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The Right Tempo A blog by Felipe M. G. Ceotto

I've been trying not to get into this subject because it's just like discussing football or religion but reading this article today I couldn't help myself. The UK government is doing (another) study about the effects of violent computer games on children and young people. My guess is that the results will be either inconclusive or presented in a way that allows people to doubt them because one of the interested parts was responsible for them as well.

While reading the opinions I give here, please take into consideration that I know nothing about psychology and I don't have children. But I do know games and I've played them since I was a kid. I've even studied them and learned how to make them, although I can't call myself a game designer or a game developer (not yet, anyway).

Let's take the case of Stefan Pakeerah who was horribly murdered by a friend with a claw hammer. I am very sorry for this kid and for his parents and friends and of course I don't support whoever it was that committed the murder but what strikes me as odd is that Stefan Pakeerah's mother "called for violent video games to be banned" because the kid who confessed to the murder played Manhunt.

That is odd to me because we all should know better: unfortunately or not (and I'm not here to discuss that) violence is everywhere and it has always been. We can see it on TV, we can see it in Nature, and we can see it in people's acts, art, video games, cinema, pretty much everywhere. If you don't agree with that statement, no problem - I'm not even sure if I agree -, but I'm sure you will agree that violence is present in a lot of different places and that people in general (including children) have access to demonstrations of violence from time to time. That doesn't mean that everybody that is exposed to a demonstration of violence will be violent too. Otherwise everybody would have violent behaviour and that is definitely not true. A lot of kids played Manhunt all over the world and they didn't went out to commit murder, so I'm guessing there must be something else wrong with that kid that confessed to the murder besides playing a violent game, wouldn't you agree? So the trigger could have been the game, a movie, or nothing at all... right?

I have played my share of violent games including some that I shouldn't have, according to their classification. When I was 17 I played Carmageddon, a very violent race game which was banned for minors, and I've played all the Grand Theft Auto games that were released for PC, for instance. These are pretty violent games and you could say that they encourage questionable (not to say worse) behaviour inside the game. The point is that I didn't go out after playing these games to commit crimes and I didn't take my car and started running people on the streets. I didn't even feel that it would be something I'd want to do: it is a lot of fun in the game and I loved all those games but it has nothing to do with my "real life". I've been playing Need For Speed: Most Wanted for a while now, and I go out from home after playing it to drive my car but I don't feel the need to race with it. Got my point?

Blaming a violent game (a movie, book, TV show, music or whatever) for a murder is in my opinion a lame excuse. I'm not denying that they can trigger violent behaviour in some people, but they are not to blame. Anything can trigger violent behaviour in the wrong person. I'm all for classifying correctly the games and making sure that kids don't have access to material they shouldn't but banning a game completely because it is violent is unnecessary. Several studies were already done on the subject of if a game can provoke violent behaviour but a recent journal was published with a meta-analysis of these studies and it basically demonstrated that no current study was reliable enough to provide definite results to one side or the other. To quote an article written about this journal, "the overall conclusion is that there does appear to be a connection between violent games and violent thoughts in a laboratory setting. But the connections between such thoughts and violent behaviour in the lab or elsewhere are tenuous at best. The studies that try to address those questions currently suffer from a lack of a standardized measure of violent behaviour and a lack of sufficient background on other potential influences on the test subjects' tendencies towards violence, such as family environment".

So, since we live in a society where, very intelligently, everybody (and everything) is innocent until proven guilty, until someone actually proves that violent games are a direct path to actual violence, let's not condemn the games, ok?! They are fun and they are cool. :) And I hope my prediction of the results of the new study requested by the UK government is wrong and that this study gets to conclusive results so we can end the discussion.

Wanna play Manhunt 2? :D

Update (2007-10-11 15:02): Please read the article "Playing games with freedom" as well which is much better than mine and with the same point of view (almost). :)

Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2007 11:43 AM Game Development , Games | Back to top

Comments on this post: Game Violence

# re: Game Violence
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"Anything can trigger violent behaviour in the wrong person."

Concordo com isso. Realmente acho que a violência que compõe qualquer jogo, filme, livro, novela, jornal,... enfim, só será mesmo um problema para a sociedade, se alguma pessoa não muito bem equilibrada, ou com valores deturpados, ou que não tenha tido uma boa educação, fizer dela um problema. Também sou fissurados em jogos e filmes violentos, apesar de odiar a parte policial do jornal. Eu adoro violência ficção.
Creio que anos de GTA, aumentaram minha criatividade assassina. =D
E isso para uma pessoa que não está muito bem da cabeça, com certeza não faz bem.

Agora, eu nunca me envolvi em uma briga de verdade. Nunca dei um soco em alguém, tampouco levei um. "Clube da luta" me fez sentir falta disso.

Só isso mesmo...

Ahhh... nunca ouvi falar desse jogo. Vou procurar ele depois.
Left by Tiago F. Borges on Oct 23, 2007 6:59 PM

# re: Game Violence
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Tiago: obrigado pelo bom e construtivo comentário.
Em um outro ponto de vista, vale a pena ler o artigo "Somewhere Deep Down, We Still Care. Don't We?" publicado na Wired online por Tony Long.

Left by Felipe Ceotto on Oct 26, 2007 2:24 PM

# re: Game Violence
Requesting Gravatar...
Olha que legalzaço isso também:

Mesmo assim, não acredito numa isenção total. Não é o caso de uma coisa levar à outra (tipo a análise feita nesse link aí), mas também não estruturei um argumento, que seria mais ou menos na linha (*exemplo*): uma arma não faz com que uma pessoa que não seja violenta se torne violenta, mas eu não quero uma arma perto de uma pessoa num momento ruim (momento ruim todo mundo tem), seja ela boazinha ou ruinzinha. Como eu disse, não parei pra pensar em detalhes, mas é um raciocínio semelhante que me faz achar que jogos violentos têm um lado ruim, sim.

PS: Isso, deixando totalmente de lado (acredite em mim! :)) o fato de que eu acho violência gratuita uma coisa completamente imbecil e desnecessária. :D
Left by Hervan on Nov 19, 2007 9:55 AM

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