Synyster Graves

The Genesis of Aggression, apparently…

by on Nov.12, 2010, under Games vs "Science"

Recently, I’ve been fighting back against all this incomprehensible nonsense dictating that video games cause violence and aggression. I’ve read many, many articles on the internet that are grossly misinformed and create ludicrous assumptions, of which I feel the gaming community are unrepresented. Today I came across quite possibly the most objective and diluted argument I think I’ve ever seen since writing articles on this subject and it’s blogged here.

I have never in my life read such a one sided pile of dogshit in my life and I feel that this is just another example of the video game hate mob getting their facts from opinion instead of research and it just angers me that posting such subjects up online, many easily influenced idiots will take it as gospel. I have no problem with people voicing their opinions online, that’s why I made this site, but what I do object to is the utter crap which circulates with unfounded views and inflammatory language. Anyways, without further ado, here is an exerpt from the article in question:

“There is a huge hype surrounding the launch of every new game system – Game Cube, XBox, and Sony Playstation 2 being just few of the latest. Affecting children age 4 all the way to 45 year-old adults, these video games have called for concern in our society regarding issues such as addiction, depression, and even aggression related to the playing of video games. A recent study of children in their early teens found that almost a third played video games daily, and that 7% played for at least 30 hours a week. What is more, some of these games being played like Mortal Combat, Marvel Vs. Capcom, and Doom are very interactive in the violence of slaughtering the opponent. The video game industries even put signs like “Real-life violence” and “Violence level – not recommended for children under age of 12″ on their box covers, arcade fronts, and even on the game CDs themselves.

In the modern popular game Goldeneye 007 bad guys no longer disappear in a cloud of smoke when killed. Instead they perform an elaborate maneuver when killed. For example, those shot in the neck fall to their knees and then face while clutching at their throats. Other games such as Unreal Tournament and Half-Life are gorier. In these games when characters get shot a large spray of blood covers the walls and floor near the character, and on the occasions when explosives are used, the characters burst into small but recognizable body parts. In spite of the violence, the violent video games are also the more popular games on the market. When video games first came out, indeed they were addictive… however, there seems to be a strong correlation now between the violent nature of games these days and the aggressive tendencies in game players.

On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold launched an assault on Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, murdering 13 and wounding 23 before turning the guns on themselves. Although nothing is for certain as to why these boys did what they did, we do know that Harris and Klebold both enjoyed playing the bloody, shoot-’em-up video game Doom, a game licensed by the U.S. military to train soldiers to effectively kill. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, which tracks Internet hate groups, found in its archives a copy of Harris’ web site with a version of Doom. He had customized it so that there were two shooters, each with extra weapons and unlimited ammunition, and the other people in the game could not fight back. For a class project, Harris and Klebold made a videotape that was similar to their customized version of Doom. In the video, Harris and Klebold were dressed in trench coats, carried guns, and killed school athletes. They acted out their videotaped performance in real life less than a year later…

Everyone deals with stress and frustrations differently. However when action is taken upon the frustration and stress, and the action is taken out in anger and aggression, the results may be very harmful to both the aggressor and the person being aggressed against, mentally, emotionally, and even physically. Aggression is action, i.e. attacking someone or a group with an intent to harm someone. It can be a verbal attack–insults, threats, sarcasm, or attributing nasty motives to them–or a physical punishment or restriction. Direct behavioral signs include being overly critical, fault finding, name-calling, accusing someone of having immoral or despicable traits or motives, nagging, whining, sarcasm, prejudice, and/or flashes of temper. The crime and abuse rate in the United States has soared in the past decade. More and more children suffer from and are being treated for anger management than ever before. Now, one can’t help but to wonder if these violent video games are even playing a slight part in the current statistics. I believe they do.”

-Grace Shin

While I applaud the well written writing style that this has been presented in, the content is false and borderline ridiculous. This has clearly been written by someone who actually has no concept of video games whatsoever! I don’t write reviews on fine art or gastronomy because the content will be a complete hoax and I won’t knwo what I’m talking about! This is the same thing. Allow me to dissect this argument.

Mortal Kombat was always just about killing...

“Mortal Combat, Marvel Vs. Capcom, and Doom are very interactive in the violence of slaughtering the opponent”

…hmm…. Marvel vs Capcom is considered a violent game? And there’s fatalities in it like in Mortal Kombat? No I don’t think so. You’d have thought that they would have played the game before incriminating it in such a way! Mortal Kombat was also released in 1993 and while it did harbour the premise of executing someone, the methods were far too farfetched to be influential. For example Johnny Cage used to uppercut an opponent head off, Scorpion blew fire through his skull face igniting them and Sonya Blade blew a kiss which immolated the opponent. Is any of this scientifically possible? No. So lets look at this scientifically. Is it possible for a human to punch with such force it can remove a limb held to the body with ligaments, bones, cartiledge and muscle? No it’s not. Are kissing capable of causing a state of spontaneous combustion. No they’re not. And I can’t be arsed to mention Scorpion’s fatality. None of these aggressive influences are actually possible in physics. If you couldn’t tell, I have been playing Mortal Kombat from a very impressionable age but I must have been exceptional to resist the temptation to murder someone by blowing a kiss at them. But the other major thing which she neglected to mention is that you have to enter a code to enable the “gore” otherwise there’s no blood spillage and no fatalities. Seeing that the default was off, this is an unplausibly bad example of “violence” in games. Again, evidence that she has not played this game.

Doom was hardly realistic. I've personally never met a spiky demon.

Doom was also mentioned. Doom was programmed using the paradigm of the 3D Worlds engine back in the early nineties, which was replicated for games such as Duke Nukem 3D, Hexen, Rise of The Triad and Blood. The enemies were programmed using a method called sprites, an animated sequence of images representing their movement, offence and eventual demise. This could have been about 8 separate frames which showed the demise of an assailant once you managed to lower their hit points below a threshold. The fact of the matter with these 3D environments is that they were pixelled and not very realistic. Yes sure you could move in the third dimension which in those days was monumental, but dodging red doughnut shaped projectiles from pink demons who looked like a haribo sweet was hardly a feasible form of brainwashing. She goes on to mention Half Life and how body parts are “when characters get shot a large spray of blood covers the walls and floor near the character, and on the occasions when explosives are used, the characters burst into small but recognizable body parts”. Upon reading this I fired up my copy of Half Life on the PC. After despatching a horde of Vortigaunts I was struggling to see this veritable bloodbath which Grace Shin was describing. There is residual red pixels when you get shot but her depiction seemed to create connotations of  a torrent of blood, rather than in reality it looking like someone had thrown a handful of exploding candy at the screen. How is that a bad influence? Apart from people misperceiving it as hurting yourself causes you haemorrage red crystals. And for a start the vast majority of enemies are extra terrestrials, some not even humanoid, so picking on Half Life in particular is a bit short sighted. Begs the question again, did she even play this game before forging an opinion?

She also has attacked Unreal Tournament, of which I can understand that the higher powered sniper rifles can shoot someone’s head clean off but you had to really skilled to do that! Certainly if you were using arrow keys on a keyboard. But surely by virtue of the fact that the best weapon in the game was a vortex rift in time and space which sucked all the enemies into it, that would be indicative of a ficticious game?

Maybe my geography is shite, but I'm pretty sure Afghanistan doesn't look like this!

The other aspect she mentioned which is clearly nonsensical is that Doom is “a game licensed by the U.S. military to train soldiers to effectively kill“. The last time I looked the military use guns to shoot people, not keyboards/mice or control pads to kill. Secondly medics in the army don’t throw white boxes with red crosses on them all over the battlefield enabling soldiers injured by IEDs and bullets to walk over and regenerate their health. Third point, I don’t think that the army use chainsaws or take drugs which allow soldiers to punch assailants over great distances. And recently the tour of duty in Afghanistan doesn’t have a series of switches enabling them to traverse lava pools. So where the fuck is the correlation between Doom and any kind of army training? Absolutely fuck all. That is the fraudulent arguement I think I have ever read. I personally have never seen evidence of terrorists being squashed by a vertical door in order to save ammunition. This again is more unsubstantiated bollocks which is said with such conviction no wonder the anti-game mob gathers such momentum.

The “evidence” now of such stupid claims comes in the form of mentioning the Columbine Shootings in 1999. The fact that she’s gone straight for the throat by implying that this was solely because they played Doom, is quite frankly naive and puerile. Ok so they found a copy of Doom on their computers, big deal. If it’s not the video games, it’s the films they watched, or the music they listened, but we all know this is just scapegoating, desperately looking for an excuse, or a causative effect. But I ask you this, there’s every chance that they could have none of these games on their respective PCs, but I bet they’d still blame it. I just can’t get my head around how games from that era can be blamed. There was nothing realistic about the movement (I don’t walk down the road by holding arrow keys on a keyboard), the graphics (my immediate environment is not angular) or the sounds. Guns have existed since the turn of the century, and even before that, so where’s the link? Ok so there’s gun in Goldeneye on the N64 which she initally attacks, but the “blood” on the screen appears when you get killed, which is a homage to the blood filter on the beginning of every single James Bond film, so it’s hardly classified as gore is it? For a start, there was a paintball mode in the game but after playing a few levels of multiplayer with it on, I didn’t really fancy going out and playing paintball afterwards.

Harold Shipman: closet Mortal Kombat fan?

As I’ve said in previous articles, that violence has existed since human civilisation. Why does no one blame media for a lion savaging a wildebeest? Is it because they play Duke Nukem? No, it’s inherent to its nature. Before games it was films and music which was falsely held accountable. We know that violence has been recognised and documented for centuries. Dante Aligheri made Violence the seventh circle of hell in the Inferno so it was recognised as early as the 1200s then! But it’s the same arguement I’m saying over and over again so I’ll pose this to you Grace Shin: Alexander The Great, Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar, Pol Pot, Mao Tse Tung, Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin; did any of them ever play a video game? What about the most famous serial killers of the world, Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, Richard Speck, Richard Ramirez, Rosemary West, Peter Sutcliffe or dare I say Harold Shipman; were any of them serious gamers? Has it ever occurred to you that some people are naturally violent? There is no underlying influence if someone is naturally psychotic. Some people are more violent than others, but video games don’t breed aggression. You cannot MAKE someone kill someone because they played it on an unrealistic video game.

Has it ever occurred to you that the body count as a direct cause of video games is significantly less than the amount of deaths caused by religion? The Crusades for example. Did Richard The Lionheart get inspired to start a war against Saladin because he wanted a high score? No. Then do some research first before you make blanket accusatory statements. The examples you’ve used don’t support your argument and you seem to be writing more on hear say rather than actual experience. I am an experienced gamer who has been playing games for years including Mortal Kombat, Grand Theft Auto, Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, and numerous Zombie games and yet I have a clean police record, I’m educated and eloquent and I’ve never killed anybody. But i have played a lot of games so I know what I’m talking about.

Grace Shin, you should get signal.

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