COMMENT: I am, probably, the least qualified male on the planet to talk about video games. I can remember playing "Space Invaders" in pubs when I was a young lad and Mrs MadPriest and myself had a rather pathetic go on a game called "Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom" in a seaside arcade about twenty years ago in which the thugees made mincemeat out of us. And, I did have a look at a promo for something called "Doom" that came with a Mac magazine over ten years ago which, as it entailed trying to shoot as many dogs as possible, did not stay open on my screen for more than a couple of minutes.

So, I can't really comment as to whether some of them should be banned or not. I assume that the same rules apply to video games as they do to video films, that they were certified for specific age groups. But I may be wrong about this.

However, there does appear to me to be a difference between video games and films. To a large extent horror films, including slasher films, exist to satisfy the viewer's need to be frightened and, maybe in some cases, to watch bloodshed and violence. I don't know for certain, but it seems to me that violent video games exist to satisfy the player's need to win and, maybe in some cases, their need to commit violence, in the same way that a flight simulator is for people who want to become pilots.

So, I have a similar view of people who get their kicks from violent video games as I do to people who get their kicks from fox hunting. Wanting to hurt is part of the male psyche, as is rape, but most of us rise above and control these base instincts. Pretending to kill is, in essence, of the same level vileness as pretending to rape. I doubt if there are many psychologists who would recommend rapists deal with their pent up sex drive by watching violent pornography, so, maybe it is not a good idea for potentially violent males to deal with their aggression by playing graphically violent video games. But, on the whole I would go for self-censorship rather than legal censorship and encouraging the video "Comic Book Guys" to address their addiction by getting attractive women to go up to them regularly, look at them pitifully and say to them "You, poor, sad loser. Get a life!"


VIDEO NASTIES — 22 Comments

  1. I’m going to have to, well…not entirely object, but raise some issues here. Human behavior is often complex and multiply-determined. And the studies which purport to show a strong link between “violent” video games and violence in real life suffer from several problems:

    – the studies which find the strongest effects suffer from weak experimental methodologies.

    – those same studies suffer from the “correlation does not imply causation” fallacy (cum hoc ergo propter hoc)

    – properly done studies show very small effects.

    – these effects can be accounted for by simple arousal and not, necessarily, linked to specific game content.

    – there are a distinct lack of longitudinal studies in this area.

    So this former psychology grad student would like to close with the reminder that, sometimes, “common sense” may not be as sensible as it feels like at the time…

  2. RE: “…getting attractive women to go up to them regularly, look at them pitifully and say to them “You, poor, sad loser. Get a life!”

    Either I’m not attractive enough or Joe is really entrenched. Won’t work with him.

  3. Every video game, dating back to Donkey Kong, has had a hidden code to unlock rape mode. It’s commonly referred to as “the davinci code” and until now has been kept from the general public.

  4. My dad makes sure to buy video games which portray enemies which are not human. Zombies or monsters, he’s fine with. When the avatars look just plain human, he’s not nearly as okay with playing the game.

  5. Thank you, David. But, of course, I never mentioned such links. I merely suggested that there may be a possibility that men who play violent video games are doing so because they are succumbing to the baser instincts most men possess. In the same way, people who go fox hunting don’t go around ripping people to pieces. But I still find it an unsavoury occupation.

  6. Of course it doesn’t, Tracie. This is possibly because Joe actually is a psycho and, to be honest, it may be best for you to encourage him in his video and role playing games – for the sake of any groups of students that happen to pass through your town.

  7. Students? Hon, we live right down the street from Full Sail University and very close to the University of Central Florida.

    We’re SURROUNDED by students, God help us. I need my Viking to be intimidating so as to terrify them into NOT trying to be The Who in the apartment directly above mine.

  8. Oi, you lot! You’re missing the point.

    I haven’t mentioned cause and effect. My point is simple. Why would anyone want to play “Grand Theft Auto?” Why on earth would a Christian want to, Father Ali? Why bother going to the trouble of separating reality from invention when you could play with inventions that don’t glorify anti-social behaviour that you all would be complaining about if it was happening in your street.

  9. Agreed.

    When my students talk to me of video games, I encourage them to note the blank look on my face that is my subtle attempt to tell them I could not be less interested. I tell them, though I can do the “social fake” for most conversations, and feign a certain level of interest, this is impossible when it comes to video games. I tell them they’ll get my attention, something they often wish to do so as to get us off-task, if they’ll speak of the “real world” or “ideas of consequence.”

    Have I ever mentioned that most of my students find me a bit odd?

  10. MP, I play games because i enjoy entering into the storyline of the game, because it improves my hand-eye co-ordination, my concentration, my problemsolving and task management abilitites.
    I dont particulary enjoy the uberviolent stuff, and I choose not play some games based on their levels of violence. But I refuse to judge someone who does play the games i dislike, and i refuse to bind the whole gaming community based on the stereotypes you seem to buy into – most gamers are not male sad losers needing a woman.

    As for your final question, “Why bother going to the trouble of separating reality from invention when you could play with inventions that don’t glorify anti-social behaviour” – why would I NOT want to separate reality from invention in all cases? Does social ignorance become a virtue merely because we the subject or medium is agreeable or deals with pleasantries?

    I do not doubt the need for censorshop of games (and they already are, classed for age content in the same way as film) or the protection of vulnerable people, but a major part in this also is education and a willingness to check the certification and content detail before purchase. The number of people who don’t, especially when purchasing for their kids, is simply frightening!

  11. MP, I respectfully submit that you’re over simplifying. Last year I rediscovered video games through a marvellous one called BioShock, wherein the nature of your choices determines what later happens (ie if you’re moral or not moral). I’d also recommend reading this book.

    Then again, I’m also a fan of zombie films, so feel free to disagree 🙂

  12. Thanks, Ali. But you are taking my comments to apply to far more than they actually do. I am only talking about the realistically violent (I can see a marked difference between shooting monsters that just disappear when they die and shooting people or dogs that die in glorious technicolour). I suggest only self-censorship. I think getting your kicks from snuff games is sad.

    I appreciate a well made erotic film but if I found myself going to see films containing rape scenes and getting a kick from them I would be worried. This is because I know that somewhere within me (like with most men) there is a rapist. Furthermore, I wouldn’t defend people who did seek out such films. It’s not that I think that men who watch violent sex in the movies will go out and rape. It’s not that I think that people who play violent video games will go out and be violent towards other people. I am talking about self preservation and self knowledge.

  13. Sam. Of course, I’m over-simplifying – this is a blog. Also, as a stated at the beginning, I don’t know what I’m talking about.

    But I think my point that there is a difference between passively watching something and being part of the action, is a valid one.

    And, nowhere have I stated that I disapprove of people playing video games. I just think that wanting to play graphically violent games is sad.

  14. Why would anyone want to play “Grand Theft Auto?”

    Well, admittedly, Joe doesn’t play THAT. But he does play Fate, Diablo and Civilization: Call to Power which does involve military maneuvers.

    And as far as the students are concerned…his crossbow is at the ready.

    Why on earth would a Christian want to, Father Ali? Why bother going to the trouble of separating reality from invention when you could play with inventions that don’t glorify anti-social behaviour that you all would be complaining about if it was happening in your street.


    And actually, some of the games (like Civilization, which isn’t just a clickfest and blowing up critters or people) are very good for teaching strategy. Joe actually doesn’t really like the clickfest games too much. That’s too simple. Give him something more like a puzzle to solve. There aren’t that many games like that out there, admittedly, and that’s why he likes Civilization so much.

    Just my wee two cents.

  15. Oh, and just for the record: before I met Joe and hooked up with him, I was with a man who does special effects makeup, like for horror films & whatnot.

    Click here to see some of his work. That’s him in the top left black/white photo.

    Halloween always was fun at our house. 😀

  16. Daniel always said that the reason he did the scary makeup thing was because it helped him work out his own personal demons – probably the same demons you, MP, say that it’s likely all men have (inner rapist, etc). It’s Dann’s way of expressing those dangerous urges in a way that is creative and not harmful to real people.

    He’s actually not an anti-social person at all – in fact, he’s one of the nicest people you’d ever meet. Lots of people have told me that over the years.

    And he’s a good makeup artist.

  17. Oh I agree, MP. I find “Grand Theft Auto” to be appalling…

    But I do have a good deal of fun with games like Halo.

  18. @Tracie: Either I’m not attractive enough or Joe is really entrenched.

    It’s so obviously the latter that it’s barely worth mentioning 😉

    @Geeklet: Yeah, I find that the “non-human game antagonists” paradigm works better for me, too.