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Salvius (salvius) wrote,
@ 2003-10-06 16:50:00
Previous Entry  Add to memories!  Add to Topic Directory  Tell a Friend!  Next Entry

    More video game news.
    Video games train young killers, period

    Yet another dimtwit thinks that playing video games turns young people into amoral killing machines. Jesus Chocolate-Covered Christ.

    This is going to be a long one, folks.



    “killed by a teen trained on the violent video game Doom.”
    “These boys had trained for months on Doom”

    Third sentence of the piece, and already we have a problem: The skills necessary to play Doom have very little to do with the skills necessary to actually shoot people. Doom is a pseudo-3D first-person game, in which you aim your “gun” by turning your entire view from side to side (not up-and-down, mind you – there’s no height dimension in Doom). This will not teach you to aim an actual gun unless you are in some sort of neck/back brace preventing you from looking up or down, and you have your gun strapped to your nose.

    “an interactive murder simulator that makes killing fun, efficient and remorseless.”

    If Doom is an interactive murder simulator, then so are the shooting galleries you find at amusement parks and county fairs. Doom is just a somewhat more sophisticated version of the basic “shoot things that jump out at you” game play. Shooting galleries are even arguably worse, since you have to learn to hold, aim, and fire something like an actual gun. They’ve apparently been around since 1400 (http://www.shootinggalleries.com/) - where are all the cases of sociopathic killers inspired by these earlier interactive murder simulators?

    “The institute takes your taxpayer dollars and hires video game industry software geniuses to design its killing simulation “games,” which are used to desensitize teen recruits to acts of violence to get them, in combat, to kill.”

    Ok, first I’ll put scare quotes around “games”, to imply that they’re not that innocent, then I’ll just completely make up an unflattering-sounding motivation/purpose behind these simulations – to “desensitize teen recruits”.

    What a crock of shit. Let’s see what we can learn by doing some actual research, shall we? Ok, there’s an AP release on 10/2 that talks about this program (perhaps that inspired our buddy Jack here to mention it in this 10/6 article). Here, we learn they are working on two big projects: “Full Spectrum Command”, which trains commanders to lead 120-man light infantry companies, and “Full Spectrum Warrior”, which is the one that “The industry then distributes the same games to teen civilians” (it’s coming out for the Xbox). This game, we read, trains squad leaders to command a 9-man squad. “"It's not really about shooting at things," Macedonia said. "Learning how to shoot your weapon is easy. The challenging thing is leading."” I guess, then, that sometime after this game is released, we should expect ten teenagers somewhere to form a squad and go on a killing spree.

    “The heads of six major health-care organizations testified jointly before Congress in June 2000 that there is a direct causal link between violent video games and violence.”

    And they were wrong. Or lying. This study had just been published in April 2000, and from it the authors conclude:
    1) violent video game play was positively related to aggressive behavior and delinquency.
    2) Academic achievement was negatively related to overall amount of time spent playing video games.
    3) exposure to a graphically violent video game increased aggressive thoughts and behavior.

    Problems with each of these conclusions:
    1) A positive correlation is not a “direct causal link”. For example, the same data would be consistent with the hypothesis that delinquents and people with aggressive personalities are more likely to seek out and play violent video games.
    2) Wow, kids’ grades suffer if they spend too much time playing video games instead of studying. Alert the Nobel committee.
    3) If you actually read the whole report, you will learn that this is a short-term effect (as in, within a few minutes after playing the violent video game). I’ve seen other studies of aggression where they continue testing periodically over a length of time to see how long the effect lasts. Shame they didn’t do that here.

    There are actually several other problems with #3, but you have to read the whole experimental protocol to find them. There, you will find this astounding statement:
    “The goal of the pilot study was to select a pair of games that differed primarily in amount of violence. The goal was best achieved by pairing of Myst and Wolfenstein 3D.” Myst and Wolfenstein 3D? These games have absolutely nothing in common – most significantly, since the subsequent test for aggressive behavior involved a reaction time trial, Myst contains absolutely no element of reaction time. Leaving variables that blatant unaccounted for does not fill me with confidence in the results of this experiment, or in the conclusions they draw from them. You may also want to take a look at http://www.newmediastudies.com/effects1.htm

    “A study conducted at Indiana University proves the games actually cause brain damage in kids at the cellular level.”

    Let’s see... I can find a study that shows a difference in brain activation in kids who had already been diagnosed with Disruptive Behavior Disorders. I can find a vague reference to what seems to be the same study, but is here characterized as “brain activity decreased in the areas associated with learning and emotions while youths watched violent games”. I can see here what seems to be the same study again, this time characterized as “Recently released medical studies indicate that violent video games damage the brain, possibly permanently”. But do you really want to base your opinions on material from a website associated with Lyndon LaRouche? Seems to be a basic misunderstanding of what those MRIs actually measure, anyway. “Decreased activity” does not equal “brain damage.”

    “A recent Gallup Poll found that 71 percent of all teen-age boys have played the Grand Theft Auto games, and Gallup found that they are twice as likely to engage in acts of violence than those who have not played that game.”

    Which may mean that kids who are violent in real life are more likely to seek out and play violent video games. And incidentally, that “engage in acts of violence” there, if you find out what the poll actually asked, meant that twice as many kids who admitted to having been in a fight in the last year had also played GTA. And, as the Gallup editor points out for the terminally stupid, “the data can't demonstrate causality -- boys who are more prone to fighting may simply be more attracted to violent video games.” Although even this editor misses another possibility – that kids who have become scrawny and helpless by playing video games instead of engaging in physical activity may be more likely to get beaten up. The study apparently didn’t ask who started those fights.



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