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  #1  
Old 04-27-2010, 10:44 AM
sweeteviljesus sweeteviljesus is offline
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Are there any studies that show a causal link between violent video games and agression?

I see that the Supreme Court is going to hear a case where the lower court overturned a California ban on sales of rated "M" games to minors. According to the article, legislators pointed to "studies showing children who repeatedly watch on-screen games can become more aggressive, antisocial, and less able to distinguish the consequences of violence in real life."

What studies are they referring to? Also, I thought it was impossible to show causality.

Thanks,
Rob
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  #2  
Old 04-27-2010, 02:19 PM
Kinthalis Kinthalis is offline
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As far as I understand it, none.

First, we don't have any kind of model that could possibly accurately predict the type of violent behavior these people are so terrified of.

Secondly, I can't recall of any study that, even with a flawed model, can claim what the bill writers are saying they claim.

Reminds of one study I've seen (mis)quoted around by these "BAN THE VIDEO GAMES - THINK OF THE CHILDREN!" types. They claimed it showed how devastating video games were to the psyche. How did the study demonstrate this? It showed that a group of people who had just played violent video games took, on average, an extra second or two to help out a stranger on the street who (IIRC) dropped something.

What the hell does that mean? Not even the people who did the study really knew.

Another tidbit in the study was that although on average the time to help the stranger increased in the group playing the violent video games, technically, more of THEM helped. The control group took a tiny amount of time less to help, but less of them helped! I say "technically" because (again IIRC) the difference in numbers was not statistically significant. Still, maybe we should lobby the government to mandate the playing of violent video games to the masses. We might turn into a more helpful society.

Last edited by Kinthalis; 04-27-2010 at 02:23 PM..
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  #3  
Old 04-27-2010, 02:30 PM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
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From here:
Quote:
California lawmakers approved the law, in part, by relying on several studies suggesting violent games can be linked to aggression, anti-social behavior and desensitization to violence in children.

Yee maintained research had shown that violent video games have a stronger effect on children than violent movies, in part because children actively play the games rather than just passively watch them.

A study released in March 2010 edition of the American Psychological Association's "Psychological Bulletin" linked playing violent video games to increased violent thinking, attitudes and behavior according to Yee, who is also a child psychologist.
The "March 2010 study" referred to is apparently the one described here.
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  #4  
Old 04-27-2010, 02:41 PM
Kinthalis Kinthalis is offline
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Hmm, I don't see the study. I feel stupid, can't find the link.

But it sounds like it's a study of... studies. I'd like to see if each study that was analyzed was scrutinized as well.
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  #5  
Old 04-27-2010, 02:45 PM
sweeteviljesus sweeteviljesus is offline
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California lawmakers only passed this law last month and already the Supreme Court is hearing a case on it?

Rob
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  #6  
Old 04-27-2010, 02:52 PM
Whack-a-Mole Whack-a-Mole is offline
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I believe the California courts so far have found the evidence for links between video games and violent behavior to be unpersuasive. From the reading I have done on this subject I agree with them.

Quote:
[S]everal major studies by groups such as The Harvard Medical School Center for Mental Health, The Journal of Adolescent Health, and The British Medical Journal have shown no conclusive link between video game usage and violent activity."[15][16][17] One study did find an increase in reports of bullying, noting, "Our research found that certain patterns of video game play were much more likely to be associated with these types of behavioral problems than with major violent crime such as school shootings.

<snip>

His sentiments have been echoed by certain researchers, such as Dr. Craig A. Anderson who testified before the Senate, "Some studies have yielded nonsignificant video game effects, just as some smoking studies failed to find a significant link to lung cancer. But when one combines all relevant empirical studies using meta-analytic techniques it shows that violent video games are significantly associated with: increased aggressive behavior, thoughts, and affect; increased physiological arousal; and decreased pro-social (helping) behavior."[19] Anderson himself was later criticized in a 2005 video game court case for failing to cite research that differed from his view.[20] Much of the research has been criticized for overstating effects, ignoring negative results and using unstandardized and unreliable measures of aggression.

SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_g...e_and_violence
Quote:
Reality Bytes: Eight Myths About Video Games Debunked

Henry Jenkins
MIT Professor


1. The availability of video games has led to an epidemic of youth violence.

According to federal crime statistics, the rate of juvenile violent crime in the United States is at a 30-year low. Researchers find that people serving time for violent crimes typically consume less media before committing their crimes than the average person in the general population.

<snip>

According to a 2001 U.S. Surgeon General's report, the strongest risk factors for school shootings centered on mental stability and the quality of home life, not media exposure. The moral panic over violent video games is doubly harmful. It has led adult authorities to be more suspicious and hostile to many kids who already feel cut off from the system. It also misdirects energy away from eliminating the actual causes of youth violence and allows problems to continue to fester.


2. Scientific evidence links violent game play with youth aggression.

Claims like this are based on the work of researchers who represent one relatively narrow school of research, "media effects." This research includes some 300 studies of media violence. But most of those studies are inconclusive and many have been criticized on methodological grounds. In these studies, media images are removed from any narrative context. Subjects are asked to engage with content that they would not normally consume and may not understand. Finally, the laboratory context is radically different from the environments where games would normally be played. Most studies found a correlation, not a causal relationship, which means the research could simply show that aggressive people like aggressive entertainment. That's why the vague term "links" is used here. If there is a consensus emerging around this research, it is that violent video games may be one risk factor - when coupled with other more immediate, real-world influences — which can contribute to anti-social behavior. But no research has found that video games are a primary factor or that violent video game play could turn an otherwise normal person into a killer.

SOURCE: http://www.pbs.org/kcts/videogamerev...act/myths.html

Last edited by Whack-a-Mole; 04-27-2010 at 02:54 PM..
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  #7  
Old 04-27-2010, 02:56 PM
Whack-a-Mole Whack-a-Mole is offline
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Originally Posted by sweeteviljesus View Post
California lawmakers only passed this law last month and already the Supreme Court is hearing a case on it?

Rob
Seems it has been around for 4.5 years.

Quote:
The ban, sponsored by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, became law in October 2005 but has never been enforced.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...#ixzz0mKfGyXYd
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  #8  
Old 04-27-2010, 02:59 PM
DCnDC DCnDC is offline
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These are the same silly, baseless, hollow arguments being made by "won't-somebody-think-of-the-children" types against video games that they made against "Gangsta Rap," heavy metal, "shock jocks," porn, rock n' roll, and the blues. They're just looking for a scapegoat and target the first thing they don't understand. Jack Thompson has had his panties so bunched up about such things he's actually gotten himself disbarred.

Last edited by DCnDC; 04-27-2010 at 03:00 PM..
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Old 04-27-2010, 03:05 PM
Simplicio Simplicio is online now
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Originally Posted by DCnDC View Post
These are the same silly, baseless, hollow arguments being made by "won't-somebody-think-of-the-children" types against video games that they made against "Gangsta Rap," heavy metal, "shock jocks," porn, rock n' roll, and the blues.
I vaguely recall hearing that rather then being baseless, the arguments were actually at least partially based on a study by a Dr. Anderson and published in a March 2010 edition of the American Psychological Association's "Psychological Bulletin". Not sure where exactly I read that though.
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  #10  
Old 04-27-2010, 03:29 PM
Justin_Bailey Justin_Bailey is online now
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Originally Posted by Simplicio View Post
I vaguely recall hearing that rather then being baseless, the arguments were actually at least partially based on a study by a Dr. Anderson and published in a March 2010 edition of the American Psychological Association's "Psychological Bulletin". Not sure where exactly I read that though.
Anderson did no studies himself. He studied other studies and I'm sure almost all of them (including Anderson's earlier studies) fall under the "debunked" list that Whack-a-Mole linked to.

Plus, proving once again that game researchers have no idea what they're studying, the cover of his book features a game that was released nearly a decade ago on a system that has been obsolete for six years now.

The "children" that may have been exposed (who, by the way, never existed as the FTC has found game retailers enforce game ratings better than theater owners enforce movie ratings) to it are all adults now.

Last edited by Justin_Bailey; 04-27-2010 at 03:29 PM..
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  #11  
Old 04-28-2010, 01:01 PM
sweeteviljesus sweeteviljesus is offline
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Originally Posted by Whack-a-Mole View Post
Seems it has been around for 4.5 years.
If it wasn't enforced, who had standing?
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  #12  
Old 04-29-2010, 10:09 AM
Whack-a-Mole Whack-a-Mole is offline
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Originally Posted by sweeteviljesus View Post
If it wasn't enforced, who had standing?
The folks with standing are the merchants and video game makers.

The law seeks to ban the sale of certain games to minors. As soon as the law was signed the merchants had to abide by this law so they have standing to sue to overturn the law. They are affected right away.

IIRC it is common for a judge in such cases to issue an injunction that suspends the law while it is being adjudicated. The reasoning being is it could cause harm while the process plays itself out. Imagine a bunch of merchants going out of business (just a hypothetical) because sales drop. Dose not help them if 5 years later the court tosses the law out; you're still out of business.

So, the law is not enforced because a judge said to not enforce it. Also, I presume after losing the first court case the status of the law is it is no longer enforceable. The presumption being the law lost and unless a higher court reverses it the lower court's ruling is the one in effect.
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  #13  
Old 04-29-2010, 03:43 PM
Irishman Irishman is offline
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Just saw something the other day. CNN was going on about a homeless man in IIRC New York City who stopped a mugging of a woman, got himself stabbed by the mugger, then tried to chase the mugger before falling over on the pavement. This was caught on survellience video. For over the next hour, several passerbys went right by him, or saw him, stood around, one even photographed him with his phone, without checking on him or calling for help.

The News reaction: "Why were people so desensitized to violence to even help a stranger?" They even had on some guy (didn't memorize name) claiming it was violent media's fault.

My reaction: "Wow, people in New York City see a homeless guy lying on the sidewalk and don't 'notice' him? Where's the story?" How were they to know he wasn't just drunk and passed out? How many do they see every day?

I know I've seen a few on the streets in big cities sitting on a corner or sprawled out, and I didn't want to get too close.
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  #14  
Old 04-29-2010, 05:25 PM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is offline
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One of the posters on this board was married to a researcher of how violence in movies and games affected youths. I think it may be Olivesmarch4th?

The upshot was that there is an effect, leading people to be more likely to act with retribution when wronged after having just been immersed in a violent movie or game. But, "retribution" isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's believed that the whole purpose of fiction and in particular heroes is to teach children to stand up and counter the difficulties in life, so what we are seeing is in fact the intended purpose of the art. The only case where I can think that being a bit "pumped up" following a good violent movie is if you're driving and acting a bit hostile. But that's not all that dangerous and compared to the sorts of life lessons that are being taught, 5-15 minutes of acting a bit excessively macho is hardly the worst thing in the world.
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  #15  
Old 04-29-2010, 08:31 PM
Justin_Bailey Justin_Bailey is online now
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Originally Posted by Sage Rat View Post
One of the posters on this board was married to a researcher of how violence in movies and games affected youths. I think it may be Olivesmarch4th?
Olives' husband worked for an anti-video game researcher. She and I recently had a back-and-forth about the researcher and his methods in this thread:

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...=558023&page=3

Start at post 138.

In summary: The researcher is a moron who uses a lab setting to make points about how gamers would react in social situations on the outside.
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  #16  
Old 04-30-2010, 08:48 AM
muldoonthief muldoonthief is offline
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A slight hijack - a 19 year old was just convicted of first degree murder in Massachusetts for a killing a classmate when he was 16. The jury (quite rightly IMHO) rejected his insanity defense, but unfortunately the prosecutor chose to use his obsession with violent video games and Stephen King books as evidence of his planning the crime. Story here.
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  #17  
Old 04-30-2010, 09:07 AM
Kinthalis Kinthalis is offline
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Typical. If it was 20 years ago he would have used his Megadeth Cd's and his leather jacket as "evidence".

Isn't there some sort of scientific baseline applied at trials? Can I just claim any wild thing without scientific backing at trial and just leave it up to a bunch of idiots on the jury with "american idol" on the brain to decide?

Last edited by Kinthalis; 04-30-2010 at 09:08 AM..
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  #18  
Old 04-30-2010, 09:21 AM
ivan astikov ivan astikov is offline
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This is like when tossers use cannabis as an excuse for their crimes, and their representatives actually try defending them on that basis.

"It wasn't me, your honour, it was the {insert excuse - usually "it was the drugs", or "it was the video nasty I saw"}".

Either deny it totally and let them prove it, or hold your hands up and take your licks.
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  #19  
Old 04-30-2010, 01:00 PM
Spice Weasel Spice Weasel is offline
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Originally Posted by Justin_Bailey View Post
Olives' husband worked for an anti-video game researcher. She and I recently had a back-and-forth about the researcher and his methods in this thread:

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...=558023&page=3

Start at post 138.

In summary: The researcher is a moron who uses a lab setting to make points about how gamers would react in social situations on the outside.
Uh, no.

That is a gross mischaracterization of what I said and what Bushman's research indicates. You seem to want to paint this issue in broad strokes whereas the people doing actual research on the topic are doing everything possible to systematically address the factors that go into youth violence and aggression. There are studies that show exposure to violent media to be a possible contributing factor to aggressive behavior. Effect sizes are significant but the one retroactive longitudinal study my husband co-authored (comparing normal school-age youth to youth in violence detention centers) found a significant effect size for exposure to violent media at a young age. However, the effect size was smaller for exposure to violent media than it was for exposure to violence in the home or immediate environment and other obvious things that cause kids to be violent. In other words, for kids who are already at-risk, exposure to violent media may be that extra push that leads to violent or aggressive behavior.

Here is the abstract for that study. In the thread cited by Justin I provided other links to the aggression lab at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. There is supporting research conducted outside of this lab, a lot of it in other countries, but I am familiar only with the aggression lab so I limit my input to that collection of studies.

I have asked my husband to participate in these discussions, as he was highly skeptical going into the aggression lab. He is a long-time gamer whose perspective toward youth and violent media was radically altered by his work in the lab. He has far greater knowledge than me about this topic. Unfortunately the animosity and anti-scientific bent that has historically cropped up around this subject has really put him off of discussing it outside an academic context. (Also, his research focus as a Ph.D. student is clinical psychology, not social psychology, so this isn't even his main area of interest.)

Last edited by Spice Weasel; 04-30-2010 at 01:03 PM..
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  #20  
Old 04-30-2010, 01:17 PM
Superhal Superhal is offline
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I do a lecture in Sociology titled "Statistical Exaggeration in TV Violence."

One part of my lecture involves the "blame game" as referred to earlier.

Depending on when you grew up, uncontrollable children were caused by:

1930's: Saturday afternoon matinee's and serials
1940's: Comic Books (and the creation of the Comics Code Authority)
1950's: Rock and Roll
1960's: Marijuana
1970's: Chuck Norris and Charles Bronson
1980's: Beavis and Butthead and Rap Music
1990's: Professional Wrestling and Video Games

The reason is that there exists a no-win situation in the relationship between parents and schools. Parents, throughout history, have always had responsibility over their children's behavior, but little training. Therefore, when their children misbehaved, the parents looked for someone to blame other than themselves. In the 1940's, when FDR created public schools, it was easy to blame them because children then had to spend 8 hours a day in school, and became, in effect, surrogate parents.

However, as anyone familiar with public schools knows, they aren't meant to discipline children, nor teach them how to behave. Any attempt to do so results in a lawsuit by those same parents against the school. So, for decades, schools have been unable to blame parents and are forced to look for another scapegoat.

But in the end, it's the parents' fault if their children are uncontrollable or violent.

Gotta run now, but I think other parts of my lecture are relevant here.
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  #21  
Old 04-30-2010, 01:18 PM
Justin_Bailey Justin_Bailey is online now
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Originally Posted by olivesmarch4th View Post
That is a gross mischaracterization of what I said and what Bushman's research indicates. You seem to want to paint this issue in broad strokes whereas the people doing actual research on the topic are doing everything possible to systematically address the factors that go into youth violence and aggression. There are studies that show exposure to violent media to be a possible contributing factor to aggressive behavior. Effect sizes are significant but the one retroactive longitudinal study my husband co-authored (comparing normal school-age youth to youth in violence detention centers) found a significant effect size for exposure to violent media at a young age. However, the effect size was smaller for exposure to violent media than it was for exposure to violence in the home or immediate environment and other obvious things that cause kids to be violent. In other words, for kids who are already at-risk, exposure to violent media may be that extra push that leads to violent or aggressive behavior.
Which is great and all, but then we end up here. With California saying games make people crazy and The Terminator is somehow leading the charge. If violent people are more prone to violent media, why do researchers continue to harp on what all game players are doing.

As I mentioned in the other thread, game playing has expanded to most adults and nearly 98% of kids under 18. It is impossible to lay any kind of blame on "violent games" when everyone plays them. If they caused any kind of change in behavior, we'd be living in Thunderdome by now... being chased by people wearing sheets... trying to pick up a whole bunch of drugs off the floor.

Quote:
Here is the abstract for that study. In the thread cited by Justin I provided other links to the aggression lab at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. There is supporting research conducted outside of this lab, a lot of it in other countries, but I am familiar only with the aggression lab so I limit my input to that collection of studies.
Once again, I suggest you read Grand Theft Childhood. It's available on Google Books. The author's critique of the noise blast test (and why it's not even considered a valid research tool) starts on page 64.
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  #22  
Old 04-30-2010, 01:21 PM
Spice Weasel Spice Weasel is offline
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Originally Posted by Justin_Bailey View Post
Which is great and all, but then we end up here. With California saying games make people crazy and The Terminator is somehow leading the charge. If violent people are more prone to violent media, why do researchers continue to harp on what all game players are doing.

As I mentioned in the other thread, game playing has expanded to most adults and nearly 98% of kids under 18. It is impossible to lay any kind of blame on "violent games" when everyone plays them. If they caused any kind of change in behavior, we'd be living in Thunderdome by now... being chased by people wearing sheets... trying to pick up a whole bunch of drugs off the floor.



Once again, I suggest you read Grand Theft Childhood. It's available on Google Books. The author's critique of the noise blast test (and why it's not even considered a valid research tool) starts on page 64.
It sounds like an interesting read, but I feel the need to point out that the study I linked to has nothing whatever to do with a noise blast test, and for that matter, was not even conducted in a laboratory.

Also, as I pointed out before, no one has ever come up with a convincing explanation for why, if noise blast tests are so worthless, there is consistent statistical significance between control and experimental groups. When you have a controlled study--any study--and your findings are statistically significant, that indicates that your independent variable had some impact on the outcome.

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  #23  
Old 04-30-2010, 01:32 PM
Justin_Bailey Justin_Bailey is online now
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Originally Posted by olivesmarch4th View Post
It sounds like an interesting read, but I feel the need to point out that the study I linked to has nothing whatever to do with a noise blast test, and for that matter, was not even conducted in a laboratory.
I'm sorry, I didn't read the study you linked to. But the chapter in Grand Theft Childhood is directly related as it critiques Bushman and his methodology and how it has no basis in the real world.

Again, when 98% of all children/teens play video games, how can it be considered a causal reason for anything?

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Originally Posted by olivesmarch4th View Post
Also, as I pointed out before, no one has ever come up with a convincing explanation for why, if noise blast tests are so worthless, there is consistent statistical significance between control and experimental groups. When you have a controlled study--any study--and your findings are statistically significant, that indicates that your independent variable had some impact on the outcome.
Because the test subjects are invariably college students getting paid pizza to blast their friends with "deafening noise". Would you take it seriously? Would anyone?

This study tears apart blast tests (and Bushman and Anderson in particular) along with other idiocies when it comes to the violent video games debate.
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Old 04-30-2010, 02:39 PM
Spice Weasel Spice Weasel is offline
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Originally Posted by Justin_Bailey View Post
If violent people are more prone to violent media, why do researchers continue to harp on what all game players are doing.
It seems reasonable to me to conclude that if violent media can be shown to have some impact on violent behavior in a small minority, it probably leads to more aggressive behavior in the majority. So you are correct that this research has been politically hijacked/exaggerated to serve specific interests, but that doesn't mean violent media has no appreciable impact on 98% of the population.

That is why subsequent research on this topic has involved documentation of the rise in narcissism and its relationship to aggressive behavior and violent media exposure.

The reality is that if little Johnny is in a safe, supportive, loving environment, but plays violent video games, he probably isn't going to go shoot up a school. But he may be more likely to act like an asshole. Ya notice a proliferation of assholes lately? Ever drive in New Jersey?
Quote:
I'm sorry, I didn't read the study you linked to. But the chapter in Grand Theft Childhood is directly related as it critiques Bushman and his methodology and how it has no basis in the real world.
Really? Studies on kids in youth violence detention centers have no basis in the real world?

I would love to read the arguments in ''Grand Theft Childhood'' but the link you provided only went up to page 34. I think the chapter you want me to read is ''Science, Nonsense and Common Sense.''

But let's try this--and use some common sense to think this through. Are you familiar with the concept of exposure? It's an extremely effective, well-established behavioral technique that involves exposing people who have certain fears or aversions to the thing they fear or have an aversion to. I have personal experience with the use of this technique and can vouch for its efficacy on both a scientific and personal level. Essentially, if some stimulus causes an averse reaction in an individual, the more frequently one is exposed to that stimulus, the less they have an averse reaction to said stimulus.

Exposure is also referred to as ''desensitization.'' Someone may have extreme discomfort associated with, say, corpses, but through repeated exposure to pictures of corpses, or perhaps visiting a morgue, or perhaps 10 years of working as an undertaker, they become desensitized to exposure to all things corpse-related.

Why, then, is the concept of desensitization as a result of violent media exposure so difficult to comprehend? Is it really such a logical leap that people who are exposed to constant images and implications of virtually consequence-free violence on a regular basis will become less uncomfortable with the idea of violence, so accustomed to it, that the prospect becomes less horrifying and shocking, and say, even, routine? To me it seems to absolute height of irrationality to suggest that an individual watching a graphic torture scene on an enormous screen while he scarfs down his popcorn, unperturbed, would not have some real word consequences as to his attitude toward fellow humans. This goes doubly for kids, because childrens' brains are still in a constant state of cognitive and structural development. There is substantial evidence to indicate that one's moral framework and social values are highly dependent on the immediate social environment you have as a child (See Marc Hauser, Moral Minds.)

The question--which is indeed open to debate--is how much, and to what extent, desensitization to violent media impacts real-world behavior. Does it make people into crazed violent sociopaths? Almost certainly not. Does it make them more likely to participate in road rage? Does it make them more likely to support a war effort? Does it make them more likely to bully other children? Given the evidence we have about general human behavior in the social environment, those are the kinds of questions we really should be asking.

In short, I think it's ridiculous to exclude violence in the media as a possible environmental factor contributing to human behavior. Everything we know about humans and their environment points to the huge role that environmental factors play, generally, in childhood development. It is absolutely illogical to me to exclude media from this discussion just because I play violent video games and liked Kill Bill and happen to be a a really nice person.

Quote:
Because the test subjects are invariably college students getting paid pizza to blast their friends with "deafening noise". Would you take it seriously? Would anyone?
Not a single study I have linked to involves tests on college students getting paid pizza, and they aren't blasting their friends. They involve young children blasting people they don't know, in the context of playing a game.

The study you linked to argues (accurately) that the actual significance of statistical significance is contextually debatable, and that effect sizes are a far more accurate measure of real-world implications. Luckily the research I described above specifically identifies the effect sizes in the outcome of the study. In fact, a lot of the issues raised in your study don't apply to the research in question.

The criticism of publication bias and its impact on meta-analysis is valid. In fact, there are statistical methods of compensating for such bias, but I am uncertain whether they were applied in Bushman's meta-analysis, and your linked article does not indicate either way.

For the record, I love skepticism, and the article you linked to seems very informative in terms of general research methodology and provides a much-needed scientific rebuttal to this topic. I genuinely appreciate your effort here and do plan to read that study in more detail.
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  #25  
Old 04-30-2010, 02:51 PM
Justin_Bailey Justin_Bailey is online now
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Originally Posted by olivesmarch4th View Post
The reality is that if little Johnny is in a safe, supportive, loving environment, but plays violent video games, he probably isn't going to go shoot up a school. But he may be more likely to act like an asshole. Ya notice a proliferation of assholes lately? Ever drive in New Jersey?
Actually, no, I haven't noticed that. And neither have most people.

The doom and gloom and people declaring our generation as ignorant, lazy, violent losers is, to use an old saying, hogwash.

Last edited by Justin_Bailey; 04-30-2010 at 02:52 PM..
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  #26  
Old 04-30-2010, 04:15 PM
Superhal Superhal is offline
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Other issues involved in connecting media and behavior:

Observer's paradox: simply by observing something, the number of acts increase. In terms of aggression, let's say a school only counts "aggressive acts" as fights between students. However, when a researcher arrives and has to set criteria, they also include horseplay, verbal threats (even in jest) and typical playground games like Indian wrestling. Suddenly, the number of aggressive acts increases exponentially, and the researcher has a convenient reason: TV, video games, pro wrestling, etc. etc. etc.

Lack of a true control group: In any experimental study, there must be a control group. In the case of TV violence, the lifestyles of those who watch tv vs those who don't are too different to compare. For example, a typical American teenager who watches 10 hours of TV per day cannot be compared to an Australian pygmy living in the bush.

Individual differences: Even between people, there are many other factors that influence aggression. Having brothers, for example, would inherently increase the number of aggressive acts. Another factor could be whether the parents used spanking or not. The multiple factors involved would be impossible to control.

Definition of "aggression": Which of these situations are more violent:
a) showing a person shooting a gun.
b) hearing a person shooting a gun, offscreen.
c) not seeing or hearing the gun, but seeing the victim get hit.
d) seeing the dead victim after the shooter has left the scene.
e) seeing neither the victim nor the shooter, but only the crime scene.
f) same as above, but in a cartoon.

In all media, how can we say what was shown affects behavior, if there are many different ways of showing it? For example, the American Media Council routinely labels America's Funniest Home Videos as the most violent TV show on the air.

Longitudinal vs Latitudinal studies: Usually, in terms of aggression, the best method would be to track a group of children over 10-20 years. This would address individual differences, and the older self and the younger self could be compared for real changes in aggressive acts (the longitudinal study.) However, because this is unrealistic in terms of funding and researcher effort, what usually happens is that a cross section of children at different ages in the same area are compared (e.g. 5, 10 and 15 year olds in the same district) and any differences between the groups are attributed to whatever the researcher wants to blame. As mentioned earlier, this method runs into problems with individual differences.

Last edited by Superhal; 04-30-2010 at 04:18 PM..
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  #27  
Old 04-30-2010, 04:19 PM
Spice Weasel Spice Weasel is offline
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Originally Posted by Justin_Bailey View Post
Actually, no, I haven't noticed that. And neither have most people.

The doom and gloom and people declaring our generation as ignorant, lazy, violent losers is, to use an old saying, hogwash.
I'm not speculating on this phenomenon. There is an accumulating body of research that points to the rise of narcissism in U.S. society as well as the link between narcissism and aggressive behavior. IOW, we do have some evidence that there are more assholes in our society than there used to be.

That is kind of the thing, you see, because I really have no dog in this fight. I don't have any children and I like video games. I just find it amazing the lengths to which people will go to ignore even the possibility that there could be some truth and validity to this research which has been replicated so many times.

The simple fact of the matter is, no matter how you spin it, there is some research to indicate that violence in the media has some significant impact on aggressive behavior in children. That body of research is still growing and results continue to be replicated.

The study you linked to, which purports to debunk the media-violence myth, uses very careful language and concedes the available evidence. Over and over your study uses statements to the effect of, ''These studies do provide evidence for X and Y, however they overlook Z or fail to employ method C.'' That's good and right in the world of science -- a good scientist will recognize what's important or useful about a study while critiquing what's not.

A rational dissenting response, based on the evidence, would be to say that the data is inconclusive. But that's not what people say in these threads. They say absolutely, no way, this is obviously junk science, use your common sense, blah blah blah I can't hear you.

Meanwhile, the media distorts the research to the opposite extreme, making ridiculous claims about the impact of violent video games.

Neither side is a realistic depiction of the actual science on this phenomenon. Despite the fact that I really should know better, I feel the need to participate here because there is actually a middle ground which is much closer to the truth than either ignoring the evidence or exaggerating its import.
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Old 04-30-2010, 04:27 PM
Justin_Bailey Justin_Bailey is online now
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That is kind of the thing, you see, because I really have no dog in this fight. I don't have any children and I like video games. I just find it amazing the lengths to which people will go to ignore even the possibility that there could be some truth and validity to this research which has been replicated so many times.
It's not that I'm ignoring the possibility. It's that I look at the history of other things people shouted "Won't somone think of the CHILDREN!" about and I wonder where the outrage is today for novels (not graphic novels, but book novels), rock 'n roll, Dungeons and Dragons, anime and god knows what else.

The fact that video games have gone beyond all of those things and are so accepted that everyone plays them is when its time to stop legislating them.
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Old 04-30-2010, 04:30 PM
mlees mlees is offline
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Originally Posted by olivesmarch4th View Post
I'm not speculating on this phenomenon. There is an accumulating body of research that points to the rise of narcissism in U.S. society as well as the link between narcissism and aggressive behavior. IOW, we do have some evidence that there are more assholes in our society than there used to be.
Isn't the definition of "asshole" also evolving?

Folks tolerated (it seems to me) more "horseplay" out of young boys back when I was growing up than they seem to do now. A chest bumping and mild shoving match in the playground would have been settled without involving the parents. My (male) Gym teacher used a wooden oarshaped paddle to disipline us boys, completely unthinkable (if not outright illegal) now.

Our changing attitudes affect the way the similar type of data is categorised.
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Old 04-30-2010, 04:33 PM
Maastricht Maastricht is offline
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I didn't read the other posts, but yesterday some scientist pesented the outcome of his study (six month study of 851 young gamers) into games, game addiction and violence. His conclusion:
Games in themselves are not addictive. Youngsters that get addicted to games (about 2 % of the total number of gamers) are usually predisposed to problems because of their lesser social skills and the resulting loneliness.
Excessive, addictive gaming is proven to lead to agression, but it makes no differeence if agressive games or non-agressive games are played.

Quote:
HILVERSUM - Gameverslaving is te wijten aan onderliggende psychosociale problemen bij een groep die deze computerspellen spelen.
De games zelf zijn niet de oorzaak van de verslaving. Dat zei onderzoeker Jeroen Lemmens van de Universiteit van Amsterdam dinsdagavond in het tv-programma NOVA. Lemmens promoveert dit najaar op een onderzoek waarbij 851 jongeren gedurende een half jaar werden gevolgd.
De wetenschapper: ''De belangrijkste conclusie is dat we gemerkt hebben dat games op zich niet per se verslavend zijn. Het zijn jongeren die sociaal minder vaardig zijn, minder zelfvertrouwen hebben en eenzaam zijn die verslaafd raken.''
Van de gamers is 2 procent verslaafd. Dat komt neer op 20.000 verslaafden in Nederland.
Wel constateert de gamedeskundige dat ziekelijk gamen agressie veroorzaakt. Maar of gewelddadige of niet-gewelddadige games worden gespeeld, maakt niet uit.
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Old 04-30-2010, 04:38 PM
Superhal Superhal is offline
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Isn't the definition of "asshole" also evolving?
Today's "asshole" is yesterday's "boys will be boys."
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Old 04-30-2010, 06:25 PM
Spice Weasel Spice Weasel is offline
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Isn't the definition of "asshole" also evolving?

Folks tolerated (it seems to me) more "horseplay" out of young boys back when I was growing up than they seem to do now. A chest bumping and mild shoving match in the playground would have been settled without involving the parents. My (male) Gym teacher used a wooden oarshaped paddle to disipline us boys, completely unthinkable (if not outright illegal) now.

Our changing attitudes affect the way the similar type of data is categorised.
You have a point, but ''asshole'' in the context I used it was specifically a reference to narcissism, and I think the definition of narcissism as a measurable personality trait has been fairly consistent throughout recent history. This is where my knowledge is shaky, but I think the research is showing that more people can be defined now as having narcissistic personalities than, say, people of the same age studied 30 years ago. That is using more or less the same metric. There's a book that covers this topic. At least one of our Dopers has read it--maybe she can elaborate on the findings.

For the record, there is a very strong correlation between narcissism and aggressive behavior. Most school-age bullies have been found to score very high for narcissistic personality traits.

Of course, what causes this narcissism is still open to speculation. In the aggression lab, one theory that has been bandied about is that narcissism + violent media may be a particularly nasty combination, perhaps that they feed into one another in some way.

As far as the more general definition of asshole, I guess you could also argue that today's society offers more opportunities to be an asshole than it did in the past. We know that anonymity ups the asshole factor quite a bit, which explains 4chan and driving in New Jersey.

On preview: Oh, goodness, Justin, I would never advocate that a video game be banned or restricted by the government. I am very anti-censorship. Parents have to make decisions about what their kids do. I just wish parents had access to a more balanced and nuanced perspective than what they get now. Since the media hype is obvious bullshit, I fear that most people conclude that the whole subject is bullshit and not worth consideration.

This is not a straightforward subject, there are so many factors, probably many that have never even been considered, that contribute to a youth's decision to engage in violent or aggressive behavior. But as complex as the problem is, it matters.
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  #33  
Old 04-30-2010, 06:27 PM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is offline
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Originally Posted by olivesmarch4th View Post
The reality is that if little Johnny is in a safe, supportive, loving environment, but plays violent video games, he probably isn't going to go shoot up a school. But he may be more likely to act like an asshole. Ya notice a proliferation of assholes lately? Ever drive in New Jersey?
Which is based on a presumption that being an asshole is an unhealthy thing. The ideal of the peace loving, charity giving, selfless person is probably more likely to be self-destructive than building a person who is cynical, keeps boundaries, focuses on his friends and family first and foremost, and doesn't let people walk over him.

Yes, giving someone who is predisposed to acting like a jerk further encouragement towards acting like an asshole may be bad, but there's no knowing who that is beforehand.

Last edited by Sage Rat; 04-30-2010 at 06:29 PM..
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  #34  
Old 04-30-2010, 06:56 PM
Mijin Mijin is offline
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I see that the Supreme Court is going to hear a case where the lower court overturned a California ban on sales of rated "M" games to minors.
So games have ratings in the US but any minor can buy a game that's rated "M" for mature? And (from the look of things) that's defended under free speech?
This is bizarre.

While the studies linking gaming to violence are dubious at best, and I've lamented on these very forums that the games industry has been hampered by the "video games teh evilz" meme, it makes absolute sense that children cannot buy "M" rated games.

Could I release a "game" that is just a 90 minute real footage cutscene of a man sticking pins into his eyeballs? Would it need to have a disclaimer like Jackass?

Last edited by Mijin; 04-30-2010 at 06:58 PM..
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Old 04-30-2010, 07:06 PM
Tom Tildrum Tom Tildrum is offline
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How is the purported connection between violent games and youth violence different from the purported connection between cigarette advertising aimed at kids and youth smoking?
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  #36  
Old 04-30-2010, 09:33 PM
Justin_Bailey Justin_Bailey is online now
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While the studies linking gaming to violence are dubious at best, and I've lamented on these very forums that the games industry has been hampered by the "video games teh evilz" meme, it makes absolute sense that children cannot buy "M" rated games.
Children can't buy M rated games. All retailers abide by the game ratings and they don't sell them to children under the age listed as a matter of policy.

Obviously, all policies will not be followed at all times, but an FTC study found that stores enforce the ESRB ratings better than movie ratings and Parental Advisories on CDs.

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Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
Could I release a "game" that is just a 90 minute real footage cutscene of a man sticking pins into his eyeballs? Would it need to have a disclaimer like Jackass?
Your game would likely be rated Adults Only and would be rejected by the three console makers. You could put it on the PC, but stores are cutting back on their PC game stock and the biggest chains refuse to carry AO games.
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Old 05-01-2010, 08:18 AM
Mijin Mijin is offline
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Children can't buy M rated games. All retailers abide by the game ratings and they don't sell them to children under the age listed as a matter of policy.
Ah, so by minors they mean 17 year olds (M rated apparently means 17+)?

I mean, I have googled this story but most of the links use the word children, and imply that freedom of speech means anyone of any age can buy any game, unless there is a specific ban.
Is this just the press trying to whip up hysteria?

Quote:
the biggest chains refuse to carry AO games.
See that's the kind of thing that I have been complaining about on these forums.
I think even adult rated games are pretty tame and that the games industry has unfortunately had to hold to higher standards than other media.

I don't really see the point of games like Manhunt, but adults should be able to buy such games easily and it shouldn't be an issue, as it's not to the level of, say, Saw.
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Old 05-01-2010, 10:09 AM
Justin_Bailey Justin_Bailey is online now
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Is this just the press trying to whip up hysteria?
Of course. As a matter of policy, every chain retailer in the country will say they don't sell M rated games to anyone under 17. Just as movie theaters won't sell tickets to an R rated movie to anyone under 17.

It is a system that has worked for decades, but because lawmakers are all old, out-of-touch idiots, they create a law in search of a crime (or in this case, a "crisis").

Quote:
See that's the kind of thing that I have been complaining about on these forums.
I think even adult rated games are pretty tame and that the games industry has unfortunately had to hold to higher standards than other media.
OK, that's great, but it doesn't really apply to games. The AO is almost never used and the only difference between an M and an AO is the use of the word "prolonged" in the rating description.

The fact that platform creators don't allow it and chain retailers won't carry them effectively makes the AO rating a figurehead. It's there to say, "this game could have been so much worse, so cut them some slack." Much the same way the NC-17 is applied in the movie world.

It's also not censorship, but that's an argument for another time.

Quote:
I don't really see the point of games like Manhunt, but adults should be able to buy such games easily and it shouldn't be an issue, as it's not to the level of, say, Saw.
Funnily enough, a game adaptation of Saw was released last year. It was rated M.

A sequel was just announced and its debut trailer is two minutes of just a guy cutting out his own eyeball.
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Old 05-01-2010, 02:42 PM
Mijin Mijin is offline
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It's also not censorship, but that's an argument for another time.
Well there's a kind of self-censorship going on. While all media needs to be sensitive about causing outrage I feel that the games industry feels under closer scrutiny than others.

Quote:
Funnily enough, a game adaptation of Saw was released last year. It was rated M.

A sequel was just announced and its debut trailer is two minutes of just a guy cutting out his own eyeball.
Hehe, it's funny how close that is to my "ridiculous" hypothetical of a guy sticking pins in his eyes.

<off-topic>
It's a shame what's happened to the Saw franchise; the first film was an engaging thriller with occasional unwatchable violence. Unfortunately the makers decided early on that it was the latter that made it a success, and each film has shifted the balance increasingly in that direction.
</off-topic>
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Old 05-01-2010, 03:33 PM
Whack-a-Mole Whack-a-Mole is offline
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Effect sizes are significant but the one retroactive longitudinal study my husband co-authored (comparing normal school-age youth to youth in violence detention centers) found a significant effect size for exposure to violent media at a young age. However, the effect size was smaller for exposure to violent media than it was for exposure to violence in the home or immediate environment and other obvious things that cause kids to be violent. In other words, for kids who are already at-risk, exposure to violent media may be that extra push that leads to violent or aggressive behavior.
I have a real problem with this.

At the end of the day the statistics show a decrease in violence that tracks remarkably well with the advent of video games into society.

I realize that correlation does not equal causation. Nevertheless I would think if video games were a net boost to violence then researchers need to find something that was an even greater pull downward on violence. To my knowledge no one has suggested what that might be. In the absence of that evidence...or even theory...it might be supposed video games contribute to a downward pull on violence. Theory being kids are not in the street to get in trouble and instead at home as well as an outlet for aggressive behavior.

I have seen my nieces and nephews get amped up playing video games. I am not surprised that a researcher having kids play a violent game in the lab then says kids are more aggressive after playing. But then my niece and nephews, despite being more amped, are not going to kill each other.

Which comes to my complaint with what I quoted above. To say that "X" was a contributing factor wholly misleads on what is important. What leads a person to violence is likely many things so to say we must ban games because they contribute misses the point. Perhaps the kids ate a Twinkie before committing a violent act so we could say the sugar rush was a contributing factor that tipped them over the edge therefore we should ban Twinkies (or other sugary snacks). Basically which straw on the camel's back broke it? We should therefore ban that straw.

It is absurd on the face of it.

Last edited by Whack-a-Mole; 05-01-2010 at 03:38 PM..
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Old 05-01-2010, 03:41 PM
Lakai Lakai is offline
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Ah, so by minors they mean 17 year olds (M rated apparently means 17+)?

I mean, I have googled this story but most of the links use the word children, and imply that freedom of speech means anyone of any age can buy any game, unless there is a specific ban.
Is this just the press trying to whip up hysteria?
To clarify slightly, it is the government who can't prevent children from buying video games. Retailers can refuse to sell their products to anyone they like. I think the only private media content the government has laws against is porn. Even if the government can't restrict game sales to minors, it's likely that private retailers will continue to do it on their own. So free speech doesn't mean anyone of any age will be able to buy any games, unless the retailers give up their restrictions.

The reason retailers created a ratings agency was to prevent the government from legislating in this area. I guess their self regulation wasn't sufficient enough for California.
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  #42  
Old 05-01-2010, 06:07 PM
Justin_Bailey Justin_Bailey is online now
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The reason retailers created a ratings agency was to prevent the government from legislating in this area. I guess their self regulation wasn't sufficient enough for California.
Which is ironic as game devs are setting up shop outside of California at an alarming rate. The state is still the location of most North American game development, but new shops are not setting up in California any more.

The "toxic atmosphere" in the state, complete lack of respect and offers of better deals elsewhere have pulled them away.
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Old 05-01-2010, 06:43 PM
Mijin Mijin is offline
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To clarify slightly, it is the government who can't prevent children from buying video games. Retailers can refuse to sell their products to anyone they like. I think the only private media content the government has laws against is porn. Even if the government can't restrict game sales to minors, it's likely that private retailers will continue to do it on their own. So free speech doesn't mean anyone of any age will be able to buy any games, unless the retailers give up their restrictions.
Strange though. Here in the UK the equivalent (PEGI) ratings system is indeed enforced, in principle at least, by the government. Retailers that don't follow the rules can be fined or ultimately shut down.
Which makes sense to me...

Because giving the government the right to mandate against pornography being shown to minors, but nothing else, seems rather arbitrary.

But anyway, if at the point of sale it works out the same in the US then fine, and I guess the california law was pretty much for show.
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Old 05-01-2010, 07:12 PM
Lakai Lakai is offline
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Because giving the government the right to mandate against pornography being shown to minors, but nothing else, seems rather arbitrary.
The government can freely regulate speech that falls under the category of obscenity. Obscenity has a specific legal definition which includes pornography. The definition has been applied to sexual content in the past, but hasn't been applied to violent content, and it's unlikely that it will be in the future.
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Old 05-06-2010, 01:28 PM
ivan astikov ivan astikov is offline
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Theory being kids are not in the street to get in trouble and instead at home as well as an outlet for aggressive behavior.
An outlet for aggressive thoughts in a safe environment is exactly the kind of thing most juveniles would gravitate towards, but the only ones who'd be wanting to take them out into the real world are children who are actually seeing physical violence close up in the home already.

Last edited by ivan astikov; 05-06-2010 at 01:29 PM..
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