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The Media

Violence, Video Games And Donahue 425

nsda's deviant writes: "Salon is running an article written by Henry Jenkins, the director of MIT's new comparative media studies program. His article on Salon details blow-by-blow the shrewd tactics of cable TV's nightly debate programs like O'Reilly, Connie Chung, Cross Fire and of course the return of Donnahue. It also sheds lights on mass media's promotion of violence as ratings excitment and actively publicizing violence (ala Grand Theft Auto 3) for more ratings / controversy. The debate over video game violence has been a frequent topic on /. but this gives it quite a different twist. My favorite quote is 'those GTA3 clips seemed a whole lot more bloody when he (Donahue) was watching them before the show.'"
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Violence, Video Games And Donahue

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  • by Michael O-P ( 31524 ) on Tuesday August 20, 2002 @06:43PM (#4108050) Journal
    One facet of what he writes struck me as being very obvious, but I've never thought of it before. The activists against video game violence are always described as concerned mothers, whereas Dr. Jenkins, in spite of having raised a kid of his own, is merely referred to as a researcher. In his own words:

    "On Donahue, activists are moms and intellectuals are presumed to be childless."

    The nice thing about the internet is that you can say all the things you wished you would have said in the first place. Granted, he's reaching an entirely different audience than those who watched the Donahue in the first place, but he gave me something to think about when I see how people are labeled in the media.

    I'm pretty sure "concerned mothers" are a greater threat to freedom than terrorists ever were...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I agree with you to a certain extent, but an amazing thing happened to me last week. I stopped playing games, and I'm a HUGE game fan. In the last year I've played the following games
      religiously(more than 60 hours total):

      Everquest, Counter-strike, Nethack, Civ I and III, Neverwinter Nights, Warcraft I and II, Baldur's Gate II, Mechwarrior 4, TFC, Day of Defeat, Bards Tale, Wasteland, Metroid, Master of Orion, Master of Magic...and I'm sure I forgot more than a few.

      Now I'm asking you, is there a single title above that doesn't have warfare as it's main theme?

      I mean...it just struck me. Every game I play is about war.
      • Conflict != war.

        For instance, with a large-enough map and sufficiently friendly players, most Civ-like games can be played, well, quite civilized. In SMAC, certainly, I normally preferred internal development to conquest, and in MOO II I preferred peaceful expansion over blitzes and genocide.

        Wasteland isn't really about war; it's about figuring out what the heck is going on, and then /stopping/ a war, really, before the Steel Storm that's already started on the City of Gold gets out of hand.
      • by Danse ( 1026 ) on Tuesday August 20, 2002 @07:44PM (#4108396)

        Life has pretty much always been a constant struggle. War has been an omnipresent fixture of human existance. There are games that don't deal with war. Games like The Sims, the various Tycoon games, Sim <whatever>, etc. They do fairly well in the mainstream. But there is a certain appeal to war and fighting games. Perhaps it's a way for us to take part in war without actually damaging anything or killing anyone. We get to experience some simulation of the decision-making, the strategy, the tactics, and to some (very limited) extent, some of the emotions of fighting a war or battle without the risk. Without conflict, there is not much you can do with a game besides create elaborate puzzles, or open-ended, non-goal-oriented games. Even sports are a conflict of sorts. Sure, it's not usually a life or death thing, but the conflict exists. It's just so basic that it's hard to imagine there not being a great number of games that use it as a basis. Sure they could make games that are non-violent, but that would rule out creating games about the vast majority of our history (and our present) without being highly revisionist.

    • Bogus point.

      Concerned mothers are identified as "concerned mothers" because that clearly defines their stake in the issue. Jenkins, on the other hand, uses his credentials as a researcher to argue his point of view. That makes him a "researcher" (and an extremely biased one at that). I don't see any presumption of childlessness here. If Jenkins wants to argue on behalf of intelligent parents, he must drop the pretense of being a professional researcher. As it is, his position is already compromised by the fact that he has engaged in "sponsored research." This is a rhetorical fact: You have to talk like who you claim to be. And while academics of Jenkins's ilk may bemoan the polemical nature of popular discourses and long for more nuanced intellectual exchanges, from the outside it just looks like some ivory tower dweeb got a whupping in a public debate. Instead of pointing fingers at Circus Media, a wiser man would inquire into the privileged status of his views, and the political implications of his isolation. How does somebody get through life thinking that everybody's on his side, or would be if only people would listen to him?

      • "I don't see any presumption of childlessness here."

        Third page of the article, first e-mail quote at the end. It seems at least one viewer is implying a lack of parental experience on the part of the researcher.

      • by qubit64 ( 233602 ) <nbcoffey@nospAM.hotmail.com> on Tuesday August 20, 2002 @08:12PM (#4108543)
        Something I was taught early on by my best teacher ever, was that it doesn't matter who is making the argument, as long as it is sound. I don't care if it's usama, bush, the kid next door, a researcher, or a "concerned mother", I _try_ to listen to what they're saying, and try to expand on their ideas and/or think up counterpoints. That being said, no one is perfect, and often when I'm listening to something my own biases will creep in (or dominate), although often when I think of something later on, in isolation, I will be less biased and honestly evaluate what was said to the best of my ability. (Which is why it's best not to assume an argument is over after a single debate, but revisit it many times and hear from many people before making any important conclusion)

        About the circus media, I'd say that although from time to time some insight into an issue is shown on TV and some idea I haven't discovered is brought to light, much of the time what is being said can be obvious, misleading, alarmist, ridiculously biased, and so on. I've never seen a news anchor or anyone on TV showing any actual thought, with the possible exception of Bill Maher and some of his guests on politically incorrect, which was of course not perfect, but sometimes brought out interesting points on issues that one would rarely see on TV normally. I don't mean to say that TV news has no value, it does, it's just that whenever any story requires analysis (or doesn't but it is given) it seems like good interesting points rarely come up. The people who are giving their opinions are so often simply assume they are correct, and people almost never admit they are wrong, or even could be wrong. Which reminds me of Dennis Miller of course, who always mentions "that's just my opinion, I could be wrong." Often (always?) it seemed like a very sarcastic statement, but the idea that it is shameful to be mistaken, and then admit you're wrong, is one that has always really bothered me.

        Anyway to conclude, from my point of view, the best arguments I've ever had weren't so much arguments as discussions where neither "side" assumed they were right and argued from that point of view but brought out as many important ideas as possible, to try and acheive the best understand of an issue as possible. There is of course more to it than that and some of what I've said needs clarification, but it's an idea.
      • Bogus point? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by doi ( 584455 )
        Uh moron, exactly how do the "concerned mothers" pass themselves off as genuine researchers? How exactly is their opinion more valid? If a mother actually had a college degree WTF is she doing on a talk show?

        For all we know, none of them have kids either; they provided just as much "evidence" as Jenkins did. And for the ones that do have kids, 80% of them are buying these games for their kids. And the ones that aren't, and their kids have them anyway, aren't doing their fucking job as parents.

        Mr. Jenkins is.

        And your whole statement about media circus and informed debate is actually the point of the article...did you even read the fucking thing? The "Childish Intellectuals" have actually recognized that this type of discourse is horseshit and doesn't accomplish anything useful. You and Phil Donahue haven't realized this yet. It's just a "whupping in a public debate".

        Like the Salem witch trials.
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ ( 559379 ) on Tuesday August 20, 2002 @06:44PM (#4108055) Journal
    Anyone ever try to get news in the morning?
    CNN has been taken over by morons doing all fluff. Fox is a pandering channel for Republicans that hide behind the fair and balanced crap (it's neither).

    The best time to watch news is when you are out of the U.S. CNN International is a totally different creature than what you see here.

    Shame we don't have the option here to get it in the states.
    • by paladin_tom ( 533027 ) on Tuesday August 20, 2002 @06:56PM (#4108110) Homepage

      From my experience you can get very good news from the BBC [bbc.co.uk].

      They have a very international focus, as opposed to many news shows that are heavily-biased towards their country of origin.

    • by Usquebaugh ( 230216 ) on Tuesday August 20, 2002 @07:05PM (#4108164)
      The BBC does a fair job, being British in America I've come to regard the BBC with something approaching reverance. where as living there I thought it biased, opinionated rubbish.

      I would reccommend either the cable channel BBC America or the world service streamed across the net. The WS in particular is very cool. As a last resort get a short wave radio.

      Of the Amercian news I tend towards CNN with the sound turned off. Local news is dire and national news about the same.
    • Some areas can get BBC World News broadcasts. I only get an hour of it once or twice a day on the local "public" station, but that's enough to cover the major news topics for the day. Course, I signed up with XM Radio last January and BBC News has an entire 24/7 station on XM.

      You can also stream the news (audio and video) from the BBC website [bbc.co.uk].

  • by eric6 ( 126341 ) on Tuesday August 20, 2002 @06:45PM (#4108063) Journal
    emotion over reason! woo!
    • I could be wrong, but I seem to recall that (over a year ago) some political consultant misplaced a memo that could have proved embarrassing, because it contained advice like using the mantra "think of the children" on women, because regardless of issue they tend to respond positively to it. In other words, t'was blatant emotional manipulation with an implication (justified? I'm too lazy to search for a study right now) that women would fall for it.
  • Fantastic Article (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Murdock037 ( 469526 ) <tristranthorn AT hotmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 20, 2002 @06:46PM (#4108067)
    It really was.

    An article bemoaning the absurdity of linking games to real-world violence is obviously preaching to the choir here on Slashdot, but it's worth reading for anybody with an interest in media (and media bias). It's unfortunate that Jenkins' ideas weren't given air, but worse is that they probably never will, as long as video games are "for kids."

    I'm reminded of the troubles some comic book artists have been given over free speech, and the uphill battle of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. (Check out www.cbldf.org if you have a moment. They're fighting the good fight.)

    Anyways. It's too bad such a well-written and insightful article ended up at Salon, rather than some Congressional hearing on the matter; it won't ever be absorbed by hyper-conservative parents and lawmakers who can somehow justify relinquishing responsibility for their children through legislation.
    • by siskbc ( 598067 )
      No kidding. I've never understood why specific parents care all that much - after all, if they're doing their job, as they see it, their kids will never see such games anyway.

      The games say Mature on them, mom - if your kids play them, maybe the fault lies in the mirror.
      • by tcc ( 140386 )
        >No kidding. I've never understood why specific parents care all that much - after all, if they're doing their job, as they see it, their kids will never see such games anyway.

        I'm sorry to correct you on this, but my pick would be: if they're doing their job RIGHT, their kids will never be AFFECTED by such games.

        Want it or not, unless you are living in a cave, your kids will end up being exposed to graphic violence in movies, tv or games, you can't go around it... now any person with minimal common sense will know that if there's would be even 1% chance per individual to gain sadistic violent behaviour because he/she's playing quake too much, we'd have a LOT MORE serial killers and people shooting with rocket launchers all over the country. This isn't the issue, now if the parent are spending time with their children, they are raising them with good values, and apply the universel concept of good parenting (tm), their kids will be smart enough to know the difference. Of course there are always the specific cases with bad genes or mental disorders, but this is a completely different issue and it's like saying we shouldn't have cars because sometimes some people without permits go take a car and get into an big accident killing x amount of people and blablabla.

        On the other hand, a lot of bitching (about violence and all) parents have a lot of things they could fix themselves before blaming everyone else (typical example: rely on TV to educate their children and replace the babysitter), I'd say they are the first people to blame. It's amusing to notice how these specific type of people even in real life are always blaming everybody and everything else before themselves or their own action, but there are so many of these people nowadays and they are whining so loudly that they are taken into account in the system. A true shame because mature people and intelligibile kids looking for a distraction are getting penalized by this.

      • No kidding. I've never understood why specific parents care all that much - after all, if they're doing their job, as they see it, their kids will never see such games anyway.

        I'm not a religious person, but I know a few. One in particular has put a concerted effort into trying to save me. Now, rather than sitting around getting in arguments with the chap, my reaction has been to take it as something of a compliment. He believes that the only way to save a person is to convert them to his faith. In his eyes, not attempting to do so would be a sin. In his own way, he's trying to protect me.

        I'm not a parent and I do love games, counterstrike in particular. If you look at a stereotypical example of a "concerned parent," they believe violence in media is detrimental to their children, other people's children, and consequently society as a whole. If they are good (TM) people, they will try to convince the rest of the world of this perceived danger and force reform. By doing so, they are attempting to protect their children from media and other children, as well as protecting society as a whole. So the reason specific parents care all that much is that they are trying to protect us from a very real perceived threat.

        • So let me get this straight -- because somebody wants to make an end-run around my First Amendment right to say, think, or worship whatever I want (provided it does not harm others), I'm supposed to feel complimented?

          I call, "Bullshit." The Klan wants to protect me from all those dangerous minorities, whom they perceive as "threats." Reverend Ashcroft and his Holy Zombie Army are trying to protect me from those heathen Muslim terrorists (and while we're at it, anybody doing anything remotely "unamerican"), because they perceive a threat there. And now these "concerned mothers" are upset because I want to beat the piss out of simulated hookers and old women in the privacy and sanctity of my own home?

          Fuck them. Fuck every last one of the smugly self-righteous twits who are pimping their virtues out to the whole world to guilt the rest of us into showing that we "really care" by joining their inane causes. Just because someone has a group name that makes some clever acronym doesn't make him any better than those of us who love America for the freedom to live whatever miserable, jack-off excuses for existence we want.

          To paraphrase the immortal words of Paul (not the apostle, the webmaster of ConsumptionJunction [consumptionjunction.com]), "I'd love to see all of these censorship-happy people locked into a cramped room where they'll all be forced to blow each other just for the protein needed to survive."

          • Sheesh, I was just responding to the original poster's comment: "I've never understood why specific parents care all that muchm - after all, if they're doing their job, as they see it, their kids will never see such games anyway."

            Fuck them. Fuck every last one of the smugly self-righteous twits who are pimping their virtues out to the whole world to guilt the rest of us into showing that we "really care" by joining their inane causes.

            So basically what I'm hearing here, is that we should all take part in the self righteous cause of fucking smugly self-righteous twits who are pimping their virtues out to the whole world? You're not going to stop people from lobbying anti-violence in media with an attitude like that. You might even encourage opposition.

            The reason I posted the response I did was, until you understand why a parent might go on an anti-violence crusade, it is difficult to figure out how to bring them to a more informed opinion on the issue. Nowadays, when two groups argue back and forth on social issues, they tend to throw supporting statistical factoids at each other like monkeys throwing poo. No one changes their mind, they just sit around looking for bigger piles of poo. However, if you understand an issue from another person's perspective, it enables you to see the points where their idea breaks down and where it holds together. That's all I'm saying.

            because somebody wants to make an end-run around my First Amendment right to say, think, or worship whatever I want (provided it does not harm others), I'm supposed to feel complimented?

            You're taking it all out of context. When the chap tried to convert me to christianity I took it as a compliment because he has a roughly similar moral code to myself and it was sort of his way of giving me a compliment... sort of like a nice guy saying you're a nice enough guy to join my club. I did not mean to imply that we should feel complimented by everyone's actions to protect us including the clan or a mob of angry concerned mothers. Indeed, my statement applied only to myself in that particular situation. I personally don't believe in any limitations on free speech with the possible exception of people having a right to not have to listen.
    • >>hyper-conservative parents

      I always think of the parents whining about this stuff as being Clinton-voting-soccer-Mom-types (I'm thinking Tipper Gore and the PMRC here). I guess there are probably conservatives in that mix, but I doubt all of them are conservative on other issues (like abortion, taxes or gun control). Maybe I have a warped view of such people though.

      But it was a great article. Sounded like the writer got blindsided on Donahue, but that is probably because he didn't spend enough time watching Springer to realize where 'talk shows' on TV are heading. He was right--in retrospect he should have hammered one issue and yelled louder. That seems to pass for debate these days.

      "Donahue, you are a slave to your pimps in Redmond, who bank large rolls of greenbacks on their video game industry."

      "Why don't you answer that question Donahue, since all your money comes from MicroSoft who produces lots of violent video games"

      "So how is playing a video game any different than showing the most gratuitous parts of that video game on TV, free for the world to see. What is your show rated, Donahue? Is it rated 'M' for mature like GTA3?"

    • Re:Fantastic Article (Score:5, Informative)

      by vitaflo ( 20507 ) on Tuesday August 20, 2002 @07:59PM (#4108477) Homepage
      It's unfortunate that Jenkins' ideas weren't given air, but worse is that they probably never will, as long as video games are "for kids."

      His ideas actually were given air. In 1999 there were Senate hearings in Washington about the marketing of violence to children. This came after Columbine and the school shootings back then. Jenkin's was part of a panel of four people at those hearings, and said a lot of the same types of things you read in this piece. After the Senete heard what he and the other three on the panel had to say, the hearings were basically dropped, and not much came out of them.
    • Unfortunately, it's not just the "conservatives" who are out to push responsibility for violence on video games. As often as its the "liberals".

      Case in point would be Senator Leiberman, perhaps the most visible and high ranking politician calling for censorship in video games.

      I just moved from a fairly liberal area to a very conservative area, and just from reading the newspaper here, I can tell that people are much more interested in being able to do what they want than keeping other people from playing video games... which was an obsession with the more liberal newspaper.

      Of course, the bars (or rather... bar) here do close at midnight.
    • hyper-conservative parents and lawmakers who can somehow justify relinquishing responsibility for their children through legislation.

      That's not really a fair way to characterize the opposition in this case; the truth is scarier. The core behind these ideas are indeed proactive caring parents. They don't let their children buy or play these games, but even even further they don't want their children influenced by any other children as to how cool these games really are. They therefore petition the powerful to prevent this (unintended alliteration, i swear). All of this is whipped up by the now well-trod path of other victimless crimes' mythologies of a gateway to dark depths of moral decrepitude. Sex education leads to teen pregnancy, science education leads to the death of morality, pot leads to property crime, GTA3 leads to your children becoming the next Charles Manson. All of it total crap, but the pseudo-reasoning behind it has been drummed and drummed again into the heads of Joe and Jane sixpack such that they accept it and continue to watch survivor..

      What it comes down to is that They are more numerous and more influential. We need to make up for that fact by speaking out twice as often and maybe a little louder. Not in the million geek march sense, but in a more pervasive way. Write letters. To your congressman, to the editor of your local paper, to the game companies whom you support, express your take on the issues. Call into radio talk shows, tell em there too. The more voices expressing these ideas we have, the greater chance we have of being heard.

  • Hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jat850 ( 589750 ) on Tuesday August 20, 2002 @06:48PM (#4108076)
    Am I wrong in thinking that it is the PARENTS' responsibility to raise their children in socially appropriate manners? If you don't like your kids playing violent video games, why are you purchasing their PS2s and GTA3... then turning around and blaming the games when the kids act in "monkey-see-monkey-do" manner? Of course children are impressionable, but they're impressionable to all things, media and not.

    I fail to see how the general public cannot grasp this simple concept, and still looks for the easy way out in blaming violent behaviour on media.
    • It's very much like the stories I hear quite frequently from people I work with or other parents I know. They buy their children some new album, and then are "forced to take it away" from their kids after they hear the lyrics. These albums have a nice big parental advisiory label on the front. You'd think that would be enough of a clue NOT TO BUY IT IN THE FIRST PLACE!

      The problem is worse for video games because most people in current 35+ generation think that video games are only for kids, and there wouldn't be any inapropriate content in something that's made for kids.
    • If you don't like your kids playing violent video games, why are you purchasing their PS2s and GTA3...

      Here's a little gravy for your meaty comment.

      The same parents that are bitching and complaining about the violence in GTA3 will no doubt be buying their children GTA:VICE this Christmas.

      Those in doubt check the sales records come new years.
    • Do you remember how exciting it was to see some forbidden, scary tape that your friend (or you) had their secretive, little paws on? You can't fully block a kid from violence and/or adult content if that kid is interested (and peer pressure assures the kid will be). However, it may or may not be worthwhile to say that "we don't watch/do that in our home", just to show the kid that you make the rules in your home.
  • by edrugtrader ( 442064 ) on Tuesday August 20, 2002 @06:48PM (#4108077) Homepage
    wow, violence sells? controversy sells? way to go salon for horridly covering a moot issue.

    games have ratings that classify what age levels should play them. the goverment and parents groups got that done. GTA3 is rated "M". the parents that care won't let their 13 year old play the game.

    o'reilly is a brilliant catalyst... he knows his topics very well, and the arguements for both sides. no matter what you say, he'll have the perfect rebuttle ready. donahue, go home. these shows are ONLY about controvercy and it sickens me that they still argue about these topics that were solved a long time ago.
  • by Rayonic ( 462789 ) on Tuesday August 20, 2002 @06:50PM (#4108088) Homepage Journal
    They said "no cheap shots."
    Was just another talk show.
    Donahue is scum.
  • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Tuesday August 20, 2002 @06:57PM (#4108115) Homepage Journal
    I learned from GTA 3 is that you can never outrun the cops. Not only do they have transporter technology to materialize wherever you are, but they have a clone army ready to take you out as well!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 20, 2002 @07:00PM (#4108129)
    What really gets me about this whole thing is that people are going to take the 'ultraviolence' that GTA3 offers and figure that it is this violence that made the game popular.

    Forget the fact that there are over 70 missions, the ability to do whatever the hell you please at any time, including grab a taxi and play Crazy Taxi GTA3-style (which is really fun, GTA has way better physics than Crazy Taxi), or perhaps do the Emergency Vehicles missions..

    Or maybe it is the massive parody that the entire game lays out, from a Mob Boss with Mommy issues, to a pair of troublemaking girls with a flair for S&M. Try listening to the soundtrack sometime.. (All the best pop music.. with lots of cool transition sounds!)

    No, no, no, we can't accept that this game gets it all right, presenting the gamer with freedom, as well as an entertaining and engaging story that they want to play out. Instead, the media tells us that this game is popular because it is violent. Well, fuck, if that was the case, Postal would have been the best selling game of all time, or perhaps State of Emergency.

    I dunno, that's just my rant on the media attention that GTA has attracted. These 'activists' should be sat down in front of the game, after the main character has already 'obtained' a taxi, and should be asked to play the game, doing fares for an hour or 2. Perhaps they will start playing conservatively, following roads and obeying traffic lights. Or, more likely, they'll realize it's a god dammed video game and they'll have a bit of fun, smash up a car or 2 and drive over the median. Only then, will they realize that it is the best game written since Half-Life. And all the while, I'll bet they won't think it's the same 'ultraviolent' game that they've been up in arms about.
    • Some friends of mine accidentally discovered that a large amount of the incidental soundtrack in GTA3 comes from the movie "Scarface." I encourage everyone to rent "Scarface" to enjoy this interesting parallel - and for its artistic merits of course.
    • by cbuskirk ( 99904 )
      I agree with you about 90 percent. This is the exact same way I view GTA3. Once I start playing it I can't stop. Now I would never advocate banning a game, but GTA3 certianly gives me pause. I consider my self a sensible, responsible, well adjusted individual. After I play GTA3 however, when I go out in my car, every car I see, I start thinking about stealing this car or that car, or how much fun it might be to blow this or that up. I can't help but think to myself, that If I am thinking this, what about the disturbingly large portion of population thats not quite right in the head.
    • by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <{atd7} {at} {cornell.edu}> on Wednesday August 21, 2002 @09:05AM (#4110779) Homepage
      Somewhere on that article (or from this one), there's a link to the transcript of the Donahue show.

      They keep on harping on two scenarios, killing a cop and killing a prostitute. The "concerned mother" keeps saying, "YOU GET MONEY! YOU GET HEALTH! NO CONSEQUENCES!"

      Clearly forgetting that 10 seconds after the scene cop cars were suddenly much more agressive against you, and after more such infractions you eventually had the FBI coming after you with choppers. If you actually managed to survive that, please say hello to the National Guard, tanks and all.

      Hello? No consequences? Getting run over by a National Guard tank isn't a consequence?
  • ... they really aren't dumb. If you treat them like they are, how are they ever supposed to become so independent that violence in the media won't cause them to go on a Robocop rampage?
  • by CaptainCarrot ( 84625 ) on Tuesday August 20, 2002 @07:01PM (#4108141)
    I don't really think that, but it's just as fair a statement as Jenkins' claim that what he experienced on Donahue are typical conservative tactics. What he's experienced there are typical talk show tactics. You might not realize this if you don't listen to or watch anything other than the nationally syndicated radio talk shows. Here in the SF Bay Area, the top-rated radio station is a liberal news/talk station, and I can assure you that the hosts there use the exact same tactics that you hear on the conservative side. If anything, they're even ruder. (With the possible exception of Michael Savage. That is to say, the politest liberal talk hosts are politer than Savage is. But the rudest ones are even ruder than him, if you can believe it.)

    For a liberal Donahue equivalent, see Rosie O'Donnel. Or Sally Jessie Raphael, or whatever her name was. Jerry Springer can hardly be thought of as pushing a conservative agenda; I assure you that conservatives despise him as much as liberals do. (I'm not wrong in assuming that liberals find his show despicable, am I? I hope not.)

    Why did he feel the need to politicize this? I'm very conservative myself -- slightly to the right of Attila the Hun, I believe -- yet I play and enjoy video games and expect my kids will too. So where does that leave me?

    The basic conflict here wasn't conservative vs. liberal, it was sensationalism vs. intellectualism. Only someone harboring the basest prejudices against conservatives could make that mistake, IMO.

    • by X ( 1235 )
      I hear you about the prejudices against conservatives, but I think the deal is more about prejudices about conservative talk shows. Conservative talk shows have become very popular over the last decade because they were the first to adopt the more contraversy focused "attack" style talk show. Liberal talk shows, which had really dominated before this, were more the "try to give everyone their say". I'm not saying that either style actually achieved these goals (and certainly neither of these styles is attributable to political perspective), I'm just saying they presented themselves in this manner.

      People made the mistake of assuming these tactics were associated with political views, rather than realizing that they were styles of shows. The conservatives were the first to pick up on the new trend, mostly because they were the underdogs. However, it is rather easy to delude oneself into thinking "gee, these conservative talk shows are mean 'cause conservatives are mean."
      • Several things disturb me about Conservative rhetoric, but most notably:

        • The use of ridicule and ad-hominem attacks to discredit valid ideas. i.e., Calling someone a "liberal" as an implicit insult.
        • The assertion of certain lies as universally-known truths. i.e., That the media has a liberal bias. That "liberal" ideas dominate state policies.

        It would be truly refreshing to see a debate between a Conservative who can restrain these tendencies and a well-versed liberal thinker like Noam Chomsky.

        • The previous post could be rewritten as the following, don't you think?

          "Several things disturb me about Liberal rhetoric, but most notably:

          * The use of ridicule and ad-hominem attacks to discredit valid ideas. i.e., Calling someone a "conservative" as an implicit insult.

          * The assertion of certain lies as universally-known truths. i.e., That the media has a conservative bias. That "conservative" ideas dominate state policies.

          It would be truly refreshing to see a debate between a liberal who can restrain these tendencies and a well-versed conservative thinker."

          Now, personally, I'd be more interested in seeing discussions where both sides avoid such rhetorical techniques to cloud issues, discredit their opponents, and avoid the facts ;)
          • From my view just a micron left of center, it seems to me that "liberal" is used much more as an applied insult than "conservative". "Right wing" might be used somewhat by the right as an implied insult, but truly the way Rush and others use the word "liberal", you'd think it means "covered and maggots and likely to run over their own grandmother on a whim". This is truly sad: I think that encourages an ignorance in America of what it really means. BTW, some ideas pushed by the GOP are, strictly speaking, liberal.


    • I think you've misunderstood what he was saying about the conservative attack style of talk shows. Which is fair, because I think he wasn't clear. Or I could be wrong. Anyway:

      I don't think he means conservative as in Republican. I think he means a social conservative. Something akin to the religious right. And social conservatives absolutely have pioneered a certain attack style. You are correct, they don't necessarily have a monopoly on that style now.

      Anyway. It would be really really hard to argue that Donahue's anti video game stance is a conservative issue. It's not. Tipper Gore pioneered this brand of bull shit. I blanch to think what Rush might have to say about her.
    • slightly to the right of Attila the Hun

      Hrm... was that a concious allusion to Evita I wonder?
  • Best Part of Article was at the end when the guy recieved angry e-mails from angry soccer moms regarding his view on computer games:

    "You are obviously not a mother trying to raise teenagers you stupid freaking moron idiot."

    "I'd like to take that stupid X Box and crack that moron from MIT over the head with it."

    Now is it just me or is it a bit odd that most of the bad angry e-mails he got came exactly from the exact same people that oppose violence in video games??

    Or another thought... I love all the religious fanatics who want to ban and censor any material which in their eyes promotes violence.. Shouldn't they try banning religious institutions first since afterall it is the religion itself that drastically slowed human progress throughout the history.. Not to mention that religion has been in some way or another a major fact behind most of the wars in world history that claimed millions of lives... Shouldn't they be the last ones to comment on anything? Since if I was one of them I would be too ashamed to show myself in public...
    • "I'd like to take that stupid X Box and crack that moron from MIT over the head with it."

      Yup, it's pretty funny. Funny in a sad, head-shaking sort of way. Reminds me of a quote from the dad of a school shooter, heard on CNN:

      "I told him, if you take that gun to school, I'm going to kick your ass!"

      The violence is already there, folks.

    • I love all the religious fanatics who want to ban and censor any material which in their eyes promotes violence.

      And yet they seem to be completely oblivious to all of the violence in the very book they so cherish - the Bible. Hmmmm...I wonder what they'd be saying if it were made into a video game...
      • Well, I'm sure that I've been referred to as a religious fanatic before, so perhaps I'm qualified to comment here.

        If the Bible was made into a video game, it would be a really interesting one. All of the stuff that makes up life is there - love, honor, sacrifice, as well as betrayal, dishonesty, violence....and it would make sense to have all of those things portrayed - in context.

        It's interesting to me that the Bible even shows the warts of the heroes. It would be a more compelling epic tale about David's mighty deeds if he hadn't stolen the wife of one of his subjects, and had that man killed.

        It then goes on to dscribe how the character flaw that led him to that choice ultimately led to the collapse of his family. One son raped his sister, another tried to take over the kingdom illegitimately from his father - these were the natural consequenses of the choices that King David made. The poor choices led to a breakdown in his life, and eventually in his family.

        Ultimately the Bible shows that all but one of the people described there are, well...people who have flaws.

        WRT censorship, I personally am not fond of book banning or censorship (in the form of the government decreeing that some ideas cannot be expressed.)

        However, it seems foolhardy to me to suggest that exposure to things has no impact on us at all. The more violence and sensuality we choose to take in, the less sensitive we can become to it.

        Do you *want* to have a low sensitivity to violence and sexual intimacy?

        I think that each of us must choose how much of that we want to absorb, and make those choices for our children. As a parent, it's my job to make those decisions for my kids, and as they grow to teach them how to make good decisions.

        The choices that you and I make today add up over the course of a lifetime to eventually cause us to become the natural consequence of those choices.

        I encourage everyone to be thoughtful about the choices that you make. They determine what kind of character you will have, and what your life is made of.
    • " Shouldn't they try banning religious institutions first since afterall it is the religion itself that drastically slowed human progress throughout the history."

      You should study religeon, some of the great advances where made because of relegous support.

      Did you know one of the first observitories was built by the Catholic church?

      I'm not a fan of religeon, but your statement is pretty ignorant of historical facts.

  • by syd02 ( 595787 ) on Tuesday August 20, 2002 @07:05PM (#4108160)
    when you get your ass kicked on national television, you just write a nasty article for Salon where you can make personal attacks against the people who made you feel so bad.

    The upside: they can't even respond, whereas you they gave you the opportunity on the show and you blew it.

    The downside: You'll teach the media never to invite you to appear again.
  • discussed rationally on one of those daytime talkshows where the guests beat the crap out of each other.
  • I think the ending of the article really hits the nail on the head. The issue of video game violence is largely driven by emotion and supported by short sound-bite statements. Mr. Jenkins went into this arena planning to use reason and rational debate.

    None of the talk-show formats are going to allow reasonable discussions. It doesn't get people worked up. They have to have emotional topics to bring in the viewers. And you can't use rational arguments against people using emotional ones.

    It reminds me of the debates that spring up on /. about religion. When anyone challenges the beliefs of the hard-core Christians, they point to the Bible as their supporting evidence and say "but the Bible says this".

    If most people had a clue, shows like Frontline would blow crap like Donahue out of the water on ratings....
    • With all due respect, I could most likely be described as a hard-core Christian, and I agree that we do tend to say "but the Bible says...." because the Bible is a reliable reference.

      Have you ever examined the evidence that supports the assertions made about the Bible? If so, I'd be pleasantly surprised. What tests would you use to determine the authenticity or reliability of a work of antiquity? I can list mine....but I doubt that you want to discuss this issue.



      I have to say that we share common ground on at least one issue - Frontline has a much better s/n ratio than does Donahue
  • from Dr. Jenkins can be found on joystick101.org [joystick101.org]. On one hand its a shame that his final article isn't available from another MIT branch off project, I understand the importance of reaching a venue that is a bit more well read. Personally, I think its a hard line to defend a game like Grand Theft Auto 3 in the face of a mother who lost a child. Everyone points out that the parents should be more involved, we don't need regulation, etc. But from my understanding thats just what her grassroots organization is about. If I was Henry, I'd have probably walked out on Donahue. It probably looks bad but if you've read the transcript [msnbc.com] it would be hard to get much worse.
  • by cporter ( 61382 ) on Tuesday August 20, 2002 @07:16PM (#4108218)
    One thing that this article fails to address is that violent video games fucking rule.

    Activists opposing violence in video games and those who support content ratings and age requirements on games often miss this fact as well.

  • Looking at nudies when i was 14 didn't turn me into a pedophile, but it was still illegal for me to purchase them. When my Mom found my stash of nasties (Chic, Hustler, et al) she trashed them and replaced them with a subscription to Playboy. Every month, a new one appeared on my bed. Not a word was said when they were trashed. Not a word was said when the Playboys started appearing.

    Now, she had that level of control. Today, parents don't have that level of control with video games. Sure GTA3 isn't gonna turn a kid into a car rage murder or a pimp, but it still makes parents uneasy that their kid can waltz into Electronic Botique and but it without any parental consent.

    Children are NOT full blown citizens and have limited rights, as they should. They lack privacy, they lack free travel, they lack free association. All this so that parents can do their job, whatever that may be. As such, I do think children should NOT be able to buy any violent video games. Period. Parents should buy it for them. Puts any "blame" in peoples minds where it belongs, in the parents lap. Not in the game, not at EB, not in the "media", but on the parent.

    Of course given the nature of Slashdot, most will disagree in some way. That's okay, I've had Max Karma for a long time, what do I care.

  • hmm... (Score:2, Funny)

    by kennedy ( 18142 )
    Maybe if they gave everyone guns, things would have gotten solved!

    *blam* *blam*blam*

    "See bitch? I *told* you GTA3 wasn't too violent..."

  • Funny Stuff (Score:4, Funny)

    by pnatural ( 59329 ) on Tuesday August 20, 2002 @07:23PM (#4108265)
    I read the title "Violence, Video Games And Donahue" and thought, "Finally! A video game where I can kick Donahues ass! Cool!"?

    I can't be the only one...
    • Because you might do something that would really hurt him: Turn the TV off.

      There's a difference between the people who sell GTA3 and Donohue. The folks who sell GTA3 are selling an entertainment product. It's clearly labeled that it contains violence and gore that would upset small children. It contains themes of conflict that one might find in a movie for adults.

      Donohue, on the other hand, goes to great lengths to position himself as an educator, enlightening the masses and pointing out evildoers. But what Donohue is selling is eyeballs, to advertisers. He's a talking head, who exists for the sole purpose of spending eight minutes getting you interested enough that you won't walk away during the CONTENT of the show: ads for linoleum cleaners, correspondence schools, and get-rich-quick schemes. It's the same difference between Larry Flynt and a child molester: Larry Flynt makes it clear that he's selling a product for mature adults, who consent to viewing the product, which they have to go out of their way to purchase.

      Now, a run-of-the-mill pedophile, on the other hand, will pose as a friend. A helpful mentor who loves children. Who cares about them and can be trusted with them. And in between "protecting" them, well, that's where the real purpose comes in.

      I can respect someone I disagree with, who has reasoned opinions and behaves in a way consistent with his words. I have no respect at all for the kind of sleaze that is Donohue.

  • I don't think video violence affects me!

    In fact, I think we should go over to Donahue right now and take a Rocket Launcher to his show and blow him up.

    No.... sorry... Ummmm.... shoot him down with an Uzi.

    No.... wait... Use my Sniper Rifle on him.

    Argh... He be sellin' spank to my women! Me and Luigi will go take a bat to his face!

    God damnit! No.... No... Must resist...

    Okay... How about me and Donahue just sit down and talk it out...

  • by foo fighter ( 151863 ) on Tuesday August 20, 2002 @07:46PM (#4108407) Homepage
    In my experience, when you start getting into a debate about video game violence you have to limit yourself to three topics and just keep repeating those topics over and over:

    1. Juvenile violence is at a 30-year low.

    2. People serving time for violent crime consume less media than average. Also, the surgeon general's report stated home life and mental stability are the risk factors, not media exposure.

    3. Finally, videogames are rated and the violent ones are clearly labeled "M-for-Mature, 17+" and the factors that lead to that rating are also clearly labeled. Mature rated games account for less than 10% of videogame sales.

    All of these points were raised in the Salon article. Stay on these three topics and drill them into the other persons head. Try not to become disoriented and/or gag by their arguments of "think of the children" and "but violence makes baby jesus cry".
  • Donahue's opening is enough to make me want to vomit...

    "I want to show you a picture. This is 13-year-old Noah. While reenacting the video game Mortal Kombat, he was stabbed to death by his friend."

    Reenacting the game Mortal Kombat? How intellectually challenged must one be to accept such an excuse? Seriously, folks, just think about what this forbodes...

    A minor (teenager, I presume) stabs a thirteen year old often enough, and with enough force, to kill him. There is No Way in Hell (tm) the stabber was not clued in to what he was doing. Unless the victim was taken completely by surprise and killed with the first blow, no one on Earth could fail to correctly interpret the screaming, fighting, and maybe even begging as an act.

    The mere fact that anyone, much less 'soccer moms' in middle class burbs, would believe the Mortal Kombat crap should tell you something about the state of our society. It's on its way to Hell, and the handbasket is long gone.

  • by CrosseyedPainless ( 27978 ) on Tuesday August 20, 2002 @08:04PM (#4108499) Homepage
    How come nobody ever worries about the games Hitler played?
  • by symbolic ( 11752 ) on Tuesday August 20, 2002 @08:09PM (#4108525)
    If you choose to use force, you are going to attract the police. The more force, the more cops. Pretty soon, you're going down.

    That's the key. While all games aren't nearly as encompassing, I'm focusing on GTA3 here because that's what THEY seem to be focusing on.

    I play GTA3 (and has become one of my all-time favorites) not because of the content (and certainly not because I have the option to "do" prostitutes), but because the technology and immersiveness are awesome. The violence and other aspects that depict an anti-social orientation are but merely part of a story. If anything, they demonstrate how scummed out (and snuffed out) one's life can get when they make stupid choices.
  • I am working on a small game myself at the moment(just a freeware title for DOS, bad graphics, primitive code, weak music, but I take great pride in it, because it is my work, my piece of art, my experience to share with the world). Whenever I hear of some ignorant individual spouting off about the supposed wrath of violent video games, it makes me angry. Many times, I notice that the aforementioned "activists", are nothing more than leeches, leeching media exposure off of what should be a somber and saddening occasion such as Colombine, using a tragedy to further their political agenda in a way which should rightly cause horror and disgust in right minded people(I hate using the term, but really -- to use a tragedy like that to further your own political agenda is disgusting). Unfortunately, these people are also very often ignorant of the facts, so I am helpless against their torrent of misinformation. Video games are not the only thing which attract such leeches. After colombine, almost every aspect of popular culture which was found to have a connection to the two boys was exploited; the Matrix, violent music, the list is endless. As a game producer, I feel that the public has no concievable, legitimate right to tell me what I can and can't put in my games; be it philosophy, story, gore, violence, or mature subject matter. Those who believe it's somehow my responsibility to watch their children(while depriving other children with more mature parents of a mature, possibly enlightening experience) should grow up a bit and allow themselves to be parents. Some will say "but what if my child gets a violent game without me looking?", and to this I reply that if you make a rule that says that a child may not play or rent a violent video game, and that child breaks that rule, punish the child, not the industry! If you don't discipline your children yourself, you will find that violent computer games are the least of your worries when he/she reaches their teenage years.
  • From the article:
    When I got home in the wee hours of the morning, I found that I had already started to receive hateful e-mails from the "Donahue" dittoheads.
    "You are obviously not a mother trying to raise teenagers you stupid freaking moron idiot."

    "I'd like to take that stupid X Box and crack that moron from MIT over the head with it."

    "By the way, Moron, get a shave."

    It's not video games that make the occasional, random kid violent... it's having parents with hypocritical attitudes like that that make kids violent. Can anyone be that illogical and clueless? **Boggle**

    Violent video games are bad, but threatening a real person in real life (ok, via email) is OK?

    Just when I thought I had the tiniest shred of hope for humanity... I am sad now.
  • This doesn't sound surprising in the least. Talk shows have never been about arguments but about arguing. The key is to slam the other person into submission... like in a rap battle.

    Example: His opponent first mentions she is a concerned mother right? And he is a father too? His answer should have been "Listen, if any parent was so stupid as to by a game called Grand Theft Auto for their children without even giving a second thought to the age 17 and up warning we should probably be more concerned that so many retards are breeding in our fine country."

    Other examples I would have used: "Outlawing video games is like making war illegal 'cause some children might see the highlights on this fine station!!!"

    "Hmmm, it seems you let the computer do a lot of the parenting for you... maybe we should call children's services."

    Talk shows are about personal attacks. And although mildly interesting (like a bar fight) it really doesn't hold your interest. Why do you think they change topics every 5 minutes?

    If you want real thought provoking discussions... watch PBS. Frontline is the best.
  • Is that adults never really treat you like a responsible person. They tell you "you're not in the real world yet." When ever you screw up as a person LESS THAN 25 (some silverbacks out there will talk down to you until your 35), people make excuses for you. The kids home life is messed up, he watched violent stuff, he reads "banned" books, other kids picked on him, he had it rough. Well so what? The fact of the matter is that many people grew up in similar or worse situation and the vast majority of them didn't whip out a gun and waste a bunch of their peers. We need to start telling kids that the descisions THEY make TODAY dictate the lives they lead.
  • Violence has nothing to do with computer games. It's in our genetic makeup as a species. In the last 100 years we have had wars that have killed many millions of people. This was BEFORE computer games were ever invented. A few hundred years ago, the Spanish Inquisition were torturing people and roasting them alive for 'heretical beliefs'. They'd never played GTA3. We're a violent species. Blaming computer games is not the answer. Computer games may even be a way to safely release our violent instincts. I love blasting people away on Wolf3D, but I'm not going to ever got down to my local shopping mall and do it.


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