On Youth and Violence

Running at the gym after work I got the pleasure to see something on some random news hour from a US station. In it they featured some Society Against Violence (or something like that) who banded together with police to alert people about the dangers of ….. Video Games. They had some poster child for being kicked out of even the geekiest D&D circles standing at a podium in front of a bunch of cops and concerned looking mothers saying how “this game, if you can even call it that…” is violent and awful and horrible and will turn your kids into killers because it gives you points for killing cops and doing other horrible violent acts. Also it mentiones the recent sting operations that have allowed people below the approved age to buy “M” rated games at stores (duh).

I think even the local Vancouver media has mentioned this, I remember a picture on the front page of The Province that was a screenshot from the game.

To give a short aside, I started playing violent evil first person shooters around 1991 when Wolf3d came out, and continued through Doom I/II, Quake I/II/III and so on, and I’m not a killer. In fact, I think that anyone who thinks it’s a good idea (or cool, or fun) to kill anyone, much less cops, has serious mental problems and their video game playing habits most likely have nothing to do with anything.

Anyway, it struck me as completely ironic that people are talking about the dangers of these video games when we have just finished, or hell, are still in the midst of, a war, or combat operations, or non-major combat operations, whatever W wants to call it. Weeks of reports from reporters embedded in platoons of people whose job was to go and kill other people, grainy green night vision shots of soldiers firing automatic weapons into the darkness, or of tanks rolling through city streets, or burnt out hulks of tanks. Hell at one point the “news” stations were parading the images of the dead sons of Saddam across their screens.

Maybe they should clean their own house before going after video games. At least video games aren’t the real life violence that they are exposed to by the news every day.

2 Comments on “On Youth and Violence”

  1. I’ve always thought that video games are great ways for a society to sublimate otherwise violent behaviours. Kinda like how football is a substitute for going out and beating the crap out of people. You get to kinda live through someone else, see violence on TV without it actually being “real”.
    This debate is kinda like the old D&D debate. All of these religious groups and parents were afraid that their kids were becoming crazy and killing themselves because of D&D. Then they did a study and statistical analysis and found that, oops, D&D actually drastically lowers teen suicide, depression, etc. because you get to role-play out your problems, fears, desires, and depression.
    Also, I love the studies that basically show that TV shows promote violence. No word of a lie, I saw one whose conclusion was that after being force-fed 3 hours of teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and then put on a playground, kids were more likely to “act out” violent scenes from what they saw. No shit! After watching TMNT, kids were more likely to act like TMNT?? Wow, what a revelation. What the study didn’t say was whether that was a good or bad thing. What if acting like the TMNT actually helped kids feel powerful and good about themselves, or helped them understand real violence better, or gave them more psychological tools to deal with real life in various ways. Most of the studies done are simply correlating behaviours, not necessarily seeing of those behaviours lead to other positive effects.
    Kids that go and shoot other kids are doing it for a bunch of different reasons. Video game playing is not one of them.

  2. Agreed. The other thing that pisses me off is that probably 70% of the tv shows in “prime time” (read: when the family is watching) are so called “reality shows” which of course, have nothing to do with reality. Not only that, but they promote deception, backstabbing, and the “one winner all others are losers” mentality”. This of course, is all good television (because no one would watch a show about people helping other people and everyone being a winner… I think there was a king of the hill relating to that, when bobby took up soccer, but I digress), but doesn’t do much to enhance how children see the world.
    We have enough problems with people fucking each other over to get ahead, why the hell are we pumping onto the TV this same idea day in and day out. Not only that, but the so called reality tv shows have started (IMHO) their downward trend by starting to parody themselves (joe millionaire, joe schmo) and are even worse.
    This is why my parents didn’t get a TV until I was 12 or 13, and quite honestly I can probably say I’d do the same when I have kids, assuming that the TV landscape looks like it does today.