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Biden on games and research: 'We shouldn't be afraid of the facts'
Biden on games and research: 'We shouldn't be afraid of the facts'
January 24, 2013 | By Kris Graft




Following the tragic shooting at Newtown, the video game industry is poised to be the subject of government-funded media effects research.

And while being held under the microscope might be uncomfortable, Vice President Joe Biden said people should not be afraid of research results.

"Part of the interest group population out there, they are afraid of facts," Biden said during a live Google Hangout web broadcast.

"Let the facts lead where they will, and let the research be done," he said. "That's one of the things that the president and I believe very strongly."

Don't miss: Yes, we need more research

Earlier this month, President Obama outlined his plan meant to help curb gun violence in the U.S. Part of the plan was a proposal for $10 million worth of government-funded research into the root causes of gun violence, including video games' potential effects on young minds.

Obama and Biden have been keen to point out that games are not being singled out as a potential cause of violence.

Biden said today, "There's no hard data as to whether or not these excessively violent video games in fact cause people to engage in behavior that is anti-social, including using guns [for violence]."

Citing a study from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Biden added, "They said, if kids watch three to six hours of video games, and a lot of kids do that, that can lead to aggressive behavior.

"They didn't make the next connection saying that it leads to violent behavior, but there are no studies done. So I recommended to the President that we do significant research.

"Let the CDC, let the National Institute of Health go out and look at the pathology that's behind this, if there is a pathology. We shouldn't be afraid of the facts."


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Comments


Kujel Selsuru
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I'm not afraid of facts but I do fear "junk science" and disinformation making it harder for us developers to live and work in our industry. We already have publishers telling us what kind of games we can and can't make we don't need someone else doing more of that.

I'm sure video games like every other form of media effect all of us to varying degrees but I don't think they contribute to violence in the real world. The larger culture has a far greater impact and trying to control any media is not the answer. Find ways to encourage parents to actually spend time with their kids, discourage needless competitions, improve education, etc.

I don't trust people in office because 9 times out of 10 then make decisions about things they don't actually know anything about and end up making things worse so forgive me if I don't really trust your more research speech.

Joshua Darlington
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The military uses video games to train their troops. Al Qada / Taliban play video games (and the US military appears to be working on how to use this info).

IMO this study could easily be a duel use project for the US Military.

Mike Griffin
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Fair enough, Joe. Let's keep this discussion wide open, gather what needs gathering, and help to educate the public with some rational research and facts. Let's include all media in this discussion too, and let's talk about how kids are gaining access to "excessively violent" media to begin with. Out of sight, out of mind.

But if they're exposed to it regardless (we all watched a few nasty action and horror movies as kids, right?), let's find out if parents are facilitating access without being on hand to teach lessons, separate facts from fantasy, and monitor their child's response to the media.

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Gregory Duplat
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Of course everyone having guns in the states is absolutely no reason why people get shot right?
Why did people shoot others before there were video games?
Video games might make people harder to 'shock', but did a video game tell those guys to start a shooting? or are they just not right in their head from the beginning?

Erin MacGillegowie
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You do realise that only $10million of the $500million research plan into gun violence is focusing on games, right? This is all part of Obama lifting what was essentially a ban on gun violence research.

Tynan Sylvester
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Too long; didn't read.

I'm going to go watch some excessively violent video games for three or six hours. What's the problem? Nobody's ever done any research on this.

Aaron Casillas
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....or take the money that was going to be spent on these studies and fund non violent indie video games! How about that for stimulating the economy! :)

Cordero W
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That sounds like a bad idea.

Fiore Iantosca
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The facts are:
1. Parents are very lax in allowed their CHILDREN to play M rated games.
2. We've become a society of no accountability or responsibility.
3. Videogames do not produce violent people.

Porter Nielsen
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Hit the nail on the head.

Fiore Iantosca
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*allowing

THANK YOU Porter

Michael Joseph
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Nice and tidy.

Assuming it's all true, why specifically are 1 & 2? Or how did it "become" so assuming it wasn't so before? When was "before?" What is different between then and now?

Eric McQuiggan
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If 3 is true, why does 1 and 2 matter at all?

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Justin LeGrande
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I would be curious to see the culmination of a non-government organization, non-industry, multi-decade study which records the differences between someone who only plays JRPG's and distinctly nonviolent titles their whole lives, compared to someone who only plays WRPG's and distinctly violent titles their whole lives. Granted, most JRPG's require a great amount of violence to proceed, and many WRPG's allow the player to be a pacifist. That's what would make the results more interesting, I think.

Mark Ludlow
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I don't think it's the interest group population out there that are afraid of the facts. Too much research has been done for us to care anymore. It's more the rest of the people that are afraid of the facts because they might mean they have to give up guns and take responsibility for their actions instead of having an easy scape goat. That may just be the jaded cynic in me speaking though.

I have to raise my eyebrow at this though:
"They didn't make the next connection saying that it leads to violent behavior, but there are no studies done..."
Aren't there numerous studies that people fall back on about whether games lead to violent behaviour (as opposed to aggressive behaviour) or have I just been misreading the articles every time this comes up?

Justin LeGrande
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Most of the studies done have been "inconclusive." The studies done for Grand Theft Childhood were some of the better conducted ones, but they still only covered a small base of applicants. There is certainly more which can be done- though these upcoming studies, so long as they are performed by non-governmental organizations with neutral bias and zero industry tampering, will probably just back up the studies proclaiming "reactions to violent games are a reflection of other issues in a person's life; they are not a catalyst, as has been proposed by scapegoaters."

James Cooley
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Mr. Biden hasn't let the facts get in the way of his opinions on scary "assault rifles" and the like. Why should he need any facts for this item, either. To the extent we see back-peddling it is because the president's backer in the entertainment industry scream bloody murder when an eye was cast toward them.

Michael DeFazio
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I am no scientist, but how about this for facts:

Research (any research) does not produce facts - not ever.

The best we can hope for (from this research) is finding "correlation" between the use of "violent video games" and violent behavior.

...But even a study may show 100% of participants having signs of sociopathic behavior after playing violent video games this "correlation" does NOT mean the violent video games "caused" (correlation does not mean causation) this behavior, so there really are no facts joe.

Good luck turning an average (non-crazy person) into a raving sociopath willing to go on a killing spree by using violent video games. (Otherwise if all we are going to study is whether playing "violent" video games increases one's heart rate, or "stimulates" parts of a person's brain similar to that of a violent person, then you have proven exactly nothing)

Michael Joseph
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So nothing may "produce" facts, but surely scientific research can uncover them? Sounds like a semantics argument to me.

Nathan Destler
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Hi, research psychologist here. I'd like to set the record straight on this one.

First, correlation is not the only thing we can uncover. We can also uncover short-term causal effects using controlled experiments. Now, these short-term effects aren't really what we're concerned with, but they are an important piece of the puzzle. Especially once we account for the effects of known confounds like physiological arousal. Nor should correlational effects be ignored. Every causation is a correlation, and nearly every correlation has a causation somewhere, even if it's in some third variable you haven't accounted for. By controlling for likely third variables, we can identify which pair of variables are likely to be in a causal relationship, and we can combine this information with the short-term experiments to identify which variable causes the other. "Correlation does not equal causation" is a useful saying to remember, but it was never meant to dismiss all correlations as meaningless. If you use it to simply ignore every correlation you see, you do more harm than if you assumed all correlations were causal.

Also, no one who knows anything about this field is arguing that a typical individual will become a sociopath upon playing video games. Literally no one. What many of my colleagues are arguing is that violent video games may push someone who is on the edge, for whatever reason, to commit violent acts. That said, there are a good many violent or aggressive behaviors that aren't murder sprees, and if video games can be shown to increase those, then we can draw actual conclusions.

So, to establish a causal link between violent video games and violent behavior, we need to show the following:
A positive causal relationship between video games and short-term violent behavior, after controlling for physiological arousal. This could be accomplished with a fairly simple experimental design. The only difficulty would be defining "violent behavior" in a sensitive enough way that we won't encounter floor effects (where results cluster at the bottom of the scale because the scale is poorly aligned).
A positive correlational relationship between video games and long-term violent behavior, after controlling for socioeconomic status, parental involvement, and other potential third variables. This would be somewhat more difficult to establish, if only because it would require obtaining a fair bit of information, but it's well within the realm of the possible.

If you managed to demonstrate both of those effects, then you'd have a pretty convincing argument. You'd have a pretty tough time explaining the results any other way. Of course, a better explanation might exist, and if someone suggests one we'll test that too. Because that's how science works. But don't dismiss current findings because there's a possibility that someone could find something else out in the future.

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Michael DeFazio
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@N D
Thank you for intelligent and detailed reply. In the spirit of debate (I read your rebuttal thoroughly, and wish to keep it friendly, and perhaps dig deeper into the topic, considering you are a person whom understands the topic). You said:

"This could be accomplished with a fairly simple experimental design."

--How do you measure the level of "violence" in the game and how do you measure "violent acts" as it relates to the participants response?

-- What might the "Control" group do while the "experimental" group plays violent video games?
(If we are going to make conclusions (as you say) based on responses which may entail "violence" I'd like to see how violent video games contribute to violent behavior compared with:
1) being mocked and ridiculed (bullied)
2) watching the tv(fox news if they identify themselves as liberal, Bill Mahar if they identify themselves as conservative)
3) reading a "violent" comic book
4) listening to joe biden talk
5) playing (and loosing) a stressful competitive game (Chess, Poker... against a pro)
...
verses how "violent" a participants reaction might be to whom plays violent video games.
(Seems silly to test how a person responds to violent video games and not have a barometer with witch to test against)

--How do you set up appropriate "Experimental" and "Control" groups (participants) for such an experiment? (Humans are so variable, how do you know you havent skewed the results by simply priming the wrong participants?... what is an adequate size for a control group, and experimental group?)

--How do you account for experiment participants who are "predisposed" to violent behavior...Or more generally how do we have any way of "predetermining" whom is capable of sociopathic behavior? (or would we be able to pick out Adam Lanza (as a person who may be predisposed to sociopathic behavior) from others are not sociopathic but suffer from mental conditions?

--Do you think finding the "potential third variables" within participants is a tractable problem?

Perhaps my initial post was too "hardline", but i suppose I get weary when I hear politicians talk about "facts" and "research" (especially after our whole "WMD's" fiasco).

Jacob Germany
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@Michael "Humans are so variable, how do you know you havent skewed the results by simply priming the wrong participants?... what is an adequate size for a control group, and experimental group?"

Random variance is mitigated by statistical significance. A study that finds any statistical result at all has already compensated for random variables. It's the systemic ones that are the problem, and those are the "known confounds" to which N D was referring.

And randomness of the sample is generally much more important than sample size. I've seen people so often dismiss a study because of the sample size simply because they weren't aware that a small random sample is good enough for most research.

I think the general populace thinks that a sample size of 100 is barely enough, and a "good study" would have around 1000 or more. At least from anecdotal experience, I've seen people mock sample sizes of research just because it "sounds small".

Michael DeFazio
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@Jacob,

I'm glad you put it out there... because that is the very heart of what I have a problem with. 100 people or even a few hundred people would not be enough... here's why:

Of the millions of people out there of all ages who play video games, we only have a few instances of people engaging in sociopathic behavior. this is not like a scientific studying trying to measure the speed of light in a vacuum, nor is this like finding a correlation between tobacco users linked to cancer rates...

I'd want to be FAR more comprehensive on making sure if I was to publish any correlation you would want people (of all age groups, sex, race, socioeconomic background, people with mental disabilities, people without, people who play games, people who do not...) to be part of the control group and the experimental group.... otherwise I'd say any findings would be dubious. (I'd want to know specifically the criteria for selecting participants in the control groups and experimental groups... so the results aren't skewed)

I'm just mentioning this stuff a priori, because my expectation is:
The study results will be "inconclusive", but will be worded as "We did find some correlation for some people where violent video games increases aggressive behavior" to appease the folks who are putting up the money...(They won't be happy unless they feel the money went into reenforcing what they wanted to find ahead of time)

I will put up money that the results WILL NOT say that violent video games DECREASE aggressive behavior because they aren't looking for that... although I'd say many people (myself included) enjoy video games as a good stress release valve. (But these studies are geared towards finding scapegoats, not broadening our knowledge)

Jacob Germany
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Again, randomness is far more important than sample size. Now, it always depends on what you're studying, what methods you're using, and the like, but it's a generalization that's true nonetheless.

Usually, one cannot study all of a range of every domain you can imagine. It's just too costly. But it's also mostly unnecessary, as correlation isn't "all or nothing". For example, even if there would be a higher or lower correlation studying the genders separately, doing a mixed gender study should still find a correlation if there is one. Further research could show a gender difference, if there was one.

Research opens the doors for further research by illuminating areas of interest. One doesn't just jump into a subject by studying every possible angle and subject.

As for motivations for research and the like, assuming we aren't referring to some corporate sponsored "research" that isn't peer-reviewed, there are many, many factors that can influence research, it's true. However, that's why researchers publish, discuss, and invite further studies. You should always doubt a study that is, quite literally, the only one of its kind with nothing else showing any similar findings. Research builds upon itself, and illuminates surprises in our world, which can be further examined.

But violence in video games certainly isn't one of those subjects that doesn't receive enough attention, so I don't think one needs to worry about that, specifically. Especially with the media hype and political focus and $10 million in funding from this one instance. And the research that's already been done on the topic.

Luis Guimaraes
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As long as the facts are THE FACTS and not "the facts".

Craig Hauser
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Well-put, Mr. Biden.

Do violent video games have a measurable impact on violence in our society? I don't know, but I have to concede that it is a very real possibility and something that deserves to be thoroughly researched.

Chris Toepker
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I don't believe many...or even anyone...in the industry is afraid of research. However, there's a few things to keep in mind:

1) junk science and/or poor research,

2) junk politics.

After all, it's not like there *isn't* research now. Calling for "more research" is a pretense that there is something new to be considered or discovered, instead of extending or refining current results, which according to article after article, report that there is little...or no...link.

Nick Putnam
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In my opinion I do feel that violent video games could possibly influence violent mentally unstable people to commit the acts from the game in reality. Though I feel the keywords in that sentence is "mentally unstable people". Even if it is found that violent video games, movies, music, etc. seed your mind with violent thoughts to consider these acts, you also have an internal filter of morality that weighs the consequences of your actions before you decide to commit them. Those that fail to weigh morality against our fight or flight responses are the ones who commit these acts of violence.

I also believe that in a different perspective from a game designers stand point. There are different types of players competitive/aggressors, exploratory, etc. who are drawn to certain games with specific elements over others because of the type of person they are. Maybe its that already violent and aggressive people play violent video games because that's what they already enjoy over others before even playing a new game.

Axel Cholewa
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So here's a summary of what the Gamasutra readers think (I took one line from every (!) comment (not from replys) up to now):

"[...] but I do fear "junk science" and disinformation [...]"
"The military uses video games to train their troops."
"[...] and let's talk about how kids are gaining access to "excessively violent" media to begin with."
"Of course everyone having guns in the states is absolutely no reason why people get shot right?"
"I'm going to go watch some excessively violent video games for three or six hours. What's the problem?"
"....or take the money that was going to be spent on these studies and fund non violent indie video games!"
"The facts are:[...] 3. Videogames do not produce violent people."
"Too much research has been done for us to care anymore."
"Good luck turning an average (non-crazy person) into a raving sociopath willing to go on a killing spree by using violent video games."
"As long as the facts are THE FACTS and not "the facts"."
"Do violent video games have a measurable impact on violence in our society? I don't know, but I have to concede that it is a very real possibility and something that deserves to be thoroughly researched."
"Calling for "more research" is a pretense that there is something new to be considered or discovered [...]"

Considering the defensive tone in all of these comments (except the one by Craig Hauser) it's no wonder that people take the gaming industry to be afraid of research.

I am wondering why it is that all except one of these comments are so defensive? What's the problem with the government funding research about this topic?

I have the feeling that the reason for the bile against these fundings in a lot of comment sections on Gamasutra is more about the gaming culture feeling not accepted by the public. But guys, gaming is a part of nearly every kids' life nowadays. We gamers ARE accepted, because nearly everyone is a gamer, or his/her (grand) daughter/son is a gamer. Yes, there are people who are concerned about violence in games. But there also were people blaming Marilyon Manson for Columbine. There will always be people trying to find a scapegoat. But those who try to find out more about the relationship between violent games and the human psyche are not the same as those who blame games for causing violence. There's really no need for being so defensive of your culture. Such a discussion can only help us move forward.

EDIT: while I was writing this, another comment was posted (by Nick Putnam) which isn't as negative as the rest.

Jakub Majewski
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Axel, it seems natural that people get defensive in a situation like this.

Now, I personally am pretty convinced that games, just like any other medium, have a solid and verifiable impact on people. It's nowhere near as simple as "violent games make people violent", but I do believe there is a connection, and it certainly is worth exploring.

In spite of this, I can't help being rubbed the wrong way by Joe Biden's remarks. His words are utterly out of place, and imply that this research will be anything but impartial. He suggests that no matter what the research proves, he already knows the facts. After all, he has to know the facts, if he knows people are afraid of them, right? But... the whole point of this research is to establish the facts, isn't it?

Matt Boudreaux
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Perhaps people are defensive because many of us work in the industry and this is a study ordered as a part of reactionary politics that could shake the very foundation of this industry?

This study *must* be done in a political vacuum, away from emotions and political ideologues.

Arthur De Martino
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And yet I cannot simple dismiss those defensive arguments, because they are legitimate.
"Junk science" over a subject matter that is aimed at kids has proved in the past to be harmful to an entire industry (See: Comic Book Code).
If it wll be an actual, unbiased research over the subject, I would love to even partake in it. If it's however just for show to approve some laws to pass this as some short of knee jerk scapegoat, there will be problems.

Michael DeFazio
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Axel,

think about this ... we went to war with a country because the government was able to convince the american public to fear a country that was developing Weapons of Mass destruction... people (innocent civilians and otherwise) lost their lives ...and the "actual" research/evidence for this was "laughable" (aluminum tubes?).

i am critical of any government funded research... and i think i have cause to be (given our tendency of the nation to overreact and how politicians "politicize" "science/research"... (doesn't have anything at all to do with being "accepted").

Justin LeGrande
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As Michael DeFazio said, governmental influence in such studies would produce worthless results, because they would be inevitably skewed towards whoever was financing or had a stake in the outcome.

Axel Cholewa
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@Micheal & Justin: Yes, this is a major difference between the US and, say, Germany. US citizen are much more conspicious about their government. But first, Obama and Biden are not Bush and Cheney (although they, too, are not really pacifists). And second, government funded research does not mean government controlled research. Most academic research, in fact, is funded by governments, as the industry could not afford to do such high risk research.

And why would anyone from the government be interested in controlling this particular kind of research, especially since Biden himself is convinced that video games are not the cause of such violent acts?

As much as I understand the caution with which (at least some) Americans view the US government, I think in such a debate one should try not to overreact and reflect on one's own emotional reaction.

Michael DeFazio
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@Axel

"And why would anyone from the government be interested in controlling this particular kind of research,?"

---Because it's a convenient scapegoat, much like the US attacking Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, (NONE of the terrorists were from Iraq, they were mostly from Saudi Arabia) and more to do with Americans getting their "ounce of flesh"

I'm not overreacting, but it is safe to say:
1) that nothing "positive" is going to come out of this research, these studies are not going to improve the state of the video game industry. the best we can hope for is that they confirm what earlier studies have already been done which say there is no link, but the worse case scenario is they try to invalidate other studies.(and I would argue, regardless of how benign the results are, they can be used in the same vein as "aluminum tubes" or "aerial photographs of hangers with supposed weapons of mass destruction".)

2) it is possible that bad things are going to come from this research (additional taxation on "violent" games, censorship, lawsuits, cut funding for any "Art" types of video games are all in the mix), but the chance that this research spurs more investment or appreciation from the government is highly unlikely.

3) the context of these studies is not to improve our knowledge and understanding about video games, it's just a witchhunt trying to point a finger to "who is responsible" for this tragedy...

For the record, I am not against Obama or Biden and whomever, but we (the US politicians and public) do have a tendency to overreact and try to point fingers after tragedies (9/11, School shootings, New Orleans Levies) and we focus more on getting "our ounce of flesh" than helping the victims of the tragedy. (I'd rather the 10/50/500 million go to those effected by the tragedy than to try to play "who can we blame?" with the money).

R G
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@Axel

The "gaming culture needing to be accepted by the public" part is what got me. That is beyond untrue. I haven't met a single player or dev who feels the public needs to embrace gaming more. I've met marketing companies and publishers who feel the need because they want to get into Hot Topic stores and make shows that play into the latest trend of "GEEK IS COOL GUISE!!!111 LEL I LOVE FPS LIKE PORTAL".

The concern, as eloquently stated by others, is shady "facts" and not actual facts or research; sensationalism in otherwords just to get votes and prey on people who are easily swayed by news outlets.



P.S.: The notion that gaming needs to be accepted by the public is what is killing gaming. See Dead Space's transition to Dead Space 3, or Call of Duty. Excuse me, I have to buy a new stress ball now.

Axel Cholewa
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But if the facts are shady someone needs to shed light on it. Why not with the monetary support of the government?

I really can't see any benefit for the government out of having a scapegoat to blame. Does that stop violence? No. Do you really think your politicians do not care at all about those shootings? They probably want to stop further incidents like that, so any false studies would not help them at all.

Axel Cholewa
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@Robert: That games as expensive as Dead Space get watered down by mass market appeal doesn't have anything to do with gamers being accepted by the public.

And I do not share your pessimism. All this "good old times" talk is really annoying. Gaming was never this alive. There was never such a strong Indie community. Just look at Double Fine. They made way more games in the last five years than in the five years before Costume Quest. All of these games were inventive and completely different than anything on the market. Such a studio was simply not there ten or 20 years ago. Or think of Robert Boyd, ten years ago he could never have made Cthulu Saves The World or Penny Arcade.

If you're not happy with AAA games then don't play them. There are so many great games out there that my wallet is regularly getting stomach aches. Just play different games, then you don't need stress balls ;)

R G
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@Axel

You must be new, because those games were being worked on long before the past "5 years". The community was always there, it just wasn't the "in" thing to report on. Just because you don't see it on a news site doesn't mean it isn't there.

There were insanely imaginative games before the last five years, and I'm truly sorry if you can't see that or simply missed out on them.

The net is vast and wide, so go and get 'em.

Also, being "accepted" into mainstream culture does contribute to the watering down of series. Read EA's latest interview about how "modern gamers haven't played a game without micro-transactions" or "accessible gameplay".


It's not pessimism, just realism.

Lewis Wakeford
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No one is afraid of facts.
We are afraid of "facts".

Michael Joseph
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Galileo Galilei wouldn't agree with you.

Justin LeGrande
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*****

Bob Johnson
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We already have the facts. History. Biden might know this if he hadnt plagiarized his way to the White House.

Put the money into something else more worthwhile.

Justin Sawchuk
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Its not about facts its cherry picking the data to get the desired results, as the leftists love to do just look at global warming and the medieval warming period which they omitted from the graphs to make it more dramatic

Justin LeGrande
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Both rightists and leftists cherry pick data and gerrymander congressional districts to legally "cheat" their way into office, especially in the House of Representatives. Neither liberal nor conservative candidates are beyond committing vote manipulation.

Global warming as portrayed by leftist media such as "An Inconvenient Truth" is wild propaganda, true...

But global climate change as a whole is very real. Human-caused effects upon the climate are a fact.

"Do I believe in global climate change? ....Do you believe in gravity?"

Jose Rodrigues
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Yes, games kill people! That's why that in some countries (like South Korea for example) where video gaming become an huge cultural backbone, there's massive murders every day!!!

The problem is not the games!!! The problem is the American (USA) translation on violence. US citizens live on violence every day (don't forget they've been on War since the American Revolution), so they become more violent each day that passes by, adding to this, the easiness to buy fire weapons (you can buy a weapon almost as ease as you would buy a pair of socks) and the social behavior at American schools, then we have the perfect combination for extreme and gratuitous violence... every day.

Alexander Lagarias
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NRA is going to keep using violent video games as a scapegoat for gun shootings. Even if we find no correlation between violent video games and violent behavior, it won't be enough for the NRA; for them guns will never be the problem. Groups have denied global warming as a scientific conspiracy, does anyone think that any findings from the Obama administration will satisfy the gun lobby?

If Republicans really wanted to cut all wasteful spending they would go after this $10 million with the same zeal as PBS or welfare.

All this aside I know they won't find any correlations other than maybe elevated testosterone or competitiveness so... probe away.

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Fiore Iantosca
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The problem is largest in correlation to a poor liberal education system.

Fixed that for you.

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Justin LeGrande
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@Joshua Oreskovich

It always depends on the teachers and resources. Poor teachers and/or poor resources = poor education system, regardless of public or private. Bonus points to teachers who are not afraid to point out rarely spoken facts.

For example, American Indians were systematically slaughtered by European settlers to make way for European / puritan cultures- even as late as Andrew Jackson's presidency, when he endorsed the Trail of Tears in Georgia.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. defiantly opposed the Vietnam War, challenging the military-industrial complex which rules the USA- that was why he was assassinated, not because of his civil rights movement, but because he stared into the eyes of the beasts who take zero personal responsibility for inciting wars.

You will RARELY see USA teachers straight out admit those things in a public school system, because they may get fired if they do. Private, charter, or community school systems may or may not care so much.

@Fiore Iantosca

A conservative school would probably omit the part about their European ancestors supposedly offering liberty and justice for all, then turning their second face around, slaughtering and subjugating American Indians and Central/South Americans; thereafter imposing immigration and integration difficulties upon the descendants of the ones who were conquered.

A liberal school would probably omit the part about a great civil rights leader, who is championed by liberal advocates, turning out to actually be an anarchist who proclaimed to see past the machinations of the state; he proclaimed the US government, as a whole, to be one of the greatest purveyors of violence in the world.

Both the liberal and conservative systems suck.

Robert Brown
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Then why was the NRA able to lobby years ago to have guns banned from CDC research?

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Justin LeGrande
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There is one caveat to all of this...

A few days ago, I visited a Toys R' Us store which I had not visited in years. I still remember the enormous layout, with several aisles of Nintendo, Sega, and Sony products. Most of the games were relatively suitable for children, ranging from Mario & Sonic to Final Fantasy & Dragon Quest to Battletoads & Ninja Turtles. There were a few exceptions, such as Resident Evil. (Which is arguably still OK, since that had a fantasy setting and survival goals.) You bought games by picking up a paper tab in the game selection aisles, then taking it to the cash register to buy the product. You acquired the product by showing the paper tab to the stock workers, who handled the storage rooms while interacting with the public behind a window.

When I walked in a few days ago... the almost magical atmosphere that I remember was gone. The store was much smaller, and all that remained of the video game section were a few paltry metal shelves, and a meager locked glass window shelving, which closed off some still boxed games.

Something struck me about the game selection- almost half of the games available included the likes of Call of Duty, Sleeping Dogs, Homefront, Red Faction, and other ultra-violent, pseudo-realistic violent games.

What were these games doing in a Toys R' Us??? I know selling them is protected by the first amendment, but isn't there something wrong with offering young children computer games where the player uses an assault rifle to wage pseudo-realistic war situations, alongside offering them Mario and Nintendo Land? Isn't there something to be said for selling these violent games alongside Barbies and baby diapers? At least for Goldeneye and Perfect Dark, the context indicated being a spy who was taking on evil organizations, not necessarily being a war machine.

Maybe I'm just getting old... but I think I understand the sentiment of minimizing the chances for children to be exposed to such things... Studies which would accurately document this change from the products consumed by the Toys R' Us of my childhood, in contrast to the Toys R' Us of today, would probably take at least two decades to conduct.

Johan Wendin
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Yes, there are violent games - some excessively so.

But, people do not become rapists by watching Lord of the Rings just because porno exist.

We have a rating system which in great detail goes into what the game contains and for which age group it is viable. I.e. parenting issues if kids access stuff they shouldn't.

Then there's adolescents and young adults who snap - this happens in all societies and countries, easy access to guns can make these outbursts lethal for many targets - rather than bruises or broken bones on a handful.

Then there's society as a whole in the US. It's just *seemingly* more aggressive/competetive than anywhere else. As an example - compare something other than games, like f.e. the "Masterchef" or similar competetive shows of say US vs. Australia or Brittain. In the latter two, people are cheering eachother on and helping eachother. In the former, they're trying to succeed by stepping on others, talking them down and stabbing as many backs as possible.

Combine all these factors and I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often.

Matt Cratty
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As if he couldn't make any data point dance like an agonized weasel to tell the story he wants.

This is complete bullshit unless you're going to do parallel studies with movies and TV.

And even then, they are going to cook the study to make the weasel sing the tune they want to hear.


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