153: Killing Me Softly

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Killing Me Softly

"'My son just shot an innocent old lady in the head!'" the blond woman shrieked as she flung the store's only door wide open. It was her second visit to the store that day, although in her previous visit she bore no resemblance to the beast that stood before me now. Where once there was a friendly smile, a well-groomed haircut and a pleasant inflection, there was now a snarling grimace, a tangled mane and a shrill, contemptuous tone. Then came the accusations: I had forced an awful, violent product on her innocent little boy. I was a corruptor of youth. Maybe even a criminal."

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Good article; thanks. Although I feel that the end part was simply 'tacked on' for the sake of it; y'know, the whole 'fantasy violence is less realistic than... real violence' sentiment? If anything, I would like to hear more about the retail side of gaming. I'm sure the majority of us have worked in some sort of store environment at some point, but due to the nature of games the dynamics change dramatically. Do you know that, for example, American videogames (region free ones!) cannot be sold in British stores, due to the legalities in the change of rating system? I think there is a novelty in videogame sales which requires a more delicate view on selling products; like the options brought up in the article ('you really shouldn't be playing this...') which makes it far more fascinating when compared to the shop floor in other industries. That may not have been the point of the article, but I still find it interesting.

When I was working at a GameStop, we had your average 30some year old mother come in looking for games for her thirteen year old son wanted. She stumbled upon Max Payne, don't recall if it was the first or second, and asked about it. We mentioned that it was rated Mature, that it was violent, there was blood, foul language, and we also mentioned it got an M Rating for drug use.

She flipped out. "DRUG USE?! Characters use drugs in this game?!" We hadn't realized what we had just said, since we were just used to giving the often ignored shpiel, and immediately went to correct it. "No, no, it's along the lines of chloroform or sleeping pills. They basically just use a drug to knock the guy out, and it pulls him into a hazy dream world". Unfortunately, the damage was done. She took her son and stormed out "Drugs. No wonder kids are shooting up schools! These games are horrible!"

I don't know how drugs equates to shooting people, but clearly there's a connection, and considering that it was the drug use that sent her overboard, you also clearly can't have one without the other.

What bothers me more is I had gone to Best Buy last week to purchase Ninja Gaiden 2, and they had asked to see my license. I was confused at first before realizing not everyone is 22 and old enough to meet the M-Rating requirements, but it got me wondering. "Out of curiosity," I asked her, "do you also check ID's for R-rated films and music with parental advisory stickers?"

"Nope," she replied, "we're only required to check M-Rated games."

*sigh* You can be 13 and buy Saw 3, but you can't be 13 and buy Halo.

It's rather amazing that parents can ignore such blatant warnings plastered on the front of a package and continuously screamed in their ears. I believe our generation will be much more aware of the content of the games we let our children play, if only because we will have grown up with them. That said, parents nowadays should certainly be more invested in the things their kids are doing in their spare time.

As a former GameStop employee myself I often found myself spouting that spiel about, "this game contains this, this, and this. Are you sure you want to buy this for your 9 year old." Ok, that's not how I worded it, but you get the point. Anyway, the most disturbing response one can get in that situation is: "Yeah, whatever." Which I got more often than is comfortable. Its this complete lack of care in many parents these days. As said in the article, the video games have become this generation's TV, a simple pacifier meant to occupy kids' time so that the parents don't have to deal with them. Unfortunately, as a retail store, we can't just simply refuse to sell the game. even if we get that uninterested "Whatever" from the parents, we can't respond, "Sorry I don't think your child is mature enough for this game, we're not gonna sell it to you." Then the parents start yelling "WHO ARE YOU TO TRY AND RAISE MY CHILD!!" etc. Its funny, then, that when that child does get the bad idea and decides to shoot up his school, the blame goes as thus: first the developer, then the retailer, then the parent (if it ever gets this far). Developer is protected under Free Speech, end of story. And we as the retailer did our job. Why does the parent never catch any scrutiny in this. Why is the one person who is most often most at fault, the one who never gets questioned about it. I don't know, but its annoying and sad. Here's to hoping that the next generation is a little more informed.

I would venture to say that the majority of society's issues find their root in bad parenting. To me this is all about being a responsible parent. Instead, what's more likely to happen is some politician will try to play the parent and begin making laws limiting freedom for the rest of us. :(

wadark:
As a former GameStop employee myself I often found myself spouting that spiel about, "this game contains this, this, and this. Are you sure you want to buy this for your 9 year old." Ok, that's not how I worded it, but you get the point. Anyway, the most disturbing response one can get in that situation is: "Yeah, whatever." Which I got more often than is comfortable. Its this complete lack of care in many parents these days. As said in the article, the video games have become this generation's TV, a simple pacifier meant to occupy kids' time so that the parents don't have to deal with them. Unfortunately, as a retail store, we can't just simply refuse to sell the game. even if we get that uninterested "Whatever" from the parents, we can't respond, "Sorry I don't think your child is mature enough for this game, we're not gonna sell it to you." Then the parents start yelling "WHO ARE YOU TO TRY AND RAISE MY CHILD!!" etc. Its funny, then, that when that child does get the bad idea and decides to shoot up his school, the blame goes as thus: first the developer, then the retailer, then the parent (if it ever gets this far). Developer is protected under Free Speech, end of story. And we as the retailer did our job. Why does the parent never catch any scrutiny in this. Why is the one person who is most often most at fault, the one who never gets questioned about it. I don't know, but its annoying and sad. Here's to hoping that the next generation is a little more informed.

Don't stores generally reserve the right to refuse service?

Yes, we reserve the right to, but that is typically only enforced if the customer is doing something inappropriate. Making a mess in the store, using inappropriate language, things like that. We can't simply say, "I don't like your parenting style, so I'm not gonna sell you this game." We'd get fired.

It may be written that we can refuse service to anyone, but in practice its not so black and white. When it comes down to it, retail is about making money. And while I noticed from working at GS that they are a corporation that at least seems to do more than usual to take the "high road," at the end of the day, they are still there to make money. And turning away customers of M-rated games simply because they seem completely uninvolved in their child's life is unacceptable.

Fair enough, although it might solve some issues if parents were required to understand what they're getting for their kids, ie a short test to check understanding.

This all screams 'non-issue' to me. I mean the game isn't at fault, the people selling the games aren't at fault. It's the people buying the games that bear the responsibility. That woman has no business complaining that her son shot an innocent old lady. Firstly, no one really got shot. Secondly, the person responsible for the fictitious old lady getting pretend shot is the person who bought a game that everyone who stops for even a second to try to understand the issue knows involves such pretend violence. If anything, the store employees should be the ones complaining to the lady for wasting their time with complaints when the woman's poor parenting is 100% to blame. If she doesn't want her son pretending to shoot old ladies she shouldn't buy him games that allow him to do it.

This article disgusts me, wadark's post disgusts me.

Despite evidence to the contrary, there are links being made between murder and digital game media.

Yes, its annoying when someone ignores the clearly marked descriptors and then blames someone else for their ignorance but it blatantly perversely wrong to link murder and entertainment the way I am seeing here.

As a parent, I'm disgusted at the lack of responsibility that is being taken here against pervading bull shit like movies/music/books/comics/games/the devil made him/her do it. Seriously, STFU already, unless you plan on actually admitting people young or old are responsible for their own actions and the consequences of those actions.

Shoot up a school? Murder simulator? Grr... Get real, its a game, not military boot camp with live fire exercises... If you want to blame anything for violence in children, look to the parents to turn a bind eye. That splinter in someone else's eye seems pretty fucking small compared to the plank in your own.

CanadianWolverine:
This article disgusts me, wadark's post disgusts me.

Despite evidence to the contrary, there are links being made between murder and digital game media.

Yes, its annoying when someone ignores the clearly marked descriptors and then blames someone else for their ignorance but it blatantly perversely wrong to link murder and entertainment the way I am seeing here.

As a parent, I'm disgusted at the lack of responsibility that is being taken here against pervading bull shit like movies/music/books/comics/games/the devil made him/her do it. Seriously, STFU already, unless you plan on actually admitting people young or old are responsible for their own actions and the consequences of those actions.

Shoot up a school? Murder simulator? Grr... Get real, its a game, not military boot camp with live fire exercises... If you want to blame anything for violence in children, look to the parents to turn a bind eye. That splinter in someone else's eye seems pretty fucking small compared to the plank in your own.

Woah, woah, woah...you're setting foot on a totally different issue here...

No one is blaming the games...geez, I'll be the first to cry foul when people like Jack Thompson start scapegoating the video game industry. You're commenting on the wrong issue here. This isn't a discussion of whether violent videogames cause real violence. Its simply a discussion of who's at fault when a violent video game ends up in a child's game console. Whether that child commits real violence is irrelevant to this discussion.

All we're trying to say is that this woman raising hell about her child killing in a video game is way out of line because it was her fault in the end, that he ended up with it at all. You're fighting the wrong people here, my friend, we're all on your side.

You are correct, links are being drawn unfairly between acts of violence and video games. But you can't deny that the columbine shooters played violent video games, that's common fact. My usage of words in saying that the kid who played a violent video game shot up a school wasn't meant to draw a link between them. It was simply meant to give a context to show where the blame always gets place. Obviously the shooter draws some serious fault, but after that, the developers get scrutinized, then the retailers. No one ever looks at what part the parent plyed.

People who are entertained by violent or criminal lifestyles generally don't have as much of a disgust for these things (real or not) as those who aren't entertained by it. The more you indulge yourself in entertainment filled with violent or criminal behavior, the more acquainted you become with such acts and the less repulsed you are by them. In extreme cases some individuals have or develop little or no disgust for such acts. These people that don't have the "limiter" that most people have (ie. a conscience) or have that "limiter" removed by way of mental illness tend to be the ones taking part in the really terrible acts of violence like columbine. I don't think anyone could say that video games or movies or music can cause someone to do anything, but I think these things can play the role in a larger picture showing the lifestyle of an individual who is enamored by violence and crime. You have to understand, we can't draw generalizations in this case. Violent forms of entertainment are merely one of many possible signs that an individual is obsessing over something that isn't healthy.

The same example could be said for the gangster lifestyle. If people are attracted-to and entertained-by the gangster lifestyle, the more likely they are to emulate various facets of that lifestyle. They may do this by dressing gangster, speaking gangster, playing gangster games and watching gangster movies. Most people have a conscience that keeps them from performing violent acts, but the more they expose themselves to those kinds of lifestyles, the more they dumb down their conscience, and the more likely they are to take part in a drive by shooting without feeling the disgust for it like most of us would.

I guess the moral of the story is, you can learn a lot about someone by observing what they're attracted to and entertained by.

Don't tell me what to take issue with in this article, casual links between this generation's media pariah and murder just infuriate me to no end.

That said, I already stated that I agree with the issue that those deliberately stay ignorant of violence, real or imagined, then blame others for their ignorance is very infuriating as well.

Want another common fact? Most teenagers play video games that have some degree of conflict and violence, yet we don't see them committing violent acts on the level of murder. Heck, even with degree of error and sample sizes, sources of statistics of violent crime divided by age groups, such as Statistics Canada (not sure what it is in the states or other countries) have been showing a drop in violent crimes for teens and young adults since the advent of video games in the 1980s! ("In comparison, the overall violent crime rate in Canada declined 4% between 1997 and 2006." - http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/080516/d080516a.htm)

Well, we are looking, and I for one intend not to be one of those ignorant parents, which shouldn't be too hard since I am a passionate gamer myself. But casually linking real violence and games does not help anything, least of all the sad memories of school shootings.

To say that video games don't have *anything* to do with violence today means nothing to the kinds of people that play the 7 degrees of separation game. Even a nobody from suburban midwest America like me can get to Kevin Bacon in 8 steps. But I'm of the opinion that violent games are a symptom, not a cause, of violent behavior and the acceptance of violent behavior. The world is a bigger place than it used to be. We keep saying that the world is getting smaller, but in many ways it is getting bigger, and both directions of growth are due to technological advances. It's easier to get lost in a world where the fundamental shift in ethics and values is only increasing, not decreasing. America has been changing radically ever since its creation as a country, and was changing quickly even before that. Even the physical boundaries haven't been stable for a century yet; we've kept on growing for quite a while. The way we eat, sleep, and even breathe is being questioned on a daily basis; even the basics are under fire. With a shift in thinking from the community to the self, you stop having a way to regulate behavior. The "What's good for me isn't good for you, and what's good for you isn't good for me," kind of thinking is what destroys what we value. Individuality is what we praise and conformity is what we demonize, but what we want really is for others to conform to what we think is the good and right way to live.
Violence sells; everyone knows that. You could argue about what it says that we scream and rage about sex and drugs, but maiming innocent old ladies is more or less okay, in the grand scheme of things... but at that point you're just debating the symptoms, not the problem. The more that we become desensitized to what makes us squirm, the more that it becomes okay to play with it. It's time we stopped thinking only about ourselves. It's not about what your neighbor thinks of you, it's about how you would feel in their place. A great deal of "what's wrong in this country" goes away when we think of others before ourselves. And where do we learn these values? Why, in the home of course... that's where it starts. We need to stop blaming parents and start educating them. You can't fix what you don't know is wrong, and even when you know something's wrong doesn't mean you know how to fix it. My car might clunk when it shifts gears, and I know something's wrong, but that doesn't mean I know how to fix it. Best I can do is take it to someone who might. Someone educated about the problems that cause cars to clunk when it shifts gears. Hypothetically speaking, there might or might not be links to and from video games to violence, but who cares? That's not the problem, and all of us here know it, so why are we arguing about it, again?

CanadianWolverine:
Don't tell me what to take issue with in this article, casual links between this generation's media pariah and murder just infuriate me to no end.

That said, I already stated that I agree with the issue that those deliberately stay ignorant of violence, real or imagined, then blame others for their ignorance is very infuriating as well.

Want another common fact? Most teenagers play video games that have some degree of conflict and violence, yet we don't see them committing violent acts on the level of murder. Heck, even with degree of error and sample sizes, sources of statistics of violent crime divided by age groups, such as Statistics Canada (not sure what it is in the states or other countries) have been showing a drop in violent crimes for teens and young adults since the advent of video games in the 1980s! ("In comparison, the overall violent crime rate in Canada declined 4% between 1997 and 2006." - http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/080516/d080516a.htm)

Well, we are looking, and I for one intend not to be one of those ignorant parents, which shouldn't be too hard since I am a passionate gamer myself. But casually linking real violence and games does not help anything, least of all the sad memories of school shootings.

I still don't understand why you are so upset about the original post and my own. No one ever tried to link violence to playing video games. I don't know where you got that from. Not once, ever, in my post or the article did we try and make that link. From the beginning, this discussion has simply been about parents being upset with retailers when their children end up playing violent games.

I won't presume to tell you what you can and can't take issue with. However, I find it strange that you are speaking of this in a thread devoted to something else entirely. I especially don't like being personally attacked for it.

wadark:
I still don't understand why you are so upset about the original post and my own. No one ever tried to link violence to playing video games.

While I won't speak to your post specifically, the original article did imply, perhaps even assume, that violent video games lead to real-life violence. To begin with, they specifically referred to GTA: San Andreas as a "murder simulator" with which the woman's son was going to "cut his teeth". This implies that the game teaches people to murder and that he will be using it to learn how to murder.

That said, it also didn't push the issue much. It focused on parents ignoring warnings, only to be outraged when they actually see it, accusing the retailers as if they tried to sneak it by the parents. The gist of the article was that, even with these safeguards in place, it's up to parents to limit their children's access to these games, with the implication that many parents are too complacent to do so.

So CanadianWolverine, though I share your sentiment that too many people are placing the owness on the otherwise unproven theory that video game violence leads to real-world violence and ignoring the parent's responsibilities, I wouldn't persecute Wadark or the article's author just yet. I don't think they were trying to argue the view that you abhor.

"Murder simulator" as a phrase has almost reached the status of inside joke within the gaming community. I don't know the author or anything, but when I read that, it came across to me as merely a sarcastic slam on those actually calling it a murder simulator. He wasn't actually calling GTA:SA a murder simulator, he was being sarcastic...again, that's just what I perceived from reading the article, I suppose its open to interpretation. And, as I said, my reference to shooting up a school was simply a context in which to point out that the responsibility gets placed on developers and retailers before parents.

CanadianWolverine:
Don't tell me what to take issue with in this article, casual links between this generation's media pariah and murder just infuriate me to no end.

That said, I already stated that I agree with the issue that those deliberately stay ignorant of violence, real or imagined, then blame others for their ignorance is very infuriating as well.

Want another common fact? Most teenagers play video games that have some degree of conflict and violence, yet we don't see them committing violent acts on the level of murder. Heck, even with degree of error and sample sizes, sources of statistics of violent crime divided by age groups, such as Statistics Canada (not sure what it is in the states or other countries) have been showing a drop in violent crimes for teens and young adults since the advent of video games in the 1980s! ("In comparison, the overall violent crime rate in Canada declined 4% between 1997 and 2006." - http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/080516/d080516a.htm)

Well, we are looking, and I for one intend not to be one of those ignorant parents, which shouldn't be too hard since I am a passionate gamer myself. But casually linking real violence and games does not help anything, least of all the sad memories of school shootings.

The US Government's website has such statistics as well, and it is also a downward slope. I did the check a few years ago just to see, and overall violence is decreasing, despite the media loving to reference "gang violence". Most teen violence in America occurs in cities, and in the rather downtrodden slummy areas at that. But those people are just victims of circumstance, as a million and one movies like that Gangster's Paradise flick portrayed in the 90's. :/

The problem is trying to pinpoint causes for violence to begin with. The first is, honestly, human males do have a propensity for violence. A friend of mine and his brothers were raised without violence. Pretty much no TV but Sesame Street and no stories that portrayed acts of violence. Kids had never seen swords in their lives. They hit around the age of five, look at the kitchen knives at the dinner table, and start fighting each other with them. It is a natural instinct for kids to play fight, just as it is a natural instinct for puppies and kittens to do the same. Our natural instinct is to hunt animals for food, and probably to fight for territory and other very base things.

Of course, our brains are more developed than that of animals, so our instinct doesn't have as much influence as it does over animals, but it is still there. I have no problem with kids getting into fist fights at school, as you can learn a lot by fighting, but unfortunately we are going the way of the complete pessimist. But that's a discussion for another time. The point more or less is, we can rationalize that violence is harmful, and therefore we can cause harm that we shouldn't. However, if you rationalize that other people deserve to be harmed, well, there's a lot that can go into that, and you can pinpoint it to just one thing, be it video games, how a kid was raised, how a kid was jeered in school, or even if they are psychotic. Hell, a kid could be jeered at school simply because they are psychotic, or being made fun of could turn them insane.

The best that can be done, however, is try and minimize the potential causes of problems. A rating system on games should be the ONLY responsibility the games industry has, and they've done an excellent job with it. The next step lies on the parents to teach their kids, and if they do a good job, their kids will recognize the difference between fantasy and reality, and their kid will also recognize that making fun of others isn't right. Of course, they may still lose control and do these things anyway, as they are kids.

*sigh*...see? It's just too damn complicated.

wadark:
I still don't understand why you are so upset about the original post and my own. No one ever tried to link violence to playing video games. I don't know where you got that from. Not once, ever, in my post or the article did we try and make that link. From the beginning, this discussion has simply been about parents being upset with retailers when their children end up playing violent games.

I won't presume to tell you what you can and can't take issue with. However, I find it strange that you are speaking of this in a thread devoted to something else entirely. I especially don't like being personally attacked for it.

Not meant as personal attack, thinking of your post, here, let me run through it there again and highlight what was irking me so:

Its funny, then, that when that child does get the bad idea and decides to shoot up his school, the blame goes as thus: first the developer, then the retailer, then the parent (if it ever gets this far).

It seemed implied that the bad idea came from a game, which a parent neglected to make the effort to educate them self about and censor, my apologies if I read it wrong.

And as far as the the article goes:

"Nope. It's for him," she said, smiling at her young son who boiled over with excitement at the thought of cutting his teeth on the newest murder simulator.

Seifert said. "They never stop to think that the pacifier could be the cause of trouble."

The pacifier being cited being games, it pretty much says it blames games as the cause, not just an influence, the cause of the trouble.

Ugh.

So, its not that I have anything personal against any particular poster, I just see red when I see the viral meme 'games = violence' perpetuating itself. I saw it in the article and some posts, perhaps it was wrong to use wadark's post as an example, and I did not explain myself clearly enough but hopefully this post will clear that up some.

I don't believe there IS a 'games = violence' meme, so to speak. The 'meme' is nothing more than the media's usual attempt to build a story out of nothing followed by a HUGE overreaction by the geek/gaming community. I don't know anyone, at all, at least in the online or gaming communities, who actually believes that games could cause violence. This is as silly as saying that guns cause crime.

You don't see the media drawing comparisons between violence and movies do you? This is because the media has close ties to Hollywood. On the other hand, the media looks at the video game industry as a foreign animal and fresh meat for their ridiculous drive-by reports.

CanadianWolverine:
Don't tell me what to take issue with in this article, casual links between this generation's media pariah and murder just infuriate me to no end.

Stop raging up my internet. No one said games cause murder. You're making shit up and slapping it on the forums.

CanadianWolverine:

wadark:
I still don't understand why you are so upset about the original post and my own. No one ever tried to link violence to playing video games. I don't know where you got that from. Not once, ever, in my post or the article did we try and make that link. From the beginning, this discussion has simply been about parents being upset with retailers when their children end up playing violent games.

I won't presume to tell you what you can and can't take issue with. However, I find it strange that you are speaking of this in a thread devoted to something else entirely. I especially don't like being personally attacked for it.

Not meant as personal attack, thinking of your post, here, let me run through it there again and highlight what was irking me so:

Its funny, then, that when that child does get the bad idea and decides to shoot up his school, the blame goes as thus: first the developer, then the retailer, then the parent (if it ever gets this far).

It seemed implied that the bad idea came from a game, which a parent neglected to make the effort to educate them self about and censor, my apologies if I read it wrong.

And as far as the the article goes:

"Nope. It's for him," she said, smiling at her young son who boiled over with excitement at the thought of cutting his teeth on the newest murder simulator.

Seifert said. "They never stop to think that the pacifier could be the cause of trouble."

The pacifier being cited being games, it pretty much says it blames games as the cause, not just an influence, the cause of the trouble.

Ugh.

So, its not that I have anything personal against any particular poster, I just see red when I see the viral meme 'games = violence' perpetuating itself. I saw it in the article and some posts, perhaps it was wrong to use wadark's post as an example, and I did not explain myself clearly enough but hopefully this post will clear that up some.

I must've missed that part about the pacifier being the problem. You gave a point there. I realize now that when i said "gets the bad idea" that could've given the wrong impression. And like I said about the author using the "murder simulator" phrase, I assumed it was meant sarcastically, you know. But that's just my interpretation, I don't know. Games do not equal violence, I'll shout that as loud as anyone else. Games are the scapegoat. A perfectly fine expression of free speech that makes for an easy target, being such a young industry.

I wont be naive enough to say that video games don't have SOME influence on a younger child. But even then, that's the responsibility of the parent. Any child young enough to be influenced shouldn't be playing that game, and WOULDNT be playing if the parent paid attention.

Well, the problem I had with the article is that it doesn't really say anything new... everything being said has been said a million times before, on gaming sites, political blogs and news threads.

So, parents should stop using TV as a cheap substitute for a real babysitter, and they should stop blaming everyone else for their complete lack of willingness to take on parental responsibility. What else is new?

I tend to agree:

#1: It's the parents job to regulate what games their children play. Period.

#2: Politics on this subject are going out of control. I am in a cruddy position this election because both Obama seems to heavily favor censorship, and like Clinton's involvement in the "San Adreas: Hot Coffee" thing, seems ready to support direct action. The Right Wing on the other hand is more for state and local regulation, unlikely to do more than talk a lot of crud on soap boxes, and have extremists tell us all we're going to hell.

Right now I am concerned mostly because it seems that game producers are scared to even put material suitable for a PG-13 movie into games. Look at the editing of "The Witcher", or even worse how scared Bethesda was over fan-made nudity mods for "Oblivion"?.

What's more ask yourself where this is going to go. It started with "Hate Speech" being regulated indirectly and "Political Correctness". Now we're in the midst of a scare to protect our children from the media (games, movies) and they are also being censorted indirectly, and face it that is a form of artwork. What's next on the slope?

I see this as a bigger issue than Iraq, Global Warming, or most other things. The bottom line is a lot of game sites and such talk a lot of crud about this, but noone seems willing to do anything. I tend to wonder why loosely linked ideological groups like "Anonymous" waste their time picking on the Scientologists, when if their ideals are what they seem to be they should be going up against the ESRB, FCC, Google (for participating in China's censorship policies) and politicians who seem to actually take action in such directions.

Hey I'm not the best informed person out there, the point is that this is a big mess.

#3: School shootings are the result of social problems far bigger than the media. The problem is that schools simply do not enforce school policy. Like it or not, but picking on geeks and rejects is a time honored part of American tradition. It's accepted, and a general degree of freedom in this area is part of the "payoff" for being a jock, cheerleader, or whatever else. What's more every generation feels compelled to outdo the previous generation in the torment they inflict on those who do not fit in.

Parents and grandparents who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s might think that these things end with teasing or a wedgie or something. Quite to the contrary, today it can involve some pretty intense torture and humiliation, both physical and psychological.

The problem is compounded by the fact that when dealing with rejects, they are one person among hundreds or thousands of tormentors. If school policy was enforced, schools would be forced in many cases to expel or suspend the majority of their student body in some cases, for the benefit of a minority of students. Granted a few such examples would change things over a period of time, but in the end there are social reasons why not. It would upset parents, it would affect funding, and ultimatly hurt school reputations.

It should also be remembered that the more priveleged classes of students who go the furthest are also beneficial to the school as a whole. Companies and such put up prize money for high school sporting events. Jocks and to an extent minorities (who through extent bring in ethnic foundation donations) make money for the schools. Not all of which always goes towards what it was intended for. Win the big game? Well a coalition of merchants might donate several thousand dollars to the winning school for a scholorship or new gym equipment. Some of that money which might be shaved off somewhere (the stuff of local contreversy). Got a gifted minority? The school might receive a special grant or reward.

The end result being that if some Jocks beat a nerd or social reject half to death, half drown him in a toilet, or go to the bathroom on him, they will receive no more than a slap on the wrist. If anyone gets serious punishment it will be the reject since removing them is the quickest way to resolve the problem. Even if an excuse needs to be manufactured.

After a while it's no surprise that some kids come to school and start shooting people. Especially if the administration is against them too and ruining their life on another front. After a geek has been suspended and had his permanant record marked because someone picked on him and he complained or tried to defend himself.

People are outraged because to an extent they look back and go "oh well this kid freaked because someone sprayed shaving cream on him in the shower, or gave him a wedgie". That is not the case.

It's also notable that the same targets seem to be on the "lists" of many of these kids that freak out (Jocks, Minority Students, etc...) look at Columbine.

Facist school policies do not work. Anyone who is going to do something like this is not going to be advertising it. Slamming a kid for something stupid just makes them more angry and increases the chance of an incident, especially if they are in this position and would be likely to do something.

The media doesn't matter, because the kids are coming into school to shoot people because a bunch of people held him down and urinated on him in a bathroom at the end of a long series of torment (for example), not because they played violent video games, listened to Marilyn Manson, or watched a Charles Bronson Marathon. Trust me, in certain circumstances people come up with violence all on their own, without any need for prodding.

My general opinion on the subject is that if anyone wants to solve the problem, stop looking for excuses, and simply enforce school policy. Trust me, the administration knows what is going on with this "Hazing" and "picking on people" crud nowadays. There are tons of recorded examples and frankly if someone shows up in class stinking of urine on his shirt chances are he didn't do it himself (for example).

If this means forcing schools to expel prized athletes, shut down million dollar athletic programs, or keep a school open for 30 nerds after expelling everyone else, that is what you do, as that is what the rules are for.

The problem is that the system simply does not work. The kids who go ultra-violent, are those who do so because the system is either not working, or actively becoming part of the problem. If someone marked my permanant record for assault, because someone else beat me up and I landed a few blows in response, and it's going to affect my whole life (college, etc..) I'd be pretty POed too. Especially if the school does it because there it's my story being compared to (heh) six Rowdy, prized Football players who verify each other's story that I "just freaked out" 2 days before a football game where Henderson's Hardware is giving new bleachers or something to the victorious team.

Is the problem really that parents don't pay attention to the games kids play, or is the problem that once they realize what's going they immidiately jump to the conclusion that the game will turn their kids into bloodthirsty killers? The comment about "seeing worse on the news" suggests to me that parents have been taken in by the sensationalist stories in the media about videogames that we've all spent so long complaining about. Other posters in this thread have already said as much. That being said, it's unfortunate that the rating system is being ignored. It is there for a reason, namely to help parents decide what their kids should and should not see, which is a parent's right, up to a point. It's unfortunate that the ratings get ignored. Complaing afterwords is just plain stupid.

Basically what it all comes down to is this: If the child does end up shooting up some school or doing drugs or whatever from what he saw in the game because he/she can't tell the difference between the game and reality, the child has more mental issues that are causing the behavior and that needs to be dealt with before anything from the game can be determined or ever used against the developers or the retailers.

In my personal opinion, linking video games and violence is a scapegoat for parents who were too negligent to see the symptoms that their children were having problems.
In the end, if the parents would actually have a hand in raising their own children and taking responsibility for them, I don't think this would be as much of an issue.
Perhaps as avid gamers themselves start to have children, they will be more aware of/understand the games that their kids are playing and what is appropriate for them. This could help eliminate some of the problem. But, then again, my parents never watched what I was playing and I still turned out fine. If a kid is going to have issues, they will have them with or without video games.

Don't blame the game, blame parents for thinking they don't need to spend time with their kids.

CanadianWolverine:

Want another common fact? Most teenagers play video games that have some degree of conflict and violence, yet we don't see them committing violent acts on the level of murder. Heck, even with degree of error and sample sizes, sources of statistics of violent crime divided by age groups, such as Statistics Canada (not sure what it is in the states or other countries) have been showing a drop in violent crimes for teens and young adults since the advent of video games in the 1980s! ("In comparison, the overall violent crime rate in Canada declined 4% between 1997 and 2006." - http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/080516/d080516a.htm)

Well, we are looking, and I for one intend not to be one of those ignorant parents, which shouldn't be too hard since I am a passionate gamer myself. But casually linking real violence and games does not help anything, least of all the sad memories of school shootings.

You know what's interesting? Abortion, which gained popularity in the 90's and recently, could be attributed (partly) to the drop in violent crimes. Before abortion, people (usually teens) who couldn't handle to responsibility of raising a child would abandon their child, who would grow up in crime-ridden environments and would usually take part in gang activity or similar behaviour. After abortion, those kids wouldn't have been born.

Kind of depressing, in a way.

for arguements sake, let's just say that games do inspire or teach violence.

does this mean that we ban them? does this mean that the federal government should step in and restrict their purchase?

no, we do not. because the ability to pursuade or teach is an ability shared by all forms of art and the government restriction of any idea opens the potential to restrict all ideas.

first they burn the books...

I never understand how parents can seriously think GTA isn't violent or inappropriat for young kids when it clearly says "18" or "Mature" on the cover. When I was 9-10 the most violence I ever got out of a game was the prince stabbing a sand monster in the chest. No blood, just sand.

Its kind of destirbing to hear parents saying "Whatever" to the idea that their kids going to be shooting up an old lady. I'm not against violent games at all but something needs to put across to parents that "This game is violent, very violent" or "this game has sex in it" or whatever.

It won't be like this in 10 years time, most parents will have had more of an experience of video games that wii sports.

Novan Leon:
I don't believe there IS a 'games = violence' meme, so to speak. The 'meme' is nothing more than the media's usual attempt to build a story out of nothing followed by a HUGE overreaction by the geek/gaming community. I don't know anyone, at all, at least in the online or gaming communities, who actually believes that games could cause violence. This is as silly as saying that guns cause crime.

You don't see the media drawing comparisons between violence and movies do you? This is because the media has close ties to Hollywood. On the other hand, the media looks at the video game industry as a foreign animal and fresh meat for their ridiculous drive-by reports.

You should go back and read the news reports that started the move to have Marijuana banned way back when :).

They essentially said that Marijuana has (not can but HAS) created murderous maniacs that are ravaging Texas and murdering families.

The story was completely and utterly false but it caused such a panic that the legislature to make Marijuana illegal came swiftly.

They are trying to do the same thing with video games (for what I dunno...) but the problem is the internet helps keep people connected so newspaper and news show propaganda is harder to keep as the primary source of information.

SomeBritishDude:
I never understand how parents can seriously think GTA isn't violent or inappropriat for young kids when it clearly says "18" or "Mature" on the cover. When I was 9-10 the most violence I ever got out of a game was the prince stabbing a sand monster in the chest. No blood, just sand.

Its kind of destirbing to hear parents saying "Whatever" to the idea that their kids going to be shooting up an old lady. I'm not against violent games at all but something needs to put across to parents that "This game is violent, very violent" or "this game has sex in it" or whatever.

It won't be like this in 10 years time, most parents will have had more of an experience of video games that wii sports.

I'm glad my parents said whatever. I'm being entirely serious by saying that had I not had Goldeneye when I was younger I WOULD have killed someone.

After a long day of getting every single possible thing they could find to ridicule me about (they being the other school kids) I LOVED going home and relaxing while imagining the characters I was offing were them. It helped me relax and get all that pent up anger out :).

Hanna Montana on the other hand makes me want to murder someone...

Parents should be informed but they should not be the ones that take action, not the govt.

as a final note, people are afraid of what they don't understand, post parents don't understand games, there we go Game-o-phobia

i think M should be lowered to about 13,

I think that bad parenting or the lack of it is pretty much the root cause of so many of societies problems. Parents not only not wanting to take an active role in the child's interest but not using common sense to read and RESEARCH on these topics. I also hope that our generation will be more mature and have a much better understanding. As a few people have mentioned, people are afraid of what they do not understand, the only way to solve this problem is for people to get out there and LEARN. Unfortunately, the governments do not want to go to the root of the problem because they would be directly criticising a massive portion of people who they want to vote for them.

Brilliantly writtin although i do agree the end bit was just strung on and I would have rather heard about stores, games and what goes on. Otherwise hilarious and was an enjoyment to read. On the topic note I don't think violent games make people violent i think violent people make violent games seem violent, Jack "Fuckhead" Thompson even said that WW2 was started due to video game violence. The ignorance of overly protective parenting has painted a bad picture of gameing when really it is a passtime for mere enjoyment.

Although the mess of bloody bodies in my shed says otherwise...

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