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What Came First, the Violence or the Videogame? 204

Posted by Zonk
from the i-think-the-muffins-came-first dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Another wave of video-game-violence panic is upon us. The pressed suits who read the pop news on television are wagging their so-called neutral fingers at an industry they have never understood. Planet Xbox 360 considers the many games they have played and the real-life murderers they have known in their own lives, and how little the talking heads know about either."
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What Came First, the Violence or the Videogame?

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  • Which came first? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ExPacis (973499) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @02:01PM (#16139242)
    Before videogames, there was violence.

    In the 60's, they blamed it on the rock 'n' roll.
    In the 50's, they blamed it on Elvis' hips.

    As far back as history records, there has been violence. Anyone who tries to claim otherwise is just grabbing for straws that aren't there.
    • Oh well, I often get those mixed up.

      Let me do a Google search on "violent sex" and see if that straightens me out.

    • I'll add, however, that my commute leads directly to an increased urge to commit violence.
      • It's not the commute, it's the all the idiots out there on the road who can't drive (which excludes us of course!)
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by hackwrench (573697)
      "On September 13th, a 25-year-old man walked into Dawson College in Montreal and went on a shooting spree that took at least one life"

      "Back in 1989 another 25-year-old, Marc Lepine, killed 14 people in a similar incident at another Montreal college."

      "Charles Whitman killed 16 people and wounded 31 at the University of Texas in 1966"

      Since videogames are cheaper than a college education, they are more prevalent. Therefore there seems to be more of a link between college education and violence. Ban all c
      • strangely enough, you might have a point.

        disturbingly high numbers of people that get student loans to attend college & university default on their loans.

        I think it's something like 65% or higher in canada for students that attend private colleges like the many 'IT' or 'New Media' colleges that are sprouting up.

        i could see having a 30-50k (or even higher) debt hanging over your head being enough to make most people go postal.
      • "On September 13th, a 25-year-old man walked into Dawson College in Montreal and went on a shooting spree that took at least one life" IF this was a videogame inspired shooting I would have imagined that the guy would have a better kill rate. Perhaps "spree" was fewer shots fired than I would have guessed. OTOH, Since his frag score was pathetic, maybe the violence was because he sucked at that game and had some violent type of inferiority complex. OTOOH, I would say that he was just a kook.
    • by Ironsides (739422)
      Before videogames, there was violence.
      In the 60's, they blamed it on the rock 'n' roll.
      In the 50's, they blamed it on Elvis' hips.
      As far back as history records, there has been violence. Anyone who tries to claim otherwise is just grabbing for straws that aren't there.


      In the 20's, they blamed it on The Jitterbug [wikipedia.org]
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by yams69 (986130)
      Another good point that should always appear in these "debates":

      What are these murderers using to kill people: the game consoles themselves, or guns/knives/etc.? Lotsa folks have these weapons in their houses, but manage not to kill people...same goes for games. Frame it in this way, and the NRA is suddenly on your side! In fact....

      "Games don't kill people...psychotic sociopaths kill people."

      "If games are outlawed, only outlaws will have games."

      etc.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      what bothers most politicians is the... unscheduled violence.

      Look at it this way... for many thousands of years, if a human had aggression, he would go pick up a rock/spear/knife/sword, wander over to the other side of the mountain, and knock someone's head in.

      For about the last two hundred years or so, it's been steadily LESS acceptable to get in a physical fight with someone in the Western hemisphere. Especially one that results in grevious harm to the other person. We have become cultures of Law, not c
  • wtf? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AcidLacedPenguiN (835552) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @02:03PM (#16139257)
    I'm relatively sure the crusades came before pac-man. . . So my guess is the violence, just a hunch though.
    • Re:wtf? (Score:5, Funny)

      by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @02:08PM (#16139308)

      I'm relatively sure the crusades came before pac-man. . . So my guess is the violence, just a hunch though.

      Yeah, they intentionally phrased the question so as to mislead you. The crusades were started by people influenced by the graphically violent board game chess, which has since become a video game. It is games in general that are the root of all violent behavior, not just video games.

      • Re:wtf? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @02:16PM (#16139375)
        I remember when I was like 4 or 5, going to my dad's office for the first time. He sat me down on his lap, booted up his copy of Windows 2.0, and then said "watch this..."

        From the first time I saw the rook piece fuckin' swallow the queen whole in Battle Chess, I knew computers were going someplace.
        • From the first time I saw the rook piece fuckin' swallow the queen whole in Battle Chess, I knew computers were going someplace.

          Too bad BattleChess was about as hard to beat as playing my ten your old nephew...

          Kinda off topic (but not really), the eye candy was neat but the challenge wasn't there. I guess games that display violence as being incredibly simple may help the frustrated through the day with a bit of relief but, believe me, the last time I held a loaded AK a little cross hairs didn't appear i
          • Re:wtf? (Score:4, Funny)

            by (A)*(B)!0_- (888552) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @02:43PM (#16139591)
            "the last time I held a loaded AK a little cross hairs didn't appear in my vision and I couldn't do a headshot at 100 yards just by tapping a mouse button."
            Maybe you need the latest patch?
            • by Sj0 (472011)
              Yarr. Indeed, this eyepatch o' mine does make shooting much easier, but steering me galleon is a real yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.
          • I couldn't do a headshot at 100 yards just by tapping a mouse button

            A atock AK trigger has a much heavier pull than a mouse button. With enough practice you get used to it. Or find a good gunsmith. :)
            • Heh. Actually I'm fairly use to the trigger pull on my AK at this point. It's more that the dynamics of actually firing a rifle is a lot different than what they make it seem. In all honesty, I could probably do a headshot at 100 with the AK but not as easily as I do it in CS.
            • A atock AK trigger has a much heavier pull than a mouse button. With enough practice you get used to it.

              From my experience, you'll be lucky to hit a target that size at that distance with the average AK, regardless the trigger pull or your skill. Some of the russian made ones might do it, but the sheer number of crappy chinese and eastern european ones flooding the marketplace is insane. I've put oblong holes from tumbling rounds in a target from as little as 15 yards.

        • by smbarbour (893880)
          Ahh, but have you seen a pawn eaten by a shark in "National Lampoon's Chess Maniac 5 Billion and 1"?

          Playing chess against the computer isn't so easy when the computer is cheating (and calling you "Dan" in HAL's voice).
        • I've played this game before. What was the name of it again?

          And too bad the sound only worked if you had himem enabled in dos mode.
      • by Otter (3800)
        The crusades were started by people influenced by the graphically violent board game chess, which has since become a video game.

        Actually, it was the other side who played chess. At any rate, I'm sure you two and the "video games are caused by muslims" guy can have a fruitful discussion on your various points...

        • Actually, it was the other side who played chess.

          Amusingly, modern historians have pretty well established that chess reached Europe in the 700's and became popular in many parts of Europe by the turn of the millennium, a few generations before the first crusade. Coincidence or Causation?

          • by Otter (3800)
            Coincidence or Causation?

            I'd guess correlation -- both developments reflect the swinging balance of power between the Muslim and Christian worlds over that period.

      • by Hoi Polloi (522990) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @03:23PM (#16139934) Journal
        After playing a marathon chess session I found myself unable to control the urge to kill people "en passant".
      • by syousef (465911)
        he crusades were started by people influenced by the graphically violent board game chess ...but see I don't mind if they do ban most board games (although please not chess!). After the number of fights I've seen monopoly cause I think it should be banned ;-)

  • by UbuntuDupe (970646) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @02:04PM (#16139264) Journal
    I suspect that the Wii is likely to re-invigorate the controversy of video games. For example, in Red Steel, instead of just pushing buttons and killing fake people, you are moving your full upper body, which if intense enough, will get your heart pumping and feel more "real". You're then going through the actual motions. While I wouldn't agree with the complaints of people like Jack Thompson, I can see why it would worry them more.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tarun713 (782737)
      That sort of motion has been going on for ages though - look at first person shooters in the arcade - time crisis, house of the dead, things like that. Of course, this does make it far more mainstream.
    • At the same time they will also have Wii Sports, and many other non-violent Nintendo brand games. At very least that would help get rid of the Blanket statement that "video games" (in general) lead to violence...
  • (see subject)...I believe the violence would have come first... Yarr
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @02:10PM (#16139323)
    I'm pretty sure kids ran around shooting each other before Doom arrived on the scene. In fact, I believe the oldest known video game, Space War, was preceeded by millenia of violence, much of it perpetrated by persons under the age of 25.

    Violence is a part of human nature. The only reasons you hear so much about the kids who kill other kids is a) the news media is pretty much 24/7 and spends a lot of that time twiddling its thumbs, and so it jumps on a story like Columbine; and b) because there are MORE OF US so it's more likely to happen.

    It's not the fault of the video games. It's the fault of negligent parents and a society that doesn't seem to take any interest in disciplining children anymore.
    • by nEoN nOoDlE (27594) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @04:39PM (#16140726) Homepage
      It's not the fault of the video games. It's the fault of negligent parents and a society that doesn't seem to take any interest in disciplining children anymore.

      Ummm... when did parents ever take any interest in disciplining children? Parents have never known "the right way" of raising kids for them not to be violent sociopaths, and that's why there have been 20 year old violent sociopaths throughout history. In the past, it was just considered good parenting to discipline your kids by hitting them when they display bad or violent tendencies.
  • Oh man, (Score:5, Funny)

    by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @02:13PM (#16139353)
    What was the name of that video game Hitler used to play?
    • Re:Oh man, (Score:5, Funny)

      by Zardus (464755) <yans@yancomm.net> on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @02:23PM (#16139437) Homepage Journal
      I think it was called Daikatana.
    • by westlake (615356)
      What was the name of that video game Hitler used to play?

      Cut the jokes and look at the reality of the Nazi regime.

      War games in the Hitler Youth begin at about age ten and are central thereafter. Racist themed board games and story books were distributed to younger boys and girls. Disney's "Education For Death" pretty much gets this right.

      I haven't the slightest doubt that the regime would have used video game technology for indoctrination and propaganda had it been available and no illusions about the v

      • That's certainly true. But it only proves that the violence came before the video game, making any legislation/protest/feelings whatsoever about how grand theft auto is "haxxoring my kidz" completely pointless
      • They were expert in the manipulation of existing mass media: print, graphic art, radio and film.

        This is a perfect example of violence outside of video games. There are plenty of examples of video games outside of violence. As such, we can see that they can exist one without the other, and therefore are not directly caused by the other. However, your statements also make the underlying point that violence and hate can be propagated under the radar within the context of many enjoyable mediums, video games

  • by Volante3192 (953645) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @02:14PM (#16139358)
    Meyers: I did a little research and I discovered a startling thing... There was violence in the past, long before cartoons were invented.
    Kent: I see. Fascinating.
    Meyers: Yeah, and know something, Karl? The Crusades, for instance. Tremendous violence, many people killed, the darned thing went on for thirty years.
    Kent: And this was before cartoons were invented?
    Meyers: That's right, Kent.
  • Mirror neurons are noticeably absent from the debate.

    Have a look at an essay by V S Ramachandran [edge.org] a leading neuroscientist.

    The mirror neuron, scientists tell us, takes things that we see others do and makes us feel like we're doing it ourselves. It's why we like watching things like TV and dancing. It's how we learn to imitate.

    15 years ago, were graphics real enough to trigger a mirror neuron response in a human? Possibly -- I don't know. However, as we approach photorealism, isn't it time we studied t

    • Re:Mirror Neurons (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @02:24PM (#16139446)

      So, if studies consistently showed a mirror neuron response while playing shooters, would we not be obliged to take violent games off the shelf...?

      No, we wouldn't. It undermines several principals of our government. The first is liberty. You might note boxing is not illegal. Watching boxing is a lot more likely to stimulate that part of the brain than video games are. Participating in boxing has been statistically shown to correlate with violent crime and sexual assault. It doesn't matter. We have free will and are responsible for what we do. Does red meat increase testosterone and increase the likelihood of violence? If so should we ban it? Meat in general? All sports? Walking into high oxygen areas in lower altitudes? Not taking hormone suppressants and sedatives to keep us passive and nonviolent?

      It is not the government's job to take measures to force individuals to not take any action that might increase their chances of commiting crimes by running their lives for them. Arguably it is the job of parents to do that for their children, but never the government.

      It's called personal responsibility.

      • Sweet, so you're saying that when I start boxing next month I'll finally start beating my girlfriend and robbing banks? Why oh why didn't I start sooner?
        • Sweet, so you're saying that when I start boxing next month I'll finally start beating my girlfriend and robbing banks? Why oh why didn't I start sooner?

          I didn't state a causation and even if I did that does not make it a reliable predictor. Maybe boxers get brain damage, take drugs, are part of a certain culture, or their testosterone levels go up which influences their behavior. Maybe people with very high testosterone, or who like to hurt other tend to become boxers. Maybe both. I know boxers who are

      • by enjo13 (444114)
        You raise an interesting question, and I don't think the answer is as clear cut as you think it is.

        Should it be legal to drive a tank? After all, it is the pesronal responsibility of the person driving the tank to not..you know.. kill everyone. Yet we restrict access to tanks, because letting an individual own a tank is just not in the publics best interest. We let government regulate someones actions for the greater good. Freedom certainly has limits, and it is up to the government to set those limits.

        The
        • Re:Mirror Neurons (Score:5, Interesting)

          by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @03:57PM (#16140291)

          Should it be legal to drive a tank? After all, it is the pesronal responsibility of the person driving the tank to not..you know.. kill everyone. Yet we restrict access to tanks, because letting an individual own a tank is just not in the publics best interest.

          There is a guy here in town that owns a tank. He needs permission to take it on public roads, because of the potential damage to public property, but her does own one and drive it on his own land.

          We let government regulate someones actions for the greater good. Freedom certainly has limits, and it is up to the government to set those limits.

          Actually, we theoretically allow the government to arbitrate certain freedoms and situations where one person's freedoms come in conflict with others. For example, your freedom to fire a cannon, is restricted by the damage it causes to the property of physical persons of others. So long as you're firing it on private property and not damaging anything belonging to another, or hurting anyone the government has no legal or ethical right to restrict you. Realistically, the government has become corrupt and exceeded their authority by claiming additional power for a few individuals who would be our rulers.

          The problem is determining what is truly in the best interest of a society is REALLY hard.

          No it isn't. The US was founded on the principal that consolidated decision making is dangerous, because overriding the decisions of individuals easily leads to abuse and power corrupts. Thus, the government must demonstrate not only a majority opinion, but an overriding public interest in some action that does not conflict with a predefined set of rights and which is within certain areas the government is allowed to regulate. Take the issue of video games. Will playing a video game result in a person becoming a murderer? Can you prove that with reasonable scientific certainty? If so then, with two thirds or representatives voting you can overturn the freedom of speech that allows people to distribute said video game. Otherwise, the government has no business and the choice should be left to the individual (or individual's parents) to decide.

          Those are the types of questions we face, and we (as a world community) will be struggling with them for as long as we exist.

          Certainly individuals should be considering these issues, but until there is a real, provable consensus and a clear mandate from the people, governments should not.

          • by aj50 (789101)
            Actually, we theoretically allow the government to arbitrate certain freedoms and situations where one person's freedoms come in conflict with others.
            And so we allow them to arbitrate certain freedoms of people wishing to smoke certain substances because?
            • And so we allow them to arbitrate certain freedoms of people wishing to smoke certain substances because?

              ...because under the guise of regulating interstate trade they managed a huge power grab and no one stopped them because they used scare tactics and US citizens are cowards.

      • by yali (209015)

        Mod parent up! The question of whether videogames lead to violent behavior (probably yes [psychologicalscience.org]) is entirely separate from the question of what government should do about it (very little [cornell.edu]).

        The whole reason freedom of speech is encoded into the US constitution is that speech can be dangerous. Why do totalitarian regimes suppress the work of artists? Because art is a tool that can incite people to action. Like any tool it can be used in morally good or bad or ambiguous ways, but the founders were smart enough to kno

      • by Gruneun (261463)
        Participating in boxing has been statistically shown to correlate with violent crime and sexual assault.

        While I mostly agree with your opinion, I'd like some clarification. Are you saying that participation in boxing increases the likelihood to commit those crimes or that the correlation is between people who are likely to become boxers are also likely to commit crimes?

        There's a substantial difference and I'd really like to see your source.
        • While I mostly agree with your opinion, I'd like some clarification. Are you saying that participation in boxing increases the likelihood to commit those crimes or that the correlation is between people who are likely to become boxers are also likely to commit crimes?

          I'm stating that statistically, there is a correlation between people who participate in the sport of boxing and who are convicted of violent crimes and sexual assault, unrelated to boxing. I did not imply a causation at all. It is possible

    • by Eivind (15695)
      I dunno. But your argument is fundamentally flawed.

      Anything we experience *certainly* do train our behaviour, in some way or other.

      It doesn't follow that we forbid anything that some people manage to learn the wrong thing from.

      We don't outlaw boxing, we don't outlaw films with car-chase scenes. We don't outlaw political speech we happen to disagree with.

  • by mgabrys_sf (951552) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @02:35PM (#16139530) Journal
    Are you insinuating that World War II was more than just a game?

    I thought it was a "genre".

    Wow.
    • I've gotten into Battlefield 1942 pretty late in the game, so to speak. It hasn't given me the urge to lay land mines around my neighborhood but a good session sure leaves me jittery from adreneline. The problem with video games isn't violence but high blood pressure and jaws sore from clenching them.
  • by SuurMyy (1003853) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @02:37PM (#16139544) Homepage
    While I do somewhat sympathize w/the writer of the text, I think it's important to point out that some soldiers and security experts actually do think that playing FPS - type games does do one thing for you, which is called `operant conditioning'. That is the exact method that the armies have used to get the soldier to shoot at each other. Most untrained ppl actually DO NOT shoot at each other in the battle-field. I'm not going to elaborate on this for very long, but rather ask you to get the book that Grossmaan wrote - it's called `On Killing'.

    The general idea is that a human ape actually is more or less genetically programmed not to kill its species. Pointing a gun at someone and pulling the trigger sounds easy enough, but most untrained ppl will miss at point-blank range or will just be unable to shoot at another person. The "fix" the armies came up w/was programming shooting at ppl-shaped targets. It's like in boxing, one does eventually get the punches and the slips programmed into the brain, and will react w/o a second thought. So, what one does to train soldiers to shoot at human shaped figures is to make them do that. Repeat, repeat, repeat shooting at a human-shaped silhoutte, and you end up w/soldiers that are programmed/conditioned to shoot at human-shaped figures in the battle-field. This works very, very well.

    However, as it is psyhologically very damaging to kill one's own species, this type of training makes the psychological costs of going to war even more severe. The ppl who would normally be unable to kill will kill out of conditioned reactions and will many tymes be emotionally crippled for life for the things they have done.

    Now what does this have to do w/FPS ? Well, you repeat, repeat, repeat shooting at human-shaped figures. You get the conditioning that is used for soldiers. Now I am not saying that this will make you necessarily more violent, but this will for sure make a person having done this much more efficient in killing others if this person happens to lose it and go on a rampage.

    So, the truth of the matter to me appears to be that the games actually do help in making a shooting a lot more lethal in ways of enabling the shooter to actually shoot at ppl proper and keep on hitting the target w/ease because of having conditioned the appropriate responses out of hir system.

    Make of it what you will, this is what some of the experts say.
    • I've read On Killing, and I find most of his data to be quite fascinating, but the conclusions, I take exception to.

      Putting a man in a fox hole, handing him a rifle, and yelling at him to shoot while man-shaped popups will train him to shoot and kill, yes.

      Putting him in front of a computer, and putting a mouse in his hand? Well, if that worked, the army would be doing it, don't you think? Probably alot cheaper to train that way than the old fashinoned way....

      Oh, and Grossman also points out, as I re

    • After reading Grossman's book, I no longer make my bed. After all, the military places great emphasis on how well soldiers make their bed and so by Grossman's logic it must make them better killers. I don't want to kill anyone so I don't make my bed.

      More seriously, even if Grossman were correct and playing videogames could make one a better killer, there is a difference between learning how to do something and wanting to. My high school english teacher taught me to diagram sentences, but I have yet to fe
    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @05:12PM (#16141064)

      While I do somewhat sympathize w/the writer of the text, I think it's important to point out that some soldiers and security experts actually do think that playing FPS - type games does do one thing for you, which is called `operant conditioning'. That is the exact method that the armies have used to get the soldier to shoot at each other.

      Okay, I think you're a little confused. Video games are effective means to operant conditioning. They do not, however, condition people to kill. Conditioning is reflexive reaction and unless you're playing the video game with a gun, it is not going to make you more willing to kill. The army and police forces do use FPS game sin training, but mostly to develop teamwork and tactics (and because it is fun). The army does use psychology to make people more willing to kill others, but this is not operant conditioning. They do this by breaking down a person's emotional base and self confidence. In this way they overcome personal beliefs that killing is wrong and individual decision making is important and instead teach soldiers to believe obeying orders is more important and killing is not even considered in terms of right and wrong for the most part.

      The general idea is that a human ape actually is more or less genetically programmed not to kill its species.

      This also, is misguided. Man has been killing man for a long time and our "genetic programming" is made up of three, very recognizable parts. The first part is pain/pleasure/instinct/hardwired reactions. The second is emotional responses. The third is rational thought. A blend of these three parts results in our actions. The emotion called anger is the genetic program to destroy a threat and is usually why we kill. Anger can be invoked by fear and they are closely related. In a given situation we might be pumped full of adrenaline by a fight or flight reaction and then kill something that threatens us. Military training is designed to make this behavior controlled and predictably directed.

      So, what one does to train soldiers to shoot at human shaped figures is to make them do that. Repeat, repeat, repeat shooting at a human-shaped silhoutte, and you end up w/soldiers that are programmed/conditioned to shoot at human-shaped figures in the battle-field. This works very, very well.

      Sort of. The thing is, there are lots of human shaped targets on a battlefield. They need to be trained to shoot the right ones at the right time. Have you seen the pop-up man targets? They spring up suddenly and they all used to have red stars on their helmets.

      Now what does this have to do w/FPS ? Well, you repeat, repeat, repeat shooting at human-shaped figures.

      Here's where we disagree. You don't want people conditioned to make a mouse clicking gesture when someone pops up in front of them. You want them to aim their rifle. The FPS programs are used more to train higher functions and learn tactics and teamwork. Not to condition a response to sit perfectly still except for twitching your mouse hand.

      Games certainly can be useful, but they don't make you a better shot and are not a primary method for overcoming the aversion to killing. I suspect most "experts" who claim otherwise don't really know what they are talking about.

    • Most untrained ppl actually DO NOT shoot at each other in the battle-field

      But some do, because that's the way they are wired.

      I've got news for you... most people who play video games aren't all that likely to go and blow somebody away either.
  • Unless the technology existed at the time, I suspect Caveman A throwing a rock at Caveman B came first.
  • by ewhac (5844) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @02:44PM (#16139595) Homepage Journal
    It should be obvious to anyone not pushing a socio-political agenda that aggression and violence are innate human traits.

    As a sporadic member of the video game industry, the issue of violence-in-video-games is not at all new or novel to us. Nor have we been deliberately ignoring it. Far from it. Game authors have been considering the issue for about as long as video games have existed.

    In 1977, a man named Steve Dompier wrote a game for the Sol-20 Terminal Computer [thebattles.net] called TARGET. Ships flew across the screen, and it was your job to shoot them down. I'd like to share with you a thought from the game's author, printed in the manual [thebattles.net]. It seems that video game violence was on his mind as well:

    There are several types of spaceships containing dangerous cargoes of pesticides, DNA experiments, artificial flavorings, TV commercials and so on. They should be stopped before they reach a civilized area of the universe and endanger the populace. [ ... ]

    [Author's note: The game player may relate to the ships and missiles of TARGET as objects personally imagined by him. The above scenario is provided for those with an aversion to the destructive type games who may otherwise mistake the robot spaceships as earthly in origin. Aggression, still being a common human trait in 1977, is better exercised with a zero-sum game than spent on the physical real world. Besides--it's fun.]

    The above quote serves as evidence that video game authors have been thinking about violence in games for thirty years, if not longer. So if you think some zeitgeist-chasing politician or religious extremist who just started shrieking about the issue last week has any deeper insights than we do... Well, then you may be interested in this bridge I have for sale.

    Schwab

    P.S: If you're interested in finding out what was so horrific about TARGET, download the Sol-20 emulator [thebattles.net] and try it yourself:

    1. In the release folder, run the program solace.exe. You will be presented with a very unhelpful command prompt window.
    2. From the File menu, select "Load Program..."
    3. Select "targ.ent" and click OK.
    4. In the command prompt window, enter the command:
      EX 0
      and press Enter. You must enter the command in upper case.
    5. The game will launch. Follow the on-screen instructions. (You can steer the missiles in flight with the aiming keys, crucial for getting high-value combo shots.)
  • What Came First, the Violence or the Videogame?

    Two words - "Space War".

    The very first video game (yes, a full decade before "Pong") had, as its theme, a scifi twist on mankind's second oldest form of recreation - Killing one another for fun and profit, framed as a team sport.

    Of course, once upon a time that served a purpose, since our oldest form of recreation tended to lead to overpopulation before the availability of effective birth control methods, but some of the more foolish packs of domesticate
  • sheltered (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Heppelld0 (1003848)
    people in modern times are so sheltered that they cant stand anything but normality. they are just looking for someone to blame for having the urge to go and stab someone.

    the sad thing is, that some people get so wrapped up in the game that they cant seperate themselves from it. there was one guy in the local news who was playing a game while looking after his baby daughter. he ended up getting so annoyed with his daughter for disrupting his gaming that he put a pillow over her head and killed her. i unde
  • Shouldn't the question be whether or not things like TV, pornographic literature, and videogames actually cause an increase in the occurences of related behavior? Percent-wise I mean, not in gross numbers. It's moronic to ask which came first, violence CLEARLY existed before humans gave it the word (see: carnivorous dinosaurs for example).

    There are no studies I am aware of which demonstrate a marked increase in violence due to any particular stimuli. I'm sure the Army has them though to refine their trai
  • Aggressive society (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 7Prime (871679) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @03:24PM (#16139943) Homepage Journal

    Well, let's, for a moment, forget about extreme violent crime in today's world: war, murder, rape, etc. and step back and look at more pallatable problems: the aggression of youth in schools to each other. Now, I'm not talking about the rare cases like Columbine, but your everyday shoving, name calling, and overall, aggressive behavior. There is an extreme increase in the aggression in school kids today, but I'm not sure whether or not it's being fed by games, or whether the games are simply catering to the rising levels of aggression. I'm going to take a leap here and suggest that 20 years ago, in the days of Super Mario Bros., GTAIII would have bored the shit out of most kids. "Why do I have to go around beating people up? What's the point here?" I'm not saying that it wouldn't appeal to anyone, but the threshold of kids that would be fascinated by this kind of activity would have been a lot lower.

    But America has changed a lot in the past decade, you can blame the terrorists, you can blame Bush, you can blame videogames, but whatever, the results are pretty damn clear: we're becoming a more and more aggressive culture day by day. The acceptability of actions that would have, just years ago been considered socially taboo, are now encouraged by our peers, our parents, our leaders, and everyone else.

    Video games isn't a large problem in the grand scheme of things. It's no more a cause of violence than the movies kids watch every day, and it CERTAINLY doesn't encourage aggressive behavior any more than watching our leaders point to groups of people and encourage their slaughter. Let's face it, an SUV says, "I'm bigger than you, and I'll fuck you up", yeah yeah, I hear all the "but I want to protect my family" bullshit, but the statistics aren't there to back it up. Our culture is becoming mean. A society where you are either a bully, or you're going to get bullied.

    Entertainment is a reflection of culture, and in turn, ligitimize and spread the ideals of that culture, making it it more potent. Do videogames promote violence, then? Sure, but really it's US that are promoting the violence. Game companies have no particular reason to promote violence unless it's what the people want.

    • First point: Youth violence and crime is at an all-time low.
      Second point: Have you read much (non fiction) about life 50 years ago? Kids then were just as bad as they are now- probably worse, because you would get beat up more often. And heaven help you if you were black, Jewish, Italian, etc.
      Third point: You are complaining that kids are ruder today than they were- and I'll agree with this. Americans have definitely gotten ruder as a society. However, I also think that we are much less toleran
    • ...just like people have been saying every generation since Socrates (and probably before.)

      Whatever.
  • Man, when I was a kid, back before Pong had even shown up, I stabbed my step brother through the foot with a knife. Now, he'd just gone and shot me with an arrow, we figured we were even, bandaged up each other and went back to playing. And then along came Pong. We used the paddle controllers as bolos, we tried to strangle each other with the cables, we even tied up the dog and performed perverse experiments on her. Finally, Dad bought us an Atari and we resorted to running pixel blocks of color into each o
  • Looks like someone forgot pretty much every single cartoon ever made. Filled with violence and geared towards kids.
  • Quick question. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thewils (463314) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @04:28PM (#16140597) Journal
    How many people didn't go out and perform real-life violence today, because they found relief in a violent videogame?

    I guess statistics are a bit hard to come by on that one.
  • I found it entertaining that the ad on the right side of the Slashdot page for this story was for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories.

    It's probably just a bot, but maybe somebody at /. has a sense of humor...

  • "Only the dead have seen the end of war." - Plato.
  • Didn't Cain kill Abel over a game of Pong or something? "I am not my brother's goalkeeper" sounds really familiar.
  • In the movie "Inside Man", an 8-year-old boy carries with him a portable video game system. The "villian" in the movie plays the game briefly, and we see the game action on the screen. This clip of the scene [googlepages.com] is Spike Lee's over-the-top attempt to show us that video game violence has gone too far. Ironically, he fears someone may take his idea and run with it [contactmusic.com].
  • Let's all remember that violent crime rates are still lower than they were in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. My theory is that violent video games have nothing to do with violent crime.

    Source: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/viort.htm [usdoj.gov]
  • Obviously violence came first.

    But the problem with violent video games isn't that they _cause_ violence, but rather over prolonged exposure, can accumulate desensitization to the horrors that real violence actually brings. This phenomenon is not exclusive to video games, of course. And they may or they may not demonstrate more violence as a result. It varies from individual to individual.

    Of course, the converse is also true... prolonged exposure to an environment where people are very rarely physica

  • Anybody blaming violence on video games needs to watch Rebel Without A Cause. If there's a generation gap between the young video game playing people and the more seasoned folks, that movie should speak the language of the second group a bit better than video games.

    If they still don't believe violence is in our nature, have them watch the discovery channel if they're more scientifically swayed or read Genesis if they're more religiously swayed. It's pretty evident though, any way you look at it.

    If they br

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