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Obama Wants More Violent Video Game Studies, and That’s Okay

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Obama Wants More Violent Video Game Studies, and That’s Okay

Post  Rhemsis on Fri Jan 18, 2013 9:43 pm

http://news.yahoo.com/obama-wants-more-violent-video-game-studies-okay-185055831--finance.html


Here’s an interesting fact that came out of the recent debate over gun control: Thanks to the U.S. Congress, the government has been unable to fully research firearm safety for the last 16 years.

In 1996, as Reuters tells it, the National Rifle Association pressured lawmakers into cutting $2.6 million worth of Centers for Disease Control funding, which was being used for firearms research. Congress later restored the funds, but with a restriction on any research that “may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” Apparently the NRA had been dismissing past studies as “anti-gun propaganda,” but it’s hard to see the group as anything but afraid of what we might learn through more research.

Now that President Obama wants Congress to fund research into violent video games, I’m sad to see a parallel among some of my fellow gamers and game journalists, who think the government should just leave games alone.
“Dear Mr. President, We are not ignorant about the relationship between media including videogames and violence. Studies show there isn’t one,” Garnett Lee, Editorial Director of GameFly Media, wrote on Twitter.

“No matter how many studies show no links, it’ll never be seen as a reason to not fund another one,” Wired Editor Chris Kohler wrote.
Sorry, but I can’t join in on this collective freak out. For as defensive as I am about video games, and my right to enjoy them like any other form of speech, I draw the line at declaring we don’t need any more knowledge.

True, there isn’t much strong evidence to prove that violent video games make children violent in the real world. That’s why, in 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to let California outlaw the sale of violent games to minors. The state didn’t have enough evidence to prove that violent video games cause violence — certainly not more than any other media — so just like the movie and music industries, the video game industry gets to regulate itself. It uses its own ratings system, and retailers take it upon themselves not to sell mature-rated games to minors. They happen to do an extremely good job, too, according to the FTC.

But just because existing research doesn’t link violent games with violent behavior doesn’t mean we know everything there is to know about how these games affect us. Just today, Kotaku published a lengthy story on everything we do know from violent games research. One of the most surprising takeaways: hardly anyone has studied whether video games are bigger primers for aggression than non-interactive media, such as movies. As Polygon reports, the CDC has supported violent media research before, and believes there’s more work to be done. We shouldn’t be afraid of that.

We also shouldn’t be afraid of the implications. There is a serious debate to be had about whether a certain level of media violence — I’m talking really gruesome, depraved stuff — deserves the same type of classification as pornography, which is illegal to sell to minors in the United States. The Supreme Court actually allowed for this possibility in its 2011 ruling, but it tossed out California’s violent game law in part because it was too broadly-defined, and because it unfairly targeted video games instead of all media. The government long ago decided that minors shouldn’t be allowed to see hardcore sex on the belief that it’s harmful, so either we start figuring out similar parameters for media violence, or we decide that trying to legally prevent minors from seeing anything is an impractical and misguided enterprise. Either way, it’s hard to have that debate without more knowledge about how violent media affects us.

I do wish Obama hadn’t singled out video games over all other media in Wednesday’s briefing to the press. And I admit that the parallel to the NRA’s crackdown on firearms research is a bit unfair. After all, guns literally are weapons; video games are not. One of these things is clearly more dangerous to possess than the other, and unless you’re NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, it shouldn’t be hard to recognize which.
The good news is that the Obama administration seems to be aware of all this, and I don’t see much evidence that there’s a video game witch hunt at hand. Obama’s official memorandum on gun violence research doesn’t specifically mention video games at all, and mentions the importance of giving parents the tools to decide what media their children consume. Even the video game industry’s main trade group, the Entertainment Software Association, is okay with Obama’s push for more research. That’s a pretty good indication that the government isn’t coming after our right to virtually shoot aliens in the face. It just wants to know more about what happens in our brains when we do. So should we.

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Re: Obama Wants More Violent Video Game Studies, and That’s Okay

Post  Samson089 on Sat Jan 19, 2013 2:36 am

that's totally ok with me. tell him to send me some games and ill tell him how violent they make me. SPOILER ALERT: the games with the impossible levels will literally make me want to kill someone. Problem solved

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Re: Obama Wants More Violent Video Game Studies, and That’s Okay

Post  Rhemsis on Sat Jan 19, 2013 12:53 pm

If anything, I would think violent video games would reduce the amount of violence. It's not like you can't differentiate an imaginary world from what's going on around you. When it comes down to it, I feel like video games act more of a type of release to let out stress by doing something you can't in the real world, while getting satisfaction through your imaginary actions.

I feel like this administration is looking to take away anything that might threaten its current actions, and at the moment video games are doing just that. Look at all the major games and their storylines: Corrupt Governments, Revolution, Omnipotent Corporations, etc... it's all saying to an extreme degree "Look how fucked up this is." and then ties it together with the sobering realization that the whole story was a dramatized version of what's happening now, or a 'what will happen if we continue on this path'.

Although, I feel that Television and Movie shows would incur a higher rate of people being coaxed into violence. While it doesn't have the same allure that video games do, in letting you carry out these fantasized actions, they praise the heroes that kill. They make public firefights seem alright. They lead you to believe in a level of violent action that 'society accepts', without giving you any outlet besides real life.

We've already conducted more than enough violent video game research to prove that there is zero correlation in the way that people behave in the real world, so go ahead and waste more money we don't have on these studies. Hell, I'd like to get paid to play video games and prove how non-violent they make me.

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Re: Obama Wants More Violent Video Game Studies, and That’s Okay

Post  Solidious on Sat Jan 19, 2013 8:50 pm

It definitely makes sense, to me at least, that an increase in violent video games would lead to a decrease in actual violence, if it were to have any effect at all. There isn't shown to be any correlation between the two, but let's say there was. I feel that it would be inversely proportional due to the fact that playing a violent video game is cathartic. That principle was proven to work over many years. In fact, I think it's suppression that leads to outbursts of random violence or desperation, which is what causes most violent acts. Motives are much much deeper than simply, "little Timmy saw some blood in a video game and now thinks he's a real life terminator." If someone can't distinguish between reality and fantasy in addition to having deep rooted violent urges, they were just as likely to commit violence actions at some point regardless of what games they play, movies they watch, or music they listen to.

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Re: Obama Wants More Violent Video Game Studies, and That’s Okay

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