Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
View All     RSS
September 21, 2014
arrowPress Releases
September 21, 2014
PR Newswire
View All





If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:


Here we go again: Obama calls for government-funded game violence research
January 16, 2013 | By Frank Cifaldi

January 16, 2013 | By Frank Cifaldi
Comments
    100 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing, Video



In a speech on Wednesday morning, President Barack Obama asked Congress to fund research into determining a link between video game violence and real life violence.

"Congress should fund research on the effects violent video games have on young minds," he said.

"We don't benefit from ignorance. We don't benefit from not knowing the science."

The research would come as a part a $500 million program to curb gun violence in the United States, most of it aimed at gun control and research.

As we reported yesterday, Vice President Joe Biden hinted that more research was likely to occur when he met with representatives of the video game industry on Friday.

According to Reuters, Obama is expected to ask the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to use $10 million in Congress money to study the root causes of gun violence, including whether violent video games and other media have an effect.

Update: The ESA issued the following statement:

ESA appreciates President Obama's and Vice President Biden's leadership and the thoughtful, comprehensive process of the White House Gun Violence Commission. We concur with President Obama's call today for all Americans to do their part, and agree with the report's conclusion that the entertainment and video game industries have a responsibility to give parents tools and choices about the movies and programs their children watch and the games their children play," said the organization in its statement.

The same entertainment is enjoyed across all cultures and nations, but tragic levels of gun violence remain unique to our country. Scientific research and international and domestic crime data all point toward the same conclusion: entertainment does not cause violent behavior in the real world.

We will embrace a constructive role in the important national dialogue around gun violence in the United States, and continue to collaborate with the Administration and Congress as they examine the facts that inform meaningful solutions.


Related Jobs

Infinity Ward / Activision
Infinity Ward / Activision — Woodland Hills, California, United States
[09.20.14]

Producer - Infinity Ward
Infinity Ward / Activision
Infinity Ward / Activision — Woodland Hills, California, United States
[09.20.14]

Senior AI Engineer
Infinity Ward / Activision
Infinity Ward / Activision — Woodland Hills, California, United States
[09.20.14]

Lead Tools Engineer - Infinity Ward
Infinity Ward / Activision
Infinity Ward / Activision — Woodland Hills, California, United States
[09.20.14]

Senior Tools Engineer - Infinity Ward










Comments


Rodolfo Rosini
profile image
We should fund it until we get the study that shows the answer we want.

David Klingler
profile image
I think that's exactly what THEY are thinking.

Lewis Wakeford
profile image
We should fund arbitrary stuff to look like we are doing something because we don't have the balls to actually do anything.

Joe McGinn
profile image
Not sure why this is a problem. Knowledge is good. As long as it's proper scientific peer-reviewer journal stuff, I have no problem with it.

Serge Versille
profile image
The problem is a culture where, too often, being reserved is deemed being weak ("no balls", etc), and where in the same fashion winning is confused with crushing your opposition (rather than, say, winning them over). So I agree with people saying that video games reflect society in this way, but I worry that a study trying to establish a link between actual violence and video game violence might get the causality backwards, depending on its starting bias.

I worked in research (molecular biology), and I can tell you there is ALWAYS a bias, which is why it's important to remain skeptical of one's own biases. Be it only the theory you believe to be true over others, it's likely to make one infer certain things from experimental results and ignore others.

Beyond that, it's 10m out of a 500m package, and this issue being so politically charged, I'm pretty sure this is appeasement towards the NRA and its attack against the game industry. Ignoring here the paradox between this stance of the NRA and its release of a shooting game for 4yo + on the appstore.

jin choung
profile image
this is the idiotic attitude of the NRA. and the tobacco industry before it. to bury knowledge. why?

**WE** have nothing to hide. **WE** have nothing to be afraid of.

so let them study it for fuck's sake. it's not like they can hide their work product. if it finds us culpable and it's biased we can call them out on it.

WHY ARE WE AFRAID OF KNOWLEDGE?

let them study it and stand by the truth.

David Klingler
profile image
I've been researching video game violence for years, with the reason being that I wanted to know if the industry I was going into was really all that bad for violence. It's fine. There has not been found a causal relationship between video game violence and real life violence. All studies that have concluded that there is a relationship have been deeply flawed. There has been a ton of research that has gone into this, and once you look at all of it in detail you know the truth.

John McMahon
profile image
Unfortunately any study funded by the industry members is seen as tainted. So it takes getting researchers paid by other groups (like Congress) to support the findings.

Tony Giovannini
profile image
Sweet, let's waste more money and go further into debt.

Kaitlyn Kincaid
profile image
could always siphon about 8.3 seconds out of the Department of Defense, that would cover it.

Matthew Mouras
profile image
Relax, Tony. The government is going to spend money. You'll get over it as soon as someone from the party you support is elected.

Justin LeGrande
profile image
@Matthew Mouras

I don't think the Green Party is getting elected anytime soon...

Jonathan Adams
profile image
This at least solves the issue of people not believing the results of studies because they're funded by the games industry.

E Zachary Knight
profile image
How much of the existing research was funded by the games industry? I am not thinking there is much at all.

Justin LeGrande
profile image
It's just as bad if they're funded by the government. They need to be funded by non-government, non-industry organizations, with no ulterior motives and no exterior backers. The materials compiled for the book Grand Theft Childhood is a good example of this type of study.

http://www.grandtheftchildhood.com/GTC/Excerpts/Entries/2008/1/28
_The_video_games_and_violence_Study.html

Alan Rimkeit
profile image
They should spend this money on research between the connection of mental health and stability and violent crimes. To me that seems more applicable to the situation.

Tony Giovannini
profile image
Also, how about spending some money on researching the long term effects of MAOI inhibitors on teenagers?

Alan Rimkeit
profile image
@Tony Giovannini - Ah man, that is just another HUGE can or worms....

Robert Hoischen
profile image
... indeed, but they know everything about cans, they love kicking them down the road ;D

John McMahon
profile image
With the CDC and states being allowed to look into the connection between guns and a person's medical history promotes those types of studies. Did you know someone slipped into the Affordable Care Act that doctors couldn't ask about a patient's gun use?

One of the executive orders specifically states to "clarify" that the ACA does not prevent medical personnel from asking about that.

But there have been laws specifically stopping the CDC from researching that, so at least that will help.

Brian Buchner
profile image
What a shame. I'm sure doctors all over were just chomping at the bit to ask "So, your family's fine? That's good. So, how're your guns doing?"

E Zachary Knight
profile image
In other words:

President Obama has declared that the body of existing research in the connection between violent video games and real life violence doesn't align properly with his personal bias. As such, he is declaring that further research should be done to make such a connection.

John McMahon
profile image
In your words.

In the words of the executive orders, it merely wants Congress itself to fund the research.

I think it supports Biden's view of the industry's perception problem. If Congress' own funded research supports the existing private sector funded research it could help convince others as well as Congress members themselves. Of course, those same Congress members could try to sabotage the study itself or the results.

But I feel it helps not to place my own fears onto someone else's thoughts and words.

Brian Buchner
profile image
@Jeferson Soler The reasons are obvious : The public doesn't want to have to properly educate their offspring on the differences between fantasy and reality aka Self-Responsibility and Self-Control, and, rather than look at the fact that insane asylums were deinstitutionalized in favor of medication and outpatient programs, which is unpolitically-correct, they need a scapegoat and video games have always been a convenient target.

jin choung
profile image
yeah, i hate it when people research something to find something out.

they totally did that to the tobacco industry too. they just wouldn't let it go and they just wouldn't stop studying it until they found exactly what they wanted to see.

shameless.

"facts", "studies", "research" are far far far too overrated in this society.

nevermind that the work product of such research would be open to the public for scrutiny - to see if there was bias or problems in methodology. just the fact that they want to study something tells you that there's something wrong.

nevermind that a good faith study to absolve as well as convict.

we need to start with dogma and conviction (or hell, even a bit of a hunch) and just refuse to look into things any further.

Matt Robb
profile image
Has there been much if any research *not* funded by the video game industry? If not, this really does need to happen.

E Zachary Knight
profile image
I am struggling to think of research that has been funded by the games indutsry.

Alan Rimkeit
profile image
I don't think that there has never been any research done by the actual video games industry. Maybe it is time for the major game companies to fund such research? They can fund it via an independent research firm so no one can call them out on insider favoritism or some such BS like that.

Matt Robb
profile image
I'm having trouble thinking of any really extensive research done by anyone. I just hear small, anecdotal references all the time.

Nicholas Ulring
profile image
Kickstarter anyone?

Brian Buchner
profile image
@Nicholas Ulring You'd have to use IndieGogo for that as it's not for profit. Like Oatmeal did with the Tesla Museum.

Dan the gaming Guy
profile image
Money would be better spent feeding poor people.

What a waste of time working on another study that will result as inconclusive at best.

John McMahon
profile image
"The research would come as a part a $500 million program to curb gun violence in the United States, most of it aimed at gun control and research."

That sounds like a waste of time? Researching gun control and how it relates to gun violence?

Brian Buchner
profile image
@John McMahon What's so difficult to understand? Crazy people or people motivated by some form of real or perceived harm react and shoot people.

How does control even enter the picture when guys can go off in the woods, make bombs, and injure people? Would gun control have prevented the Connecticut shooting given that the guns used were not his own?

Frank DAngelo
profile image
Here we go again is right. How many times has this "research" been done now. Yes, studies have found that playing violent video games raises aggression levels and adreneline levels while playing and shortly thereafter. SAME THING THAT SPORTS DO. And other perfectly normal events in life.

Maybe because it is government funded, once no correlation is found, this whole charade can stop. What the government should do is fund classes called "Parenting 101, how to raise your children".

Jeremy Tate
profile image
"Here we go again" ? Isn't this exactly what the IGDA asked for? In the open letter on January 9th, our industry group said....

"The Need for Science
Unlike some industry groups, the IGDA does not seek to impede more scientific study about our membersí products. We welcome more evidence-based research into the effects of our work to add to the large body of existing scientific literature that clearly shows no causal link between video game violence and real violence. "

Dan Johnson
profile image
Honestly, let the game industry - maybe the ESA - donate $10m to the government to fund the research. I'm not saying that the industry should conduct it, since it's important that we're not perceived to be influencing it. I *am* saying that this is a waste of taxpayer money (to prove the industry right), but a worthwhile expense of industry money (to repair the image of games in the public eye).

Michael DeFazio
profile image
Agree with @Rodolfo, David & @Mike

There has been plenty of "research" done, but each and every time I see "research" from sociologists/psychiatrists/"professionals" in the field they are riddled with huge assumptions, and you can tell the funding and science behind said projects is always VERY leading towards a specific outcome (Video games cause violence) rather than to study and observe anything that might be positive effects of video games.(I have seen some good ones, but they are few and far between and they don't get much ink in the US)

Here's a good example:
http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/shootaim.htm
(Research form Ohio state that concludes people who play video games "can teach you to shoot more accurately and aim for the head"... Leading science anyone?)

Anyone with even a cursory understanding of how to conduct scientific experiments would tear these "studies" apart, but folks (who have it in their best interest to scapegoat video games) are all lining up to parrot these studies as real science. (Really Ohio State should be ashamed calling this stuff science)

The folks doing the studies always have "years" of research under their belt, and each study always CONFIRMS exactly what they were looking for to begin with (Video games = violence). The scientists are in a hurry to "prove something" so that they can get funding/ go on TV as an "Expert" so that they can hock their new book or study which just reinforces these ridiculous things.

FYI here's where you might have seen stuff by Mr. Bushman...
"He has over 130 publications in peer-reviewed journals, including in the top scientific journals (e.g., Science, Nature). His research has been featured on television (e.g., ABC News 20/20, CBS Evening News, Jim Lehrer NewsHour, O'Reilly Factor), on radio (BBC, NPR, ABC, CBS, NBC, CBC) in magazines (e.g., Scientific American, Newsweek, Time, Health, Sports Illustrated), and in newspapers (e.g., New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today)."

Of all his years of research, has a study ever resulted in video games having a positive effect on people--- or have they always CONFIRMED his suspicions that they cause violence?--- I'd question the fundamental validity of the anyone who does research that continuously confirms something... Like a fortune teller, I could save the general public (and Ohio State) alot of money to tell you hes continuing studies about the topic will always return the same results ... video games cause violent behavior.

"Science"...it aint what it used to be.

Kris Graft
profile image
Side note: Video game research is not just limited to media effects research. We're working on getting something together that highlights a wider array of game research.

George Blott
profile image
Excellent. I think that will be the best course of action for Gamasutra to take as a response to all of this.

Daniel Miller
profile image
I'm going to have carnitas for lunch.
Mmmmmmmmmm.
Delicious violence.

Alexander Ageno
profile image
Can the public image of Video Games get even worse?

J Boone
profile image
So where's the call for Research in why Parents and responsible purchasers of 'Violent' Video Games fail to recognize the [M-Rating] on all games yet still provide these games to kids? Or when Employees of Best Buy, Target, Wal-mart, etc. ask for your ID when you purchase the game because it's M-Rated.

Where's the call for personal responsibility? There's sufficient common sense currently in this country to know that you wouldn't hand your teenager a bottle of Whiskey nor let a 5-10 year olds drive a few laps around the block in your Ford F-150.

Ratings on games is probably the most responsible thing the Games industry can do. The next big hurdle isn't changing games - it's educating the masses that there are some games for Kids, some games for Teenagers, and some games for Adults. This works very well with beverages and movies - this shouldn't be a difficult leap for our Medium.

Note - the excuse that Games are just too new, etc. doesn't work. Mainstream home entertainment systems and Arcade machines have been around for over 40 years.

Additional Note - this is a Chicken-Little "The Sky is Falling!!" knee-jerk reaction by the government and the low-information populace as well. Just 25-30 years ago, people were screaming bloody murder because Dungeons & Dragons and other RPGs were killing kids and promoting Satanism.. (which is equally nuts, considering that we still have tons of kids and there's no mainstream church of the Anti-Christ) :)

David Marcum
profile image
Here is a video of the president's statements.

http://youtu.be/qHhwTEzR5Is

edit: Never mind the post has been updated with the above link.

[User Banned]
profile image
This user violated Gamasutraís Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Thom Q
profile image
You probably watch American news, right?

[User Banned]
profile image
This user violated Gamasutraís Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Thom Q
profile image
Granted, I get most of my US news expierence from Stewart & Colbert, but american tv news isn't what it used to be :)

Brian Buchner
profile image
@Jeferson Soler I wouldn't call CNN right-leaning. I think you mean Fox.

But, yes. Media is not obligated to report truth. News is sensationalized and dramatized to make ad revenue for their advertisers. Because horror and fear-mongering sells, plain and simple. Just like this.

Lewis Wakeford
profile image
Probably because the news media has a pretty huge influence on popular opinion and would do everything in their power to destroy the reputation of the researchers and politicians behind the study and paint the study as biased.

Even if they didn't succeed at that, any legislation against them would probably count as "unconstitutional" so all the effort would be a waste anyway.

Robert Schmidt
profile image
I have no problem with scientific research. Those that oppose it give those outside the industry the impression that we have something to hide.

David Klingler
profile image
I have no problem with scientific research either, we don't have anything to hide, but sometimes it's redundant.

Michael DeFazio
profile image
neither do I, just pseudo-science masquerading as science. (and pseudo-science is prolly what we'll get)

wish the US government could act more like Norway's in the wake of this kind of a tragedy. In the US it's always some overreactionary finger pointing that tries to find the cause and justifications of a crazy-person/groups actions.

As if some scientific study is going to get at the root of the problem (crazy people be crazy y'all) and that some sanctions is going to prevent this type of tragedy in the future.

Robert Schmidt
profile image
@Michael DeFazio, "and pseudo-science is prolly what we'll get", then we'll call it out as such.

"As if some scientific study is going to get at the root of the problem (crazy people be crazy y'all) and that some sanctions is going to prevent this type of tragedy in the future." that is called the fallacy of the perfect solution. Would it not be worthwhile to prevent some gun deaths? Do we have to stop all gun deaths for it to be worth considering?

Kujel Selsuru
profile image
I'm not a opposed to solid research but I'm not so sure that's what we will get here. Research that expands our understanding of a subject is good, reseach that just confirms what's already known or worse was done poorly and leads to false conclusions isn't really helpful.

Jonathan Murphy
profile image
Seriously they've been doing this song and dance with us for over a decade now. The Game Industry may make billions of dollars, but we also lose billions of dollars. We're a risky market.

I'm not working my butt off to bribe some politician 10% of my money, to be left alone. These dinosaurs need to leave and make room for a generation that understands the difference between a cable modem and dial-up.

Dimitri Del Castillo
profile image
Well John, I think it's time our industry grow up and use the more subtle methods that other industrial powers use to keep their influence in this country. Big Oil, Big Pharma, and the Agriculture industries rely heavily on subsidy and strong lobbies to stay rich and keep the gov't off their back. Not only that, they also have people who represent their own interests head up federal regulatory agencies like the FDA and the EPA.

Sure we make a lot of money but we lose a lot too does not stand up in this world. A mature and sophisticated industry mitigates its risk by co-opting the government to keep its interests safe at home and abroad.

If it just costs 10% of our gross to buy in I call that a bargain.

Jonathan Murphy
profile image
There are entire towns in the USA where the residents are dying from cancer because a toilet paper company dumped it's toxic waste into the sewers. There are corporations that demand we track our children with ID cards to severely penalize them for being late to class.

Law makers should represent the people and not whomever pays them the most. Pay a mafia thug $10 today and tomorrow they'll want $20. Perhaps you don't understand greed?

Thom Q
profile image
"With regards to Evolution, the jury is still out" - George W. Bush

Obama ignoring all existing research doesn't seem so bad in comparison.

Anup Sarode
profile image
Trust me, the games are so fucking addicting, gamers don't have time to go out and kill people!!

Maximilian Garling
profile image
I believe this is easier than they think it is.

If you are mocked, bullied, beaten or rejected during your childhood, you develop some hate towards people who hurt you. Playing videogames is just an activity you can do on your own, but it doesn't stimulates directly to the will of killing people, that iniciative must be a consequence to many other external and internal psicological damages coming from people, which everyone will deny their respectively responsabilities.

I'm saying this because during my childhood my classmates found great ways to torture me. Phone calls threatening me and my family, girls insulting me for no reason whatsoever and bullies beating me 4 on 1, blaming me for thefts I didn't do and the list goes on.

The only time I could feel in peace and safe was when I was at home, playing videogames. Enjoying good music, overpassing obstacles, beating up bosses and yes, I played Doom II, I killed millions and millions of monsters, but I never cared, I never felt anything about killing fictional monsters, and most important, I never felt a connection between playing violent games and doing an actual killing to my classmates, although I did enjoy the adrenaline going through my veins. Instead, what I used to feel was that I, a beaten up person, was capable to overcome obstacles, that all the adrenaline in my blood could be used to become stronger. With some endurance, I could "level up" enough to face against my classmates and claim for my own safety and peace in school, sometimes I did with lesser violence, other times I managed to reason, both experiences, although hard and hurtful, were better than standing there doing nothing about it.

I spent most of my teenage with headaches and inner pain, trying to learn how to talk things out. People were nicer at me, but the traumas made me get away from people to stay safe. As a result, I feel I've lost over 15 years of my life, and I'm just 24.

Along with videogames, training at the gym cheered up my spirit. Feeling stronger each day gave me a vision that things would improve eventually, and thus I never gave up. I've spent hours trying to beat up a level, and the satisfaction after achieving it is... glorious. Good stories have also helped to develop some thought about how events happens, and how I could try to revert some abuses. In the end, things were starting to look brighter, but were not enough.

This is where the good news start. 2 years ago, doctors discovered I had a 8cm cyst over my brain, explaining why my emotional state and my body movility were so damaged. The joy of understanding why I felt so different, the headaches and the inner pain was amazing. If it weren't for my own will to improve myself, I should have been dead a long time ago, as simple as that. Videogames made me live long enough to survive, period. It doesn't matter if I played Call of Duty, Pokemon or GTA, they were always games, and it was always me learning how hard situations could be solved, in one way, or another. Knowing that videogames solutions lead to "real jail conditions" in real life, does it make sense to apply violence, even if the situation is hard?

Given the reasons above, some murderers might think it's worth the cost.

So, why am I telling you all of this reader? Add a decade of abuses, misunderstandings and irrational experiencies and I could say pretty much killing my own classmates seems a legit and rational idea. Why? Because if I have to go to school everyday to live like the way they treated me, I'd be safer without them. Therefore, go pick a gun, shoot them, and end the problem.

But three things here: I was smart enough to control my rage and pain, found a way to liberate it through gym and videogames.
Second, this is important, I COULDN'T REACH A GUN. In my country, Chile, getting guns are a really complicated task, unless you get them ilegally (and their quality will often kill you instead of the victim)
Third, I RECEIVED HELP. Family and other friends were always there for me, helping and cheering me up. I played games with them, and that unity made me feel less lonely and taught me how teamwork created better bonds of friendship.

So, based on my own argument, I just wanted to express how much I disagree with any kind of regulation to videogames and that the problem comes from society itself. If you disrespect people from their earlier years, you'll create the monster, not the media. Media can influence, but not as much as your closer people will. Sometimes videogames can save lives. I work to make that happen.

PS: I'm truly sorry for the text wall and my bad english.

John Gordon
profile image
Heh, for some reason people like to blame entertainment for all of society's problems. Rock music, movies, and comic books have been blamed for all sorts of things as well. It doesn't mean any of it is true, but I don't see how you can stop people from using entertainment as a scapegoat.

Mike Griffin
profile image
Obama: "Hey there folks, see these kids behind me? The first step for the American buying public, namely adults and parents, is to stop buying M-rated video games for kids like this. As parents, handing over a M-rated game to your under-age child is like a silent approval of everything in that game. It's telling your kid that everything he or she is about to experience is fine by you."

"And if you see your child is starting to demonstrate signs of degrading mental health and a proclivity towards violence, it's probably best not to hand them violent material or means of any type until they are assessed by a health professional."

"We'll be conducting research into parents' familiarity with game ratings and content, to determine how much potentially adverse content and effects enter the home through adult assistance."

"We'll be expanding national and local mental health initiatives to assist parents and family members in identifying potential problems in at risk young people, and ensure they get the help they need before a situation becomes out of hand."

"We all need to take some responsibility for how our society consumes its media content, how we perceive the ideals of weapon ownership and use, and when to get people the help they need during the onset of mental disorder, before it's too late."

But if he actually said that, people would probably complain: "Obama just thinks we're all crazy and need to see a shrink! It's guns and bad make-believe stuff that turn people crazy!"

So we'll start with some research that will spin around in circles until a health professional says:
"Crazy people is crazy people, regardless of accessories around them. We need to identify, contain, and assist them -- not hide them and provide accessories and tools that encourage their disorder. Thanks."

To which a whole bunch of us will once again say, "No shit, Sherlock."

Mike Weldon
profile image
If this is the price we have to pay for stricter gun-control laws, then I am in favor of it.

Michael DeFazio
profile image
Ugg more laws...that just means more bureaucracy...

And supporting organizations like the ATF who tend to violate peoples civil liberties in an attempt to confiscate peoples personal property (even though they may have legally obtained said weapons/cartridges) under the guise that this is making america safer and/or preventing these types of catastrophes.

Whether I think normal citizens should be able to have "Assault rifles" isn't the issue, I'm just not supportive over having to make "offenders" and enforce (jail/kill) laws on people who may just be responsible enthusiasts and legally purchased these types of weapons and have a particular affinity towards guns (Heck I used to love shooting the AR-15 when I was in the service... nothing wrong with that...)

I suppose this type of leading logic can be problematic :
Applied to things like automobiles you could easily argue that No automobile should be able to drive faster than 65 mph, and certainly not faster than the top speed of the average police car, since hit and runs account for (x or y) deaths per year, and no person driving should be able to outrun the cops.

Matthew Burns
profile image
Oh folks this is a minefield set up to curtail and rein in control the gaming industry (and other aspects of society) under the guise of being good stewards of the American people.

This whole circus we see going on is only about one thing; power. It is simple, who will have the power over what?! We need to get rid of the haze of feelings and concerns conveniently laid out there to muddle the issue and fundamentally analyze what each potential decision will do to our freedoms.

Its all about who has the power and as an Indie and an American I wish to keep my own power over decisions and maintain my rightful freedoms thank you. I am quite capable...

Joshua Darlington
profile image
The NRA says fiction as the root cause of real gun violence. In order to negotiate with the NRA he has to take that accusation seriously. Hence a scientific study.

I would prefer some sort of gov incentive or subsidy to get past the economic barrier to more sophisticated NPCs and simulations of social dynamics. Game engines have sophisticated tools for world modelling but not character or social modelling. Such tools would be helpful outside of game design in areas like diplomacy and business (negotiation/marketing etc.).

Dean Boytor
profile image
It's a good point, "we dont benefit from ignorance"
Like Mike Weldon said above me. If this is the price for gun control I say let them study the effects on young minds.

The Issue is that ESRB already has taken the measure to keep violent games away from young kids, but every time I'm in Game Stop or any game retailer there is at least 2 mothers buying the hottest Army shooter or any games equal to, for their young child.

I'm curious to know if there is evidence in the slightest that the study does show effects on young minds what other measures can the industry take to ensure that kids cant get them? Parents can still just by pass this hurdle by just pretending to purchase it for themselves.

The game industry has done extensive research on violence time and time again, if they want to do it themselves, then we should give them the tools.

We either learn something or put this myth to rest.

my 2Ę

Alan Rimkeit
profile image
The problem with parents buying violent games for their kids is we can't stop them at all. I can for example buy the new GTA for my 13 year old daughter(not that I would) and there is not a thing anyone can do about it. Same for violent movies or books. This all under the venue of parental rights.

But, on the flip side if there was a proven link between the two we could at the very least educate and inform parents to the link. Those that are willing to listen that is. All these issues over lap so much it is really hard to separate them at all.

Alan Boody
profile image
You gotta hand it to the NRA. Completely dismissing themselves from any responsibility while trying to pin it on as many other scapegoats as possible. How about this for a study? Study how many people who have easy access to guns commits violent crimes compared to those who do not.

Ian Nancarrow
profile image
Alan - because then we're just reflecting the problem back, essentially pointing our fingers just like they are. At least with the metaphorical ball in our court, we'll be setting the record straight so that the next time someone mentions "Kindergarten Killer," a larger majority of public will roll their eyes and groan, knowing how thick of a stunt the accuser is pulling.

But even through all perspectives, this is the government we're talking about - clear as coal. Who knows what this "research" will consist of.

John Andersen
profile image
This is just more news that is tarnishing the video game industry. If we can't lock up the person who commits the violent act and put them on trial - then we have to put a video game or motion picture on trial. If we continue to blame objects for violent acts then we will get nowhere.

The NRA wants to blame the video game and movie industry for violent acts? In the case of Newtown, all they had to do was announce a reminder to gun owners to keep their own guns locked up in residences from individuals that may be emotionally unstable. Of course, gun safes or gun lockers, that's too much to ask for some gun owners - and even insulting.

We're trying to prevent gun violence? How about we try to prevent people from having psychotic breaks? Any emotionally unstable person doesn't need a gun to carry out a violent act - we all know that. Put more money towards mental health care, public awareness of mental health issues, and perhaps studying how mental illness combined with social isolation (isolation that brings one into their own dark world) can cause someone to commit a violent act?

The other unfortunate and chilling angle to this is that if an individual is hell-bent on carrying out a violent act - there is no stopping them. It's only now the media coverage of such acts has intensified, they do not go away and we can fold them up in a newspaper and forget about them. The internet and expansion of news media intensifies the coverage and now we have to deal with this. We're just now dealing with it by unfairly blaming violent fictional imagery instead of mental illness or just plain evil.

Lennard Feddersen
profile image
Video games, violent and otherwise, exist all over the world. School shootings occur primarily in the US.

I don't think a study is a bad idea, given the seriousness of the issue, but I think they are barking up the wrong tree. I would like to see more research done in the area of how constant access to online media is affecting our brains.

Alan Rimkeit
profile image
School shooting's yes. But America is never in the top ten for violent crimes/murder per capita ever.

Lennard Feddersen
profile image
You are correct Alan:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_hom
icide_rate

I do think my initial thought has some merit and could have been stated better. We have lots of data tracking tools so it should be an afternoon of work or less for somebody with the right sales database to make a world map of violent crime and violent video games sold per capita and see if there is a correlation relative to territories with lower homicide rates.

Tom Baird
profile image
While it's not a US only thing, the US is particularly bad relative to it's other first-world peers.

You can pat yourself on the back for not being as bad as say, Honduras, but in the Homicide Rate from Wikipedia you are above average homicides in North America, Europe, and Oceania. And when talking about the School Shootings link, Europe lists 16 shootings between 1989 and current, compared to the U.S. 40 in the same time frame. Keep in mind Europe has over 2x the population, meaning the per capita number would be even worse.

Sure they could get much worse, but when taking into account the resources available and countries in similar situations to the U.S. it should be much, much better.

Bob Johnson
profile image
Don't kid yourselves. No one was violent before videogames. No gun deaths. No mass executions. No genocide. No wars. Nothing. Until videogames came along we were all peace loving beatniks. And these games turned us all into ticking timebombs.

Alan Rimkeit
profile image
ZING....

Terry Matthes
profile image
Everyone thinks in terms of black and white. I think there probably are links to be made but they wouldn't equate to something simple enough to fit into a twitter post. People are afraid that any link would paint kids who play violent games as potential problems. I for one say bring it on. Let's see what the links are if any. Its time to stop being ignorant.

David Pierre
profile image
The real question to ask here is: How do I become a part of this 500 million payroll? I'd love to assist in research.

Luis Guimaraes
profile image
"Physics is the only real science. The rest are just stamp collecting." -Ernest Rutherford

Yes fast-paced, risky, and high competitive games make you burn adrenaline, but do they make you produce it more (apart for refilling what you've used up) to hyper-adrenaline level that you might have sudden, sub-stimulated adrenaline explosions?

Similarly risky engagements, success/fail states makes you *release* hormones and act *emotionally* in accordance to the situation. But that's not something external stuff do, it's something *we* do, in face of anything loss.

The way a game could shift the line at which we get "aggressive" (i.e. "emotional", which btw, has nothing to do with cold, suicidal, burned-out, emotionless, revengefully attention-seeking mass shootings, but seems to distract the focus from the subject very often) would be by pampering us in being *entitled to undeserved success* (well... most games nowadays do it).

Do playing games make your hypothalamus to grow? Does it make you produce excessive levels of somatotropin? Why don't all gamers are 2m tall or bodybuilders don't play it instead fo going to a doctor?

Sure, people shoot themselves because they're "aggressive", "violent"... A suicide is a product of deeper psychological and sociological issues. Otherwise all and every serial killer must be a product of video games, from 1888 and before.

Lex Allen
profile image
We've already studied this extensively and every time they find that violent video games do not make killers.

I've seen videos of children playing more aggressively after they watched a violent cartoon show as opposed to a non-violent one, and a lot of people interpret a lot more from this than what it actually is and start to think that media is causing aggression, but when compared to other societies around the world, the evidence just doesn't hold up. For example, Japan has the same violent games that we do, but they don't have mass killings (they also don't have the guns).

These killers were mentally ill or were severely bullied in high school. Why aren't we mostly worried about the common threads?

It's mentally ill people with guns! That's the problem. Duh!!!

Darcy Murdoch
profile image
To me this seems a very strange debate, the world is imperfect, their will always be members of the human race that will want to commit violence upon people. And in a nation of so many people, when one person snaps, or brakes for whatever reason, everyone gets so surprised! it is to me statistically inevitable particularly in an age of endemic bullying.

Then add this to a nation that has the highest number of guns per capita, and the result is exactly what happened in Newtown a result seen too many times.

Violence is everywhere, the difference is that guns are not everywhere.

Bhekinkosi Ncube
profile image
I think the games industry generally gets overly defensive when this stuff normally comes out and we have the "proof" to back up our claims. The NRA has a bunch of studies about how reducing access to guns in other countries actually resulted in an increase of violence especially gang related. I don't think it hurts to have the facts rechecked and I do think if there is the slightest chance that games do affect the behavior of kids it should be determined and we have a responsibility to take care of it. For all we know violent games may not make regular children more violent, but they may make mentally-ill children more violent. Or extended periods of play such that haven't been covered in studies may start to have an effect on some individuals with excess stress in their lives be it from bullying or something else. We just don't know and these things should be checked out.

America has a seriously gun influenced culture so much so that this culture has actually infected the style of games. Now the "big guns" in gaming are CoD, Halo, Battle Field, Home Front, games that promote gun violence. A lot of these these games also promote racial stereotyping and propaganda and they further influence the gun culture of the country. And it's this culture that causes guns to be so readily available and the super high gun related death toll that is typically seen in the states. It's not spawned from gaming but it has imprinted itself on the industry which in turn reinforces it.

I'm not saying violent games typically cause people to be more violent. I love fighting games and I study martial arts but I've been in 1 fight in the 27 years of my life. But for all we know there is some sad soul somewhere who has been bullied or abused, hates his life, and uses violent games as an escape. When pushed to the brink he might emulate what he's most familiar with which is this violence. These are all unanswered questions and being a responsible industry isn't it our job to check all the facts and make sure we only provide positive effects to our consumers, specifically those who are children?

Lastly, I watched a video about some of the irresponsibility of the gaming industry. We are so quick to blame parents about what games they buy their kids. At the same type we have characters from mature extremely violent games featuring in kids games. Kratos in little big planet, Solid Snake in Super Smash Bros. That's cross marketing and is wrong. It's the same thing the alcohol industry did when they marketed alco-pops which were specifically appealing to kids and promoted underage drinking. We do have to kick ourselves up the ass and even if we're not responsible for the violence that is present in the American culture (which I'm sure we're not) we should still do our best to help since games are such a wide spread and accessible medium.

Axel Cholewa
profile image
Thank you for this comment. Most of the other comments clearly that defensiveness you mentioned.

Axel Cholewa
profile image
A lot of commenters seem to say: "Well, nobody could find a connection between games and violence in the past, so let's stop research". The argument then goes: nobody found a connection (which is good for us, because we make games), Obama wants to do more research, so Obama wants to continue research until he finds a connection.

The argument of course can easily be turned around: in the past the game industry was lucky, because nobody found a connection between games and violence. The game industry likes this result and therefore wants to stop research. Probably they fear that there is a connection.

Just because nobody ever found magnetic monopoles doesn't mean we stop looking. In science you constantly look for evidence which could falsify theories. This is exactly what the games industry should do: support more studies, so that we know exactly what kind of connection or influence there possibly is.

Ian Nancarrow
profile image
I was always under the impression that our industry embraced research concerning the effects of video games on people. I mean we constantly re-iterate absolutely everything in every department to make sure our games are as satisfying as possible.

Plus I recall a link or quote or two in this topic showing how the industry approves of research between violence and video games...

Axel Cholewa
profile image
I was criticising comments like these:

"They should spend that 10 million on bad parenting research ... there is a reason violent games are rated mature [...]"

"Don't kid yourselves. No one was violent before videogames. No gun deaths. No mass executions. No genocide. No wars. Nothing. Until videogames came along we were all peace loving beatniks. And these games turned us all into ticking timebombs."

"We should fund it until we get the study that shows the answer we want. "

"I'm going to have carnitas for lunch.
Mmmmmmmmmm.
Delicious violence. "

I just don't understand what all the fuss is about in this comments section. I'm troubled that so many Gamastutra readers seem to think it's bad for games that Obama funds said research.

Sara Casen
profile image
I think it's great that the government of the US ARE doing something about the gun violence their citizens are facing.

However, the "Media Council of Sweden's Government" made an extensive report in 2011, putting together ALL international research there is about the (assumed) link between video games, violence and aggression.

They found out that there is now link between playing violent video games and acting violently in real life, BUT people who played a lot of violent games seemed to have issues with aggressive behavior when playing. However, they pointed out it's very hard to conclude anything for that since the research done had plenty of different definition for "aggressive behavior".

The report can be found here (in Swedish): http://www.statensmedierad.se/Publikationer/Produkter/Valdsamma-d
atorspel-och-aggression/

Alan Rimkeit
profile image
This is a great post. The study raises a lot of good questions. Do violent video games effect people to be more violent? Or are violent people attracted to violent video games? Are the people that are predisposed to violent behavior effected by violent video games to the point that they are committing more violent acts? It is all so complicated.

Matt Nelles
profile image
After reading this article, specifically this part "We concur with President Obama's call today for all Americans to do their part, and agree with the report's conclusion that the entertainment and video game industries have a responsibility to give parents tools and choices about the movies and programs their children watch and the games their children play," said the organization in its statement." I couldn't help, but commenting. I understand that the ESRB rating system isn't technically a law, i.e. it is up to the specific store if they wish to require id for M rated games, etc. However, nearly all stores do, not to mention that almost all game consoles nowadays have built in parental controls, and come with instructions on how to set them up. "They" say that we as gamers/game companies need to provide parents with tools, to give them the options to disallow their children the ability to play violent video game. We are doing just that, it isn't our fault that the parents don't choose to implement them, or choose to ignore the rating system.

Benoit Prezeau
profile image
My question is did the killer play violent videogames? I've not seen this information and I think that it should have some relevance.

One way to ensure that teens and kids don't get their parents to buy M rated games for them would be to add a picture of a naked woman next to the M rating. I can guarantee that parents won't buy these games for their children anymore. We used to say "make love not war" but now it seems to be "make war, not love".

Antonio Restivo
profile image
Here are my initial thoughts: This could either help or hurt the game industry. In science you can not 'prove' or 'disprove' anything. So even after millions of dollars spent the government could only show more support for violence or decreased violence using video games- but they could not use that to mandate the inhibition of violent video game sales or the research would be biased from the beginning.All the government can do is add more to the library of peer reviewed literature or make a 60 second psa about how violent video games effect a kid's brains but that is it- if they truly intend to intend to stay scientific.

Extra research on video game violence would be a waste of government spending and tax payer money. I like how Obama wants to figure out why the U.S. is the murder capital of the world(I want to know why too) and I think the fact that he is doing at least something to get to the bottom of it shows great leadership but practically the research would not really help the society.

Antonio Restivo
profile image
@Jeferson Soler- I agree. That is why I like how Obama is at least addressing the problem unlike the previous presidents.

Christopher J
profile image
It amazes me that while folks are trying to find solutions to prevent babies from being mass murdered others only think of a few dollars coming out of their pockets. I wonder if the parents from sandy hook are thinking about money right now. Thatís all anyone cares about these daysÖ. Money, money, money, and more money. Itís like babies whining over binkies. Itís sad and pathetic. Itís that kind of individual selfishness thatís most likely caused the decline of our economy and culture in the first place. Just sit back and let our president do his Job. At least heís trying to fix the problem, what have you done? If you donít like itÖ VOTE!

America has one of the best governments in the world. All of our freedoms, luxuries and Securities are because of Democracy and believe it or not, Taxes. If you want to live in a country with small government and no taxes, move to Afghanistan, Yemen, Haiti, Somalia or somewhere in the Ivory coast. Iím sure youíd be more comfortable there since they have the type of government that meets your requirements PERFECTLY. In the mean time, Iíll be here in the US paying my taxes, happy with a roof over my head, coffee in my cup, a cozy job making video games, and supporting our proactive President!

jin choung
profile image
this is why i fucking hate capitalism. what is wrong with the author such that THAT is the title of this article?

why must industries ALWAYS react with their eyes incapable of glaring at their own goddamn bottom line? why thisever present and unrelenting DEFENSIVENESS?

WHY NOT IMPROVE KNOWLEDGE?

why must we be the same ignorance mongering agents that the tobacco industry was and the NRA is?

government and academic studies CANNOT HIDE THEIR WORK PRODUCT. if there is BIAS, if there are methodological FLAWS, they will be available to be exposed.

goddammit, LET THEM STUDY IT. jesus christ.

Michael DeFazio
profile image
relax dude... no reason to hate capitalism (we can turn the hyperbole and ALL CAPS down a bit)

the problem with this kind of science is that it is of the "social-science" nature (and it deals with humans which are hugely complicated and we hardly understand "how people work"(individually much less socially).

ask yourself:
What are the chances the people funding the study are going to be happy if the results come back (from a $50 million study to find a link between violence and violent video games) and say:
1) "it is inconclusive" (that video games are linked to violent behavior)
2) there is no link

folks aren't going to just give up and say "OK, well that does it, no link, lets move on", they are going to get angry that they spent $50 million to find out "nothing" or they are going to say we need to do more studies....

i personally guarantee the result will find SOME link (however spurious) and present the information in a leading way to allow people to draw conclusions that ...
"for some people, exposure to violent video games causes violent behavior"

...but it may very well overlook or not focus on information like:
"for SOME people, exposure to violent video games decreases aggression and leads to calm behavior"

The study isn't focused on expanding our understanding here, we are in focused on finding a scapegoat for a tragedy and video games are in the crosshairs.

Michael DeFazio
profile image
@Christian
noticed you quoted stats from Wikipedia above.

"At least here in germany we had 4 school shootings with over 30 deaths between 2002 and 2009. This Wikipedia entry lists 12 school shootings between 2002 and 2012 in europe.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_shooting#Europe"

...didn't you recently point out how unreliable it is?

Justin LeGrande
profile image
Mandating governmental (or industry) backed studies would bias the results; though they may claim otherwise. Such studies need to be conducted by non-governmental, non-industry organizations which have no ulterior motives or backers skewing the process.

Obama's methods for accomplishing his intended goal, in this case, is equivalent to a strawman argument. Nothing will be solved by beating around the bush using biased methods.

http://www.grandtheftchildhood.com/GTC/Excerpts/Entries/2008/1/28
_The_video_games_and_violence_Study.html

Not to mention he's completely ignoring previous studies on the matter... sponsored by Harvard, no less!

Chad Berger
profile image
I like the news article title ' Here we go again '..

Like the writer knows the game industry is hiding a dirty little secret.

It shouldn't say ' Here we go again' it should say ' Why has it taken this long '...

Anyone who has kids, knows if they play a violent video game, the whole week your dealing with more fights at school, more aggression.

Anyone who types ' here we go again ' is a fool who either does not have children, does not 'care' about children, or is very 'detached' from observing their children's behavior.


none
 
Comment: