Nancy Grace on video game violence

It's amazing that some people have jobs. Not just normal jobs, high profile jobs that can impact this country in a negative manner, and they have all the power in the world to do so, regardless of whether or not they're honest about it. Nancy Grace is one of those people.

After picking up on the topic of the upcoming Eidos (not Idos as the show's transcript states) 25 to Life, her one-sided, absurd debate went nowhere, barely giving the only person who was actually defending the title a second of her time. What follows are the important aspects of the debate, with the incorrect or blanket statements pulled aside for debunking:

Now there's 25 to Life, and the object is to kill cops.

Partly true. You can also play as a cop on the other side of the law. No mention of that was made anywhere during the program.

And I also want to show everybody one after the next, after the next police officers that lost their life in the line of duty! Now, this is a video game, and you're seeing at the bottom of this screen, real-life cops that lost their lives trying to protect you and me.

What does a list of real life police officers have to do with a video game? Player's are gunning down a mass of pixels, textures, and polygons. If you want to do a show praising those who gave their lives in duty, please do so. Until then, showing that list has no purpose.

Jack Thompson: Nancy, there are three cops that are dead in Alabama because of Grand Theft Auto by City, two cops and a dispatcher. So we know that these cop-killing games are leading to these killings.

For those who don't know, Thompson is a crooked lawyer that somehow finds a way on television every time these debates spring up. As far as I'm aware (someone please correct me if I'm wrong), he has never, ever won a case against a game company. He saps money from parents who believe they're not at fault for their child's problems, promises multi-million dollar settlements, sends them to court, and loses.

In this argument, he presents no proof. He does NOT know that GTA is responsible for those killings. The person that killed the officers is. That doesn't make for good TV though.

The military, Nancy, uses these murder simulators, killing simulators...

Yes, far more complicated, confusing, and deep military simulations that will keep troops ALIVE as they're fighting a war overseas. America's Army is available free from a US government website. It's a recruiting tool, and it has nothing to do with desensitizing people. If you think killing a person in real life and killing a game character are one in the same, seek professional help immediately, please.

GRACE: Incredible! Incredible! I can hardly even focus on what you're saying, Jack.

Of course you can't Nancy. If you did, you're ratings wouldn't be up because people would see right through you.

DINO LOMBARDI, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nancy, people kill cops. Video games don't kill cops.

Hey, look here. A voice of reason.

DEBRA OPRI, ATTORNEY FOR JACKSON`S PARENTS: You know, you are really upsetting me, Nancy, because you used the 1st Amendment to destroy Michael Jackson, and you won't use the 1st Amendment to protect an entertainment company.

You're not the only one becoming annoyed, though what Michael Jackson's defense attorney has to do with anything on this topic is beyond me. Of course, it doesn't matter as she's cut off before she can get a word in and the show cuts to a commercial. How convenient.

GRACE: Well, Senator Chuck Schumer is asking the video game 25 to Life be boycotted. It depicts street gang violence, killing cops. This is what your kids will be digesting if you buy this for $49.95. You're seeing at the bottom of the screen one law officer after the next gunned down in the line of duty.

This is immediately after the commercial break. She fails to mention the rating system. In fact, she probably doesn't know it exists, doesn't want to say it to weaken her argument, or just didn't want parents to know anything about it. Instead of doing good, attempting to inform parents who may not yet know of the system (and if they don't, they likely don't care anyway), she blindsides Eidos saying the player is killing cops. Those aren't cops Nancy. They never will be.

BETHANY MARSHALL, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Well, I'll tell you what does have to do with violence, strong emotional experiences. And when those kids are gaming and they press the button or the mouse and they actually kill somebody and there's an emotional charge that does rewire the brain. And another thing that affects violence is lack of parental rules. So a question I have with these games are, Where are the parents.

This person appeared out of nowhere on the show, and does hit one point: the parents are responsible. While pushing a button is nothing like shooting a gun (and where this idea comes from is baffling to me; I have no clue how to load or fire a firearm after 20 years of gaming), at least she acknowledges, however minutely, the parental guidance issues.

GRACE:… But in the last Tennessee shooting, where a kid shot two cops and a third person, they had been watching this Grand Theft Auto for days on end. It said life is like a video game. And you're still telling me this is OK?

LOMBARDI: Well, I'm not saying it's OK, but I don't support censoring it.

GRACE: Yes, you are!

LOMBARDI: I'm not saying it's OK, Nancy.

GRACE: We censor porn...

LOMBARDI: ... and you know I'm not saying it's OK.

GRACE: ... don't we? We censor porn. Why would we let there be cop- shooting videos?

LOMBARDI: We have movies where cops are killed, and we have many instances of people who have killed...

GRACE: But kids can get this!

LOMBARDI: ... who we can show they can have watched such movies.

GRACE: Jack...

LOMBARDI: It's not...

GRACE: ... children can get this, Jack Thompson!

The one person that actually has some sense in the conversation, and she fails to let him get a full sentence in. She blatantly ignores the movie comment, refuses to mention children can just as easily get movies (which are more in a child's price range), simply calls them videos, and goes back to her lifeline Thompson with the over acted scare tactic "But the children Jack!" Utter hilarity ensues.

In addition, it's not ok for a child to have a M rated video game, but it's up to the parents discretion. Dombardi tried to slip that in. He wasn't allowed to.

GRACE: ... we logged on to buy Grand Theft Auto. We didn't buy it, but it says, If you're under 17, click here. That's all it takes, Jack. Anybody can get this.

That's wonderful. Care to tell us what a 10-year old is doing with a credit card online? Oh, you skipped that part. Strange, I might have brought that up. Seems relevant.

THOMPSON: Children don't have a 1st Amendment...

I'm no expert in this field, but I believe if a 10-year chose to picket outside of a building to state their beliefs, I believe they're allowed. This shows Thompson's credibility right there.

I have no problem with people who dislike violent video games. I have no problem with people who believe in god. I have no problem with people who stick up for animal rights. I have no problem with people who wish to deliver their message.

I DO have a problem with people who put junk like this on TV, fail to give adequate time to people on the other side, cut them off, and come off much like people who would cry "Fire!" in a crowded theater. It's inciting a false panic, and the only reason this debate continues is because America's parents are not properly monitoring their children. They also believe people like Nancy Grace. And much like Schumer did, Nancy just made every kid in America want this game.

Way to save Eidos millions in advertising.

Comments (14)

LKM:
BETHANY MARSHALL:
And when those kids are gaming and they press the button or the mouse and they actually kill somebody and there's an emotional charge that does rewire the brain

Matt:
While pushing a button is nothing like shooting a gun (and where this idea comes from is baffling to me; I have no clue how to load or fire a firearm after 20 years of gaming)

That's not what She said. I'm agreeing with you on this whole issue. Games shouldn't be censored. But you can't argue that playing violent games won't affect kids. You can argue that it's the parent's fault for not looking after their children, and I guess a case can be made that it should be harder for kids to buy violent games, but I think it's obvious that most violent games are teaching gamers that violence is a workable strategy to solve problems.

Just like they're improving their reflexes and training their ability to make quick decissions, they're learning that aggression can be a solution to (social) problems.

In fact, I think the US army did at one point actually use customized versions of id software's games to train its soldiers.

I love violent games. I play them. I don't think they should be censored. But that doesn't change the fact that they're bad for people, especially for kids.

Oh, and also, I don't think that kids have the same constitutional rights that adults do, but I'm not American, so I could be wrong :-)

Please note that I'm not claiming that kids can't see the difference btween fact (a.k.a. real life) and fiction (games, movies, whatever). That's en entirely different issue. In fact, kids often are unable to see the difference between facts and fiction, but it has got nothing to do with this issue.

I grew up on Contra, hours a day. I shot the hostages in Choplifter. It may not be as realistic, but the point is the same. I've never fought anybody. I've never handled a gun. I'm not a violent person.

If a child can't seperate reality from a video game, it's always the parents fault. If they do affect children, then we should be a nation of millions running around shooting people. Until the juvenile violent crime rate moves back up drastically from its current lowest rate since 1982, I say there is no effect.

Also, strangely, the year the crime rates started to drop was right about the year congress begain complaining about Mortal Kombat and Night Trap. Irony?

LKM:
I grew up on Contra, hours a day.

Contra, of course, is a lot less immersive and realistic than any of the newer 3D games. Even though Konami changed it in Europe to include robots instead of humans (It's called Probotector over here), it can hardly be called a violent game since the figures are so abstract.

Even though I wouldn't say that Contra has no effect on its players, playing Contra is obviously very different from playing an FPS or playing one of the open-ended violent games like GTA.


I've never handled a gun. I'm not a violent person.

Good for you, but that has no meaning whatsoever. Would you have been even less violent if you had never played such a game? Is somebody else easier influencable than you are? Do people who regularly play immersive violent games react differently when put into a situation similar to what happens inside the game? Are they more likely to react violently when provoked? Are you? How do you even know whether you are?


If a child can't seperate reality from a video game, it's always the parents fault.

As I've said, that's not the issue. Besides, no kid below a certain age can separate fact from fiction. If you tell a kid the story of the Little Red Riding Hood, it's very real to the child. The girl really is being eaten by the wolf. That's how children work. The ability to discern reality from fiction is something you learn, not some inherent ability of humans.


If they do affect children, then we should be a nation of millions running around shooting people.

That is utterly absurd. Nobody claims that playing a violent game instantly turns you into a mad serial killer. That doesn't mean it won't affect you. The world isn't black and white. Claiming that games don't affect the people who play them is just as wrong as claiming that games are to blame for all the violence amongst children. The truth is somewhere in between. You're doing our case a disserve if your argument is that games don't affect kids, because it's very obvious that they do.


Until the juvenile violent crime rate moves back up drastically from its current lowest rate since 1982, I say there is no effect.

There's more than one factor influencing crime rate statistics. Your argument is about the same that of people claiming that storks deliver babies because when the stork population went down, birthrate went down as well. You can't just pretend that because something looks connected or looks not connected based on two numbers, it actually is connected or not connected.

The biggest influence on crime rate in statistics is actually the police budget: The more money the police has, the higher the crime rate seems to be. Why? Is there more crime if the police has more money? No, but more crime shows up in statistics because more policemen find out about and report crime.

By the way, my girlfriend suffers from agoraphobia. She's afraid of social situations, being outside and meeting people. Thus, I'm following new treatments for phobias. Turns out a few years ago they started "virtual" trainings for people suffering from phobias: During this treatment, people play games where they are put into situations they're afraid of, thereby learning to live through them. Games do most definitely affect your psyche, and any claim that it doesn't is simply not sustainable.

Just for the record, it's great to have you here. It's someone different to argue against. A nice change of pace. =;)

I agree Contra is more abstract. Have you see the player and NPC models in GTA? They're hardly realisitc. I can still perfectly make out that the Contra sprites are human. And Probector is hilarious.

It's hard to be less violent because I'm not at all. I have the common sense to walk away. Do people react differently? Yes. I'm not saying they don't. The size of that segment of the population is something neither of us can prove. All I know is in my groupd of friends, we've all been gamers since we were children. We've all been through Splatterhouse, Contra, Mortal Kombat, etc. None of go out looking for a fight. People are agressive with or without video games. Strange the Romans fought so much without games, isn't it? Can it make you more agressive? Not enough proof either way. I go by what I see and know.

Sure, when my dad sat me down to watch the original Godzilla when I was 5, I was terrified. I thought it was real. However, just because Ryu dragon punches Ken doesn't mean a kid should mimic that. That's where the parenting aspect comes in. Believing a giant monster is real is one thing. Thinking it's ok to punch someone in the face is not, and if you don't know that by five, you have a problem on your hands. If he tries it, you dicipline him. Parents don't do that enough anymore. Besides, they shouldn't be playing GTA at that age anyway, which again, falls on the parents.

I have yet to see evidence that games make kids violent. Strangely, they used to say comic books made kids violent, D&D made them devil worshippers, and rap music made everyone shoot each other. Funny how all three of those exists, yet no one brings them up anymore. Games are just the latest scapegoat for people failing to take responsibility for themselves and their actions. Games may effect a small population of children. The question is why they affect a small portion of people and not the rest. Answer? Parenting.

I disagree with the polic statistic. A number like that isn't going to drop like that simply because of a lower budget to the police force. Do I know if there's a connetion to that stat? No. Isn't it strange how that stat works though? Could it be that playing violent games actually serves as a stress reliever?

Sorry I didn't quote you; I need to get going...

LKM:
I have yet to see evidence that games make kids violent. Strangely, they used to say comic books made kids violent, D&D made them devil worshippers, and rap music made everyone shoot each other. Funny how all three of those exists, yet no one brings them up anymore.

Ah, but people do bring that up. The israeli army won't put people who play D&D into leading positions because they apparently are more likely to develop mental problems (although what cause is and what effect is seems unclear to me). I think the argument that rap music makes kids behave violent is made quite often, too, and there are reasons to believe that it's true. Children tend to mimic their idols, and many rap musicians try to go for the "tough mofo" image.

The media that you consume influences you. That doesn't mean that it should be censored, but you're unlikely to win such an argument by claiming that there's no connection.


Games are just the latest scapegoat for people failing to take responsibility for themselves and their actions. Games may effect a small population of children. The question is why they affect a small portion of people and not the rest. Answer? Parenting.

Here, I absolutely agree. That's the winning argument: It's entirely possible that games affect children, but that doesn't mean that we should prohibit them. It simply means that parents shouldn't let their children play them. You don't censor porn or violent movies because kids shouldn't see them (well, depending on your view on what's good for children :-). You simply don't give them to children and put ways into place which help parents figure out what their children should be allowed to see and what they shouldn't be allowed to see - like rating systems.


I disagree with the polic statistic. A number like that isn't going to drop like that simply because of a lower budget to the police force.

That's not what I said. In fact, what you said was exactly my point: There's no simple explanation for such a change. It's the result of many causes.


Could it be that playing violent games actually serves as a stress reliever?

Ah, one of the favourite arguments of gamers :-) Humans don't work that way. You're not a kettle who gets hotter and hotter until you boil over. It's an argument which is often brought up in discussions on the issue, and I've never seen anyone working in the field of psychology backing it up. You don't have a fixed amount of violence in you which you can either release in a game or by beating somebody up. Violence is a reaction to an outside stimulus.

LKM:

By the way, I also think this discussion is quite interesting. And Splatterhouse was awesome :-D

Ah, but people do bring that up. The israeli army won't put people who play D&D into leading positions because they apparently are more likely to develop mental problems (although what cause is and what effect is seems unclear to me).

Why are we talking about Israel? They're not a "free" country. When was the last time you heard a US sentor issue a warning about the latest D&D expansion set? 1982? It's not a hot topic anymore becase video games are now causing the "downfall of civilization."

I think the argument that rap music makes kids behave violent is made quite often, too, and there are reasons to believe that it's true. Children tend to mimic their idols, and many rap musicians try to go for the "tough mofo" image.

The industry regulated itself with the explicit lyrics sticker and there's been nothing since. The game industry comes up with the deepest and most informative system yet, and they're still not happy. Show me a link where a major media source raised the issue of rap in the past 10 years.

It simply means that parents shouldn't let their children play them

Then it's over. This is an argument about "the children." They shouldn't play them, period. The media makes a huge issue about kids getting a hold of these games. That's the parents fault. They're the ones missing the rating.

Humans don't work that way. You're not a kettle who gets hotter and hotter until you boil over. It's an argument which is often brought up in discussions on the issue, and I've never seen anyone working in the field of psychology backing it up... Violence is a reaction to an outside stimulus.

When I used to have a bad day at work, there was one thing to do: Pick Sub Zero, forward, down, forward, head rip. Best thing since stress balls.

And of COURSE no psycologist will say they're stress relievers or good for you. Then little Johnny's mother won't bring him into Mr. Random Money Maker Psycologist to get him "help" because he played a violent game. I put absolutely no faith in psycologists.

LKM:
Ah, but people do bring that up. The israeli army won't put people who play D&D into leading positions because they apparently are more likely to develop mental problems (although what cause is and what effect is seems unclear to me).
Why are we talking about Israel?

Because they are people, and you said people weren't talking about D&D anymore.


They're not a "free" country.

How are they not a free country? They are free and democratic.


When was the last time you heard a US sentor issue a warning about the latest D&D expansion set?

We usually don't get life feeds from the discussions in the senat over here, so I've never actually heard a US senator talk about D&D. Maybe it's not an issue anymore because kids don't play it anymore? Or maybe the fear was simply unfounded? Probably both, but D&D (which happens mainly in your mind) and modern 3D games are hardly the same thing.


I think the argument that rap music makes kids behave violent is made quite often, too, and there are reasons to believe that it's true. Children tend to mimic their idols, and many rap musicians try to go for the "tough mofo" image.
The industry regulated itself with the explicit lyrics sticker and there's been nothing since. The game industry comes up with the deepest and most informative system yet, and they're still not happy. Show me a link where a major media source raised the issue of rap in the past 10 years.

Oh well. A quick google search turned up this and this. Not quite what you wanted, but it's still an issue. Not that it matters: the music argument is useless either way. If somebody tells you that violent games are a problem and you say "Well, 10 years ago people said music was the problem, and nowadays nobody cares", you aren't proving that games are not a problem. You're simply proving that people don't perceive music to be a problem anymore.

You're right, there are ratings, and they're a lot better than the stupid "parental advisory" label. The actual problem is that parents either don't care or don't know about them. Maybe the rating system is too good. Maybe a big red "not suitable for children" label would work better. I really have no idea. My whole point is this: when arguing somebody who favours censorship in games, it's important to pick your arguments wisely.


Humans don't work that way. You're not a kettle who gets hotter and hotter until you boil over. It's an argument which is often brought up in discussions on the issue, and I've never seen anyone working in the field of psychology backing it up... Violence is a reaction to an outside stimulus.
When I used to have a bad day at work, there was one thing to do: Pick Sub Zero, forward, down, forward, head rip. Best thing since stress balls.

Simply sitting down and relaxing in front of the TV would probably have done the same to your stress level.


And of COURSE no psycologist will say they're stress relievers or good for you. Then little Johnny's mother won't bring him into Mr. Random Money Maker Psycologist to get him "help" because he played a violent game. I put absolutely no faith in psycologists.

Fair enough, but not good enough :-)

You can of course question intent of psychologists. However, there are a few problems with that:

  • It doesn't disproof what they say. Their intention to make money doesn't imply that what they say is wrong. Everyone intends to make money.
  • Nobody sends his kid to a psychologist because he played a violent game, especially since if a kid plays a violent game, the parent probably gave it to him.
  • Due to my girlfriend's condition, I know a lot of psychologists, and I'm sure that not one of them is doing this job for the money. There's not that much money in that job, and let me tell you, the job sucks major donkey balls. Most psychologists probably end up insane themselves.
  • Even if you were right, nobody is going to believe you. If there's a psychologist saying that after years of study, he has determined violent games affect children negatively, and there's you disproving him by saying that people shouldn't believe the psychologist because he's in it for the money, guess whom they're going to believe :-)

Because they are people, and you said people weren't talking about D&D anymore.

But this is a discussion about the media/government here in the US and what they make games out to be. If we start bringing foreign country politics into this, it's really going to get crazy.

How are they not a free country? They are free and democratic.

I know games, not geographical politics. They all blend together to me. =;) You win.

We usually don't get life feeds from the discussions in the senat over here, so I've never actually heard a US senator talk about D&D. Maybe it's not an issue anymore because kids don't play it anymore? Or maybe the fear was simply unfounded? Probably both, but D&D (which happens mainly in your mind) and modern 3D games are hardly the same thing.

It was done. Parents went nuts over that stuff, saying it was satanic. Politicians got wind of it. Kids and adults still play it. New rule books are coming out all the time. And yes, the fear was unfounded much like... well, wait a minute..

Not that it matters: the music argument is useless either way. If somebody tells you that violent games are a problem and you say "Well, 10 years ago people said music was the problem, and nowadays nobody cares", you aren't proving that games are not a problem

Yes, it's proving somthing. Games are now the new scapegoat (see how I led in the previous point? I'm so smart). It's always been something in this country. Once games have run their course, nobody will care. It's like a fad to politicians and parental groups who believe they're saving us all from some greater evil. It's a cheap way to garner votes from an ignorant public who sees a 3-second clip on GTA on their local news and goes haywire.

You're simply proving that people don't perceive music to be a problem anymore.

Exactly, because it wasn't. And also because the mainstream media/politicans aren't making it a problem anymore. We've all heard a rapper say *&%$%, and it's run the course. Time to focus on games.

Simply sitting down and relaxing in front of the TV would probably have done the same to your stress level.

Debateable, and not something I want to get into in fear of moving from the main conversation... but, since you mentioned it.. =;)

Everybody has a way of reliveing stress. Some people smoke. Some people write. Some people punch real people. Some people rip heads off digitally. I'm the latter. Of those four examples (of which there are more, of course), two of them cause problems for other people, or bring harm. Ripping off Liu Kang's head is harmless.

It doesn't disproof what they say. Their intention to make money doesn't imply that what they say is wrong. Everyone intends to make money.

Oh, I completely agree with you. However, there are crooked doctors, laywers, mechanics, etc. There are those pysologists who will create a panic simply to draw people into their office. They're the ones going on TV and saying "Your kid will be a murdered if he plays X game!"

Nobody sends his kid to a psychologist because he played a violent game, especially since if a kid plays a violent game, the parent probably gave it to him.

No neccisarily. Mom sees the one-sided news story about GTA, asks Johnny if he has it, he says yes, mom freaks out. Mom's fault? Yep. Should she talk to him about it? In a perfect world, yes. Instead, mom goes to the shrink she saw at 6.

And I agree completely about that final statement. That seems to be where the problem goes. A psycologist has a piece of paper hanging on the wall that says he's smart yet likely never played a game in his life. I have, yet he knows what I think when I play a game. See the problem I have?

LKM:
Yes, it's proving somthing. Games are now the new scapegoat (see how I led in the previous point? I'm so smart). It's always been something in this country. Once games have run their course, nobody will care. It's like a fad to politicians and parental groups who believe they're saving us all from some greater evil. It's a cheap way to garner votes from an ignorant public who sees a 3-second clip on GTA on their local news and goes haywire.

I pretty much agree. Games are most likely not an important cause for youth crime and violence. Eventually, people will probably forget about games and blame something else. All I'm saying is that the argument that games don't affect people doesn't cut.

Even if games didn't affect people (and I believe that they do), you can't win an argument about a psychologist who says that they do. People won't believe you, they'll believe the psychologist who is trained in such matters.


Everybody has a way of reliveing stress. Some people smoke. Some people write. Some people punch real people. Some people rip heads off digitally. I'm the latter. Of those four examples (of which there are more, of course), two of them cause problems for other people, or bring harm. Ripping off Liu Kang's head is harmless.

That brings up another point: Your argument is that games don't affect you negatively because you don't feel that they affect you negatively. This is bogus: You can't judge how something affects you. If you give a sick person placebo medication, it'll help him, even though it actually does nothing at all. The only way to find out if there's actually an effect and what that effect is is by doing scientifically relevant tests with large groups of people. Psychologists are in a position where they can do such tests or at least have access to a large database of patients which allows them to see patterns.


And I agree completely about that final statement. That seems to be where the problem goes. A psycologist has a piece of paper hanging on the wall that says he's smart yet likely never played a game in his life. I have, yet he knows what I think when I play a game. See the problem I have?

I don't think he knows what you think while playing a game. Only you do. However, an outside observer is probably in a better position to judge the influence a game has on you than you are :-). It's similar to people who take drugs. They're convinced that eveything is OK and that they can stop at any time while for everyone observing them, it's obvious what's happening to them. Except that games aren't quite as bad as drugs, of course. Well, as addicting. But at least they don't slowly kill you and destroy your sanity :-)

I pretty much agree. Games are most likely not an important cause for youth crime and violence. Eventually, people will probably forget about games and blame something else. All I'm saying is that the argument that games don't affect people doesn't cut.

It's how much games affect people and why so few take it to the extremes. We'll never know that unless someone figures out a way to dig into our brains. As of right now, all we have is common sense, and the media doesn't seem to have that anymore.

People won't believe you, they'll believe the psychologist who is trained in such matters.

And I put no faith in them whatsoever. This is going to be stalling point bewteen us.

This is bogus: You can't judge how something affects you.

Why not? I know it doesn't make me violent. I don't need someone with a degree to tell me that.

If you give a sick person placebo medication, it'll help him, even though it actually does nothing at all

I don't understand that statement.

The only way to find out if there's actually an effect and what that effect is is by doing scientifically relevant tests with large groups of people.

That doesn't prove anything either. Why throw a random group of people in and do tests? What if the Columbine kids were in there? They'd likely come off as nuts. They had major, major issues, and I would certainly argue those came from their upbringing and nothing to do with Doom. The rest of the group could be perfectly normal. However, those two kids are evidence that, supposedly, games make you a killer. Media grabs it, media runs with it, parents are outraged, congress moves in.

That's exactly what happened, minus the study itself. A large, massive even, group of people play games everyday. They're fine. Two kids go nuts, and apparently a video game made them do it.

I don't think he knows what you think while playing a game. Only you do. However, an outside observer is probably in a better position to judge the influence a game has on you than you are :-). It's similar to people who take drugs. They're convinced that eveything is OK and that they can stop at any time while for everyone observing them, it's obvious what's happening to them. Except that games aren't quite as bad as drugs, of course. Well, as addicting. But at least they don't slowly kill you and destroy your sanity :-)

Slightly off target here. I think the drugs argument is something else entirely. Most drugs have the addiction ingredient. We can even look at basic cigarrettes. Those chemicals say "I need more." The person goes with that. Games don't have that ingredient.

They're just another form of entertainment. You don't see people going crazy over spending too much time reading, and Roger Ebert isn't going to have a "problem" simply because he sees too many movies. Those are accepted mediums of entertainment. Game aren't, and that's where the problem is (alongside the media blowing it up).

LKM:
This is bogus: You can't judge how something affects you.
Why not? I know it doesn't make me violent. I don't need someone with a degree to tell me that.

Because you have no control group (so you don't know how you would be if you hadn't played violent games) and you can't judge yourself objectively (that's evident, you're yourself, you can't look at yourself without being yourself :-)


If you give a sick person placebo medication, it'll help him, even though it actually does nothing at all
I don't understand that statement.

I was trying to explain that you (being yourself) can't judge the effect something has on you.

There's an effect in medicine and psychology called the placebo effect. If you treat a sick person with a treatment which should have no physical effect, it will usually help that person anyway. Not as well as a real treatment would, but still. Say somebody has a headache and you give that person an infusion of NaCl (which is salt water), claiming it's a real headache medication. That person will swear that the medication helped against his or her headache. That's the placebo effect, and it's why if you test a new mediaction, you need a control group which gets a placebo so you can be sure that your new medication is actually better than a placebo (which is to say it actually does something other than convincing people of its use).

This shows that you can't judge the effect something has on you yourself.


The only way to find out if there's actually an effect and what that effect is is by doing scientifically relevant tests with large groups of people.
That doesn't prove anything either.

Uhm... why would you say that? Of course it does.


Why throw a random group of people in and do tests? What if the Columbine kids were in there?

That's why you need large test groups. If you have large enough groups, such problematic data would be distributed equally over both groups, the ones who play games and those who don't. Also, if the test group is large, single insane people won't affect the result.


However, those two kids are evidence that, supposedly, games make you a killer. Media grabs it, media runs with it, parents are outraged, congress moves in.

No, that's not how scientific studies work at all.


Slightly off target here. I think the drugs argument is something else entirely. Most drugs have the addiction ingredient. We can even look at basic cigarrettes. Those chemicals say "I need more." The person goes with that. Games don't have that ingredient.

Ah, but this is entirely wrong. Of course games don't inject anything into your veins, but they have a similar effect: Playing games causes your brain to release happy drugs such as endorphines and adrenaline into your system.

Make no mistake, games can cause psychological addiction, just like soft drugs like marihuana do.

Here's the problem. We're at a stand still because we disagree with the basic research. This isn't going anywhere now. I believe games can affect a small portion of the population, but they're not going to shoot somebody without major outside factors. The media doesn't do this though. "The murderers played GTA all day" instead of "they grew up in a broken home, were beaten, teased at school, and played GTA all day."

You simply don't become violent and agressive from playing a video game, and I do not care what "research" says. This research wouldn't even be conducted if it wasn't for the media/congress because it wouldn't be neccesary or the popular thing to do. All of these studies supposedly show kids get violent after playing a game. Why then do some (most, arguably) kids not?

And I can agree games can be addictive. The problem with that is, and my main gripe with all of this, is that no one says "You read too much" or "You go to the theater too much." It's all so one-sided.

LKM:
The media doesn't do this though. "The murderers played GTA all day" instead of "they grew up in a broken home, were beaten, teased at school, and played GTA all day."

I agree with that, and pretty much everything else you've said in that post.

Just one point: Whether parents think their kids read too much or go to the theater too much probably heavily depends on the book or play that is on. I know I wouldn't let my hypothetical children read the godfather books or go see an avant-garde play in the theater :-)

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