No, Grand Theft Auto Isn't To Blame For Dumb Teens Getting Violent

from the please dept

It’s been shown over and over again that violent video games don’t lead to violence — but that hasn’t stopped anti-video game crusaders from looking for any example that suggests otherwise. It appears they’re having a field day with a bunch of stupid teenagers on Long Island who went on a rampage saying they were acting out scenes from Grand Theft Auto. The mistake here is to blame GTA for the acts. These kids were bored and decided to go on a rampage. If it wasn’t copying GTA, it would have been for some other reason. Furthermore, just because the kids blame GTA, doesn’t mean that GTA was responsible. Of course kids will blame GTA if they think that will get them out of jail: “It wasn’t my fault, you see. I was under the influence of some video game…” It’s an easy way to deflect blame, but doesn’t mean that the blame shouldn’t rest squarely on the shoulders of those kids, rather than the video game. Millions of people play GTA every day and have no intention of acting it out in real life.

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Comments on “No, Grand Theft Auto Isn't To Blame For Dumb Teens Getting Violent”

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Anonymous Coward says:

No conclusive evidence

“It’s been shown over and over again that violent video games don’t lead to violence…”

And it has been shown over and over again that violent video games do lead to violence.

The correct statement you should have made is that their continues to be great debate in this area as the research is mixed.

To say that video games have no effect on how we feel is naive at best

Mike (profile) says:

Re: No conclusive evidence

And it has been shown over and over again that violent video games do lead to violence.

Has it? We’ve yet to see any such study. Can you please point to one? There have been studies that people have tried to interpret that way, but the details have shown that the actual study shows no such thing.

The correct statement you should have made is that their continues to be great debate in this area as the research is mixed.

Again, if you can point to that mixed evidence that would be great.

To say that video games have no effect on how we feel is naive at best

Not at all. As I said, there are those who try to twist results to say that, but none of the research has shown that. What has been shown, however, is that there is no increase in violence as more people play violent video games.

Michael Whitetail says:

Re: Re: Re: Here's evidence - from a true expert

And why is this man a “True Expert?” Because he has a degree and several awards for teaching grads and undergrads? Because he has given testimony to the Senate and other political figures? Because hes had a PhD in psychology for 28 years?

What about the other ‘PhD in psychology’ scientists out there that say Mr Anderson is wrong? Who is the real ‘True Expert?’

Lets also not forget that the listed reference for these so-called myths at the end of the AC’s link; all of them except the last 2 were previous works in which Craig A. Anderson, PhD in psychology was author or co-author. Siting the majority of your works is hardly the best way to ‘gather’ studies for correlation research.

Personally, I want to see the correlation studies between all forms of media violence. Are violent video games more likely to induce the five separate effects of increased aggressive behavior, thoughts, and affect; increased physiological arousal; and decreased prosocial (helping) behavior than say playing cowboys and Indians?

What about paintball and Airsoft? On T.V. wrestling, boxing, hockey, football, or other violent sports?

What about the violent effects of movies, comic books, and music?

For years people have cried out about the newest forms of media ‘brainwashing’ their kids to be antisocial miscreants, but have any of these things ever been truly proven? Have they ever bee cross checked and evaluated and quantified to give parents a real idea of how in danger of being a danger their children are while sitting in the basement pretending to be an elf, or a space marine, or a thug?

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Here's evidence - from a true expert

Some interesting reading – make sure to check out Myth #1

Ah, that link repeats an awful lot of myths that he pretends are “facts.”

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, five separate effects emerge with considerable consistency. Violent video games are significantly associated with: increased aggressive behavior, thoughts, and affect; increased physiological arousal; and decreased prosocial (helping) behavior. Average effect sizes for experimental studies (which help establish causality) and correlational studies (which allow examination of serious violent behavior) appear comparable (Anderson & Bushman, 2001).

That’s a neat little shift. Note that none of the studies actually show increased violence or that anything leads to violence. What they show, consistently, is that playing a violent video game gets you excited and worked up — as it should. There is no evidence that it then leads to any increase in violence whatsoever.

If you have to point to experts, then we can easily do the same:

Every study, including the ones by the guy you point to have been shown to not prove what the media (and this guy) claims they prove. If you look at the actual studies, they show increased emotion — but no actual increase in violent activity as a result.

mobiGeek says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Here's evidence - from a true expert

They say stuff, but they have no proof to back it up. This is what Mike is pointing out.

If violence stems from video games, where is the proof?

There are reasons that these “experts” say what they do:

  • they believe their conclusions, regardless of facts
  • saying things like this get lots of media attention
  • there are lobbyist groups looking for “experts” on their side (religious groups, social conservatives/non-progressives, etc…)
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Here's evidence - from a true expert

You just proved the point that there is mixed results and thus controversy.

As a result, you cannot claim that there is no evidence that video games causes violent behavior.

Stick to writing about purely tech related issues and not sociopolitical or psychological issues

mobiGeek says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Here's evidence - from a true expert

The fact that there are mixed unsubstantiated points of view (and thus controversy) is not argued. What is argued is that there are no credible sources of the anti-games point of view.

Techdirt is not solely “tech related issues”. How are any of the articles on IP law tech related? Economics? etc…

John Doe says:

Re: No conclusive evidence

Actually the results from studies are overwhelmingly in favor of the statement that video game DO NOT create violent children, quite the contrary. Most of the few studies that do, are easily found cheating on methodology or are reasonably believed to have been ordered (i.e. paid for) to serve as political ammo. I won’t go as far as to claim that the sharp decrease in violence over the past 20 years are caused by the rise of video games. Although maybe the old Greeks did know something with their child abusing/molesting tragedies.. something about katarsis.. look it up.

Rose M. Welch says:

Re: No conclusive evidence

A friend of mine, who is a practicing PhD, would sit her male ADHD patients down to play violent video games when they became frustrated or angry. The result? They worked out thier frustration and anger ON the video game, and were able to make progress in thier sessions. No adverse effects, either.

Mark says:

Re: No conclusive evidence

If you say that video games do have an effect on kids acting like idiots, then you are naive. It’s not the video games, it’s not the violent movies, it’s not watching Cops on Fox. If you were not naive, you would realize that all civilizations are prone to violence, steal, murder, rape, pet violence, etc etc..without the need for outside influences. To take off the shelves any violent video game is like trying to control the tide with a broom. We are what we are. We learn, we go to school. We are a product of family and friends. Good people, bad people, stupid people. We have to deal with it. That, my friend is life. How about you watch a video on someone getting stoned to death. I doubt a video game was responsible.

Glenn Barres says:

Re: No conclusive evidence

I totally agree. Any form of sensory input that an individual receives has some kind of impact. The main difference is that most people understand right from wrong and 1) choose right because it is right, or 2_ are too scared to choose wrong, but they want to. Now when ti comes to kids, most kids do not have an understanding of right and wrong and of cause and consequence. And because they do not, they are more prone to act out some scene from a movie or game. The same thing happened down here in Florida, some 12 yr old kid stole his grandma’s car because he “wanted to do some hood-rat stuff” he saw on GTA4. The kid said that, not me.

Now don;t get me wrong, the media is not whole responsible. I put the biggest block of blame onto the Parents whose job it is to instill a sense of right and wrong into the child.

wolfdan8b says:

Re: Re: No conclusive evidence

I have enjoyed playing violent video games for years. This has had no influence on my judgment or tempted me to do anything within the games. In fact, I am a Law Enforcement officer with a bachelors degree. It seems to me that the children that act out video games in real life aren’t doing bad things because of the games. They have it in them to do bad things already due to lack of real parenting. If they didn’t play a violent video game, they would just commit some other generic crime. Either for attention or just something exciting to do since parents would rather sit and watch TV than spend quality time with their children.

Hell, if parents would even play video games with their kids and maybe add a little subtle conversation about how “These fun things in the game are just fun because they are not real, but in real life many people get hurt or are cheated out of things they’e earned”, children would behave more like they are expected. Everybody wants to blame other people and pump kids full of drugs because of chemical imbalance’s. Its all parenting.

I had/have ADHD but I was never pumped full of pills. Parents and children use these things as excuses. The worste thing a parent can do is tell their kids that they have a learning or behavioral disorder.

Glenn Barres (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: No conclusive evidence

I absolutely agree. It completely begins with the parenting. If a kid has a behavioral problem, there is a very good chance that they learned that behavior from a parent figure. If a parent is always telling their child that they are a bad child, that kid is going to grow up thinking that they have no choice in the matter and they will forever be a bad person.

Mordred Kaides says:

Re: No conclusive evidence

ok, small example, a quick google suggests that in the first week GTA IV sold for 609,000 copies on launch day in uk only, now we heared from about at most 5 casses of violence, wich could from a distance maybe be related to GTA IV, now lets just say that estimate is incorrect, and I’m off by 1000% so that’s 500 cases of violence that still would be only in 0,08% of the cases, a logic deduction would be that it is more propable that there is another source of the violence then the game itself, cause if it was the game who caused the violence, why only on such a small number? there should and muct be other factors.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No conclusive evidence

“To say that video games have no effect on how we feel is naive at best”

If a video does have an effect on how you feel, and causes you to do violent stuff, then perhaps you aren’t mentally stable enough to live unsupervised.

If anything could be to blame on violence in teens, it would be real life role models, not pixelated ones. ‘Role models’ such as 50cent and other ‘gangsters’.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No conclusive evidence

Read up on that:

And according to the article “Is exposure to media violence a public-health risk?” published in Lancet, Pg. 1137 Vol. 371 No. 9619 (a medical journal that was ranked 3rd in General Medicine in 2007):

“The effects of violence in video games on negative behaviour in children and adolescents have been intensely
studied and debated. Some studies show that violent imagery increases the likelihood of short-term aggressive or fearful
behaviour, especially in boys. The effects in older children are less clear and no long-term increase in aggressiveness or
violence has been shown. There is no evidence to suggest that individuals exposed to media violence go on to commit
crimes. However, it is not clear whether this largely experimental research can be applied to situations in everyday life.
Studies are small with non-representative samples; they do not look at present-day games or measure the exposure to
violence. The focus is on finding harm; evidence for actual harm is scant. Not all aggression is bad. In fact it can be
quite positive. And the assumption that everyone is at risk of being violent disregards the fact that some people are more
susceptible to violence and may seek out violent material.
Violent or aggressive actions seldom result from a single cause; instead multiple factors converge over time to
contribute to such behaviour. When one looks at juvenile violence across society, exposure to media violence comes
pretty low down the list as a risk factor. Much stronger predictors include involvement in crime, poverty, family
breakdown or abuse, drug use, and psychiatric illness. Most media violence research excludes the involvement of these
factors and how they may interact.”

PDXDoug says:

Re: Poor grammar

I hope that English is a second language for you. If not, maybe remedial classes are in your future, that is if you can tear yourself away from GTA.

What you meant to say was:
People that blame video games should just be shot (not shoot). Just like in GTA. It’s just ignorance (it’s, a contraction for ‘It is’), and your phrase ‘just be ignorance’ shows that you are ‘lexically challenged’, let’s say.

Mike says:


“It’s been shown over and over again that violent video games don’t lead to violence — but that hasn’t stopped anti-video game crusaders from looking for any example that suggests otherwise.”

I wish you had stuck to the law & not gone into your personal opinion, because thats really all that statement was. Not facts..Before now.. in my mind, the question of your age has never come up.. But now I have to wonder..

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Really??

I wish you had stuck to the law & not gone into your personal opinion, because thats really all that statement was.

It’s not opinion to say there haven’t been any studies that have shown violent video games lead to violence. There haven’t been.

And, as for my opinion, this entire site is based on opinion — but opinion based on facts. We’ve never been shy about it. In fact, I’d doubt that you can find a post on the site that doesn’t involve opinion in one form or another. But that’s on purpose. We’re expressing our opinion on stories.

Before now.. in my mind, the question of your age has never come up.. But now I have to wonder..

Um. Why? Because I expressed an opinion that is backed up by fact? What does that have to do with my age?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Really??

Look at the facts yourselves guys. Go to the Department of Justice’s website. Look at VIOLENCE TRENDS.

Guess what? Youth violence is STILL AT A 40 YEAR LOW.

Now tell me. How the HELL do you have the nerve to say there is a “surge” of youth violence, or video games, which have only gone UP in popularity in the last 40 years, cause violence?

Hell, interesting thing happens when you put the release date of consoles over the youth violence rate.

With each release of a new video game console there is a drop in violence among youth.

Don’t believe me?

or better yet:

kj says:

Re: Re: Re: Really??

What? You say go to Dept of Justice website and yet you link us to wikipedia and gamerevolution? Those aren’t fact places. Why didn’t you link us to your data from the Department of Justice?

Here, let me.

This shows a huge spike in crimes committed by those between 14 & 17. In 1976 it was right around 1400. In 84 it dipped to about 900 and shows almost a straight climb since then to our stat now of about 2700.

Sure doesn’t look like an all time low to me!

Rebecca says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Really??

The stats at this link:

ENDED in 1994. Meaning no data beyond 1994. Next time, find a link with current information to make an effective argument.

On a side note…the huge spike in juvenile crime between 1984 and 1994? I blame Bon Jovi. Or Madonna. Maybe both?

Will says:

Re: Re: Really??

“And, as for my opinion, this entire site is based on opinion — but opinion based on facts”

To be honest this article isn’t worthy of a highschool newspaper or a reputable blog(if that really exists). You come across as an expert, but you can’t provide even the most basic of academic citation to back up anything you say. ….I followed links in your article. It just led to more links to more articles that techdirt writes. I couldn’t find any credible research to back up your so called facts. And I believe there is some good research out there to back up both sides. Cite the research not the articles of articles of articles of buddies that think like you.

Mike says:

Re: Re: Really??

I was having one of those, “I don’t really want to think” days when i posted that. My apologies. I was the one showing my age 🙁

I played video games most of my teen years, & some of my 20’s & I’ve never killed anyone, or beat someone with a bat, so I’m in agreement Video games are not at fault. It goes a lot deeper & gets more personal which is why some in society are trying to blame the games.

some old gy says:

These people believe in utopia

The people that think allowing others to pretend in bad behavior will lead to bad behavior are drowning in the delusion that we can achieve some type of utopia where crimes against another are just incomprehensible. No one would dare be mean to another, it’s … inconceivable! It hasn’t been done in 200 years!

The sad reality is the utopia may never be achieved, but that is definitely not the right way to achieve it. Historically, (violent) crime rates go down in a society when there are fewer starving people, and the distribution of wealth is rather smooth.

Drake says:

The real problem....

I just love reading comments about articles like this. It helps to illustrate where the REAL problem lies with today’s youth. In this prescription-taking, religion-thumping society we live in, parents half intoxicated on their Cosmos, Mojitos, and Gin-n’-tonics mixed with their latest Rx’s of Prozac and Valium like to point the demon finger of children’s violence at everything except where they should, right at the damn mirror. PARENTS, not videogames, not Ozzie Osbourne, not Tony Hawk or Marilyn Manson (ok, MAYBE Marilyn Manson -heehee!), but PARENTS are the fault. These parents of violent teens need to be locked up for the crime their child commits, in the same prison cell no less, and for the same duration. They forfeit ALL of their property to the charities set up for the victims their little bastards helped create, and they lose ALL of their remaining children to the system to be brought up by other family members or foster parents. BTW, I’m 40 years old and all my violent tendencies comes from being subjected to Pac-Man and E.T. for the Atari 2600 at a tender age. 😉

NET625 says:

not anti social

I would like to defend video games and say that they are very social and they give people something to talk about. I also think that when you play them with friends you do sociolize. I would also say that if a childe does something vilent and then blames it on video games it should have been the parrents responcibility to say that the kid shouldn’t have thoes vilent video games. Also video game vilence and real world vilence are two different things a video game can’t prepair you for the real world. first because a human can’t survive as much as a video game character and if you hit another car in the real world you hear something but not in a video game. Also a video game can’t kill you. If you die while playing one its your own stupidity that killed you.

Rebecca says:

It’s been shown over and over again…that many adolescent males are morons.

Please note I did not say “all” and I’ve also been made aware, thanks to various news sources, that male stupidity is not reserved for the young. Nor does it always involve a crime (“Jackass” and Darwin Awards, anyone?)

I am not an expert and I’m not a Troll. I’m just a woman who was raised with 3 older brothers (two of whom were valedictorians…who would had guessed?) and all their dumb friends.


Research God says:

First off, Mike your state “It’s been shown over and over again that violent video games don’t lead to violence ” infers that studies indicate the lack of causative effect of violent video games on aggressive behavior. Also, much of the research isnt investigating whether violent video games lead to violent behavior, rather aggressive behavior. Its difficult to measure violent behavior, such as car jacking (and possibly unethical to allow such behavior to escalate to that point) in a lab setting. But the relationship between aggressive behavior and violent behavior is pretty solid.

Most of these violent video games/aggression studies are CORRELATIONAL studies, and not empirical studies. The bulk of these studies are not randomized, nor are they double-blind studies. They only look at the RELATIONSHIP between two or more factors.

Because of this, you cannot claim causation, which your first statement suggests.

Secondly, due to the nature of study designs, not all variables can be looked at. Just because a strong connection hasnt been found yet, doesnt mean it doesnt exist. By the nature of the studies, not all factors may be examined and thus many studies (the ones supporting your argument) demonstrate a lack of connection. However, there are other studies which demonstrate the opposite, and likely do so because they look at slightly different measures.

Third, why dont YOU post some articles that demonstrate the lack of connection between video games and aggressive behavior? You make a bold statement like that and then dont back it up with any reputable citations?

If you are looking for research studies, look at databases such as PsychInfo or Medline. Places such as wikipedia and google are not good places to cite “research”

So to sum it up – no one can say for certain that video games do or do not lead to violent behavior. Much of the cited recent is correlational which does not lend itself to determining causality. Hopefully, more research will utilize more empirically based methodologies so that a more causative statement can be made.

John Wilson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

While we’re all at it let’s also look at violent movies, television shows, the nightly news with it’s over serving of blood, guts, violence and crappy behaviour.

Let’s also go back to the 50s and look at comic books.

As Mike said the kids got bored, decided to raise hell and when they were caught blamed GTA. Well learned, no doubt, from their parents. “It’s not MY fault! The Devil made me do it!”

By all means, research away. And do try to do it with as little bias and anticipating the outcome as possible.

Come back in 10 or 15 years as the debate rages over holographic violent video games and let me know what you learned.



Anonymous Genius says:

Re: Research God

Hey Research Dog – just because correlation doesn’t equal causation, doesn’t mean the converse is true. You can say that if there is a strong correlation, it doesn’t mean there is causation. But if there’s no correlation, then there’s no causation. So, while we have more video games than 40 years ago, we have less violence. That’s not correlation OR causation!

Caleb (profile) says:

Way over your head here...

Mike, I respect you a great deal, but this time I’m going to have to disagree. To start off, I’m going to tell you of the beginning of WW1. WW1 had started in an area of relative peace, for the generation that lived there. Soldiers had shot at trees, apples, etc, but never anything like a human. They learned to be accurate, but were not psychologically prepared to shoot other humans. When the war began, people had no idea what they were getting into. When a soldier lifted his rifle, and looked at his enemy, sometimes they couldn’t shoot. And those who did were usually stunned, and just stood there, unable to contemplate killing another human. Of course, as the war got going, people began to imagine shooting the Germans, Russians, etc, and this problem disappeared because people were prepared psychologically to kill a human, and they had a motivation the first soldiers didn’t: Fear.

As I stated earlier, any generation which has not been exposed to inhumanities suffers greatly from doing so at fist. I think that is actually a wonderful thing. If you asked a man of 16 a year before WW1 to list the actions he could do to his brother, kill wound NOT have been listed.

Now, the military was understandably unhappy about how WW1 started, and decided to make the silhouette of a human torso on their targets. Just this act alone prepared people for battle a lot. You may or may not be aware that video games were an invention sponsored by the military. The reason? To prepare soldiers for shooting a real human.

Now, beyond the military, I’m gonna talk about what violent games really do. No, they usually should not make you go want to shoot your neighbor. But, if you see James Bond knifing an annoying person, you could very easily see yourself doing that to the next annoying person you meet. And you want to do it in a wishful way, not in a regretful one. You do not thing you would suffer from killing him.

My point is that the games remove doubt about doing an action, and make you believe that it is OK. The things stopping you from doing an action are now society – AKA the police and the law. I think that is the reason America has the highest ratio of criminals to not. Their law system, i.e. their restraining system, is portrait as broken.
The consequences are still there do deter you from killing/hurting another.

I’m not sure how well I’ve communicated, but what I’m trying to say is that video games make killing someone something you would consider. But the law is still there, and you fear the consequences. But let me be clear: Video Games remove the humanity of your enemy. The fact that they are human is no longer what stops you from killing them,a s it is in people who do not see people regularly killed in video games.

John Wilson (profile) says:

Re: Way over your head here...

And you’ve pretty much submerged yourself in a fantasy with regard to World War 1.

European military’s had been preparing themselves for years for the war.

The Naval programs in the UK and Germany had identified their enemies years before and they were each other. As had the French to a lesser degree.

Even the neutral United States was preparing at least as far as Naval power was concerned.

(Incidentally, the Central Powers were Germany and Austria-Hungary along with Turkey. The Russians were allies of Britian, France and, eventually, the United States.)

The first big surprise was once that it had all started with nothing more than general mobilization and movement of troops to forward defensive positions was how fast it all happened. The French and Germans had tied their mobilizations to railway timetables and those couldn’t be changed once they were started. In that sense, then, the start of the war was accidental and inadvertent.

Till the moment the first shot was fired everyone was convinced that a diplomatic solution would be found. The railway schedules sank that little fantasy.

The second big, an uglier surprise, was the trenches and static warfare which no one was prepared for.

Now to military training. The first appearance of the human siloutte as target occured at the same period the Boer War was going on. Both the Boers and British were concerned that people weren’t hitting their human targets correctly and introduced that as a training method to teach soldiers what, exactly to shoot at. Net result? Better target aquisition and shooting.

Not a thing is going to prepare one for the first time in war that the squeeze a trigger and kill someone. The vast majority of soldiers are physically ill the first time it happens.

In great measure the trenches themselves solved a lot of that problem by removing the enemy as a human being and placing him at a distance in the trench across no man’s land. Everyone surrounded and protected by barbed wire and razor wire. Nearly perfect industrial killing. You didn’t really see the human being you killed, you weren’t close enough to see what you had just done and you were too busy ducking machinegun fire incoming to care a great deal.

Of course, trench warfare brought its own legion of tactical, strategic and human problems. For all of that the response of the Generals, particularly the French, was the mass attack across no man’s land no matter how often it failed and the horrendous cost in human life it entailed.

Let me remind you of the fact of the matter here. The professional British Army had lots of experience in actual warfare having just concluded the Boer War. The French, Germans and Turks also had lots of experience. These were not green backwoods troops going to battle in 1914.

As it happened what they went to was something that no one from the General Staff on down had no experience with or any idea how to deal with it.

Naval warfare in World War 1 wasn’t much better. The Royal Navy had, much to the dismay and shock of the Germans adopted a distant blockade based in Scapa Flow rather than the close blockade the Germans had built their fleet to deal with.

The German attempts to break the blockade brought about unrestricted submarine warfare which almost broke the British. (Though it was a much closer thing in World War 2.)

I have to wonder what military training you ever had to make some of the statements you made.

None of the non coms or officers who trained me pretended that killing another human being was easy or easily done.

It’s a messy, ugly business and it can be soul destroying.

Even messier is hand to hand with knives and garottes and other weapons.

In short, the various militaries were prepared for what happened in August 1914. And they engaged in the opening stages of the war with entusiasm.

Then the trenches appeared and expanded from the Swiss border to the sea as each side tried to outflank the other.

The mobile war all sides prepared for turned into a static war. Defense had trumped offense. Not for the first or last time.

Nor does military training remove doubt about an action. You do what must be done as a soldier from the starting point of if you don’t get him he’s gonna try to get you.

Your attempt to put video games on a par with military training is both ill advised and simply wrong.

Nor, in my experience does a violent video game or movie tell the player or viewer that otherwise illegal acts are somehow OK. The vast majority of players and viewers recognize that both are fantasies. Stories. They are not real.

(Gamers seem to understand this better than game critics which does leave me wondering.)

Another consideration is that the most violent media in the world is found in Japan a country with a minuscule murder rate. By your correlation there should be open warfare raging across Japan by now.

The actual reality in America (indeed in Europe and Canada too) is that the rate of violent crime is decreasing. There are a large number of reasons for this the main one seems to be the drop in the actual number of 16-25 year old males who commit most of these acts.

There is no correlation, one way or another, to violent media for any increase or decrease in the rate.

No, a video game would not make me consider actually killing someone. Nor did my time in the military.

What would is someone threatening my child or family and in that way I’m pretty much normal.

If dehumanization of others is your major complaint then perhaps consider adding the evening news with it’s “if it bleeds it leads” attitude, politicians promoting their latest war, an endless diet of television and movies, thousands of years of story telling, including The Bible and Koran and ban em all.

It won’t change anything though.

What changes people and societies is the ability to look inside and take responsibility for their actions. Blaming is for those who won’t or can’t do that.



Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Way over your head here...

“Now, beyond the military, I’m gonna talk about what violent games really do. No, they usually should not make you go want to shoot your neighbor. But, if you see James Bond knifing an annoying person, you could very easily see yourself doing that to the next annoying person you meet. And you want to do it in a wishful way, not in a regretful one. You do not thing you would suffer from killing him.”

You are a fucking idiot. This should be a textbook example of trying to fight with your own ‘facts’ (which are just your opinions) against an actually well written paragraph.

If you could easily see yourself STABBING someone of being annoyed you ARE the problem. And why did you use James Bond as your example? I’ve seen almost all his movies and in each one it is such over-the-top silly violent idiocy you have to know it isn’t meant to be real.

Peregrine says:

Re: Way over your head here...

What a load of crap. your entire point has some pretty big holes in it. Your beautiful story of a society where no one could shoot another human being before WW1 reads like the beginning of a bad science-fiction novel. There were a lot of wars and a lot of crimes and a lot of people shooting and murdering other people before anyone made a human dummy to practice on. Saying that they couldn’t visualize or do these things because they hadn’t seen it implies that humans have no imagination or ability to think abstractly (which perhaps you don’t). Secondly and most importantly, video games violence does not desensitize normal people to anything except video game violence, to imply otherwise is to imply that one cannot separate make believe from reality. This is not a normal condition. Yes video games remove the humanity of your enemy because they are not human, they a collection of pixels and polygons and it is therefore no different than when “Soldiers had shot at trees, apples, etc, but never anything like a human”. A human with a normal functioning brain realizes this, does not try to shoot it’s neighbor. “The police and the law” are not what is preventing people from killing, they have the ability to see that “If I kill Caleb, then Caleb will be dead” not just “If I kill Caleb I will go to jail”. Fear of punishment is not the only thing that prevents crime. Morals my friend and empathy are two much stronger tools that have been abandoned by the justice system but still remain in the minds of people. Violence is part of the human existence, violence against another human being is part of the human existence. Always has been these new fangled violent video games are only a recreation of the games that have been played by young children since ancient times, only with longer loading times.

Nathan Piechocki says:

Operant Conditioning and Military Training

The military has been employing features of operant conditioning as part of basic rifle marksmanship for decades with quantifiable results. Incidentally, the same methods utilized by military training are at play in many of the video games enjoyed by us and our children, and many of my colleagues have commented how being in a firefight was “just like playing Call of Duty,” for instance. They’d been training for combat — to shoot at pop-up targets reactively — for almost all their lives.

Blitze says:

I read a lot of these articles and rarely reply; however, this time i think that i shall.

Regardless of the statistics i think you all need to see one simple fact. Teenagers will ALWAYS blame who ever and whatever they can to be innocent. They always have and always will.

Now my opinion in this matter goes to parents. I am tired of hearing that the parents need to ground their children, be strict, censor them, and control them. It never happened to me, instead i had parents that respected me and i respected them in return. When they talked i listened simply to hear what they had to say. And thats where the level headed teenagers that i meet generally come from, regardless of what games they play and what they do.

I am me says:

Gonna chime in here

One of the main things you learn when taking a degree in Psychology (or, for that matter, any science) is that when you are analysing past research, you don’t just look at the results, you look at the methodology. Just because someone claims their results show something does not mean that they actually show that.

For example, studies on violent video games tend to involve having someone play the game, then immediately carrying out tests on them. That doesn’t prove a thing. If, for example, you watch Alien for the first time, that bit where the Alien grabs the captain in the ducts is likely to make you jump. A researcher would then take a blood sample and notice higher than normal amounts of adrenaline in your blood or something. They would conclude that your sympathetic nervous system (“fight or flight”) had been activated. They would then conclude that you had been scared.

Does this mean that watching Alien will mean you’ll be scared 5 weeks later? Hell no. It just means that Alien did it’s job (it’s a horror film, after all) and made you scared for that period of time.

The exact same thing comes into play in video game research. You play a tense/violent game, they notice your fight or flight system has kicked in, they determine that the game has made you more aggressive. They’ll give questionnaires to the people who took part in the study to see how they’ll react to various situations. Those with their sympathetic nervous system engaged are probably going to answer more aggressively than those who don’t. Thus, the researchers conclude that video games make people aggressive.

But this simply doesn’t hold true in the real world. Of *course* a violent game is going to put you in an aggressive mind-set for the duration of the game (and it takes a while for this to wear off); that is what they are *designed to do*. Just like a good drama film / series can make you cry. Does this mean that Drama shows are turning the nation into a pack of crying pussies? NO.

As far as I’m aware, the only long term studies into violent video games show that people with violent tendancies tend to play more violent games than those without violent tendancies. This proves nothing. It is the same as saying people who own a gun enjoy shooting things more than those who don’t own a gun (or that people who enjoy shooting things are more likely to own a gun than those who don’t). People with violent tendancies are going to enjoy violent things more, it’s that simple.

As a side note, research into other areas (such as rape, oddly) shows that people who fantasise / play into their fantasies in a safe way (such as engaging in consensual BDSM) are less likely to actually end up raping / hurting someone than those who do not act on their fantasies (or, oddly, those people who claim not to have sexual fantasies, since they seem to be more likely to commit rape for some reason). Carrying this over, it seems logical that people with violent fantasies who play video games are less likely to actually commit violent acts than those who have violent fantasies and *don’t* play violent games.

Now please feel free to tear apart my post.

Robert says:

“Millions of people play GTA every day and have no intention of acting it out in real life.”

Hello people, the point is that we need as a society to spread the message that you can’t blame video games for foolish and criminal behavior. At some point, popular music, film and comics all were blamed for influencing and corrupting our kids, and now there’s a bit more slack on those mediums.

It’s completely ridiculous to think video games have such an impact on the audience. All my friends have been playing GTA since the 3rd one, and we’re mostly honor students, and none of us have any criminal pasts. I don’t know anybody whose changed after playing Grand Theft Auto.

Blaming video games is a ridiculous and far too simple notion that doesn’t take into account the sociological and psychological influences that are shaping people every day of their lives. There are no simple answers, and video games, even Grand Theft Auto, didn’t influence those damn kids from smashing things up. Violence was around before GTA, and it’ll be there after.

Just look at the vikings.

Jon says:

..and now for a more balanced presentation

Folks! Check out “Grand Theft Childhood”, by Cheryl Olson and Lawrence Kutner. This is a book based on a long term study of 1200 middle schoolers.

Their findings are that it’s not so simple. They point out that young males who don’t play video games at all are, on the whole, more likely to be bullies or engage in other anti-social behavior than the kids who do.

They also found that amongst bullies, there was a tendency for the games they played to be M-rated. They caution however that it’s not necessarily a causal relationship: perhaps the more aggressive kids are drawn to those games, not created by them. Also, that particular relationship (bullies to M-rated) was at the 15 hours a week or more range of involvement.

As continues to be the case in virtually all things, balance is important.

John (profile) says:

This argument again?

Didn’t I read about the whole “violent video games lead to violence” issue 15 years ago, when the original “Doom” was released?
How many millions of copies has Doom sold? How many people downloaded and played the free shareware version?

Yet a few people claim to use it as “training” (which is doubtful) and Doom becomes a terrible game for people to play.

As usual, video games (and movies and comic books and rock music and even “the devil”) are a good way to pass the blame from the real issue. People would rather take the easy way out rather than looking at the root causes: did these kids have mental issues? Did they come from bad neighborhoods? What are there parents like? How were these kids raised?

Nah, let’s ignore all that: it’s the video game’s fault.

Buzz says:

Video Games do have an effect...

Video games do affect behavior, but the effect is so minimal that citing it as the source of violence is like citing whip cream specifically as the source of obesity; sure, whip cream may be part of obese people’s diets, but removing it won’t solve the obesity problem. Video games account of 0.01% of the violence problem. In other words, at most, a video game can tip someone over the edge (a person having already accumulated the other 99.99% somewhere else). Educating young people how to behave in society (aka getting parents to do their jobs) will have a much larger impact than banning a few video games.

Shadow says:

Why are we talking about this?

Okay, first thing, this is completely pointless. Studies show inconclusive evidence between video games and violence simply because each case study IS NOT THE SAME. The relation between a person’s violent actions and how much time they spend playing video games cannot be directly related, because it fails to take into effect the kind of life the person has had. Obviously, an abused drug-addict child is more prone to violence than one who is cared for and healthy, and just as this is the case, each person’s mental makeup is different and based on the experiences and events that have shaped a person’s life. And even in cases like this, it all depends on the action’s of the child, and the people they associate with. Most acts of violence are caused by groups of people led by one person, and often it is this person who convinces the others to follow their lead.
My point is this issue isn’t even worth discussing, more important matters like the health care crisis, drug abuse, and foriegn relations take precedence over a matter as mundane as this. People should focus on REAL problems instead of such little things such as this.

Anonymous Coward says:

I agree with Caleb for sure that playing violent video games will increase the chance of unstable people to more easily act robberies or other crimes out. Stating that it does NOT is such an ignorant view and looking back through history with war and distress it’s clear that what young people were surrounded by is what they will start to believe is ok and not wrong. That’s simply how human psycology works and violent video games are certainly giving kids growing up a more easy feeling about actually doing crime. Of course other factors like parenting, friends, drugs, street life and even movies. If kids were never shown anything violent during their years growing up you can bet they would never attempt anything crime related and violent. On the other hand aggressive behaviour is a completely natural behaviour in especially males that is part of our defence mechanism. I’m just saying here the fact most people here a completely denying any correlation here is really silly and it’s like there is a fight to keep these type of games in production or trying to save the multi-million dollar publishers from being forced out of this business which will never happen.

Jeffrey Nonken (profile) says:

If that doesn't work, try more of the same

It’s always easier to blame:

– Communists
– Blacks
– Chinese
– Japanese
– Women (should never have been allowed to vote)
– Russians
– Polish
– Irish
– Terrorists
– Arabs
– Iranians
– Immigrants
– Illegal immigrants
– Drug users
– Drugs
– Koreans
– Jews
– Satanists
– Homosexuals
– Bisexuals
– Indians
– Indians
– Lovers of kink
– Anybody who enjoys sex in any form
– Anybody who has sex in any form
– Pagans
– TV shows
– Violent games
– Dancing
– Music
– Lyrics
– Movies
– Teachers
– Drivers
– Pedestrians
– The French
– Egyptians
– Men
– Pedophiles
– People who practice bad spelling, grammar, or punctuation
– People who make lists
– Anybody who uses 1337
– Anybody who is erudite
– Anybody with a funny accent
– Tall people
– Short people
– Anybody who weighs more than 99 lbs soaking wet
– Pro-choicers
– Pro-lifers
– Wal-mart
– The rich
– The poor
– The middle class (all three of them — don’t worry, they’ll be poor soon)
– Evangelists
– Dogs
– Cats
– Redheads
– Doctors
– Actors
– Baseball players who make millions of dollars
– Paris Hilton

… than it is to take responsibility for ourselves and our actions. Easier to cast blame than it is to make an effort to actually discover root causes and work on solving them.

I realize that you can’t draw a curve from a single point, but I’m one of those who plays violent games (in my case, online first-person shooters) and AFAIK have not killed or maimed anybody lately. My girlfriend says I’m one of the most considerate people she knows. My daughters are doing well in school and do not get into trouble.

Once when she was very young I sat my older daughter down and explained the nature of swearing, why people did it, why it was questionable socially, why it was socially unacceptable for her to do, and added that if she started using swear words inappropriately people would be very upset at her and she could get into trouble. I very deliberately did NOT specifically threaten her with any punishment. But once I told her all that, we started letting her watch movies with swear words, and we never, ever had a problem with her. Never a single complaint, and even now (she’s 15) we rarely if ever hear her swearing, even though we occasionally swear in front of her.

That’s called Good Parenting. I won’t claim I’m a Good Parent, certainly I make my share of mistakes, but that day I did Good Parenting.

If tomorrow she asks for a copy of GTA IV, well, I won’t say no because of the violence. I may for other reasons, but I’m not worried she’ll turn into a violent teenager and start killing people because she played a video game.

I haven’t talked much of my other daughter because she’s autistic and it’s much more difficult to communicate with her. But even there we let her watch cartoon violence and movie violence, and she’s not been a problem.

Among the things that have not turned her into a raging homicidal maniac are:
– Classic Warner Bros. cartoons
– T2
– X-men
– Spiderman
– Harry Potter
– Lord of the Rings
– Batman and Robin
– Narnia
– Deputy Dawg
– classic Underdog cartoons

… and so on.

My wife takes martial arts. They do not make her violent.

I watch porn. It hasn’t turned me into a rapist.

I’m of the opinion that, generally, these serve as outlets for our tendencies and emotional issues, rather than causing them. This has been my personal experience and observation on my part.

Blaming GTA is stupid and short-sighted. You’re not doing anybody any favors by trying to ban it. You’re just being lazy.


Brian says:

I don’t know about you guys, but I often go about:

-Waving my broadsword at imaginary monsters and other adventurers (people),
-Whisper to girls how I’m doing them (violently?) right now while I simultaneously swing at imaginary monsters and other adventurers,
-Invading Vietnam in 1959; also a fan of running air raids in Japan in 1945,
-Flying my spaceship around and blowing up other pilots in a galaxy far, far away,
-Pick up hookers in my Metro bus and running the ugly ones over,
-Stealing your car,
-Wasting people with my gunblade (F you sorceress!),
-Calling you a newb, you newb,
-Hitting that poor feller’s dog… er, I mean Zergling,
-Slaying the devil IN HIS OWN DOMAAIIIINN!,
-Tea-bagging you,
-Stealing your moneys,
-And otherwise griefing you.

What about the police, you ask? Well, I frag them with my rocket launcher and/or sniper rifle depending on my mood.

You know what? They need to make a game where I can continuously kick the crap out of Bush so I can stop daydreaming about that.

Overall, I’d have to say that video games, violet or not, are relaxing for me (as they should be). It’s that whole “dealing with real people who physically surround me” thing that gives me those violent urges. That, and video games. Wait… not the video games thing. Pretend I didn’t say that.

-The Dungeon Keeper

P.S. Seriously, though. Teach your kids how to take some fing responsibility for their own actions. While you’re at it, you should try it too.

The Ash Man says:

GTA IS a bad influence

Speaking as a gamer and a father of two small children, a game that glamorizes crime and sleaze does contribute to our societal decline. Yes, the game is just a reflection of our society, but how we and our children spend our time is a reflection on us.

I would wager that the same people who think GTA is a not a problem also think that stealing content through bit torrent is OK.

We reap what we sow.

Dave says:

Two things –

1: Freedom of speech is an absolute. To edit what anyone says/does/creates is unconstitutional. There are plenty of warnings about the contents of the game, and the creators of the game have been nothing but honest with the content of the game. Even if it is true that violent video games cause violent behavior in children and adolescents, that should just enforce policies that stores have on selling violent video games to children. The ESRB (and different agencies internationally) have been established to set a rating on these games, and it is up to the parents if they want their kids to have it. If these kids are buying the games themselves and they aren’t old enough, then Walmart or Best Buy or Circuit City should be held accountable for selling it. Alcohol causes way more violent incidents all video games combined, why isn’t there a push to outlaw that? Oh…wait a minute…we tried it provided the roots for modern organized crime in the US…hmmm….

2: All studies done on the issue are CORELATIONAL!!!! This means the studies show that there is a relationship between the two, but NO ONE can rightfully claim to have a study which proves the proper direction of this relationship. EVERY study that is done on this issue says that more violent video games means more violent behavior; but if you break this down, it could mean two things. It could mean that violent video games cause violent behavior, OR children who are prone to violence are more likely to play violent video games. There is a BIG difference between the two, and with this uncertainty there is no way that any fair legislation can be passed on this issue without referring to point one (holding the vendors accountable).

pwned 🙂

Gamer says:

Let's blame the game industry, not how the kid was taught to make a choice

What about parents teaching kids what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s real and what’s not real, making the right choices, and consequences of making wrong choices. Then, parents should NOT bail out the kid from juvenile detention, or jail, if they make a wrong choice. What does the kids learn if they keep getting bailed out?

If viewing violence in a game is bad, then there should not be any shows covering war themes, serial killers, and violent crimes on TV, after all, it’s violence too! And what about boxing, kick boxing, hockey, bull fighting, and other violent sports on TV. I know, perhaps we should sue the vehicle makers, gun manufacturers, clothes makers, alcohol makers, and if the kid was on any controlled drug, sue them too for part of the crime.

What ever happened to parents being responsible for their kids’ actions? All parents should be held responsible for their kids’ actions, and go to parenting classes if the kid gets into trouble, no exceptions. Where were the parents while the kids were causing trouble? And why didn’t the parents know what their kids’ were doing? Communication problems? Come on now, it all falls on the parents teaching responsibility, being honest, and being there for the kids. Are the parents encouraging peer pressure, clicks, name calling in any way, shape, or form in front of their kid? Don’t blame the game industry, there’s enough blame out there to go around, on violent sports/news/history coverage/prime time shows. It’s just a game, it’s not real, everything else on TV can be blamed, and let’s not forget- what if the kid comes from a violent home.

Do you really know what your kid is doing right now? Do you know what your kid talks about with friends and/or on the Internet? Do you lie? If you do you’re teaching your kid to lie. Or perhaps what should be said, do you care what your kid is really up to? Why do we need a license to get a dog? Why not a kid.

d_mat says:

Its not the games per se

Those video games are just a symbol of everything that is going on in our culture. They are our version of the gladiator games, just more humane. In the end it is the job of parents to raise their kids right, and they are doing a lousy job. In any case, it is all violence that affects us.

So if you look at just one case and say that doesn’t do it, you will be right. It is everything together!
Proof: Advertisement companies constantly talk about how their tv ads work and affect people. And then it is different with the tv shows and video games? Come on, that is so transparent.

Stopping those video games will not solve the problems, we have to deal with this stuff on many levels, all at the same time. But it is still the case that more and more research does show that any type of video you see affects you, no matter what the source.

Kreg Kennedy says:


Since I’m not from USA, I can easily say that all the weapons “over there” is another factor.
I’ve played violent video games since Wolfenstein 3D, and I got no history of violence. I’m not a fighter, and I don’t start a fight.
I’m a very quiet person who likes video games.
It’s great that many people see, that it is a question about taking responsibility, and both young and their parents should take more responsibility.
I’m looking forward to play GTA4, I’ve played all the other ones, and it’s great entertainment.
oh yeah…guns don’t kill people…people kill people 😮

Fred Neuro says:

Video Games Contribute to Violence

Hi – the writer of this blog is obviously very ignorant of modern neuroscience and brain plasticity. I recommend you review the writings of Michael Merzenich – one of the world’s leading neuroscience researchers focused on how experience modifies and programs the brain.

Here is a recent blog entry of his that touches upon the subject of how violent video games program the brain for more violent reactions in people:

Think about it – the US military uses these shoot-em-up video games to train their soldiers (in other words, program the soldier’s brains) for killing.

Why would you think the brains of soldiers are any different than the brains of other children?

Abdul says:

Re: Video Games Contribute to Violence

I completely agree with you. The writer of this article displayed a very inferior subjective view on this issue. Who in his right senses would not think there is a correlation between the two. Even in educational sectors, people are now using video games simply because they know how much of an influence they can be:Immersive Education: Intrdoducing Game BASE Learning( So i will advise the writer to thoroughly do research before commenting on issues he has no knowledge of

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Video Games Contribute to Violence

Hi – the writer of this blog is obviously very ignorant of modern neuroscience and brain plasticity.

Someone disagrees with you and you immediately accuse them of being ignorant?

I recommend you review the writings of Michael Merzenich – one of the world’s leading neuroscience researchers focused on how experience modifies and programs the brain. Here is a recent blog entry of his that touches upon the subject of how violent video games program the brain for more violent reactions in people:

That doesn’t present a single shred of evidence. He makes a bunch of totally unsubstantiated assertions as if they’re fact, ignoring all of the evidence against those assertions.

Think about it – the US military uses these shoot-em-up video games to train their soldiers (in other words, program the soldier’s brains) for killing. Why would you think the brains of soldiers are any different than the brains of other children?

Um. That’s a gross mischaracterization. The US military uses the games to train soldiers to shoot better. It’s practice. There’s no evidence that it changes them into thinking that shooting in a violent rampage is a good thing.

Ted says:

Re: Video Games Contribute to Violence


Because the figures of authority are the Military. They reinforce what soldiers are supposed to be trained to do.

For children, the figure of authority is the parent. Children are supposed to have proper parenting in order for them to determine a certain set of morals and keep them grounded.

2 separate groups with a small subsection where they have 2 sets of authority figures.

The SEO Kid (user link) says:


Ok listen up. 1. Video games don’t make people more violent, but it is true that they are sought out by people with a more aggressive nature. There is an actual study (to which i saw the article on Yahoo, i apologize for not having the link to it, I’m to busy to scour the internet for it.) 2. Jack Thompson is the attorney for the crusaders against video games. Nuff said there. 3. This is all nonsense remember columbine? It was Marilyn Manson then, and now its video games. Wrong. Its the lack of good parenting, the terrible fearmongering of the media and their lack of showing real news and just murder death and hate. Blame them not the 59.99 games that your kids wouldn’t have been able to buy themselves (laws state that (M) rated games have to be purchased by people over 18) and the parents (again not the children) bought them. Its rampant hypocrisy folks. Blame society as a whole for focusing their aims at violence (our government preaches hate and war worldwide). Blame something pertinent not this weeks trendy reason to take the blame off the real culprits – ourselves.

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