone's phones, the pure reality of the gory violence was actually being shared by the teens because it was taboo lol. Isn't that strange? I hope people understand where I'm getting at.

For another example, a shotgun is one of my favorite weapons in video games. It nice to use up close, it sounds like God slamming someone's face with a car door, it makes big holes into everything you point it at, etc etc.

...and then I had the experience of going clay shooting, using an actual 12 gauge pump-action shotgun. Holy CRAAAAAAAAP. I'm not exactly a small guy, but the first shot threw me back and I was hearing bells in my ears for the next 5 minutes. (I also completely missed the clay pigeon :P). I don't enjoy the aspect of firing that weapon repeatedly, never ever.

This is the best and most important episode of Jimquisition in my opinion.

And now I have something embarrassing to admit. I find blood splatters from headshots and ragdolls in Counter Strike: Source extremely disturbing. Just the way players collapse immediately after being shot. Also that sound effect when bots die like they've been shot in the neck. I can't stand it. Valve got too close to reality for me with that one. But that's just me.

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