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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/10434/dont-regulate-video-game-violence/

Don’t Regulate Video Game Violence

August 10, 2009 by

Whether there is a real, causal relationship between video games and violence, or whether that relationship is correlation, is a deeper and more complex issue. For example, another plausible explanation is that the people who are likely to commit crimes are also likely to be attracted to violent video games. Therefore, what we observe is simply correlation, with both phenomena being explained by a common third factor.

The hypothesis that video games cause crime is further complicated by the idea that violent video games might actually serve as a substitute for violent crime — that is, people who are likely to commit violent crimes might be able to get their violence “fix” by playing video games instead of committing crimes. Regulating video games would thus treat a symptom of the disease, but not the disease itself. Moreover, if video games are indeed a substitute for real-life violence, regulating the games might even make violence worse. FULL ARTICLE

{ 22 comments }

gregorylent August 10, 2009 at 7:50 am

imagine you sell advertising on video games or television .. are you going to tell your customers that maybe their advertising will have no effect?

anon August 10, 2009 at 9:12 am

This is a recent study which provide better evidence that a causal link could exist between violent video games and violent behaviour:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn8449-violent-video-games-alter-brains-response-to-violence.html

But it’s like that Calvin and Hobbes strip:

“Graphic violence in the media.

Does it glamorize violence? Sure.

Does it desensitize us to violence? Of course.

Does it help us tolerate violence? You bet.

Does it stunt our empathy for our fellow human beings? Heck yes.

Does it cause violence? Well, that’s hard to prove.

The trick is to ask the right question :D”

kelan manning October 7, 2010 at 9:44 pm

You are the most ignorant fucking faggot I have ever encountered.

Harry Valentine August 10, 2009 at 9:30 am

The Movie entitled BIRTH OF A NATION appeared during the roaring 1920′s and depicted the black man as a despicable savage who violated white women. In many cities where white male audiences had viewed that moive, they went on a mob rampage attacking (and even killing) black men. The National Party of South Africa included the theme from BIRTH OF A NATION during the election of 1948, promising to protect white women.

The events that occured in many American cities after that movie played demonstrated that the theme of a movie can influence human behaviour . . . even insight mob behaviour.

Vitor August 10, 2009 at 10:33 am

If video game caused violence, Japan should have very high homicides rates, but ops, it’s actually the opposite.

Russ August 10, 2009 at 10:55 am

The fact that video games may inspire (I refuse to use the word “cause” here) some to commit acts of violence is irrelevant. Nabakov’s “Lolita” or Thomas Harris’ “Hannibal” may inspire some people to commit child molestation or serial killing, but that doesn’t mean these works should be censored. We already have laws against acts of violence, so nothing more is needed. Laws against violent video games would only violate the rights of the game players who don’t commit acts of violence, as well as the game producers.

Matt August 10, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Don’t Regulate Video Game Violence.?
It has come to this now that Government regulations
have invaded all of our lives in so many ways.
There was a time when parents were in control of the upbringing of their children, now through public education government is the big gorilla in the room.
The mere fact that this is an issue in the first place
shows how far we have become slaves of the State.
Look at how Keynesianism has penetrated the education system and where that has brought the nation. Von Mises could not even get his toe into public education. Video Game Violence ? The house is burning down and we talk this subject?

Russ August 10, 2009 at 1:11 pm

Matt wrote:

“The house is burning down and we talk this subject?”

I agree and disagree. I agree that there are more “burning” issues (pun intended) to be addressed. But all forms of socialism or totalitarianism (and regulating peoples’ leisure time is pretty totalitarian) need to be fought. If having the State controlling kid’s schooling isn’t bad enough, can you imagine what the world would be like if, say, Al Gore were in control of all video game content? Kids would be playing games involving getting “earth points” for hugging trees, saving snail darters, sorting their garbage, and boycotting Starbucks. Now that would be an Orwellian nightmare!

Larry Ruane August 10, 2009 at 1:12 pm

Just after the Columbine shootings, this topic was being discussed on a talk radio program here in Denver, and a teenaged caller said his best friend loves video games, in particular he spent hours playing Doom (which the Columbine killers allegedly played extensively). The caller said he would often sit next to his friend while he played, and recently (at that time), a spider began crawling across the keyboard. His friend paused the game, got a little cup and scooped up the spider, took it outside and let it go, and then resumed the game.

Russ August 10, 2009 at 1:43 pm

I used to love Doom. My favorite thing to do was to use cheat codes, then play with only the chainsaw. It took longer, but it was fun! And I haven’t killed anybody in real life yet.

I’ll bet if they came out with a version of Doom where the bad guys were all industrialists, Republicans and Christians, instead of demons, the socialists would have no problem with it whatsoever! In fact, I would predict brisk sales in that circle.

Joe Stoutenburg August 10, 2009 at 3:09 pm

Would-be regulators have competition from another government agency that thinks it’s okay to use video games to encourage killing.

Lee Kelly August 10, 2009 at 3:10 pm

Perhaps George Bush played too much Command & Conquer. And maybe Obama has been playing too much Civilisation or Sim City.

FarSide August 10, 2009 at 3:29 pm

@Lee:

Best thing I’ve read all day!

If someone does something violent, they are responsible. Not the book or news story or video game they saw before it. There are already enough laws dealing with violent acts.

But then, isn’t that the SOP? Just start sub-dividing everything that is illegal to make it “extra” illegal, or outlaw things that criminals might use.

Reckless driving: illegal. Reckless driving on your cell phone: extra illegal.

Killing someone: illegal. Killing someone because you hate them: extra illegal

I’m sure you can think of others..

greg August 10, 2009 at 3:45 pm

On national healthcare, I think everyone should have to pay for their own heathcare insurance. The rate should be based on how well you take care of yourself and family. And if you allow your kids to sit in front of a video game without proper daily exercise, they you pay more.

Why should my insurance rate be the same as the family that have overweight kids? What about my rights?

My problem is not with video content, my problem is with parents that will not act as parents. Freedom does not give you the right to be stupid when your stupid actions effects the rights of others.

Artisan August 10, 2009 at 4:06 pm

I’m not into video games at all. I dislike those involving realistic killing scenarios but in fact don’t know much about them. Still I like the topic.

Russ may have an impoprtant philosophical point : it’s very much a question of pure free will. Who cares if 9 players should be more inclined to violence when one person manages through the same game to actually overcome the stimulus of agression and say… actually control it better!

Yes, in some ways free will and freedom is more important than life I guess! My conviction.

Zach Bibeault August 10, 2009 at 10:23 pm

Even more important: whenever I hear of cases like this where people claim that they have to restrict liberty in order to decrease socially non-optimal outcomes, I always think back to Rothbard’s irrefutable example of how this logic is evil: Rothbard gave the example of how, statistically, blacks commit the most crimes in urban environments. Could it not be argued, by the video game banners’ logic, that we should lock away all blacks in urban areas and thus reduce crime?

I think it was “For a New Liberty” where Rothbard gave that example — that example was one of the key analogies that converted me to radical libertarianism.

Michael Wagner August 11, 2009 at 6:45 am

It seems to me that the studies should concentrate on answering this question:what percentage of gamers go on to commit violent crimes? Is this percentage higher that the rest of the population?
My own opinion is that violent video games, boxing matches, hockey games, etc. have the effect of what I call “vicarious satisfaction of the blood lust.” Humans evolved from hunters. We have in our DNA the need to kill things in order eat. I call this instinctive drive “blood lust.” It is no longer needed on our society, but it still must be satisfied. Vicarious satisfaction works fine for me, and I’m sure for many others. When I feel the need to kill or tear apart someone or something, I watch a football game. After 3 hours of shouting “Kill the quarterback” at the TV, I can relax and get a good night’s sleep without any further violent thoughts. I’m sure violent video games have the same effect on the majority of gamers. Only those few for whom vicarious satisfaction doesn’t work will go on to act out their violent fantasies, and they would do so in the absence of the games.
If violent games cause violent behavior, we would expect to see ratios like “95% of gamers commit murder.” It’s not like that. The percentage of gamers who actually commit violent acts is very low, certainly less than 1%.
As for policy, we shouldn’t “throw the baby out with the bath water.” For the 99.9 (or whatever) percent of gamers for whom vicarious satisfaction is enough we should be encouraging their gaming, not attempting to deny them their outlet.
The same idea also applies to drugs. Drug warriors claim marijuana is a “gateway” drug because 90+% of heroin addicts started with marijuana. So? 99.99% of heroin addicts brushed their teeth as teenagers. Do we outlaw the brushing of teeth because it causes heroin addiction? Study the ratio the other way. What percentage of marijuana users end up addicted to heroin? A very tiny fraction, and those would have ended up addicted to something even without the intermediate step of marijuana.

Colin Duesterhaus August 11, 2009 at 5:15 pm

This article is very interesting and definitely has some good points. I just have a question that I have been pondering about that I really need to ask. With games like WoW, Halo, and other strategy/shooter games do they not also encourage the need for a state? So do we indirectly support the need of a state when we play a game that I have mention or I am just a lost insane person who needs to be shown the path of enlightenment?

Please help mend the mind of a very confused soul with your explanations.

Arnoll August 12, 2009 at 7:53 am

Sim City definitely makes people more inclined to state planning. When i turned from socialist to libertarian, it took away much of the fun from the game….
Try to imagine a libertarian sim city. There would be only one button, the tax button – which would incidentally be locked at zero..

Colin Duesterhaus August 12, 2009 at 9:12 am

Yeah I don’t believe the video game industry would ever be inclined to make a libertarian game, unless it was set in a kind of first person survival of the fittest. But I guess I should probably be less vague with my question. So here is another try at it. In games like a halo you are super power military dude who has been tested by the gov’t since you were a kid. Now you have real life kids who are playing theses games who would think it be cool if these games could become reality, so do we indirectly or directly support the need of a central gov’t? I am just going to give one other example before I am done ranting. In games like Sim city, Age of Empires, and other strategy games where you are the overlord looking down on your minions, if you are not informed in the Libertarian way of thinking are more prone to believe the necessity of having a centralized state?

Comments are welcome.

SirThinkALot March 3, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Video games are the latest thing that the establishment can blame ‘devient behavior’(as defined by the establishment of course) on. In the 1910′s it was movies, in the ’20s it was liquor, in the ’50s it was comic books, in the ’60s-70s it was rock music, in the 80′s it was DnD and other similar pen and paper games.

I’m sure when the next ‘big thing’(whatever that is) comes around, the powers that be will forget all about video games. Hopefull the forgetting will happen before they get a chance to do what they did to liquor or comics.

Game Tester Jobs February 12, 2011 at 4:23 am

I think video game violence is highly overrated because it is the parents that buy these games for their children. So the problem with the violence in video games is the parents allowing that kind of media being introduced to a child that mentally can’t process and be responsible about.

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