Hitting Is Natural Play

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gamernerdtg2:
Great response by the way. I can see that this website has very well written, thoughtful folk dispersed throughout here. Me likey.

Heh. Glad I can offer you a surprise. I'm going to tear your argument apart though.

I can only assume you're being disingenuous when you say I didn't cite American violence. Who ran Abu Ghraib? Where did the Valentine's Day Massacre happen and who pulled the trigger? I threw Tianamen Square in there to demonstrate that bloody horrors are not unique to the U.S.

You argue that intent trumps physical outcome, that by ignoring intent I ignore the complexity of humanity. I counter that humanity, quite often, isn't all that complicated and that, for all our complexity, injury and death remain as they are: physical damage. We've struggled quite a bit to get to this stage of complexity, to where violent behaviour is something that can considered at a remove from what is "real". It leaks from time to time and we get sports injury and street crime, but by and large, violence is deemed to be in a cage in our society. Video games add one more layer of remove; Nobody gets hurt when someone rips into ninjas or mows down a small army with a machine gun in a game and there is no potential for injury beyond repetitive muscle strain or poor posture and the occasional epileptic reaction. Maybe the occasional head injury from a thrown controller during a co-op game, maybe.

I'll leave the blow-by-blow comparison of whether Ninja Gaiden II sheds more blood than Mortal Kombat for those that wish to fight it and I'll concede that we don't get pauses in the action that occurred in the days of coin-op play, which can make for a seamless and more intense experience today. Calling it worse though? You just discarded your previous argument, that intent changes the violence enacted, by ignoring the motivations of the characters. Gaiden II is a rescue story with shades of revenge and defense of the status quo thrown in. MK is a tournament-style slaughterfest that exists simply for its own sake. Which would you consider more violent, using intent as your yard stick?

Finally, I'm not trying to lump all forms of violence into one glob for the purpose of creating a polarized stance. I'm pointing to a truth that critics of video game violence go out of their way to avoid because it invalidates their arguments: Violence is everywhere and always has been. It has many forms and, as you've noted, many different motivations. Singling one form of violence out for persecution because it is violence, especially when it's already highly regulated and doesn't have pertinence to a given situation, is scapegoating. It ignores the problem that caused the situation and allows that situation to be played out again and again until someone speaks up and breaks the cycle of ignorance to point people in a new direction.

Is someone who pulls a gun on me for my wallet different from someone who cocks his rifle before shooting an enemy officer? Yes. If those guns go off, will the results be the same? Yes. When the motives are gone and you're left with the physical manifestation of a violent act, the body is still dead.

Jumplion:

bravetoaster:
Are you referring to studies other than the two Greg previously posted about on this site (and linked to in this article)? If so, I'm genuinely interested in seeing them. The two aforementioned studies didn't show that people were more aggressive, that's basically just what the authors concluded. If your methods are crap, your conclusions can't be much more than crap, either, unfortunately.

I'll message you the article if I can find it sometime, the search function on forums always seem to elude me.

Thanks--I hope you're able to track it down.

these studies aren't about violence, just aggression. People tend to extremize these studies to use as either straw-mans or overexaggerated points for whichever side they are on. If the study finds some correlation with violent media and aggressive/violent behavior, it is instantly branded as "anti-media". If it finds some correlation with media and some sort of well being in the mind like increased comprehension, whatever, then people use it as some be-all end-all discussion on the matter. That is not the case.

I get that they're looking at things that they are calling "aggression" or taking to be behavioral markers of aggression, but their methods are lousy and the results end up being kind of meaningless. Take the U of Missouri study--they used an EEG after having subjects play violent or non-violent video games and found that the ones who'd played violent games (for the study or a good bit otherwise) displayed less brain activity to violent images than the non-violent games group did. They then concluded that that was a sign of desensitization to violence. ...but it's not. They have a different response to the violent images, certainly, but there's a huge gap in the logic, there, between their results and that conclusion. Do people who've played violent games simply attend to different pieces of information? Have they simply learned, through their games, to process certain information more efficiently (thus requiring less brain activity to even think/feel the same thing that the other subjects thought/felt)? Those kinds of things are massive problems (but could be addressed/tested/evaluated using other methods... which I realize is always much easier to say when you're not the one having to set up and perform the experiments). Regarding the air horn in that study--that's an interesting (and kind of clever) test, but there are quite a few issues with it.

1) As far as I can tell (their methods section is woefully brief), they never tested subjects prior to their playing the games (to provide a proper control for the "aggression" [I use that word here just for simplicity's sake] of each subject) and without that, we can't know if their findings were simply the result of poor group assignment or not (granted, they're probably not, but not having good controls in your study is a serious problem)

2) Did all subjects have the normal/good hearing at the time of testing? If not, then you've got a potential problem.

3) Are the subjects who played violent video games "more aggressive" in non-competitive, non-game scenarios? That is, if people who play violent games are "more aggressive" when playing games, but not "aggressive" in any scenario, then... who cares?

Their results and conclusions may accurately reflect reality, but there are many issues with their research.

You are taking these studies to personally. No study has tried to find if "gamers" are more violent, or anything regarding violence for that matter, simply aggression. Slightly semantics, I know, but it is an important distinction that I feel many people do not bother with.

My argument, though, is that they should research whether or not games (or other media) might contribute to violence. As I think I said--it wouldn't be cheap or easy to examine, but it's something that is very much worth doing.

Your last few sentences are perfectly valid. It's unfortunate, however, that most people do not bother to ask these questions and simply brush them off.

Well said, along with the part above about people "overexaggerating points for whichever side they are on".

bravetoaster:
Snip

I will say, I am absolutely, 100% okay with you questioning their results and how they achieved them. Some of those concerns are perfectly valid, and it would be very interesting if someone could make a study or two that would address those concerns.

However, there are two major things that bother me with your post (not specifically because of you, more in general);

1. Just because there are some questions as to what these results really mean does not mean that people should toss these results out and completely disregard them, which is what tends to happen with any study that has some sort of conclusion that is percieved to be "anti-game".

2. If a study found some sort of positive correlation, as some have, absolutely nobody would criticize it in the slightest (not that I would expect them, really, it is a gaming site after all) and people would probably start cracking FOX News jokes, claim that "its just common sense!", and generally self-righteous pratts about it.

What I would really like is just some consistency in the criticisms. But people tend to just immediately go for one side with these kinds of studies and as a result it devalues any sort of discussion we may have about the topic of violence in video games, media, and in our culture in general.

@ Living Contradiction - well thank you for that small education you just gave about Al Capone and US torture abroad. I appreciate it, and I certainly didn't know about those instances. I like surprises especially when they educate me.

You said that you're going to "tear" my arguement apart, which is proof of what I'm going to say here: No way can you say that violence is soley physical damage. Your language is violent, but it's not causing me physical damage. (and I will clarify that I'm not offended in any way.) In the cases where the physical damage can be healed, there are emotional and psychological repercussions that this polarized view of violence ignores. Words can also be violent.

One of my in-laws did Vietnam three times. He lost all his freinds. He told me that there are some video games that he can't even watch because the images will set off post traumatic stress. You're saying that violence is soley physical damage? No way.

None of the modern gamers are factoring in the long term effects that these images have on children because they aren't parents yet - the kids that are alive in Connecticut will never forget what happened to them, even though they survived. The survivors lost their friends. I wonder if they will play violent games after seeing what they've seen, heard, and felt.

We agree that people who oppose what's happening with video games aren't thinking their arguments through. Violence is certainly a part of life, but brutality is not always a part of it. Brutality (and the many shades of violence) in games has to be confronted honestly before it can be accepted - meaining that I have to decide if I can deal with the depictions on screen or not. Plus I have a family, and I don't want my kid exposed to something before he is mature enough to sort it out psychologically, and emotionally. The restrictions from the ESRB aren't stopping kids from having access to violent games anymore than the gun laws stopped that kid from killing his mother. I'm saying that we all need to be honest about how violence affects us. It's way more than physical damage, and I don't see how your philosophy of what violence is can be used to ward off the ignorance of these people claiming that games kill.

Jumplion:

bravetoaster:
Snip

I will say, I am absolutely, 100% okay with you questioning their results and how they achieved them. Some of those concerns are perfectly valid, and it would be very interesting if someone could make a study or two that would address those concerns.

However, there are two major things that bother me with your post (not specifically because of you, more in general);

1. Just because there are some questions as to what these results really mean does not mean that people should toss these results out and completely disregard them, which is what tends to happen with any study that has some sort of conclusion that is percieved to be "anti-game".

2. If a study found some sort of positive correlation, as some have, absolutely nobody would criticize it in the slightest (not that I would expect them, really, it is a gaming site after all) and people would probably start cracking FOX News jokes, claim that "its just common sense!", and generally self-righteous pratts about it.

What I would really like is just some consistency in the criticisms. But people tend to just immediately go for one side with these kinds of studies and as a result it devalues any sort of discussion we may have about the topic of violence in video games, media, and in our culture in general.

Regarding point 1, I absolutely agree and am sorry if I said or came off otherwise (if the former, I was simply wrong; if the latter, I was unclear). Science is slow and incremental and it's extremely difficult to reach grand conclusions with a single experiment (or even several experiments, usually). This doesn't mean their experiments aren't potentially valuable, but it does mean that people ought to hold off on making grand, definitive conclusions from this and similar experiments.

It's entirely possible that violent entertainment media can have negative effects on people (or certain subsets of people) in the real world, but this data doesn't show that. It might serve as a small piece in the overall puzzle, but there's a good bit more research that ought to be done before we can make a reasonably accurate guess as to what (if anything) is really happening--that's all I really mean to say. Admittedly, it's probably mostly the reports about these studies that are overstating things, but that's still a bad and dishonest move--the fact is, right now, we don't know. (Maybe that's the thing that gets me bent out of shape about all this--we don't know, and that's okay. We need to not assume that violent media cannot do any harm or that we should start censoring our art and speech without having a good reason to do so. In other words: I don't think violent video games, movies, or television are genuinely harmful, but I'm open to the possibility that they can be (or are).)

Regarding point 2 and your last paragraph: You're awesome. No, seriously, it has been delightful reading your responses and you make wonderful (albeit depressing) points. I tend to fall into the camp of "defending games/entertainment" as a reactionary thing not so much because I think they can't possibly be harmful, but because the 'opposing side' tends to argue for blind censorship or to dismiss entire artistic media. Basically, I'm open to the possibility that entertainment can be harmful, but, until there's reasonably strong evidence of how, when, why, and/or to whom it is harmful, I'm going to oppose censorship of it (and if we do ultimately find that fictional violence is harmful in some manner, I'll support addressing that issue). That puts me in a strange position when confronted with someone who has a genuinely reasonable attitude on this kind of subject, because I fundamentally agree with you (at least from what I understand of your perspective), but start off sounding more defensive than I'd need to be and, as you put it, that really does devalue the discussion.

As an aside, and almost off-topic, but did anyone else think of Serenity and the planet "Miranda" when hearing the benefits of aggression? Yes, it's a core emotion for a reason.

OT (while I'm still awake): I'm comforted by the fact that, by law and court, video games are protected under the most sacred right the US has: the First Amendment and the freedom of press, religion, and, most importantly, speech. Rules and regulations may well come upon us, while debatable as to whether or not they should be, but they can't take them away from us. Plus, porn gets a rather free pass and so many more studies have shown what porn can do to men's views on women.

Frankly, I'll be glad when this is all over and I can play my games in peace without the social stigma.

redknightalex:
As an aside, and almost off-topic, but did anyone else think of Serenity and the planet "Miranda" when hearing the benefits of aggression? Yes, it's a core emotion for a reason.

OT (while I'm still awake): I'm comforted by the fact that, by law and court, video games are protected under the most sacred right the US has: the First Amendment and the freedom of press, religion, and, most importantly, speech. Rules and regulations may well come upon us, while debatable as to whether or not they should be, but they can't take them away from us. Plus, porn gets a rather free pass and so many more studies have shown what porn can do to men's views on women.

Frankly, I'll be glad when this is all over and I can play my games in peace without the social stigma.

Wow, you actually care about the social stigma? I didn't know that there was one...

gamernerdtg2:

redknightalex:
As an aside, and almost off-topic, but did anyone else think of Serenity and the planet "Miranda" when hearing the benefits of aggression? Yes, it's a core emotion for a reason.

OT (while I'm still awake): I'm comforted by the fact that, by law and court, video games are protected under the most sacred right the US has: the First Amendment and the freedom of press, religion, and, most importantly, speech. Rules and regulations may well come upon us, while debatable as to whether or not they should be, but they can't take them away from us. Plus, porn gets a rather free pass and so many more studies have shown what porn can do to men's views on women.

Frankly, I'll be glad when this is all over and I can play my games in peace without the social stigma.

Wow, you actually care about the social stigma? I didn't know that there was one...

Yes, I care and yes, I do still believe there is one.

There are much more important, and damaging, stigmas than being a gamer (mental health comes to mind) but you can't deny that, to an average person, saying someone's a "gamer" would probably bring to mind an unpleasant idea of a young man who is not only fat but lonely, depressed, socially awkward, and a myriad of other things. From my side of things, of the people who know me, and also know that I play games, look down a bit upon my hobby. It isn't something I like to shout out about.

Of course, everyone has different opinions, yet it's hard to deny that there was one. Whether or not it's still there (I find it hard to say no when people are blaming video games for violent atrocities) is debatable.

redknightalex:

gamernerdtg2:

redknightalex:
Plus, porn gets a rather free pass and so many more studies have shown what porn can do to men's views on women.

Frankly, I'll be glad when this is all over and I can play my games in peace without the social stigma.

Wow, you actually care about the social stigma? I didn't know that there was one...

Yes, I care and yes, I do still believe there is one.

There are much more important, and damaging, stigmas than being a gamer (mental health comes to mind) but you can't deny that, to an average person, saying someone's a "gamer" would probably bring to mind an unpleasant idea of a young man who is not only fat but lonely, depressed, socially awkward, and a myriad of other things. From my side of things, of the people who know me, and also know that I play games, look down a bit upon my hobby. It isn't something I like to shout out about.

Of course, everyone has different opinions, yet it's hard to deny that there was one. Whether or not it's still there (I find it hard to say no when people are blaming video games for violent atrocities) is debatable.

Well, you are quite well written and informed so it took me by surprize. Why would you care what someone else thinks after they find out you're a gamer? In some cases there's reason to be concerned about social stigmas and stereotypes, but I'm not sure about gaming. I mean...nowadays gaming is everywhere. It becomes a problem when people say "gamers" are this way or that way in these days because it's no longer an underground thing. I'm not sure it was ever an underground thing, now that I think about it...
I hear you about the porn thing also - there's an outrageous double standard.

gamernerdtg2:

redknightalex:

gamernerdtg2:

Wow, you actually care about the social stigma? I didn't know that there was one...

Yes, I care and yes, I do still believe there is one.

There are much more important, and damaging, stigmas than being a gamer (mental health comes to mind) but you can't deny that, to an average person, saying someone's a "gamer" would probably bring to mind an unpleasant idea of a young man who is not only fat but lonely, depressed, socially awkward, and a myriad of other things. From my side of things, of the people who know me, and also know that I play games, look down a bit upon my hobby. It isn't something I like to shout out about.

Of course, everyone has different opinions, yet it's hard to deny that there was one. Whether or not it's still there (I find it hard to say no when people are blaming video games for violent atrocities) is debatable.

Well, you are quite well written and informed so it took me by surprize. Why would you care what someone else thinks after they find out you're a gamer? In some cases there's reason to be concerned about social stigmas and stereotypes, but I'm not sure about gaming. I mean...nowadays gaming is everywhere. It becomes a problem when people say "gamers" are this way or that way in these days because it's no longer an underground thing. I'm not sure it was ever an underground thing, now that I think about it...
I hear you about the porn thing also - there's an outrageous double standard.

Thank you. I try my best to try and dictate a point well because that's all we have on the Internet: our words. Thank you as well for a nice reply.

I guess I care more about what people think of me than perhaps the average person. I remember when I was a bit younger, maybe ten or so years ago, when walking into my local game store meant that I was the only female in there. No mothers, no wives, nor aunts would go in to buy a video game for a family member. Or at least that I saw and I'd go whenever I could. It made me very self-conscious of what I was buying, like God of War II, and if anyone there would take me seriously. Back then, I was never asked if I needed help, asked for pre-orders, or even discussed games with, only ignored. Maybe there's a different idea of women who game, which is a much lower number then men who game, that gives me more hesitation than perhaps the average gamer.

So, I do feel like, not too long ago, gaming still was the "kingdom of the nerds," but games like Call of Duty and systems like the Wii, or even the iPhone, definitely brought it to the forefront of everyone's attention. I think that's when gamers stopped becoming the "odd one" and more of the regular person on the street. Plus, knowing I'm a woman who games like the rest of the boys does seem to change their attitude towards me, particularly among gamers. One of the first questions I'm normally asked while gaming is if I'm a girl. Not sure why it matters but apparently it's important.

I also run into the more "serious" stigmas that people do receive. For instance, I use gaming as my main form of coping with a mental disorder. Those are things I wouldn't necessarily tell my boss even if it doesn't impact my work to any significant degree.

I'm more than willing to admit that it's my perception of life around me that leads me to believe there's a stigma for gaming (ie anything but casual gaming) but it is also my prerogative to care what others think of me. Pretty backwards, I know, but old habits die hard.

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