Obama Announces New Research Into Games & Violence

At a press conference on dealing with gun control in America, President Obama has announced that he wishes there to be further research into any possible relationship between gaming and real-world violence. As Venture Beat reports, he has asked the Center For Disease Control (CDC) to study the causes of violent behaviour, including movies, TV, and of course gaming.

This instruction to the CDC, according to Polygon, at first appears to be in conflict with a bar against using Congress funds to “advocate or promote gun control”. However, it seems it has been ruled that this is not a barrier here.

As part of a package of actions from Obama, this is in response to the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, where many children and staff were killed. Also included is an appeal to pass bills to more broadly require a background check before selling weapons, and a limitation on the sales of assault weapons. Moves that are likely to be met with hostility from gun lobby groups in the States.

For us, it’s tempting to see the headline, and to let those knees jerk. But I’d argue that the news that Obama wants to invest money in research to investigate the links between gaming and real-world violence is good news for us all. Of course the fact that it’s being investigated will cause the lazy and the ignorant to suppose there must be a link to investigate in the first place, and you’ll likely see a fair few misleading or outright ridiculous headlines as a consequence. But the reality is, more independent research can only be a good thing for gamers.

It comes down to two scenarios:

1) There is no demonstrable causation link between experiencing fictional violence, and performing violent acts in real life, and the studies will prove this.

2) There is a demonstrable causation link between experiencing fictional violence, and performing violent acts in real life, and we as gamers damn well need to know about it.

Yes, abundant previous studies have tended toward number 1. And yes, there’s the very obvious common sense fact that over half the population of the Western world are gamers and there is no recent horrendous outbreak in violence from previously peaceful people. But while the bumbling nonsense that gets reported by the mainstream press of a nation in the grip of a violence epidemic is patently false, this isn’t a black and white issue. Respectable studies have shown links between raised aggression levels in players with a predisposition for violence, when playing violent games. Some have claimed to show mildly, and short-term, raised aggression levels in those without violent predispositions. No one has ever found any evidence to show that a game, film, or TV show can turn a teenager into a killer, and it seems fairly astronomically unlikely that anyone ever will, but that doesn’t discount it being worth investigating any possible relationships there may be.

Especially research that isn’t being funded by poorly disguised fundamentalist Christian organisations (How to spot a poorly disguised fundamentalist Christian organisation: their website looks like it was made with Angelfire in 1996, and they have “family” somewhere in their title). So such investigation should only ever be welcomed by gamers. As I’ve said over and over, if there are dangers out there, we are the ones who need to know the most. And if there aren’t, we are the ones who need to be equipped with the evidence and knowledge to explain it to others.


  1. Sheng-ji says:

    This can only be a good thing, the US scientific community is one of the finest and most trustworthy in the world and as long as there are no lobbiest shenanigans, we should get some good answers!

    • Brun says:

      The CDC ranks pretty high on my “not-fucking-aroundery” scale for a US Government agency. I’d rather have them do it than a private or professional organization (i.e. American Society of Pediatricians, etc.).

      • Shuck says:

        On the other hand, I can’t help but see this as a bit of political theater, as the CDC is, thanks to law put together by the NRA, legally blocked from studying the dynamics of gun violence in any way. The response to the recent US mass shootings has been to blame anything other than guns, because gun control has been made such a taboo topic in so many ways. (We do this for multiple things in the US, which is why it’s easier to buy an assault rifle in Texas than an Erlenmeyer flask.)
        Which is to say – the motivation for this is pure, ugly scapegoat politics. I only hope the CDC can rise above that.

        • InternetBatman says:

          The president signed an executive order basically saying “ignore this law.” That’s pretty much what executive orders are for; it’s a statement of “come at me bro.” Then someone, probably the NRA, will try to file a writ of mandamus (basically saying “do your job”), but gosh if it doesn’t take a lot of time for the Supreme Court to sort though 21 executive orders and argue among themselves. In that time valuable research can be done, and the NRA can be shown as an organization afraid of the truth, the law can be changed, and midterm elections can come.

          • emilyaustin8 says:

            Owen. I just agree… Randy`s rep0rt is unbelievable, on thursday I got a great new Infiniti when I got my check for $7489 this-last/five weeks and also $10 thousand last-month. it’s definitly the nicest job I have ever had. I actually started 9-months ago and straight away was bringing home more than $82, per hour. I follow instructions here..link to nipp.me

        • Lev Astov says:

          I hate to beat a dead horse, but sometimes I just can’t stop myself. This is about a study of games/media and their relation to violence. It is not about games/media and their relation to guns. Sure, there should be no silly restrictions on a CDC study due to inane laws, but let’s be clear about this and not bring our own politics into it.

          I can tell you quite confidently that games and guns are linked. I played many shooters, and it made me want guns. I now own several of my favorite guns from various games and enjoyed shooting them at ranges and in the woods with friends before ammo prices skyrocketed.

      • hbarsquared says:

        The problem with using the CDC is, Canadians play video games too, and they hardly ever go on shooting rampages. What would they study?

        • canadiancontent says:

          We’ll study porn… yeah porn…. no wait! moose, yeah the moose has been pissing us off for a while now, time to take those guys down.

        • abremms says:

          what would the CDC study? Americans. United States of America-ians, specifically. Canadians can study themselves, if they so choose. Violence in America is a pretty unique problem among industrialized nations. That alone is proof enough to me that Video games aren’t a major contribute, but it really can’t hurt to study it.

          This order does two things, First, it tells the NRA and their ridiculous “no research that might lead to gun control” law to go to hell. No one tries to keep in the dark unless they know the light will hurt them. Second, it’s a sop to the people genuinely making the argument that video game violence effects people negatively. With the CDC behind it, it should be a fairly conclusive study that will be a strong argument in favor of one side or the other. I’m confident it will come down on our side and help put the nail in the coffin of the gamers = murderers argument.

        • Snargelfargen says:

          Nothing. Canada would study nothing, since the federal statistics agency was gutted in the last budget.

          (ok, I know that isn’t the question being asked, but I think it deserved an answer anyways)

          • Jhoosier says:

            Sounds reasonable to me (your comment, not the gutting of the agency).

          • b1439310 says:

            Research is nice of course, but this is not something that can be merely reduced to stadistics or to a cold closed conclusion, “causality” as you said

          • Snargelfargen says:

            Don’t click to on the above link folks.

            Goes to somewhere in russia, not youtube.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      I initially read that as sarcasm (but I don’t think it was meant that way). Completely agree with you though, this is long overdue.

      • Sheng-ji says:

        Oh goodness! No sarcasm what so ever! Very, very pleased this question is being dealt with by the Obama administration with a degree of level headedness, especially given the media interest in the question at the moment.

    • rawrty says:

      Yes, I trust the CDC can put together an unbiased study and we should see some results that are actually meaningful. I’ll be interested in what they find regardless of the outcome.

      If they do show there is no causal link between video game and real world violence, as far as media sensationalism goes I doubt it will matter. It’s not like the mainstream media or general populace actually read/cite/care about solid academic studies, the next big shooting will be blamed on whatever the guy and his friends ‘like’ in their facebook regardless.

      • Haphaz77 says:

        Equally, agree this is a good thing; CDC are a good lot to do the study; we need to know if there are issues. However, I think a scenario 3 is likely: The evidence is ambiguous. Which would be jumped on by the evidence-less ‘its all games’ fault’ lobby. Still – a good thing.

        • Brun says:

          Which lobby do you think has more sway – the “it’s all games’/movies’/TV’s fault” lobby, or the Hollywood lobby + NRA lobby?

          • WHS says:

            The NRA has significantly more sway, but I suspect the entertainment industry has way more money. The NRA’s influence is largely the result of an entrenched idea that opposing the group is political suicide. So it’s hard to say who wins a lobbying war between the two, at least, given a long time frame.

            In the short term, the NRA wins, no question about it. The problem is that virtually the entire Republican Party is beholden to the NRA, which essentially means no bill can make it through Congress if the NRA has marked it for death. For gamers, that should raise some concerns that political responses against violence will be redirected towards games, which are a more politically feasible, if less relevant, target.

            On the bright side, the president’s measures today are clearly part of a concerted effort by the Democrats to break the NRA stranglehold on DC. Obama must have known he was going to meet strong NRA resistance; the fact he made the proposals anyway means he’s itching for a fight with the gun lobby. And realistically, he could win. The NRA has made a fool of itself in the weeks following the Connecticut shooting, and a lot of people have been slowly coming to the realization that it’s a paper tiger: a smallish bunch of lunatic, uncompromising gun nuts that has somehow cowed the government of the world’s richest nation. Its days may well be numbered.

          • Shuck says:

            We already know the answer to that one – the CDC is studying the relationship of video games with violence; they’re legally prevented from doing any research about guns, thanks to the NRA.

          • Snargelfargen says:

            The NRA lobby might not be particularly wealthy, but they are closely tied to the conservative grassroots funding machine, which is terrifyingly effective. A lot of that lobbying cash is actually harvested from the hundreds of thousands of low income/retired folks that are subscribed to conservative mailing lists and newsletters. It’s part of why campaign budgets keep on ballooning, their constituents are basically a renewable resource for cash on short notice.

          • WHS says:

            While it’s definitely true that the NRA’s fundraising connections give it some financial clout, it’s not special in that regard. Lots of operations in Washington have access to grassroots fundraising. Out of all the lobbies in DC, the NRA is almost uniquely feared–by both parties!–for no obvious reason. There’s a clear disconnect between their intimidating image and their actual size and access to money.

    • Ultra Superior says:

      I don’t know about videogames but I’ve heard that military drones kill people and that wars promote violence.

      Good to have a Nobel peace prize winner in charge of those things.

      • Brun says:

        Drones are just another type of weapon, it really boggles my mind that the internet finds them so much more objectionable than regular aircraft, guns, or missiles.

        • WHS says:

          This is off-topic, but I think a lot of the objection is over their use in non-combat zones as a tool for assassination. There’s this weird rhetorical fiction where they’re just like other weapons, except for when they’re used in places that the US wouldn’t be allowed to send other weapons.

          • Brun says:

            There’s nothing special about drones that makes them able to fly in “places they shouldn’t be,” no more so than say, cruise missiles, which are also unmanned. Drones are preferred because they’re cheaper than using a multi-million dollar expendable munition, and can provide better accuracy.

            That said, there’s very obviously a degree of complicity with the governments of the states over which the drones are utilized (mainly Pakistan). While those governments have publicly protested the use of drones they’ve done nothing (politically or militarily – the drones would be easy prey for Pakistan’s F-16s) to stop them. As such, they’re no different than the US using cruise missiles, or even regular aircraft, for the same missions.

            But I agree that this is off-topic.

          • Shuck says:

            @Brun: Previous to the existence of drones, cruise missiles were indeed used in similar ways. Their huge expense rather limited their usage, however. It’s a lot easier to politically justify blowing up some mud-brick hovel somewhere if you aren’t spending one and a half million dollars each time you do it. Especially if it’s cheap enough to be a CIA black budget operation and you don’t even have to justify it.
            You have countries like Yemen actively encouraging and assisting the US to perform drone strikes against people in their country.

            It’s very strange to see the discussion in the mainstream US media about gun violence where everything gets discussed (video games, media, mental health, religion, armed guards, etc.) without talking about the actual guns or violence perpetrated by the government itself. As if we stopped making movies/games about what was going on in reality, the infrastructure of death that exists would suddenly become impotent to do anything.

          • gwathdring says:

            ” As if we stopped making movies/games about what was going on in reality, the infrastructure of death that exists would suddenly become impotent to do anything.”

            I would love more public outcry against drone strikes and (not a term) neo-imperialism as practiced by the United States. However that’s a separate issues from the Nation-State equivalent of domestic violence. It’s always going to matter more to me when my Mom beats my sister than when some guy who lives in another town beats his sister or when some guy from next-door goes and beats up someone in another town. And when some guy from another town beats up some guy from yet another town?

            There’s nothing odd or hypocritical about people preferring to focus on their local environment. If absolutely nothing else, the mechanics of my government issue drone strikes are quite different from the mechanics of my fellow citizens shooting each other. They are separate issues in separate scopes that require separate solutions.

            Though I’m sure there are interrelations in the same way that I’m sure nationwide attitudes towards violent media (note: not the media itself) intersect with nationwide attitudes toward violence. And on that note, I wish the government were not mandating a search for “causes” violence but rather relationships to violence. It’s a subtle difference in conversation, but a big difference in terms of what research you do and how you apply it.

        • DK says:

          I think the objection to Drones is not the fact that they’re Drones. It’s the fact that them being unmanned is used as an excuse to cross borders in airstrikes because no person actually phsyically crossed the border (or even fired the missile in case of semi-independant drones).

        • Blackseraph says:

          Yes well most people has some ethical problems against assasinations. Me too.

        • Consumatopia says:

          You should check this out: link to livingunderdrones.org

          Drones buzzing overhead constantly changes your way of life as a civilian in a country where they operate in ways that sporadic incursions from soldiers, missiles or manned aircraft don’t. Also, in practice, drone attacks don’t seem to be subject to the same publicscrutiny as other methods. (I don’t even know the set of countries that we have ongoing drone assassination programs in, and I’m pretty sure most Americans share my ignorance).

          You can argue the benefits are worth the costs, but they clearly change the nature of war. Some of those changes are unfortunate.

          • brulleks says:

            But… war never changes.

            Seriously though, the concepts we spread through fiction / media are likely to be more dangerous than violent imagery – far more insidious, world-changing and difficult to point a finger at. I’m pleased Obama is taking a rational, explorative approach to the possible links between violence and video game imagery, but I hope that any research into the spread of ideas/culture is taken just as seriously.

            Look at the world we’ve created/corrupted, and justified in all our own little circles, so far.

    • goettel says:

      “As important as these steps are, they are in no way a substitute for action from Congress,” Obama said.
      – sounds to me like he’s sayin’ to lobbyists that they shouldn’t hold back from grabbing a piece of this tasty political pie, with an implicit demand to allow him to further cement the presidential power to circumvent Congress. I’m quite impressed with his political acumen and flair, to be honest.

    • wu wei says:

      My real concern is that this is now the eighth study they’ve commissioned since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999.

      How many more do they need to conduct before they accept their own findings? And will one negative result be worth more to them than all of the others combined?

      • Sheng-ji says:

        Eight separate studies is quite a modest number, the modern scientific process relies on peer review and repeatability to ensure the viability of the answers. If those eight studies use 8 different methods to examine the question, all 8 are valuable and could do with another 50 or so studies to back up their findings.

  2. mollemannen says:

    link to escapistmagazine.com this is one of the best points iv’e come across in the debate. Warning for strong images!

    • Duke of Chutney says:

      good vid. I don’t really like his language, but he makes a well illustrated point.

    • Ricc says:

      Once again I’m reminded about how much I despise Jim Sterling and the obvious idiocy he is spewing. His argument is not only completely anecdotal, but also pointless. Of course we do not perceive video game violence the same way we perceive real violence. Sterling just wants to be crass and say fuck a bit.

      This is not furthering the debate at all. Neither am I right now, I realize. I guess he kinda got me by not just ignoring the guy…

      • mollemannen says:

        yea he is a big a**hole but he is right. when confronted with actually hurting a person or even an animal we tend to feel physically and mentally ill. however if a person is slowly broken down by bad parenting or other poor social conditions their mental blocks for hurting others gradually disappears.

        i can only speak for myself in this matter though. if i hadn’t gotten help early on i would most likely been in prison or dead right now.

    • ucfalumknight says:

      I will say that he is a bit of a twat, but I do agree with his viewpoint. Again, completely anecdotal, but I can watch any countless movie horror villains hack up their prey and it doesn’t phase me a bit. But, if I watch those ER shows on TLC (Trauma: Life in the ER), I actually get physically ill. I think knowing that it is a real human being being injured/hurt that makes a physical and psychological connection. When I blow up countless, nameless, avatars on my PC screen, I have no connection with that digital representation of a person.

    • Giuseppe says:

      I agree with the point he’s making, though the idea behind it isn’t exactly ground breaking and can be proven in a more rational way. Also, being the cynic that I am, I suspect the motives behind the video have less to do with actually providing a solid point in favor of gaming, and more to do with attracting a greater audience through this video’s “shock value”.

      It even had me going for a minute there, before I realized this might very well be just a cheap way of getting real violence and a bit of cursing passed the “censors”. Because, you know, he’s not just swearing and he’s not just showing a man putting a bullet in his head. Nope, he’s doing it for a “noble cause”.

  3. Crossing says:

    Good, this will shut everyone up when they find out that violent video games don’t cause real-world violence.

    • Faldrath says:

      The thing is, it’s exceedingly hard to determine causation either way regarding social/psychological issues. It’s likely that “causality” is the wrong thing to look for here anyway.

      I did no research myself, of course, but I think a reasonable thing to expect is that, well, since people are so varied, gaming affects people in different ways. And it might very well help some people towards violence.

      There’s that old Calvin and Hobbes strip that is very wise. Google “calvin hobbes violence media”.

      • Archonsod says:

        Not really. Humans like most animals are quite adept at distinguishing reality from non-reality. The one’s that weren’t got eaten by ambush predators millenia ago.

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          Eh? You’re saying that at one time there was like some prehistoric chinchilla that liked to pretend that attacking sabertooths were really big hug robots jetpacking in for high-velocity snuggle? I like your style.

          • SanguineAngel says:

            Well, I would imagine the reference is to well documented behaviour of young predators play fighting, which has been the case since, always.

          • arccos says:

            If this is talking about play fighting, the reason predators do this is to train and prepare for actual killing. So that would suggest there is connection between violent play and violence in the animal kingdom. It’s certainly not causation, but there is a link.

        • Faldrath says:

          Well, even if evolutionary psychology was appropriate here (and it’s not, electronic media are far too recent to have an evolutionary impact), the argument is flawed. Human beings have been dealing with symbolic systems and their (very real) effects for quite some time.

      • SanguineAngel says:

        Yeah, I think a full study requires actually looking outside the bounds of the effect of violent media on subjects. For example, in the case of research showing a suggested link between violent media and violent behaviour in some subjects then further research is going to be required into the causes of that violent behaviour. Would that person be violent without the media?

        In addition, previous research has also indicated that violent media may make potentially violent people LESS likely to act out, having sated some base need. So that needs looking into to, and not just the positive aspect but of course, whether the root cause is exposure to violent media in the first place or whether use of violent media is addictive – without it they will snap.

        It’s a vastly complex, foggy area. Which is why its been such a bone of contention. Any side claiming the answer is obvious is just … wrong.

    • f1x says:

      Thats the whole issue for me,

      Research is nice of course, but this is not something that can be merely reduced to stadistics or to a cold closed conclusion, “causality” as you said

      What I mean with this is that because of the high profile of the guys in charge of the investigation this might lead to a sort of “stablishing the facts”, thus I’m worried that this will just be done in order to set a big landmark that says “Look, I was right, case closed” instead of actually pushing forward regarding social issues which are constinuosly evolving

      I hope that I’m wrong and this is actually just the first of many other studies and researchs not only about violence+videogames+visual media, but about mental health, alienation, social problems, etc

      • Snargelfargen says:

        If nothing else, the CDC is capable of gathering ridiculously large data-sets. Even if the statistics can be twisted every which way, having that information in the first place is immensely valuable for further studies.

        • thrawn says:

          Optimistically yes, but I’ve spent enough time in academia to see that a proliferation of data can also enable sufficiently intelligent people to justify any conclusion; and when data is amassed on a contentious subject, the people who are most activist tend top out-yell the reasonable. Just look at economics for a plethora of examples. In large data sets, correlations will always arise (p-values being nonzero), and ultimately you must find normalization factors to eliminate proposed correlations in large statistical sets. People are really bad at doing this. To wit: males are more likely to play violent video games; men are more likely to murder someone; correlation exists. The normalizations are pretty obvious (ei, comparing to control groups), but activist are much worse at looking for those when making their points than are scientists.

          No, I fear it will take decades for this BS to die down. Just like it did with movies, and comic books, and whatever else “kids these days” are doing. In the mean time, I suspect it will get worse due to the above effects.

      • f1x says:

        Thats is true,

        As said I just hope it doesn’t stop there, and that they keep a broad scope

    • Zanchito says:

      Same with gory female torso statuettes not causing mysoginistic attitudes.

  4. mehteh says:

    What a huge waste of money. There already has been a number of already serious research into this topic

  5. SkittleDiddler says:

    The CDC, the same organization that unleashed the zombie apocalypse upon us? Good call there, Obama.

  6. x1501 says:

    Any further research into any possible relationship between guns and real-world violence, while we’re at it? Didn’t think so.

    • lasikbear says:

      The article briefly mentioned, but its worth repeating, the CDC is literally banned from researching gun violence. I believe Obama is trying to ease the restraints on that as well, but currently…. yeah, America!

      • Hoaxfish says:

        As I understood it, they basically threaten to cut funding from anyone who wants to look at gun-violence. It’s really bizarre.

        I think someone on Gamasutra was basically saying one of the key differences between the Video games industry, and guns/smoking/alcohol is that the games industry actively likes people researching the effects etc, while guns/smoking/alcohol actively try to block any outside attempt.

      • InternetBatman says:

        Obama signed an executive order telling the CDC to ignore that law.

        • gwathdring says:

          Oh. Well then. Good to see congressional oversight isn’t being mucked with under the Obama administration.

          I’m torn between abhorring the current congress and abhoring how closely Obama cleaves to the Bush administrations perspective on executive powers. He’s not as flagrant about it, he’s a decent human being, and (part of the second one) he’s honest about when and why he wields executive powers and doesn’t try to downplay or hide it nearly as much as the Bush administration did. He also shows lots of restraint compared to that administration and holistically, his domestic policy is better by leaps and bounds.

          But signing an executive order confirming that detainees don’t have any rights, signing executive orders that over-ride congressional oversight of executive agencies (however awful and short-sighted that oversight might be), electing two supreme court members who are totally gung-ho for expanding the powers of the executive and keeping the supreme court from getting too uppity … urgh. In terms of administrative legacy and precedent (though not in general policymaking), I dislike him just as much as I dislike Bush. But he’s actually good at politics and policy making, so he’s going to have a more long lasting impact in the areas that require finesse to make an impact (unlike, for example, starting wars which can have a huge impact with no finesse involved whatsoever).

          I feel bad for him, to a point. Congress isn’t giving him any options. But even the policy he makes without congress getting is his way tends to expand the scope of executive power (the supreme court nominations, for example).

          • InternetBatman says:

            I pretty much agree with you except about executive power, which is only dramatically overextended in national security (where it is unconstitutional and would have been stopped by congress at most other points in our history).

            Congress is dysfunctional to the point that it can’t work anymore. The root of the problem lies in gerrymandering and the decay of the Republican party / Reaganite movement. They’ve created parallel, non-factual news channels and an increasingly radical base which have converged into a positive feedback cycle that they don’t control any more. Democrats are not good at being a centrist party. They lack the discipline of Republicans at holding the party line, and the liberal core is constantly fighting against the practical centrists politicians that prefer avoiding conflict. Obama is one of the latter.

            The use and abuse of executive power is an intentional feature of the constitution. Presidents are supposed to overstep their bounds so that it creates group unity in Congress (particularly the senate) pushing them back. In a sense, the President’s position exists so that he can overstep the boundaries of its powers to pick up the slack when a part of the government is not working. It’s not any worse now than it’s ever been. Andrew Jackson said “John Marshall [the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court] has made his decision; now let him enforce it!” when he declared his actions illegal, and went ahead and did it anyways.

            I find that his actions are far too timid for my tastes. He prefers to use procedure rather than the bully pulpit. He’s a hypocrite when it comes to national security policy; I expect he received a great deal of data to change his views so significantly, but that’s no justification for drone strikes. Bill Clinton was overheard saying that he does the hard things well, like coming up with inventive new policies, and the easy things poorly. And he never, ever gets credit for the good things he does, because it’s one disaster after the next.

          • gwathdring says:

            “The use and abuse of executive power is an intentional feature of the constitution. Presidents are supposed to overstep their bounds so that it creates group unity in Congress (particularly the senate) pushing them back. In a sense, the President’s position exists so that he can overstep the boundaries of its powers to pick up the slack when a part of the government is not working. It’s not any worse now than it’s ever been. Andrew Jackson said “John Marshall [the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court] has made his decision; now let him enforce it!” when he declared his actions illegal, and went ahead and did it anyways.”

            I guess we’ll have to disagree about the fundamentals of American government then. I see your point and it’s fairly well argued. I just don’t interpret things that way at all.

            The president exists to be an executive and to be the head-of-state. It is often said that the US president is both head of state and head of government and while the president lacks many powers that, for example, a prime minister in a parliamentary system might have in terms of leading the legislative body, this is true with some important qualifiers. If we go from original intent (something I find distasteful, in general) the President is not supposed to be especially powerful. The President is supposed to have limited oversight into the other branches and a great deal of power in handing down the law to other parts of the executive branch. The president is supposed to be a figure of consensus power rather than representational power, with the ability to limit a rogue congress but the purpose of interfacing with leaders of other nations, making big speeches, and generally acting like a leader in a country that, compared to contemporary views of how countries were led, might as well be run by a mob.

            But the framers put lots of power into the hands of congress because congress was, like the president, a sort of elite body. It was carefully vetted through the landed class and the state legislature. Things have changed–for the better, but also for the less organized. Fast forward. We have more congress people. They are popularly elected. We have a rigid, two-party system now. We have absolutely no systematic party controls (see the UK for examples of what those look like) either within or without those parties. We have, in other words, a legislative nightmare. Our President, however, has been slowly given powers that do not so much improve his ability to negotiate and interact with the legislature in a codified way, or to organize the legislature and it’s parties in either a codified or non-codified way, but rather to simply do what he (I typed “or she” and then felt sad) deems necessary when he deems it necessary often without any real code of law to conform to. Just runaway precedent. Precedent-based systems are good in theory … but when the precedent is for them to get less systematized we have a problem. Such with our presidency.

            Line item vetos are awful. Executive orders have been used for good things, but there are other ways we could allow for most of those good functions without all of the awful ones. Looking at the Bush years in particular, we see a new breed of executive excess and all of the tools that have been built up over the past two centuries come together to make something of a monster. A monster that, while powerful, has absolutely no superior might in terms of crafting legislation–the place where the current US government seems to need the most help. We end up with a president that, while no less accountable than individual presidents like Jackson, is made formally unaccountable for anything at all. Impeachment has proven essentially impossible over the years, and amending the constitution seems like it might have died over the past 50.

            The supreme court has (some would say for the better, I’m torn) been filled with people dogmatically opposed to judicial activism and a court that gets in the way of the other branches. And, as discussed, Congress is out of control because the Democrats haven’t been organized in almost a hundred years and the Republicans lost all ability to organize over the course of the past ten and are suffering from related catastrophes that might leave them in harms way for another five or ten years*.

            Put it together and what have you got? A more powerful President, an obese executive branch that’s been growing (good) in an unhealthy manner (bad) for a while now (bad)–probably from eating too much alphabet soup–a judiciary that’s self-censuring and receding into the background while paving the way for further Presidential power, and a dysfunctional congress that’s changed so much it really needs a new constitutional mandate and powers set. The whole commerce clause thing. The weird power purgatory of the sates (we can do pretty much whatever–except when we can’t … make up your mind, constitution) which has only gotten more disorderly over time (sort of … I’m ignoring 1860). I could go on. We need a new constitution. Other countries do it quite successfully. Alternatively, we can use the second method of amending the constitution which is to essentially form a giant revision committee that amends it in a way tantamount to the formal re-writing procedures some nations have. It’s never been used before, so I’m sure we could interpret it a lot of different ways depending on what we need most.

            Failing that, we need a less powerful President. We can’t have one branch continue to grow unchecked in it’s power and continue to see breaking the rules as one of the rules, while BOTH other branches get less and less powerful. Things are out of hand and looking to get more so. There just isn’t a functioning balance here and our government is designed to run on finely balanced pieces rather than cleverly applied crowbars and grease. If we’re not planning on re-writing our fundamental document anytime soon, we need to put ourselves in a position where balance can work for us if the ship starts tipping over–which is does about once every other decade at least.

            P.S. “Abuse” is rarely an intentional feature, and the Continental Congress was not the sort of body to make an exception to that. Not that they were the most just and gallant and awesome people ever. There were plenty of nasty tricks and weird events at our founding … just that intending the President to misuse and over-step power wasn’t part of the design.

            *Hyperbole alert! Also tangent: They [the republican party] had an amazing thing going for a while whereby leadership convinced a group no less diverse than the Democratic party … that they all wanted the same things. It worked brilliantly until they realized that they didn’t all want the same things and we got the Tea Party. I’d love to see the two-party system collapse altogether, but I’m not holding my breath.

    • yourgrandma says:

      My research concludes that gun violence has been going down and yet we have more guns then ever so more guns = less gun violence? Also most gun violence takes place in the poverty stricken areas of larger cities and throws off the statistics for the entire country as a whole. Would be cool if they would crack down on those areas instead of passing restrictive gun laws that only effect the millions of gun hobbyists and won’t save a single life.

      • Blackcompany says:

        A voice of reason. Kudos to you.

      • x1501 says:

        A voice of ignorance, actually. Even putting the painful “logic” of the “more guns = less gun violence” conclusion aside (cuckoo), according to the available survey data (for example, General Social Surveys), the number of households with guns has been steadily declining for many years. Where almost 50% households owned a firearm back in the 1960s, starting from the late 1990s the proportion of Americans who kept a gun in the home tumbled to less than 35%.

        • Squishpoke says:

          You really need to provide reliable citations rather than pulling numbers out of your ass.


          • darkChozo says:

            Wow, um, this isn’t exactly a thesis defense here. Asking for citations is quite reasonable, but blocking because they weren’t provided beforehand…?

          • x1501 says:

            “You really need to provide reliable citations” -> “for example, General Social Surveys”
            Learn to read. Then learn to google.

            The General Social Surveys link is way too long, so here:

            link to cnn.com
            “The number of households owning guns has declined from almost 50% in 1973 to just over 32% in 2010, according to a 2011 study produced by The University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center. The number of gun owners has gone down almost 10% over the same period, the report found”


      • gwathdring says:

        Guns are mostly being concentrated in two areas at the moment: off the grid, and with collectors and hobbyists who own multiple guns. Well, I guess that’s not true now that there’s a gun-rush on account of people being terrified they won’t be allowed to arm themselves with weapons they don’t know how to use properly and probably never will … but before the past year or so that was the general trend. And a lot of those off-grid weapons are in the hands of criminals. Some of them head south of the border (sometimes with the help of the government (that was only once, but it was awful and in a way hilarious), sometimes with the help of legal, untraced purchases by non-citizens dealing weapons to cartels and rebel groups in Central and South America).

        It doesn’t hurt hobbyists for us to trace guns, enforce waiting periods, enforce (already existing) laws about background checks, and instate new ones that target criminals. An honest hobbyist has nothing to fear from background checks and registration procedures anymore than an honest government needs to ban all guns for all purposes whatsoever. But we have to deal with three important realities:

        1) Your guns won’t save you from the coming Dystopian changes as our government emulates that from 1984. They have more guns. Also tanks.

        2) There is no substantial evidence that gun ownership saves a significant number of lives. Past reports from agencies like the CDC suggest that while people do manage to fight off criminals with guns (in particular home invasions) the frequency with which it happens is not especially significant. It certainly doesn’t counter-balance the number of people who are murdered by family members with guns found the home or even the number of accidental gun deaths every year from (usually young folk mucking with improperly stored weapons).

        3) (This one is aimed at the Obama administration) Putting the burden of murder on psychologists with dangerous patients is a really, really bad idea. Many murders are first offenses. Most mentally unstable individuals are non-violent (those with Schizophrenia are less likely than average to commit violence though it’s unclear why–the main point is that the aren’t MORE violent), and many violent individuals are not otherwise mentally unstable. Guessing how serious a threat is and how to deal with it is exceedingly difficult and we simply cannot afford (financially or socially) to detain and imprison every individual who undergoes violent ideation or suicidal thoughts. That is a non-functional plan. Holding psychiatrists criminally responsible for making the decision about whether or not their patient is actually going to kill people is not fair to them and not fair to their patients. It’s a stupid, knee-jerk reaction bred of utter unwillingness to understand the roots of our problems with violence. For every nut who murders 20 people and turns out to have been suspected of future violence there’s one no-body would have expected to hurt a fly. Also, most murder victims just aren’t mass murder victims and we should really focus on violence as a whole not JUST mass murders because they make us more sad.

      • P.Funk says:

        I live in a country where the vast majority of gun owners are either cops or gangsters, and its amazing that the vast majority of people who get shot are cops and gangsters.

        In my country the crime rate was recently stated to be at the lowest level since 1965, and the murder rate the lowest since the early 70s.

        I think Americans need to get out of their bubble. Just north of your border a whole country not inundated with firearms is doing fine without them. You can say you have a right to them, you can claim you want to defend yourself with them, but at the end of the day you can’t use those two desires as a reason to BS your way through statistics that don’t make sense. Compared to nations that have radically lower gun ownership levels your gun violence rate is extreme to say the least. In any other country people shake their heads in wonder.

        This is what Bill Maher means when he talks about “the bubble”.

        • InternetBatman says:

          Bill Maher is a pompous ass. The problem with this argument is that you’re treating the US like a monolithic bloc, when there are important regional variances in gun violence (this is one of many ways the northeast looks more like a European country than other parts of the US). The Northeast has a murder rate of 2.6 per 100k, not that far from the 1.9 of Canada. The South and Southeast have about a 7.

          • gwathdring says:

            I agree that it’s more complicated than more guns = more people dying … but more guns still = more people dying.

            We’re a big country and we have lots of regional differences. But we also have huge differences in gun ownership and murder rates from state to state and city to city–not just region to region. Gun violence is also a lot more complicated than look at murder rates, while we’re talking about confounding variables.

            The essential point, I feel, when talking about gun control is that the people most likely to get shot are the people who are nearest guns. This means soldiers, police officers, anyone involved in gangs and anyone with a gun in the household. People are murdered by in-home guns a lot. Surprise, domestic violence in households with guns ends in gun-related murder more often than in households without them. This would maybe all be worthwhile if guns actually saved people’s lives … but it turns out not to work most of the time. Gun owners very rarely seem to protect themselves or other people from violence at all–let alone gun violence. So do we want more inexperience gun owners getting untraceable weapons and walking around with guns in their pockets? Who is that helping, exactly?

            I’m not trying to stop mass-murder. It’s not something that happens to anywhere near as many people as more mundane gun violence. I’m trying to limit that more mundane gun violence by doing a cost-benefit analysis of gun ownership. More guns floating around means more people dead from guns. The extent to which this is true might vary from region to region, and the number of people dying from guns in the first place might vary from region to region … but it’s true throughout the nation. And for me? That’s enough.

            I’ve also always thought of it this way: handguns are designed to kill people. Sure, other weapons are as well. But you can use a lot of rifles and shot-guns for effective hunting. While hunting, certain kinds of handguns might be good for bear protection. But for the most part, hand guns aren’t good for anything except killing people and doing some range shooting. And the later doesn’t require that a gun sit in your house, away from the target range.

  7. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    Yeah, I can’t really see a downside to this. It isn’t like games have been singled out, it is reasonable for non-gamers(and non-film fans and non-tv fans) to hold some doubts given how graphic the media can be. A definitive well funded investigation into causal links that finds no such link will almost be useful for refuting the assertions of groups like the NRA who seek a scapegoat.

    Not that anything will convince gun extremists but it will be useful for educating and convincing those in the middle.

  8. Giuseppe says:

    I wonder if this BS regarding violence in video games will ever be put to rest. Ah, well…

  9. ScubaMonster says:

    Clearly a valuable use of the CDC’s time.

  10. Valerius Maximus says:

    Maybe they should do research into why a mother with a mentally handicapped son would leave a tool designed for the sole purpose of murdering whatever is in front of it around?
    Nah, fuck that, must be dem damn dirty vidya games and the devil!

  11. nootron says:

    I disagree that politically motivated research “can only be a good thing” for anyone, let alone gamers. We’ve been studying the psychological effects of bearing witness to violence for over 50 years, and we’re no closer to an answer than we were at the start.

    Starting with the famous “Bobo doll” experiment in the early 60’s, researchers have been trying to establish a causal relationship between observing violence and acts of violence to no avail.

    What this means is that, any results from psychological studies on the correlation of violence in media with actual violence will have such a debatable statistical significance, that the interpretation of these results can be skewed to support any argument on the matter.

    More specifically, given how constrained psychological experiments (with human subjects) are, we’re likely to see a lot of money spent and end up exactly where we are now. After all, this is the case for the last 50 years so I would really like to know how a renewed effort by the CDC will produce any different results.

    • Brun says:

      Being unable to prove a conclusive link is functionally the same as conclusively proving there is no link. Media regulation changes will be very difficult to push through Congress without conclusive evidence. Hollywood’s lobby will have no problem getting any new regulations crushed unless the evidence really is unequivocal. So even an ambiguous result will result in minimal change to the status quo.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      Well the CDC are arguably better equipped than most universities for this kind of study. They actually have the infrastructure set up to gather data from the entire nation. Most of their staff are probably epidemiologists, not psychologists as well. That means an emphasis on statistics and no pressure to mold the results into something that can be published in journals in the endless pursuit of more grant money.

      Of course I only have experience with the dysfunction in academic settings. I’m sure the CDC has it’s own failings too.

    • darkChozo says:

      This isn’t really “politically motivated” research; that usually refers to research that is privately funded by political organizations, which is a bit of a conflict of interest if the research is studying something that the funding organization already has a stance on. This is government-funded (well, it looks like government-led, but close enough) research, which tends to be a good source of vaguely unbiased results, mainly because there’s a ton of scrutiny whenever the government is involved.

      Also, it’d be interesting to see the CDC running some long-term studies looking for correlation between video games violence and real-life violence; in my very limited knowledge of the subject, there’s a lot of short term aggressiveness studies but nothing that’s a bit more sociological.

      EDIT: It’s been a while since I’ve legitimately learned about the Bobo doll experiment (assuming I did, I vaguely remember something about it in regards to model-based learning), but assuming the relevant Wikipedia article is right, didn’t the results show a link between watching aggression and actually becoming aggressive? Sure, that’s not proving that people will actually become violent, but that wasn’t really the point of the experiment (at least not directly).

      • balbkubrox says:

        It’s utter tosh to say that if a study isn’t privately funded then it must be unbiased, and that government scrutiny = unbiased oversight.

        Studies like this which are essentially commissioned by a political player are only there to help the political player.

        Just look at how the UK government has treated the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. A supposedly “independent” organization that has had multiple members fired for saying scientifically accurate things that were against what the government wanted to do. They’ve also repeatedly ignored recommendations from research the ACMD has performed, and the interference got so bad that there was a spate of resignations in response to David Nutts

        Political players have a vested interest in biasing the results of studies in order to produce results that coincide with what is politically advantageous. No politician wants a study that says giving paedophiles a puppy will reduce child abuse. Such research only serves to piss off voters, either voters who want evidence based policy or voters who want policy that fits their emotions.

        Obama and his political advisers will have already worked out whether they want to pass legislation to do with videogame/violence and how it will affect their popularity and political position.

        There are only two reasons Obama would ask for a study.

        1. He knows whatever the results of the study are won’t effect what he wants to do, and wants to appear to be doing something.

        2. He has a policy response in mind and wants the CDC to come up with a certain answer to back up what he wants to do.

        To quote Malcolm Tucker:

        “The thing is, you’ve been listening to the wrong expert. You need to listen to the right expert. And you need to know what an expert is going to advise you before he advises you.”

        • darkChozo says:

          I didn’t say anything in so strong terms (“tends” is a rather key word in my post). Of course government funding doesn’t guarantee unbiased results, nor would perfect transparency. That’s just silly. But on the whole, government-funded research is usually pretty decent, particularly compared to something commissioned by an interested third-party. In other words, I’d put more faith in a study on video game violence performed by the CDC over one performed by the Americans Against Violent Video Games organization, or some such nonsense.

          The last thing I’d suggest would be to take any future study’s results without question. But to prematurely discount those results because it’s a government-funded study is just as irrational.

          • Oak22 says:

            “I’d put more faith in a study on video game violence performed by the CDC over one performed by the Americans Against Violent Video Games organization”

            At first, I wanted to snark “what’s the difference?” but then I realized the answer – only one of those organizations has the ability to force you to adhere to its dictate, regardless of whether or not you agree.

          • darkChozo says:

            A more complete answer would be that the CDC is a relatively well respected US public health agency, while the AAVVG is a hyperbolic private political organization that I made up. The former has considerably more power than the latter in setting public policy, being real and all.

            More seriously, the CDC is a mostly apolitical organization to the best of my knowledge, with most of its criticism being along ethical grounds (the Tuskegee experiments and the whole vaccine nonsense being two big ones). I’m all for healthy skepticism, but disregarding the results of a study before it’s even started isn’t healthy, it’s just pointless cynicism, and doesn’t have any place in remotely serious scientific discussion.

    • Premium User Badge

      gritz says:

      “Starting with the famous “Bobo doll” experiment in the early 60′s, researchers have been trying to establish a causal relationship between observing violence and acts of violence to no avail.”

      The difference is that video games are (generally) not about simple observation, but active participation.

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        This is an exceedingly good point and one that should not be forgotten. I like the idea of any serious research into interactive media that understands this point. The more we get, the more we understand games. This is good.

        • Blackcompany says:

          The research could be good. But mind we are talking about the same groups of people who decided to treat conditions that did not exist with medication that did. ADD with Ritalin. That ilk. These people have a habit of beginning with a (politically motivated) conclusion firmly in mind, and and working backward whilst manipulating data in order to prove the conclusion. In other words, scientific processes aren’t really the specialty of the sorts of people likely to work on this.

          Add in the liberal penchant for wanting to control individual lives and freedoms and you have a recipe for another heavy-handed series of regulations on a whole new industry. I mean…we are talking about Liberal government here. This is a group of people who define the success of their legislators based on the number of laws they have passed in their lifetimes, as opposed to how well they represent their constituents. No, really.

          • Brun says:

            ADD with Ritalin.

            I don’t know if you meant to imply that ADD does not exist, but I can tell you that it certainly does.

    • InternetBatman says:

      If no link is found that’s a good thing. It just builds a more exhaustive body of evidence.

    • D3xter says:

      I don’t know if “tragedy-based” decisions are exactly the best path to take, they certainly often don’t produce the best possible outcomes and tend to even lead to wars and lessen civil liberties. It certainly is “politically motivated” as they are looking for something to blame.

      If they’re at it though, I’d rather they do some research in regards to the addictive nature of some video games (and specifically certain genres like MMOs and “Social” games) and their general large-scale social impact. I believe that would be a more worthy endeavour with possibly more helpful results than “looking if they cause violence” yet again.

      • Blackcompany says:

        This is a good idea. I know someone who struggled with addiction to social games of late. Not pretty. When I confronted them with the record of 20 – 30 hours – per week – spent clicking mindlessly on Ville games, they got angry and accused me of grotesque exaggeration. Then I showed them the times I had documented…and needless to say, it was quite the eye opener.

        Perhaps studies regarding violent media could actually look into that. Violent. Media. The desensitization caused by constant exposure to violence on the news, whether its delivered via tv or internet. Coupled with increasingly depersonalized interactions with others – automated phone services, online banking, internet shopping, and virtual interactions through social media, etc – I often wonder whether the information age has driven us to new levels of dissociation with our fellow humans, and a general lack of any emotional connectivity with the society in which we live.

        Not just games that could have that effect on a person, though addiction to online games, and constant over-exposure at the cost of real social interaction, might be a culprit or at least contributor, to violent behavior. Rage against the society forcing you out of your personalized, virtual playgrounds to lead a responsible life. That sort of thing.

  12. Mbaya says:

    This seems like a good move if its conducted fairly, I doubt the answers will be as concrete as some people expect but they’ll be good to have. It certainly won’t be the end of the debate though, regardless of the results.

    I’m curious though; in relation to the television research, does it only include scripted television or also reports on real world activity such as news broadcasts? Personally, I find hearing about or even seeing some of the actual events that unfold far more disturbing than any virtual or scripted violence or horror.

  13. Pindie says:

    There is also third alternative:
    new legislation is pushed before the studies are conclusive because “we cannot afford to wait and time to act is now” and studies take long to complete and the administration has already showed their good intentions.

    You fall into trap of thinking politicians are honest.

    • Brun says:

      Keep in mind this is targeted at TV, movies, *and* video games. That means Hollywood’s exceptionally powerful lobbyists (remember SOPA?) will be standing between any new legislation and the President’s desk.

  14. Kestrel says:

    Often research like this is heavily incentivized to offer conclusions that satisfy political interests.

    • Banana_Republic says:

      This is right on the money — literally and figuratively. Look at who’s funding this study, who’s appointed to lead it and who stands to benefit from one conclusion or another. You can often determine the result before the first dollar is allocated to it. When science and politics get together, objectivity doesn’t get an invite.

      In this case, a lot of people stand to benefit politically from being able to pin the causal tail on the massacre. That way they can introduce a bunch of ineffectual laws that present voters with the impression that action is being taken. It would also allow them to introduce additional taxes on games, in the same fashion as sin taxes on alcohol and cigarettes, all under the guise of public safety concerns. Given how much money is changing hands in this industry (I believe revenue exceeded film as of last year), there’s a substantial amount of money that can be “liberated” from game buyers and routed into public coffers.

      They ARE looking for a scapegoat. That’s without a doubt. The only question is who will get the honor? The game industry is an easy target. It doesn’t have a significant lobby, it doesn’t own any politicians, gamers are easy to brush off and marginalize because our hobby is generally viewed as frivolous, if not childish, by non-gamers, and finally, the industry as a whole is phat with loot. It’s an ideal sacrificial cow.

      RPS may want to look for the silver lining, but all I see is a storm ahead.

      • darkChozo says:

        This is presumably taxpayer-funded research led by an independent government organization. This is not the same thing as a political organization funding a study on something they have a strong stance on. Just because it’s government funded, doesn’t make it politically biased; there’s a whole lot of research that’s funded and performed that way.

        • Kestrel says:

          “Just because it’s government funded, doesn’t make it politically biased…”

          No, it just usually does.

          • darkChozo says:

            Do you have any proof of that? Or, alternatively, do you know just how much the US invests in R&D? It’s somewhere around $150 billion a year, with maybe 40% going into non-defense applications. That’s a whole lot of money, and it seems rather unlikely that all of it is going into what amounts to propaganda, particularly given the long history of government research creating real world technology.

            I mean, the impact of needing funding on research is actually a rather contentious topic, but to suggest that all government-funded research is paid-for results is nigh-conspiratorial.

  15. Freddybear says:

    Great, maybe he can investigate this game:
    link to dailycaller.com

  16. Lambchops says:

    My reaction on seeing the headline was “yup, good”. give some good researchers some government funding and let them crack on.

  17. derbefrier says:

    I was listening to Obama’s speech on my lunch break and I predict this. The CDC will do its research which will at best be inconclusive and no one will hear anything about it. Unless of course the impossible happens and they cab prove a direct correlation between violent media and real world violence then its all we will hear about for a month but again nothing would change.

    The best news of this speech is it all turned out to honestly be no big deal. I highly doubt any of the gun control issues he raised(assault rifle ban, limiting clip size are the two big ones) will pass congress and everything else is pretty much already happening or meaningless. In other words it looks like the second amendment survived another assault by the left.

  18. mouton says:

    Rock, Paper, Family

  19. deadly.by.design says:

    John obviously has no axe to grind against certain foundations. The article went from insightful to spiteful in the last paragraph.

    Regardless, I’ll be interested to see how this research pans out. Responsible gun owners are the ones I think are most worried about this recent knee-jerking. I agree with that one retired marine who interviewed with Piers Morgan — firearm education is something we really need to emphasize. While there are certainly some who might misuse their guns, they are a minority. A lot of other people are irrationally afraid of guns because they don’t understand them. Let’s have less of both. If games really turn us into killing machines, let’s find out.

    • Koozer says:

      How is being afraid of guns irrational? It is a metal stick that launches bits of another metal at people at incredibly high speeds. It is incredibly easy to use and can be used over huge distances compared to other forms of personal death dealing. How is it irrational to be afraid of that?

      • deadly.by.design says:

        My father has a few hunting rifles and a pistol. He showed me how to use them safely, taught me that they are a tool that you don’t play around with (or aim at people), and that there are responsible and safe ways to use that tool. I just feel like a lot of people aren’t familiar with guns at all and that they’re having that usual fear of what’s unknown to them. Plus, yes, guns can injure and kill people and we just had a horrible event.

        People just need to slow down and think, rather than knee-jerking with this whole “Guns are bad and gun owners should feel bad” thing I feel that’s going around.

        Lest anyone think I’m a gun nut because my family had them while I grew up — I don’t even own one.

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          Unfortunately there are some people who are incapable of thinking or behaving rationally and very infrequently one of those people will use a gun to commit atrocities against those whose opinions on gun ownership, whatever they may be, can’t change their fates. Remove the gun from this scenario and perhaps the outcome improves.

        • InternetBatman says:

          The problem with the gun control debate (besides the seeming impossibility of getting people to admit that regulated is in the second amendment) is the assumption that it is a binary choice. I don’t care about banning hunting rifles or pistols. I don’t think gun owners are bad (my parents have two), and I don’t think most people think gun owners are bad. Most people probably know a few.

          I do think that the NRA is bad and NRA members should feel bad. It’s a shitty organization that feeds on conflict and tries to avoid any sort of compromise whatsoever, and actively increases the belligerency in Washington.

        • x1501 says:

          Could you please stop comparing your (or in this case, your father’s) homegrown arsenals to my plastic screwdriver set? According to this logic, everything a tool. From flamethrowers and grenade launchers to howitzers and tanks. If your pistol is just a tool that you don’t aim at people, what exactly do you aim (or eventually plan to aim) it at? Wolves? Zombies? Corporate lawyers? And what other purpose does this “tool” have, if not firing potentially deadly and always harmful projectiles into living matter? Target practicing? For what?

          While guns and screwdrivers do share certain features, these features (having metal parts, being tools, and being potentially useful for violence) are not the ones at stake in deciding whether to restrict guns. Rather, we restrict guns because they can easily be used to kill large numbers of people at a distance. This is a feature screwdrivers do not share—it’d be hard to kill a crowd with a screwdriver. Thus, the analogy is weak, and so is the argument based on it.

          • Brun says:

            Target practicing? For what?

            Competition? Fun? Hunting? There are plenty of competition and non-competition sports based around or derived from the use of weaponry (archery, fencing, all varieties of shooting, etc.). Trying to deny that guns can be used for things other than shooting people is just incorrect.

          • x1501 says:

            I was referring specifically to Deadly.by.design’s father’s pistol, which, as I understood from the post was not used for either hunting or sports. In fact, few owned guns in the U.S. are.

            A fencing foil (or even a recurve bow) can’t easily be used to instantly kill large numbers of people at a distance. Guns, and especially some of their deadlier types that were never designed and are virtually never used for hunting or sports, can be and (as you well know) often are.

            As for the fun factor, again, flamethrowers, tanks, and nuclear bombs. The fact that one may find owning a jar full of Ebola virus fun shouldn’t overweight the serious threat to public safety it poses.

          • Brun says:

            Sounds like the pistol was there for self- or home-defense, for which the hunting rifle and shotgun would be unwieldy (as would an assault weapon). I imagine that’s the most common usage in the US.

            And allow me to pre-empt your next response, which will undoubtedly be, “Well, if no one had guns, you wouldn’t need guns for self-defense!” That is completely incorrect – what if you’re scrawny or weak, unable to defend yourself? All it would take is one 250 lb, muscular burglar to break in, beat you up and then murder your family. A lot of people keep guns because they sleep better at night knowing that if someone was putting them or their families in immediate, life-threatening danger, they can shoot that asshole in the face and put an end to it.

          • x1501 says:

            So then not just like any other tool at all. Something designed to scare, maim or kill other people for whatever reason, a potentially deadly tool like that may need a little bit more regulation than, say, a hammer or a nailer, don’t you agree?

            (Sorry, I appreciate your preemptive response but I’m not going to go into the details self-defense thing. Not because I have nothing to say (gun carriers are more than 4 times as likely to be shot and to get killed compared with unarmed citizens; the elevated risks of accident and suicide for gun owners; far less deadly alternatives like stun guns; chances of having your own weapon used against you; etc), but because it’s still sort of a gray area and I don’t have time for a lengthy argument.)

          • HadToLogin says:

            As far as my memory serves, serious work on semi-automatic pistols started when army requested more reliable and faster “tool” to kill enemies then revolvers, not when farm-owners needed better protection.
            But, that’s actually how most guns were created. Army needs better guns, so constructors make them. It’s never about home-protection/civilians.

  20. Cytrom says:

    Normally, I wouldn’t worry, since every sane person who has at least a brief knowledge of human history is aware that violence and self destruction practically IS human nature, and various art forms don’t induce violence, rather they are merely inspired by said violence that exists regardless of their depiction of it.

    But then again, the world is not run by sane human beings, but soulless moneymaking machines… so I probably should be worried that my favorite art form is being threatened by some “research” that wants to find connections and draw conclusions before it even begins, just so the machine can continue running.

  21. Koozer says:

    Wait wait wait: ‘A bar against using Congress funds to “advocate or promote gun control”’? That is ridiculous, how on earth did that happen?

    • Grygus says:

      Back around late 80s/early 90s timeframe, the CDC was using Congressional funds to study gun violence. Preliminary data became available, and it wasn’t what the NRA wanted to hear (truly shocking results, like people with guns in the house were far more likely to get shot.) The NRA flipped out, and Congressional members who were beholden to the NRA tried to pass a bill forbidding any further research by the CDC into the subject. That failed, but they had a lot of sway over budgetary committees; they managed to clip the CDC’s budget by (coincidentally) the exact amount earmarked for the study about gun violence, which effectively stopped the research anyway. They also got the meat of their failed bill into the budget, so that language became law as well.

      In 2011, Congress expanded the language to include other agencies and not just the CDC. So it’s pretty much illegal at this point for public funds to be used to study gun violence in any way. Which, one would think, would be nearly the same as a public admission that the NRA is keeping secrets, but the American people pay so little attention to this stuff that I’d bet a simple majority of them are ignorant of everything I’ve just typed, even now in the middle of widespread debates on the subject.

  22. Hoaxfish says:

    Polygon also has a slightly different article, that’s also interesting: Video games don’t create violence in society, they reflect it

  23. U-99 says:

    Sell 270 million units of firearms to citizens and then blame stupid videogames… And ask for additional government funding. Nice business strategy.

  24. SheffieldSteel says:

    Actually there are more than two possibilities…

    Assuming that studies show a correlation, or link, between real life violence and video games, it is possible that…
    1. video games cause a predisposition towards violence;
    2. violent people tend to enjoy violent video games;
    3. some other cause exists which makes some people tend to be violent and/or video game players.

    • Gorf says:

      4) Violent, unbalanced or mentally ill people shouldnt be allowed near guns. (surprise!!!)

      • DerNebel says:

        This point really needs to be hammered into the head (ooh, violent? Bet it’s the videogames!) of every single person in the world. If an unstable maniac willing to kill lots of people is armed with a crowbar, the devastation is limited. If you give him a weapon that kills almost instantly, can fire several times and physically detaches the user from the killing, then you have a tragedy on your hands.

        Guns don’t kill people, people kill people! But I think the gun helps, if you know what I mean.

        • Grygus says:

          People kill people. Guns kill people. Guns are way better at it.

  25. sinister agent says:

    Initial reaction was “hrrrnnngnh goddamn scapegoating idiocy”. It really is simplistic to say “it’s because of tv/games/hollywood”, but if the research is thorough and carried out by sane and competent people, they’ll hopefully look beyond the lazy “ban Itchy and Scratchy” route. Society is about so much more than tv.

    Let’s hope it’s all carried out sensibly and without too many axes being ground.

  26. SuperNashwanPower says:

    I would also like to see the Cochrane Collaboration scores of any studies or meta-analyses that are used / cited. There are too many people who think that science=unassailable and do not realise that the QUALITY of the science is also important.

    But hey, confounding variables are less exciting than CALL OF DUTY ATE MY PARROT

  27. LennyLeonardo says:

    I’d be really interested to know what people/government bodies consider to be violent games. I reckon text adventures can be violent, but then does that bring literature into the discussion?

  28. woodsey says:

    Didn’t they JUST fucking do all this as a part of filing games under the first amendment?

    How much more is really needed, good lord.

  29. ScorpionWasp says:

    Oh dear, where do we even start…

    1 – About the two possible scenarios you propose, there’s also a third: dishonest, biased methodologies are used to “demonstrate” a false link between fictional and real violence and freedom of expression suffers. If you don’t think this can happen, just look at pretty much every “study” feminists use to (successfully) lobby for even more discriminatory legislation.

    2 – For the 146th time. There’s no such thing as an “assault weapon”. Using this sort of buzz word just makes you look ignorant. don’t.

    3 – ” a nation in the grip of a violence epidemic”, oh for the love of… listen to yourself talking. WHAT violence epidemic??? Violence has been on a sharp, steady decline in the US (and pretty much every developed nation) for freaking decades now! Pomposity, fear-mongering and emotional hysteria over isolated, rare incidents doesn’t help anyone.

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      I don’t think you can really characterise violence in the US as being similar to that in the rest of the world.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Not really sure about the “assault weapons” thing. Gun manufacturers use the term all the time:

      link to heckler-koch.com

      • yourgrandma says:

        Still impossible to classify what is and isn’t a assault weapon so the terminology shouldn’t be used in the discussion.

        • darkChozo says:

          Um, there was that whole US assault weapon ban that, well, banned “assault weapons”. That would be rather difficult if “assault weapon” wasn’t a classification laid out in some concrete legal terms (hint: it was in the law). I suppose you could use international law as a justification for saying it’s not well defined, but, well, this article is very specifically about the US and its laws.

          • ScorpionWasp says:

            Oh yeah. They choose one or two guns that look particularly scary and ban those, without regard to any particular characteristics they might have or their relevance to the incidents in question. Then they call those two “assault weapons”. And completely overlook the fact that the Virginia Tech incident, for instance, was perpetrated with two wimpy little pistols.

            PS: Assault RIFLE is a thing. They’re a category of weapons with distinctive characteristics and all that. They look real scary. And they’re also responsible for only 3% of all gun murders in the US. And they have nothing to do with “assault weapons”, whatever the hell that is supposed to mean.

          • darkChozo says:

            Um, I’m not particularly defending the assault weapons ban or suggesting that it was particularly effective, but to suggest that “assault weapons” aren’t a thing is a bit silly, because there was a legal definition for certain kinds of weapons that were illegal to produce or sell to civilians in the US. Based on my extensive weapons expertise (ie. reading a Wikipedia article), they’re basically semi-automatic weapons with certain components (threaded barrels, extended magazines, stuff like that) that are often found on more beefy guns.

            And I’m not sure why you’re bringing Virginia Tech into this, considering that that shooting happened three years after the assault weapons ban expired.

          • Blackcompany says:

            Thank you ScorpionWasp for a well worded, logical rebuttal of the whole “Assault Weapon” ban. The reason liberals want to ban “Assault Weapons” (and the reason they have chosen that phraseology) is actually really clever. If they had chosen Assault Rifle as their delivery message, they would be forced thereby to comply with strict definitions of existing weapons and future arms that meet the specific criteria. Wisely – like a Fox – they chose not to limit themselves.

            Instead they have carefully crafted the fictional category of Assault Weapon (liberals are big on fictional categories) in order to describe…well…lo and behold…whatever weapon they choose! Right now, its clearly assault rifle style weapons they will target. In a few years, however, when the next too-convenient tragedy roles around, they will examine certain pistols and shotguns and claim, “Oh my, these are clearly used predominantly as ‘Assault WEAPONS’ so we better ban them, too.”

            Liberals have chosen a definition they can twist and manipulate, and one that is easily expandable as they grossly take advantage of future crises in order to expand their control. Liberals know the power of language and controlling the message. Something else they are good at.

            Orwell tried to warn us. Now CNN makes sure we can’t hear the Truth for the Message.

          • darkChozo says:

            Given the tone of your post, I’m gonna go ahead and guess that a proper response is a lost cause, but I’m going to bite anyway (because it’s fun :D). I am referring to the wording of a bill that was signed into law in 1994, and ceased to take effect almost a decade ago, colloquially known as the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. In this bill, the manufacture of so called “Assault Weapons” was banned for civilian use. In order to actually make this enforceable, a concrete definition for “Assault Weapons” was created, which included some specific existing guns and guns with certain properties (Wikipedia knows all). This is not something that’s whispered of in some fancy liberal cabal, this is defined in an Act whose text is public per various transparency laws. (Also, fun fact, this definition already encompasses some pistols and shotguns, so the process has already begun!)

            Therefore, the original assertion that “Assault Weapons” was not a properly defined category of weapon was false, because an existing legal definition exists in a now-defunct law. There are also various state laws that define “Assault Weapons” in a similar, codified manner, but given their lack of scope it isn’t really as applicable. There are also existing non-technical legal definitions that are older; for example, both a machine pistol and an artillery shell would be classified as “Title II weapons” under a law from 1968, despite having rather clear technical differences.

            Also, it’s rather unlikely that Orwell was warning us against the future encroachment of liberalism, his being a prominent socialist and all.

        • InternetBatman says:

          It’s not impossible to define. The number of bullets shot per minute would suffice.

    • hello_mr.Trout says:

      re: 2) assault weapons terminology, wikipedia says this: an assault weapon is most commonly defined as a semi-automatic firearm possessing certain features similar to those of military firearms. Semi-automatic firearms fire one bullet (round) each time the trigger is pulled; the spent cartridge case is ejected and another cartridge is loaded into the chamber, without the manual operation of a bolt handle, a lever, or a sliding handgrip.

      hope that helps you understand what people mean in the future ;)

  30. goettel says:

    Donning my tin foil sombrero for a second I’m wondering how useful these studies will prove to be in establishing how and to what extend you can desensitize large groups of (possibly unwitting) potential soldiers to real violence with gaming, especially with the quick evolution of remote-piloted vehicles bringing that killin’ joy to a military joystick near you.

    Gaming might turn out to be the holy grail of drafting tools, eh America’s Army ?

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Ooh, topical.

    • Brun says:

      Not to stereotype a group of which I am a part, but I’m pretty skeptical that the Pentagon is looking amongst *gamers* for its next generation of soldiers (who must be able to run, climb, carry very heavy packs and gear, and generally undergo extended periods of physical stress).

      • goettel says:

        Drones…man, the drones.

        Couch-potato-sourced war, probably with daily achievements and a cash hat shop.

        • darkChozo says:

          Finally, a great case study for the positive effects of gamification.

  31. SuicideKing says:

    What about the link in allowing everyone to carry a gun and increased gun violence? :|

    • Squishpoke says:

      That can be done with publicly available information. You can probably use year 2012 as your area of interest. Take the number of guns sold in 2012 (U.S.) and compare that to the number of homicides (U.S.) in 2012. I probably wouldn’t bother to separate the homicides by weapon type, so just use all of ’em. I’ll bet the percentage will so statistically insignificant that we might end up feeling silly about the whole thing.

      Hell, you can probably use the number of guns sold in 2012 and compare that to all the homicides in the entire last decade and the statistical relevance will still be nonexistent.

  32. Leetables says:

    I honestly hope a definitive link is found. I understand the desire to blanket defend video game violence as a statement of freedom to creativity, however my feeling is that games would be liberated as a result from the money-beats-all publisher greed.

    I want to watch publishers cringe and struggle. I want them to have to come up with something better than endless manshoots to attract the casual gamers. I want them to fall to their knees before talented developers and beg them to create the games that sell based on their artistic value, emotion, and pure mechanical solidity. The ones they wanted to make before marketing decided that these insecure chest-thumping casual bros would take up our geeky pastime if more violence was put in our games.

    • Brun says:

      No. I understand your sentiment, but it’s clearly born from your predisposition against large publishers. The most popular games in the industry’s short history have had some sort of violence, combat, or conflict at their core. Even in Mario Bros. you’re killing Koopas and Goombas to reach your goal. A ban on violence in video games would likely result in the industry’s collapse, and that’s not good for anyone involved, even the “talented developers.”

      • Leetables says:

        Your assessment of my predisposition is valid, however I don’t think Mario stepping on fictional creatures is really at risk of being banned.

    • D3xter says:

      You mean sorta like Guitar Hero, Tony Hawk, Dance Dance Revolution, Kinect Party, Wii Sports and any other kind of derivative long-running mass-market series? Sure would fill he “artistic value, emotion, and pure mechanical solidity” bit…

      • Brun says:

        None of those are particularly long-running, nor could those genres sustain the video game industry at its current level by themselves.

    • wu wei says:

      endless manshoots

      I think there’s a certain amount of observational bias here. None of the last 60 titles released on Steam qualify as “manshoots” in any way.

      I keep hearing how “lazy” the game industry is for using militarized violence as a crutch, and I always ask myself how these people are missing the HUGE number of non-violent, non-military focused, non-shooter games that are released weekly.

    • ffordesoon says:

      Oh, for—

      Guess what? Most games are shit. There wasn’t some golden age where the vast majority of games weren’t awful. The same is true of all forms of art/entertainment. This is because works of art are made by people, and most people just ain’t that talented. But let’s cut the untalented people out of the equation. Of the talented people, only a few will innovate. Most will be content to recycle the same old stuff, because they like the same old stuff. In addition, the innovators will fail more often, because not every attempt to make something new will produce something good.

      My point being, your scenario presupposes that at least some of the people currently creating 3D models of assault rifles and elves don’t actually want to be doing just that. It presupposes that the vast majority of games sold currently are not the heartbreaking works of staggering genius that everyone in the industry would be creating if only those damned publishers would let the talented developers do their thing. Neither supposition is remotely true.

      I’m not saying the big publishers don’t suck, but any legislation with actual teeth would gut the industry. If you don’t believe me, Google “Seduction Of The Innocent.”

  33. Chandos says:

    This reminds me of a study I read about in the book ‘The Lucifer Effect’ (written by Philip Zimbardo, the guy who conducted the original Stanford Prison experiment – a very good read if also very very dark). The study was about aggression in kids during play. I can’t remember all the details but the overall finding was that competitive play + anonymity (this was achieved by kids wearing masks and costumes that hid their identity) significantly increased aggression during play time, which is very similar to the conditions of online multiplayer shooters (or forums for that matter). I don’t think there were any findings about long term effects or that was even included in the scope of the study. Would be interesting to look into, though.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      hah, well we certainly see plenty of that around here. Which is something I probably wouldn’t utter out loud if I was not partly anonymous here

  34. Fergus says:

    Well put Mr Walker

  35. Zogtee says:

    If they find a link, then we will scream our heads off and question the research. If they don’t find a link, the opposition will scream their heads off and question the research. This will go absolutely nowhere.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      yeah, it will be interesting if this turns out to be an invisible gardener

  36. elmo.dudd says:

    Whatever leads to the most regulation is the path that will be taken. Never let a good disaster go to waste, and all that.

    link to larrycorreia.wordpress.com

    link to munchkinwrangler.wordpress.com

    Just gonna leave those two there, the first is very (no really) long but it covers a lot of exact details. The second is more philosophical, and also very brief.

  37. Juuuhan says:

    This is not a good thing, because it increases attention to the correlation between the two which of course do not exist. After this study the outcome still will hold no meaning. Let’s say it’s out and “shocker” video games do not promote violence, all those who still believes it will not take this study seriously (which we’ve seen from every older study that have proved this very thing) and continue bash on video games cause they are “generally” conservative old people who refuse to learn and adopt.

    If on the other hand comes out some sort of correlation between the two (which it actually can, based on how they decide to present the data) are shown, it will make people even more aggressive towards a “ban” of violent video games.

    It will only really reassure people who already know that videogames don’t promote violence and will maybe make one page in the newsletter for the ignorant to see before it will be forgotten as the next shooting takes place (which will happen very soon if they continue to portrait the murder as a anti-hero)… Heck there’s already been a shooting in USA in Kentucky College after this tragic event that happend in Connecticut.

    Then you could of course mention the reason behind this study is for Obama to speak to the “dumb” to fish PR and provide the “real” cause why people shoot each other (games and guns that is) and not the notion that the mental care in the US are down the toilet (which frankly pisses me of that they completely neglect the real cause).

    Eventually it will go away though just as roleplaying and Heavy Metal went away from being the cause but that was because people got fed up on listening to nutbags and not because we wasted money on millions of studies only showing the same result again and again.

  38. Blackcompany says:

    Well now that his policies have ruined the economy – or at least failed to help it recover – violated the constitution, ignored standing laws, covered up murders, increased unemployment, decreased new hiring and small business ventures and ignored the rights of Americans, glad to see him focus on something important…

    ….Or not.

    Seriously, a man who has so far gotten nothing right is launching a study in the effects my hobby has on my brain. Lovely.

  39. D3xter says:

    For that matter anyone still remember this?
    link to rockpapershotgun.com

    And this?
    link to youtube.com

    I’d like more of that and less John Walker and contemporary moral outrage pieces again, although he managed to hold back somewhat in this one. xD

    • elmo.dudd says:

      So basically you want Jim to cover the more emotional events. Yeah, I could see that.

    • D3xter says:

      Another thing often overlooked in regards to finding an easy scapegoat are the personal and social circumstances of the perpetrator(s) and trying to change anything about them through reforms.

      There was one case in Germany where a school shooter (who fortunately didn’t kill anyone, but wounded a lot of people before commiting suicide) had documented his previous years on the web, but it was obviously overlooked in favor of the obvious silver bullet like “video games” and similar.
      Throughout most of it (aside from obvious psychic problems and general gun-nuttery), feelings of hopelessness, aimlessness, despair, having no future, having no friends or people to trust/seek help from, intense mobbing (for instance his school”mates” apparently branding him with a burning key and otherwise assaulting him continuously), problems with authority and general helplessness prevail.
      Found some excerpts translated into English here: link to not-really-goth.livejournal.com

  40. guygodbois00 says:

    How about relationship between Hollywood cinema and real-world violence?

    • gwathdring says:

      “has asked the Center For Disease Control (CDC) to study the causes of violent behaviour, including movies, TV, and of course gaming.”

  41. Mctittles says:

    Are we also going to have a study on sports and their relation to violence?

    Let’s be reasonable here. There is no way we are at a level to be able to measure anything substantial in testing. There are too many factors and aggressiveness can be misdiagnoses easily. We just don’t know enough about our brains yet to even begin such an undertaking.

  42. HadToLogin says:

    Just so you know, story from my university professor, hopefully real. Once upon a time some dude took few families into some secluded place and they started living there. Their goal was to check if violence is build in humans, or we learn it.
    So, in few years they made few kids and lived totally-violence-less lives. Turns out, kids didn’t had a single violent bone in them, and everyone lived quite happily.
    That is, until they returned from seclusion. Then it turned out their kids can’t exist in violent world, making them “losers” at least…
    Professor told us this when we had discussions about whether humanity have violence build-in, or it’s just something we learn. There’s still no final answer.
    But this story shows that we can expect results that will be quoted by FOX, CNN and everyone as “video games causes violence”, forgetting that part saying “in a same way as movies, books or playing competitive sports”.

  43. gwathdring says:

    “1) There is no demonstrable causation link between experiencing fictional violence, and performing violent acts in real life, and the studies will prove this.

    2) There is a demonstrable causation link between experiencing fictional violence, and performing violent acts in real life, and we as gamers damn well need to know about it.”

    I think Three is more likely.

    3) The answer turns out of be much more complicated and typical. Media violence doesn’t show any direct links between average audience members and performing criminal violence. However, results are inconclusive as those who are atypically prone to violence have atypical responses to violent media that falls into one of those annoying chicken-egg loops. Furthermore, proper expansion of the study will take decades of longitudinal data and a wide variety of methods as it is impossible to do a controlled laboratory study of real-world violent behavior and impossible to manufacture truly accurate lab results about what causes violence while maintaining a body-count of zero.

    Everyone uses the results to their own benefit and the scientists get on with their studies and ignore the problem because too few of them ever learned how to properly engage with the media and explain complicated results to lay-folk.

    No-body wins!

    That said, I prefer the scientific studies to occur. Then, at least, data is available for those who both know and care about how it should be responsibly used.

  44. SonicTitan says:

    Walker. For God’s sake.

    I’m going to ignore your completely erroneous and shrill assertion that America’s “in the grip of a violence epidemic” (it’s not), and I’m willing to roll my eyes and move on when you use a meaningless political catchphrase like “assault weapons”.

    What I’m NOT going to ignore is your completely-out-of-left field bash against Christians. Read this carefully Walker – I’m a Christian. We’re not all idiots; in fact, a lot of us have the a firm grasp on the powers of reason, despite what the public narrative would have you believe. And no, using the qualifier “fundamentalist” beforehand doesn’t acquit you from liability. That’s like saying only INNER CITY black people are stupid.

    I’m done with Rock, Paper, Shotgun, and that makes me sad. I visit this site twice a day, at least; it’s inspiring to see so many writers who are passionate about video games and their deeper meaning. This site is part of the reason I write about video games today. But while I can ignore idiocy in the comments section (it’s the internet, after all) I won’t patron a site that so casually insults me and something that holds profound power in my life.

    You’re ignorant, John Walker. But more than that, you’re a hypocrite.

    • x1501 says:

      Sorry to rub it in, but how can one can have a firm grasp on the powers of reason and still believe in something so obviously asserted without reason or proof?

      On a more serious note, John was still making fun of fundamentalist Christian organizations, not Christians in general, let alone non-fundamentalist ones. If you believe that the planet is 6,000 years old, you deserve to be ridiculed.

      • lasikbear says:

        More specifically I believe he was referring to Focus on the Family and…that other one, Family Research Council? …, which are both hate groups pretending to be religious groups

    • Chris D says:

      Sometimes missing one vital piece of information can make all the difference between looking like an idiot or not. In this case that vital piece of information would be that John Walker is a christian.

      • SanguineAngel says:

        Also, sometimes making presumptions about someone’s hidden meanings, counter to the actual words used can make the difference too

    • Dominus_Anulorum says:

      I don’t think he was being offensive at all, and I am a Christian. I play video games, read Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, and do a lot of other things fundamentalists would scream at. They can be wrong. If he was attacking all Christians I think the comment would have been worded differently. It is your comment I actually find a bit offensive. There is nothing wrong with criticizing groups for not being rational and logical and it does not make him a hypocrite in any way.

      Oh, and first post on RPS!

    • ffordesoon says:

      Chris D already said this, but it’s worth repeating:

      John Walker is a Christian, just like you. When he criticizes fundamentalist Christians, he means fundamentalist Christians.

      This is what he wrote about Christians that apparently offended you so grievously:

      “Especially research that isn’t being funded by poorly disguised fundamentalist Christian organisations (How to spot a poorly disguised fundamentalist Christian organisation: their website looks like it was made with Angelfire in 1996, and they have “family” somewhere in their title).”

      You may notice that there is a phrase repeated twice there: “poorly disguised fundamentalist Christian organization.” If John wanted to attack all Christians (and thus himself), I have no doubt he would lop off the other words and just say “Christians.” He certainly wouldn’t type such a ponderously long phrase two times in quick succession.

      If you’re not a fundamentalist, the only thing there you could possibly be offended by is the jab at the crap web design of fundie sites. I have no idea why you would be, unless you design websites for fundamentalist Christian organizations or know someone who does. In that case, I suppose your post would be fair. But otherwise, I do not see how you arrived at the conclusion that John hates plain old Christians from that teensy little chunk of text. Any remotely sensible reading of the passage in question simply does not support that conclusion. Either you read an article I haven’t seen yet in which John praised Satan and mistakenly typed a comment on this article instead, or you misread the passage and reacted to words that weren’t there.

      Both scenarios are… puzzling.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      To flog this horse further, the shrill assertataions you refer to are:

      “But while the bumbling nonsense that gets reported by the mainstream press of a nation in the grip of a violence epidemic is patently false

      “Also included is an appeal to pass bills to more broadly require a background check before selling weapons, and a limitation on the sales of assault weapons.” seems like a summary sentence describing the proposals, not Walker’s own words, even if it’s not a direct quote.

      I would suggest that you have maybe not fully read the article, perhaps it has been coloured by your own presumptions, and you have come away with a couple of messages that were not intended.

    • Sian says:

      “What I’m NOT going to ignore is your completely-out-of-left field bash against Christians. Read this carefully Walker – I’m a Christian. We’re not all idiots; in fact, a lot of us have the a firm grasp on the powers of reason, despite what the public narrative would have you believe. And no, using the qualifier “fundamentalist” beforehand doesn’t acquit you from liability. That’s like saying only INNER CITY black people are stupid.”

      No, it’s not. The only thing that distinguishes inner city black people from other black people is the location of their domicile, which has nothing to do with their skin colour. What distinguishes fundamentalist Christians from other Christians is what they believe, which has everything to do with, well, their beliefs. Fundamentalists of any sort have a very extreme way of seeing the world. That’s why they do stupid things like protesting at someone’s funeral, trying to convince people that the world is flat and dinosaurs and man met over a cup of tea back before The Flood™.

      Frankly, I’m surprised any non-fundamentalist Christian would want to associate with those people. They cast such a poor light on the rest of your religion.

  45. sinelnic says:

    There is no horrendous outburst of violence in the West because they are channeled through the very efficient western military system and delivered elsewhere. You civilised people!

    • ScorpionWasp says:

      We should have a study done on if there’s a link between living in a country where the president regularly sanctions the dropping of cluster bombs on innocents, and violent behavior.

  46. HerrTom says:

    Reading all this news about “controversy” over video games got me thinking. Why DO we play violent video games? I mean, I play all kinds of shooters and strategy games, and I understand they’re fun and engaging, but I never really thought to step back and think, “Why? Why do I enjoy this?” And to tell the truth, I don’t really know. What makes RUSE or ARMA so much more entertaining than something like the Sims?

    • SanguineAngel says:

      I’ve given it quite a bit of thought myself over the years and I have actually come to realise that I do not play the games because of the violence at all. I do enjoy some games in which violence plays a significant part but there needs to be something more to it.

      Call of Duty, for example, bores me to tears and makes me feel increasingly uncomfortable these days. The single player aspect of those games, in particular, display little to nothing beyond mindless depictions of violence and consequently I find myself both bored and slightly sickened.

      The multiplayer lasted longer as there was a layer of interest with all the levelling up plus the aspect of playing a game against others, challenging each other. Over the years, even this aspect has devolved into little more than a mindless, almost random, frag fest against faceless opponents, whilst the core, levelling aspect has become almost ridiculous in its desire to compel players. And so, once again, bored and tired of it.

      If I think about all the games that I have really loved, violence, whilst invariably involved to some degree – whether it’s jumping on a mushroom’s head to make it pop or shooting waves of geth – but in those cases, the violence has been little more than a convenient vehicle to move the game along, allowing you to proceed with the core gameplay – platforming, puzzle solving, storytelling etc.

      To be honest, I can’t help but think that an awful lot of games could be just as good, or better, without insisting on having a fighting mechanic of some kind.

      On the other hand, I think that my negative reaction to gratuitous use of violence is a positive thing, and there are also plenty of games where violence is not gratuitous but still an integral part of the game and I have enjoyed its presence.

      I think I’ve rambled. Hopefully I got a point across?

  47. Oak22 says:

    Can anyone explain to me how the CDC study is somehow independent? It’s quite an assumption on the part of the author that should be explained.

    I take this as a political investigation by a politician for political purposes. The author should be aware of a concept called, “political extortion” or “rent extraction. The best reference I can offer you is this – “Money for Nothing” by Fred S. McChesney. It’s the classic text on this subject.

    The idea is that politicians essentially shakedown a relatively young and emerging industry and attempt to bring them into the political fold. Politicians want power first and foremost – if you’ll notice they aren’t just swell helpful guys. This includes Obama. Political machines require lots of cash. Industry lobbies provide this financing in exchange for “protection.” It’s a classic political racket. Either the lobbies concede, play ball, and pony up – or they get regulated in a way they aren’t going to enjoy. That’s how it works.

    One further note – this article, and many of the comments, are stunningly naive. Do you really believe that the government is just curious about a link between games and violence? You know – just cause they care so much about you? Or is there an ax to grind here? Ask yourself – if this was George Bush doing the executive branch power grabbing, would you have felt so warm and fuzzy about it? Even if you give power to a leader you trust, you are also giving it to the next leader that you might not like so much. It’s foolish and short sighted.

    • nzmccorm says:

      I think you’re misreading this situation. Judging by Biden’s meeting with publishers and ESRB reps, they probably want to rule video games and other media out because the NRA is trying to blame the media.

  48. PancreaticDefect says:

    Ask any parent. The real reason we don’t want our kids exposed to violent content in media isn’t because we are afraid our kids will emulate what they see on screen. It’s because we don’t want to be woken up every hour due to the nightmares it will cause.

  49. justdave says:

    Make it easier for all people to own guns and you make it easier for crazy people to own guns. People then get shot by said crazy gun owners. It’s not rocket science, and it’s certainly not disease control.

  50. The Smilingknight says:

    Some actual science about the issue cannot be bad.

    There are numerous dimwits around, some in very powerful positions, who are trying to divert this problem to vidya games instead of actual reasons and motivations.

    One big thing all of these measures miss even to mention is the effect that ordinary news media have on idiots like these psychopaths – with all the coverage they spin about the massacres.
    Specifically by publishing their names and pictures all over – thus creating fame.

    And fame is what these retards (the killers) want more than anything and the very reason they do it.
    They crave the sense of importance and feeling of being “powerful”.
    While they are so weak and pathetic that they regularly turn against most defenseless victims – which, retardedly… makes them feel “strong” or “powerful”.

    It is ego feeding of the lowest possible order.
    Schadenfreude or original meaning of Hubris – which meant taking pleasure from humiliation and suffering of others – which was considered the worst crime in ancient Greece.

    That despicable moron brevik is a very direct example of this.
    As is any other psychopath killer – mass murderer in history.

    If media could agree, or even be forced if necessary, that they leave out actual names and pictures of these morons from reports – it would take away one of their two biggest motivators that are closely interlinked and feed of each other.

    Nobody really needs to know their names except the law and those affected by their immense stupidity.