This settles it.

Although I didn’t want to continually harp on the topic of video game violence and violent crimes, it has played out that way. In an ongoing effort with other bloggers, I’ve tried to stem the tide of fear mongering and misinformation. I hope that in some small way, this information will find its way to the right people or perhaps some enterprising journalist, actually doing some legwork and background research, will find this searching for “violence and video games.” This is also ammunition for gamers. The next time some trash-clown tries to tell you how video games are making teenagers violent, this is for a “boo-yah” all up in their business.


First is an article from the Economist.com (I’ve included their graphics for convenience). The article is a fair and honest look at the video game industry and avoids a lot of knee jerking. From the article:

Amid all the arguments about the minutiae of rating systems, the unlocking of hidden content, and the stealing of children’s innocence, however, three important factors are generally overlooked: that attitudes to gaming are marked by a generational divide; that there is no convincing evidence that games make people violent; and that games have great potential in education. (emphasis mine)

Did I just read “no convincing evidence”? I believe I did, and I read that from a highly respected magazine. Not some two-bit blogger. Hear that, Mr. Thompson? I’ll repeat it for you: “there is no convincing evidence that games make people violent.” In fact, as we’ll see, the evidence actually points to just the opposite. But it’s understandable that the venerable members of our society don’t understand these “child playthings”.

“It’s just a generational divide,” says Gerhard Florin, the European boss of Electronic Arts, the world’s biggest games publisher. “It’s people not knowing what they are talking about, because they have never played a game, accusing millions of gamers of being zombies or violent.”

Again, this is something that should be brought to the attention of grubby lawyers and bloviating politicians. Play some GTA or Doom, let the storyline guide you and realize there’s something more complex than a “murder simulator.” That’s another great point the article makes:

What’s more, plenty of games, far from encouraging degeneracy, are morally complex, subtle and, very possibly, improving. Many now explicitly require players to choose whether to be good or evil, and their choices determine how the game they are playing develops.


This should could be a small factor into why violent crimes have gone down with video games are becoming more mainstream. The article also points to things critics hate to see — positive things being done with video games. My favorite was the teacher using Myst and its beautiful imagery to inspire kids to write better. Excellent. The article closes with some sobriety that video-game critics would do well to grok:

In June, Senator Charles Schumer held a press conference to draw attention to the M-rated game “25 to Life”, in which players take the role of a policeman or a gangster. “Little Johnny should be learning how to read, not how to kill cops,” he declared. True, but little Johnny should not be smoking, drinking alcohol or watching Quentin Tarantino movies either. Just as there are rules to try to keep these things out of little Johnny’s hands, there are rules for video games too. Political opportunism is part of the explanation for this double standard: many of gaming’s critics in America are Democrats playing to the centre.

The other stockpile of ammo comes from Gamer Revolution from its article, The Truth About Violent Youth and Video Games. I’ve also used the graph to further illustrate the point I’m trying to make.


While it’s not as eloquently written as the Economist piece, the author Duke Ferris did some good research (and documented sources) and found some interesting trends.

Something must be missing. That first graph is the overall violent crime rate, and we’re talking about youth violence here. So I found the data sorted by age, and it turns out that through 2002, youth homicide actually dropped across the board, the only increase being among adults…

The lowest levels ever recorded. In other words, the Playstation era has, in fact, produced the most non-violent kids ever

And when peopl read the next quote, I hope that little light bulb pops up and they think to themslves, quite profoundly, “Oh, yeah. That makes sense.”

To be fair, there have been about 300 studies on the effects of violent media, about 30 of which have been about video games. Most have found little to no connection, although some studies found a small, casual correlation between aggressive people and violent media.

Even if true, this does not necessarily mean violent media has created aggressive people. It is more likely that aggressive people are attracted to violent media.

And there’s more of being mean to the media —

The media in particular loves to bash video games, making sure to point out any time there’s an Xbox within 50 yards of a crime. This is because games are the new competition – every hour you spend interacting with a game is one hour less spent drooling in front of their fear-mongering programming.

Again, please read the whole article. It’s another good read with some excellent links for further knowledge.

So as I said, that settles it. You can look at the stastics anyway you want, there is no way you can say violent video games are leading to violent crimes. It’s a simple as the graphs and statistics bear out — video gaming is becoming more popular, with more and more gamers playing video games and yet violent crime is going down. Way down. So the print out one of those graphs. Tuck it away in your wallet. Next time some tells you that video games are causing the moral decline in our world, politely show them the business.

Update: Great. Now Thompson is going after Capcom for Killer 7. What does he base his reasoning on? An IGN review of the game. This is priceless. You can bet game review editors will be vetting all future reviews with Jack in mind. This man truly is an idiot.

Another Update: From this Slashdot article there’s a link to a long interview with Jack Thompson. I listened to the whole thing, and while I still don’t agree with him and he didn’t make any headway in convincing me, I’ll admit that he is well spoken and made some valid points. He’s a raging narcissist but he’s a lawyer, so that can be expected. Unfortunately, he’s still pointing to all this research linking video games with violence but he still can’t make the link with video game violence and violent crime. A lot of the research he points to (like this Indiana University study) involve adolescents that already have a predilection to aggresive (and violent) behavior. I mentioned this earlier. The link of brain chemistry and violent media can be shown but they still can’t link this to the actual increase in criminal activity. He’s still wrong.

If you have time, listen to it. It’ll make you frustrated and tear out your hair. It’s disturbing, it touches on a myriad of topics, including the GTA grandma, EA and the porn industry are in cahoots (huh?!), and many others.

(On a side note, I secretly thing Rockstar has something big planned for Bully. Everyone thinks it’s going to be a morally bankrupt game like GTA but I think there’s a big surprise waiting for us. We’ll see if that plays out, but it’s something that I’ve been thinking about lately.)

Another another update: The Videogame Pundit has also commented on this. There’s a funny exchange with Scott from VGCats and Jack Thompson here. I believe this comic is what started it. VGCats makes me laugh.

Related Posts:
Cranial Menus
GTA should have been rated AO
Parents just have to be better parents
Bad News for Rockstar

Comments

  1. I hate to say it but arguments using empirical evidence and facts are useless. It is the same problem a gun owner faces when arguing with an anti-gunner or a smoker faces when arguing with an anti-smoker. THE FACT’S FLAT OUT DO NOT MATTER!

    The anti’s simply want to control what people do. (Full disclosure: my mom is a big time anti.) There is no way to use evidence to convince an anti they are wrong because it was not evidence that convinced the anti that they were right. The anti’s basically have a religious belief that they are right. PERIOD.

    As a gun owner who believes people have the right to allow smoking on their own property, I know the frustration you are feeling. I have mostly given up on trying to convince the anti’s that they are wrong. I usually just laugh at them and go buy another gun and more ammo. I am half tempted to start smoking just to piss them off.

    In this case we should just laugh and go buy another “violent, sex crazed game”.

  2. I know, Bobster, I know. Call me an optimist but I just hope some day the “Antis” will see the light (you know facts, proof, evidence) and see the error of their ways. It’s not gonna happen anytime soon, but I still hold out hope.

  3. Tony,

    Hope is nice. I remember having it and I envy those who still do. I really do.

  4. TRACKBACK: manually because my damn site doesn’t automatically do ’em 😉

    http://www.flickergaming.net/comment.php?comment.news.56

  5. As I pointed out on CTan, though, it’s hard to have respect for Jack as a lawyer when he can’t be bothered to do things like, obey a judge’s request. He was told specifically to stop talking about the Devin Moore case, and there he was – flapping his jaw about the kid being brainwashed again.

    Jack’s less of a lawyer and more of a PR event when it really comes down to it. When’s the last time we heard about him stepping foot in a courtroom?

    And some of Jack’s statements during that interview were too ludicrous for belief. That the ESRB is in the pocket of the industry because the ESA is comprised of industry members? That logic doesn’t leap on any planet, despite the gravity. And that Doug Lowenstein said that kids have a right view porn? Only through a kind of mangling one sees via a meat grinder could anyone see that as truth.

  6. Josh,

    Well, the Devin Moore case is over, maybe Thompson knew that his case had more holes than a collander so it had already abandoned it for Hot Coffee!

    The interview started out okay but by the end he was a raving lunatic. I can just imagine the froth building up as he talked about EA and The Sims and the porn industry. The guy is cucko!

  7. Bloody Vamp Man says:

    Thx for backing up the video game community. we needed some proof that the video games didnt cause violence. because of your graphs my mom is buying me games like resident evil 4 now. i apreciate your time being spent on this site thx.

    ;.;Bloody vamp dude

  8. You guys just did my school report for me! thank you so much!!!!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Here at buttonmashing.com we are fighting the good fight for video games. We try to get the word out about the positive aspects of gaming while we refute spurious claims that violent video games are bad for kids. Last month I wrote a little piece about the topic of violent video games, quoting a couple articles that had some empirical evidence that refutes the claims by the anti-gaming cadre (definition 2a). Little did I know that it would actually have tangible results. […]

  2. […] I noticed a lot of people are linking to this article at Game Revolution, which I linked to before and was glad people were taking a second look at this. Then I noticed it was recently updated. So the murder rate hit a new 40 year low in 2004, good news indeed for those of us lucky enough to live in the United States during this era of peace. The best selling video game of 2004? Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Good news, indeed. // Used for showing and hiding user information in the comment form function ShowUtils() { document.getElementById(“authorinfo”).style.display = “”; document.getElementById(“showinfo”).style.display = “none”; document.getElementById(“hideinfo”).style.display = “”; } function HideUtils() { document.getElementById(“authorinfo”).style.display = “none”; document.getElementById(“showinfo”).style.display = “”; document.getElementById(“hideinfo”).style.display = “none”; } […]

  3. […] Heard that before, right? What about this one: Finally, there might be some cathartic or educational benefits associated with many video games. From the Bible to Beowulf to Batman, depictions of violence have been used not only to teach lessons, but also to allow people — including children — to engage in a sort of escapism that can have a therapeutic effect on the human psyche. Kids know the difference between make-believe violence and the real thing. And many games today are remarkably sophisticated, offering players a “cognitive workout” that is far more stimulating, rewarding, and even educational than much of the other media fare that is available. […]

  4. […] I noticed a lot of posts trying to refute all the crap that Jack Thompson spewed. I’m particularly fond of this one, which also helped on a poor gamer to convince his mom to get him Resident Evil 4 and helped another lost soul with his homework. […]

  5. […] Related Posts: Cranial Menus GTA should have been rated AO Parents just have to be better parents Bad News for Rockstar This settles it Technorati Tags: Violence and Video Games […]

  6. […] years ago I was busy on the warpath, defending games and trying to dispel myth of a correlation of Violence and Video Games. The fight continues… Four years ago I was talking about games I own that are gathering dust. […]

  7. […] helped an intrepid young man convince his mom that video games (violent ones) are okay. Well, now we’ve helped someone else with their homework. I’d would love to know what kind of report that was. Can someone quote a blog in their […]

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