Germany Moves To Ban Violent Videogames

By Jim Rossignol on June 7th, 2009 at 3:23 pm.


Game Politics reports that Germany’s sixteen Interior Ministers have asked the Bundestag to ban the production and distribution of violent video games. This would mean violent videogames could not be purchased at retail or online in Germany, and that companies like CryTek would have to leave the country to continue production of their games. (That, or come up with creative solutions. Perhaps replace all the guns with vomiting cats? Would flicked elastic bands work, or do they come under violence?) Some more thoughts on this beyond the jump.


The move by Germany’s central government seems to have been inspired by the media reaction to recent school shooting in Winnenden, Germany, in which a seventeen year old killed sixteen people. It emerged that the perpetrator played Far Cry 2 and CounterStrike, as well as table tennis. He was also an unhappy teenage boy. Needless to say, fatuous conclusions were drawn.

It’s perhaps worth noting there has never actually been any evidence to show that violence in videogames increases the likelihood for gamers to go on a rampage with deadly firearms.

Nightmarish censorship implications aside, the potential outright banning of violent games certainly suggests that this could be a fascinating social experiment: will there be any less violence in Germany as a result of violent videogames being banned? Will peace and love break out among alienated teenagers who are denied gory entertainments? Or will creating yet another taboo simply make the experience of playing violent videogames even more transgressive, and therefore even more exciting? Hard to know, eh? Yeah, it really is.

Then again, perhaps there won’t be any correlation at all, and Germany will be left looking for something else to blame when another bunch of people get their lives taken away. And, you know, MAYBE THERE’S ANOTHER FACTOR INFLUENCING THESE SHOOTINGS.

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186 Comments »

  1. greenb says:

    The Federal govt. og Germany is also trying to establish a so-called anti-pedoporn law. It would force ISPs to have their DNSes redirect people to a STOP sign (and be protocolled) when they try to access sites that are on a list compiled in secrecy by a federal police agency (that can pull the records of all IPs/customers who tried to access a listed site). The utter Naziness of this would be hilarious if they weren’t serious.
    It might be an overly easy conclusion to make, but a lot of things suggest to me that many German politicians just have no clue. First, that law is secret, checks-and-balances free censorship, and second, any actual USER of the internet (some politicians, esp. the Federal Minister of the Interior Mr Schäuble, have been dubbed “internet printer-outers” by bloggers) can just use a non-ISP DNS. Victims of pedophilia have formed an alliance against this, because as their spokesman so fittingly put it, it’s just what happens in dysfunctional abusive families: the problem isn’t adressed, everyone just looks away. Some remarks even suggest they’re somewhat proud of their cluelessness (one Mr Wiefelspütz springs to mind).
    Now that the coalition in power are trying to enforce censorship on a medium some have called an art form, I’m really worried. Younger people feeling misunderstood by politicians might turn to more extreme political views, and perhaps more worringly, some politicians will think they’re right if this goes through. When most (truly) scientific literature on a given topic is cautious to establish any correlation and a law that doesn’t listen to any of it still goes through, we’re in bad shape. It used to be “cool” to mock the oh-so-stupid Americans and their brainless President, but I fear Germany might be headed for worse.
    The fact that the Ministers for the Interior are using the deaths of trainee teachers and 15-year-old schoolgirls to support their goals is just the bat guano cherry on a bovine excrement sundae.

  2. Novotny says:

    ‘bovine excrement sundae’

    oh thanks im hungry now

  3. Mister Adequate says:

    Yeah, friend of mine in Germany said a local competition was already called off by local political types, she was pretty mad.

    I sincerely doubt this will have any effect beyond a massive spike in Germans pirating things.

  4. Tworak says:

    You want to ban extreme violence in games? GO FOR IT!

    You want to take away my TF2? FUUUCK YOOUUUUU!!!

  5. cjlr says:

    Either a massive spike in pirating, or a massive spike in cross-border Austrian shops…

  6. subedii says:

    Crytek in particular has had a hard time of it in Germany. They were actually raided in their homes by armed police officers a few years back. For those interested in reading up on that, and a bit of the background, one of the devs made a posting about the raid here. It makes for a pretty interesting (if disturbing read), and helps to cast a little light on the issues at work here:

    http://www.quartertothree.com/game-talk/showthread.php?t=31767

    http://www.gamepolitics.com/2006/12/15/crytek-developer-offers-frightening-account-of-german-game-crackdown

    EDIT: This post was made all the way back in 2006, and if Germany’s actually managing to push this legislation through, I can only imagine it’s gotten worse for them over time.

  7. Carra says:

    I see a few problems with this:
    -> What’s a violent video game? Pretty much all games have some sort of violence factor. Heck, even chess is about killing your opponents.
    -> Import. I’m living in Belgium but I’m importing quite a bit form the UK (play.com), mostly for their cheaper prices. If my games were censored I’d just stop buying locally. Or from one of the digital distribution media. Or if these fail you force people to download the pirated version…
    -> No direct connection between killing and playing video games has been found. There are other more things to forbid which have a direct connection. Why not completely forbid the selling of guns? People might still go on a clubbing or stabbing rage but they won’t be able to kill as easily. But I suppose it’s easier to blame games. There’s a bigger stigma on games then on weapons…

  8. Some Guy says:

    Now only sex will be left in video games

  9. Gap Gen says:

    “Now only sex will be left in video games”

    The phrase “grinding” takes on a whole new disturbing meaning.

  10. clive dunn says:

    They did an experiment in the Amazon with a newly discovered tribe where they gave them videogames and then observed the changes in behaviour.
    Half the tribe became very aggressive and charged into the jungle to kill and mutilate whatever crossed their path, the other half surfed on Ebay for a cheap Geforce Gtx295.

  11. Xercies says:

    Games are the new whipping boy it seems, 20 years ago it was Horror movies that was the big taboo and made your children killers. Its no different then Britain baning most Horror movies, it lasted for about 10 years and pretty much no one talked of it since except horror fans when they are trying to get back copies. i see the same thing happening here to be honest.

    Also i have no care about money does that make me a psychopath. I think Brad Pitt said it best in 12 Monkeys when he was talking about that kind of thing.

  12. Chemix says:

    If that comment, Xercies, was referencing my post; no, not caring about money doesn’t make you a psychopath, it doesn’t make you anything, a psychopath actively attempts to create pain/ suffering/ or other moral negatives on specific individuals or random ones. Sociopathy is a mental state of apathy towards morality good or bad, or a general lack of empathy, as opposed to an extreme sense of antipathy found in psychos, so money would matter to a sociopath, but not a psychopath.

    When you reduce the value of life down to a material value however, you are lowering the general bar and inviting sociopathy and psychopathy to become more prevalent as these states aren’t as noticeable in such a society, like today, not that it was so much better yesterday, it’s been like this… for a long time now, TV and Internet just provide a wider point of access to the materialization that could previously be semi-negated by raising your children well enough, not that TV and the Internet are bad, it’s simply that the television has become the replacement for dad, and the console is mom now, in many homes.

  13. MetalCircus says:

    We all need to watch a Clockwork Orange for this kind of stuff. You can force people to do good deeds, but if they don’t truly feel as though they are good people inside then you still have a killer on your hand. In the film, Alex is brainwashed and psychologically conditioned against performing violent actions, and it doesn’t make him better, instead it drives him to near suicide as he realizes his internal desire for violence cannot be quenched as he starts to throw up and feel like he wants to end it all at the slightist hint of anger.

    Banning games or not, people will still want to play them. And you’ll still have murderers on your hands and it’s not about video games.

    People have to want to be good and that comes from parenting and social surroundings etc. Sure you get short term thrills from Call of Duty etc but really, it isn’t enough for most normal people to want to pick up a machine gun and brutally slaughter a russian villiage full of people. It’s a bit of excitement, an adrenaline rush that you’d get from watching movies, or hey, snowboarding or sky diving or something (although the russhes you get from the latter are palpably more intense ¬_¬)

    PS, I love the choice of image that acompanies this article. Haha :D

  14. TWOD says:

    The Germans are going about this all wrong, the only common factor in all these school shootings is that they happen in schools! Thus if they want a final solution to this problem they should instead ban schools.

  15. Melf_Himself says:

    The only thing this will do is dramatically increase the piracy rate in Germany. For this move to work they’d have to ban P2P downloads as well (good luck).

  16. scundoo says:

    Then Ban in Greece is directed against electronic gambling.
    The law could be taken as including internet cafes, but it isn’t enforced. I don’t see why people are posting their uninformed nonsense without even using Google first to get their facts straight.

    Chemix: No, a gun is not a tool, it’s a weapon (especially assault rifles).

  17. Ascale says:

    Shocking that these ministers are most interested in getting the bill passed before election time. More fodder to appease the ignorant masses. Anything to win votes.

    As to those who recommend taking even more rights (specifically qua guns) as a means to stop these incidents, you disgust me even more.

  18. Okami says:

    Awesome news. I’ll lose my job if this law passes.

  19. Bah says:

    I wonder what will happen to the german realms in World of Warcraft. Pointing them out specifically as it is the only MMO i can think of that has set aside servers just for the germans.

  20. Legionary says:

    >”It would force ISPs to have their DNSes redirect people to a STOP sign (and be protocolled) when they try to access sites that are on a list compiled in secrecy by a federal police agency (that can pull the records of all IPs/customers who tried to access a listed site).”

    We already have that in the UK. It’s voluntary but actually nearly all major ISPs are signed up to it. There’s a secret list maintained by the Internet Watch Foundation of sites that ‘may’ contain illegal materials. Yes, ‘may’ contain. They’re not an official body, so they can’t judge whether a particular piece of content is illegal or not. Remember that album cover on Wikipedia being blacklisted? That was the IWF adding *encyclopaedia entries* to its secret list, how’s that for scary? Oh and by the way, it doesn’t even tell you that the content you’re trying to view is censored, instead it returns a 404 as though the content didn’t exist. Very 1984, don’t you think? Bad things are ungood, now they are unthings.

    Video games censorship is inevitable. Politicians everywhere know the power of a moralistic bandwagon and they’ll jump on it with great enthusiasm. Despite a complete lack of evidence, violent and sexually mature video games are going to be systematically targeted and eradicated to score cheap political points.

    I find it all very depressing, and in fact it’s exactly the sort of thing that makes me want to machinegun the entire world. I won’t – probably – but maybe they should consider banning bans to avoid murderous rampages.

  21. LactoseTheIntolerant says:

    @Ascale:

    “As to those who recommend taking even more rights (specifically qua guns) as a means to stop these incidents, you disgust me even more.”

    Why’s that? People aren’t getting annoyed specifically at the taking away of a right; rather, the fact that it’s a groundless knee-jerk reaction that is neither addressing the roots of violent crime nor likely to do anything to cut down on it. Guns, on the other hand.. To say that to own a gun guarantees or even makes likely the chance of the owner commiting a murder would be ridiculous. However I don’t see how you could argue that making guns much more difficult to acquire wouldn’t reduce the frequency of shootings (and in kind the frequency of murders/violent crime overall overall; someone mentioned earlier the difference between attacking someone with a gun and with, say, a knife).

  22. luphisto says:

    piracy in germany will become a massive problem if that law passes

  23. OJ 287 says:

    I think part of the problem is the legislators’ age and their perceptions of the German people. They were the generation tasked with wiping away militarism and suppressing the ideologies of the Nazis and thats had a lasting effect on them. Because they dont understand the youth they project their fears of their parents’ generation onto their children.

    Theyre products of their time but at some point they have to realize that most Germans in 2009 dont need to be thought controlled and have their eyes shielded in case they see a gun, knife or even a swastika.

  24. armlesscorps says:

    maybe they think hitler wouldnt have got in to power if people hadnt been playing return to castle wolfenstein

  25. Jazmeister says:

    On the one hand, I think it’d be interesting if they did use it as a kind of experiment; if violence did fade away completely then, sure, i’ll give up my shooters and war games. Small price to pay for peace when I can sink a million hours into Harvest Moon or The Sims anyway, right? If the violence stays the same, will they bring it back, though?

    On the other hand, probably one of my best gaming buddies is a German, living in Germany. He’s a phenomenal sniper, and I’d hate to face another hour of 2fort without him.

    I say ban violent videogames in a smaller country for about six months. They’ll probably all kill eachother, then we can build the floating gamer city above the poppy fields there.

  26. jackflash says:

    it seems fairly obvious that people will simply pirate what they can no longer buy.

  27. Unlucky Irish says:

    Ok a few points need to be made; first of all this ban is being proposed by elected officials, so as much as gamers don’t like it it does have a mandate from the people. If you don’t like it or you think the system is broken, vote next time.

    Second; comparing the proposed ban to National Socialism is painfully ignorant. One is a knee-jerk restriction on a niche medium while the other was a regime that actively hunted down and killed dissidents and ethnic minorities. Keep this distinction in mind, it will make you look more intelligent.

    Thirdly; burning books and banning video games is not the same thing. Books have a cultural weight and a deep psychological meaning in modern culture and it is only books that are particularly meaningful that get burned in the first place. Video games, as much as I love them, haven’t yet reached this stage as a medium. Doesn’t mean you should ban them; it’s just that the comparison doesn’t work.

    Lastly; complaining that a government program preventing the viewing of paedophilic material is overly authoritarian, makes you look suspicious. I suggest keeping future observations along these lines to your self and the rest of your “Ring”.

    Video games don’t cause school shootings or drive people to commit violent acts; if they did then such acts would be leveled against a more “video game-esque” enemy such as the police or military (rather than little Helga who laughed at you when you said you liked her). However, I find it hard to blame people when the search of a solution to such a traumatic event, misguided tho they may be.
    Neither would banning guns work either if we are to be honest. I mean take Britain, the country operates under strict gun control laws (especially since Dunblane) yet still the most violent society in Europe. If someone wants to kill someone else then their is very little you can do to stop them, it’s just something modern society is just going to have to come to terms with.

  28. MD says:

    cliffski says:

    This ban is silly, and I oppose it. However, I also strongly oppose some of the over-the-top sadistic shit shovelware games like ‘manhunt’ that companies churn out, knowing they can easily trick the mass gaming media to blindly support them.

    I *do* think violent games affect people, just like violent TV, movies and other culture does. Anyone who thinks otherwise should read up on the studies of the psychological effects of advertising (I recommend ‘the advertised mind), specifically the way the amigdala processes emotional responses before our conscious mind kicks in. We might *know* its just a game, but the automatic emotional responses in our brains are influenced before we even get to think about it.
    I’d also strongly recommend this:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2003/jun/14/weekend7.weekend2

    This is about bhutan. Effectively, this is a huge country-wide experiment in what happens when you introduce TV to a country. It’s pretty scary stuff, and highly relevant to the topic of what effect this might have.

    Well said.

    It seems that the done thing within the gaming scene is to blindly dismiss the possibility that violent games could be having a negative psychological (and indirectly, social) impact, waving the ‘no evidence’ flag — despite the act that while of course nobody has proved that games are turning us into murderers, there is a wealth of psychological research to support the argument that exposure to violent media can increase the likelihood of violent behaviour; the question of how much more significant games are relative to other forms due to their interactive nature may still be open, but the apparent success of the US military in breaking their soldiers’ natural reluctance to kill by using more realistic, human-like targets in training certainly makes me uneasy — or inanely pointing out that ‘I play games and am yet to commit murder’, or ‘games do not magically override my free will’, etc.

    It’s not clear how great an impact violent games have on human psychology and behaviour, or how the susceptibility to such effects varies across the population. But it seems disingenuous to treat the benign nature of extreme interactive violence as an unchallenged fact, or even to suggest that ‘normal people will never be affected, it’s only the nutjobs who would be set off by something else anyway’, which seems to be a widely-held ‘moderate’ position on the issue. Those who disagree with the implications of psychological research showing a link between exposure to violence and increased aggression, or participation in simulated violence and a weakening of the natural barriers to commiting violent acts, need to explain their own reasoning! It’s not enough to simply cherry-pick a few uber-conservative moral campaigners or misguided lawmakers and tear them to shreds as a symbol of the entire opposing argument. That’d be like them finding the most sickeningly offensive violent-rape-and-murder-game somewhere on the depths of the internet, and holding it up as evidence that all gamers are appallingly depraved.

    None of that is to suggest that the obvious next step is to go around banning everything. But it’s worth actually engaging with the issue and discussing the validity and effectiveness of various approaches, rather than dismissing the possibility that we have a social problem on our hands.

  29. Shnyker says:

    I don’t have time to read all these comments, but I hope someone sees mine. Germany is jumping at nothing, even if it passes it won’t work. Also banning guns, yes it lowers shootings, but you then obtain England’s new problem of stabbings. And also, on the sex vs. violence debate, I don’t think either in a video game are truly damaging any more than in movies or books. The whole attack on gaming is stupid in so many ways I find it hard to count. Oh, and I appreciate how this is probably one of the highest comment counts on any RPS news article.

  30. Jonathan says:

    “Max says:

    In all honesty, Germany still hasn’t managed to learn from World War II.

    They went from one extreme to the other when neither is ideal. Don’t they realize that the rest of the free world thinks they’re overreacting?”

    Yep. For those that know a little about postwar speech restrictions in former Axis countries, this is both a bit Orwellian and yet not too surprising. Germany has for a long time made it illegal to sell any items with WWII axis markings. This includes things like model tanks and toy soldiers. It’s both scary and hilarious. In another enforcement of a counter-reactionary law attempting to wipe away the sins of the past, Austria has an anti-Holocaust denial law carrying up to 20 years of jail time. British historian David Irving, who once incorrectly questioned many aspects of the holocaust, was recently arrested and jailed in Austria for speeches he made in 1989. Speeches. Which he later retracted and corrected with further research published in his thorough documentations of Nazi concentration camps.

    The fact is many European governments simply don’t place as much value on the concept of free speech as do the UK (implicitly) and the US (explicitly in the first amendment and implicitly in other areas of the Constitution). Germany’s attempt to ban violent media is perfectly in-line with their attitude toward individual speech rights over the past half century. Don’t think it’s just a particular party or person.

  31. Charlie says:

    I tell ya, it’s this fluridation in our water systems!

  32. Jonathan says:

    “MD says:

    It seems that the done thing within the gaming scene is to blindly dismiss the possibility that violent games could be having a negative psychological (and indirectly, social) impact, waving the ‘no evidence’ flag…”

    Yes, I hate it when people blindly claim that “video games have NO effect on me.” Come on, every single thing you see and hear from birth to death has some effect; it’s all stored somewhere and each of those tiny shards of memory makes up pieces of the person you are. Now, how readily you can access that data, and how big an impact it has on you, that’s debateable. Undeniably the research (and our own intuition based on experience) tells us that children are more influenced by interactive media than adults. So it ultimately -ideally- comes down to parents and guardians taking on the adult responsibility of being the unpopular meanie and telling kids NO! you can’t play Death Race 2000. The sad thing is that many parents abrogate this resposibility in favor of taking the easy way out and making the child temporarily happy. This is what concerns me.

  33. Shawn says:

    This will almost all but KILL the PC gaming market in Germany, which is arguably the biggest hotbed of PC Gaming in Europe. Not only is this ridiculous, it’s fucking scary to see Government get so out of control.

  34. woppin says:

    Has anyone considered Quake Live? It’s browser based, and yet it’s a violent game. Are the German government going to implement a blacklist to prevent their citizens from playing that?

    What about 1066? That’s pretty violent (also awesome) What are they going to do about people playing flash games with violent content?

  35. Chemix says:

    In reference to Scundoo, a weapon is a tool, a tool that can be used to defend, to attack, to provoke, and to generate fear. It is made specifically for these purposes. My main issue with the banning of guns is that it lowers the level of power the populace has in comparison to it’s government, which tends to make it more wary of provoking it’s people

  36. c-Row says:

    @ Unlucky Irish

    Ok a few points need to be made; first of all this ban is being proposed by elected officials, so as much as gamers don’t like it it does have a mandate from the people. If you don’t like it or you think the system is broken, vote next time.

    The problem is that we are only supposed to vote every four years. Whatever ideas prosper from politicians’ out-of-touch-with-21st-century-reality minds in the meantime is next to impossible to interfere with.

    Lastly; complaining that a government program preventing the viewing of paedophilic material is overly authoritarian, makes you look suspicious. I suggest keeping future observations along these lines to your self and the rest of your “Ring”.

    It’s not about banning paedophilic material from the internet – I guess we all could live without that. The problem is that

    1) the filter can easily be circumvented (a court demonstration took a mere 30 seconds to do so) and is therefore pretty useless
    2) it doesn’t really deal with the problem because the sites are still online and whoever wants to visit them is still able to do so (see 1)
    3) there is no control committee for which sites are banned and what for other than the federal police themselves

  37. the affront says:

    “Lastly; complaining that a government program preventing the viewing of paedophilic material is overly authoritarian, makes you look suspicious. I suggest keeping future observations along these lines to your self and the rest of your “Ring”.”

    Actually, it doesn’t, if you’re not living in your own little black and white world and/or are able to think a little farther about all its ramifications and its background.
    The way it is planned or at least patently possible to be realized, text of law permitting, is that clicking on one random link you obviously don’t have a goddamn clue about or are maliciously misinformed about its destination puts you under “reasonable suspicion” per the IP logging on said “stop” pages. Meaning you could very, very easily be wrongly implicated and persecuted as a pedophiliac for nothing else but standard internet browsing.

    Do YOU want to be limited to only click on links that you know to be 100% trustworthy? Seeing as this is the internet you can bet your ass there will be idiots posting tinyurl links to blacklisted pages everywhere once some of those blacklisted pages become known. Also what about hacked pages redirecting you to such a page? Have fun getting your house raided and your electronics confiscated for a few years for stupid shit like that. Also have fun looking your neighbors/employer in the eye after getting wrongfully raided for clicking on a link.
    I really can’t remember any law post-nazi Germany so well suited to arbitrary, unjustified social destruction of lives.

    Not to mention that all this won’t do jack shit to any serious consumer of sick shit like that, as there are enough ways to circumvent a stupid ISP based redirect.

  38. Jim Rossignol says:

    “there is a wealth of psychological research to support the argument that exposure to violent media can increase the likelihood of violent behaviour”

    No, there are one or two dubious studies, usually funded by organisations who want that to be the case. To my knowledge there has *never* been a worthwhile study into this subject. It’s easy to assume otherwise. Note that Cliffski cites a study into advertising, not videogames.

    Videogames, as a subject for methodical scientific study, have been sorely neglected.

  39. The Fanciest of Pants says:

    An outrageous idea, but I don’t think it’s likely that any government would deny themselves millions and millions of earth dollars in taxes when it really came down to it.
    Case in point; Ciggarretes, more is made by government taxation(in the U.S., Australia and much of Europe at least) then is made by the tobacco companies producing them. Sure they’ve been cracking down on WHERE you can smoke, but a total ban will just never happen, too much money would be lost.

  40. Tomaz says:

    Imagine if video games were around when Hitler was young. He would have been really nasty then…

  41. megaman says:

    It’s sad how my own government achieves to disappoint me, again and again. It’s also sad that the amount of Trolls posting in this topic is higher than I anticipated (i.e., higher than the average plus the outlash that was to be expected). Maybe some of you should come over for a visit. There’s less of virtually everything some of you imagine is going on here: less nazis, less weapons, less military, less bavarians, less sauerkraut. It’s actually a nice place to live, although the current development in politics makes me worry.

  42. ymrar says:

    There has always been something that takes the blame for violence, drugs etc. Rock’n roll, movies, TV, games and lastly teh Intanet. Politicians are just grasping votes with this, turning peoples eyes from the real social problems. Be it in Bhutan, Germany or any other country, the problems already lie in people’s unhappiness.

  43. mihor_fego says:

    Since I’m Greek, I should inform you that the ban was on all public venues that used to have arcade games, not for factors involving the games’ content but the many cases where slot-machine type games were tweaked into extremely narrow winning percentages. The ban was extended to all internet cafes to not offer clients a chance to play any such casino-type games or bet online. The government has already decided to lift the ban on arcade games.

    Here there has been little to none actual effect other than all game arcades closing down. As for video games, anyone can buy 18+ rated games here no matter how old. It’s the same as with all age-related constrictions: teens can buy cigarettes, rent explicit movies or drink alcohol. The laws exist but are never really enforced.

    As for the German government’s decision, I find it rather fascist. Implying that the authorities can decide that not having a chance to play “violent games” is best for you even if you are an adult is preposterous. What then for such movies and/or literature? Should they also be banned? Should then a documentary on nazi violence against Jews and minorities during WW2 also be banned?

    I’ve grown as part of a generation that was brought up with video games that were just beginning to have the technology to depict violence. We played Doom and Mortal Kombat for the gore, we were watching splatter movies such as Braindead and witnessed the first gulf war live on our TV sets. Does anyone really believe the scenes we knew were part of a game or movie had more impact on us than watching bombers incinerate civilian-filled shelters?

    This decision of the German government comes as a shock, even after the attempts of the EU to spy on network traffic and subsequently shut down internet connections for copyright infringement (see HADOPI).

    I am genuinely worried that our human rights in the “Western” world are lessened as increasingly conservative governments are emerging under any political guise. The above mentioned game-related matters are almost trivial when private information rights are at stake or there’s the patriot act I in the US. It seems we are devolving into a more authoritarian society compared to a couple of decades ago…

  44. ymrar says:

    @mihor Well put. The “blaming game” is also a nice way to steer conversation away from real problems. People debate if they should ban alcohol, games and whatnot, and government and corporations can carry on doing what ever shady law they need.

  45. mihor_fego says:

    Think of the violence adolescents come to terms with in rural areas or most of those of previous generations faced: the slaughter of animals. Youngsters were encouraged to behead poultry and slice the throats of goats. Then watch the poor animals suffer as they were dying, perhaps even skin them. I can’t think of anything more traumatizing for a child’s mind.
    Yeah, the same people that mostly felt OK with such scenes are worried that shooting a pixelated opponent is harmful to youth. Could it get any more pretentious?

  46. MD says:

    No, there are one or two dubious studies, usually funded by organisations who want that to be the case. To my knowledge there has *never* been a worthwhile study into this subject. Do not assume otherwise.

    It’s certainly considered an open question by many, and obviously my “wealth of evidence” could be another man’s load of rubbish. But suggesting that there is ‘no evidence’ to support the claim that violent media can increase aggression is simply false, and while I’m sure that some of the relevant studies have indeed been flawed, there have certainly been more than “one or two” and it is a stretch to suggest that they are all worthless. This will be a long, quote-heavy post, and I apologise for that, but it’d be hard for me to respond usefully at this point without a fair bit of quoting and referencing. Most people will (understandably) skip the entire post, but for those who are somewhat interested, feel free to ignore everything bar the links and bolded quotations.

    The US Surgeon General’s 2001 report on youth violence summarises (and references by author and date) quite a few studies into the effects of violence in the media — mostly TV and film, though other media are mentioned — on aggressive thining and behaviour, and states that:

    A substantial number of laboratory and field experiments over the past half-century have examined whether children exposed to violent behavior on film or television behave more aggressively immediately afterwards (see reviews by Bushman & Huesmann, 2000; Comstock & Scharrer, 1999; Geen, 1990; Geen & Thomas, 1986; Huesmann et al., 1997). Many studies have also examined the immediate effect of media violence on aggressive thoughts or emotions (Rule & Ferguson, 1986), which have been shown to increase the risk of aggressive behavior (Dodge & Frame, 1982; Huesmann & Guerra, 1997).

    The most recent and comprehensive meta-analysis of media violence was conducted by Paik and Comstock (1994), who examined effect sizes from 217 empirical studies on media violence and aggressive and violent behavior published between 1957 and 1990. The analysis indicates clearly that brief exposure to violent dramatic presentations on television or in films causes short-term increases in the aggressive behavior of youths, including physically aggressive behavior. Across all the randomized experiments, the unweighted average effect size was large (r = .37).4 When only experiments examining physical aggression as the outcome were examined, the effect size was also large (r = .32).

    (emphasis added)

    The same report, this time on long-term studies of media violence and real-world aggression:

    Long-term studies in which exposure to media violence in early childhood is related to later aggression and violence (such as aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and homicide) can identify the enduring effects of media violence. … In the absence of a meta-analysis, the findings of three frequently cited longitudinal studies on the effects of media violence are discussed briefly below. … In a study begun in 1960 on a sample of 875 youths in New York State, Eron and colleagues found that for boys, but not for girls, exposure to media violence at age 8 was significantly related to aggressive behavior a decade later (r = .31, N = 211, p < .01) (Eron et al., 1972; Lefkowitz et al., 1977). At both times, peers assessed physical and verbal aggression. The longitudinal correlation remained above .25, even in separate analyses statistically controlling for factors such as the child’s initial aggressiveness, the child’s intelligence, family SES, parents’ aggressiveness, and parents’ punishment and nurturance of the child. … [followed by a summary of another study, with rather equivocal findings] … The third longitudinal study of media violence effects began in the late 1970s and spanned five countries … Both physical and verbal aggression were assessed by peers. The correlations between aggression and overall viewing of television violence at a single point in time were small to moderate and often significant. … he predictive power of viewing television violence for childhood aggression a year later varied substantially. In the United States, girls’ viewing of television violence had a significant effect (b = .17, N = 89, p < .05) on their later aggression, even after accounting for early levels of aggression, SES, and scholastic achievement. For boys, television violence alone did not predict later aggression. … A follow-up study of over 300 people in the U.S. sample 15 years later suggested that media violence has a delayed effect on aggression (Huesmann et al., submitted). There was a small to moderate longitudinal correlation between childhood television viewing and a composite measure of young adult aggression (physical, verbal, and indirect aggression) for both men (r = .21, N = 153, p < .01) and women (r = .19, N = 176, p < .01). … Other analyses showed that effects remained significant even when researchers controlled for parent education and children’s scholastic achievement (b = .19 for boys, b = .17 for girls, p < .05). In summary, these longitudinal studies show a small, but often statistically significant, long-term relationship between viewing television violence in childhood and later aggression, especially in late adolescence and early adulthood. Some evidence suggests that more aggressive children watch more violence, but the evidence is stronger that watching media violence is a precursor of increased aggression.

    The report is a bit over eight years old, so it doesn’t have much to say about videogames — and certainly nothing conclusive — but they do rate a mention:

    To date, violent video games have not been studied as extensively as violent television or movies. … A recent meta-analysis of these studies found that the overall effect size for both randomized and correlational studies was small for physical aggression (r = .19) and moderate for aggressive thinking (r = .27) (Anderson & Bushman, in press). In separate analyses, the effect sizes for both randomized and cross-sectional studies was small (r = .18 and .19, respectively). The impact of video games on violent behavior remains to be determined.

    Some other links:

    The Role of Media Violence in Violent Behavior — Annual Review of Public Health, Vol. 27, April 2006.

    Media violence poses a threat to public health inasmuch as it leads to an increase in real-world violence and aggression. Research shows that fictional television and film violence contribute to both a short-term and a long-term increase in aggression and violence in young viewers. Television news violence also contributes to increased violence, principally in the form of imitative suicides and acts of aggression. Video games are clearly capable of producing an increase in aggression and violence in the short term, although no long-term longitudinal studies capable of demonstrating long-term effects have been conducted. The relationship between media violence and real-world violence and aggression is moderated by the nature of the media content and characteristics of and social influences on the individual exposed to that content. Still, the average overall size of the effect is large enough to place it in the category of known threats to public health.

    Longitudinal Relations Between Children’s Exposure to TV Violence and
    Their Aggressive and Violent Behavior in Young Adulthood: 1977–1992
    — Developmental Psychology 2003, Vol. 39, No. 2.

    Although the relation between TV-violence viewing and aggression in childhood has been clearly
    demonstrated, only a few studies have examined this relation from childhood to adulthood, and these
    studies of children growing up in the 1960s reported significant relations only for boys. The current study
    examines the longitudinal relations between TV-violence viewing at ages 6 to 10 and adult aggressive
    behavior about 15 years later for a sample growing up in the 1970s and 1980s. Follow-up archival data
    (N  450) and interview data (N  329) reveal that childhood exposure to media violence predicts young
    adult aggressive behavior for both males and females. Identification with aggressive TV characters and
    perceived realism of TV violence also predict later aggression. These relations persist even when the
    effects of socioeconomic status, intellectual ability, and a variety of parenting factors are controlled.

    TV Violence and Brainmapping in Children — Psychiatric Times. Vol. 18 No. 10.

    Research conducted over the past 30 years leads to the conclusion that televised violence does influence viewers’ attitudes, values and behavior (Hearold, 1986; Murray, 2000, 1994, 1973; Paik and Comstock, 1994; Surgeon General’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Television and Social Behavior, 1972). Although the social effect of viewing televised violence is a controversial topic of research and discussion, the body of research is extensive and fairly coherent in demonstrating systematic patterns of influence.

    A few more academic articles, which I’ve grouped together because a ‘Craig A. Anderson’ seems to have been partially behind all of them. I don’t know anything about him, but bear in mind that even if you consider him likely to be ‘biased’, two of these articles were published in a journal “with a citation ranking/impact factor placing it in the top ten psychology journals worldwide“, and the other in one of its sister publications. url=http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/118998785/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0 , url=http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/118661681/abstract , url=http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/120831032/abstract

    Research on exposure to television and movie violence suggests that playing violent video games will increase aggressive behavior. A meta-analytic review of the video-game research literature reveals that violent video games increase aggressive behavior in children and young adults. Experimental and nonexperimental studies with males and females in laboratory and field settings support this conclusion. Analyses also reveal that exposure to violent video games increases physiological arousal and aggression-related thoughts and feelings. Playing violent video games also decreases prosocial behavior.

    Results suggest that games that reward violent actions can increase aggressive behavior by increasing aggressive thinking.

    Research on violent television and films, video games, and music reveals unequivocal evidence that media violence increases the likelihood of aggressive and violent behavior in both immediate and long-term contexts. The effects appear larger for milder than for more severe forms of aggression, but the effects on severe forms of violence are also substantial (r= .13 to .32) when compared with effects of other violence risk factors or medical effects deemed important by the medical community (e.g., effect of aspirin on heart attacks). The research base is large; diverse in methods, samples, and media genres; and consistent in overall findings. The evidence is clearest within the most extensively researched domain, television and film violence. The growing body of video-game research yields essentially the same conclusions.

    I’ll stop there, but obviously that was not an exhaustive list.

    Again, I’m not claiming that a professional consensus on the effects of media violence exists. But I don’t think that your claim (that the studies indicating a relationship between media and real-world violence are few and dubious) is realistic.

  47. MD says:

    Sorry about the typos and inconsistent formatting, the edit function doesn’t seem to be loading properly. Also I need some dinner.

  48. mihor_fego says:

    The thing is: does graphically depicted violence effects youth MORE than images of real-world violence or social violence? Doesn’t social rejection from peers or discrimination against minorities effect a teenager’s angst and chance of a violent outburst more? Doesn’t poverty or financial inequalities lead youth into criminal behavior? Doesn’t lack of proper education cause ALL of the above?

    The point is: to educate youth properly into using their minds for critical thinking instead of restricting their activities or input of information is the ONLY solution.

  49. Jayteh says:

    Did you know Hitler played Counter-Strike

  50. zombiehunter says:

    @mihor_fego
    “As for the German government’s decision, I find it rather fascist.”
    Oh my, oh my… This is one of the reasons why i don’t tell people i’m from Germany when i’m out of country. Just like you americans tend to tell ppl u’re from canada ^^
    Besides, this has not been decided, it was only a proposal by some politicians. They tried this several times before and didn’t make it.
    There is however allready quite some censorship here in Germany. For instance i had to import Left 4 Dead from the UK to get an uncensored Version. Although the German version is marked 18+ the zombies can’t be dismembered!

    @Benjamin Ferrari
    “Your Austrian Neighbors.
    PS: Feel free to take one of our nazi parties with you”

    I still think it’s hillarious and one of the biggest and most awesome achievements of the Austrians that they made Hitler a German and Beethoven an Austrian ;=)

    Personally i don’t care much if the gov. decides not to sell ‘violent’ games in good ol’ Germany anymore. If they wanna lose those taxes, go ahead! There’ll always be a way to get ‘em games if you know how.

    @l1ddl3monkey
    “Wouldn’t…oh I dunno…banning GUNS be a far more fucking sensible starting place for reducing GUN RAMPAGES? Oh – but then that might give the impression that Germany thinks guns are bad. And guns are one of their main exports and biggest industries.”

    Just to inform you: Gun-ownership is prohibited in Germany except for Hunters and so called ‘competetive sport-shooters’ with a license wich is not that easy to obtain.
    Automatic rifles and Guns are completely prohibited except for special police force and army.
    The main export commoditys of Germany are still Cars, big machines, electronics, mechanics and cemicals.
    Germany is not just Heckler&Koch and Sauer. And afaik these are the only gun manufacturers in Germany.
    But their main buys are indeed the USA, thats right ^^

    This whole discussion about prohibition of violent Games or Guns is a political joke to get attention now before the upcoming elections.
    In Germany, in 2007 – of the 82million inhabitants 167 people where killed by gunshots
    (couldn’t find the 2008 statistic right now.)
    Whats those figures in the US? i’d like to compare :)

    best regards

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