Why Aren’t We Discussing Videogame Violence?

Everyone? We need to talk.

I didn’t feel right playing Far Cry 3 the day after the awful, disgusting, utterly tragic shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. I didn’t at all.

I think that says something. I know that says something. But what? That’s the important question, and I’m disheartened to see that very few people are discussing it.

But I know why we’re not discussing it. That’s the easy part. It’s because that’s the sort of thing the enemy talks about. “Videogames cause violence,” they hoot and holler, pitchforks aloft atop their dusty dinosaur steeds. “The medium just belches out puerile filth that teaches our children how to kill. All games should be banned forever. Period end.”

The most recent last straw in a string of straws that have broken the camel’s back a million times over came when the US’ National Rifle Association primarily blamed violent media – games, Hollywood, etc (but especially Bulletstorm and 1989 beat-’em-up Splatterhouse for some reason) – for the recent school shootings. To say that the NRA’s stance was rooted in horrifyingly willful ignorance is the understatement of the century, but the fact is, they said it. On a national stage. And the NRA has some pretty serious lobbying power to boot. So what happened next? The same thing that always happens: everyone got super pissed off.

The NRA has quite an affinity for fireworks, and boy did it ever get them. And honestly, it deserved them. It deserved to be publicly denounced by longtime supporters and verbally tarred and feathered for what was frankly a disgusting, opportunistic display in light of such a terrible tragedy. But suddenly, the attention was on them and how completely, incontrovertibly wrong they were. Because that’s what always happens: opponents of the gaming industry fly off the handle and end up in Cuckoo Land on the goddamn moon. Whether it was politicians denouncing Mortal Kombat back in the day, Jack Thompson a few years ago, or the NRA now, there’s rarely any logic or reason backing their claims. Just loud, knee-jerking agendas and spittle-soaked shouting. They may go on and on and on about how they despise games and all they stand for, but their favorite game of all time is clear as day: the blame game.

So naturally, we take up our tower shields and defend gaming’s honor. I mean, I know I do. I love this medium. It’s provided some of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had in my entire life. Of course I’m going to speak up when it can’t speak for itself. Unfortunately, in this scenario, there’s rarely room for compromise. If gaming’s detractors say one thing, we say the opposite. Gaming causes violence? No. There is absolutely no problem with the fact that most big-budget games spill enough blood to make the Red Sea’s name literal. None whatsoever.

But can we just drop the fever-pitch finger-pointing and be honest with ourselves for a second? Forget the nutty politicians. Forget the “studies” that have been tailored to say whatever people want them to say. Just breathe, count to ten, and look inward. We take tremendous joy in virtual violence. We squeal with glee when life-giving liquid squirts out of men’s necks. Does that cause violence? Probably not. I don’t have any concrete reason to believe so, anyway. But it gives violence an active, constant role in our day-to-day lives. We can’t just ignore that. We shouldn’t ignore that. It’d be outright irresponsible to do so.

And really, that’s what this comes down to: responsibility – whether you’re a game-maker or a simply a player. Again, I don’t think gaming causes violence, but it would be impossible for frequent immersion in violent scenarios – fictional or not – to not have some kind of effect on us. We’re humans. We’re molded by our environment. Between games and movies and TV and commercials and billboards and everything else, Western (and especially American) culture treats violence like it’s perfectly normal. It’s just… there. All the time. For me personally, there’s still certainly a line between fiction and fact (I could hardly even move after I heard about the shootings in Newtown; I just sort of stared at a wall for a while), but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t affected people in other ways.

What I’m suggesting, then, is that it’s up to us to be aware. Examine yourself. Understand the effect – if any – that violence has had on you and those you care about. Don’t let your judgement be clouded by the fact that dumb people believe games to be the new rock ‘n’ roll comic book devil as heralded by literate people who – gasp – weren’t landed gentry. That’s not the point, and this certainly isn’t conceding defeat or anything like that. But gaming’s still a young medium. Heck, the modern world’s still young as, well, a thing that exists. It may move at a million miles per hour, but that’s no reason to avoid slowing down and taking the time to understand it.

This is something the industry stands to benefit hugely from, too. For one, big-budget gaming’s in a thematic gutter. Relentless manshooting gives even the best creators a pretty limited pallet to work with, so we just see the same strokes over and over again. Lo and behold, things finally get interesting when games examine themselves in a truly critical light (see: Spec Ops, etc) or do something new entirely. This is important. This is healthy. This is how an art form grows.

But also, knowing violence’s place in gaming and what it really does to us can help us turn these sudden outbursts against the industry from wars of words into semi-level-headed discussions. Yes, the tide of public perception is turning in gaming’s favor, but organizations like the NRA still have a lot of pull. And who knows? Maybe they’re too far gone. Maybe we can’t convince them of anything, and they’ll cut a swathe through portions of civilized society in some horrible, backward way. But it’d be utterly – and here’s that word again – irresponsible of us not to try. Reasoning with people (especially fundamentally unreasonable ones) doesn’t always work, but it’s incredibly depressing how often people opt to skip that step altogether.

But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. And that’s why I’m going to start at square one. Within the next couple of days, I’ll be publishing a followup piece to this one in which I’ll take a very close look at the places where games and violence have intersected with my life. From blissful, naive childhood all the way up to right now. Sure, the whole exercise will be inherently biased, but is there any other way to do it? And if I end up being completely full of shit, please – by all means – tell me. I want to start a discussion. Whether that means you end up contributing your own anecdotes, tearing mine to shreds, or doing something else entirely, that’s great! Regardless, I think it’s high-time we talk about this topic in an open, frank manner. So, right then. Pause your games of Far Cry 3. Let’s get to it.


  1. Demievil says:

    Millions of people play violent videogames. There is no correlation.

    I’m pretty sure they also read a book at some point. Lets burn all the libraries.

  2. lebbers says:

    Oh, this is sure to be a pointed exercise. It doesn’t help matters that we’re evidently to respond to a dreadful banality like, “violence is everywhere, man, we can’t ignore that, we just can’t!”

    What does that even mean? You haven’t even said anything yet. Perhaps the next article will bring something to the discussion because this overture makes me want to SLAUGHTER COUNTLESS SCORES OF ENEMIES AND REVEL IN THE DEPRAVITY OF THE HUNT.

  3. PopeRatzo says:

    It’s good to have this discussion, but I still don’t believe exposure to the games (and don’t forget, the movies) is what’s causing these mass shootings.

    People in the UK, in Poland, Brazil, and many other countries also play these games, often as fervently as we Americans do, without seeing the kind of massacre-a-month we do in the US. The same movies are watched. In fact, most of the profits from movies made in Hollywood comes from places outside the US.

    No, it’s not the games. It’s not the movies. There is a connection between being the country with the highest rate of civilian ownership of guns (more than double #2, Yemen) and the country with the most gun violence.

    I also watch a lot of football, and it hasn’t made me any more of a quarterback.

    But at least we haven’t yet gotten to the part where they tell us that the gun violence is caused by illegal filesharing. But it’s coming.

  4. BreadBitten says:

    The only way that the violence in video games, or any medium for that matter, has affected me in any tangible way is that I am a lot less sensitive to it, events real or otherwise. In retrospect, I feel absolutely horrible about not even flinching, hearing about the Newtown shooting from a friend, until he followed it up with the fact that the victims were children, after which I just wanted to shut myself off from any “news” on the event and just…live.

  5. BloatedGuppy says:

    I can’t speak for anything but my own anecdotal experience, but despite a steady diet of violent games, violent films, violent books and violent television for 30+ years, I remain a ridiculously non-violent person, to the point where my “fight” instinct is almost worryingly non-present. It would be nice to be able to translate my virtual experience into the real world and, say, thrash a mugger, but I don’t even like the idea of throwing a punch. I’d probably break my hand, or seriously hurt someone. Punches are dangerous!

    There is of course a certain narrative laziness in the industry, a certain over-reliance on violence as a conflict mechanism and more violence as its ultimate resolution, but a lot of that goes past gaming into genre staples (fantasy, superheroes, etc), and I can sympathize that it is extremely difficult to generate tension without threat. I’d like to see more games where pointing and shooting wasn’t my sole raison d’etre, but given I’ve spent the last 30 hours carefully cultivating tea plantations in Anno it would be a little ridiculous of me not to acknowledge that there are already options out there for the pacifistic gamer.

    TLDR – I don’t think we’ve meaningfully established correlation, let alone causation, between any form of media and real life violence. But from a simple desire to see creativity in the industry, I have no issue with a call for more varied methods of in-game conflict resolution than headshots.

    • cliffski says:

      Google the story of introducing TV to bhutan. It’s pretty amazing, in a bad way.

      • elderman says:

        Could you maybe post a link yourself and explain how you think it relates to the grandparent post? Sorry to be an annoying white knight here, but another minute’s worth of typing and you could have made a substantive contribution to the discussion.

      • BloatedGuppy says:

        Googled it. Read an article on it. Lots of speculation and opinion, no real studies done (aside from one done in St. Helena which had undergone the same process 4 years earlier and showed no correlation between TV violence and children’s behavior) or at least none referenced in the article I read. Divergent opinions, including the opinion that “young people are much more in tune with globalization and what is happening around the world” with the introduction of television. Some concern over losing the unique culture of the region by exposing it to global culture. Maybe some echoes of John Frum and the cargo cults, but I’m not sure how reasonable it is to expect to keep your culture hermetically sealed in the modern era.

        I certainly didn’t find a compelling statement against violent media in the article I read (more a statement about culture shock), but perhaps I read the wrong article. Or perhaps that wasn’t your point in referencing that story, I can’t really be sure. Interesting read though, thanks.

  6. F3ck says:

    “To say that the NRA’s stance was rooted in horrifyingly willful ignorance is the understatement of the century, but the fact is, they said it. On a national stage. And the NRA has some pretty serious lobbying power to boot.”

    …as do the far Christian right (with absurd claims about gay marriage causing 9/11, social decline, etc) they should be refuted and then ignored – but not an occasion for soul searching, given the absurdity of the claims…

    “We take tremendous joy in virtual violence. We squeal with glee when life-giving liquid squirts out of men’s necks.”

    …well, sure. But this is akin to the “gratuitous violence” of a Bugs Bunny cartoon (where animated characters were often shot, beaten, stabbed, dynamited and pushed to their death) in that it is so removed from actuality that it is all but meaningless (can even – as the case with Bullet storm, Bloody-Mess perk, etc – be humorous)…

    …and who can even count how many homicides were the direct result of the Warner Bros…?

    • NathanH says:

      This is a good point; everyone likes Bugs Bunny and that cartoon has far more gratuitious graphic violence than almost all of the video games I play.

  7. Somerled says:

    I was just thinking about this last night after Far Cry 3. I eventually settled on the idea that I wasn’t so enamoured with killing things, but with the mechanics of it: evading, sneaking, healing, and sometimes just going Robocop. Each kill is a tiny puzzle with numerous solutions. That’s no answer, it’s just a different way of framing the problem.

    Now I’m looking at my Steam games list and I see how many of my games have no forms of violence whatsoever, how many have violence so abstracted that it’s more numbers and flashing symbols than anything, and how many have violence so lo-fi that it’s hard to think of it as killing something at all. What percentage of games really have such extreme levels of violence and are those more heavily marketed than others?

  8. lizzardborn says:

    Violence in games is fun. Or depressing. Depending on the context and the skill of the devloper. Or is fun because the developers made such huge efforts to hold you hand and say – here boy, cry here, this is sad, we say so, that you cannot help but laugh.

    And lets be honest – we are violent people, we needed that when humanity was only a thousand or so people a hundred thousand years ago. We needed to be able to attach a sharp rock to a stick and point it at whatever tried to eat us. And then hunt it back so it never repeated it again. We will need in the future too. It triggers our survival instincts, makes our heart pumping lots of blood, shoots the adrenaline trough the roof, makes our body release chemicals that makes us naturally high.

    The intimate, complex relationship between the humanity, war and violence has always been best summarized for me in this Zelzazny’s “Creatures of light and darkness” quote:

    “Come now!” says Vramin, his eyes and cane flashing fires green. “All know of the General, who ranges alone. Out of the pages of history come the thundering hoofbeats of his war horse Bronze. He flew with the Lafayette Escadrille. He fought in the delaying action at Jarama Valley. He helped to hold Stalingrad in the dead of winter. With a handful of friends, he tried to invade Cuba. On every battleground, he has left a portion of himself. He camped out in Washington when times were bad, until a greater General asked him to go away. He was beaten in Little Rock, had acid thrown in his face in Berkeley. He was put on the Attorney General’s list, because he had once been a member of the I.W.W. All the causes for which he has fought are now dead, but a part of him died also as each was born and carried to its fruition. He survived, somehow, his century, with artificial limbs and artificial heart and veins, with false teeth and a glass eye, with a plate in his skull and bones out of plastic, with pieces of wire and porcelain inside him-until finally science came to make these things better than those with which man is normally endowed. He was again replaced, piece by piece, until, in the following century, he was far superior to any man of flesh and blood. And so again he fought the rebel battle, being smashed over and over again in the wars the colonies fought against the mother planet, and in the wars the individual worlds fought against the Federation. He is always on some Attorney General’s list and he plays his banjo and he does not care, for he has placed himself beyond the law by always obeying its spirit rather than its letter. He has had his metal replaced with flesh on many occasions and been a full man once more- but always he hearkens to some distant bugle and plays his banjo and follows-and then he loses his humanity again. He shot craps with Leon Trotsky, who taught him that writers are underpaid; he shared a boxcar with Woody Guthrie, who taught him his music and that singers are underpaid; he supported Fidel Castro for a time, and learned that lawyers are underpaid. He is almost invariably beaten and used and taken advantage of, and he does not care, for his ideals mean more to him than his flesh. Now, of course, the Prince Who Was A Thousand is an unpopular cause. I take it, from what you say, that those who would oppose the House of Life and the House of the Dead will be deemed supporters of the Prince, who has solicited no support-not that that matters. And I daresay you oppose the Prince, Wakim. I should also venture a guess that the General will support him, inasmuch as the Prince is a minority group all by himself. The General may be beaten, but he can never be destroyed, Wakim. Here he is now. Ask him yourself, if you’d like.”

    • InternetBatman says:

      That’s a huge generalization that isn’t quite true. If humans were naturally violent people why has the murder rate been declining for centuries? If the instinct to hunt is so important, why do most hunter-gatherer societies (excluding the inuit) gain the majority of their caloric intake from gathering, not hunting? Low technology hunting itself is not the visceral process that you imagine. It involves using bows, spear throwers, and traps more than running up to four legged animals that are faster than humans and trying to stab them.

  9. onetrueping says:

    So, a few things I think I want to clear the air about, and RPS being generally full of intelligent people, this seems like a good place for it.

    Before I get started, I wanted to express just how deeply the various violent acts of the world affect me. To even be able to function over the holidays, I had to stop listening to the news. Events like this one, and I’m not just limiting this to school shootings but also including terrorist acts and other expressions of violence on the helpless, are abhorrent, and can make me physically ill at times.

    Next, I feel the need to approach the ideas put forth by the American groups addressing the issue. They are approaching things in the wrong way. In America, we have a document called the Bill of Rights, and it serves several very important purposes. Each amendment has a specific meaning and reason, and it can be quite easy to lose sight of these purposes when horrific or appalling events occur.

    First, and most important to the video game side of the conversation, is the First Amendment, guaranteeing that no part of the Government, not at the State nor the Federal level, will interfere with Speech. I capitalized that word for a reason, namely that not all that is said qualifies as Speech. The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that American citizens can express an idea or opinion without the worry of government reprisal. This does not protect people from other people’s speech, or the reprisals of others for what they choose to say, a fact lost on many Americans.

    Any ban on video games would be inherently a matter of regulating speech, a fact more than driven home this year with the number of games that tried to express a message, with varying levels of success. This isn’t to say that the excesses of modern gaming, to the point where Far Cry 3 was nearly in recognizable as a satirical piece, needs to be curbed somewhat (we’ll get to that later). No, this is simply to state that the government should not attempt to address the issue officially.

    My second point is in regards to the Second Amendment, and the point of so much contrition. The Second Amendment has a purpose, which is straightforward: should the American people ever need to rise up against their government once more, they should have the tools to do so. Proposed “assault weapons” bans are ineffective against these attacks, for two reasons: the range that these attacks occur at is short enough that the type of weapon is irrelevant, and almost all cases of these assaults involve weapons that were legally obtained.

    This leads to the question of what we should do, and there are several answers. For a preventative measure, I am somewhat swayed by the idea of guarded schools, though this would work far better as a voluntary act than as one mandated; school funds should not be diverted from education where possible. But a truly preventative measure would be one discussed prior to previous shootings, namely that anyone seeking to purchase a weapon should undergo psychiatric evaluation before making a purchase.

    You see, the primary cause is not cultural violence, or prevalence of tools of killing. The bulk of these acts are caused by people who are very sick mentally, and were never afforded the attention and care that they deserve. We as a people have the responsibility to find these people and ensure that they receive proper care and treatment, both for their safety, and the safety of others.

    With that off my chest, I would like to return to the issue of violence in games, movies, and literature. The primary driving force of entertainment is conflict, because conflict is interesting. It is difficult to find a form of entertainment that does not inherently consist of a struggle in some form, whether that conflict is trying to match more gems than the other guy inside a time limit, trying to survive in a simplification of every day life, or being assaulted by lots of dudes with guns.

    Violence makes a good source of conflict for two reasons. One, it is a constant thing, forever in our awareness. We are surrounded by violence, or the threat of violence, and as a result, it is always on our minds, whether we like it or not. Second, violence is easy. It is very easy to sit someone down with a game, then have them defend themselves from a charging alien with a big, shiny gun. It is a lot harder to have that same person navigate through social circles (as in books like Pride and Prejudice; see visual novels), or to place words on a board to score extra points. No matter the tactical depth of a game, the concept is easy, and thus something that is easy to identify with. Easy games sell more copies, publishers notice and make more games that are easy, and the whole process becomes a nasty loop.

    The fact is, we live in a Capitalist economy, and if we want there to be change, we have to be willing to put our money where our collective mouths are. We need to buy games that are less overtly violent, less prone to accidental self-parody through the over simplicity of their base narrative, and once again start to consume those games that choose other for s of conflict. Remember adventure games, like Myst and Monkey Island? How about board and card game analogues, like Scrabble, Chess, or Poker? Heck, even games that contain violence but do not have them as a central point are good.

    The fact of the matter is, while we have a problem with violence in our culture, those who would cause violence do not need the culture of violence to do horrible things. All we can do is keep from letting the violence numb us to the horrors that do exist, and try to help those on the edge to keep them from toppling over.

    • InternetBatman says:

      You immediately begin with a flaw in logic. The idea that discussing violence in videogames will instantly lead to their prohibition. On a unrelated note, freedom of speech has already been limited by the supreme court in the case of “clear and present danger” or shouting fire in a movie theater as well as libel, so the first amendment does not grant unlimited free speech. Whether this is good or not (fire yes, clear and present danger no in my opinion) is a different discussion.

      The second amendment does not freedom of arms. In fact, the word “regulated” is in it. Otherwise citizens would be legally able to obtain nuclear arms. We have not had an effective assault weapon ban, the last one had over 600 exceptions and was only in practice for a decade.

      Columbine had an armed guard.

      The primary cause of violence is not mental illness. This may be the primary cause of school shootings, but in that case, the ready access to firearms, especially assault rifles cannot help.

      Yes we live in a capitalist culture, but capitalism is unequally applied. People already want games with ratings on them (I don’t but many, many consumers do). Why is sexuality treated under AO while violence gets a lesser rating? It’s worth discussing.

      You don’t have to upend the entire system to talk about small changes with socially beneficial effects.

      • Michael Anson says:

        “You immediately begin with a flaw in logic. The idea that discussing violence in videogames will instantly lead to their prohibition. On a unrelated note, freedom of speech has already been limited by the supreme court in the case of “clear and present danger” or shouting fire in a movie theater as well as libel, so the first amendment does not grant unlimited free speech. Whether this is good or not (fire yes, clear and present danger no in my opinion) is a different discussion.”

        Actually, this is not a flaw in logic. If you paid attention, I started by addressing what was occurring currently in the American legislative system, hence why I was discussing the amendments. And again, things like libel, clear and present danger, and “hate speech” are not considered speech, as their sole purpose is to endanger or harm others, and not to provide a valid viewpoint.

        “The second amendment does not freedom of arms. In fact, the word “regulated” is in it. Otherwise citizens would be legally able to obtain nuclear arms. We have not had an effective assault weapon ban, the last one had over 600 exceptions and was only in practice for a decade.”

        Actually, most higher end weaponry is legal to own, including tanks. And this is besides the point; the children were largely killed at ranges where even a low-caliber pistol would have been sufficient, and even limited clip sizes would have been ineffective. This is a case of people focusing on a single detail of the problem, and not the actual problem, in a blind hope of effecting real change.

        “Columbine had an armed guard.”

        Which is why this is not a comprehensive solution. Likewise, the Columbine kids had given plenty of warning signs (escapist videos where they “gunned down” classmates are a little hard to misinterpret).

        “The primary cause of violence is not mental illness. This may be the primary cause of school shootings, but in that case, the ready access to firearms, especially assault rifles cannot help.”

        The primary cause of violence is unthinking passion, and is also the leading cause of homocides. In these situations, anything that comes to hand is a weapon, and the availability of firearms is largely a moot point. In the cases of school massacres, there was a rather major one in the thirties, where a farmer blew up a school, then drove a car bomb into the rescue workers. People who wish to kill others will always have the means. We need to address the motive, instead.

        “Yes we live in a capitalist culture, but capitalism is unequally applied. People already want games with ratings on them (I don’t but many, many consumers do). Why is sexuality treated under AO while violence gets a lesser rating? It’s worth discussing.”

        This is a largely irrelevant point, as ratings are a voluntary part of the industry’s attempts to inform parents, and has little to do with the actual contents.

        “You don’t have to upend the entire system to talk about small changes with socially beneficial effects.”

        Never, in my entire post, did I advocate major changes to a system. Instead, I appealed to anyone who read to consider altering their own consumption habits, if they feel that extreme violence is becoming a problem. Likewise, I recommended that we be aware of those around us, and offer people help when they need it, before things occur that we all must mourn.

        • InternetBatman says:

          By using the word ban you automatically frame the discussion in binary terms. You can either ban something, or allow it. That means that the only change possible is radical.

          Why would limited clip sizes have been ineffective?

          If the primary cause of violence is unthinking passion, surely the widespread availability of devices which make killing easier escalates the lethality of said conflicts.

          Why can’t we address the motive and the means?

  10. leeder krenon says:

    After playing computer games for 30 years, I am pretty fucking tired of shooting dudes in the head. I welcome any maturation and progression in the medium that means that more games are produced about things other than shooting dudes in the head. I watched the trailer for Far Cry 3 the other day and was depressed, I had been looking forward to it but it was all about shooting dudes in the head. At least in Far Cry 2 everything was a bit fucked up whilst you shot dudes in the head. Or maybe a few years ago I was less sensitive of the issue.

    I am gonna go and play some train simulator now to let off some steam (ahaha?). No dude head shotting will occur.

  11. MOKKA says:

    I would find it interesting to hear the opinions of some Game designers, or ‘Industry Personalities’ on that manner. It’s those people who make those games, and it would be interesting to hear their opinions about violence in their games. Maybe RPS could try and reach out to some developers and ask for their thoughts on this, it would certainly be an interesting thing to read.

  12. beekay says:

    @everyone who’s asking why a lot of games centre around violence: have you considered that violence just makes a really good centre for the format?

    I mean, our fiction could credibly be divided into the categories “fantasy,” “drama,” “comedy” and “violent” (as a poorly-named umbrella for the various primarily violent genres like action etc). There are a few things that make a good story, and those are about it. Now, try to imagine building a game that centred around drama. That’s not going to happen until we’ve got rapid natural language interpreters, a lot more processing power, and some reasonably advanced socially-aware artificial intelligence. Shooters were possible back in the 90s. What else are you going to do, exactly?

    (Well, you could build a puzzle game or some other relatively niche product, but that’s never going to enjoy the commercial success you’d see from a game based around one of the major genres in other media.)

  13. Matt7895 says:

    I’m sick of this. You say “we’re not talking about it”, but it is all I’ve seen. I’ve just had some crank on Twitter @ me loads of ridiculous nonsense about Ukraine banning the Teletubbies because they don’t like its effect on children. All because I asked him to provide a study that showed a definitive link between playing video games, and violent crime. Of course, he had no study to offer me.

    TotalBiscuit uploaded an excellent video that covered all this. I suggest you watch it before you throw fuel to the morons saying it was video games to blame: link to youtube.com

    Mark Kermode, a film critic with barely any knowledge of video games apart from the occasional glance over his son’s shoulder, has also lent his support to the gaming community because he knows, as a fan of violent horror films, just how stupid and ignorant people can be. After a tragedy you will always have the moral police surging forward, trying to find anyone to blame, no matter how specious the link.

    You writing an article like this is NOT helping. You are only giving credence to the baseless belief that somehow, playing a violent video game might encourage you to go out and perform violent acts in real life. You are massaging the egos of the Mary Whitehouses, the Jack Thompsons and the Keith Vazes of this world. These people don’t know what they are talking about. They have nothing to back up their ideas, other than ignorant prejudice. Now they can say, “Hey, look, gamers actually agree with us! Let’s ban some games.”

    All the while, the people murdered by a crackpot gun nut are STILL dead, and guns are still widely available in the USA.

    • Zetetic says:

      Because the subject is difficult, and crowded with shrill voices, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to talk about it more calmly. (Quite the opposite perhaps.)

    • Amun says:

      I think the article was trying to talk about the general “stack the bodies higher without meaning or purpose” bloodlust that seems to be all the rage in your call of duties and whatever other banal shooter the kids are playing these days.

    • dftaylor says:

      Interesting that you feel that’s what the article was saying. From my reading it’s not that the writer feels games are causing violence (he actively refutes that), he’s questioning why games are so unanimously, consistently violent.

      Look at the last six games I bought: Far Cry 3, Hitman: Absolution, Dishonored, Hotline: Miami, Spec Ops: The Line, and Sleeping Dogs.

      Every one of those had violence at its core. Not one. It is a key mechanic, THE key mechanic, in each game. There are so few ways to interact with the content in this industry that don’t involve maiming someone or some thing. That’s worth questioning.

      • D3xter says:

        Then buy other games, just from some of the purchases I have made recently:
        Quantum Conundrum, Dear Esther, Scribblenauts, Clones, Primordia, Deponia, Tiny and Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers, Botanicula etc.

        Obviously they’re doing something right if you keep buying those games instead of anything else, nobody’s forcing you to.

  14. the_fanciest_of_pants says:

    Always a touchy subject but worth talking about. I personally don’t think there are any real ties between actual violence and aggression an violent media of any sort, I’ve just never seen any real evidence to sway me and of course I’ve been a life long devotee of virtual manshooting and Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, and I certainly don’t consider real and fictional violence to be similar.

    I think a lot of it has to do with design trends; Violent acts translate well into game mechanics; shooting, punching, etc. It’s all a very simple process to make these sorts of things challenging, rewarding and clear to the player- other sorts of “embodied” actions are far harder to break down into individual acts, and much harder to make clear and fun.

    For example, look at how we introduce things like social interaction or crafting in games. These are acts that I think it’s fair enough to say we all do much more in real life than acts of violence. Perhaps it’s because of our everyday familiarity with these actions that gamification of them is so difficult; few of us have ever gone on a sword slinging adventure or fought our way out of a zombie plague.

    Also there’s the concern that game mechanics that work tend to be recycled forever. We’ve really got a bead on shooting at guys in games, so the impetus to explore other actions falls flat in the face of what we know works.

    I think we have everything to gain from expanding our horizons in terms of stuff we can do in games, and fun, challenging mechanics to control them, but it certainly is difficult.

  15. Xardas Kane says:

    I’ve read so many articles on this subject that the only reaction you can get out of me is an eye-roll. Really? Do we need YET ANOTHER such piece ? The third one (at the very least) this year? RPS, aren’t you a bit bored by now? Hasn’t this been discussed, over and over,and over, and over, and over, and…? Honestly, in such a fast-developing and dynamic industry you can’t find any other hot topic to write about?

    • x1501 says:

      I completely agree. Even more so, I find these overdrawn and somewhat pretentious pieces increasingly annoying.

      The author kept staring at the wall and didn’t feel right playing Far Cry 3 the day after the shooting? Really? Well, I can’t even begin to imagine his reaction when I tell him that there were 6.9 million deaths of children under five in 2011 alone, with roughly 19,000 of under-five deaths still happening every single day, including today, yesterday, the day of the Newtown massacre, and the days before and after that.

      I’m not AT ALL saying that what happened in Newtown wasn’t a tragic, horrific, or disgusting event, but let’s keep things in perspective here. Instead of predictably indulging in this boring, overly dramatic, and entirely pointless exercise in self-righteous navel-gazing, try writing about something more substantial and engaging next time. Like discussing ideas for designing entertaining games for a primary purpose other than pure entertainment, or finding ways for taking advantage of the popularity and power of games to make us all better and turn a favorite leisure activity into a critical educational resource. Almost any other subject would probably be better than this.

      • Xardas Kane says:

        And what about the war in Syria? The millions dead in Sudan? The millions who have been living in refugee camps for decades? The war in Iraq or Yugoslavia? Why didn’t that stop the author from any enjoying games like Medal of Honor or Half-Life? I agree, it’s pretentious to a fault. RPS, I am disappoint.

  16. F3ck says:

    ….also, I think people want to shoot other people in games because it’s the ultimate taboo. Period.

    ….games continue to recycle this idea because (aside from laziness) there is no “up” from ultimate.

    …people who are capable of harming strangers outright are going to do it (not because a violent game/movie/album/etc gave them the notion). Period.

    • Zetetic says:

      Shooting people is the ultimate taboo, you say?
      Bugger, I thought Child Rapist : Holocaust (That Didn’t Happen Anyway) Edition was going to be a surefire hit. I might as well not bother with the Kickstarter.

      • F3ck says:

        Ultimate and plausible…try to go beyond and you get this type of bizarre parody.

        • Zetetic says:

          Ok, let’s narrow it to games where the player guides the protagonist to rape people.
          Such games do exist, are earnest rather than parodic (which I appreciate is really a matter of the audience’s perception), and rape presumably is ‘plausible’ (given that it happens) to all but the most simple-minded. I would argue that rape remains a more taboo subject than non-sexualised violence; see the reaction to scenes in the latest Tomb Raider game.

          Such games are not very popular, appealing to a niche audience.

          • F3ck says:

            I’d suggest that rape is actually only even desired/desirable to very a very fucked up mindset – and that is [fortunately] the minority.

            Thus their immense popularity with such a small niche.

            We all have had at least fleeting fantasies of killing.

            We do not have daydreams about raping our bosses, in-laws, etc…we just might daydream about blowing up people in traffic, running over pedestrians, strangling the rude clerk at the market…

            It’s the one thing that some part of us most wants to do that we’ll never get to…that’s its appeal…

            … most of us just want to pretend to kill pretend people.

            [edit] my initial response was a bit more knee-jerk as I’m beginning to suspect you’re merely playing the contrarian.

          • x1501 says:

            We all have had at least fleeting fantasies of killing…we just might daydream about blowing up people in traffic, running over pedestrians, strangling the rude clerk at the market…

            Can I please have the name of the place you live in, so, if we happen to be neighbors, I can get the fuck out of there before it’s too late?

          • Zetetic says:

            No, I just think that you’re wrong, F3ck.

            You’ve now gone through the following positions:
            Violence is popular in games because it’s the ultimate taboo.
            Violence is popular in games because it’s the ultimate taboo that’s plausible.
            Violence is popular in games because we all fantasize about being violent.

          • F3ck says:

            @ x1501
            …I can safely assume you neither play, nor enjoy, any of the games being mentioned in these comments?

            If that’s the case you have no valid opinion to offer here – on the other hand, if you do play and (god help your delicate sensibilities) enjoy games like Fallout, Far Cry, Dishonored you need to drop the act, for if you were really such a fragile flower you’d find no joy in them.

            If my hyperbolic descriptions of dispatching the daily stressors is too much for you to bear, then fear not – you wouldn’t survive where I live…therefore we couldn’t be neighbors.

          • F3ck says:

            @ Zetetic

            They’re the same thing.

            The games are shooting because that’s what’s easy, and that’s what we want.

            We buy these games (we, meaning YOU) because we enjoy the cartoonish portrayal of shooting someone in the head.

            If there weren’t some part of you that could/would actually kill if your life depended on it – I doubt you’d be able to enjoy these games at all.

            But we surely never will, so there’s the fantasy…the release.

            Anyway, I feel it’s pretty obvious what it is…

            …besides, you’ve offered no alternative notion – just (what feel like) unrelated retorts.

          • x1501 says:

            F3ck, what does that have to do with anything? I’ve been playing violent video games and watching violent movies for decades, and I’m pretty sure I had more thoughts about sleeping with my cousin when was a teenager (which is to say, not that many; and trust me, you would too) than I did about blowing people up in traffic or anywhere else. I may daydream about having sex with real people. I don’t daydream about strangling them to death at all. If that’s something you do on a regular basis., I’d suggest to seek professional help.

            P.S. As far as ultimate taboos go, you seem to have a pretty limited imagination. I’d give you an idea or two, but I don’t want you to “daydream” about them in the future.

          • F3ck says:

            FTR, when I say ultimate taboo I mean not just ultimate in terms of extreme (though many would argue that taking a life is as extreme as it gets)…obviously, yes, there are plenty of more shocking, disgusting no-no’s than plain old murder…

            …I mean the worst one we all have in common (not Zetetic’s proclivity toward pedophilia nor x1501’s desire to fuck his cousin) obviously…the one we frequently, collectively, ultimately fantasize about: shooting that dick.

            Now, if you don’t live in a metropolis crowded with mouth-breathers, endless traffic, rampant crime and almost complete lack of common human courtesy…or if you never suffered abuses, or were bullied, or the victim of a crime…

            …then you might not understand at all (and I tip my hat to your good fortune)…

            But if you have…if you do…and you still play by the rules, pay your taxes, put on a good face, mind your manners…then you know what I’m talking about…and it’s all the more offensive when “they” accuse Games of causing violence…when they actually curb it.

            Zetetic: first you said the banana was fruit, then you said it was yellow, now you’re saying it’s curved? Which is it?!

  17. dextronaut says:

    For some, who are peace-loving folk, a nice shoot ’em up is a nice change of pace and escape from reality from what we’d normally do. it can be the exact opposite of “influencing us” but more “relieving us.” I cant say if this is true, but its quite possible some people would go out and do the real thing if they didnt have such a realistic simulation at home to quell those urges.

    Now, for my real question, what game is is that second picture of?? with the +50 headshot over the missing head or whatever. Id really like to know lol.

    Also, to answer the title “Why aren’t we discussing video game violence?” Well, quite simply, for the same reason you have even mentioned. because its been discussed a million times before. I think the real question is, “Why are we STILL discussing video game violence?”

    • Spoon Of Doom says:

      I’m pretty sure that’s Bulletstorm.

      • jhng says:

        I think it’s actually one of the Far Cry 3 point-scoring challenges.

        • Azhrarn says:

          I’m entirely positive it’s Bulletstorm. ;) Farcry 3s font is quite different, en the gore isn’t nearly as over-the-top as in Bulletstorm, not to mention the fact that FC3 actually is colorful, this is desaturated.

          • D3xter says:

            Yep, it’s Bulletstorm, according to Fox News it also turns people into rapists: link to nbcnews.com

            Not too long and I expect similar headlines from RPS.

  18. Spoon Of Doom says:

    Interesting article. I too am guilty of this knee-jerk mode whenever nut-heads blame everything on videogames, and have defended them every now and then. After all, I’ve been playing since I was around 3 years old (started on my father’s C64 back then), and I’ve still always avoided violence wherever possible. There couldn’t be any connection between the two, could there?

    But these days, I increasingly often find myself playing a game and cringing. Violence is getting more and more graphic, more explicit, more exotic. Games seem to go to greater and greater lengths to show you the most disgusting killing animations possible, and I don’t think I’m okay with that. It is gratuitous, serves (in all but the rarest cases) no purpose and is the kind of stuff that makes you think about ALT+Tabbing to Youporn when a nongamer walks into the room because that would be easier to explain.

    But I cannot say that I don’t enjoy violence in games at all, either. I like the Assassin’s Creed games, I like Far Cry, I like Saints Row. In some games, I find myself enjoying combat and the violence that comes with it, in some games I only tolerate it because I like the rest of the game and in some it is so over the top that I just don’t want to play it – Manhunt comes to mind, a game that, in my opinion, had nothing good to offer except for extreme depictions of violence. I think that was the first time I thought that the overdone violence actually substracted from a game.

    What I welcome is when a game doesn’t handle violence lightly, and makes me feel something with it. The Walking Dead is a recent example – some scenes were really hard for me to stomach, but it wasn’t because of how graphic or explicit or extreme it was – it was because it happened to what felt more like real characters, and it took place in what felt more like a real place, and it served a purpose in the scene.

    I think that’s what it comes down to: combat in a game as a mechanic is okay, but pumping up violence just for the sake of more violence, trying to one-up the other title’s neckstabbery or burning alive scenes, sucks. When it serves a purpose, when it makes the players feel somethin, when it has weight and consequences – then I think it can be a good thing (obviously still talking about ingame, not real violence) and can be a good tool in a game designer’s toolbox.

    God, what a wall of text. Sorry. I already deleted a big part. I’ll be quiet now.

  19. Spinks says:

    Am mostly not discussing it because I don’t really play those types of game and have been kind of busy recently with The Walking Dead.

    But yeah, we need to wake up and realise we don’t actually know whether the popularity of ultra violent military shmups is a cause or effect of the culture. And whether it might be unhealthy for some people. (I’m sure for others it’s a good way to let off steam and could be a substitute for much less healthy activities.)

  20. Amun says:

    OH! OH! Can I talk about GTA?

    I took a women’s studies course this past fall and just about fell off my chair when the textbook listed GTA as a game that promotes violence against women because you could pick up a hooker and then murder her after the deed was done. Obviously the hooker is a stereotype (in a game of stereotypes) and of course it *is* violence against women, by definition….. BUT HOLY SHIT YOU CAN MURDER ANYONE ELSE IN THE GAME TOO!

    • Axess Denyd says:

      Obviously the hooker is a stereotype (in a game of stereotypes) and of course it *is* violence against women, by definition….. BUT HOLY SHIT YOU CAN MURDER ANYONE ELSE IN THE GAME TOO!

      Welcome to the logic of Women’s Studies.

  21. doswillrule says:

    It’s hard to stay away from pseudo-science declarations about the impact on children or the subconscious mind or whatever, and I think Nathan does a good job of boiling it down here.

    This is a topic which really interests me, primarily because I have a much younger brother who is obsessed with violence. Not in an unnerving way, but he loves beat ’em ups and flash game shooters, has played the Halo games at friends’ houses, and yearns to play the likes of Black Ops. His sense of right and wrong is very black and white, good guys and bad guys, and he clearly makes that distinction when gunning down little cartoon characters, stick figures, or aliens.

    He plays more sanguine titles too, and I always err on the side of caution, but part of me thinks he’s going to play these games anyway and he likes them, why not indulge him with some good quality, not incredibly violent examples. The games are so ubiquitous and age limits so often ignored that it seems fruitless to stop him, but when he’s creating a cardboard battlefield for stickmen and painting on blood splatters, you wonder what the long term effects will truly be.

    • Zetetic says:

      I think Nathan’s decision to at least start from a personal point of view isn’t a bad one in this case. Ultimately a lot of the questions are essentially psychological (and hence open to scientific investigation), but starting by honestly treating games as art and trying to understand what they convey (to Nathan at the very least) is something that also needs to happen.

  22. MarloBrandon says:

    There’s no such thing as “videogame violence”, as far as I’m concerned. Obviously there’s portrayal of violence, but I’m not sure anyone is even making this distinction. When I play F.E.A.R (for example), I’m not being violent, and neither is the game for that matter. I’m simply interacting with the computer in a cooperative way, through the interface that is the game (which may or may not portray violence). If you don’t see it this way, there’s something wrong with you. The only thing remotely close to “violence” happens in multiplayer games, where people “fight” against each other (and that still stretches it pretty far).

  23. dcguy78 says:

    “I could hardly even move after I heard about the shootings in Newtown; I just sort of stared at a wall for a while”

    Let me simply say first that what happened in Newtown is a terrible thing. No one should ever suffer the loss of their young child in this way (let alone so close to a major holiday). That said, I must admit I had to stifle a chuckle when I read your reaction to the tragedy. You’re clearly a good writer making a valid point about the state of the modern gaming industry and while this is obviously an opinion piece, I feel like your argument is weakened by sharing your personal reaction.

    • Stellar Duck says:


      It gives a context within which to read the following words and perhaps to better understand what Nathan is saying and why he is saying it.

  24. JackShandy says:

    Adults have the responsibility to avoid being morally influenced by the fiction they consume. If we can’t do that, then society has a massive problem that extends far beyond videogames.

    I do agree that we need more non-violent videogames, just to expand our fucking vocabulary if nothing else.

  25. Penguin_Factory says:

    I think the way this discussion is often framed- “oh no games are super violent”- is too simplistic. I don’t see the problem as games featuring graphic violence and exploding heads, but rather that we’re now living in a culture surrounded by fiction in which violence is treated as not only a legitimate solution to our problems, but the only viable solution- sometimes even as a virtuous, noble endeavor (I’m looking straight at you, Medal of Honour).

    It doesn’t really matter what the severity of the violence is in this case. It could be something relatively innocuous like punching or slapping, the problem starts when those actions are portrayed as acceptable or even necessary.

    Ironically I actually have less of a problem with games like Bulletstorm, which are clearly not supposed to be taken seriously, than all of the gritty serious-business manshoots like Modern Warfare and Battlefield 3 (at least the single player). It seriously terrifies me how those games portray real-world or inspired by real-life conflicts that some of their players may very well go on to participate in.

    I have a solution to this problem, and not one that involves ceasing production of violent games. That solution is: broader types of games and better writing in video games. Let me go into detail:

    1) We need more games that don’t involve shooting or stabbing people. The success of Minecraft, Peggle, and myriad Facebook games proves that there’s a massive audience for non-violent games out there. Let’s see the AAA publishers tap into it.

    To go on a slight detour, Minecraft exemplifies what I was talking about above. There’s “violence” in that game but it’s not the actual point of the game. You’re attacked by monsters while exploring or building and must defend yourself. Fighting is dangerous and most players will go to great lengths to avoid having to do so, with your sword or bow usually reserved as a last resort.

    2) Make games where violence is optional. Nathan’s article made a good point about Dishonored, where you’re actually rewarded for not killing anyone. I’d like to see developers take that one step further and make a game where it’s actually more difficult to kill people than it is to sneak past them or solve problems in some other way. That leads to my next point:

    3) Violence should have consequences. This is where good video game writing comes in. We’re far too used to games where the villains are faceless bad guys to be mowed down, more often than not portrayed as heartless murderers. I want to see a game where the opportunities to kill people are few and every potential victim is a fleshed out character. Movies do this all the time, crafting tragic or understandable villains whose death we mourn as if they were a hero- why can’t games?

    Or even better, give the player the option to solve a problem by harming an innocent person. Imagine if there had been a point in The Walking Dead where you could get past a problem easier by hurting Clementine. If you’ve played those games, just the suggestion of it is probably enough to make your stomach turn.

    4) Make more games aimed at kids that involve killing. Okay this one is going to sound weird but bear with me. Kids play violent games. There’s probably no way to stop this, not while their parents insist on buying the things for them. So why not take advantage of it? Make games explicitly aimed at younger players that involve killing (notice I said killing, not graphic violence) and incorporate everything I talked about above. The current generation of people on their late teens and early 20s who have grown up surrounded by this stuff might be a lost cause in terms of encouraging them/us to try something different, but maybe we can bring the next generation up to not view exploding heads as an integral component of entertainment.

    Now before anyone gets the wrong idea, I’m not suggesting that all games have to be super Serious Business dramas that make the player weep tears of guilt and remorse. We can still have our over the top gib-filled bullet fests. In fact I’d encourage FPS developers to go in that direction more often instead of pretending their Tom Clancy knock-offs are powerful Oscar-worthy dramas.

    • Spoon Of Doom says:

      I like your point about making killing harder than the other solutions. I sometimes find myself resorting to violence in some stealth games only because all the waiting around and sneaking can be really tedious sometimes.

      I also have this vision of a game that looks and plays like a typical shooter, you mow down hordes of people, lots of explosions, lots of death and violence. Except for two things:
      1) These ‘enemies’ are as close to real characters with real lives as you can reasonably depict in a game and the player would constantly be reminded of the fact
      2) You could avoid this whole massacre from the start by simply talking to them (instead of just starting to kill them or even better, instead of mindlessly following the order to kill them) or finding another solution. Kind of like it was suggested in Spec-Ops, but here the game would actually give the players the choice to not do all those horrible things.

      It would then silently grab statistics about how many people actually tried not shooting all those men in their faces, and in an ideal world, nobody would know about this little trick before actually realizing it themselves.
      But since this would mean essentially making two entirely different games in one, probably resulting in both halves being half-assed, that’ll most likely stay a Molydeux-esque dream experiment.

  26. MrLebanon says:

    I’ll share my own personal 2 cents in saying the following:

    Did anyone stop playing games when Iraq and Afghanistan were being bombed and pillaged?

    No. They made the fucking scenario into games. I grew up as a Muslim/Arab kid in Canada where media – including video games – glorified killing people just like me. Games are just as much of a media tool of brainwashing the masses as any other tool. Call of Duty glorified war. The majority of WW2 era games paint EVERY German as a big evil man who deserved to die and put you into the body of American soldier who’s soul purpose was to slaughter the endlessly mindless German drones.

    Video games instill these ideas into the minds of young minds who grow up racist with superiority complexes because games were there to show them “AMERICA FUCK YEAH”

    Thankfully, in more recent years – we have seen less of this, and we’ve even started to see protagonists who are not your stereotypical action movie hero. We’re starting to see games that make us think about our actions and the implications of our killing. In that sense – I feel the gaming industry’s violence has matured.

    Sure, there is still mindless violence a la Bulletstorm – but many titles are making us reflect upon what we do and realize their are two sides to a story. As lousy of an RPG Skyrim was – the Stormcloak/Imperial conflict showed us the absolute grey nature of warfare…GTA IV even tried to put you in as a character who wanted to avoid the violence and killing.

    I think gaming has come a long way – the violence we indulge in today is varied and sometimes meaningful. Now excuse me while I go play McPixel

    • Amun says:

      Right on brother. Hate speech is a far bigger problem than blood and guts.

    • Jakkar says:

      Excellent comparison. I’m deeply disappointed to see such a thoughtless post by RPS. But Nathan has been the weakest contributor since he arrived, or I’d be more surprised… Why didn’t he consider this response while writing?

      Almost nationalistic, his capacity to have totally ignored so many events but to crack when it happens in his home country.

      • BooleanBob says:

        I have to agree (more with the criticism than the tone it was expressed in). If anyone else cares to follow this particular strand, Monbiot has an excellent piece up at the Graun (not games related, though):

        link to guardian.co.uk

        • Gap Gen says:

          Yes, the news is not particularly good at getting a sense of perspective. Then again, it’s probably driven by a sense of what they think people want to read about, and apparently they think people want to read wall-to-wall invasion-of-privacy of a town in mourning.

    • Tritagonist says:

      Excellent first point, and of course the answer is: No, people did not stop playing games when Iraq and Afghanistan (or Pakistan, or Libya, or Yemen) were being bombed and tens of thousands (at the very least) were killed. Perhaps that difference can be the subject of the writer’s next article.

      I’m not sure I agree with your second point though, about how influential these games are. The ubiquitous mocking of Call of Duty and other dudebro-games suggests to me that a lot of people, certainly not all – I’ll agree with that, see the games as simply that, games, and don’t give too much credence to their portrayal of the world.

  27. just some guy says:

    As someone who had a dad who got a bit angry after a few too many and has been mugged twice I can tell you videogame violence is really quite unlike the real thing.

    Maybe you were in the sas and know what its like to kill a man or whatever and you think its just like in modern warfare but I doubt it.

  28. Uglycat says:

    To quote Calvin and Hobbes:

    “Graphic violence in the media. Does it glamorize violence? Sure. Does it desensitize us to violence? Of course. Does it help us to 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.”

    link to myconfinedspace.com

  29. khomotso says:

    I respect your intentions, but this strategy – the inward searching, guided only by intuition and pop psychology – seems to me backward, and not at all likely to lead anywhere helpful. It’s the kind of approach that leads to sloppy conclusions that make us feel good. Which is what sells politically – if there’s something that links this post with the misguidedness of our pols, that’s it.

    Far better, I think, to admit that the psychology of game-playing, like other forms of entertainment, is tortuously complex, and our common sense and intuitions are going to be a poor guide. We need a steady campaign of something more scientific to get anywhere.

    In practical terms, this means finding ways to encourage more thoughtful (more thoughtful than ‘I’m going to turn my gaze inward, really hard’) study of gaming’s effects. Maybe gaming journalists can learn a bit more about how to evaluate and critique methodologies of these studies, or perhaps suggest how they might be improved. Or maybe we can borrow a lesson from Anna Sarkeesian and try to sponsor some such studies with the same tools that are fueling some of our games. There may also be particular points of political advocacy: maybe the UK should be sponsoring the study of games at the same time as it provides strong tax incentives to the industry.

    Otherwise it’s just an Oprah show, and I’ve long lost faith in that approach arriving at any real insight.

    I know, telling your personal stories is what blogs and columns are good for, and science, not so much. Also, science is hard, and it’s not going to get anywhere right away. But if you’re serious about this, and not just playing to the emotion of a moment …

    • Amun says:

      Preach it soul sister. Science is humanity’s only hope of true salvation.

      • Uglycat says:

        This comment is not only frightening because of its lack of historical understanding, but also because it fails to take into account the last 300 years of philosophical understanding, showing that you can only derive ‘is’ from science, not ‘oughts’. ‘Science’ (whatever that means) has singularly failed to save us in the past, and will continue to fail to save us in the future.

        • x1501 says:

          What does philosophy have to do with science?

          • Uglycat says:

            Under exactly what bias-free, assumption-free, cultural-free auspices do you think ‘Science’ operates? Have you never read Hume, Popper, or Kuhn on any of this?

          • x1501 says:

            You didn’t really answer my question. Science may have originated in philosophy and religion, but what do either of these have to do with the scientific method or modern science in general? Oh, and while you’re at it, could you perhaps tell me exactly how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? I never figured out the empirical answer to that one either.

          • Zetetic says:

            Determining the ‘scientific method’ – how we go about doing science correctly (and indeed determining what ‘correctly’ means here) – is itself a philosophical problem and one which we continue to struggle with. (All the more so in the soft sciences – where causation is inevitably hard to make sense of – and the areas of hard sciences which strict determinism struggles with.)

            Trying to get to grips with the utility and coherence of novel theories is, in part, a philosophical problem.
            Neuroscience in particular struggles with these sort of problems – for example, we end up with people talking about the ‘part of the brain responsible for anger’ or ‘brains making mistakes’, which aren’t terrible metaphors in themselves but lead plenty of intelligent people into thinking very silly things. (‘Category errors’ if you want.)
            Psychology (of a cognitive rather than neurosciency bent) often struggles with its (understandable) abuse of terms such as ‘intelligence’ or ‘attitude’ to mean significantly different things than their common usage (whilst still aiming to have a great deal of relevance to that usage). Again, sorting out the semantics is broadly a philosophical problem.

          • Uglycat says:

            That you don’t understand that there is relationship is problematic enough. Inquiry isn’t dictated by some abstract machine – go read some Polyani. If you don’t understand the Is-Ought debate, I can’t really help you beyond suggesting to read about it.

            While we’re at it, you might want to brush up on your history as well. Angels dancing on the heads of pins was an Early Modern invention intended to disparage scholasticism- which in turn, had never even formulated the question to begin with, so your comment likewise serves as a non-sequitur in this conversation too.

        • elderman says:

          Good point.

          I also agree with khomotso’s OP, and would love to see an evidence-backed examination of violence in computer games here on RPS. However, to add on, the questions a researcher asks about violence in games, in people, and in society have to be driven by intuition. Moreover, violence in games is an interesting enough topic to discuss even before strong evidence is in. If it weren’t, it wouldn’t be a very good topic for research.

    • elderman says:


    • Zetetic says:

      At this point, I think it’s useful to have someone talk personally about the messages they recognise in the games they’ve played and how they feel that this might have affected their perception of violence.

      I would agree that this doesn’t in any way replace the difficult work of the soft sciences.

      Literary criticism and psychology (of this area) are, I suppose, both tending to grasp towards the same thing – how people react to creative works. And while psychology is the only way to answer the difficult (and perhaps most important) questions, literary criticism arguably serves many people better to talk about the issues and gain an understanding of those questions.

      Consider how many people respond to any psychological study in this area with “Well, I’ve never shot up a school so the violence in my games can’t be having any effect on me or anyone else.”; consider many of the comments on this thread.

    • BooleanBob says:

      I have searched inside of myself and found that there is a power of rightness in this post.

  30. fish99 says:

    It’s reached a point where I don’t even read/watch coverage of the latest shootings in the US. They worship the gun and live with the consequences. In the mind of the average american they still live in frontier territory and need a gun to defend themselves. The problem isn’t that crazy people exist, it’s that they can do so much more damage with a gun. And of course NRA are going to look for something to deflect the blame.

    TBH I wouldn’t even have a problem with stricter regulations of violent games if that’s what the right is asking for, but when they’re so easy to pirate it’s almost a waste of time.

  31. Jakkar says:

    The same reason we stopped talking about violence in comic books or films, for the most-part. It ceased to be interesting for the public to consume scare-stories about it, it failed to be an effective method of control, it no longer provided a means for the manipulative to profit in the courts.

    It was never relevant to real-world events, it was always escapist entertainment or thought-provoking exploration of a concept, with plot-stakes, uppers, downers, and as an above commenter mentioned; failure-states. No worse than rap extolling murder or comic books depicting rape.

    The horse is dead, Nathan. Leave it alone. This kind of insipid yet irrational sentimentality would be a waste of space on the RPS feed if there were actually any posts at this time of year.

  32. Kefren says:

    I think the main effect of games is that they temporarily shape your imaginary, fantasy life. If the game immerses you then even when you stop playing you think about it. How to get past a certain puzzle, or what lies beyond the wall, or why the antagonist is acting that way. I remember many years ago when I first played Doom. I had a walk over a golf course and through some woods to get to and from university campus. I used to imagine an attack by one or more of the Doom enemies, and I had one of the Doom weapons. I’d munch on crisps and picture a cacodemon floating from behind a tree, so that I’d plasma it and dive to the side. Or two imps would start firing at me from behind and I’d back off with my minigun rattling, flames bursting all around. Occasionally it would be a Baron of Hell and i’d just run. Years later I was playing Heroes of Might and Magic 2, and would think about the stories, hum the music, picture things as moving on hexagons, and weighing up how much damage 1000 skeletons would d to a black dragon. This is the effect of games. Unlike films they’re not over quickly, they may stay with you for days or weeks, and if it is worth playing that much then you’ll think about it. I don’t think violent games make you violent; but if you only play violent games then your imagination will be utilising that as fuel for more violent fantasies. It will be your state of mind for longer. Maybe over a long time that could have an effect if you’re always imagining virtual deaths and guns. Make you more nihilistic. Who knows? But I have definitely found that games do stay with me, and do affect my fantasy life.

  33. Bradamantium says:

    I think we aren’t discussing it because the discussion is already through with. It’s important for gamers to be aware as posited in the article here, but I would think most of us are. Most of us can see where and why games are violent (most places, because violence=conflict=impetus for a game) and we can see how that might affect some people differently than others. But those some people are a slim minority. Out of the many, many millions (billions?) of people who play games, a ridiculously tiny amount do things like these mass shootings. Even fewer of them can conclusively be said to do it because of games. There’s a definite fundamental difference between violence in games and violence in life; the problem doesn’t lie with games, it’s with people who for whatever reason can’t discern that difference.

    I don’t think talking about it helps because talking about it isn’t a solution and doesn’t create any solutions. I suppose it creates awareness, but most gamers already know that. It’s the people who’d make these assertions that games lead to violence that could stand more awareness, but there’s a reason this discussion always happens. Either they want an easy scapegoat, they’ve got a vendetta, or they don’t want to understand. We’ll be having these discussions every time an incident like Newtown happens, not because of gamers, but because of those who want to think you can blame whatever amount of violence and death on a single source.

  34. dftaylor says:

    I think it’s important to look at some similarities between cinema and games. In games, we have AAA mainstream blockbusters – best typified by Call of Duty. In cinema, you have the summer blockbuster – best typified by something like Transformers.

    The majority of mainstream Hollywood’s blockbuster output is violent, simplistic and aimed at an adolescent audience. But it also offers other genres and promotes them just as heavily.

    The problem is that the marketing bods have decided that the gaming audience WANTS violence (see the cover of Bioshock Infinite). And the developers we most often laud for their storytelling prowess almost exclusively make violent games. I haven’t seen anyone question Dan Hauser on why Rockstar’s games are so violent, amoral and misogynistic, or why the company doesn’t make anything more diverse on the side (Table Tennis is the exception, of course).

    It’s telling when the most exhilarating gaming experience I had this year was avoiding killing anyone in Dishonored. The absence of genuine violence was much more powerful than any of the grim and gritty warshooters that have dotted the landscape (except for The Line, which was a wonderful story in a clunky game).

    There’s no point exclusively pointing the finger at the industry, I think the media (RPS included) has a responsibility in the games it chooses to hype. Start focusing on the more esoteric games that don’t feature wanton horror and start ignoring games that look like generic trash (MoH).

  35. bwion says:

    I actually do think there’s a useful (or at least interesting) conversation to be had about the intersection between entertainment, particularly gaming, and violence if we can somehow divorce it from all the A VIOLENT CRIMINAL HAS PLAYED A VIDEO GAME ONCE ERGO BAN ALL VIDEO GAMES FOREVER THEY ARE TURNING US INTO MONSTERS rhetoric (and its VIDEO GAMES ARE BLAMELESS AND HOLY rhetorical counterpoint).

    I almost wonder, though, if we have the question the wrong way around. Maybe it’s less a question of us being affected by the dramatic, consequence-free violence of video games, and more a question of something within us demanding such things in our entertainment. (Or, more likely, it’s both.)

  36. Lukaspz says:

    I think the NRA was talking about the Splatterhouse remake on ps3, but still don’t see the point with Newton…

  37. Metonymy says:

    I’m starting to accept that you guys never say a single thing that I can agree with. You’re intelligent men, who squander those resources on making sure that no one can criticize you.

    You can’t see the difference between a trumped up false flag operation like the school shootings, and the hundreds of people that governments kill every day for the banks that own them.

    You call this journalism but it’s actually nothing at all.

  38. bigjig says:

    If video games really had an effect on real world violence you’d see the same level of gun violence per capita in other countries as you do in the US. You don’t, ergo video game violence isn’t the problem, guns (and quite possibly the US news media and mental health system) are. The very fact that you were moved by real world violence (the Newtown shootings) proves that video games haven’t desensitized you.

  39. Lanfranc says:

    I’m not convinced there even is a problem that needs to be discussed here. Violence has been an integral part of storytelling ever since Gilgamesh and Enkidu went to the Cedar Forest to kill Humbaba. So it is completely unsurprising that video games, just like any other medium of storytelling, would tend to include a lot of violence as well. It’s simply a very easy way to bring conflict into the story, and obviously any story needs a conflict.

    Where there might be a problem is when the violence itself becomes the point rather than the story it’s meant to tell, but that’s an issue of bad story telling, not a problem with the medium as a whole.

  40. Calabi says:

    I dont see a problem with the violence in games because its so detached from reality. Violence in games is nothing like the reality. Cut someones head off its easy and the cartoony spillage of blood.

    If you saw the things you saw in games in the real world you would be shocked no matter how many games you’ve played and how decencitized you think they are.

    You cant be desencitized to experiences that are totally different to one another.

    Seeing things in 3D with your binocular vision and the perfect colours, the smells and noises.

    Violence in that little screen its far away, its tiny, a small dull detached experience.

    I’m not saying it doesnt effect you, but maybe it effects you by you being more shocked with the real thing, because the real thing is so beyond your experiences and expectations.

    The main problem with most of these games is the power fantasy, and how that effects your ego.

  41. NathanH says:

    For clarification, when we’re talking “violence” are we talking about representations of people being killed in a realistic or semi-realistic way, or everything to the level of one unit moving into another unit and one of them disappearing?

  42. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    I’ve been thinking for the last two hours about this article, trying to come to some conclusion about my own relation to videogame-violence.

    On the one hand, I’m quite sure that experiencing violence in a videogame has never influenced my view on real violence in any way. I abhored violence fifteen years ago, and I abhor it now, despite the many violent games I played in that time.

    On the other hand, seeing videogame violence (especially if it is depicted more or less realistically) makes me, in general, more uncomfortable than violence on TV or in a book. So there is a difference between those things, for me. It might be that game-violence tends to be more gruesome than what you usually see on TV, but I’m not sure.

    I think, discussing this will be very interesting.

  43. cptgone says:

    it’s not just games that are the problem. take computers and consoles. without ’em, games would be harmless, no matter how violent they are. think of it. always tackle the root of the problem!

    if only we could get rid of women, within 150 years crime would be history.

  44. Reapy says:

    Maybe because we are violent people by nature. What if I argued by lightly subjecting ourselves to fake violence, it prevents us from partaking in real violence? What if we are tamed by sitting at our machines, be it a game, movie, television show, or book, we pacify ourselves from participating in real violence, or even behavior that would lead to it.

    But mostly the reason that most of our culture generates violence is because for the majority of us, it is not part of our lives in any capacity, so it is easy to find it interesting and engaging, a thrilling adventure that gets our hearts pounding. It is similar to me being able to look at WW2 planes and think how beautiful they are, while a person who had lived during the times might think they are ugly death dealers and would soon be rid of them.

    Perhaps if we did live in an unstable country with violence surrounding us, we might be sick of it, and find less entertainment value in it, but luckily we don’t, and for the most part, we don’t have any bad memories to associate with the violence we find in our games/books/movies/tv.

    • BooleanBob says:

      Yeah. I’d likewise be inclined to believe that engagement with violence is probably healthier through games and other fictional media, in fantasy rather than in reality. Of course I have nothing to back that contention up with other than my own gut feeling, but then, neither does Nathan’s article, which is left wide open for us to infer the contrary (that exposure to fantastical violence affects us negatively).

      As has been suggested in comments above, what we need more of is science. But even if we had indisputable evidence from the finest neurologists and psychologists the world o’er, cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias would most likely ensure we’d accept or reject the conclusions according to our own innate prejudices anyway. And so the debate rumbles eternally onwards..

  45. Inglourious Badger says:

    I was thinking about this the other day when I quit playing Max Payne 3 because I’d just had enough of clicking on heads. I’ve been clicking on heads all my gaming life and it’s just so boring. Is it desensitising? Sure it desensitises you to that virtual involvement in violence, that click=headshot feedback. I don’t think it’s made me any more likely to pick up a gun in real life though, I have absolutely no desire to, and my love of adventure games and stealth games comes from a desire to talk or sneak my way out of peril, rather than the usual violent option.

    I agree with what Nathan’s saying. Where gamers have at times been forced to vehemently defend our craft it has led us to almost accept and ignore the violence inherent in 90% of videogames. The Daily Mail campaigns have backfired because publishers just turned it to their advantage. Want free publicity for the latest COD? Just stick another controversial shooting gallery in there.

    What I would ask, sat here watching the 39 Steps with my family is where are our chase games? Why can’t I be the ordinary, unarmed man caught up in an extraordinary scenario using wit and cunning to survive, rather than an arsenal of improbably accurate weaponry. One of my favourite parts of Half-Life 2 was the opening, before you get a gun. Diving through tenement buildings and scampering across rooftops to evade the Combine was thrilling in a way the later levels never were as you played the FPS favourite of ultra-violent janitor cleaning each level of dirty dirty enemies.

    • ramirezfm says:

      Tried clicking on their knees? Or hands? Jolly good fun and the ragdolls look convincing.
      As for the game where you are the ordinary man (or even a woman) there is one. With rather realistic graphics and quite a good audio. And I think everyone is playing it. Right now. I seriously doubt that anyone wants to play the ordinary guy. Unless it’s ordinary guy superspy or ordinary guy dragon hunter, but this kind of ordinary is a bit different…
      People like games because they differ from their lives. Shooting other people in the game is fun, in real life probably not so much. Hanging over a 200ft hole in the ground is fun in the game, probably not so in real life.

      • Brise Bonbons says:

        Don’t presume to speak for everyone, especially when there are obvious popular examples which contradict your statement. The Sims and Farming Simulator come to mind.

        Many of us want to play games which allow us to experience mundane life from another perspective. Many of us want to play games about normal people in unusual circumstances (i.e. being chased through a crowd or exploring a jungle island for a cure to our illness). Or perhaps extraordinary people in mundane circumstances (a psychic demigod living in a normal apartment building and just trying to get by).

        We do not all want to have TOTALLY EPIC SPECTACULAR adventure every second of our gaming time, any more than people only want to watch summer blockbuster films comprised half of explosions and half of jumpcuts and shouting people.

      • Inglourious Badger says:

        Yeah, like Brise Bonbon says there is merit in playing ‘mundane’ games too (I had a big thing for non-combat based flight sims for a while) and what I was after was I still want to be put in situations I would rather avoid in my own flesh and bone. I want peril, chaos, and exciting situations (like, say, an entire international secret service hunting me down across the Scottish moors) but I don’t then want to be handed a machinegun and told to blast my way out of it. Even if the story very carefully explains why I know how to shoot the damn thing so straight, and why my character must kill all the badguys, and even if it’s all some arch meta-statement on modern gaming, it’s still clicking on heads (or necks, or knees or other ragdoll inducing trick shots). I want a different kind of excitement, because the old clicking with guns excitement ain’t exciting anymore. If everyone wore red underwear…etc.

        Add to that the whole “aren’t we a bit weird for enjoying all this violence” Nathan’s talking about it and I don’t know why there aren’t more Mirror’s Edges and Dishonoreds.

      • ramirezfm says:

        My bad. Serves me well for not reading the whole comment. I missed the part of “in extraordinary situation” with those ordinary people. So I kinda missed the point. Silly me…

        Anyhoo, I don’t think that whether the game has or lacks violence makes it any better or worse. Max Payne, mentioned, is rather violent and I loved it. And it was a great game. Call of Duty BLops 2 is also rather violent, and it bored me to death. Not violently. Dark Souls is rather violent and it is my bestest game of the last years. And yet I didn’t even pick up a weapon in Mirror’s Edge and it is also awesome. The game matters, not the violence. I enjoy good violent games. I enjoy good non-violent games. And surprisingly I dislike bad games whether they are violent or not. Neither of those made me took up a gun and shoot people, or beat them with a stick. But maybe that’s because I can differentiate between game and reality.

        Blaming violent video games for violence in real life is like blaming the polar ice caps for the fact that your fridge just stopped freezing.

        • Inglourious Badger says:

          Agreed, yeah we’re singing from the same hymn sheet. A good game is a good game and we notice when it’s good regardless of the level of violence. I don’t mind the violence, I just don’t care about it. Killing a ‘man’ in a game is no different to scoring a point in Pong, it just momentarily ups your sense of achievement (I outsmarted a human looking AI thing and bested it in combat!) but your brain quickly adjusts and it just becomes point scoring again. It’s like that Dishonored screenshot at the head of the page, to me that was the game telling me “well done, you’ve worked your way around this pleasingly complex puzzle”, but my passing girlfriend would see that on the screen and think “you sick, wannabe assassin bastard”. Sometimes I’d just like the screen to reflect what’s going on in my interactions with it, not dressing it up as some violent power fantasy.

          I am a hypocrite because Hotline Miami was possibly my favourite game this year and that is incredibly violent, and I don’t think you could replace the violence and retain the same gameplay, but it’d be nice to have more variety for once. Have a complex open-world level in which you have to infiltrate a fortified mansion, get past guards using wits not guns, and free your kid brother or a damsel in distress or whatever floats your boat, just not another assassination mission.

        • Inglourious Badger says:

          Oh, and yes re:Videogame violence leads to real life violence – I’ve spent an embarrassingly large amount of my 27 years on this earth playing PES, FIFA and Football Manager, none of which has given me the skills, knowledge or desire to be a better footballer. Likewise for violence.

          In fact the only game to invoke genuine violence in me was FM2010. My mouse still bears a hairline crack where I smashed it on the table after another failed strategy.

  46. maximiZe says:

    Consider me interested.

  47. f69 says:

    “be aware”

    Yes. And as evidence and your own admission that games don’t cause violence show, people are aware. And that’s why they react with indignation the way they do when someone in a position of influence (which one would think makes them a rational human being) accuses them of obvious bullshit.

    Like if your teacher told you the earth was flat and expect you to swallow it.

  48. Scumbag says:

    A lot of the comments on the first two pages (bloody hell this is getting posted to a lot!) made me remember the issue less with game violence itself and more to do with the “good people” who don’t want to face the issue of game violence:

    “HEY! Don’t blame me! Its not our problem, its THEIRS!”

    Disturbingly close to the stance the NRA took also.

    • f69 says:

      No it’s not. NRA needs a “position” because guns killed those people. Why do games need some kind of guilt ridden stance? They are not relevant and putting games on some kind of equal footing with gun sellers has no place here.

      There is nothing disturbing about being dismissive about something that has no evidence to support it.

      • Scumbag says:

        “There is nothing disturbing about being dismissive about something that has no evidence to support it.”

        So being dismissive about somebody thinking “Maybe some things have gone too far” is ok? Most sites I’ve seen proposing this question have been brought up by people who play games, love games and believe games are a valid medium. All those sites have been met with similar comments in regards to books and films etc… also being as bad, or simply outright dismissing the posts as hit seeking nerdbait.
        Its not as if its games that are the issue, its the fact that people can zealously guard their hobby no matter the cost, even if it steps into a realm that needs to be questioned. I used the NRA stance as I’ve seen a number of pro-gun supporters use similar arguments. “Nothing is wrong with us, its all you guys.”

        I admit my post was a bit dumb (as this reply also is) and there are far, far better arguments that have been made by other users here. I’m just glad the number of thought-out responses here outweigh the simple “Fuck off with the Kotaku shit!” posts.

      • Axess Denyd says:

        NRA needs a “position” because guns killed those people.

        I’m pretty sure a person killed those people. Guns don’t actually do things by themselves.

  49. randclovis says:

    Excellent article, with sound reasoning for your request, Nathan. It’s too bad I looked at the comments afterwards and am now too furious to contemplate the matter further.

  50. Arren says:

    The most interesting thing about this warning-shot* preliminary article is the half-cocked*, seemingly pre-fabricated nature of most of the responses.

    I thought Nathan was clear that in calling for an examination of gaming’s tendency toward hyper-violence, he wasn’t claiming a causal link between it and real-life atrocities. Why is it that the angry internet man cohort immediately jumps to the conclusion that any criticism of this tendency is a simplistic claim of causality? Could it possibly be because this facile straw-man is so easily immolated — that they can summarily dispatch it with prejudice, thus avoiding any meaningful discussion about the overwhelming prevalence of hyper-violence in the medium?

    That the predominance of violent play and fantasy in (particularly male) humanity predates the existence of games (and, indeed, television and film as well) is not in dispute. As mentioned upthread, the bogeyman in this regard was once westerns, for instance, and is iteratively reassigned on a generational basis according to what strikes contemporary adults of a given time as alien — whatever newfangled developments to which they can conveniently ascribe all negative perceptions of societal change, in order to lazily vindicate their roseate views of the good ol’ days in which they grew up. Insofar as this sort of cheap Jack Thompson scapegoating, scorn and derision are appropriate and enjoyable responses.

    Where it gets troubling is when this presumptive contempt is unthinkingly applied to even the most innocuous suggestion that hyper-violence in our medium of choice might be worth discussing — even when this suggestion comes from one of our own (as it were), and even from one of the few bastions of decent thinking in games media (RPS). This vituperatively shrill, defensive knee-jerk reaction says a lot about the angry internet men who repeatedly enact it, while saying nothing whatsoever of substance about the matter at hand.

    No one here is tarring all games with a broad brush — we all recognize the significant minority of games that do not fetishize extreme violence. Why is it so difficult for angry internet men to accept this? Furthermore: if their reflexive, embarrasingly simplistic shout-down response is all they’ve got, why do they feel the need to pollute threads like this with purposeless noise? If the discussion makes you all so impotently aggravated, why not go back to your manshoot of choice instead of subjecting everyone else to endless permutations of your one-note ragesplanations?

    (For those of us in the U.S., Rhuhuhuhu brought up the elephant in the room, which is the staggering incidence of gun violence in our nation entirely apart from the horrifying spectacles of mass-shootings. But, that discussion has no pertinence to gaming culture.)

    The cynics who ever-so-trenchantly presume that page-hits are the motivation for the piece are asinine, full-stop. Adopting this perspective as the default is just as lazy as assuming violent media is to blame for violence in society (though perhaps not as idiotic). Protip: making a big show of being jaded does not confer sophistication, grimsnark sneerers.

    Perhaps the stupidest response came from yatagarasu, who (after admitting outright that xe’s “not sure how NRA works”) proceeded to lay down the dumb in assuming not only the innocuousness of the incredibly influential and terrifyingly well-funded American gun lobby, but the Ferrari-lusting venality of all game developers as “sick in the head egoistic bastards”. Yatagarasu, you make the angry internet men seem like fucking geniuses in comparison.

    It’s funny how the whinging MRA-types come out and reiterate their moronic complaints about RPS daring to address the rampant sexism in game culture. I guess any attempt by the hive-mind to confront any of the uglier aspects of our subculture sends some Dudebro bat-signal into the sky so they can assemble and regurgitate their know-nothing drivel. Aren’t you all missing a ‘Bitches Be Crazy’ circle-jerk, or something?

    Jerykk gives yatagarasu a run for the money when it comes to pure inanity, and does one better by prescribing an abhorrently totalitarian bullet-list of parenthood “requirements”**, ostensibly justified by a rectally sourced “90%” factoid. Others already amply dispatched the moron.

    …..This has grown over-long. Thanks to the numerous respondents who actually made the effort to contribute to the discussion.

    * Sorry…..

    ** To be enforced by whom, under what authority? Civics are apparently completely unknown to this clown.

    • SpakAttack says:

      Excellent response – thanks for your time and effort.

    • Frank says:

      Yeah, good comment there. However, I think the NRA has broad support from gun-owners in the general public as well (not just the gun industry).