Saturday, April 12, 2014

Video game violence?

Haha the blogger app just destroyed my original angsty post. I guess I'm not fated to do a post about this topic. But I don't care, I'm going to just attempt to rewrite everything!

Okay anyway. Video Game Violence! Let's go through a bit about it. It's related to the supertopic 'Video Games Controversy' which talks about how games can change the behaviour of a person and discusses whether it is good or bad. It was...what...a 30 year old topic? And this 'video game violence' subtopic's popularity skyrocketed in the 1990s because some people decide to murder or manslaughter others in public for 'no reason' BUT it was discovered that these murderers play violent video games. Media and people decided to put 1 and 1 together, peppered with some logic that concluded that video games caused the violent actions of the murderers. I grew up in the 1990s as an avid video gamer so this kind of news sticks out like a sore thumb to me.

Honestly, I have been wanting to blog this for the longest time but constantly decided that it was a retarded topic to blog about whenever I get started on it. When I was younger (much younger), I thought this topic is so silly that it would die down eventually. Unfortunately, it didn't seem that way. Everytime I see a 'video game violence' article, I will get tempted to blog about it and give up eventually because it really feels pointless. But here I am trying again.

So I would like to point out a couple of recent articles. I'm not a fan of linking people away from my blog, but this is kind of an exception since I take reference from outside sources. This article was written about a study that took place fairly recently and got thankfully debunked. Let me first disclaim that I know nothing about the science of asking survey questions, but it seems silly to ask questions related to video game violence to 3000 children, with a minimal age of 8 years, over the course of 3 years. Am I the only one who sees that there are way too many variables to draw any concrete conclusion? First of all, 8 years of experiencing life is a heck of a long time, let alone 17 years. People grow up differently, have different views over different topics because they have different personalities and grew up in different circumstances. That alone provides so many variables! And how violent is violent to each and every child? You can't expect random children to gauge how 'violent' a game is and expect it to be on the same gauge as other children. You mean 3 PH.Ds and 1 MA can't figure that out?

This other study is even more recently written. It basically suggests that it might not be the content in video game that makes people violent, but frustrating mechanics. What? You mean after 30 years, people just reached this conclusion? Or does it have to be someone with a Ph.D to write such an obvious statement before anyone bothers with it? *sigh* I think almost every game developer or QA tester already knew this fact for ages. And it is such an obvious fact too! Frustraion = Anger = Violence? I can sense all the game developers out there snickering at the article. However...better now than never right? I guess it's about time.

My take on this is simple. Everybody is different. Some people love vegetables, others hate it. Some people get motion sickness playing FPS, others can play for 10 hours without stopping. Some people play violent games to destress. Some people cannot differentiate the reality and virutal. Some people don't even see the point of video games. And all those can change over time. We are all different people at different times. Why is it so hard to acknowledge that? What is the point of asking 'Do violent video games cause players to be violent?'? We 'players' are not even clones of each other.

Video games are not drugs, stop thinking that it has the same effect on everyone. It is a just a much more powerful book or movie because of added interaction. It is just another form of media. Like articles, newspapers, TV, LIKE THIS BLOG, like OTHER blogs. It's brain food. Have you read horror stories when you were young and became afraid of the dark? No? Yes? Maybe? You see, even books do that! It depends on the receiver. And the media can't possibly cater for EVERYBODY.

I really appreciate all the people fighting to for video games. I can only imagine that it's an extremely daunting and annoying fight. Here's an article which more or less reflects what I feel and supposedly with evidence to back up. I re-quote Vaughan Bell from that article:

"[U]sing randomised controlled trials, research has found that violent video games cause a reliable short-term increase in aggression during lab-based tests. However, this seems not to be something specific to computer games. Television and even violence in the news have been found to have a similar impact. The longer-term effects of aggressive gaming are still not well studied, but we would expect similar results from long-term studies of other violent media — again a small increase in aggressive thoughts and behaviour in the lab.

These, however, are not the same as actual violence. Psychologist Christopher Ferguson, based at the Texas A&M International University, has examined what predicts genuine violence committed by young people. It turns out that delinquent peers, depression and an abusive family environment account for actual violent incidents, while exposure to media violence seems to have only a minor and usually insignificant effect."

Well, at least I FINALLY let this out of my chest. My god I finally don't have to think about blogging this ever again ^_^

Let's all move on to happier things!


  1. I don't think you can have a generlised answer to this. As you say, it depends on the person. What disturbs me is that more and more realistic violence is being portrayed and to me, I can't help but wonder WHY some people want to see blood spurting out of their mercilessly assaulted victim? (Who may or may not even be the "bad guy" these days". But again, that would probably have more to do with the sort of person they are before they start playing the games, not as a cause of the games themselves.

    Very very research trials of any sort are capable of throwing up reliable and non-refutable findings, simply because there are far too many variables to take into account for the cause and effect of different things to be readily apparent. So... I guess in reality I wonder if there is even any point to the trials you mention. Not saying that violent media (not just games, although arguably gaming might have a stronger impact because if is more interactive) doesn't have an effect on some people, just that it would be extremely difficult to ever prove either way.

  2. Yes. Exactly! I just don't believe that it can take so many 'highly qualified' people to conduct a research and NOT notice these variables. Unless there is something I'm totally missing out, or there's some teachings or theory that was thought to these people that I don't know about.

    Or they are just desperate and will do any form of research to debunk the other side, which is possible because this topic is obviously a main concern of many people and it has been ongoing for 30 friggin' years.

    Or even better! To get funding into the research so that they can live through the years. Oh. Wait. I really hope that's not the case...