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Violent Games 'Almost' As Dangerous as Smoking 545

Via Voodoo Extreme, a Reuters report on some very 'interesting' research into violent games. A study out of the University of Michigan has apparently found that 'exposure to violent electronic media' is almost as dangerous to our society as smoking. "'The research clearly shows that exposure to virtual violence increases the risk that both children and adults will behave aggressively,' said Huesmann, adding it could have a particularly detrimental effect on the well-being of youngsters. Although not every child exposed to violence in the media will become aggressive, he said it does not diminish the need for greater control on the part of parents and society of what children are exposed to in films, video games and television programs."
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Violent Games 'Almost' As Dangerous as Smoking

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  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:28PM (#21511585) Homepage Journal

    "Get that PSP away from me, I don't want any of your second-hand fragging to endanger my health!"

    Yeah. I don't think I'll be hearing that one. Well, maybe from Jack Thompson, but not normal humans.

    • by spun ( 1352 ) <> on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:33PM (#21511665) Journal
      I'm just waiting for the study that shows that exposure to porn makes people less violent. Can you imagine the response here in America if THAT were found to be true?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I would much rather my children watch a something pronographic(my spelling) than something violent. Taken to the logical extreme, I would rather live in a society heavily influenced by sex than violence. IMO one of those acts is much more natural than the other (don't waste your breath saying some joke about violence being nature)
        • by aplusjimages ( 939458 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:48PM (#21511889) Journal
          I'm hoping you don't mean just any kind of porn because some porn is violent and some of it is just plain gross, like 2girls1cup. I wish this study would show how religion can cause a person to be violent.
          • by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @11:21PM (#21513717)
            I don't think it really matters what you use: video games, religion, television, books, or just casual conversation. Any of these are capable of taking people who are predisposed towards violence and pushing them to actually taking action. In all of my years of dealing with any of these, I don't think any of them have ever pushed me towards committing violent acts. I've never had a problem distinguishing between a video game or movie and reality and have always felt that my religious beliefs are my own and don't need to be forced upon anyone else. Reading a good book or listening to a motivated speaker has stirred up strong feelings inside of me, but no message has ever made me more prone to commit a violent act.

            I and millions of other people are able to clearly draw the line. There are some people who aren't very good at that, however, and when they are exposed to a violent message, regardless of the medium, they become more aggressive and violent themselves. You could suggest that none of this should be allowed because some people won't be able to handle it, but I don't think that's the right way to go. Everyone is responsible for their own actions and if some person feels that such material affects you in a negative manner, then perhaps that person shouldn't consume that content.

            Regardless of what you believe, humans are a violent animal and it's a big part of our history. I don't think that ignoring the problem is somehow going to solve it. If you think that any of the recent video games, movies, books, etc. are overly violent, just look at some of the ancient methods of torture on Wikipedia or other web sites. They tend to make anything you see in Manhunt or Hostel seem fairly tame by comparison. The big difference is that the movies and games are just imagination whereas these methods of torture were actually used.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by hey! ( 33014 )
            Over Thanksgiving dinner, a teenage relative was slyly trying to shock me by talking about how her favorite museum was the Mutter Museum of Medical Curiosities, whose exhibits feature such delicacies as aborted fetuses, a 5' long human colon with 40 lb of fecal matter, and various preserved tumors.

            I ostentatiously chewed a mouthful of turkey as she described the museum, then fixed her with a raised eyebrow. "I know what you're trying to do," I said, "but it won't work. Biology does not skeeve me out."

        • I would like to be the first citizen of your sexciety!

 long as I am not living in sausagefest city....

        • by Plutonite ( 999141 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @09:46PM (#21513059)
          Oh yes, because all the people dying from AIDS and other STD's don't count. Sex is natural, violence is natural, the gothic obsession with sex and violence in certain parts of human society (read: America today) is both unnatural and disgusting. Violence is necessary and combat is instinctively pleasurable.. why do you think those games are so damn popular? It has strong links with male ego and probably evolved as a motivation to maintain dominance over resources and courtship to females. That's why females will take a warrior over a wimp - they too have instinctive attraction to the alpha male who will give them healthy children and security. He does not have to be violent, he only has to have the potential to be violent if needed.

          And that's how we should raise kids. If I ever have a son, I don't want him to be a bunny rabbit. Children should know the value of being gentle and sweet, but must be strong as well. Today's world is every bit as dangerous and violent as the ancient one, and it is rather sad that only the military are given "survival skills". And yes course they don't get these things from video games - video games pale in comparison.

          As for pr0n, it is much less threatening to society then chaotic sexual relationships yet it's objectification of women is far more of a psychological impact than any game. Kids raised in a "healthy way" will not have a whole lot of time for either video games or pr0n, but games come out being more... tasteful as a form of entertainment :)
        • by Jarjarthejedi ( 996957 ) <> on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @10:18PM (#21513295) Journal

          (don't waste your breath saying some joke about violence being nature)
          Oh! Violence isn't natural? Geez...those predators have been doing things wrong for a long time, how 'bout you go tell them that?

          Natural is a word with no well-defined meaning, it's a completely relative term. If you try to define it as anything that is done naturally by creatures then that includes every act ever performed, as humans are creatures too, and trying to define them out of the picture means it's no longer that which is done in nature, but that which is done in nature by creatures other than humans. Well you know what? School's unnatural then, name one animal that sends it's young off to another parent to learn math? Math's unnatural too, and so is Physics and, well, just about everything else. No matter how you define natural you'll end up either stating that most of human behavior is unnatural, or it's all natural (if you try to say 'done by a significant number' then you have to define significant, and you'll end up either defining perfectly normal behavior as unnatural or all behavior as natural).

          Violence is just as natural as Sex. There, I said it, bring on the hating. Plenty of predators kill other creatures, even if they have no intention to eat the carcass. There's little difference between that and human violence, or at least human violence isn't anymore unnatural than that.
      • by Zeinfeld ( 263942 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @08:03PM (#21512111) Homepage
        I'm just waiting for the study that shows that exposure to porn makes people less violent. Can you imagine the response here in America if THAT were found to be true?

        Lets see, violent crime in the UK is pretty steady at 650-900 homicides a year [] for a country of 55 million. The recent trend has been sharply down despite 52 homicide victims of 7/7. Of those the vast majority are domestics, killing sprees are pretty much a once a decade affair.

        I don't think that you could honestly attribute more than 50 or so homicides a year to the effects of computer games in the UK if you took the most liberal interpretation imaginable.

        Smoking causes about 110,000 deaths a year according to the leading anti-smoking campaign [].

        Allowing for the fact that ASH might well overstate the case somewhat the fact is that we don't have a single UK case where computer games are confirmed as a major factor. So I would be pretty confident in stating that smoking is at least a thousand times more dangerous than video games and the evidence points to the difference being more like a hundred thousand.

        So let us imagine what the difference between the UK and the US could be. Oh yes the fact that you let every loony and criminal arm themselves to the teeth with cheap firearms. The fact that this is not even mentioned as a possibly significant issue in the article kinda shows that the entire study is worthless. Or is the idea here that controlling fictional materials in which guns play a role is somehow more politically practical than controlling actual guns?

        You can tell that its a fit up job in the first sentence "After reviewing more than 50 years of research on the impact of violence in the media,". In other words this is not an objective study, its a fishing expedition through existing research. Lets take a look at his bibliography []. Does not exactly look like the guy is a disinterested party here.

        Sure lets talk about controlling violent video games, right after the US adopts the UK gun control laws.

        • by Zeinfeld ( 263942 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @08:15PM (#21512203) Homepage
          OK bad to follow up one's own post but the US murder rate is 17,000 or so [], deaths due to smoking are 400,000 or so.

          So even in the US you are more likely to die from smoking than be murdered.

          And thats not taking into account the fact that not everyone smokes. The number of people who play violent video games is surely higher in most younger demographics.

          That still leaves the US with a murder rate that is about five times higher than the UK after adjusting for the larger population. There is certainly not a major difference in the number of people playing violent video games. In fact back in the 80s the UK had more personal computers per head of population than any other country. Many of the top games come from the UK.

          I am sure that you might be able to crunch the numbers and come up with some sort of effect due to violent games. But to say that violent games have a bigger impact than smoking is just utterly ridiculous. Smoking worldwide causes more deaths than 9.11 every single day. In fact smoking killed more people in the 20th century than all the wars of the 20th century combined. To use smoking as a comparison demonstrates a profound indifference to the facts.

          • by DahGhostfacedFiddlah ( 470393 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @08:40PM (#21512447)
            Look, not to piss away your carefully-crafted logic here, but have you paused to consider that maybe the lung cancer was caused by violent video games, and it's just a coincidence that they were also smokers?

          • by bluelan ( 534976 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @09:50PM (#21513093)
            Smoking killed more people than wars? Hmmm. Did it cost more years of life? That is, did most lung cancer victims die around age 63, while most war victims died around age 20? That would suggest a net loss of 7 to 12 years of life per smoking death, and 50 to 55 years of life per war death. Is that close to true? If so, war might have been a more destructive murderer than smoking, even if smoking has the higher kill count.

            Just curious.

        • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @09:00PM (#21512653)
          "So let us imagine what the difference between the UK and the US could be. Oh yes the fact that you let every loony and criminal arm themselves to the teeth with cheap firearms."

          Murder rates in the UK and USA were roughly equal a century ago when 'every loony and criminal' could buy any gun they wanted over the counter in Britain with no questions asked (though they did have to pay a $2 tax if they wanted to legally carry it in public). Armed crime rates with guns are much higher today in the UK than when 'every loony and criminal' could buy any gun they wanted over the counter with no questions asked, and while the British murder rate hasn't risen much since then the murder rate in America is far higher than it was; murders exploded as Prohibition increased the power of organised crime and, while it's dropped since, rates never returned to earlier levels.

          Britons just don't kill each other much; per-capita, Americans kill each other more with knives than Britons kill each other by any means. Meanwhile, gun crime in Britain is growing rapidly as criminals have few problems getting hold of guns to prey on a disarmed population.
          • by JimBobJoe ( 2758 ) <> on Thursday November 29, 2007 @02:00AM (#21514831)
            . Meanwhile, gun crime in Britain is growing rapidly as criminals have few problems getting hold of guns to prey on a disarmed population.

            The Economist had an a recent article on this topic, noting that gun crime/murders have shot up, particularly with gangs, though the quantity of guns in Britain is stable. ("Gun for hire", Sep 20, 2007.)

            When Britain really clamped down on guns, they introduced a law which could result in several years of jail just for possessing a gun.

            One hypothesis is that, as a result, the older gang members had the younger inductees carry their guns around, so that the older ones didn't have to worry about getting caught.

            The problem is that the younger inductees tend to be less mature and such and are therefore more likely to use the gun as a way of solving conflict, hence the rise in gang gun usage.
          • sensationalism. I am sorry, but even if 100% of the murder crime were committed by stranger (which th4ey are not, there is a good reason the husband/wife/family is suspected first), and even if 100% were committed with gun (which they are NOT), I don't think calling a 900 murder rate for a population of 55.000.000 could be called PREYING in any kind.

            The fact is, as it was already discussed in Slashdot , some type of weapon LOWER the barrier to usage. For the same reason police are more readily using a tas
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Nursie ( 632944 )
            "Meanwhile, gun crime in Britain is growing rapidly"

            Actually, media coverage of gun crime is growing rapidly. This may be due to the ages of the people involved (getting younger all the time).

            Gun crime itself is on a downward trend in the UK.
      • by eonlabs ( 921625 )
        I find this amusing:

        FTFA: "After reviewing more than 50 years of research on the impact of violence in the media"

        This is not a new study.
        What literature was reviewed? Lets see some references!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by roaddemon ( 666475 )
        The response would be to ignore the study. Can you think of any other reason that alcohol is widely available and smoking a reefer can get me tossed in the clink?
    • by flaming error ( 1041742 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:33PM (#21511675) Journal
      Hey, don't make light of this. My brother once inhaled a Battlefront 2 Disk. It was awful. I don't even want to talk about it.
    • More seriously... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DrYak ( 748999 )

      I don't want any of your second-hand fragging to endanger my health!

      In a more serious way, your joke points out the fundamental difference between the two and why it's a bad analogy.
      - Smoke does it harm by the simple presence of dangerous chemicals. (Nicotine, free-radicals, and tons of others). Intention to smoke doesn't change the outcome. In fact second-hand smoke is dangerous for the health even in very low levels.
      - Whereas games do their evil on people who feel attracted to violence and naturally get i

  • by FlyByPC ( 841016 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:31PM (#21511639) Homepage
    They have no right! I'LL KILL THEM ALL!

    No, wait...
    • by fohat ( 168135 )
      You're right you know. The potential for violence exists in the whole human race. Therefore we must all exterminate ExterminATE EXTERMINATE!!!
    • Yeah, I'm gonna get these guys who say that video games teach people violence. I'm gonna kick a turtle shell at them and then jump on their heads. That'll show 'em.
  • by moderatorrater ( 1095745 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:32PM (#21511651)
    How does this work with the decline in violent crimes through the 90s? How come they don't address the issue that those who were going to commit violence anyway are going to gravitate towards violent games and media? This isn't even original research, just research into the research that's been done. This doesn't add up very well at all.
    • Didn't you read Freakonomics?

      The decline in violent crime in the late '80s and '90s correlates with the legalization of abortion. Fewer unwanted children, fewer violent criminals, or so the hypothesis goes.

      Read the book. Its great.
    • How does this work with the decline in violent crimes through the 90s?

      There is some research to indicate that the drop in crime was possibly due to lower lead levels through the usage of unleaded gasoline. Article here. [] Graphic here. []

    • by lupine ( 100665 ) *
      Perhaps legalizing abortion led to less children who were unwanted, less children being babysat by tv and video games might lead to less crime.... Abortion was legalized in 1973.
      - freakonomics []
    • Urrgh (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mpapet ( 761907 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:59PM (#21512055) Homepage
      How does this work with the decline in violent crimes through the 90s?

      There is a common belief that the economic prosperity coincides with lower violent crime rates. Though regional influences tend to have more impact than national anything. Compare social/economic conditions in Detroit versus Silicon Valley in the 90's as an example.

      those who were going to commit violence anyway

      You've made up your mind on that one huh? If only social issues were so simple we could divide citizens into criminal and non-criminal pools at an early age and finally live in a utopia. Where do white collar criminals fit in your magic world? Kids who cheat at board games?

      his isn't even original research, just research into the research that's been done.

      Yes. It's called meta-study. []

      There is nothing interesting about the parent's post.
    • It's more complex (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @08:15PM (#21512205) Journal
      Before I start, no, I don't think that games turn people into criminals. So no need to explain to me that.

      That said, there have been a lot of changes since the 80's, and I've heard the correlation between crime decline and X argued, where X was:

      - less lead ending up in kids' system (via banning lead-based additives in gasoline, etc.) We already know that lead damages the nervous system, so that correlation at least doesn't trip suspension of disbelief too hard.

      - "3 strikes and you're out" kind of laws. Both via taking out the incorrigible recidivists (some people seem to be really that psychopathic and dumb), and by providing a scary escalation level to keep the ones in line who still have at least minimal logic capabilities

      - stricter gun control laws

      - the availability of porn on the internet. Don't laugh, it has argued that the kind who'd go out and mug or rape someone, is now busy stroking his own wookie in front of the computer.

      - widespread availability of violent movies. Apparently the day a new splatter movie hits the cinemas, there's a sharp decline in people actually doing violent stuff. Just because they'll be seated there getting their jollies viewing violence on the screen, instead of out on the street actually doing it. (And I guess then in the same could then be argued about games. If it's the same kind of asshole in both, he can't be out mugging people at the same time as he's online ganking newbies.)

      Etc, etc, etc.

      Note that I'm not saying that all the above are true. Some probably _are_ bunk. Take your pick which.

      I'm just saying that the waters are muddy enough. A _lot_ of things changed at the same time. So, well, how do you know which of them were the ones that actually lowered criminality.

      It's easy to pick one factor, let's call it X, out of context, pretend that it's the only thing that changed, and present it as the one thing that's responsible for the whole effect. It's good for political agendas too, so each politician or lobbyist is picking the one which makes his group look good. But how do you know if X is really the one? Maybe X had nothing to do with lowering criminality.

      Just as an example, watch me pull a similar maneuver and do the following correlation: use of Linux rose steadily in the late 90's and 2000's, criminality sunk during the same time, hence Linux is singlehandedly responsible for making the world safer. I guess the types which would go out and mug someone are now too busy recompiling all libraries to have any time left to do evil stuff. Or something. Does it sound ridiculous yet?

      Or you know what else improved since the 80's? The quality of Japanese game translations. Nowadays you can get them actually translated and voiced by people who know English. As opposed to the traditional "All your base are belong to us" Engrish translations, and voice-overs by people who never actually spoke it and don't even know where the accent is supposed to go. Criminality declined in that time. Hmm, looks like a possible cause to me. I guess the former steady rise in criminality was caused by those Engrish translations driving people homicidal.

      No, I don't believe those are the real culprits. It's just supposed to be random ridiculous examples.

      To get back to the topic, we don't know if games have anything to do either way with that decline. We also can't use that to claim that games can't possibly cause violence.

      For the sake of playing the devil's advocate, if factor X would actually increase criminality, but factors Y and Z lowered it more than X raised it, then you'd still see a decline. Just as a purely theoretical scenario, it _is_ possible that X = video games, while Y and Z are... well, take your pick from the list above.

      Just because a function of a dozen variables declined on the whole, doesn't mean that none of a dozen factors would have the effect of rising the result if taken alone.

      Just something to think about, if you're bored enough ;)
    • 90's? You mean the people who grew up with Pacman?
    • by eli pabst ( 948845 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @08:37PM (#21512413)

      How come they don't address the issue that those who were going to commit violence anyway are going to gravitate towards violent games and media?
      In the original research they took prior acts of aggression into account. So they should theoretically be able to see if the already aggressive kids migrated towards violent games rather than some kind of true causality. I can't remember if they actually measured this somehow or if it was self-reported. If it's the latter, then their methods may be suspect. Frankly I don't buy it either, I anything, I find violent games like shooters to be a good outlet for stress.
  • Worth noting... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:35PM (#21511693)
    It is worth noting that the "research" here consists of basing new views on long-term effects on old research in short-term effects. In other words, no actual new data has come in, and the data cannot be used to support the conclusions. Besides, it comes from known anti-gamers, often shown to be greatly biased in their "research".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:37PM (#21511721)
    " it does not diminish the need for greater control on the part of parents and society of what children are exposed to in films, video games and television programs."

    WTF does society have to do with this? if you dont want your kid watching scooby-doo because you think shaggys a bad role model, thats your idiotic problem. Please dont foist it on the rest of society, we have bigger fish to fry.

    So tired of people trying to legislate good parenting.
  • My take (Score:5, Insightful)

    by B3ryllium ( 571199 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:39PM (#21511735) Homepage
    The problem isn't the violent games, or the violent TV shows, or even the violent peer-groups.

    The problem is, quite simply, absent and detached parents.
    • My Solution (Score:5, Interesting)

      by B3ryllium ( 571199 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:47PM (#21511871) Homepage
      My Solution, by the way, is the Nintendo Wii (in part).

      Right now, on the American Chart for November at VGChartz, the TOP THREE slots are occupied by family-friendly non-violent games: Super Mario Galaxy, Guitar Hero 3 for the 360, and Wii Sports.

      Manhunt 2, the media's punching bag for Hyper-Violent Video Game Paranoia, is only ranked *41st* (and that's just the sales for the top platform, PS2). For every one unit of Manhunt 2 sold for the PS2, approximately 9 units of XBox 360 Guitar Hero 3 are sold. For every one unit of Manhunt 2 sold for the Wii, approximately 20 units of Super Mario Galaxy are sold (think about it: Manhunt 2 Wii has been out for 4 weeks, SMG has only been out for 2 weeks).

      If this trend continues, the entire argument against hyper-violent games will be moot, because they will be relegated to the niche market of 17+-year-old males. The younger kids don't seem to care any more. And that's the way it should be.

      But, all that said, the most important thing is for parents to A) be more involved in their children's lives, and B) read the ****ing box before buying a game. It has the rating right on there!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      No. The problem isn't the violent games, or the violent TV shows. The problem is, quite simply, violence. State sanctioned, approved, for profit violence. We run a multi-billion dollar arms industry. We wage wars on unarmed civillians. We murder people in prisons. We torture. We give guns and other lethal weapons to cops. We base the entire fabric of our society on it. Violence is our God. We kneel down and fucking pray to it.

      Then we turn around and say, hey..that's bad!

      • That's a fair point. All the people who get their panties in a knot over video game violence would be better-serving The Greater Good if they dedicated their time to confronting the warmongers of our world.

        Although it would be best to avoid using guns or rocks for those confrontations; that would send a mixed message.
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )
      Well, yes that would be a problem, but it is too simple.
      I am active in my kids lives, but I do not control the 500+ other kids they go to school with, and as they get older they will spend less time with me. Right now they can do a lot of stuff, like being around me, and like to help. I have no doubt that will change when they become teens. Thinking about that day makes me sad, but happy for them, and it scares the hell out of me late at night.

      • Schools with 500+ kids are another part of the same complex problem. Especially when it comes to teacher-to-student ratios.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Xbox live is a great example of parents using modern technology to babysit their children. The meanest people on Xbox live are the kids. Sometimes you even get to hear the kids yelling at the parents about what food they want them to pick up, while they play games. Man we don't even have time for a fast food dinner these days.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by QuantumG ( 50515 )
      I thought the problem was authoritarians telling us what we can and can't do. (For both smoking and violent video games.)

  • by faloi ( 738831 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:39PM (#21511745)
    They basically came to a conclusion based on reviewing studies. There's no clear indication whether the studies were cherry-picked for one reason or another (like, say, anti-video game being a safe bandwagon to appeal for funding). There's also the question of whether the studies that they read were conducted scientifically.
  • by Lendrick ( 314723 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:40PM (#21511767) Homepage Journal that violent video games kill 440,000 Americans every year []?

    Because wow, I'd have quit playing video games long ago if I knew that they had a 1 in 2 chance of killing me [].

    I suppose the other (albeit less likely) possibility is that this respectable and unbiased researcher may have accidentally used hyperbole in an accidental attempt to drum up fear in support of his findings... And in all fairness, he technically says that smoking is a "slightly larger" danger, so maybe violent media only turns 45% of its viewers into murderers.
  • I guess 'passive' exposure to Second-hand Gaming just bores you to death.
  • smokin' something?
  • Doomed! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Takichi ( 1053302 )
    Society is doomed. DOOMED!

    children who watch violent television shows and who identify with the characters and believe they are real are more likely to be aggressive as adults
    (from the article, emphasis mine)

    Oh, wait... So only the crazy people will become crazy.
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )
      No. Young children, even when told otherwise, will believe the characters they identify with are real. That is normal.
  • I'm calling shenanigans on this "research". Reading the article, it sounds like these researchers are not only full of shit, but have no idea what they're doing.

    That is all.
  • 100% true (Score:5, Funny)

    by LingNoi ( 1066278 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:44PM (#21511841)
    There was this healthy guy I knew that started playing violent games and he got lung cancer!

    Think of all those dangerous chemicals that are in games. They should be illegal!
  • The person who wrote this report better shut up or I'll kill him and air hump over his corpse in front of all my friends!
  • by ArcadeNut ( 85398 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:50PM (#21511917) Homepage
    Might as well get rid of:

    G.I. Joe
    Army Men
    Toy Guns
    Sports (Football, Hockey, etc..)

    and the list goes on...

  • I'm sorry, but what society are we talking about here that's threatened by violent video games?

    Is it the society that was built on a series of bloody wars? Is it the society that put the right to carry a gun in its constitution? Is it the society that has glorified war and violence in print, audio, and video media since its inception? In what way are violent video games a threat to a society that is engaged in two wars at once and gearing up for a third? Surely violent video games aren't a serious thr

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:53PM (#21511977)
    The linked article is pretty light on details, so here's a more detailed writeup from the local paper. Posted anonymously to avoid karma whoring. From the Ann Arbor News []

    Exposure to violent movies, television shows and video games significantly increases the risk that the viewer or player will behave aggressively in both the long and short term, according to a new University of Michigan study published Tuesday in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

    A link is seen among children who were in the upper quartile on violence viewing in middle childhood, 15 years later:

    - 11 percent of males had been convicted of a crime, compared with 3 percent for other males.

    - 42 percent of males had "pushed, grabbed or shoved their spouse" in the past year, compared with 22 percent of other males.

    - 39 percent of females had "thrown something at their spouse" in the past year, compared with 17 percent of other females.

    - 17 percent of females had "punched, beaten, or choked" another adult when angry in the past year, compared with 4 percent of other females.

    Source: "The Impact of Electronic Media Violence: Scientific Theory and Research," by University of Michigan professor L. Rowell Huesmann.

    It's a topic that has been debated extensively, but this is one of the first studies that shows the relation between viewing media violence and real criminal behavior, according to the study's author, L. Rowell Huesmann, a senior research scientist at the U-M Institute for Social Research.

    "This is the first study that shows a relation between childhood exposure to violent TV, playing violent video games, seeing violent movies, and behaving violently enough to be incarcerated as a delinquent," said Huesmann, a professor of communication studies and psychology.

    Huesmann and his team followed a group of children for three years as they moved through middle childhood. They found increasing rates of aggression for both boys and girls who watched more television violence, even when taking into account initial aggressive tendencies and other background factors. A 15-year follow-up of those children showed that those who habitually watched violent media grew up to be more aggressive young adults.

    Huesmann also cited many independent studies and experiments with similar results, stating that the majority of one-shot survey studies have shown that children who watch more media violence on a daily basis behave more aggressively on a daily basis.

    In another experiment cited, both children and adults who watched a violent movie showed significantly more aggression than the children and adults who watched a nonviolent movie when playing a physical game immediately after watching the films.

    Video games were also addressed in the study, although experiments involving exposure to violent games are not as extensive or long-term.

    "Because players of violent video games are not just observers but also 'active' participants in violent actions and are generally reinforced for using violence to gain desired goals, the effects on stimulating long-term increases in violent behavior should be even greater for video games than for TV, movies or Internet displays of violence," Huesmann wrote in the study.

    • by sqrt(2) ( 786011 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @08:34PM (#21512379) Journal
      Let's take a look at some of these and put a more positive, game industry friendly, take on them.

      11 percent of males had been convicted of a crime, compared with 3 percent for other males.
      We could rephrase this to say that 89% of males who play video games never commit crimes! Where as 97% who don't are just a lot better at not getting caught.

      42 percent of males had "pushed, grabbed or shoved their spouse" in the past year, compared with 22 percent of other males.
      Sounds bad right? But what about the males that don't have spouses because they spend all their time playing violent video games? Aren't we jumping to conclusions, I'm sure these numbers even out when you consider that.

      39 percent of females had "thrown something at their spouse" in the past year, compared with 17 percent of other females.
      Well that is just misleading, what exactly did they throw? Maybe it was a pillow.

      As you can see these statistics have perfectly reasonable and non game related explanations. There is absolutely no connection between cigaret...I mean games and violence. But our industry is going to do everything to investigate these matters further and invest in ad campaigns to keep kids from picking up the habit of violent games. We can all agree that the children, are our (financial) future.
  • Bias is obvious (Score:4, Informative)

    by devjj ( 956776 ) * on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:56PM (#21512009)


    "Exposure to violent electronic media has a larger effect than all but one other well known threat to public health. The only effect slightly larger than the effect of media violence on aggression is that of cigarette smoking on lung cancer" (emphasis mine)

    You can chalk it up to semantics, but it sure sounds like these guys went into the study assuming that violent media was already a threat. They set out to measure the "how much," completely bypassing "if" as though it were a moot point.

    Ars Technica has a great article on this here [].

  • Why not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by venicebeach ( 702856 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:58PM (#21512043) Homepage Journal
    Everyone here seems to be strongly opposed to the idea that video game violence may be related to violent behavior.

    However, it seems pretty clear to me that it must in some form. Play throughout the animal kingdom is basically simulation training. We play to unintentionally practice skills. Video games that involve explicit simulation of violence must be exercising something related to violent behavior. I'm not saying a video game "causes" a kid to do something violent or that parenting and personality don't interact, but it seems inconceivable to me that it has no effect.
    • by devjj ( 956776 ) *

      Again, it's an issue of semantics. I don't think that anyone is denying that video game violence may have some effect. The question is whether or not that effect is to increase the likelihood of violent activity, and if so, by how much. Couple that with the vague-at-best definition of "aggression" and there's plenty of room to criticize this study.

    • by FroBugg ( 24957 )
      It's perfectly reasonable to argue that violent video games allow people a safe outlet for their aggressive behavior, reducing the chance that they will be aggressive in actual interpersonal situations.

      Both my proposal and yours have something in common: They're complete and utter speculation. I'm a geologist, not a psychologist, and the person that wrote this article is obviously a hack with a biased axe to grind. We're not going to know the truth until professional psychologists take a serious look at the
    • And simulation training is part of how the military overcome people's reluctance to kill [].
  • I found a few more details in the press release [].

    As others have pointed out, the causation may be that those with some predisposition to violence are more attracted to violent TV programs and games. Some evidence for that is actually in the press release itself:

    When the children in the Columbia County study were eight years old, the most violent shows on television were "Gunsmoke" and "77 Sunset Strip." Even so, the study found large effects of heavy viewing of violence ten years later.

    Since those

  • How about this? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MikShapi ( 681808 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @08:06PM (#21512131) Journal
    Conduct the same study in any developed country other than the USA (or it's mentality look-alike, Canada).
    Try any European country, Australia or NZ, Japan or other Asian countries. Preferably, try several.

    THEN Draw your game use vs violence correlations, and see if what's making US kids violent is games, or a mentality that doesn't equip them with the tools required to cope with mature content.

    THEN we'll talk. How I love it when American lobbyist groups oversimplify an issue so an uninformed public can be made even more misinformed. Go America.
  • then no it is not. It is just plain stupid to even compare the two.

    When did acedemia start being a bunch of attention whores?
  • I've killed more than a thousand virtual characters in PVP over the years (read: WoW and/or EVE) and I'm one of the most patient and non-hostile people I know. Hell, even in PVP I don't get all hyped up and psycho like some of those kids do... I just mute them and keep shooting them. ;-)

  • Violent behavior. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by junkmail ( 99106 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @08:21PM (#21512251)
    We didn't make it to the top of the food chain after millions of years of evolution by being non-violent. We are the result of millions of years worth of selectively breeding the best bad-asses of each generation. The only thing that fools people into thinking non-violence is good is that part of becoming the world's baddest-ass species was learning team violence (us vs. the prey, us vs. them). Seems to me that these games are just sensitizing us to behavior that is always there, just below the surface. Also seems to me that any aggressive team sports would have the same effect (football, basketball, hockey, politics).

  • by drew ( 2081 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @08:24PM (#21512301) Homepage
    I swear I'm gonna kill the next person I hear complaining about violence in the media!
  • Is the root cause really the violent video game or the poor parenting that includes letting your kid watch violent stuff all the time the root cause? I saw a funny quote not too long ago that said "With all the comedy on TV, why isn't there comedy rampant on the streets?". I fail to see this as a direct cause-effect scenario such as smoking and can't take this study seriously. Aggressiveness is a social and mental issue that certainly can be aggravated by other violence but caused? I don't think so.
  • It's not due to video games, but instead we drew the ire of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. ...for getting rid of the sea pirates. And stuff. Amen!
  • by rev_sanchez ( 691443 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @09:56PM (#21513133)
    If their argument was that games (violent or not) made kids fat or stupid then I'd buy that and point out that crappy TV does too, but games keep getting more violent and violence keeps going down.

    I'm not saying it's good for kids but I'm not sold.
  • by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @04:23AM (#21515557)
    How about for once trying to approach this subject in a more mature way? It is so easy and so common to simply misinterpret something you don't like in way that makes sound like it is obviously crap, so you can just dismiss it, but that doesn't do justice to the subject, the people who have don'e actual, serious research into it, or to yourself and your own intelligence. Listening and understanding is not going to hurt, really.

    This research is not saying that this or that individual will necessarily be more violent after having played a video game; but it says that there is a measurable effect on average. The article doesn't detail what research method was used, but it could be something like comparing a group of people, who play violent games with a group who don't. And of course, one might question whether the interpretation of the results is correct; but jeering stupidly is not the way, I think.

    I think the reasoning behind is quite sensible: You can train your responses to situations in a simulator - this is used in many places, not least the military. So in a violent game you learn to respond with violence to certain situations; also, when you do something often enough, it becomes routine, and you feel less emotional impact from what you do. Wouldn't it be reasonable to suspect that playing violent video games might harden people against the consequences of violences to others? To most this will not be an issue, but there is a frighteningly large proportion of the normal population whose grasp on reality is not very strong - they are not very far away from a mild form of actual psychosis, one might say, and those people will be less able to distinguish between what happens in a game and what happens in reality. I don't know actual numbers, but there are more than most think. On that backkground, isn't it reasonable to research the subject of violence in the media question whether we, as a society, would not be better off there was less of it?

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito