Author Topic: Let's Talk About Video Game Violence & Gun Control  (Read 1786 times)

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Offline nCogNeato

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Let's Talk About Video Game Violence & Gun Control
« on: January 10, 2013, 12:17:51 PM »

I try to avoid hot-button issues like this, especially when both sides of the argument are often equally valid & insane.  But I just finished reading the following article on IGN & thought it's time to discuss... you know... like adults.   ;)


An Open Letter to Gamasutra's Kris Graft: You're Dead Wrong

Shame on you, Kris Graft, for suggesting that leaders from the video game industry stay out of the national conversation around violence in video games.
Do you really believe the topic of violence and gun control as it relates to video games is better left to people who have no interest in appreciating video games, no deep personal experience or understanding of the medium, and no motivation to help communicate the complexities of these issues to the most powerful office in the nation?
There’s nobody else, Kris. There’s just us.
Make no mistake, this conversation will happen, whether we’re a part of it or not.
When it does happen, who will explain the way the industry has changed over the past 40 years? That games aren’t just for kids anymore, that there are very clear distinctions between games for adults and games for children, and we have a globally recognized and effective organization in the ESRB to help parents make sense of those differences?
Who do you suggest sits at the table while powerful and misinformed organizations like the National Rifle Association forcibly tear down and implicate our beloved industry, calling us “a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people”?
The buyers from GameStop? The studio execs from Hollywood?
There’s nobody else, Kris. There’s just us.
Your admonition suggests that we muzzle the Brenda Brathwaite’s, the Ray Muzyka's, and every respected leader in the industry, just because you don’t like the context of the conversation and what you think it implies about our responsibility?
Frankly, our business comes under fire far too often to ignore an invitation like this. Too often we’re blamed for things that an entertainment medium doesn't and shouldn't bear blame for.
Here’s the real problem. You say, “Look, I don't know what our game industry leaders are going to propose, or what they will say.”
Yes, you clearly don’t.
When the NRA defends itself, it does so by setting itself within a greater story about history, our culture, and America. How much more of a story could we tell about the realities of the video game business in America, in our culture, and history?
You’d suggest instead that we attempt to enlighten the most powerful decision makers in the country with a curt denial of responsibility, a list of study findings, and a smug reminder of the First Amendment?
You already believe Vice President Biden can’t tell the difference between Kindergarten Killer and Call of Duty as he’s putting together a proposal that could very well carry with it negative implications for our business and our medium? Who’s going to help him understand those differences?
You close your post with a question, asking the leaders of the industry if they “…really want to place this unwanted, undeserving and misdirected burden on the shoulders of your colleagues, just to get an audience with a man who never really understood or cared for your art?”
The burden is on all of our shoulders.
In our business, we’re constantly talking about how and why games matter. Loudly! We’re the first to champion games as a medium, we’ll discuss games as art ad nauseam, and we’ll gladly speak up about how games are becoming capable of offering a lens through which we might experience something more than a muzzle flash, that some games can help us confront and process real world problems, help us better understand ourselves, and help us see the world in new and fascinating ways. Why would we keep quiet now?
If there was ever a site and a staff to champion that cause, I would think it would be Gamasutra. Your thoughtful observation, smart criticism, and your intimate understanding of the industry and its many machinations, you and Gamasutra know and live this stuff just as much as the leadership teams at BioWare, Insomniac, Bungie or Gearbox. That’s what Joe Biden needs to hear.
Games matter. Our industry leaders care about telling that story. And they should be the ones telling it. The conversation deserves more than politicians, psychologists and university professors weighing in. It deserves our very best.
You suggest that participation implies some level of guilt and forces us into a defensive position, but our refusal to cooperate makes us appear that we have no defense to offer our accusers. Either that or we're too stubborn to care, neither of which is true. If people want to accuse the games industry of being socially irresponsible - and they do - let them. We have great answers. Our leaders are smart, insightful, reasonable folks.
In the context of gun-control, violence against children, and potential legislation, gamers at large and our industry deserves a voice. Now is always the right time to talk about violent video games, I outlined this conviction in an editorial I published just today.
Let's show them why games matter, why games aren't to blame for horrific things like what happened in Newtown. Together we can do this.
To quote a line of Mark Strong’s from his sober portrayal of C.I.A. Director George Tenet in Zero Dark Thirty:
“I want to make something perfectly clear. If you thought there was some working group coming to the rescue, I want you to know that you’re wrong. This is it. There’s nobody else hidden on some other floor. There’s just us. And we are failing”.
There’s nobody else, Kris. There’s just us. And if we refuse to engage, we are failing.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2013, 12:24:18 PM by nCogNeato »

Offline nCogNeato

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Offline zerosum

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Re: Let's Talk About Video Game Violence & Gun Control
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2013, 08:05:14 PM »
I find this line really telling:

"The real issue is this: some kids see these movies anyway, just like many kids play M-rated, violent games. And no one can really do anything about it."

It's as old an argument as any, but solutions need to start with what kind of environment that's fostered at home and the involvement of the adults in the child's ongoings.

I'm not a parent, so I wouldn't know how difficult parenting really is, but I have friends that I see struggle with the level of 'appropriateness' of what's going on in day to day living. Hell, I've seen news casts be shut off on the mere basis of its content.

Parental guidance in combination with government responsibility (gun laws/mental health awareness, etc.) seems to be less and less enforced and addressed as full solutions. Violence isn't going to go away. The goal is to limit the number of tragedies of recent past.

IF, that's the goal, I doubt placing blame solely on the mental influence of gaming / film / music is going to solve the problem. The last I remember, there's no special edition of Far Cry 3 that comes packaged with an AK-47 or a coupon for live ammunition at Walmart.

Offline nCogNeato

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Re: Let's Talk About Video Game Violence & Gun Control
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2013, 12:34:16 AM »
Well said.

There are a dozen points & counterpoints I'd love to make, but after the conversations I've had with friends, family & coworkers over the past few weeks, I'm literally exhausted by it.

From what I've seen / heard / read, I'm left with the conclusion that everyone is wrong.  There is no prime solution to human imperfection.  And any political pundit or social advocate that tries to sell you one is the wrongest of the wrong.

Offline GamerMan316

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Re: Let's Talk About Video Game Violence & Gun Control
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2013, 02:14:13 PM »
Whenever I see stuff like this I instantly think of this which was on tv a few years ago (without the kid's voiceover of course!), I mentioned this in post on here when the show aired too.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_9nj-Xngpc" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_9nj-Xngpc</a>


Offline nCogNeato

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Re: Let's Talk About Video Game Violence & Gun Control
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2013, 02:46:50 PM »
I think of...

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SgM_acEsqw" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SgM_acEsqw</a>

Offline Handshakes

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Re: Let's Talk About Video Game Violence & Gun Control
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2013, 12:49:40 AM »
I think I agree that game developers should have stayed out of the gun control debate. Engaging in the debate only lends it undeserved credence. It really IS just a simple first amendment issue. Case closed. The fact is, meeting with Joe Biden only serves to give him cover when he pulls game industry regulation on us. Now he can say "I met with the game makers and we discussed the issue together, and keeping their feedback in mind I crafted this regulation". Instead of looking like he is ramming the regulation down our throats, he is going to look like he tried to be accommodating. And if we push back at all, he'll be able to call US the ones who are being unreasonable.

I also take issue with IGN's assertion (which I've seen many times in many other outlets) that games are art. They aren't, sorry. I know that we all want to believe that the past time that we spend so much of our free time with has more merit to it than simply entertaining wankery, but it really doesn't. And I'm okay with that. Games are a study in fun, no more and no less. The second we start calling games art, we start seeing garbage like Dear Esther. We don't want more Dear Esther.

The fact is, games by and large really ARE super violent. Why? Because (fake) violence is fun. Deal with it. If somebody says  >:(:"games are becoming increasingly violent", our response shouldn't be  :-[ :"but games are art", it should be  8):"So?"
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Offline zerosum

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Re: Let's Talk About Video Game Violence & Gun Control
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2013, 02:32:18 AM »
The argument of "games are art" and therefore shouldn't be judged for their content doesn't fly with me either.

Granted, I do believe that games have some degree of artistic merit, be it in their narrative qualities, or their visual structure. It's a quality, but not a stand-alone representation of what makes a game a game. By their mere definition video games involve some form of visual artistic endeavour- but as a standalone piece of art (Dear Esther), games don't cut it. At the core "Dear Esther" is primarily an experience and not a game (IMO).

We see the same thing happen with film and music. Warhol produced what some called "art pieces" on film, but anyone that suggests that those projects stand with Scorsese's best is so full of sh*t, they exhale it. When John Cage or Brian Eno produce soundscape audio experiments - that's all they are (IMO) - experimentations, which is fine and can be enjoyable to some but it doesn't necessarily mean the same as a Tchaikovsky piece. And to some Tchaikovsky might be unbearable, (Some People Drink Pepsi, Some People Drink Coke). ;)

I'll also agree that fake-violence in games is fun, I'm not sure how many head-shots I've witnessed on screen, but I'm sure a good percentage of them have brought about some kind of endorphin rush. What you don't do, is translate what's on screen to what happens off-screen. To most, the distinction is clear.

If the fear is that video games are causing some sort of melding between fantasy and reality, then the mental stability/development (of the individual) who needs to make that differentiation is what needs to be questioned/addressed.

Much like the statement made in the Penn and Teller clip, when the kid made that distinction between firing the real weapon and what happens on-screen, the issues of parental involvement/support, education and environment also need to be looked into.

I actually don't mind the industry speaking up on these issues, specifically because without any kind of voice out there - gaming runs the danger of turning into the "weird kid" in the corner of the room who won't talk to anyone and everyone should be afraid of...and we all remember what happened when "Jeremy spoke in class...." which I don't think really benefits anyone.

For better or for worse, here's what was released:
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLMIb-oNoRM" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLMIb-oNoRM</a>
« Last Edit: January 13, 2013, 03:20:30 AM by zerosum »

Offline Handshakes

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Re: Let's Talk About Video Game Violence & Gun Control
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2013, 02:53:13 PM »
Well said, Zero.

I come at the meeting with the VP from a slightly different, and perhaps more cynical, angle. I don't believe that he really cares about trying to end shooting massacres. That isn't to say that he is a heartless bastard or anything, just that he knows as well as we all do that these shootings are not actually increasing in regularity or violence, and that censoring movies, television, and video games will have a net zero effect on all of this.

But the effect or lack there of on shootings isn't the point for him. The point for him is that this is a golden opportunity to set up a new government oversight committee to regulate the games industry. Don't be super surprised when a new "Violence in Media" Czar is announced, with a political buddy appointed to the position. And when the game industry pushes back, be prepared to be hit with "the greedy Big Games Industry doesn't care about your children and promotes violence".
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Offline zerosum

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Re: Let's Talk About Video Game Violence & Gun Control
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2013, 05:43:33 PM »
UPDATE:
Source:[Kotaku]
Today we spoke to attendee [Chris Ferguson], a professor at Texas A&M and a leading researcher on violent video games, in order to find out a bit more about what happened during Biden's meeting.
 
The atmosphere was formal, Ferguson told me. Biden went around the room, round-table style, and let attendees speak for three or four minutes each. There were no arguments, and Biden noted that he was "agnostic" about whether violent video games can actually be linked to aggressive behavior.
 
"I think on one hand the vice president was sort of interested in, I guess what you might kinda call a fact-finding kind of thing, and curious to learn about the research from the researchers who were there," Ferguson told me on the phone this morning. "And on the other hand, I think he was inviting the industry to consider basically ways that it could improve its image among non-gamers."
 
Public education campaigns, for example: Psychiatrist and professor Cheryl Olsen suggested at the meeting that game leaders work to give parents more control over violent content in games, and publicize it when they do.
 
According to Ferguson, Biden wasn't interested in drawing a connection between video games to the recent Sandy Hook shooting during the meeting, whose attendees included EA boss John Riccitiello, ESA chief Michael Gallagher, Attorney General Eric Holder, and a number of other video game industry leaders.
 
"As much as anything, he seemed to be encouraging them to think about their public image, irrespective of the 'truth' of the violence/media debates," Ferguson said. "I don't know if they were quite there yet, I think they were trying to emphasize that they are not part of the problem, which is understandable, whereas VP Biden was trying to emphasize that even if they are not part of the problem they could be part of the solution."
 
Biden, by the way, is not much of a gamer, although he said at the meeting that he's watched some of his grandchildren play video games. No word on what he thought of Blastman III, the fake video game that ESRB head Patricia Vance brought to the meeting in order to demonstrate what ratings look like.
 
"We didn't like circle Blastman around the table and talk about it at length or anything of that sort," Ferguson laughed.
 
So what's the next step? Ferguson told me that nothing conclusive came out of the meeting, and that Biden didn't show any of his cards: tomorrow, the vice president will present his Sandy Hook task force's recommendations for ending gun violence, but Ferguson has no idea what he will say.
 
"I think the tenor of the meeting was that we're not gonna see anything huge or unexpected or brutal from it," Ferguson said. "But you never know: politics is politics. I'm not stupid enough to try to fortune-tell when it comes to politics."

Offline nCogNeato

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Re: Let's Talk About Video Game Violence & Gun Control
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2013, 05:53:33 PM »
On one hand, it looks like nothing drastic is imminent.

On the other hand ... BLASTMAN III LEAKED!!!  PREORDER NOW!

Offline Handshakes

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Re: Let's Talk About Video Game Violence & Gun Control
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2013, 08:03:37 PM »
Day one purchase: Blastman III.
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Offline knikki91

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Re: Let's Talk About Video Game Violence & Gun Control
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2013, 08:39:14 AM »
I don't think that in the USA you will ever get proper gun control for the simple reasons of 'money' and '2nd Amendment'.

However it was interesting to see that the White House was going to "look at research that looks into video game violence and the effect on people". Now this is something I think we should all worry about.

OK I know at the moment it is something that has been talked about, debated, some research done and we all know that so far no evidence has linked the two together. 

But after Sandy Hook and the NRA press conference, suddenly the video game was back in the lime light. Also note that after the Sandy Hook and other shootings, Norway, Columbine for example, the first thing the papers splashed across the front pages was "He Played Violent Video Games". This despite the fact that months earlier the same papers were full of the same game and telling you how good it was, how realistic it was and how you could get your copy early. Nothing like a bit of hypocrisy.

But now it is in the interest of the NRA to demonise the video game even more, so if research is set up, whats the betting that the NRA with it's considerable 'influence' could/would 'persuade' the researches to find a credible link?

I think the games industry, if it wants to protect it's considerable investment, should sit around a table with the VP Biden, but Biden is not going to show his hand. He is an old politician and no way will he show his hand. The representatives of the games industry may be good at office politics but it is very different game at Biden's level so they had better up their game or face possible restrictions on what they do (worse case scenario).

Should the games industry produce less violent games?
Should the parents have more control over the content and switch off the gore (something that a lot of games do but I bet no one does)?
Should parents be made more aware of the content and not for them to take the "its only a game" attitude?

I suspect there is much and more of the above we can debate but of the first one I am not in favour of, the other 2 yes I think there is issues to be addressed.

So where does this leave us?

Well to be honest I don't know.

The games are and easy target for the politicians to deal with and if they do something about it, then it will satisfy the "concerned parents" (yes the same ones that bought COD for little Tommy Twaddle) and maybe keep NRA in it's box and gain the senators a few more votes at election time.

So what about the mentally ill?

Good question.

If you have two loving parents that have guns legally bought in their house and a mentally ill child. Does that mean that the parents have to give up their weapons for the good of everyone else?

Or does that then constitute a breach of their rights under the 2nd Amendment?

So I don't know how to finish this off as I have no real ideas, however did you know that the 2nd Amendment was created in the 1700's as a way of arming citizens if the us the Bits ever came back after the American War Of Independence (or American Revolution depending on which side of the pond your on)?.

Makes you wonder if sometimes old laws need to be looked at in the 21st Century.

Offline nCogNeato

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Re: Let's Talk About Video Game Violence & Gun Control
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2013, 04:44:54 PM »
Makes you wonder if sometimes old laws need to be looked at in the 21st Century.

Yes.  Constitutional Rights are little trickier to tinker than average laws, but I agree logical historical context is needed in these discussions.

The concept of using a firearm to defend yourself from a hypothetical tyrant is noble, but misguided.  On the current scale of weapon technology, using the most sophisticated & powerful commercial firearms against government military resources is like throwing rocks at a bulldozer.

If owning an arsenal makes you feel safe, more power to you.  But this idea that so many I know dream up in their head about that moment the proverbial sh*t hits the fan & they save the day with their guns ... it's a childish fantasy born of fear & insecurity.  And I say this as a gun owner.

In related news, I ran across this guy's blog last week.  I don't 100% agree with all of his conclusions, but I do appreciate his thought process.  Logical, analytical thinking is something lacking in most of modern U.S. media.

http://spiffysean.com/

Offline zerosum

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Re: Let's Talk About Video Game Violence & Gun Control
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2013, 04:46:28 PM »
Wait.....bills and proposals should be backed up by data??!?!?!  :o  :P

'Knock it off, video games & Hollywood...with the killing and the horribleness...'

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhCQBYvwP-E" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhCQBYvwP-E</a>

 

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