As Video Games Are In Presidential Crosshairs, New Study Again Shows They Don't Affect Behavior

from the it's-just-entertainment dept

Violent video games have once again found themselves in the role of scapegoat after a recent spate of gun violence in America. After the Florida school shooting, and in the extended wake of the massacre in Las Vegas, several government representatives at various levels have leveled their ire at violent games, including Trump, who commissioned an insane sit-down to act as moderator between game company executives and those that blame them for all the world’s ills. Amid this deluge of distraction, it would be easy to forget that study after study after study have detailed how bunk the notion is that you can tie real-world violence and violent games is. Not to mention, of course, that there has never been more people playing more violent video games in the history of the world than at this moment right now, and at the same time research shows a declining trend for deviant behavior in teens rather than any sort of upswing.

But a recent study conducted by the Max Planck Institute and published in Molecular Psychiatry further demonstrates the point that violence and games are not connected, with a specific methodology that carries a great deal of weight. The purpose of the study was to move beyond measuring behavior effects immediately after short, unsustained bursts of game-playing and into the realm of the effects on sustained, regular consumption of violent video games.

To correct for the “priming” effects inherent in these other studies, researchers had 90 adult participants play either Grand Theft Auto V or The Sims 3 for at least 30 minutes every day over eight weeks (a control group played no games during the testing period). The adults chosen, who ranged from 18 to 45 years old, reported little to no video game play in the previous six months and were screened for pre-existing psychological problems before the tests.

The participants were subjected to a wide battery of 52 established questionnaires intended to measure “aggression, sexist attitudes, empathy, and interpersonal competencies, impulsivity-related constructs (such as sensation seeking, boredom proneness, risk-taking, delay discounting), mental health (depressivity, anxiety) as well as executive control functions.” The tests were administered immediately before and immediately after the two-month gameplay period and also two months afterward, in order to measure potential continuing effects.

Participants in the experimental groups were playing GTA, The Sims, or no games at all, and the before and after tests demonstrated three significant behavior changes among all participants. That equates to less than 10% of the survey results indicating any significant change. As the Ars post points out, you would expect at least 10% to show significant change just by random chance. Going through the data and the near complete dearth of any significant behavior changes, the study fairly boldly concludes that there were “no detrimental effects of violent video game play” among the participants.

Were this a fair and just world, this study would be seen as merely confirming what our common sense observations tell us: playing violent games doesn’t make someone violent in real life. After all, were that not true, we would see violence rising commensurate with the availability of violent games across a collection of global societies. That simply isn’t happening.

So, as America tries to work out its mass-shooting problem, one thing should be clear: whatever list you have in your head about what to blame for the violence, we should be taking video games off of that list.

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Comments on “As Video Games Are In Presidential Crosshairs, New Study Again Shows They Don't Affect Behavior”

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Anonymous Coward says:

“So, as America tries to work out its mass-shooting problem, one thing should be clear: whatever list you have in your head about what to blame for the violence, we should be taking video games off of that list.”

One problem with that assessment is that the sample size of 90 people is probably much too small to account for the rare kind of sociopath who might actually turn into a mass-shooter. Such people are somewhere on the order of one in a million in the US.

Valkor says:

Re: Re: Re:

I don’t see the grandparent post suggesting that, but the point does stand.

Trying to create national policy based on one in a million events is prima facie foolish. On the other hand, California mandated carbon monoxide detector installation because of a literal one in a million chance of dying, so I have little faith in the logical capacity of politicians.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Such people are somewhere on the order of one in a million in the US.”

Whereas videogames are not only played by a much, much higher proportion of the population in the US who never shoot anything or anyone, they are also played to the same level in many countries that have no shooting problem at all. Ergo, it must be something else causing the problem.

The assessment is fine once you take into account all other factors.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I agree. The assessment is a bit small. I would rather just point out that other nations play those same games and don’t have that problem. Personally, I think violent video games help curb violence. It is an out to release some of the frustration and pent up energy. Don’t know of any study but they always helped me relax.

ECA (profile) says:

Blame game..

Always wonder about BLAME..
Like the reasoning about AUTOMATION taking over jobs..and the Corp says, there will be jobs because we need people to Maintain and Program them.. 1-6 programs for different things, and you dont need programmers anymore. Maintenance? If it breaks more then a few times per year…IT GETS REPLACED..

Cause and affect? WE can see what could/would/might/WILL happen..

Show me anything that would EQUAL the amounts of games played tot he population over the last 30 years..
WE COULD, do a few things about whats going on..the Spread of persons Doing these attacks is WIDE ranging..but most are in 1 group.. School..and GENERALLY this is already a Hard thing to deal with with TEENS.
We get Bullying, Teachers not doing anything to control situations, Problems concentrating, Hormones, and a list of others.
Lets also add HOME life..
Parents? bad marriage, Arguing, NOT home? Cant paddle kids? Not teaching respect for others? No friends? NO one to talk to, no one to give them Solutions to problems..

How many other things can we Show that could interfere with proper thinking and influence you?

Love the idea of paying Doctors to discover that your kid is NUTS..
But in allot of this I see 1 big break down, that is PROTECTED PRIVACY..there is no place that a police group can look to see IF’ you are mentally unstable. There is no way to look up your medical records.

Christenson says:

Crazy, Life-Saving Actuary

My crazy, life-saving actuary says:
30,000 firearms deaths anually
20,000 of those suicide
10,000 of those deliberate
1,000 or so of those by police bullets
100 or so of those in school shootings

Dont’cha think you’d save more *lives* if you worked on the *other* parts of the problem?

And, even if you decide school shootings *are* the most important, there’s quite a bit of evidence that *this* school shooting developed in part because the eventual shooter was mis-treated and bullied, so maybe you should work on *that* problem.

Maybe, just maybe, people should not be allowed to buy weapons and remain alone…

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Suicides

Another 20,000 or so suicides do not involve guns.

Australia’s suicide rate dropped with the firearm ban but is on the rise again.

Now I am not doing anti-terror psych work, myself (standard IANAL disclaimer). I’m only reading articles and making logical connections. I may be full of it.

When it comes to rampage killers, IRA militants and failed suicide bombers that have been interviewed (sometimes on non-hostile terms) pretty universally they’re all really-angry suicides. Yes, allegedly Stephen Paddock had an escape plan, except it wasn’t very good, and he wound up killing himself. It seems to be a common theme among killers: to go on a massacre, one must first kill the self.

So when it comes to America’s shooting problem, now that the victims of the Stoneman-Douglas shooting are demanding action, things are going to go one of two ways:

One way is we will ban some guns.

More specifically some gun parts or gun features. And that’s it.

The shooting communities will be annoyed. Criminalized parts will be hoarded by enthusiasts and black marketers. Designers both professional and amateur (now with the help of cheap 3D printers) will design workarounds and alternatives that fall outside the parameters of the banned specifications. Anyone who wants the illegal guns and is willing to keep them illegally will do so. Life will go on.

Another way is we can not ban some guns. We’ll hum and haw about maybe doing so. Maybe we’ll fail to pass a bill as we did the 2015 Assault Weapons Bill and again, nothing else will happen. Life will go on.

What we’re not going to do is take mental health seriously.

We’re not going to acknowledge that there are some really good reasons to feel angry and hopeless about life in America.

We’re not going to acknowledge that we lie to our kids.

We’re not going to acknowledge that we teach them (all of them) that they’re substandard and perverse (and that their peers are not.) Oh, and that it’s their own fault for failing to straighten up and fly right and fit into a community that doesn’t fit anyone.

And we’re not going to acknowledge that we give zero fucks for their future (whether we’re looking at ecological collapse or economic collapse or political collapse, it’s in their lifetime).

We’re definitely not going to acknowledge that these sorts of lies and betrayals are grounds for outrage and suicidal depression, given the entire society has betrayed its children for at least three generations running, now.

We’re definitely not going to acknowledge that these shooters have feelings that are justified, and if it were not their own kin and neighbors doing lying and pressuring them to toe the line, but say, agents of an occupying provisional government, we’d totally be thinking about killing them all to the last one.

But we’re not willing to actually get into the heads of killers, because, you know. After the fact, they’re killers. Monsters. Inhuman. Not like us.

But, again, I’m not a COIN psychologist. So I can’t say for sure.

Christenson says:

Re: Re: Suicides

You are right in that banning certain weapons or types or ammo types will lead to crazy behavior…but making the super-destructive stuff (and the poisonous ammo) require more than walking into a gun shop with some money might just save some lives because most of the nuts aren’t functioning all that well. Non-toxic ammo has wider benefits, too.

Not that it’s possible, in the long run, to ban weapons or types, because manufacture is getting progressively easier…3D plastic printers are within personal reach, as are CNC machine tools because the computers that operate them have become so cheap. You want a bump stock? It’s basically a piece of spring steel, stiffness-tuned to the weapon and the shooter…any competent household handyman can rig one.

But, as you say, the rest has to be behavioral:
How is it that NRA conventions have a strong statistical effect on weapons accidents? We need to take advantage of that.
There is some work being done, on a voluntary basis, to get weapons owners at risk of suicide to separate from their weapons temporarily.
Likewise, our latest shooter, and others, were outcasts among their peer groups…there was nothing there to give them a sense of belonging. Why do we allow people to walk out of shops with weapons without any sort of safety net? Why isn’t bullying recognized for the danger it becomes when there are weapons involved?

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

The Ender Threshold

I commented before about the effect that hellfire attacks from predator drones have on their pilots. Even though the pilots are very remote from the action, the consequences can be seen and recognized as real.

The next point to study is to what degree warfighting must be abstracted so that participants no longer feel an emotional connection (or video games are real enough that they do). Right now, video games err to the side of not disturbing (it’s hard to get a portrayal of realistic war past the censors, as per Six Days In Fallujah)

In fiction, we’ve examined this in movies like Wargames in which the reality / simulation of a Soviet first strike was in doubt, and later in Star Trek TNG various holodeck stories in which the projected actors were having existentialist crises when they discovered their reality was simulated.

Roger Fisher suggested in a 1981 article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that maybe the president should have to murder someone before launching a nuclear strike. Much as we want our ground units to be divorced from the emotional hazards of war, we want our commanders to be exposed to them, and understand the gravity of life and death decisions before orders to take lives are sent out.

Catgirls are Love says:

Sokath, his eyes open!

I’m certain we’ll finally get a definitive study proving that video games cause the mass shooters commonly seen in the United States just as soon as the study demonstrating how Dungeons and Dragons causes people to worship Satan is concluded. Then they can finally pump out the study on how Marilyn Manson and other musicians are corrupting the youth of today, and then the grand finale can be a demonstration of how toxic masculinity leads men to rape women all the time even when they’re not.

Ryunosuke (profile) says:

Re: A "control group" after decades of de-sensitization to violence

except its really not normal. You picked one instance out of how many gamers in the US? after how many hours of game time in the US? So ya, I don’t think that is typical at all.

also of note, “single, lonely and disturbed,” I think that had a bigger impact on his actions rather than “gaming”. Even if it was his sole actions, you are willing to condemn an entire generation because of the actions of the few (or the one)? You know who else condemned an entire group of people because of the perceived actions of a few of them? I will not tell you, I will let Mike Godwin answer that.

As a final note, Jack Thompson, why don’t you fade back into obscurity where you belong?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: A "control group" after decades of de-sensitization to violence

“You picked one instance out of how many gamers in the US?”

Probably the only one that exists. I doubt he could find 5 typical cases, certainly not ones directly connected with gaming outside of the fact that most modern teens have played games at some point in their lives. Maybe a couple of the swatting cases, but that’s really not typical of most people.

It’s sad really. Whatever age this guy is, someone was trying to blame his preferred entertainment medium for whatever evils were happening in his day, and he probably saw through it then. Guy tries killing Reagan because he was inspired by a movie? Guy was a nut, clearly, nothing to do with the movie. But the world is scary and new now, someone tries killing someone because of a game? It’s the evil games and this evil generation, ban them all!

It’s sad, but we apparently have to put up with this until the lying gets old and a new scapegoat raises its head.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: 'I reject your studies and substitute my self-rightousness'

Nah, I’ve saved several kingdoms, planets, even a galaxy or two, that’s plenty to ‘sooth the last pangs of conscience’ over killing digital people.

(Understanding the difference between fantasy and reality might help too, but I’m sure it’s of negligible importance in comparison.)

After all, if ending a digital ‘life’ is supposed to be something to feel guilty over, then saving one should more than make up for it, especially given the difference in scope.

Lawrence D’Oliveiro says:

Re: Re: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, and Germany

Lets see … Norway, Germany: less than a third of the gun ownership of the US. Finland: about a quarter. The rest even further down.

Maybe the difference is that none of those other countries has a “Second Amendment”, or an NRA sworn to “defend” it at all costs to societal well-being and freedom.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Those Same Movies And Video Games ...

“Norway, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, and Germany has access to both video games and Guns”

Not at the same level as the US, they don’t, and there’s usually strict control of ownership, storage, training, where and when they can be used or carried, etc.

“So the problem is not the firearms, it has to be something else, should it not?”

If you’re looking for THE problem, you’ll never find it. There is never a single cause. There are always going to be multiple factors in any shooting.

The thing is, whatever the other reasons for the shooting, the ease with which guns can be obtained and used is always going to be one major factor. Certainly a far, far more important factor than the killer’s choice of entertainment medium.

Ryunosuke (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Those Same Movies And Video Games ...

I agree, what I meant was basically, it’s how the US views firearms vs Europe. Also I don’t have a magic answer either, because different people in different parts of the US views firearms differently as well. Someone in NYC will view it differently than say, Fairbanks.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Those Same Movies And Video Games ...

“I agree, what I meant was basically, it’s how the US views firearms vs Europe”

Well, it’s true that they’re viewed differently across the US as they are in Europe. Rural vs urban populations, for example, seem to view them differently.

But, the gun laws do surely play a part. Federal law in the US is the same across all states, no matter how the local population views them. In Europe, there’s no real consistency – two of the countries you named aren’t even EU members – but even the most lax tends to be far more restrictive than the US.

The bottom line – even if all other things were equal, a potential shooter in the US has much easier access to weaponry than a potential shooter across the pond. You can’t really say the access doesn’t play an important part, even if you believe that there’s other cultural factors at play that might be more significant.

Lawrence D’Oliveiro says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Federal law in the US is the same across all states...

Even within the US, you can see quite significant differences in incidence of violent crime, and how they correlate to local gun laws.

For example, the gun advocates like to keep mentioning Chicago, which is in a state with strict gun laws, yet has a high incidence of violent crime. Conveniently omitting the fact that it is bordered by states with much laxer laws, so given that it cannot police its borders, it cannot stop the easy flow of weaponry to commit that violent crime.

Whereas a state like Massachusetts has neighbours with equally strict gun laws, so its rate of violent crime is low. Or Hawaii, which is not bordered by any other states at all, and so its strict gun laws work too.

That One Guy (profile) says:

If it's not games then...

Games(pen and paper, board or digital) make for convenient punching-bags as they tend not to have ‘generous’ groups supporting them that might be upset to have their product maligned.

They also serve as an easy out, if you blame the games that a violent person may or may not have played, then you don’t need to look any deeper.

Did the person have psychological issues that were missed/ignored?

Did they have a problematic home-life that was also missed/ignored?

How about influences other than games, like movies, tv and so on?

School life, how was that?

Basically were there societal influences that might have caused them to snap and decide that killing one or more people was an acceptable act, influences that might raise some uncomfortable questions and involve spreading some blame beyond just one person and one aspect of their life.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Antonin Scalia forgives Jack Bauer

It’s curious if we can take seriously the effect of media on its viewers while video games remain as a scapegoat (to divert from guns regarding rampage shootings). But we have seen incidents in which fiction has been used to justify unconscionable policy.

For me it remains a point of concern that Supreme Court Justice Scalia believed that torture as it appeared in the TV series 24 justified its use in interrogation by agents of the United States. This can be dismissed just on the basis that Scalia was invested in supporting the Bush administration’s policies (no matter how heinous), but it does raise the question of how media can influence people with power, including our highest policymakers.

To be sure, in the age of fake news and Russian troll armies, we’ve now confirmed that propaganda works. But it raises a dilemma the way guns do: do we expect the public to conduct themselves like adults and consume media critically, or do we cede that the people can’t take care of themselves, and if then who can we trust to control speech and guns, and then to govern, when no-one can be trusted with power not to use it for personal gain?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Antonin Scalia forgives Jack Bauer

I concede that no government on this planet will give anything but a brief crash-course in media awareness. You have to either be skeptical-minded from birth (most aren’t) or learn media awareness from experience or education.

So long as propaganda is used as a tool, the “wrong” propaganda, which sometimes reveals hidden facts and isn’t always lying, is always a risk to those who want to change the hearts and minds of the world.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: US Boy Kills Sister Over Video Game

Not only negligent storage but lack of education as well.

“I assume he’s seen this on video games or TV.”

Or, whichever piece of shit parent/guardian/whatever left guns lying around the house showed him. Possible which showing him how to take the safety off, although my gun knowledge is not great so I don’t know if that applies specifically here. But, it seems that either the gun was lying around loaded with the safety off, or the kid knew how to load / undo the safety (which games and TV generally don’t show you with any great detail).

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: US Boy Kills Sister Over Video Game

“They said the boy grabbed a gun”

“It was unclear how the boy obtained the gun.”

I’d say there’s more important things in the story than the name of the activity that started child siblings to start arguing. Which could have been literally anything, if I remember my relationship with my sister at that age correctly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: US Boy Kills Sister Over Video Game

"They said the boy grabbed a gun"

And the US is about the only civilized country where loaded guns are left lying about. That makes impulse use in a fit of anger or depression much more likely that in countries where the boy would have had to open the guns safe, the ammunition safe and load the gun before shooting his sister.

An Onymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: US Boy Kills Sister Over Video Game

You’re talking about movies, not games. I’ve been playing shooters (online and off) for decades and I’ve never seen (or at least do not recall seeing) any character in a video game “walk away blowing the smoke off the end”.

Yes, many games are violent in nature but upbringing taught me right and wrong. Games are entertainment, not life lessons.

Ryunosuke (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 US Boy Kills Sister Over Video Game

Re: PaulT, et al. what I meant in my earlier discussion should be applied here as well, what should be meant to say isn’t "Gun Culture" but rather National and Regional cultural views on firearms.

and yes, it should be more difficult to purchase a firearm. For example Gun Shows, IMO, Gun shows should be less like Comic Conventions, and more like E3. What I mean is you shouldn’t be able to go in and buy a firearm with little to no oversight, but rather have it as a showcase for manufacturers and dealers TO PLACE ORDERS AFTER APPROPRIATE CHECKS. ie. Close the Brady Bill Loophole, make private transactions of firearms require background checks.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 US Boy Kills Sister Over Video Game

What Ryunosuke says. That’s what I meant. And AC 20 Mar 2018 @ 8:54am, if you can’t accept that when the general consensus in society with regard to certain issues is a problem, how can you begin to address them? It seems to me that no matter how bad the status quo gets you’d rather keep things as they are than work on the attitudes that cause the problems we’re facing in the first place.

People’s attitudes to guns are the problems. Games are not responsible for attitudes, we are. If we choose to fetishise guns and violence don’t be surprised that gun violence is a problem. We don’t have that problem to the same extent that you have here in the UK, but where it is a problem it’s because guns and violence are seen as solutions.

Anonymous Coward says:

It's funny...

The publications defending gaming now were the same ones that attacked gaming for the past half decade and forced publishers and developers to bend over backwards for their censorious attitudes and opinions. Hell, the loudest voice for censorship (Anita Sarkeesian) ran to the UN going “censor the net because I don’t like having to hear criticism”. And for years Polygon, etc were going “video games cause violence and are linked to mass shootings!”

Now that a Republican, especially Trump, is saying the EXACT SAME THINGS that they were saying and using to force publishers and devs to censor their games, they’re going “No! No! He’s wrong! We’re on your side, consumers! We’re against censorship!”

As Randy Harper once famously said “You made your bed, now get fucked in it!”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: It's funny...

Criticism isn’t violence, as much as I’m sure governments around the world would love it to be.

They’re useful idiots for governments who want their citizens silenced easily. That’s why they were given a platform, and the same thing is happening now with SESTA/FOSTA.

They want to keep the “wrong” speech offline for good.

Phalen (user link) says:

Re: It's funny...

Hell, the loudest voice for censorship (Anita Sarkeesian) ran to the UN going "censor the net because I don’t like having to hear criticism". And for years Polygon, etc were going "video games cause violence and are linked to mass shootings!"

I had to look up what you’re talking about here and this is an astounding display of a double-standard. As far as I can tell, Anita Sarkeesian is a video game critic who examines games through the lens of an academic feminist. Yet you accuse her of a being a "voice for censorship" because you don’t like hearing her criticism?

Do you see the conflict?

Oh, is it because you’re parroting somebody else when you use the word censorious and you don’t realize that it has nothing to do with the word censor and its definition?

As for Polygon, all I’m turning up when cross-referencing with "video games cause violence" through Google is article after article pointing out that there are no statistical correlations and how is it that we can still be having this debate?

Nevertheless, I’ve already come across some articles at Polygon about retro gaming and nostalgia that I’m really enjoying. So… thanks for bringing them up for no reason?

Randy Harper

Who the fuck are all these people and websites you’re bringing up in the comments to an article that mentions none of them?!

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Anita Sarkeesian

Sarkeesian was an academic feminist critic of video games who released a series on the portrayal of females in video games during the aughts (and there was a lot to criticize).

Then she became the target of a lot of hostility and online abuse from sectors that would later be associated with the alt-right, and there is a lot of crossover between victims of cyber-abuse, prevention of cyberbullying and calls for censorship. Though I’m not sure they’re the same thing, and I’m pretty sure Sarkeesian is not the most vocal figure in the diagram.

And yes, it does suck hate groups and bullies fall on the more-liberty side of the speech dialog. And so far we don’t really have a solution for mobs of abusive jerks on the internet who attack critics of video games (or attack critics of Trump for that matter)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Anita Sarkeesian - the Donald Trump of feminism

I think that a big reason why Anita Sarkeesian has drawn so much hostility is that people hate liars and charlatans.

For instance, she has been recorded saying in public speeches that she was an avid player of video games her whole life, and that was the driving force behind her reason to become a game activist, in a quest to make video games more female-friendly.

Yet she said in an apparently hidden camera recording that she had in fact never played video games until she started critiquing them (at the age of about 30) and thus had to spend time learning gameplay, starting from the most novice level, before she felt up to the task of making a documentary about them.

Sarkeesian contradicted herself as well as made material mis-representations of fact numerous times, which she has (apparently) never owned up to — despite these ‘proofs’ of her duplicity being all over the internet. I think it’s many of the same reasons why Donald Trump generates so much hatred from people — even fellow Republicans — because he’ll say one thing one day and then completely contradict himself at a later date, leading many people to conclude that he’s not only a consummate liar, but completely unapologetic when caught. Personality-wise, Anita Sarkeesian and Donald Trump seem to have much in common.

Anonymous Coward says:

Waste of Money...

I think we’ve had just about enough of these studies. The results are replicable, the peer reviews are done. Can we just conclude once and for all, scientifically, that video games don’t affect behaviour and not spend another dime trying to defend ourselves against this shit?

Let the morons who refuse to listen to the truth continue to waste their own money on their own studies (which will, inherently, be rife with bias and sloppy methodology, they always are,) but as for the rest of us, this money would better be spent on more graphics cards, RAM and Steam sales.

If they ban our games, we’ll defy the law and get them anyway. If we can’t legally buy them, we’ll still download hash-verified copies of them. If we need to tunnel through a VPN for online multiplayer, so be it.

The video game market is probably even bigger than the cannabis market and I’ve never had any trouble getting weed, so you know we won’t have any trouble getting video games if they’re suddenly banned. The market will make sure their product gets into our hands one way or another. Besides, this is art. I’m certain there will be a good number of developers who will openly welcome us downloading, distributing and playing their games as an act of civil disobedience against our government.

Anonymous Coward says:

New game this fall – All The Presidents Goons

You play the part of a presidential contender surrounded by some really fine people and must win the election at any cost.

There are plenty of side quests, including paying off prostitutes, golfing, twitter storms and there is even a quest to shoot someone in the middle of main street.

Also, this just announced – your military parade will feature tanks ripping the roads to shreds

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Gun Culture

The trend of gun ads equating gun ownership with masculinity (essentially you aren’t a real man without our new Bushmaster AR-15-compatable rifle) and the trend among gun owners to exercise their rights with blatant carelessness (such as leaving loaded handguns on the coffee table) are odd, unsettling trends in the US.

I grew up with rites about guns that are now associated with libertarianism, though my family didn’t identify as libertarians: all guns were loaded all the time, but were then regarded with the care with which one should handle a loaded weapon: secured when not in the hands, never pointed without an intent to shoot. Owners knew how to break down and maintain their weapons. They were returned to storage condition before returned to the gun rack. Kids and newbs were introduced to guns in steps they way they’d be introduced to horses or motor vehicles. (My cousin recycled casings and packed his own bullets.)

There are still people who handle guns with the same degree of reverence and care, but there’s also some people who don’t.

And we don’t really have data as to if rampage killers spawn from one set or the other, or both.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: gun owners seeing themselves as a crucial element in preve

The fun part is that it seems that most of the gun fetishists who think that their arsenal is all that stands between them and a police state are the same ones who support the US having its military funded at a higher rate than the next 10 largest militaries combined. Yeah, good luck with that if the government did decide to turn on you…

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The private arsenal as defense against tyranny

Firearms are common self-defense or individual infantry weapons, and as such are not the crucial element that will fight tyranny. They’ll be nice to have around in a jam, but will be secondary weapons at best.

What is important is public access to all the knowledge the military has, and that’s a provision that has long been betrayed, partially because our officials and law enforcement believe they are and should be privileged over their civilian counterparts. Fortunately, a lot of that information trickles out to the public anyway thanks to the internet, but not legally. The critical element of the second amendment — that the people have access to everything the state and military have access to — is already compromised.

A resistance war against the state would not be fought as a stand-up pitched battle, but as a sabotage and liberation campaign by guerilla irregulars. And the US military, as grand as it is, is designed to fight standing armies.

The US DoD method of fighting terrorists / resistance is to give no fucks about the civilians we kill and burn them out, hoping we get some actual targets in the blast. We’ve talked about it before in what’s called targeted killings which differ from assassination in that the latter aims to minimize casualties and just get the intended target. The former is using intel to determine the location of the target, and then bombing the hell out of that site.

(Sun Tzu has a few things to say about indiscriminate sieges. Mostly avoid.)

Yes, that’s pretty much US drone strike policy. I get the feeling that if our drone pilots were told to lay down Hellfires on Americans, there’d be a lot of mutiny.

Actually, a lot of mutiny is typically what happens when military is sent in to aggressively control the people. No army likes to kill their own countrymen.

And curiously, all the extra money we budget for the military is earmarked for fancy fighters and invisible tanks. We budget as if we’re prepping to fight Russia or China on a pitched theater. In Afghanistan or Pakistan the US is fighting infantry hiding in jungle and mountains, for which tanks and planes are much less useful. The DoD should be beefing up its infantry.

And yet, US military families still have to construct home-made body armor supplements and ship them abroad, because proper armor and protection against IEDs is not in the military budget. We’re still using Humvees with Rino retrofits rather than provide our troops with transports that actually resist IEDs.

(This has been a pet peeve of mine since I had a friend who suffered a TBI in the aughts. We expected tons of advancements in treatment of TBIs since they’re the most common injury coming out of Afghanistan. But it appears the DVA has been telling vets to just walk it off and don’t talk about it much to family.)

So I get the feeling that when the American resistance gets going, it’s going to be a long quagmire of attrition, and yeah, those private weapons collections are going to become useful, just not useful for attacking. And what army doesn’t mutiny and join the resistance is going to have to slaughter Americans and get no thanks for it.

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

Re: Re: Gun Culture

And, of course, this gun culture with its emphasis on thinking about guns every minute, got to have a better assault weapon than the liberal next door, shooting every bunny that moves, “Do you feel lucky punk?”, got to save ourselves from the commies, etc., would never influence behavior of the individual.

As opposed to those evil violent video games, which instantly turn players into the raging insane, right?

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Gun Culture

The trend of gun ads equating gun ownership with masculinity (essentially you aren’t a real man without our new Bushmaster AR-15-compatable rifle) and the trend among gun owners to exercise their rights with blatant carelessness (such as leaving loaded handguns on the coffee table) are odd, unsettling trends in the US.

That’s what I’ve been referring to as “gun culture” and that is where the problem lies. When “gun” means “problem solved” that’s the problem. Add to that a casual disregard for the welfare of others, particularly if they’re not your friends or neighbours, in the name of “rugged individualism” and you’ll find you’re sitting on a tyre fire that ain’t likely to go out any time soon.

I believe we need to promote a more caring society, but how? When apathy and selfishness are the order of the day, good luck with that.

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