Archive for the ‘Video Games and Violence’ Category

Quote of the Day: “If You Slap A Man In the Face, He Gets Angry, Studies Suggest” or “Idiocy at its Best”

February 16, 2011 Leave a comment

This is a bit like walking up to someone who is reading a newspaper on the train, snatching it out of their hands, ripping it up in little pieces and going, WHY ARE YOU SO ANGRY?

Korea JoongAng Daily, Via Kotaku.

There was a ‘study’ conducted by this newspaper in Korea. They went to a net cafe filled with paying customers playing games. Then they simultaneously shut off all the power, causing an uproar, and then ‘reported’ that “the reaction was filled with cussing, adding, “They’ve been transformed into the violent characters they are playing.”

At least they didn’t start raping one another!

Quote/Facepalm/WTF of the Day: “Raping Logic” or “Leave it to Fox”

February 11, 2011 6 comments

“The increase in rapes can be attributed in large part to the playing out of [sexual] scenes in video games.”

– Dr. Carole Lieberman, Is Bullet Story the Worst Videogame in the World?, Fox News

“Study Claims Video Games Make People Less Violent” or “Eat that Joe Baca”

July 29, 2010 1 comment

Via 1UP, via CVG, a new study shows that violent video games increase decrease violent behavior.

Wait, whaaaaaaat?

The study conducted by Dr. Christopher J. Ferguson involved taking 103 subjects, subjecting them to frustrating tasks, the nature of which remains unknown. The ending of Splinter Cell: Conviction was pretty frustrating, that’s a good guess. Anyhoo. After having undergone said irritating task, they were randomly selected to play no game, a non-violent video game, or a violent video game as a hero or a villian. The results were interesting to say the least.

“The results suggest that violent games reduce depression and hostile feelings in players through mood management.”

– Dr. Ferguson.

He even added that this research could be used to help patients with frustrations or violent behavior. There are loopholes of course. For instance, the study was conducted on adults, and the most galvanizing rallying cry of the naysayers has been that violent video games are corrupting out children. Additionally, with only 103 subjects divided further into four separate sub-test groups, the results may be a fluke instead of an accurate portrayal of society at large. It is also debatable whether the participants were optimal subjects for the study. Not to mention the other studies that suggest otherwise.

That being said, such on that Joe Baca!

“APB Developers Expect M Rating” or “Captain Obvious in the Hizzouse!”

April 18, 2010 1 comment

APB is one of the three MMO’s I am quite excited about. The other two are The Secret World and everyone’s poster child for ‘the MMO that will beat World of Warcraft‘, Star Wars: The Old Republic.

APB recently also relaunched its website as it gathers momentum for the big launch, expected later this year. Developer Realtime Worlds fully expects an ‘M rating‘ for the title, a cause for joy for anyone who abhors the sensitization of the video game medium for fear of inciting violence amongst youth. Rest assured that the developer sails in the same boat as us, and not only expects, but wants an M rating for the cops-vs-robbers simulator.

And thank god for that. Imagine how lame that title could have turned out to be if all the gratuitous violence had been toned down to please this guy (pictured right).

In his defense, I do love me a PrayStation!

“Preventing Desensitization Through Sensitization” or “GTA Continues to Drive Video Game Violence Dialogue”

April 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Why is it that every time you hear about violence in the context of video games, Grand Theft Auto manages to rear its head without fail. It is almost as if the internet gods have eternally linked the GTA franchise with the concept of violence as a result of video games.

The Guardian, which has suddenly become my top source for all manner of bizarre video game related news, reports that primary school children between the ages of nine and eleven are being shown images of a violent persuasion from the Grand Theft Auto series, in an effort to prevent them from turning violent. The objective is to prevent the prevent desensitization from violence.

The children have to categorize images into “good real life”, “bad real life” and “not real” categories. The goal here is to provide a disconnect from the violence they witness on TV and in video games and categorize them as detached from reality. Seems like an interesting concept, until you realize that these kids are being kept from getting desensitized by sensitizing them to images of violence, which, one might argue, is a tad counter-intuitive.

Love it or hate it, Grand Theft Auto inevitably continues to shape the dialogue around violence and freedom of expression in (R-rated) video games.

“Six Days of Controversy” or “Intolerable Hypocricy”

March 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Two days ago an anonymous source claimed that Six Days in Fallujah was finished and vowed to get it published.

That’s the news. Now let’s analyze it.

Six Days in Fallujah Controversy

Six Days in Fallujah epitomizes hypocritical doubles standards applied to video games. Developed by Atomic Games, Six Days is described as a survival horror game. It focuses on the second battle of Fallujah during Operation Iraqi Freedom, covering the lives of a squad of U.S. Marines for, brace yourself for this may be shocking, six days.

Halfway through development, with Konami on board as a publisher, the game was engulfed in a blinding haze of controversy regarding its content and appropriateness. Concerns were raised about the focus on real world issues that were a little too recent.

Why is SDiF Different From Any Other Shooter?

The game was developed by Atomic Games upon the request of a battalion of marines that returned from Fallujah. The game features authentically constructed locations, situations and battles, complete with the real life names and likenesses of the marines. Atomic Games conducted over 70 interviews with marines, other military officials, war historians, Iraqi civilians and even some insurgents to create one of the most historically and psychologically accurate military shooters ever built.

In addition, the game was labeled as ‘survival horror’, but not in the same vein as traditional survival horror games, such as Dead Space, Silent Hill or Resident Evil. The horror in Six Days in Fallujah comes from the incessant barrage of unpredictable life and death situations. The psychological traumas of war, while often portrayed in movies and and regularly permeating our media and collective conscious, is still something we can’t quite wrap our head around because most of us have never been in the same situation. But I am digressing now.

All said, the game must have captured some of the visceral tension and the unforgiving nature of the field of battle, because in April of last year, Konami dropped the title. Atomic Games was then thought to be near bankruptcy, with reports of mass lay-offs, and a skeleton crew managing the title. Two days ago, however, an anonymous source, my bet would be Peter Tamte, claimed that the title was finished and vowed to get it published.

Why the Double Standard?

That pisses me off. Konami dropped the title because it was mired in controversy and chose to tackle subject matter because it was ‘too soon’?

The World Trade Center towers fell on September 11, 2001. In April 2006, Paul Greengrass released United 93, less than five years after the plane’s fatal final flight. Similarly in August 2006, again less than five years after the incident, Oliver Stone released World Trade Center. Operation Phantom Fury (which the game is based on) was conducted in November 2004. It is March 2010, over six years later. But this is waaaaaaay too soon.

Give me a break!

Why is it that for some strange reason, video games always bear the brunt of the  punishment for engaging controversial content, whereas film and television simply hide behind a thin veil of ‘artistic expression’ and ‘portraying reality’. Do the words ‘video game’ really have such a negative connotation that no subject matter ever covered can be taken seriously, and if it is, it is only under the pretense of ‘inciting violence in youth’.

Video games have all the capability and ability to not only capture the essence and realism of a situation, they can also convey the intensity, emotional trauma and psychological complexity of real life, a facet that the film and television medium has dominated for so long. Stating or believing otherwise is just stubborn hypocrisy, for the same standards don’t seem to apply.

Oh and just for the record, in case you think I am an Atomic Games fanboy, I think Six Days of Fallujah will be a mediocre game at best. But I will defend to the death Atomic Games‘ right to publish it.

Article of the Week: “Tetris Triangulated” or “Anti-social Butterfly”

October 13, 2009 Leave a comment

There are some questions in life that have no clear-cut answers. What came first, the chicken or the egg? Can god make a sandwich so big, he himself can’t eat it? If a tree falls in the forest, does anyone give a crap? Where do the people offering to enhance my breasts without surgery look up their goddamn information?

"That's probably just ketchup!" or "Christian Bale eats video game haters."

With the advent of video games in the mainstream market in the last two decades, a new question has emerged. Do video games produce and/or enhance violent, anti-social and sociopath behavior? If you ask me, the obvious answer is no. But people who lobby it as irrefutable fact do make me want to kill bitches. Oh no, look at the violence that just poured out me of there. Idiots.

A recent article in the Boston Globe caught my attention. It provides a much needed and well-articulated retort beyond the standard, “j00 suxorz noob, gamez r roxor$!” Quoting prominent researchers from the field of neuroscience, psychology, sociology and education, and citing studies that provide some degree of empirical evidence to the contrary, the article sheds some much needed light on the positive effects of video games.

“Richard Haier, a pediatric neurologist and professor emeritus at the School of Medicine at the University of California at Irvine, has shown in a pair of studies that the classic game Tetris … alters the brain. In a paper published last month, Haier and his colleagues showed that after three months of Tetris practice, teenage girls not only played the game better, their brains became more efficient.”
– Emily Anthes: “How video games are good for the brain”

The cynic in me wanted to mock the aforementioned. Tetris, beyond Pac Man and Frogger, is the quintessential classic video game. But the C’thun-fighting, hero-ability-balancing, 100-person-guild-leading, massive-army-building side of my brain argues that it is elementary at best, and perhaps not the best subject for a study on whether video games improve cognitive skills. But then I realized that I have yet to beat the last level of any Tetris clone I have ever played. My brain has never been able to process the blocks falling at those impossible end-game speeds, and as such I have never been able to claim the Tetris throne. It dawned upon me that perhaps my mental capacity for advanced processing isn’t as developed as glossy, contemporary gaming makes it out to be. And just maybe Tetris isn’t the worst game with which to measure subtle differences in brain efficiency.

And then, there’s this:

“In one promising 2008 study … senior citizens who started playing Rise of Nations … improved on a wide range of cognitive abilities, performing better on subsequent tests of memory, reasoning, and multitasking.”
– Emily Anthes: “How video games are good for the brain”

More importantly, it actually touches upon one aspect of video games that has often come under fire. And that is the notion that video games make people inherently anti-social. The later part of the article sheds some light on this misnomer and provides some empirical evidence to the contrary. The term ‘prosocial’ is introduced as the antithesis, in some ways, of anti-social. The article claims that middle students in Japan who played games that promoted social infrastructure and mutual affection for other players, showed affectionate behavior themselves.

This is where the piece and I are essentially at odds. Let’s face it. It’s easy to find (questionable) links between docile, ‘affection-inducing’ video games and similar behavior in the players’ lives. By extension, another study should be able to find a link between highly violent games and morose, agitated or angry behavior. It seems foolhardy to me to conduct a study from a very finite and minimal set within the gaming genre, and imply that the results can be extrapolated to apply across the length and breadth of the entire spectrum. It’s like watching Rush Limbaugh talk about, well, anything, and claiming that all Americans are equally retarded.

To sum it up, the article does not categorically solve any debates, nor does it provide a clear-cut response to the validity of video games as a legitimate learning or socializing tool. But it does make a good case, and makes for an interesting read. You can find the original article in the links above or by clicking here, noob.