Greedy Goblin

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Violent games lead to killers

The title is a conversation stopper about video games. In the literal sense it's patently false, studies found no correlation between consuming violent media, including video games and real life violence. However if it's true, than nothing in video games - and media in general - matters: if violent games don't make us violent, than slacker games don't make us slackers and sexist games don't make us sexist and so on.

So to prove that games have any relevancy, we must prove that violent games indeed lead to killers. I believe it is the case if we notice that violence in games is very specific:
  • Can you hurt cute pets in 99% of the games? No.
  • Can you hurt teammates in 99% of the games? No.
  • Can you hurt friendly NPCs in 99% of the games? No.
  • Even in the "1%" niche games like EVE where violence is possible against practically everything it's harshly punished in highsec.
If you look at the games carefully, you notice that most creatures in games cannot be harmed at all or violence is punished. In games you can only perform violence against "the other". You can harm monsters, zombies, pirates, demons or simply "the other team". Attacking "the other" is socially accepted or even encouraged. Soldiers of all nations are celebrated for killing people belonging to "the other". Disasters hitting "the other" are largely ignored. Poverty of "the other" does not qualify them for welfare while the poor "of us" gets welfare. The violent games simply enforce the socially accepted norm of violence against "the other". As an eminent evidence, the US army developed its own FPS as recruiting tool, clearly in the belief that players attracted to an FPS is a good demographics to recruit soldiers from.

An average soldier who killed a bunch of "the other" will not kill people at home. Sure, criminal incidents happen, but most violent criminals don't have military background. Why? Because violence against "the other" is fundamentally different from violence against "one of us". Therefore a violent video game will not increase violence against "one of us" aka criminal violence.

Those who perform violence against "one of us" in-game are called "griefers" or "assholes". Teamkillers, awoxers, gankers are widely hated and shunned even in "anything goes" games. The "miner tears" in EVE are great example that the average person despises and hates gankers. Such hate is based on the idea (which is often spelled out in hatemail) that someone who is ready to perform violence against "one of us" in game is likely a violent criminal in real life. While there isn't enough study to prove that, we can point out that in the history of EVE all the real life criminal or scandalous actions (monument attack, suicide bully, doxxing, bonus room) were done by notorious gankers.

So my opinion is "violent games lead to soldiers who kill lots of enemies and only ganking leads to criminal violence".


Anonymous said...

well, yeah. but one of the problems is the definition of 'other' that varies. encouraging violence against 'other' isn't really a good thing if someone starts defining other='everyone else in school'. or if someone coming home from a military service in the east learned other='every brown person', just to get into police work.
or other='someone that has currently less money than me and/or disagrees on my opinion to let him die in the gutter'.

Anonymous said...

First of all, your claim that 99% of games do not allow any griefing behavior against "your own" is going to need some facts to back that up. That sounds simply wrong. There are tons of games where friendly fire (and hence, teamkilling and griefing) are possible. Just about any First Person Shooter will have the option to enable it. Most real time strategy games you can force attack anything, including your ally's bases/units. Some MMO's allow it in specific zones and Eve allows it anywhere. The list goes on.

Pulling numbers out of thin air like that does not help your argument at all and I disagree with pretty much anything you wrote today.

Gevlon said...

Friendly fire is maybe allowed but it's so rare (because it's pointless and punished) that we can safely ignore it.

Zyan said...

My opinion:

Violent games exist for centuries. Haven't you played cowboy and indian or robber and gendarme (pewpew with fingers as guns, the invisible machine gun, or the deadly imaginary air bow)? No cowboy costume with play-guns at carnival, shooting at others?

Other question: how many people die due to car accidents caused by to fast driving? Did anyone check the computers of these guys if they have played any racing game in the past?

If you are mentally unstable those games may have an effect to your life. But 99% of the people won't shot everything that moves, just because the do in a shoter game.

Anonymous said...

If you can safely ignore it why do you reference those Eve griefers?

You ask me, you got it backwards. Those people were already assholes in real life and simply use Eve as a convenient platform to be assholes to others because the game allows it.

Unknown said...

I'm not literate enough in the field of psychologie to debate if exposure to violent content make you able to kill. Actually, if I should consider myself, I would say overexposure to some elements made me highly résistent to it.

Yet, you made a perfectly valid point, as the first thing you do when you train soldier, is to dehumanize their foes, so then can kill them while conserving their morale ground.

In fact, "not one of us" is maybe one of the older aggression trigger in the animal reign.

Back to EvE :
* Miners see them self and the miners as both part of the eve community, so "us".
* The gankers see them self as part of the ganking community, so they see miners as "others".

And sadly, it's the same in real life, as most of today home terrorist see them self as part of a group inside the whole nation, so they see the rest of the nation as "others".

It's actually increasingly worrying me as it's part of human nature to want to feel special, elite, be it by joining a top guild, raid leading, or becoming one of the chosen peoples. Yet, by doing it peoples downside they own social group, and start to see more and more peoples as "others".

And finally back to video games :

Not only are we making "killers", we are also making good obedient sheep. I remember when I was young ( damn, did I really write this ? ) video games were about saving the world, saving the princess ( as sexist as it is ). Now, it's mostly about following every orders from someone marked as a legitimate authority by a yellow exclamation mark above his head. And that include finishing off the wounded alliance soldiers after we attacked them in the back while their were fighting our common enemies...

Anonymous said...

PTSD in veterans would like to have a word with you. Killing "the other" still messes your psyche up pretty bad.

Unknown said...

@Anonymous: "Killing "the other" still messes your psyche up pretty bad."

We never said it didn't. We are saying it's easier to take actual violent action against someone you see as "others" than "us". The same way you most likely have at least one member of your family cursing those aliens invading his country.

Sadly,( or hopefully ) once the deed is done, you might wake up and réalise your just killed another human being, and the guilt start it's work.

Our culture consider itself as civilized and pacifist, and yet we glorify violence like never before in all of our media ( violence was as glorified before, but without the firepower of the modern medias. ). And how do we manage that ? by aiming the violence at the "others", may it be "orcs", "aliens", "robots", "nazis", muslims", or "communists".

I may be wrong, but that's how I see it working so far.

NuTroll said...

Its okay though, because we will have a plethora of brand new septuagenarian CSI techs and SVU detectives to deal with the increase in random car jacks, rocket launcher killings, urban drag race accidents, and dance dance flash mobs from the GTA5 playing millennials.

Don't worry about any strain on the capabilities of our medical services, I've been binge watching Scrubs.

Anonymous said...

Denying the antecedent, sometimes also called inverse error or fallacy of the inverse, is a formal fallacy of inferring the inverse from the original statement. It is committed by reasoning in the form:

If P, then Q.
Not P.
Therefore, not Q.

Arguments of this form are invalid. Informally, this means that arguments of this form do not give good reason to establish their conclusions, even if their premises are true.

The name denying the antecedent derives from the premise "not P", which denies the "if" clause of the conditional premise.

One way to demonstrate the invalidity of this argument form is with a counterexample with true premises but an obviously false conclusion. For example:

If it is raining, then the grass is wet.
It is not raining.
Therefore, the grass is not wet.

The argument is invalid because there are other reasons for which the grass could be wet (being sprayed with water by a hose, for example) Another example:

If Queen Elizabeth is a French citizen, then she is a human being.
Queen Elizabeth is not a French citizen.
Therefore, Queen Elizabeth is not a human being.

That argument is intentionally bad, but arguments of the same form can sometimes seem superficially convincing, as in the following example offered, with apologies for its lack of logical rigour, by Alan Turing in the article "Computing Machinery and Intelligence":

If each man had a definite set of rules of conduct by which he regulated his life he would be no better than a machine. But there are no such rules, so men cannot be machines.

However, men could still be machines that do not follow a definite set of rules. Thus this argument (as Turing intends) is invalid.

Anonymous said...

Even if your point would be statistically correct. For example lets say that gankers have 50% increased real life crime rate. We would still have the question left, do criminals like to do 'criminal' activities in games or is there some reinforcing effect caused by the ability to do it in games translating it to real life crime.

Unknown said...

As an EVE player and sometime ganker, I have to tell you that it's quite possible to play the villain in a game without that tendency having any influence in real life.

The people who aren't able to reconcile a player's nefarious in-game persona with that of the reasonable and balanced individual outside it, are only displaying one of their own traits - a tendency to make judgements about people based upon superficiality.

Of course, sometimes they'll be right. With some folks what you see is indeed what you get. But most people don't have a sufficiently developed intuitive sense to be able to hit the jackpot unerringly.

The effect of misunderstandings caused by a scarcity of reliable information can be hilarious, or indeed tragic in the extreme.

You are a man who used to be a ganker, Gevlon. You should understand this. People with a tendency toward violence may seek out violent videos and video games; but those whose aggressive tendencies are under control ('normal' people) may also do so.

Violent games don't make killers. Lack of self-control or self-restraint makes killers, who (unless they're seriously mentally ill or fighting in self-defence) always have a choice: Do it, or leave it.

maxim said...

I am actually impressed.
Good take on the subject matter.

I am inclined to agree that games do, indeed, lower inhibition towards brutality against the alien. Whether it is brutality of a savage, bashing heads in for glory, or brutality of a scientist, dissecting for knowledge.

Please note that my choice of words here is deliberate. "Lowering inhibition to" is not the same as "encouraging to". Also there is the caveat that the "other" in games is indeed often something inhuman.

There is a ongoing debate on whether games also lower inhibition towards dehumanisation of other people (f/ex through playing a nigh-overpowered character capable of ending any apparently human life in a video game he wants).

The only coherent consideration i have on the matter is that i'm definitely not letting my kid play something like Dark Souls until i am certain that his/her moral compass won't get thrown off by indulging in a fantasy of being a posthuman undead that feeds on souls.

Gevlon said...

@Anon: care to elaborate how he inverse fallacy applies to anything I wrote?

@Next anon: it's impossible to tell without extensive longitudinal studies if violent gaming is a cause or simply a signal.

@Rob: If you expect me to reconsider just because I was ganker, you are wrong. While I definitely didn't gank for tears, but to beat whole alliances on the killboard all by myself, I didn't give a damn about their tears. I knew they are not happy about what I'm doing but I didn't care. There is a reason why my favorite horror book is

Unknown said...

Hi Gevlon. No no; the reason I raised the issue of you having been a ganker was precisely to draw into the open a common misperception; that ganking (ambushing players in a video game) tells you something reliably true about gankers in general, out-of-game. It does not.

I know that there is always sound reasoning behind your actions Gevlon, and I would have expected that to be the case when you were ganking. After all, you were ganking and blogging, so anyone who wanted to know what was behind your actions had only to read the blog.

My point was that, aside from being a ganker, you were also a complex and rounded human being trying to express something through the very limited means on offer in a video game. Like most of the rest of us.

If violent video games created killers, there would not be enough jails in the world to house them.

Anonymous said...

And what happens when you live in a multicultural society where everyone else is an other and you can't or won't trust anyone and everyone is so different that you have no common connection...

On PTSD - Soldiers before the 20th century never really had this. The only example might be some British after the Crimean War and barely then even. Strong mono-cultures never experience it.

Anonymous said...

Wait, so anyone who's played Postal is actually mentally ill?
What about World of Warcraft, where you have an achievement for killing dozens of different cute pets after using the /love emote?

Also, what's this about "the other team"? Who defines what "the other team" is, exactly? In WoW, for example, the players you get to attack are literally supposed to be your mortal enemies, but doing it still makes them really mad.

Anyway, I can't agree with your position on griefers/gankers/whatever because I don't believe they are actually hated as a class of players. My theory is that people simply hate losing what they perceive as "unfair fights", especially if they understand deep down that the fight wasn't really unfair at all, and that it's just their own fault for losing due to being an idiot.

Gevlon said...

@Anon: "what happens when you live in a multicultural society" Look at Syria. That happens.

@Last Anon: Where did I say that violent criminals are mentally ill? I do say that Postal players likely have a larger criminal population than WoW players.

The other team is the one with the conflicting goals. Like the team on the other side of the map in LoL.

No gank victims believe that the fight shouldn't have happened at the first place since they were no competitors of the ganker. It happened - according to them - because the ganker is just a bad person who wanted to grief them. It's best seen when they win (gank fails). They still write hateful message to the ganker instead of genuinely celebrating their "win".

where did I say that violent criminals are mentally ill?