Is there any evidence of a link between violent video games and murder?

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This is a sub title

Journalists need to stop repeating baseless claims and scientists need to stop bickering.

In the wake of the killing of the schoolteacher Ann Maguire last week, the question has again been raised of whether playing violent video games could lead someone to commit murder. It’s a common link that we see suggested in the media whenever tragedies of this sort occur, but the scientific evidence simply doesn’t support these claims.

The most recent data that we have on the links between video game use and aggressive behavioural outcomes comes from a meta-analysis, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin in January 2014. Researchers from the University of Innsbruck looked at 98 studies, testing nearly 37,000 participants since 2009. They found that, overall, video games do affect the social behaviour of players – violent video game use is linked to an increase in aggressive outcomes and a decrease in prosocial outcomes. On the other hand prosocial games show the opposite effect – they’re linked to a reduction in aggressive behaviour and an increase in prosocial, cooperative behaviour.

At first glance these findings might suggest that there is something to the suggestion that violent videogames encourage acts of violence, but the link is actually quite tenuous. Psychological studies on aggression and video games tend to rely on measures of aggression that are a far cry from murder. For example, one experimental test that’s often used is a modified version of the Taylor Competitive Reaction Time Task. Here the participants are first asked to play either a violent or non-violent video game. Afterwards, they’re asked to play a reaction time game against another, fictional player. If they win a particular encounter, they get to blast their opponent with a loud noise. The key manipulation is that the participants choose how loud the noise is, and how long it lasts for. Longer, louder noises are taken as a measure of increased aggression.

Another task, called the “hot sauce paradigm“, measures aggression by having participants prepare a cup of chilli sauce for another (again, fictional) participant. The more hot sauce they put in the chilli, the more aggressive they are deemed to be, and some studies have shown that people who are asked to play violent video games beforehand use more hot sauce.

Written By: Pete Etchells and Chris Chambers
continue to source article at theguardian.com

48 COMMENTS

  1. Sorry, but the reaction time task test is bullshit. Just because they turn the volume up to maximum and hold down the button for longer doesn’t prove anything. But seriously, hot sauce? They’re actually using that to see if there’s a link between video games and violence. I sincerely government funding isn’t going into this kind of research.

    • In reply to #2 by jackerooo:

      But seriously, hot sauce? They’re actually using that to see if there’s a link between video games and violence. I sincerely government fund…

      There are all sorts of things that make doing social science research more difficult than disciplines like biology or physics. One of them is that 99.9% of the experiments you would do if you were only driven by the scientific method and didn’t care about morality or legality you can’t do. Even some things that used to be permitted a few decades ago like moderately painful electric shocks are no longer allowed.

      So if you want to test for certain variables, e.g., will people administer punishment to others, will people react differently when stressed, you don’t have a lot of options. Hot sauce is one of the things allowed as a stand in for punishment or stress. It’s imperfect to be sure, I doubt any researcher would argue with you on that. And for any particular experiment it’s a reasonable question (and one that comes up a lot) whether saying “behavior X was more likely after administering hot sauce” should generalize to “”behavior X was more likely after punishment or stress”.

      But the researchers do the best they can to practice science within legal and moral constraints.

      • In reply to #3 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #2 by jackerooo:

        But seriously, hot sauce? They’re actually using that to see if there’s a link between video games and violence. I sincerely government fund…

        ” There are all sorts of things that make doing social science research more difficult than disciplines like biology or physics “

        The one you mentioned would count but let us not go overboard with that old rationalization about the difficulty of social science research. More difficult than physics!! Sounds a bit like physics envy to me.

        As far as videogames and violence goes one needs to be sure which way the correlation runs. Are the video games engendering the violence or are some violent people also playing video games?
        ..

      • In reply to #3 by Red Dog:

        There are all sorts of things that make doing social science research more difficult than disciplines like biology or physics. One of them is that 99.9% of the experiments you would do if you were only driven by the scientific method and didn’t care about morality or legality you can’t do.

        This. Emphasis on “one of them”, though. On this topic, I must say the “classical” sociological way to approach this subject would be to statistically verify if the % of people who play games in the general population (or at least in the relevant age group) is lesser than the % of “violent criminals” who play videogames (and connect this with “structural” factors, like income, education and the like). And now I’m wondering if anyone has done this before, I haven’t checked.

  2. I think it’s too bad that the macho men who are in love with guns use video games as a scapegoat whenever the issue of violence comes up. The knee jerk reaction is to say that guns are clearly far more of a problem than video games which I think is obviously true. But I think it’s a reasonable question to ask is there a causal link between video games and violence? It would actually be fairly amazing to me if it turned out that there was absolutely no connection at all. Surely the behaviors we practice in play are likely to be repeated in the real world. You can see that not just in humans but in most mammals and it’s part of the behavioral theories for why we play in the first place.

    As for this article I thought it was terrible from the very opening sentences:

    Journalists need to stop repeating baseless claims and scientists need to stop bickering.

    So essentially “Scientists stop practicing Science! Be more like priests or politicians pick a talking point and just stick with it regardless of the evidence because otherwise it’s confusing to us common people.”

    And the digs at hot sauce are just ignorance about social science research as I described in an earlier comment.

    Just to be clear I’m not advocating that government censor video games. For one thing I agree the research isn’t conclusive yet but even if it were I don’t think legislation is the best way to solve social issues. For the same reasons I’m against laws outlawing drugs and prostitution I would also be against laws outlawing violent video games. But I do think it’s a reasonable question for an educated parent to ask and to take into account when it comes to the kinds of activities they allow and encourage their children to take part in.

    • Saw a funny /depressing interview on the news in which a congressman was complaining that video games were teaching people how to shoot guns and kill people, but when asked if he thought they ought to ban gun ranges then, where you actually learn how to shoot a gun, he said no.

      I also think the word violent is a broad word. The Godfather and Friday the 13th are both violent but the violence is used differently to advance the story. Video games run the same kind of gamut.

      In reply to #4 by Red Dog:

      I think it’s too bad that the macho men who are in love with guns use video games as a scapegoat whenever the issue of violence comes up. The knee jerk reaction is to say that guns are clearly far more of a problem than video games which I think is obviously true.

  3. I play violent video games, I never killed anyone. Same with my friends and millions of other people. The number of murderers is much lower than the number of violent game players. That’s your research. Decades of violent games, and only a small number of those people become violent criminals. Maybe some of these people have mental disorders or had bad childhoods or are just dicks… maybe there’s something statistically relevant there.

    • In reply to #5 by chadvinson:

      I play violent video games, I never killed anyone. Same with my friends and millions of other people.

      That’s such a ridiculous argument. It’s analogous to the arguments from smokers “I’ve been smoking for years and don’t have cancer!” No one in their right mind ever claimed that you are going to immediately rush out and kill someone after watching a violent video game. Human behavior is complex. The hypothesis is that video games may make some people more likely to be violent, not that they will directly cause anyone to kill someone.

      The number of murderers is much lower than the number of violent game players. That’s your research.

      And if I were claiming that there was a direct 1:1 causal link between video games and violence that would be a relevant reply. But I’m not claiming that and no one else that merits being called a scientist has ever claimed that.

      Decades of violent games, and only a small number of those people become violent criminals. Maybe some of these people have mental disorders or had bad childhoods or are just dicks… maybe there’s something statistically relevant there.

      And maybe there is some relevance to the fact that some male children spend hours every day committing simulated crimes like murder with guns. I’m not claiming there is, I haven’t studied it closely but from what I have seen there isn’t conclusive evidence either way. All I’m saying is it’s a reasonable question to ask and from what we already know of play in humans and primates it’s a rational hypothesis to expect play behavior to influence real life behavior.

      • In reply to #8 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #5 by chadvinson:

        I play violent video games, I never killed anyone. Same with my friends and millions of other people.
        3
        That’s such a ridiculous argument. It’s analogous to the arguments from smokers “I’ve been smoking for years and don’t have cancer!” No one in their right mind ever c..

        My 27 year old son spends most of his free time playing Counter Strike. He has been playing those sorts of games for 10 years plus. Yet, only this week his boss told him he is too nice and should be more ruthless to his subordinates.

        He has always been laid back and told her that you cannot change someones personality.

        • In reply to #13 by PeteGriggs:

          In reply to #8 by Red Dog:
          In reply to #5 by chadvinson:
          My 27 year old son spends most of his free time playing Counter Strike. He has been playing those sorts of games for 10 years plus. Yet, only this week his boss told him he is too nice and should be more ruthless to his subordinates. He has always been laid back and told her that you cannot change someones personality.

          Which means absolutely nothing. Again, it’s like saying “My dad smoked all his life and never got cancer” as a rebuttal to the hypothesis that smoking can cause cancer. The hypothesis is that video games may make some people more violent. Holding up one or ten or a thousand people who play video games and are real sweethearts proves nothing.

          I’m sure I could find plenty of examples of serial killers who love violent video games and that wouldn’t prove anything either. Which is why we need some actual science on the topic and not to just dismiss people who try to do it as the person who wrote this article did.

          • Hi Red Dog. Big fan by the way. Going to butter you up right off the bat. I hate the phrase “some people might”. There is a some person for every category of anything. A some person that kills them self because of a Judas Priest song or a Ozzy Osbourne song about alcoholism that they misinterpret as a call to commit suicide. A some person that reads Catcher in the Rye and decides to kill a famous person who’s a “phony”. There is a some person that reads the Bible and decides they should bomb abortion clinics and a some person that reads the Koran and decides they should fly planes into buildings.

            The question is, is the thing worth talking about the “some person” outliers and how they manage to bring their warped, violent impulses into fruition, or is it the thousands of different things that could have influenced them. The scientific fact is that even though there has been a enormous increase in violent video games since the early 90d’s, and a huge increase in the popularity of video games in general, that all most all rates of violence have fallen during this period, including school violence. Stephen Pinker deals with this in The Better Angels of our Nature. A book I know you’ve read.

            You also questioned in another post what the effects on young “males” might be simulating murder all day but I have to let you know that times have changed. Nearly 50 percent of video game players now are women and girls and they play all the same violent games the boys play, yet you don’t see them shooting up schools. Perhaps they handle the violence better or perhaps something else is going on.

            In reply to #14 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #13 by PeteGriggs:

            In reply to #8 by Red Dog:
            In reply to #5 by chadvinson:
            Which means absolutely nothing. Again, it’s like saying “My dad smoked all his life and never got cancer” as a rebuttal to the hypothesis that smoking can cause cancer. The hypothesis is that video games may make some people more violent. Holding up one or ten or a thousand people who play video games and are real sweethearts proves nothing.I’m sure I could find plenty of examples of serial killers who love violent video games and that wouldn’t prove anything either. Which is why we need some actual science on the topic and not to just dismiss people who try to do it as the person who wrote this article did.

          • In reply to #15 by Ryan1306:

            The scientific fact is that even though there has been a enormous increase in violent video games since the early 90d’s, and a huge increase in the popularity of video games in general, that all most all rates of violence have fallen during this period, including school violence. Stephen Pinker deals with this in The Better Angels of our Nature. A book I know you’ve read.

            Thanks for the stuff at the beginning. Yes, I actually looked in Better Angels to see if I could find any support for the idea that video games might be linked to violence and didn’t see any.

            And while that evidence you site from Pinker is interesting and I agree it argues against the hypothesis that video games may increase violence I don’t think it’s anywhere near conclusive. For one thing, just because violence in general has decreased doesn’t mean that all the societal causes for violence have completely disappeared. Nor does it mean that there might not be some new sources that we are only beginning to understand. It’s perfectly conceivable that in general many of the sources that lead to increased violence have decreased but a few of them have increased.

            Also, there IS a clear societal problem that we need to deal with. We’ve had guns for a long time. We’ve had homicidal lunatics and losers for an even longer time. But the phenomena of homicidal losers going nuts and killing random strangers en mass is fairly recent. There are some examples in the past but nothing like we see now in the US where it’s starting to happen so often it almost seems routine. Also, the rise in this kind of violence correlates pretty well to the rise of graphic violent video games. None of that is conclusive by any means. But it’s at least worth doing research on.

            You also questioned in another post what the effects on young “males” might be simulating murder all day but I have to let you know that times have changed. Nearly 50 percent of video game players now are women and girls and they play all the same violent games the boys play,

            I believe that girls play video games as much as boys but I would want to see some good evidence that they play violent video games as often as boys do. I haven’t heard that. In any case, even if that is true the fact remains that the people who do the senseless gun violence are (as Pinker described) almost always males so I think focusing on males makes sense for the research.

            Again, all I’m saying is don’t dismiss the research (as this article does) just because there are some idiots on Fox News who start screaming about video games to distract us from gun control. I’m not claiming there is any definitive evidence one way or the other at this point. Just that it’s a reasonable hypothesis and we should encourage more science on the topic.

          • In reply to #17 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #15 by Ryan1306:

            Just that it’s a reasonable hypothesis and we should encourage more science on the topic.

            Really?

            Did you know that reading books, rock n Roll, cartoons and comics amongst other activities have also been blamed for violence in the same way that Video Games are now. How many of those have proven to be worthless?

            It is a waste of money and time to even entertain such a notion and stands as nothing more than a distraction.

          • In reply to #24 by veggiemanuk:

            In reply to #17 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #15 by Ryan1306:

            Just that it’s a reasonable hypothesis and we should encourage more science on the topic.

            Really?

            Did you know that reading books, rock n Roll, cartoons and comics amongst other activities have also been blamed for violence in the same way…

            To be fair, though, the most reliable way to refute such claims is to run the tests as professionally as possible and point out that the results don’t favour that hypothesis.

            I am with you, though. If we’re going to spend money finding out what makes people violent, I’d rather see it spent on case studies with actual convicted criminals, for example, as well as on such things as mob mentality and studies of how normal people can be induced to violence. As far as I can tell, there’s no compelling reason why video games should be singled out, since there don’t seem to be any real life incidents that strongly implicate it.

          • In reply to #17 by Red Dog:

            Also, there IS a clear societal problem that we need to deal with. We’ve had guns for a long time. We’ve had homicidal lunatics and losers for an even longer time. But the phenomena of homicidal losers going nuts and killing random strangers en mass is fairly recent. There are some examples in the past but nothing like we see now in the US where it’s starting to happen so often it almost seems routine.

            Well the uptick started in the early 80d’s so it’s not that recent. The figures fluctuate with deaths from mass shootings in 2000 to 2006 being some of the lowest in thirty years and 2007 to 2012 being the worst. 2008, 2010, and 2011 were all below several years in the 80′ds and 90d’s. On average the age of the shooter was 35 and nearly half of the shootings were work place incidents and a majority of the shooters had mental problems.

            http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mass-shootings-map

            I believe that girls play video games as much as boys but I would want to see some good evidence that they play violent video games as often as boys do.

            From the polls I’ve seen girls make up around 15 to 20 percent of the players of games like Grand Theft Auto and shooters like Call of duty. So your right, they don’t play as much, but they still make up a fifth and they’re not committing a fifth of the shootings. But it’s not even young boys or girls that are committing the majority of these crimes. It’s people in their 30d’s. Strange that these people were able to resist the urge to kill that violent games imparted into them during their childhood years but not as an adult.

            If I was to throw a completely unscientific hunch out, it would be that the star making news coverage that these killers receive has a lot to do with any uptick in these kinds of mass shootings. The Columbine kids made it on the cover of Time magazine. They picked a good time to do what they did. 24 hour news was really just starting to come into it’s own. I know the names, complaints, back stories, and world views of every mass shooter from the last 15 years from only casual viewing of the news. I’d be willing to bet that the fame they knew they would receive for committing their horrible act is a large part of the sick fantasies they allowed to fester until they finally act.

            Again, all I’m saying is don’t dismiss the research (as this article does) just because there are some idiots on Fox News who start screaming about video games to distract us from gun control. I’m not claiming there is any definitive evidence one way or the other at this point. Just that it’s a reasonable hypothesis and we should encourage more science on the topic.

            I completely agree. You have to let the scientist do their job and follow where ever the evidence leads. I’ll admit that I’m bias. I grew up playing these types of games. I also know the point your making is more subtle then a one to one relationship between violent games and murder.

          • In reply to #14 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #13 by PeteGriggs:

            In reply to #8 by Red Dog:
            In reply to #5 by chadvinson:
            My 27 year old son spends most of his free time playing Counter Strike. He has been playing those sorts of games for 10 years plus. Yet, only this week his boss told him he is too nice and should be more ruthles…

            That was kind of my point. It would be like me saying I am a good person because I donate all my spare money to charity. It tells you nothing of my character.

            To stretch the point even further, it is like theists generalising about atheists. Atheism is the refusal to believe in a deity without proof, thats it. Tells you nothing about the person.

          • In reply to #14 by Red Dog:

            “It’s like saying “My dad smoked all his life and never got cancer” as a rebuttal to the hypothesis that smoking can cause cancer.”

            Careful now, statistics are easily misrepresented or misunderstood, the “rebuttal” in this instance is perfectly valid, smoking does not “cause” cancer, it is a contributing or aggravating factor, if you smoke you may significantly increase your chances of cancer, this is not the same as saying you will get cancer if you smoke.

  4. This clearly seems to be a very typical ‘correlation is not causation’ type situation. I will paraphrase part of an essay written by Andrew Klavan in the wake of the horrific Jamie Bulger murder in the UK some years ago. A bit dated but pertinent.

    The gentle family man enjoys a day at the beach with Silence of the Lambs, the assassin cuddles up with Catcher In The Rye. Writers in Ceausescu’s murderous Roumania weren’t allowed to admit that home-grown murder even existed while the civilized and liberalizing high Victorians made a bestseller out of Dracula, in which babies are devoured by women and women are devoured by wolves. (Interestingly, Bram Stoker made virtually the same argument in favor of censoring pornography as has Catherine MacKinnon. He feared it would incite the susceptible sex to crime: “Women are the worst offenders in this form of breach of moral law,” said Bram.) Perhaps it is true that children, sociopaths, and American academics should be protected, in their emotional immaturity, from the more vicious and explicit imagery of fiction. I know I wouldn’t want any of them reading my books, and would support sane and limited measures to keep them out of their hands. But for the rest of us, who can honestly say why a film like Psycho inspires a sort of moral mourning in me, whereas the Bible inspires David Koresh to be, well, David Koresh? The studies are always suspect and seem to change with the political winds. Last week, a new study here purported to show a relation between child violence and video nasties. This week, a new study claimed to show that criminals watched the same things as everyone else. It all depends on how you slice it, as it were.

    *We watch fictional people love and die and screw and suffer and weep for our pleasure. It gives us joy. And we watch them kill too. And this seems to give us as much joy as anything. All right, I suppose you can talk about the catharsis of terror, or the harmless release of our violent impulses. Those are plausible excuses, I guess. It doesn’t take a genius to notice how often — practically always — it’s the villain of a successful piece of violent art who becomes its icon. Hannibal Lecter and Leatherface, Freddy Kreuger and Dracula — these are the posters that go up on the wall, the characters that we remember. *

  5. I think that the reason why we are so exposed to news about how violent games are bad is because the media doesn’t want to lose its share. Notice that I’m not entering in the discussion about if the violent game effects are true or not, I’m just saying about why there is such media concern.

    I remember, as a kid, that I used to spend the whole afternoon watching movies on TV. Most of the media audience during day time is young people (adults are usually working). Losing that share to games is bad for TV/radio/movies/theater/general media/all other kinds of entertainment. Anything that can be used to force the games back will be used. Media is and always was unfair on their coverage, they defend their interests, even if it takes to publish some questionable research as if it were a fail-proof research.

    They take this doubious point about violent games, and explore it to turn down all the games. Now, I don’t have any statistics on this, but as far as I notice, most of the regular players play violent games, so, this type of games does takes a big share on games industry.

    Finally, as I remember, Avatar was a huge success, people talked about it for months, how the producers won so much money. It was the biggest success in entertainment industry. Then call of duty MW3 comes and brake Avatar’s record in a few days. Later, call of duty black ops create a new record, and later gta V a new record. So games is the most profitable type of entertainment industry. Given that, I’m not surprise that the media wants so bad to take down games industry.

  6. You could also look at it from the other side: I’m not violent in the real world because I get to satisfy any violent tendancies in a virtual space. Games can be great for “blowing off steam” in a place with no consequences. You just have to be intelligent enough to keep the two worlds separate in your head.

  7. Echoes of “Tom and Jerry syndrome”, does watching violent cartoons make children more violent?

    Same old story… different media, radical concept I know, but… would it be the case that the more aggressive children would be inclined towards violent first persons shooters? And the more timorous inclined towards My Little Pony adventures?
    If I were to design such a study, and wanted a statistically more significant outcome, maybe I would make counter strike players, play My Little Pony adventures, and see if that decreases their frustration and aggression, this could also be a pretty sound experimental model for examining post-traumatic stress disorders in My Little Pony gamers compelled to play Bioshock or Max Payne.

    Anyways, here is my thesis, the murder rate in the US started to decline around the 1980’s this is around the time that IBM produced the original personal computer, there is a remarkable decline in violent crime around 1994 in the US, this coincides with the release of id Software’s Doom II and Looking Glass Studio’s System Shock, both violent first person shooters (Doom was obviously the better game), So it seems that the PC, Internet and id Software are responsible for a significant reduction in violence over the last several decades, and I have the graph to prove it!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Violent_crime_rates_by_gender_1973-2003.jpg

  8. American society is more afraid of words (“the N-word”…. the F-word”…. the C-word….etc) than we (collectively) are afraid of weapons. We have casually dismissed any help mentally ill folks seek, and will gladly arm them after they display clear red flags.

    If video games were a cause or even an underlying contributing factor, then we would force violent inmates to play goddamn “Unicorns and Butterflies” all during their incarceration and we could be confident that they’d come out less likely to be violent. Hey, if it is causal in one direction, shouldn’t it be in the opposite?

  9. Yes just ask the drone operators who murder people on purpose and accidentally in Afghanistan who are the robotic military gun happy geeks who sit in their army offices with their laptops pressing the murder button daily…that’s gotta be a connection !

    • In reply to #18 by Light Wave:

      Yes just ask the drone operators who murder people on purpose and accidentally in Afghanistan who are the robotic military gun happy geeks who sit in their army offices with their laptops pressing the murder button daily…that’s gotta be a connection !

      Exactly how is this different to being in Afghanistan and shooting someone? Or in an aircraft at 40 000ft and pressing a button or on a ship and launching a cruise missile? Yes there is the element of sitting in an air-conditioned office dispatching death then going home for supper but I don’t see that much of a connection (other than the superficial one). I’m interested if you consider all members of the armed forces murderers? Are they all equally so or do you only qualify if your life is physically on the line at the time – kill or be killed? If so then any pilot with complete air superiority on a bombing mission is a murderer. If a fighter pilot engaged in one on one combat a noble knight of the sky while a bomber pilot just a murderer? There have been plenty of villagers burnt and napalmed before even pong was invented, WW1 and WW2 had plenty of atrocities to share around. You only have to read a few pages of the bible to come across any number of atrocities all before video games.

      I think it’s our own nature we need to be looking at and while we waste air on things that for decades in-spite of many a wowser and wowser led governments and university studies being able to find any sort of a link we fail to address the real reasons. I find the likes of Grand Theft Auto abhorrent as I do “Saw”, “The Human Centipede” and the like. But, until we can prove they are causing real harm and to what etent then we need a little less ideology and a bit more rationality in my opinion.

      • In reply to #45 by Reckless Monkey:

        In reply to #18 by Light Wave:

        Yes just ask the drone operators who murder people on purpose and accidentally in Afghanistan who are the robotic military gun happy geeks who sit in their army offices with their laptops pressing the murder button daily…that’s gotta be a connection !

        “Exactly how is this different to being in Afghanistan and shooting someone”

        If You Really cant make the distinction then that is part of the problem…..
        Incidentally I have no interest in computer games really other than that repeated use can make people (such as teenagers and kids I know ) quite selfish, self centred and angry and very rude when they are interupted from their so important missions…
        I don’t believe it makes people go out and kill but it does desensitise some young minds to the horrors of violence….
        I just had to get any opportunity to slam America for robotically murdering people with Drones…no other country uses Death machines like Drones to attack an invaded country who are not even threatening America…Its a disgrace…crimes against humanity….Do you know what empathy is ? try it for a minute….

        • In reply to #47 by Light Wave:

          In reply to #45 by Reckless Monkey:

          In reply to #18 by Light Wave:

          Yes just ask the drone operators who murder people on purpose and accidentally in Afghanistan who are the robotic military gun happy geeks who sit in their army offices with their laptops pressing the murder button daily…that’s g…

          What complete and utter tosh. Have you considered writing for the Daily Mail? Your inclination to extrapolate corrolation = causation from a limited pool of your personal experience would go down well there, as would your deliberate derailing of a debate to parade your hobbyhorse whilst still slyly dropping in your ill-informed prejudice.

          Replace the term ‘no interest’ with ‘no knowledge’ to at least clarify you are presenting your opinion from a point of ignorance.

  10. Many countries will always strive to find a link between things they find offensive and abhorrent behaviour. Whether it be video games, aggressive music, violent films or other such supposed causal factors, it would then allow them to call for a ban on these products. I would seriously doubt whether you could prove sufficiently strongly any such link to warrant a ban.

  11. The most pertinent question must surely be the effect on young children in their suggestible pre-pubescent state. This is the period of greatest cultural plasticity. We see the very young fed the brutality and horrors of hell go on to suffer its effects quite beyond their rationalising capacity they may acquire in later life.

    I suspect the most violent games are introduced late enough in a child’s life to be a mostly mild negative influence.

    But what of Itchy and Scratchy? More to the point what of the role model of Bart and Lisa’s utter glee at viewing the extreme violence they visit upon one another? Here are some violent, graphic murders and here is the chuckling response of your peers. Is the “play again” denial of real death a help or, in fact, the very worst of it, decoupling consequences at a crucial world image forming time?

    Won’t someone please think of the children…a bit more?”

    • In reply to #20 by phil rimmer:

      The most pertinent question must surely be the effect on young children in their suggestible pre-pubescent state. This is the period of greatest cultural plasticity. We see the very young fed the brutality and horrors of hell go on to suffer its effects quite beyond their rationalising capacity …

      There is a reason why there is a rating system in place. Either movies, video games, porn, ect… But like everyone else it seems, feel free to ignore it to make a point.

      It amazes me that people are still trying so hard to put the blame on video games. And I suspect VR will then become the new bogeyman.

      • In reply to #30 by obzen:

        In reply to #20 by phil rimmer:

        There is a reason why there is a rating system in place. Either movies, video games, porn, ect… But like everyone else it seems, feel free to ignore it to make a point.

        This is why I picked on the Simpsons. It is seen as harmless. I am mostly relaxed about video games. As a parent I have paid attention to the ratings and have checked the content myself before approving for my kids. It all works fine in my view.

        The point I was making was about generally available violence with, say, peer response included that may be a particular concern with the super plastic minds of the very young. My point is that if any research needs to done it needs to be done in areas like these where we may infer reasonably that a person’s responses may be moulded far more.

        What goes on on Cartoon Network is far more worthy of study than GTA.

    • I think the bigger issue is not whether video games make you more violent, but if they make you less healthy. Video games are often designed to be addictive, and since you generally sit down to play them (often for hours at a time), they add to the sedentary lifestyles of many people. Maybe heart diseases and obesity are more likely among video game players than non-video game players?

      Don’t know to what extent I’d fund that kind of research, though, since it seems a touch obvious, and surely there are already studies for television and other similar activities. There might be an exception among wii players, though.

      In reply to #26 by PBrain:

      Genghis Khan was known to be a “Grand Theft Auto” ghenius, right?

      It’s a little known fact that the Romans were avid fans of Mortal Kombat. ;-)

      • In reply to #27 by Zeuglodon:

        I think the bigger issue is not whether video games make you more violent, but if they make you less healthy. Video games are often designed to be addictive, and since you generally sit down to play them (often for hours at a time), they add to the sedentary lifestyles of many people. Maybe heart di…

        Oh for sure, I can attribute my own obesity/ill health to the long hours sitting playing Video Games.

        Steam clocks up the hours spent on individual games and some of these can be as high as 6-800 hours though they tent to be games that I leave running over night such as the X3 series of games but there are some running into 400+ hours which are manual times, bar the not to odd occasion of falling asleep at the keyboard (Which infuriates the wife).

        And sure, games can make you aggressive if you get interrupted at the wrong moment or if you fail at something which is tricky, just like other activities do. But this aggression is short lived and relative only to the game.

        Video games are the ‘big bad’ of the now as that is what our youth (and not so youth) tent to do with their spare time. If 80 year olds went on a violent rampage I guess we could blame it on spinning tops and hoola hoops,

      • In reply to #27 by Zeuglodon:

        In reply to #26 by PBrain:

        Genghis Khan was known to be a “Grand Theft Auto” ghenius, right?

        It’s a little known fact that the Romans were avid fans of Mortal Kombat. ;-)

        He was glad he ate her…

  12. I’m old enough to remember the 80s when they first started blaming video games (crap as they were) for violence. even the late 70s when the only videogames available were linked to a shocking rise in ping-pong related incidents but as I understand it, still playing games now, the games have got more graphic, more believeable and more violent yet there seems to be a global decline in violent crime.

    the only thing that seems to have stayed the same since my childhood is journalists blaming our electronic baby-sitters for kids becoming violent

    cant resist it….

    • In reply to #28 by SaganTheCat:

      I’m old enough to remember the 80s when they first started blaming video games (crap as they were) for violence. even the late 70s when the only videogames available were linked to a shocking rise in ping-pong related incidents but as I understand it, still playing games now, the games have got more…

      Me too. I was just going to make the same point you made. Violent crime has declined in the era of console games which strongly suggest there’s no causal link. Most teenage boys play video games that have violent content and some of them commit violent crime. Most teenage boys masturbate – do we link masturbation to violent crime?
      This is the logic of “moral panic” In the past it has been caused by rock and roll,porn, fantasy roll playing games and satanic rituals (imagined ones anyway) . It becomes a problem when politicians use them as justification for taking away freedoms.

  13. And we can’t forget the old favourite.
    Samuel 15:3
    3 Now go and smite Amalek and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.’”
    And to think,all they had was an Atari…
    In all honesty,most gamers are on the wrong side of healthy,and probably too lazy to go out doing any real physical damage.
    You’d probably get executed by the Taliban for cavorting in such activities n all,but most gamers will be getting more stoned from the green stuff than anything rocky…

  14. If I may, cartoons were as violent as you can imagine, from their inception. Bugs Bunny?? Wile E. Coyote??? Tom & Jerry? We didn’t need to be told NOT to light a stick of dynamite under our friend’s ass because we were brought up by involved parents.

    You wanna see what the systemic causal link is??? NOT violent video games. NOT Ozzy Osbourne. NOT cartoons. But any age inappropriate “entertainment” that manifests as a child exhibiting improper tendencies and NO PARENT THERE to TEACH them right from wrong.

  15. I o not recall reading any study or article which explains why the growth of violent computer/video games, starting with the original “Maze” and progressing through “Wolfenstein” “Doom” “Quake” “Medal of Honour” et al has been mirrored by a DROP in violent crime, year on year, in stable countries.

    • So what? I have never heard of a person drinking alcohol BEFORE they drink milk. So does milk lead to alcoholism?

      Plus, violence HAS been on the drop across the globe for a decade or more. How convenient is is to suddenly stop looking at violent crime statistics. So, in reality, as video games have progressed in their ABILITY to simulate actual violence, societally, here has been a drop in violence. Look it up.

      Oh, and by the way, the reason I put ability in caps in the above sentence is because no matter how mundane the graphics, the imagination of the “player” can be as graphic as reality. The real trouble (to reiterate) is the warning signs that a person displays going unnoticed or unheeded.

      There is no difference between playing Halo and aiming your fingers at someone and pretending to shoot them….. if you have a sufficient imagination.

      In reply to #35 by SomersetJohn:

      I o not recall reading any study or article which explains why the growth of violent computer/video games, starting with the original “Maze” and progressing through “Wolfenstein” “Doom” “Quake” “Medal of Honour” et al has been mirrored by a DROP in violent crime, year on year, in stable countries.

  16. The media and science just don’t mix. The facts of the science rarely support the media craving for sensationalism. The latest media scare is online porn warping children’s minds. Now, I don’t know if there’s anything to that or not, but I do know that every defence lawyer of a young sex offender is using the “The internet made me do it” defence and, in at least some cases, succeeding in having accepted as serious mitigation…at which point the same media that gleefully propagated the idea wails about lax sentencing.

    I can’t imagine that video games are able to turn otherwise reasonable people into violent killers. At worst they might add a drop of fuel onto an already burning fire. What might be interesting is to study whether there is a difference between violent video games and violent films (the bogeyman of an earlier era). Does the active nature of video games mean they have a different effect to the passive experience of watching films?

    • In reply to #37 by paulmcuk:

      The media and science just don’t mix. The facts of the science rarely support the media craving for sensationalism. The latest media scare is online porn warping children’s minds. Now, I don’t know if there’s anything to that or not, but I do know that every defence lawyer of a young sex offender is…

      Exactly. And we shouldn’t let the awful reporting or the opportunistic manipulation of people trying to distract us from talking about gun control stop us from doing and paying attention to science.

      Honestly, some of the comments here remind me of climate change deniers deniers or vaccine conspiracy theories. Just as the fact that little Johnie got autism after getting vaccinated isn’t scientific evidence that vaccines cause autism so quoting statistics about how violence in general is reducing is not at all convincing evidence that video games don’t make some boys more violent. That fact seems so obvious to me I’m embarrassed for some of you who don’t seem to get it and who otherwise seem to understand quite a bit about how science works.

      I can’t imagine that video games are able to turn otherwise reasonable people into violent killers.

      I mostly agree with you but I can’t help referencing Richard Dawkins: your lack of imagination is not a scientific argument

      At worst they might add a drop of fuel onto an already burning fire. What might be interesting is to study whether there is a difference between violent video games and violent films (the bogeyman of an earlier era). Does the active nature of video games mean they have a different effect to the passive experience of watching films?

      That is one thing that I wonder about as well. That the video games have a much more immersive style of play. That’s just speculation of course and not evidence. For me there is a much more important point here, we should be willing to let scientists do science and we should pay attention to the results even when, no especially when, they challenge some strongly held belief or some guilty pleasure.

      • Red Dog,

        We are not connecting here. I fear we have been communicating, but not effectively. We are either talking about games making individuals more prone to violence OR we are talking about video games making society more violent.

        Just as the fact that little Johnie got autism after getting vaccinated isn’t scientific evidence that vaccines cause autism so quoting statistics about how violence in general is reducing is not at all convincing evidence that video games don’t make some boys more violent.

        You cannot talk about “in general” and then “some boys” as if they are apples to apples. And i fear either you are, or there is a communication gap going on here. So, let me try to step back and recap.

        Anything can be the exacerbating influence in an individual prone to violence. So, can playing overtly violent video games lead ONE BOY to violence? YES. Two boys? YES. A girl in Mississippi? YES.

        However, The couple of people I was rebutting were blanketing that violent video games are making THE WORLD more violent (for example see comment 35 by SomersetJohn):

        I do not recall reading any study or article which explains why the growth of violent computer/video games, starting with the original “Maze” and progressing through “Wolfenstein” “Doom” “Quake” “Medal of Honour” et al has been mirrored by a DROP in violent crime, year on year, in stable countries.

        I was directly rebutting this post. And, IMO I did so with precision and proper citation.

        But, you gotta be careful with looking at two separate issues and trying to generalize. BOTH things can be true

        1. Video games are NOT causing a rise in violence across large sample sizes.
          BUT
        2. Video games can exacerbate psychoses in individuals.

        It is like this, I can lose betting 8 out of ten races at the track, but come home with more money in my pocket because the two races I won had favorable odds. Am i a winner or a loser? You have said this before, unless the parameters of the discussion are clearly set and defined, then we all can be saying things but not actually talking about a coherent topic.

        In reply to #39 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #37 by paulmcuk:

        The media and science just don’t mix. The facts of the science rarely support the media craving for sensationalism. The latest media scare is online porn warping children’s minds. Now, I don’t know if there’s anything to that or not, but I do know that every defence law…

  17. Here, I’ll do it for you.
    And this was just the top six or so from a list of 18,100,000 hits (I searched “drop in violent crimes”).

    Some FBI publications:

    FBI: Violent crime rates in the US drop, approach historic lows
    http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/06/11/12170947-fbi-violent-crime-rates-in-the-us-drop-approach-historic-lows?lite

    Violent Crime Rate Reduction
    FBI Statistics Show Major Reduction in Violent Crime Rates
    http://www.wanttoknow.info/g/violent_crime_rates_reduction

    Here’s a random article:

    America’s historic drop in violent crime: By the numbers
    https://theweek.com/article/index/229129/americas-historic-drop-in-violent–by-the-numbers

    Here’s one from the Christian Science monitor:

    US crime rate at lowest point in decades. Why America is safer now.
    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2012/0109/US-crime-rate-at-lowest-point-in-decades.-Why-America-is-safer-now

    And CNN:

    U.S. violent crime down for fifth straight year

    http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/29/justice/us-violent-crime/

    Have the “virtual” games gotten more “realistic”? More “violent”???

    Well, the “actual” violence is actually dramatically diminishing.

    So, I am ready to announce: VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES CAUSE A DROP IN VIOLENCE IN SOCIETY.

    BTW, I have NOT played a video game in 30 years. I am not an advocate or enthusiast of video games.

  18. Someone gave me a documentary series on the Brain hosted by Baroness Susan Greenfeild a couple of Christmases ago. Still haven’t been able to bring myself to watch it due to her incoherent blathering about the dangers of video games. Don’t get me wrong I’m perfectly happy to believe they are causing damage its just that after decades of these weak studies they have never been able to find any real evidence. Yet Greenfeild uses her credentials as a scientist to back her unsupported arguments instead of doing the hard work of setting about to prove a single thing she believes about this. And yet she continues to pontificate.

    We had an ANZAC ceremony at school a few weeks back and I stood there and reflected while our awful national anthem played (a lamer attempt at drumming up nationalism I cannot image – ironically a song about homeless thief stealing and possibly doing unspeakable acts of bestiality with a sheep drowning himself rather than being arrested would almost certainly drum up much more nationalistic mania). I listened to a speech congratulating a 16 year old boy for lying about his age and signing up to a pointless war for what? Adventure? A real chance to kill a few Hun? Fear of a white feather? Yes the young boy in question died in agony in Gallipoli fighting a real war. I acknowledge the real courage they exhibited during the numerous battles of WW1 but frankly if we learned anything it should have been to not be so keen to turn our brains off and blindly follow Britain into any conflict they got themselves into. I could only be quietly disgusted that at a day of memorial for those lost in war we congratulate ourselves for fighting in them. I asked my class afterwards who would lie to fight in a war now. Very few put up their hands. I was proud of that fact – of course they almost all play violent video games but I’m not foolish enough to think the two are linked – at least not without evidence.

  19. I’m an avid gamer, I acknowledge that there is plenty of room for research into this subject, even at the risk of scientists ‘bickering’ about the results. (I’m guessing that is a sensationalised way of saying that different scientists may hold different opinions? Shock! Horror!)

    One can’t help that ponder here that there will doubtless be ‘research’ that does no more than affirm some confirmation bias, with oppenents to video games finding that gamers are more likely to to administer virtual chilli bombs, perhaps seeing this as just an extension of a game with no real consequence. I’d be more interested in seeing comparative releases of mood effecting hormones post playing sessions, and to considerations given to duration of such effects.

    I’d be interested in research that compared video game playing to other activities that may change our emotive states, from persoanal experience, I’d say playing an intense game of squash or similar activity may release equal or more imapactful releases of such hormones, or getting stuck in a traffic jam etc but obviously the whole idea of some research would be to extend knowledge beyond ‘personal experience’.

    Hoever, personal experience does inform our thoughts and perceptions, I can well remember (well before the advent of violent themed video games) my sister deciding that her son would never have the archetypical ‘boys toys’ of soldiers, action man, toy guns etc, as she thought such toys increased violence in children. We were forever opposed to this, in my childhood an appropriate sized stick became a machine gun or a tomahwak depending if our pretend play was WWII based or ‘cowboys and injuns’ or ‘pirates’, I doubted the effectiveness of her strategy then, I still do now.

    I wonder how much chilli I would have administered following such games!

    I think, even disragrding the relatively newness of this media, there are some who ‘get’ video games, and some who don’t. For everyone who shudders with abhorrence at Grand Theft Auto, there will be others who see a contemplative mirror to society, an artistic contemplation and examination of modern mores, morals and values, who will acknowledge that the infamous torture scene was actually there to question how far people and society will go in pursuence of defending ‘freedom’, and unfortunately, there will also be people who think ‘Cool, I get to torture someone!’.

    At a further risk of personal experience informing my opinions, I’d like to relate an episode between myself and my son, who was probably about 12-14 at the time, ( /i have an appaling memory, apologies)

    Myself and my son often played video games together, yes, they were often violent, but not always. What we enjoyed most were co-operative type games where we were on the same side, same objectives, helping to ‘save’ each other in our virtual playground. as such, we would often play WWII themed games.

    I don’t think I’ll ever forget the earnest way he asked me one day, if such games were disrespectful to people who may have experienced such situations in real life. (He asked this following us watching a Rememberence Day Service)

    We had lengthy discussions about this, as we also did/do whenever moralistic choices came up in games, (for those not in ‘the know’, games nowadays very often throw deep moral dillemas at players)

    And here’s the rub: Games can make people think. Question. Ponder. The nature of conflict in games is a neccessity if they are to become a valid, artistic, thoughtful, mature medium. They may be an incitement to violence but in all sincerity I doubt this, so I would welcome unbiased research, I suspect that such research will show that violent video games, like other media, provide a Rorshack test revealing the mind of the beholder more than the mind of the producer.

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