Study Suggests Violent Video Games Don't Cause Aggression, Damned Cheating Computers Do

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[caption id="attachment_14864" align="aligncenter" width="256"] There is no honor in this.[/caption]

So there's me, shortly before George W. Bush was elected, sitting on the carpet in my mom's living room, playing Tenchu 2 on my PlayStation.

Remember the the Tenchu series? You're forgiven if...
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Kelly Hartman

I wish we thought of using rage-quit as a part of my group's study. We just went for Ghostbusters-style "zap if you lose" for our reaction measurement test. Tee hee.
I think that those who blame violent acts on depictions of violence within the media (be it video games, music, movies, televisions, books, or what-have-you) are, in general, putting the cart before the horse, so to speak. For the most part it is the art that is imitating life, not the other way around. In many of the more infamous cases, I think that society is shifting blame onto the media to avoid introspective self-examination and considering the true socioeconomic and mental health issues behind the violent acts. These issues and the violence they inspire pre-date, and will sadly probably outlast, the media that is being blamed for inspiring them!

If The Beatles never released an album, J.D. Salinger never penned The Catcher in the Rye, and Martin Scorsese never filmed Taxi Driver: I'm fairly certain that the deranged mind's of Charles Manson, Mark David Chapman, and John Hinckley Jr. would have fixed upon something else and eventually lash out in a different violent act with a different motivation. In perhaps the most patently absurd example: I'm fairly certain that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold weren't inspired by the music of Marilyn Manson, given that they disliked his music! Not that that stopped people from partially blaming Marilyn Manson for the Columbine High School Massacre!

In the specific case of the specious claims that depictions of violence in video games leads to violence in real life: I present one of my all-time favourite episodes of Penn and Teller's phenomenal Bullsh*t series, which serves to refute that highly dubious link.

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The current focus upon violence in video games by likes of Jack Thompson is merely the latest target in the on-going blame game, in which any target other than society itself is blamed for all of society's ills.

In the 1950's, Fredic Wertham published a book entitled Seduction of the Innocent, which used fraudulent anecdotal evidence to blame the then-relatively-young comic book industry for violence committed by juvenile delinquents. (Even more laughably, Wertham claimed that Batman and Robin promoted homosexuality and paedophilia!) This lead to a moral outcry that included Congressional hearings, public burnings of comic books, and the creation of the laughable Comics Code Authority that effectually terminated such titles as E.C.'s Tales From the Crypt and The Vault of Horror. Oddly enough, the cancellation of particularly violent comic books and the neutering of those that weren't cancelled had little impact upon the statistics regarding juvenile violence--almost as if there weren't a causal link after all! And, shock of all shocks, it was eventually revealed that nearly everything in Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent was fabricated! (The only truth in the entire book seems to be the commentary regarding Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston's interest in sexual bondage and extended relationships. And on that count I would say that everyone is entitled to their own private lives behind closed doors, so long as it strictly involves consenting adults and no one is harmed!)

Later, in the 1980's, there was an absurd moral panic regarding supposed acts of violence and depravity committed by secret sects of devil worshippers! Heavy Metal music and RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons were among the many forms of media blamed for inspiring such acts of violent devil worship. And again, there were protests, public burnings of blamed media, and even the imprisonment of people for alleged crimes that were patently absurd and clearly fabricated! And again, shock of all shocks, the reported incidents inciting the panic all proved to be fraudulent in one form or another!

I view the scrutiny placed upon video games by the likes of Jack Thompson to be merely the latest iteration in a cyclic moral panic blame game that would be laughable if it weren't so sad!

One day, I hope that society runs out of targets in the media to blame for all of society's ills and instead begins an introspective process of self-examination to identify and subsequently tackle the real socioeconomic and mental health root causes behind violence!


Actually, I am of the opinion that video games actually DECREASES real world violence because people now have an outlet to release their inner frustrations so to speak. And when they are being kept in front of a TV or computer screen for hours, it doesn't leave them much time to go out and commit crime or get into trouble. Hahaha

Nonetheless, I don't think violent video games causes aggression. I think LAG causes aggression. :p I've lost track of the number of times I've cursed out loud during games because of lag.