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Do you believe violent video games cause violent tendencies?

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Do you believe violent video games cause violent tendencies?

Old 11-19-07, 03:40 PM
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Do you believe violent video games cause violent tendencies?

We've all heard it. The pleas from the masses to tone down violent video games. The "link" between the Columbine kids and their love for Doom. The Virginia Tech student who shot up his school, people blamed it on video games, even though his old roommates came right out and said he never so much as owned a video game, let alone play them frequently enough for something to snap.

GamePolitics.com is always writing up on the latest in the hot debates over the influence video games have on our youth. Obviously the site is a bit biased, and putting this question up here for debate, it'll be pretty biased as well, but that does not mean we won't get varying opinions.

I submit to you the latest post on GamePolitics.com which brings up this question.

Researcher Disputes Reporter Link Between Violent Games, Aggression
November 19th, 2007


Texas A&M prof Christopher Ferguson has sent GamePolitics a copy of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly: A Meta-analytic Review of Positive and Negative Effects of Violent Video Games.

The work represents Ferguson’s latest meta-review on the effects of video game violence. GamePolitics covered an earlier publication by Ferguson in February.

Ferguson’s review disputes findings by other researchers that link violent games to aggression. Ferguson writes:
Video game violence has become a highly politicized issue for scientists and the general public. There is continuing concern that playing violent video games may increase the risk of aggression in players…

[Ferguson’s] results indicated that publication bias was a problem for studies of both aggressive behavior and visuospatial cognition. Once corrected for publication bias, studies of video game violence provided no support for the hypothesis that violent video game playing is associated with higher aggression. However playing violent video games remained related to higher visuospatial cognition.

At the time that this article is being written the mass-homicide at Virginia Tech… is but a few months old. Not surprisingly… news media have indulged in speculation that video game playing may be involved in the etiology of this shooting although information about the shooter has thus far not supported a substantial link.
Ferguson notes that video game play is ubiquitous among modern youth while school shooting incidents are rare:
It is not hard to ‘‘link’’ video game playing with violent acts if one wishes to do so, as one video game playing prevalence study indicated that 98.7% of adolescents play video games to some degree with boys playing more hours and more violent games than girls.

However is it possible that a behavior with such a high base rate (i.e. video game playing) is useful in explaining a behavior with a very low base rate (i.e. school shootings)? Put another way, can an almost universal behavior truly predict a rare behavior?
Personally I don't believe any video game could cause a person to say "Hey, if it's this easy to kill someone in the game, it must be just as easy to do it in real life! And just as fun!"

There are much more violent movies out there that get PG-13 and R ratings.

And don't even get me started on the 'AO' rating and how no company will publish a game under that rating because retailers won't sell them, but they will sell copies of Hostel and Cannibal Holocaust on DVD.

I do believe violent fighting games like the WWE franchise could cause some injuries though, but no more than watching wrestling on TV. We've all heard stories about kids who try and perform wrestling moves on their friends and cause serious injury or death.

So what do YOU think?
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Old 11-19-07, 03:51 PM
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I don't have the energy for this one, so I'll just say... no.
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Old 11-19-07, 04:05 PM
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This argument has been exhausted already, but I feel that in no way does a violent game produce violent kids. Kids are a product of their enviornment. The enviornment they are set in is sculpted by their parents. That is pretty much the end of the discussion. If the parents can't bring balance to a childs life then the child will be unbalanced...(derrr..).
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Old 11-19-07, 04:17 PM
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No, but I do think playing violent games can put an already unstable person over the top; not to mention result in ideas on how to behave violently that they may not have been aware of before.
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Old 11-19-07, 04:19 PM
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Short answer, no. Long answer, maybe... but it's more of a parenting issue than a problem with the games themselves. Meaning that if you let a 9-year-old hole himself in his room playing violent FPS games all day, every day, without human contact... I could see it desensitizing him to violence and/or confusing his grasp on the differences between fantasy and reality. If you factor in existing mental issues, that could contribute to the line between fantasy and reality getting blurred even further. Again, not the fault of the games themselves but the parents who take a hands-off approach to raising their child.
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Old 11-19-07, 04:23 PM
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yes absolutely
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Old 11-19-07, 04:54 PM
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I believe the opposite. Video games make people live out any violent fantasies in a make-believe world so they may not act them out in real life.
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Old 11-19-07, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by fumanstan
No, but I do think playing violent games can put an already unstable person over the top; not to mention result in ideas on how to behave violently that they may not have been aware of before.
This is my thought, too. However, I usually find that an unstable person looking for violent stimuli will find it regardless. Whether it's a movie or a game or a comic book or even a real life event that they witness, someone so fragile as to have that minor input push them to acts of violence are not what we should be basing our cultural studies on.
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Old 11-19-07, 05:39 PM
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I think the theory that a game can influence an unstable person into one day "snapping" might even be going a little too far. I would say a violent person is already drawn to that type of game, but the game in no way changed who the person was. It's kind of like noticing a correlation of convicted felons that smoke and have skull-&-cross-bone tattoos, then coming to the conclusion that smoking or getting a skull-&-cross-bone tattoo will turn you into a criminal.
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Old 11-19-07, 05:46 PM
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True, that's a good point, as well.
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Old 11-19-07, 05:47 PM
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Poorly designed games can lead to immediate violence, either verbal or against the controller.
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Old 11-19-07, 07:18 PM
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too tired to argue... no they dont.
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Old 11-19-07, 07:39 PM
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Keep in mind Meta-Analysis is just a way of compiling all the different research studies done into one with some overarching themes, it's not presenting something really new.
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Old 11-19-07, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by lordwow
Keep in mind Meta-Analysis is just a way of compiling all the different research studies done into one with some overarching themes, it's not presenting something really new.
Beat me too it.

Problem with a meta-analysis, if the previous research is crap, your aggregating and testing...crap.
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Old 11-19-07, 09:15 PM
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In adults & older children/teens? No. In children, especially young children? Yes. I think young kids who witness violent acts (be it tv, movies, games) are more likely to act aggresively themselves. This doesn't mean they will kill people or even seriously hurt anyone, but they may be more aggresive and use violence (i.e. hitting, throwing, etc) to act out frustrations.

But I don't think all children are the same, I'm generalizing.
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Old 11-19-07, 09:57 PM
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When I was a kid it was all blamed on movies, when I was a teen it was the music we listened to and now it is games. We need to realize that some people have something wrong with them and will react negatively to many things. Short tempers and violent behavior (and bad parenting) has been around a lot longer than video games. It is just the newest scapegoat.
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Old 11-19-07, 10:39 PM
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Why does violence have to blamed on an outside source? Are they so afraid to admit that some people may be a little fucked up in the head? It's like they blame video games so all the people in the country that don't play games can sleep easier knowing their neighbor isn't going to snap because he doesn't listen to Marilyn Manson, ever seen Oldboy or played Grand Theft Auto 3.
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Old 11-19-07, 11:14 PM
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after watching enough psycho-path/killer documentaries, they say people are "pre-disposed" to these behaviors. So much so that they brain chemistry is different from a "normal" person. Seems much more likely than a game actually causing someone to get off their ass
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Old 11-19-07, 11:16 PM
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Originally Posted by PopcornTreeCt
Why does violence have to blamed on an outside source? Are they so afraid to admit that some people may be a little fucked up in the head?
It's the nurture vs nature debate. Genetic/biological vs. environment. However you want to put it.

Personally... I believe it's both. I think people may be more biologically prone to violence, but I also believe that someone's environment can affect them. We already know that kids born into violent homes (domestic abuse) are more likely to be abusers themselves later in life. The question is -- does only real violence affect young children? Or could violent images from movies or games have a similar effect?

With that said, I'm one of the least physically aggresive people I know. I avoided fights like the plague growing up and yet violent images on tv and video games (well 8-bit violence) weren't ever kept from me. I was also spanked as a child. So-- certainly this doesn't apply to every child -- but I don't intend to let my son play violent video games or watch violent movies until I feel he is ready (I'd probably follow the guidelines for games 12+ for Teen, 17+ for Mature -- with some exceptions depending on the kid and the material).
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Old 11-19-07, 11:20 PM
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I remember reading an article awhile back about a prison that had a lot of problems with violent inmates. They installed some video game systems for the inmates to play and the level of violence in that prison was much less.
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Old 11-20-07, 12:02 AM
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Nope.
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Old 11-20-07, 01:53 AM
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What caused violent people before there were video games.
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Old 11-20-07, 03:43 AM
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Originally Posted by mndtrp
What caused violent people before there were video games.
Exactly. It's human nature to be bad & violent. That's what makes being good such a virtue.

If you take a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite your hand. That is the difference between dog and man.
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Old 11-20-07, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by mndtrp
What caused violent people before there were video games.
Violent TV!
Before then, violent movies.
Before then, violent daguerreotypes.
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Old 11-20-07, 10:34 AM
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Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc. Just because there is a link does not mean there is a Causal link. Kids who would go and shoot up their schools would ALSO play these kinds of games, but these kind of games do not cause normal kids to shoot up their schools.

It's the same fallacy that all of the "gateway drug" proponents commit when arguing against Marijuana. Users that shoot heroin and blow lines are most likely going to smoke the far less dangerous and chill weed as well, while smoking weed does not make the casual smoker go out and chase the dragon.

Next subject.


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Last edited by Doc MacGyver; 11-20-07 at 12:23 PM.
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