The Lies That Bind Us: The Mainstream Media And Gaming

In the wake of the terrible shootings in Washington on Monday, today’s Mirror front page looks like this. Call Of Duty blamed. And the paper is certainly not alone. Meanwhile, a couple of weeks ago we were hearing how gaming improves multitasking skills, keeping our “brains younger”. Except last week we were told that multitasking is bad for us, and “computers weaken our brain”. However it’s approached, the mainstream media really doesn’t seem to know what to do with gaming.

Of course, the representation of gaming as a social phenomenon usually stays in a darker place. Yesterday and today the press was filled with frighteningly ill-informed and scaremongering pieces about how the tragic shooting at the US naval base was caused by videogames. Never mind that the same man also allegedly believed he was receiving messages sent to him via a microwave, and heard voices speaking to him through walls and ceilings – it wasn’t the severe mental illness, it was the videogames. The newspapers say so.

While occasionally peculiarly heralded as changing us into superhumans, games are simultaneously reported as being responsible for the worst acts of humans, dangerous to us all. It’s a mess. So here’s a sort of guide to dealing with gaming stories in the mainstream media:

1) Why is there a story at all?

Videogames are still, despite their ubiquity, treated as a novelty. This anachronistic approach to something that most people are engaging with on some level appears increasingly bemusing, but it’s very much a part of the Old Guard that still runs newspapers. Newspaper editors are not young. Even the Grauniad’s Alan Rusbridger is a year off 60. The Times is currently headed by temporary insert John Witherow who’s 53. The Daily Mail’s foul-mouthed Paul Dacre is 64 going on 90. And while the Telegraph’s editor of the last four years, Tony Gallagher, is a year off 50, its average reader is around 194. (It’s notable that the one paper that mostly avoids this nonsense (but not entirely) is the Independent, now edited by tiny baby Amol Rajan, born in 1983.) And of course NewsCorp that owns the Times, the Sun, and Fox News is under the dictatorship of a man aged 82. Of course age does not discriminate someone from playing games, and indeed the first generation of gaming enthusiasts are now in their 60s and 70s. But all too often it means that those controlling the media output grew up without games being part of their lives, and indeed a significant part of wider society.

From this perspective, videogames remain this peculiarity, like a strange floating orb that’s descended from space, to be treated with fear and suspicion. Might this orb at any moment suddenly open up and release a gas that wipes out all of humanity?! We must remain ever vigilant, and report every possibly associated reaction.

The result of this becomes something akin to a woo therapy, where placebo is accepted as efficacy, and correlation is reported as causation. When tragedies occur, mainsteam media outlets are quick to look for the gaming history of the culprit, and of course when most young men are playing games, find one. They don’t look for a history of eating fast food, or ten pin bowling, or going for wees, but instead for the VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES and then retrospectively apply their diagnosis.

So these stories seem to primarily exist because of an artificially assumed novelty, an out-of-touch belief that these games are a new invasion on a previously untarnished society, and thus the cause of all ills.

2) Who is this story for?

It’s not us.

Let’s imagine a different circumstance. There’s been a new scientific breakthrough in nanobiology. Scientists have discovered a newer, more efficient way to guide particular proteins using implanted magnetic beads. Within this niche of scientific research, the recently published paper on this finding is of huge interest, opening up many possibilities for further research. It’s speculated that this could lead to significant improvements in immunoprecipitation. And a PR for the research group has sent out press releases to the media, in the hope of getting a story out there, thus attention for the group and better chances of further funding. So what’s the story we read? Well, you can bet it isn’t going to include the word “immunoprecipitation”, and is going to include the words “curing cancer”. The story published would be one of unidentified great speculation, reporting the potential uses of this development as if they are direct results, and likely saying something about Alzheimer’s near the end. And then one paper might deliberately misinterpret the entire thing and report, “TINY MAGNETS TO TAKE CONTROL OF OUR ORGANS!” or similar, and cause a worldwide panic about the process and hold back progress by a decade or so.

If you’re not someone who works in science, you’re going to read that story and not sit there fuming at your monitor. In fact, you might even be interested. You might be concerned about these dastardly magnets, and check your sun lotion ingredients because the story you read confused it with silver nanoparticals. It doesn’t make you stupid, and it doesn’t make you evil. It just means you’ve been poorly informed by a newspaper or website that’s interested in being read. The story wasn’t written for the scientific community, and it wasn’t interested in winning the favour of them. These are precisely the circumstances of mainstream gaming stories – they’re written for a “lay” audience who isn’t interested in playing videogames, nor interested in their being accurately reported.

3) Does it matter?

Yes. It does. (It matters for the misrepresentation of science stories too, of course – the horrendous holding back of progress following the idiocy over GM still haunts scientists, and revolutionised how they communicate with the press and public.) Because the misrepresentation of the truth has serious consequences.

It’s very easy to get up in arms when we see a story of a horrible tragedy getting twisted as an ignorant attack on videogames, and the people who play them. The approach is generally so stupid that it’s hard to know how to argue with – claims that someone might have been turned into a mass murderer because of a game that somehow didn’t affect the other ten million players are so illogical and irrational that beating your head on your desk feels more effective than trying to tackle it. And yes, it’s certainly frustrating that they’re spreading fear to the uninformed based on lies or nonsense – trying to scare parents into believing that their little one playing Rayman or Sonic is going to make them kill their classmates before giving them heart disease is spiteful and stupid, and should certainly be condemned.

But the reason it really matters is because the lies obfuscate vital truths. When we blame videogames for terrible atrocities, or for harmful behaviour, we prevent the genuine causes of these tragedies from being exposed. When it’s claimed that teenagers who commit a serious crime do so because of the games they play, we entirely fail to recognise the abusive homes in which they grew up. When an FPS is identified as the motivating factor for a wave of shootings, the violence and cruelty in that killer’s background is left unreported, and the cultures that turn blind eyes to this keep them turned. When depression and mental illness is reported as caused by excessive gaming, rather than excessive gaming being a response to depression and mental illness, we dismiss the reality of what leads to such conditions, and stunt our understanding and empathy. It excuses us, our families, our own cultures, and blames a nebulous and irrelevant activity. It allows abusive and dangerous environments to go ignored, and prevents us from asking serious and difficult questions about what really leads to such situations.

And it works both ways. When gaming is misattributed as the cause of improvements to a person, benefits exaggerated or invented, we again steer people away from activities that will genuinely benefit them. Not telling the truth stinks because it’s a crappy thing to do. But the consequences of having the truth hidden are always far more serious.

Alongside this, there’s also the rather significant issue that were gaming to genuinely have a negative effect on players, this would be hard to hear amongst the wailed bullshit. The megaphoned crying wolf of the mainstream press can only serve to ensure a genuine concern would not be taken seriously. As such, the dominant mendacious reporting could be genuinely dangerous for gamers.

So yes, it matters very much.

4) How do we respond to it?

The most important thing, as with all speculative or dubious stories, is to be better informed. When reading an article informing us that cucumbers cause Parkinson’s, actually go look up the paper on which the story is based, and inevitably discover that it said nothing of the sort. And do the same for gaming stories. When you see these claims being made, educate yourself about the truth. It’s worth it, not just for your own knowledge, but for the spreading of the truth to others.

The other day I was being told by some people how James Bulger had died because of videogames, and I was able to (calmly) respond explaining about the devastatingly horrendous homes in which the two children were being raised, and the complex reality of the awful situation. (Ignoring that that particular monstrously sad case was actually blamed on “video nasties” at the time, as videogames hadn’t quite stepped in to replace them as the press’s go-to evil.) Just being informed about the stories being misrepresented makes you an advocate for the truth.

Although it’s vitally important that this doesn’t become blind defense of videogames. While it’s more common for the correlation-becomes-causation stories to be negative, occasionally the same lack of rigour is applied to positive stories too. Because as RPS has said so very many times, if games are having a negative effect on us, we want to know and report that more than anyone else. It’s always about the truth, whatever that may be.

It’s also worthwhile developing a sort of instinct for parsing both news reports and scientific papers when it comes to matters of gaming. An instinct for asking important questions, or turning assumptions around to check they don’t quickly fall apart. Take, for instance, this recent piece from the Independent which reports a study in which it’s argued that depression in children is caused by an “overload of screen time”, whether television or gaming. Flip it, and see whether you end up with a more likely scenario. Because would it make more sense to ask the question: Does depression cause children to spend more time in front of a screen? It might be either way around, but the fact that the latter question is ignored by the study and the reporting of the study seems pretty significant. What are the other circumstances of a young person who spends more than four hours a day in front of a screen? What commonality can be found among them? What are the circumstances in a home that allows a child to spend so much time in front of a screen unregulated? Are these factors that might lead to depression or anxiety? In fact, might it be that homes in which children are provided with activities and alternatives that preclude their being able to spend over four hours a day in front of a screen are more likely to prevent depression and anxiety, simply through more active engagement with their families, more active interest from their parents, and the greater societal skills that will be encouraged? These are all pretty simple questions to ask, in the face of what increasingly appears to be a poorly thought through initial proposition. Here it’s implied – if not stated – that the screen itself is responsible for the depression. Rather than the lack of everything else that so much screen time implies.

Again, in this case, what happens is something that may be irrelevant gets blamed, and things that could affect genuine change in a child’s upbringing go ignored. If the study were to look at whether children who are provided with more activities and a broader range of interests show fewer signs of depression and anxiety, it might usefully offer helpful information for parents, and suggest positive action. Instead it blindly blames something with which it makes no sensible attempt to demonstrate a causative link, and in doing so, fails to recognise that perhaps gaming might be a positive part of a varied range of activities. Or may not. We don’t know, because the right questions aren’t being asked. We need to respond by asking the right questions.

So, then

It will get better. Not least because something else will eventually come along that will be responsible for all that’s wrong in the world, and we’ll see ignorant fearmongers like Fox News’s John Brandon unironically writing pieces defending gaming in light of this new evil.

But soon a generation of journalists will appear who grew up surrounded by and playing games, and they’ll be writing for an audience who grew up surrounded by and playing games. Their current ubiquity rather quickly defies most claims of their destroying the minds of their players, what with that vast majority of undestroyed minds, and soon that will be rather more difficult to deny.

In the meantime, the sensible thing to do is to equip ourselves with facts. To ask questions, and to have answers.


  1. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Meanwhile, the BBC did quite a nice piece on GTA being one of Britain’s finest exports…

    link to

    Edit: Well, bugger, at the BBC posts below mine. Missed that story.

    • bglamb says:

      There was a great one in the Mail, I think, about a guy who was the victim of a violent crime, after buying GTA V. The article spoke at length about the violent crime, and the violent game, interspersing pictures of both.

      They didn’t attempt to draw any connection, of course. That wasn’t what they were saying at all. Just some informational journalism on two unrelated topics, put into the same article to save space.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        In the voice of Fry “Not sure if serious or not.”

      • Beebop says:

        I too once played GTA and was once mugged!

        GTA causes people to get mugged!

      • Kubrick Stare Nun says:

        Relatively speaking, BBC has a more progressive stance towards video games than pretty much every other giant news network. Just look at this article:

        link to

  2. Gap Gen says:

    I spotted this wonderful story yesterday: link to

    It’s subtle, too. No “game causes violent crime” line, just a vague implication.

    • cunningmunki says:

      BBC News online excels at those insidious kinds of articles. The story had nothing to do with the game, and yet it makes it into the headline. They do the same with any story that has some vague connection to Facebook or Twitter, just to get the name in the headline and wait for the clicks. If you see those kinds of articles just write to them and complain here: link to

      • scatterbrainless says:

        Many violent criminals found to have Facebook pages! Mysterious correlation between rapists and a history of watching television! Fast and Furious movies make millions, while road toll continues unabated! Over ninety percent of murderers found to have visited a supermarket in the days leading up to their crimes!

    • jimbonbon says:

      The shortened title for it on their site yesterday was “Man Stabbed Over Grand Theft Auto Game” which is a really terrible example of click-baiting. I can’t find that link on their page anymore, but several media outlets caught it.

      Despite the notable backlash their follow-up story today is just as bad… “Grand Theft Auto stab attack: Three teenagers arrested”: link to

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        Holy shit that’s horrible reporting.

        • jimbonbon says:

          The Independent wasn’t much better: link to

          It was 1:30 AM, in London, and the man was mugged and stabbed. He happened to be carrying a copy of GTA V. The fact that it appears he was only out so late in order to buy it post midnight launch is completely irrelevant. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when major and trusted (if that can be a word applied in this industry) news outlets so blatantly twist events to tie violence to video gaming.

          • Rufustan says:

            Its truly sad how all the articles slant the story to imply he was mugged for the £40 video game in his shopping bag, yet the fact they grabbed his phone and watch, both easy, more usual, and probably more expensive targets in a mugging are afterthoughts or ignored.

            In reality it was probably the other way around

      • SquidgyB says:

        Yeah, I was going to share that amongst my friends when i saw it at work, but it’d changed by the time I got back home.

        I think I’ve built up the knack for identifying hyperbole derived from scientific sources (as bad as those sources can be in the first place).

        Here’s another (albeit slightly older) example that’s a favourite of mine:

        link to

        For full effect be sure to read the original paper, it’s very short. The Reg did a pretty awful job with that particular article. So much so that I still can’t help think it was somewhat tongue in cheek, but there’s really no indication that they’re aware of how ridiculous the assumptions they’ve drawn from the paper genuinely are.

        • Hudzon12 says:

          London is london, go walking alone down the wrong street at night and you may get mugged whatever games you have in your bag. I used to work in one of the london trauma centres, my mates and i formulated the “Bruv” hypothesis. The number of times a longon gangbanger says bruv in one sentence closely correlates to the number of stab wounds he has recieved.
          As for the US blaming videogames is far easier than blaming the inadequate mental healthcare this man desperately needed. We have similar problems over here but a nutter with a knife may take out 2 or three people, arm him with a handgun or 2 and the bodycount rockets
          I know the penny arcade twosome are persona non grata here at RPS but they did used to make some sense look at this gem link to
          Yes thats right, it is 13 yrs old. This argument will get recycled again and again and the NRA will make sure that americans can bear arms or arm bears or do whatever their fancy takes them.
          Nuff said.

    • kael13 says:

      Wow, that really is dreadful. A straight up mugging and they splash that all over the title.

      • P.M. Gleason says:

        So did Kotaku. Ironically they pulled the story from a UK rag.

        Edit: Well, it wasn’t splashed over the title, but the introductory blurb basically says the same thing.

  3. Jams O'Donnell says:

    Somewhat related, why is the BBC foregrounding GTA V in its story about someone getting mugged and stabbed? There’s nothing in the story suggesting that the game was the target — it seems that it just happened to be among the things that were taken.

    link to

    I suspect the BBC just know that mentioning GTA in launch week will get them more hits, but kneejerk people who dislike violent games will no doubt be patting themselves on the back about how right they are.

    • finalfanatik says:

      “Man Mugged Because Crime Is a Thing” wouldn’t generate any interest at all.

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      I’m sure they were just well meaning citizens who happened to be carrying knives and bricks, but minding their own business when a copy of GTA entered their vicinity causing them to erupt in violence.

      • finalfanatik says:

        It’s true. They were, in fact, acting in self-defence as the copy of GTA leapt from the carrier bag, trying to mug them!

        • Kadayi says:

          I chanced to stumble across ‘loose women’ on ITV whilst channel surfing today and caught them concluding that GTA V was clearly responsible for said mugging. The muggers just happened to take his watch, phone, wallet & the rest of his shopping by mistake obviously.


          • Christo4 says:

            Haha, just what i was thinking. If he was just after GTA why did he also steal all his belongings? If he was after gta wouldn’t he only steal the game?
            It amazes me how idiots people are sometime.

    • bill says:

      Same reason RPS was with it’s Saints Row DLC coverage, I guess.

    • mpk says:

      Not sure that the BBC need to partake in click-baiting, given that they don’t advertise anything. More hits for them just equals a higher cost.

      • Skull says:

        Actually they do need to justify a large amount of traffic. They answer to us, the taxpayer, I don’t think many people would be happy when the private media leap on the fact that out license fees are being burnt away.

    • The Random One says:

      I don’t know how everyone is saying that article is implying the violent crime was caused by the violent game. Sure, the article is biased, misleading and click-baity, but what it’s implying is clearly that the man only got stabbed because he was out during the dangerous night hours to buy a shiny new technomabob, instead of staying at home appreciating an Elizabethan chess set as befits a true gentleman. The fact that he suffered a violent crime and lost the game that lets him pretend to be a violent criminal is the final irony, not the main point. I could imagine, and believe I have seen, the same thing on the release day of a new iThing.

  4. Chalky says:

    The most astonishing part is that many of the same US publications that criticise game violence refuse to acknowledge the link between poor gun control and gun violence.

    Access to video games causes gun violence but access to guns has no effect? It’s unbelievable that anyone can hold these two opinions in the same brain at the same time.

    • Gap Gen says:

      The American far-right is a huge self-reinforcing echo chamber that has co-opted a political party through subterfuge. I don’t expect any coherent arguments to come out of its mouthpieces.

      • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

        ‘You can take my rifle … when you pry it from my cold dead hands!’ Ah yes thank you for your input into this debate Mr Heston can we have some of your lobbying multi millions. The sway the NRA has in American politics is not healthy!

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        I’d encourage anyone interested in guns or America, or any combination of the two, to read Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America by Adam Winkler – nothing else quite lays out the polarization of American politics and the problems that you get when, on principle, you deny the existence of a middle ground.

      • P.M. Gleason says:

        Well the US is hardly alone. Look at where a lot of these stories are originating from. Hint: it isn’t the United States of America.

        However, we do have Fox News, and there was a Fox News anchor suggesting that people who play violent games should be “monitored” which is hilarious because all of us already are being monitored, no matter what our activity is. But anyway…

        There’s not some huge cultural rift when it comes to the language and lack of logic used for these stories. A sensationalist story about murder requires a clear and present object or idea to blame. It’s too ambiguous to say that the killer had mental health issues, because that means nobody is going to be slapped with the FBI stick of law and disorder.

      • Gap Gen says:

        To clarify, I’m talking about movement conservatism as a whole, not just its response to videogame violence (and indeed the left wing in the UK also ends up pandering to conservatives, because a lot of working class people have very traditionalist views that are socially conservative – John linked to the Mirror, after all, which is traditionally a left-wing newspaper).

      • Banana_Republic says:

        The far left has it’s own echo chamber, which is just as reality defying as the one at the opposite end of the spectrum. If you can’t see it, it’s because you’re in the middle of it.

        • P.Funk says:

          I would say that there is something particularly concerning about the state of the current Right in the US. Its always had these elements in it but lately its been rather beyond reason. A few times in American history the inability to form compromize has existed and thats usually lead to disasterous results, on some level.

          When it comes to Guns and Crime in the good old US of A, its not the Left Wing think tanks that are really influencing policy.

          • Arglebargle says:

            In the US, the descendents of the John Birch Society have seized the Republican Party by the balls. Just follow the money from the Koch brothers and their ilk, (Coors beer, the Heritage Foundation, etc) to see how it works. The Koch bros’ daddy was a founding member of the JBS. The more mainstream of the Republicans have been forced out, or live in fear of an extremist financed primary foe.

            Kinda scary….

    • Ravenholme says:

      Humans are AWESOME at doublethink. Orwell didn’t invent that concept, he just gave it a snappy title to explain a government that exploited that capacity.

    • Commissar Choy says:

      Haha you’re European views are simply adorable. You see, in America we have Freedoms, part of which is our God-given right to not be able to link guns to violence.

      • Atrophy says:

        I agree it sounds ridiculous… but I thought about it and I realized that gun control doesn’t really have the same correlation to gun violence as it seems. If I understand correctly gun control would make it much harder to buy a gun… but there is already a 1 or 2 week wait period, right?

        That should take care of the impulse buyers. Next you have the actual criminals (gang members and their ilk). If we had better gun control would they go, “Oops I am not allowed to own this kind of gun, I had better give it back!”

        I just don’t see that happening. If a bad guy wants to kill someone he will find a way… gun control might reduce gun violence, but wouldn’t it also increase knife violence as an alternative (or whatever other kind of violence you want to use as an example)?

        So we assume criminals are just going to buy black market weapons and not give up what they have… this means the people who struggle to get guns are the law abiding citizens… Who give up their guns (or can’t buy them or whatever the case may be)… who are targeted of guys with guns…

        The way I see it a the moment laws affect people who follow them and criminals don’t follow the law, so how will gun control help us normal people?

        • Gap Gen says:

          As I see it, gun rights are a part of America’s cultural heritage (despite opposition inside the US), and genuine gun controls will be difficult to enact, and thus mass shootings will permanently be a feature of the US. The media impact that they have is still significant, though, and I gather that Al Quaeda has encouraged mass shootings as an effective way for untrained terrorists to carry out attacks (a-la Brevik), since people who try to build huge bombs tend to end up buying the materials from undercover FBI agents or simply fuck up the manufacturing because building effective explosives is hard.

          My own opinion is that mass shootings are a tragedy, but anything significantly less lethal than road traffic accidents in deaths per year is probably liveable for a society as a whole.

          • Leosiegfried says:

            To all the Americans saying its cultural differences and small county that attributes differences in Gun crime between UK and US i have 4 words “watch bowling for columbine” The film explores what are the causes for the Columbine High School massacre and the Differences Between Gun Crime In US and Abroad and Explores that while the crime-rate is actually decreasing, reports on violent/gun crime is increasing which is increasing fear in the population

        • Chalky says:

          You’re talking about this like it’s some sort of hypothetical concept and you’re forced to speculate on what would happen if nobody had guns.

          Why don’t you look at actual real world examples of countries that do not have guns?

          Here’s a link:
          link to

          Look at the statistic for “Murders by youths”. The US has 58 times more murders by youths despite only being 5 times larger in population.

          Why are you speculating about what happens when you have gun control rather than simply looking at reality?

          The comment of “only criminals will have guns” is a complete joke. Murders with firearms – uk: 14, US: 9,369 (reminder, we have 1/5th of the US population). You may be surprised to discover that the UK has more than 14 criminals.

          • The Godzilla Hunter says:

            But you can’t just compare the US and the UK because they are fundamentally different countries in different situations. For one, the UK has a nice, small border that is composed of water, compared to America’s huge border, much of which is bordering Mexico. This means that simply enacting these laws would be much harder. Second off, the cultures between the countries are extremely different that it is stupid to claim that gun control is the only factor at work between the two country’s homicides statistics.

          • Dances to Podcasts says:

            As a citizen of a continental European nation I laugh at your notion of a large border.

          • The Godzilla Hunter says:


            Hmm. That’s actually a very good point. Though I still hold that having a border with Mexico would still make effective gun control on the level of the UK unfeasible (for now).

          • aldo_14 says:

            Though I still hold that having a border with Mexico would still make effective gun control on the level of the UK unfeasible (for now).

            Unfeasible for Mexico, you mean?

            (It’s been estimated 90-70% of guns used by Mexican drug gangs originate from the US, for example)

            Also, I’m pretty sure that the Mexican border is far more tightly controlled and monitored than most, if not all, borders within continental europe.

          • mickygor says:

            You can’t just look at different murder stats, highlight one difference between two countries, and go “look that’s it!” That’s exactly what this article about. The US and the UK are not identical except for on the point of the right to bear arms.

          • BarneyL says:

            The problem is that Chalky is only using two countries in the example.
            If I pick the UK and Switzerland or Norway or Sweden or Austria or Saudi Arabia or Serbia (2nd highest ownership rate next to the US) then can I can equally argue that higher gun ownership leads to lower murder rates. The problem in the US is not simply that they have a lot of guns but that they keep on using the things on each other. Obviously you have to have guns to use them but there’s something special going on in the US amongst those that have them.

        • Dances to Podcasts says:

          This is a circular argument, ‘there are already many guns out there, so it’s no use getting fewer guns out there’.

        • Commissar Choy says:

          “there is already a 1 or 2 week wait period, right?”

          No. Maybe in some places but in quite a few the waiting period is < 7 days, down to 0 days (fucking Texas).

          "So we assume criminals are just going to buy black market weapons and not give up what they have…"

          Why bother with "black market weapons" when you can just go to a gun show and buy a gun there, it's way cheaper than risking your neck in a "black market" situation. Or just order a gun online because fuck it, why regulate that?

          "The way I see it a the moment laws affect people who follow them and criminals don’t follow the law, so how will gun control help us normal people?"

          You just declared your argument to be "laws don't apply to criminals, therefore we don't need laws." So I don't quite think you've thought that argument through.

          • Atrophy says:

            @Commissar Choy
            Where I am I believe that there is a waiting period, but of course other states may very well be different and I do agree that a waiting period should exist.

            “Why bother with “black market weapons” when you can just go to a gun show and buy a gun there, it’s way cheaper than risking your neck in a “black market” situation. Or just order a gun online because fuck it, why regulate that?”

            My point was to assume we enacted gun control tomorrow and all the gun shops closed up (yes I realize that is ridiculous)… Joe the Plumber can no longer purchase a firearm, but overnight a massive illegal market would spring up and if a “criminal” wants one he/she will find one. Mr. Civilian with four kids and a mortgage will not be messing around with Shady Slim trying to buy a sidearm.

            “You just declared your argument to be “laws don’t apply to criminals, therefore we don’t need laws.” So I don’t quite think you’ve thought that argument through.”

            You may have misunderstood my intent here… a criminal commits crimes. Crimes are defined as “an action or omission that constitutes an offense that may be prosecuted by the state and is punishable by law.” Which roughly translates to “Don’t do bad stuff and break the law or you will be punished.”

            Criminals are generally considered to be “rule breakers.” Therefore it stands to reason that a criminal who wants a gun for a specific person will go and get one because he/she doesn’t mind being a rulebreaker. The law still APPLIES to them, but in practice the percentage of criminals who give up their guns will be far smaller than the percentage of law-abiding citizens who give up their guns.

            I also would like to note that I use terms like “bad guys, law-abiding citizens, etc.” as generalities to make my point. Obviously the world is not made up of masked men in pinstripes and dapper family man types who go about saying “Darling is the roast finished soon?

          • Reapy says:

            Guns have legitimate uses for target shooting, hunting, and are honestly all around fascinating devices. I have never touched one, nor am comfortable around them, however I consider this a gap of knowledge a weakness and would not be ashamed to feel comfortable handling a firearm.

            The gun does not make you point it at a person and pull the trigger. The question really is if the presence of firearms makes people more inclined to use them when being violent? Does the presence of them deter more casual violence, or does their presence escalate violence too quickly?

            When watching the HBO VICE episode about Chicago gun violence, some older guys were talking about kids not wanting to lose, going right to the gun, increasing fatalities. In their glory days they ‘only’ knifed and/or beat up people. But when you step back, the human foot can be just as fatal as a gunshot wound, maybe even worse because we usually aren’t aware how much damage a stomp to another person can do.

            I don’t really know that the focus needs be on the tool used to do violence, but more towards the inherent lack of education and control that drives a person to commit an act of violence in the first place.

          • Blackcompany says:


            Thank you for a well reasoned argument.

            As a fiscally conservative, socially liberal individual raised in America’s Deep South, I am well acquainted with gun ownership. For reasons of hunting and self-defense, my father owns a number of guns. Many of my friends also own guns. I have handled a wide variety of the weapons myself, from small arms to shotguns and rifles. Suffice to say, I have a long-standing acquaintance with guns.

            But not with gun violence.

            Despite knowing and having close relations with a number of gun owners, I have never been exposed to gun violence. The gun owners I know are all thoughtful, intelligent people who just want government to stop wasting our money, mind their own business and get out of everyone else’s while they’re at it. Not ‘gun toting redneck crazies’ like CNN and other liberal news channels like to paint us. We respect privacy, opinion and world view, as well as our right to defend ourselves from violence.

            We would just like the world to consider the possibility that the problem is not guns. The problem is a willingness to use them for the wrong reasons. Are today’s youth desensitized to violence? Have their icons made gun violence more acceptable in their impressionable minds? Is the pressure placed on the individual in our society causing people to snap? Is the notoriety provided by the media something a certain demographic of would-be violent criminals crave?

            There are reasons for these horrific crimes. Claiming that its just because a person owns a gun, is like claiming that people commit premeditated vehicular manslaughter just because they own a car.

            I love young people today. When our corrupt mainstream media cries out that “violent video games are to blame” you all shout back “That’s not true. Millions of normal, healthy, functional people play video games, too, so video games can’t be the cause.”

            But when that same corrupt media claims that gun ownership is the principle cause of gun violence, you all nod your heads in agreement, completely willing to IGNORE the fact that millions of healthy, functional people also own guns, and choose not to use them to commit violent crimes.

            As an addendum: When’s the last time someone DEFENDED their health and home from invasion using a gun, and the media made a big deal of it? There’s an agenda here, if only you will open your eyes and see it.

        • Aardvarkk says:

          To be fair, all criminals start out as normal people.

      • greenbeermonkey says:

        Rather the belief that gun violence kills people than video games do. Having a deity’s rights and calling that a freedom? /facepalm.

        I’m yet to see news coverage of someone beaten to death with a NES, strangled with a controller lead, choked to death with a mouse et al!

        • Ernesto25 says:

          So many things i want to say to him but a face-palm will do.

        • Universal Quitter says:

          Haha your European views are simply adorable. You see, in America we have this thing called satire.

          He was lampooning American views on freedoms by comparing them to the Federal ban on funding for research that can be used for Gun Control. Given the political nature of the debate, this spelled the death for non-biased statistical analysis of these issues because the numbers just don’t exist, and when they do exist, they can be easily dismissed as partisan abuses of statistics.

          Hence, the “right” to not be able to link gun ownership with gun violence.

          -Edited to fix numerous typos-

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        I guess the freedoms to be poor, sick or die in a shootout don’t appeal to us as much.

        • Dances to Podcasts says:

          Also, I would like to request all flaming to be consigned to this subthread so we can keep the actual arguments for elsewhere. :)

        • P.M. Gleason says:

          When an American speaks about “freedom” then they are harkening back to a time when the country was built upon the Old Faith, which is a kind of culture of self-reliance (whether they actively know it or not–it’s ingrained into our culture completely). So the things you listed are indeed freedoms to pursue, with the clause being that you pursued them by making the choices that you did.

        • Universal Quitter says:

          See my response to the comment above you to see why your jingoism is misplaced here.

    • airmikee99 says:

      Gun control has no bearing on violence. Serbia has nearly as many guns per person as America, and their murder rate is much lower, even though they have fewer controls on guns. Contrast that country to Honduras and El Salvador, which greatly control guns, have fewer guns per person than most other nations, and both lead the world in intentional homicide rates. Do you know what has a higher correlation with gun violence? The Gini coefficient that measures income equality. Compare gun violence rates with the Gini coefficient and you find a remarkably matching trend.

      Going off on guns and gun control without the facts is EXACTLY the same thing that the newspaper editors this article is about are doing. You’re mongering fear because you’re afraid and you want others to be just as afraid. Try researching the topic next time.

      • Ernesto25 says:

        Yes surely el Salvador and the US is a better comparison than the UK and USA

        • airmikee99 says:

          My point is that one doesn’t need to limit it to any small number of countries.

          Compare the entire lists of countries by guns per person, homicide rate, gun control laws, and Gini coefficient. The only correlation between those four lists will be the homicide rate and the Gini coefficient, if a country has higher income equality, it has fewer homicides, regardless of how many guns are in the country or their gun control laws.

          Using data from every country is better than using data from just a few countries, right?

      • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

        Yes but America has laws that say it is OK to shoot someone in the face if you don’t like the look of them, providing you are white and they are of ethnic origin! You are within your rights, in many states, to take someones life for them stealing a bottle of milk off your door step. Human beings are not valued on the same level as material goods.

        In Switzerland EVERY adult male has an assault rifle and ammo but there is no where near the number of gun crimes, WHY? Because their statutes see more value in a human life than in property.

        • The Godzilla Hunter says:

          Well, it’s good to know that other people aren’t full of hate and bigotry.

        • phelix says:

          Assault rifles are a bit impractical for most types of crime, methinks.

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

            Yes, as far as shooting people goes they need a serious redevelopment as they are not that effective Give me a blunderbuss any day of the week, breach loading was a backwards step! Its not just me who thinks this, most nutters who set out to kill as many as possible wouldn’t choose an assault rifle!

          • shagohad says:

            the in favour of assault rifle arguments are ridiculous, these weapons have seen a process of technological refinement for what 70 years now? All with the intent of becoming very efficient at killing people quickly

        • P.M. Gleason says:

          Race has no bearing on the Stand Your Ground law, and quite frankly I’m tired of hearing about it from ignorant xenophobes who won’t probe past the incredibly shallow veneer of insidious media machines that pump out disinformation at disturbing rates.

          I do not agree with the law but this concept of phantom racism is being taken to a disturbing degree. But I suppose that’s convenient for you, because you can smugly roll your eyes and say “Oh but in SWITZERLAND…”

          • gunny1993 says:

            Well it is your fault, if America wasn’t so damn partisan about everything we could have a reasonable discussion, you guys never left the civil war era, you just made it more civilized.

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

            According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) non-Hispanic blacks accounted for 39.4% of the total prison and jail population in 2009 (841,000 black males and 64,800 black females out of a total of 2,096,300 males and 201,200 females).[41] According to the 2010 census of the US Census Bureau blacks (including Hispanic blacks) comprised 13.6% of the US population.

          • P.M. Gleason says:

            @gunny That’s very, very true. I completely agree with that statement.

            Issues like Video Games, as portrayed in this article, become chopping blocks because of the idiocy of the party system.
            It doesn’t even matter what the “values” are behind the issue: give an event enough credence, attention, enough horror, and one side or the other will pick it up for campaign slogans and utterly demolish it with legislation.

          • Arglebargle says:

            You could also look at the percentage of native americans and metis in prison in Canada for an interesting comparison. I image there are some similar interesting percentages in various other countries, based on their particular underclasses.

        • derbefrier says:

          Thats fucking stupid man you can not just walk up and shoot someone in America “because of laws” goddamn ignorant Europeans talking out there ass. WE do have laws that protect the right of the individual to protect himself and many who have tried to use that law to justify violence have ended up in jail. Its just not widely reported because it doesn’t correlate to the mass indoctrination campaign by the mainstream liberal media.

          I know its hard for you to understand because you have been indoctrinated since birth to believe guns are the root of all evil but the basic philosophy behind the second amendment is the citizen must have a way to protect himself from a tyrannical government and that holds true no matter what century we are in. I could go on a lot longer but sadly i have to get back to work. Just understand there is more at stake here in this debate than just a bunch of red necks and their love of guns. Its a fight over a fundamental philosophy that one side sees as an absolute right of the individual and the other side sees it as a threat to their power. Despite what the mainstream media will tell you the majority of Americans still believe in the right and you will never see the second amendment repealed.

          I’ll leave with this quote “An armed man is a civilian while an unarmed man is a subject” Think about what that means and maybe you’ll start to understand why Americans know why the second Amendment is one of the most important freedoms we have.

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

            Of course I over egged the pudding but in most civilised countries you can’t shoot someone over a property crime.

            In civilised countries human life is valued far above property and the laws reflect this!

            I was silly to add a bit of humor to the OP as it gave the American Right Wing a get out clause!

          • gunny1993 says:

            “Its a fight over a fundamental philosophy that one side sees as an absolute right of the individual and the other side sees it as a threat to their power. ”

            This is what makes discussions with Americans useless (yes not all of them, just the ones who like to speak the most), your insanely polarized views can only take form when you immediately categorize the opposition into one camp. Both sides of any position do it and it always starts with the tagline “brainwashed by [liberal/Right Wing] media.

          • P.M. Gleason says:


            You don’t seem to understand what property means to us, then, which is not our concern but your utter flaw when speaking about the issue. You have no historical context. You have no sense of history.

            That is exactly how we get stories like the one you’re responding to.

          • ryanrybot says:

            I like how when people state the 2nd amendment says it’s every American’s right to have guns, they always leave out the bit where it says “A well regulated militia…”. Is everyone in the states in a well regulated militia? Super crazy!

          • jay35 says:

            @ryan: There’s actually two rights being enumerated in the 2nd Amendment, one related to forming militias, the other a right for citizens to keep and bear arms. The punctuation makes that clear for those who have studied the grammatical construction.

          • Asurmen says:

            Jay, how does it? Unless the militia clause is related to the bear arms clause (dependent and independent clauses), the sentence in the 2nd Amendment doesn’t make sense. The only way they could be separate clauses would be if ‘and’ was used instead of the comma between the two statements.

          • ryanrybot says:

            @ Jay… Poppycock! It mentions nothing about forming militias. “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state” doesn’t make sense by itself, and tacking the “shall not be infringed” to that is far too vague to be constitutional right. They were trying to say to militias ‘We know that militias are necessary to the security of a free state so, although you are regulated, we will never take your guns away.’.

          • Arglebargle says:

            You need to look at what a ‘militia’ was at the time. And it was every able bodied man who showed up, with whatever personal weapons they had, be it squirrel gun or blunderbus or even spear. Militias were not provided arms by the state or constabulary.

        • dE says:

          “In Switzerland EVERY adult male has an assault rifle and ammo”

          You don’t live in Switzerland, else you wouldn’t say this. The reality is really quite a bit different.
          1. Not every adult male has a rifle. Quite a few people place their weapon in the “Zeughaus”. Not everoyne is eligible to a rifle either (on a sidenote, you don’t deem it problematic that supposedly all MALES have access to weapons but females don’t?)
          2. The Swiss Army counts the bullets it hands out. Every shot fired is counted. If you do your obligatory training (which is, if you’ve been drafted), you’re given a fixed amount of bullets. Shots are counted. You give back the remaining ammo. If there is any discrepancy between bullets given, shots fired and bullets received, you’re in fuck it all trouble. And that’s the ammo for the rifle everyone is supposedly just having at home. Yeah you can buy ammo for other weapons and you can illegaly import the ammo for your military rifle. But are we really discussing smuggling here?
          3. If someone as a private person wants a weapon, they need a “Waffenschein”, a weapons license that checks for a criminal record amongst other things.
          4. You’re not allowed to carry a firearm in public, except for very specific reasons. If in public, you need to ask for explicit permission to wear a firearm and prove that you have a very valid reason to do so. Saying “I need to defend my freedom” is not a valid reason, instead it’s even more of a reason to deny your request as it makes you seem like a nutjob (from a swiss point of view).
          5. Even transport is a problem, you may only transport a firearm in 5 very specific reasons including from and to the yearly training or a weapons trader.

          So… how exactly did Switzerland become the liberal gun nut fantasy? This mythical fantasy country where everyone has a weapon and ammo and is free to use it? Because you buy them from a select list of allowed weaponry? You can’t fire your weapon when you want to, you can’t carry it around where you want to, you’re extremely restricted in when and where you may use your weapon. In practice, this means you fire your weapon at the obligatory military training, or as part of a sports club. Even just prancing around with a gun will get you in trouble really fast.

        • airmikee99 says:

          “Yes but America has laws that say it is OK to shoot someone in the face if you don’t like the look of them”

          Ah, the old ‘Making Shit Up’ argument. /rollseyes

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

            Ask Tyrone Martin if this is made up shit, he was walking along comitting no crime and was acosted by a man who had no legal right to question or detain him! Also I have seen interviews with ‘good old white folks’ who will freely admit to shooting and killing people who were on their property and trying to break in, no warnings, just shot them in the back as they tried to run!

          • airmikee99 says:

            You mean Trayvon Martin? The kid who was shot in the chest, not in the face? You heard something from someone who heard it from someone else, yeah, you’re definitely an authority on the topic. And the way you play loose and quick with the facts makes your argument all the more compelling, right?

            What about Lee Rigby in Britain? How did gun control laws save his life? Oh right, they didn’t, he was hacked to death with bulletless, sharp objects. And since it happened once, it must happen all the time, right?

            Like I said, try doing some research before you blither nonsensically.

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:




            So you use differentiating between being shot in the face instead of the chest and then bring up a lad who was attacked with a knife to say guns backed by laws saying it ok to use them on people is ok! This seems like a logical argument from over the pond.

            Allright fellah, you win!


            link to

            link to


          • airmikee99 says:

            You’ve got a knack for moving the goal line. You make a claim, I refute it, and then you change what the claim was.. You say we have laws allowing people to shoot others in the face for not liking them, you’re given proof that we don’t have laws for that, and now suddenly I’m an idiot for pointing out the absurdity of your claim?

            I’m just gonna go ahead and block you now, since you have absolutely nothing of value to say. :)

        • Universal Quitter says:

          Not that this makes it okay, but that comes down to individual states. Most American states do NOT have “stand your ground” laws because just about everyone but Republicans saw the Trayvon Martin fiasco coming WELL in advance.

          This same setup is what allows some states to NOT throw cancer patients in jail for buying Marijuana from an undercover cop, so there are trade-offs.

          Shootings aside, it’d be easier for Americans (like me) to have perspective, and learn about how other countries handle these issues, if some people wouldn’t be such self-righteous, hypocritical fuckwits about it. Too many Europeans are as arrogant as they claim Americans are, and to the non-western world, we both come off as extremely ignorant.

          At least, that was my experience in South Korea.

    • Carlos Danger says:

      Yes, blaming the violence on inanimate video games is dumb, it is much wiser to blame the violence on inanimate guns.

      Also I would rather be shot then hacked to death in the middle of the street like other places.

      • shagohad says:

        how you would prefer to die has little bearing on the argument. I think also that it is a mistake to suggest a gun is an inanimate object, of course it is not alive, however a piece of technology which has been developed to a point of high efficiency at ending the lives of other humans is not without meaning. Whether you are a killer or not when a firearm is with you you are part of that, you cannot escape the meaning of the technology just because the apparatus itself has become so transparent.

        • Blackcompany says:

          Spending too much time engaged with a piece of technology engineered specifically to addict you to time spent in a pseudo-reality created solely for that purpose is no healthier than choosing to own a gun for the wrong reasons.

          In other words, both video games and guns ARE, in fact – by definition – inanimate objects. They are not possessed of sentience. They make no decisions, exhibit no intelligence. They are both – and this is important – incapable of action without human input or influence.

          Healthy people no more plan to spend sufficient time with a video game for the habit to lead to addiction, than they plan to use a gun to commit murder. Clearly, ownership of either inanimate object is not, in itself, a bad thing. We need to begin looking for the cause of the violence, not the tool used to express the intent. We might just be surprised to find out that our society, and not our tools, are the problem.

          • Christo4 says:

            “Spending too much time engaged with a piece of technology engineered specifically to addict you to time spent in a pseudo-reality created solely for that purpose.”

            Well i guess that applies to books and movies as well. They can all be described by what you have said especially fantasy literature.
            And while i don’t agree that guns kill people, i do agree that they allow you to kill people much easier and many more in a small amount of time.
            I mean if someone had a knife he maybe could kill 1 or 2 persons, but not more in public. If someone has a pistol which some have over 20 bullets, they can kill at least the same amount of people and maim even more if the bullets penetrate and hit other people.
            Guns don’t kill people, but it makes it much easier to slaughter dozens

    • Megazell says:

      It’s all about money. The fear mongers KNOW exactly what they are doing. The distraction from the real issue is an intended action. The problems that lead to violent outburst require a serious and confrontational look at what the people surrounding that person VALUE. The fear mongers are trying to make money at all cost. Their attack on comics, movies and games is just an easy sale.

    • brgillespie says:

      Unfortunately, you have anecdotal evidence backing up your statement. I have a Harvard study showing a negative correlation towards gun control and rate of violence. It is PLAINLY evident that gun control does not guarantee a lack of violence. America’s most violent cities all happen incredibly, INCREDIBLY strict gun control.

      Would you be so kind as to read this PDF and respond?

      link to

      This is why the gun control debate is so polarizing. Gun control does jack shit to reduce violence within these particular urban communities. I refuse to give up my freedom to bear arms to make a certain section of the population sleep better at night. I am not the problem. My weapons are not the problem.

      The violent animals living in major metropolitan areas are the problem.

    • scatterbrainless says:

      Yeah, but guns are old and therefore the defenders of our values, while video games are new and therefore both symptom and cause of society’s moral decay.

  5. Sherlock1986 says:

    One thing to consider – video games are being ousted as a killer-making media outlet by an older generation of people who don’t understand them, yes? Did the same kind of scaremongering used to happen “back in the day”, when films (and therefore violent films) were new and not completely understood?

    • Gap Gen says:

      Yes, and rock and roll was also vilified (example: link to Aging conservatives like to vilify youth culture because they view all change as negative.

      • Sherlock1986 says:

        But violent films and rock and roll music, in the most part, are commonplace nowadays. Probably even more so than violent video games (and a lot easier to come by under-age). What lessons can we learn from the way the masses eventually accepted those?

        Just wait?

        • Gap Gen says:

          Pretty much, yeah. Once the generations that grew up on them come into power, become parents or have significant representation in the voting population, the desire for politicians and the media to make a fuss about them fades away.

          • gunny1993 says:

            “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

            Max Planck meant this in a scientific venue ofc, but the same is true of social ideas and politics, albeit at a slower rate as science is built upon critical thinking where social idea aren’t.

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            Yeah that’s a great quote for this. He may think he’s talking about science, but what he’s observed is culture, science is just a part of that.

          • Gap Gen says:

            I like to think that the modern scientific culture is a little more open, but it’s true that funding is often still a political game and ideas that are probably wrong can persist if a person of influence can get funding for students to study them and publish about them.

      • Ilinx says:

        Comic books too: link to

    • John Walker says:

      And go back a generation before “video nasties” and you’ll find it was sexual liberation, or rock music, or the existence of film itself, or books, or access to reading…

      • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

        Reefer Madness

        • trout says:

          “KNOW YOUR DOPE FIEND. YOUR LIFE MAY DEPEND ON IT! You will not be able to see his eyes because of the Tea-Shades, but his knuckles will be white from inner tension and his pants will be crusted with semen from constantly jacking off when he can’t find a rape victim. He will stagger and babble when questioned. He will not respect your badge. The Dope Fiend fears nothing. He will attack, for no reason, with every weapon at his command – including yours. BEWARE. Any officer apprehending a suspected marijuana addict should use all necessary force immediately. One stitch in time (on him) will usually save nine on you. Good luck.
          -The Chief”

      • shagohad says:

        unfortunately there is a culture in videogames amongst certain communities to be extremely aggressive and threatening (think to those BLOPS2 tweets) I think as a community that’s something that needs to be worked on.

        • Blackcompany says:

          True. There is a culture of aggression in the video game “community.”

          But do video games make people violent? Or are people with violent tendencies drawn to violent media to a greater degree than those without such tendencies?

      • ayprof says:

        I think even novels, when they first came into popularity, were decried for leading the educated astray and away from the obviously much-better-you things, like plays written in Latin, and philosophy. And, of course, short stories are straight from the devil. How dare you attempt to satisfy so quickly! I can only imagine the face of an uptight Victorian-era headmistress watching over my shoulder as I play DOTA2 or something. I like to think her jaw would dislocate or something from being too outraged.

    • DiamondDog says:

      Just in my life-time I’ve seen the blame for mass shootings in the US switch from music (Columbine and Marilyn Manson) to games.

      That music and that sub-culture still exist, but seemingly the media have decided they can’t get enough fear out of it any more.

      • Commissar Choy says:

        They pretty much blamed every source of media for Columbine…music, movies, and games. Fucking ridiculous.

      • TheMightyEthan says:

        Doom was also a big target of blame for Columbine.

      • DiamondDog says:

        True, they did go after a lot of things.

      • shagohad says:

        the interview with Marlyn Manson in Bowling for Columbine is great stuff

      • Arglebargle says:

        Bullying is so culturally accepted that there’s little traction for calling that out as a source. And it’s not an easy scapegoat to hang, either.

    • gunny1993 says:

      Dungeons and Dragons was considered evil and satanic by a lot of people back in the 70s and 80s

      • airmikee99 says:

        I listen to Rock & Roll, play D&D, and play video games. I’m so going to hell.

    • P.M. Gleason says:

      There has been a very wide range of objects and concepts that have been vilified throughout time, mainly due to Christian or other religious influence. Jazz, in the US as an example, was blamed for harlotry and things of that nature.

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        Jazz blamed for harlotry?
        I believe the truth was the other way around :P

  6. Megakoresh says:

    Well, all we can do is ignore this shit. Looking at other headlines you can clearly tell what kind of morons rule this pile of shit newspaper. The ignorance is always hostile. All of it: TV, Electricity, Cars have suffered through this. In fact that the amount of BS gaming receives is even more than what TV had 100 years ago, may be a sign of our new medium’s greatness.

    I mean it is the most advanced media in history after all. Those morons can write retarded articles and pretend they know what a videogame actually is (which none of them do, obviously), but in the end they won’t hurt the industry. This kind of shit is what all new great inventions must go through in the beginning. Humanity never learned from history, so why should we expect it to do so now?

    • Gap Gen says:

      I mean, cars do genuinely kill a bunch of people, as does alcohol. I assume that without cars the lower economic development we’d have reached by now might have killed relatively more people, though.

  7. aircool says:

    There is a flipside to the coin. Check out this review from The Daily Telegraph.

    link to

  8. MuscleHorse says:

    I find it interesting that while gaming as a whole was clearly the cause of violence here, awful ‘classic’ rock wasn’t the cause here: link to

  9. BobbyDylan says:

    Brilliant article.

    • Mbaya says:

      So much can be said and so many discussions can be had on this topic…but this article is the type of situation where John Walker shines in my opinion (well, apart from the undeniable excitement of a new game he’s enjoying).

      As mentioned in the article, it’s a shame just how inaccurate or misleading mainstream media can be – regardless of topics or intention.

      I’ve often wondered why the major publishers don’t seem to get vocally involved in these stories however. At a time when people have to be careful what they say on Twitter, it’s still okay to spread false information on the front page of a national newspaper?

      Hopefully a time will come when we can put this cycle of blame behind us (and not move onto the next scapegoat) and actually spend some time getting to the truth of the matters, even if it turns out to be something we don’t want to hear.

      [D’oh, didn’t mean to reply although I agree!]

    • P.M. Gleason says:

      It was indeed a great article.

  10. Snargelfargen says:

    “The Grauniad”
    I know what this supposed to be, but that’s actually a pretty cool name for a publication.

    • MuscleHorse says:

      It’s a reference to days of yore when their spellcheck didn’t work – I believe they once actually published under that name.

    • Bluenose says:

      Reading this article, it is quite clear Mr John Walker is a regular reader of Private Eye.

      • MuscleHorse says:

        Shurely not.

      • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

        Take off your rose scented glasses, John Walker does not read Private Eye, absolute Colemanballs!

  11. sonofsanta says:

    It wouldn’t be a media misrepresentation and capitalisation of a terrible tragedy if it didn’t have a John Walker riposte. It’s the only thing to look forward to in the whole, sorry affair. (On that note, congratulations on continuing to find new ways to phrase your disappointment even as the mainstream media use a cookie cutter template for these stories.)

    The root of the problem was ably demonstrated on the BBC 6 o’ Clock News yesterday – the usual, breathlessly condescending story of “a new videogame has been released that’s expected to break all records for money taken in the first week – even more than a Harry Potter film!” The incredulity inherent in such a story tells the complete tale of how the media still sees videogames – as you say, a novelty.

    It’s just all so very tiresome, isn’t it?

  12. Svardskampe says:

    Talking about priorities…The analogy with science is more than true, but oh no, games are more important. Far too often scientific process is hindered by religious nuts and organisations like greenpeace;

    As a reference note: My faculty worked on that 250k costing hamburger made out of stemcells..It was created in order to appeal to the public and get our stemcell research exposed. Before, we could only hire a limited amount of professors on the subject. Now this had improved, but the news completely put the focus wrong…stemcell burger not containing any fat so it is not as tasty…like it even matters! It’s not like we are a company trying to compete with regular hamburger producers. No, we do fundamental research on stem cell technology.

    • John Walker says:

      You’re aware this is a website about gaming, right?

    • Gap Gen says:

      Ah, interesting, I assumed that it was people genuinely trying to create synthetic meat. Although I’m unsure that the media is entirely at fault for reporting on the burger when the press release was about making a lab-grown hamburger. Scientists have a responsibility for making clear press statements if they want to be reported on properly, and from what you say it sounds like it was a gambit to stealthily push stem cell research into the public eye, rather than openly saying “we do important research here”. Which is fine, and good luck to anyone looking for scientific funding, but I think it’s unfair to blame the media for taking the press release at face value.

      • gunny1993 says:

        Scientists very rarely have anything to do with press announcements, that stuff is usually handled by a PR department that maximize the impact of that research (Larger public impact, no matter how misconstrued means higher chance of increased funding for the university or whatever is hosting the team).

        Mostly this is handled by a PR team because most researchers would probably write something that would be almost incomprehensible to the general public and therefore, be ignored by the main media outlets.

        • Gap Gen says:

          Perhaps, although it depends on the institute (and granted, medical research is probably higher profile than what I work in, which has fewer direct economic applications). But from what Svardskampe said, it sounded like this specific piece of research was created as a publicity exercise, and Svardskampe was expressing annoyance that as a piece of publicity it didn’t work.

          • gunny1993 says:

            Well seeing as they have managed to get more money put towards the area (I’m assuming it’s IPSCs, although I have not read the paper), I would say it has worked. Certainly the lead on the project would be happy with any increased interest in the project.

  13. tellrov says:

    If violence in video games isn’t the problem in the real world then why are sexy female characters one? I hate to be that guy but it really does strike me as conflicting points of view and if anyone wants to explain it to me then please do. Surely the reason why many people here say the portrayal of women in video games is a real problem has to be because of the supposed effects in the real world no? Why else would it be a problem? So why isn’t guns in video games one? Call of Duty won’t make a kid shoot someone but Dragon’s Crown will turn someone into a sex offender?

    And if it’s just a case of “the video game industry needing to grow up” then there are many things in games that can be considered childish but that aren’t considered a problem.

    • John Walker says:

      False equivalence. The arguments are far more complex, and are never “sexism in games causes sexism in real life”. Because no one is making an argument as remarkably stupid as “Dragon’s Crown will turn someone into a sex offender?”, and pretending they are is tedious.

      Were someone to argue that the culture of violence in games encourages violent cultures in the real world, that would be an interesting discussion. As it is a discussion worth having over whether the misogyny in games encourages the culture of misogyny surrounding games.

      And the difference is violent people aren’t being abysmally misrepresented by gaming. Do you see? Let’s not have this derailed, please.

      • Ernesto25 says:

        I think an easier equivalence is the best selling FIFA series not really leading to us getting fitter in real life.

      • Megakoresh says:

        I think the argument is more of “Boobs in games ARE sexist” rather than any effect on real life. That is something one can argue, as in my opinion they are most assuredly not.

        But this comment is actually relevant as it suggests something important: in real world problems do apply to videogames, however videogame problems do not apply to real world. When some idiot writes “This psychopath is only such because of videogames!”, it has a negative effect on the industry as people start these wars between people who think they know games and people who actually do.

        But if every woman in the game is somehow a victim dressed in nothing but loincloth, that won’t mean that men are going to treat their opposite gender like that. Neither will it mean that women will start to think less of themselves or start wearing less clothes.

        I suppose that is the argument one can use when trying to talk to someone from the mass media industry, who has at least some semblance of reason in them.

        The OP is right though in one thing: preaching about portrayal of women is nothing but an annoyance, and definitely will not improve or solve anything, since for something to be solved, there must be a problem to begin with. If a context of a game does not outright clearly suggest and, more importantly, promote the view that women have less rights, that is not sexist. As for portrayal, it, again, has nothing to do with women. It has to do with whether or not something fits the context. And FAR greater amount of things do not fit the context they are put in. Some people simply notice the boobs more often.

      • S Jay says:

        It is probably the other way around: the misogyny in the world fuels the misogyny in games. Games then act as a reinforcement of this culture, which is something we really should change and expose.

        • Sparkasaurusmex says:

          Perfect answer.
          This is how violence and sexism are related in video games.

          • sophof says:

            I think the two diverge strongly since violence is agreed to be a bad thing by pretty much everyone, sex (and what constitutes as sexism and misogyny) is much more of a grey area.

            I do strongly agree that for both its depiction in games is just a reflection of society.

        • Aardvarkk says:

          This does reach the core of things.

      • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

        Step away from the worm can, put down that weapon and place your hands on your head PC Gamer!

      • strangeloup says:

        Now this has started making me wonder if increased linearity, abundance of objective markers, etc. in mainstream games these days has changed people’s perception of their locus of control. But I digress.

      • harbinger says:

        “These stories conjure supernatural situations in which domestic violence perpetrated by men against women who’ve “lost control of themselves” not only appears justified but is actually presented as an altruistic act done “for the woman’s own good”.

        Of course, if you look at any of these games in isolation, you will be able to find incidental narrative circumstances that can be used to explain away the inclusion of violence against women as a plot device. But just because a particular event might “makes sense” within the internal logic of a fictional narrative – that doesn’t, in and of itself justify its use. Games don’t exist in a vacuum and therefore can’t be divorced from the larger cultural context of the real world.

        It’s especially troubling in-light of the serious real life epidemic of violence against women facing the female population on this planet. Every 9 seconds a woman is assaulted or beaten in the United States and on average more than three women are murdered by their boyfriends husbands, or ex-partners every single day. Research consistently shows that people of all genders tend to buy into the myth that women are the ones to blame for the violence men perpetrate against them. In the same vein, abusive men consistently state that their female targets “deserved it”, “wanted it” or were “asking for it”,

        Given the reality of that larger cultural context, it should go without saying that it’s dangerously irresponsible to be creating games in which players are encouraged and even required to perform violence against women in order to “save them”.”
        – Tropes vs. Women Episode 2

        I believe this comes from someone whose views and opinions you have previously vociferously defended: link to while usually being the first to lament against Fox News or Jack Thompson

        If you didn’t believe this had “greater social impacts” you wouldn’t make the outrageous statements that you continually do and treat it simply as a matter of design, diversity and preference a game developer chooses to make, instead of propagating your very own brand of lies and propaganda.

        It’s funny how you can suddenly write a long in-depth article with sources and reasonable sounding arguments (although I don’t think calling people things like “ignorant fearmongers” is exactly the best point of debate) and everything and on the very next day start unconsciously raving about the “misogyny in the games industry” as your very own boogeyman.

        It reminded me of this article, which I read a few days ago about how the brain is inherently biased on political opinions and blacks out reason or facts as soon as it is a topic they are politically passionate about or how they put it “partisanship can even undermine our very basic reasoning skills”: link to

    • Jenks says:

      It’s almost as if you’re reading opinion pieces written by someone with an agenda.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      I’m sorry, you haven’t thought about this at all. Sexism in games offends and alienates a lot of people and we know this because those people have said so. Saying that this is not proof is like saying that when I kick you in the balls and you scream, I have no idea whether you’ve actually felt pain or not, and thus can’t ever prove that a kick in the balls hurts.

      • ffordesoon says:

        What a great analogy. Can I borrow it?

      • harbinger says:

        I’m sorry, you haven’t thought about this at all. Violence in games offends and alienates a lot of people and we know this because those people have said so. Saying that this is not proof is like saying that when I kick you in the balls and you scream, I have no idea whether you’ve actually felt pain or not, and thus can’t ever prove that a kick in the balls hurts.

        • JamesTheNumberless says:

          The argument being discussed here isn’t that violence offends people! Of course it does! The argument being discussed here is that violence in games leads to violence in real life. My point is that you cannot compare the two. You can theorize that someone commits a violent act because of a game but even if they tell you “the game made me do it” how do you know that them saying that isn’t either a ploy to deflect blame, or a symptom of deeper problems? The argument about sexism in games revolves around a totally different question and people who analyze it are doing so from the perspective that art imitates life and not the other way around, but the effects on people, of the end product, are much more clear cut.

          Moreover, it is not even agreed upon that games even are sexist. nobody making a violent game is going to deny that it’s a violent game. You can’t compare the two debates from this perspective either.

          • harbinger says:

            Well as far as I can tell, some people are implying just that, for example see my comment just slightly above this.
            Or read some of what the others have said, while fueling their own confirmation bias e.g. somewhat further above:
            “It is probably the other way around: the misogyny in the world fuels the misogyny in games. Games then act as a reinforcement of this culture, which is something we really should change and expose.”

            He implies that “games reinforce misogyny” so [it] should be exposed and changed.
            That’s basically boils down some of these peoples agenda, we assume these things somehow correlate in cause and effect and “we want to change it”.

            Now of course I am of the opinion that they largely have no flipping idea what they are talking about and interpret stuff into things based on their political predisposition, confirmation bias and the hugbox of reinforcing opinions that they have built themselves on Twitter and other social networks.

            They seem to generally also misapply certain words, for instance “misogyny” literally means hatred of women and as much as I try to look at a shitload of games I’ve played lately I don’t see any overt or subvert messages of “hatred towards women”.

            If anything is “sexism” or not is highly debatable as you’ve said, some people seem to be using it as an alternative for “sexualized” nowadays when it actually means prejudice or discrimination based on sex (e.g. discriminating hiring practices, unequal wages or treatment are some of the obvious stuff, trying to apply it to developers decisions on whether a main protagonist should be male or female within a story is kind of pushing it a whole lot).

            And “objectification” is a thing most people seem to use wrong in about any context based on video games (aside from when they talk about things like booth babes).
            link to
            The term, even in philosophical and “feminist” context doesn’t apply to anything other than living human beings. It has to do with the dignity of every human being grounded in the Declaration of Human Rights and the idea that people should generally be treated with proper respect and not as utilitarian.
            And there are different kinds of “objectification”, if you see and treat certain people as simply instruments within your daily routine e.g. “guy who makes me coffee”, “guy who sells me paper”, “guy who flips my burger” that is already another kind of objectification.

            You can’t treat a videogame character that way since it doesn’t have any human rights, dignity or anything of the sorts and only exists within the confines of the story a creator created. That’s why you can shoot, maim and cut up NPCs as much as you want in the first place.

            There’s a lot of people using all and more of these “trigger” words rather carelessly out there because they think they will sound awesome in the points they are trying to make more than anything.

          • Zekiel says:

            #harbinger – thank you for that explanation. I think we may be on different sides of the debate here, but I found that description of what objectification can and can’t apply to was very helpful.

  14. DeviroVerity says:

    Our society is made of bullshit and it’s being hold together by sticky poo and candy. These days I’m not surprised by anything in the news. That’s why I don’t follow them. It’s just constant negativity, full of terror and pain.

    • Bull0 says:

      That comment is begging for someone to link a Charlie Brooker thing. I’m not going to, but suffice it to say yes, the media skews the world, and no, things aren’t as the media presents them. They’re better in places, worse in others. They have an interest in prioritising showing you the negative things because the fear keeps you watching. Etc, etc.

      • bstard says:

        After up tempo baroque music and naked pinkies the etiquette has down downhill.

      • DeviroVerity says:

        Thanks for the heads up, I’ve never heard of Mr. Brooker. (I’m not British) But yes, the news are doing a better job of spreading fear than those who actually hurt…so ironic.

        • Bull0 says:

          Ah, in that case, if you’ve got some time there’s loads of his stuff on youtube. I don’t know if this is the most relevant example but my lunchbreak’s over so haven’t got time to look for something better. It’s a good start, though. :)

          • DeviroVerity says:

            I will definitely watch it later. (Now I’m watching ‘Newswipe with Charlie Brooker – Season 1 Episode 2 ‘)

            Thanks again. Have a nice day, and may the Devil be confused in his way to your home! (or something similar was said by George Carlin (It’s a joke, I’m sorry if it is offensive))

      • Gap Gen says:

        Newswipe is an excellent programme, and you should definitely watch it (they will probably all be on YouTube).

        But yes, the mainstream media are in general too financially constrained (both by the rise of the internet and by a culture of cutting costs to improve profits for shareholders) to do effective investigative or analytic journalism even if they wanted to. Another problem I have with dailies is that you have five pages of news and the rest is fashion columns and other stuff I’m not interested in reading. The Guardian does good investigative work, and I should probably read it more, although obviously it’s left-leaning if that’s a problem for you. In general if you want to better understand world events it’s not a bad idea to look for more niche stuff. I read Foreign Affairs, which is written by either politicians or academics, and while this means it doesn’t claim to present an objective view of the world it is more detailed than most daily newspapers. Foreign Policy magazine is a little glossier, and at one point seemed to be heavily in support of the Bush administration and opposed to Obama, but I don’t know if that’s still the case. The Economist can be opinionated (“the free market is awesome, you guys!”), and is often too concerned with what leaders should do in an ideal world rather than what they will do under the constraints they face, but it at least exposes you to world events that don’t reach the dailies. I also read Stratfor, which has been criticised by various people (it has a background in consulting for companies wanting to break pressure groups that oppose them, I gather) but is quite good for contextualising events in geographic or historical terms and is usually non-partisan. Don’t be afraid to pay for quality journalism, either – if you want deep analysis and good awareness of world events, that probably costs more than a team of unpaid bloggers or underpaid journalists could muster.

  15. Lewis Denby says:

    How disappointing from The Telegraph. A couple of years back it seemed to be making a real effort to treat gaming with the respect it deserves – setting up an entire games section on the website, getting in some brilliant writers, and even pushing some of the more interesting content into the paper or onto the front page of the site.

    Now they run an exclusive on DREADFUL GAMES LEADING TO MURDER, having basically given up on the former tactic.

    • gunny1993 says:

      Well it is owned by Murdoch, demonizing everyone and everything to sell more papers (unless you pay him of ofc) is pretty standard MO.

      It doesn’t even matter that IGN is owned by News Corp as well, all of this stuff just means people set up camps then the bastard (or his bastard derivatives) can sell his shit to both sides of the camp.

      He’s essentially like the gun runner from “Lord Of War”

  16. Trillby says:

    I have to say, I’m pretty rotten sometimes – I lie, I’ve cheated while playing poker with my confused girlfriend. I drink milk out of the carton directly sometimes, and I don’t own up to my own farts when I feel I can get away with it.

    Now, I’m pretty sure that all these behaviours have nothing to do with who I am, because my mum always said I was angelic. And my own self-image does not include these vile urges. But I have been playing games nearly all my life. Coincedence? I don’t think so! I think it’s pretty clear that gaming does not just cause murders and rapes, but smaller scale stuff like what I described above. And maybe even the larger scale stuff? Who knows? Maybe Assad was just having an innocent go on Gone Home or whatever before being forced by the game-demons into ordering those chemical attacks?

    I for one celebrate the Mirror and all newspapers for not treating this with the calm and thoughtful approach that would surely lead us all to ruin.

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      You, Sir, are worse than Hitler.

      • Trillby says:

        Maybe, but it’s not my fault, see? Blame Wolf 3D and Dune 2000 and King’s Quest. I’m pretty sure I got some of my bad habits from Micro Machines – leaving my toys lying around after I played a couple of rounds lead to many a swear as my father barefooted on a lego.

        If anything, the media is not going far enough. If games go make you delinquent, what about other software? I once did a graffitti in the school loos to impress my friends. Do you think that’d have happened without MS Paint? Don’t be naive.

        • DrScuttles says:

          You have a point. As a deeply flawed individual with many relationship-destroying habits and traits, I can’t help but wonder whether creating willies in Logo is somehow to blame. Certainly, discovering the hidden flight sim in Excel during GCSE IT directly led to a later affair. And that one time I ate all the purple Quality Street and left the wrappers in the box? Don’t blame me. Blame Dreamweb.

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            Quite right before open world simulations like Lego, there was no way for a child to construct a willy on their own, unsupervised. the inevitable sexualization of children clearly led to the increase in teenage pregnancy rates in the 90s. And don’t even get me started on medieval Lego, which came out in the 80s encouraging play with swords and lances. There was even a Robin Hood set. Was it any surprise that there was an escalation of stabbings in inner city areas of Nottingham? Robin Hood, bah! More like Robbin’ in the Hood!

          • Michael Anson says:

            @JamesTheNumberless: link to

          • DrScuttles says:

            To be fair, Lego is also quite the menace. What is the interplay between the Lego fire station and fire trucks if not a child’s primal introduction to the mechanics of sex, divorced from the context of a loving relationship? Chilling. And it probably causes cancer.

          • Trillby says:

            There are many many criticisms to be levelled at Lego. Supporting development of creativity and imagination can only lead to anarchic tendencies and subsequent delinquency. I can’t even imagine the negative psychological consequences of the repeated sticking of the “outy” bits into the “innies”. It always will fit, even if it doesn’t seem so when you first try – just give it a bit of forcing and it’ll slot right in. And getting kids used to handling plastics is undoubtably one of the reasons behind our dildo-obsessed adolescents. Plus, Lego was always best played alone, with no one else around to muck up what you’re doing – just like sex. The parallels are undeniable. Has someone got the Daily Mail’s number? I really think we’re on to something here.

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            Not of course to forget the link between plastics and cancer, and plastics and explosives! Lego is training future terrorists, and Lego probably did 9/11

  17. Ein0r says:

    So the NSA data didnt help? What a shame..

    But with those laws for guns, just leave them be.. It seems they dont want it another way.
    And about Journalists: Only 10-20 years left until we get people in charge of the big news corporations that play “violent video games” themselves and people that read their articles in the majority also play them. Until then it is just a mere cash in. All for the $$$, nothing else.

    1) Why is there a story at all?
    Old people and $$$
    And easy scapegoats are always good!

    2) Who is this story for?
    Old people and the Journalists wallet.

    3) Does it matter?
    Yes, it does. But still, cant change old peoples oppinion when money is involved.

    4) How do we respond to it?
    The same as we always do and getting ignored since the gamers dont have a financial potent lobby to defend themselves, except of some very few publishers like Activision or EA.
    Or just wait for those people to retire.

    • Chaz says:

      I’m not sure newspapers will still exist in 10-20 years time. Not as we know them anyway.

      • Ein0r says:

        Even though the media will change, the big publishing houses that survive that change will still exist. It doesnt matter if you get your news on neatly folded paper or on your portable device. As long as the chief editor wont change, you will get your “Killer Game News” regardles of the source you will read it from.

    • alw says:

      Ein0r says:

      So the NSA data didnt help? What a shame..

      Obviously, that means we need MORE and BETTER spying on everyone. We need games that automatically report to the proper authorities if we play them too much. Only in this way will we save our children from the menace of violent videogames!

      Fucking sad part is, as I was typing that, I started thinking it’s not so farfetched – I could actually see something similar happening..

  18. Darth Fez says:

    I had to resist the urge to roll my eyes when the news channels brought on the requisite “he played a lot of violent video games” ‘friend’. Surely the fact that the man was mentally unstable and was known for being irresponsible with the handling of firearms had nothing to do with all this.

    Let’s also blame video games for Iowa allowing blind people to obtain weapons permits! Pitchforks to the left of me, torches to the right.

    • Bull0 says:

      Man in his thirties? It would be more remarkable if he didn’t play games, frankly. The end

  19. cunningmunki says:

    There should be an independent regulatory body that decides which publications get to call themselves “newspapers”, then they can print whatever vile shit they want and they can’t complain about their “freedom of the press” bullshit. We don’t mind the same kind of regulation of all our other media so why should these rags be any different? They should have some kind of factual accuracy rating based on the kind of assessments that Ofcom do. Assessment would be voluntary, but at least people will be able to make some kind of informed decision about what to believe and what to avoid.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      There is actually a proposal in the US at the moment to keep ‘journalism’ limited to the corporate-owned oligopoly of big traditional news outlets and keep out evil amateurs like wikileaks and other kinds of citizen journalism. Are you sure you’d want a world like that?

      • P.M. Gleason says:

        At its face it sounds fascist but there’s a lot more to it than that. The reason for the laws is precisely because of posts like yours.

        The key word here is “posts” which are much different from “publications”. A “post” does not require fact-checking. It isn’t edited, particularly not by peers.

  20. frightlever says:

    Wah wah I’m a stupid baby who can’t cope with complexity.

    If you don’t like what a paper or website is feeding you then don’t buy it, or stick the site in your HOSTS file (pointing to and move on. They speak to their own captive audience.

    If you want to get more aggressive, write to tech and game companies that advertise with them, expressing your disappointment. You could probably extend that to many snack and soft drink companies that are prepared to jump on the video game bandwagon when it suits them.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      What a great idea, you should totally do that with this site. Also, run a web server on your computer serving pages full of your own comments, then everyone will be happy.

    • alw says:

      frightlever says:

      Wah wah I’m a stupid baby who can’t cope with complexity.

      Well, at least you can admit it.

    • Universal Quitter says:

      “Wah wah I’m a stupid baby who can’t cope with complexity.”

      Well, the say that the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Good for you!

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        I must say though, he’s rather articulate for a baby… Although I’m not at all surprised that today’s toddlers are editing their own hosts files.

  21. Drumstick42 says:

    It seems to me that the media will cling on to any headline that will get their article or story attention, no matter how asinine it may be. I read an article that brought up the fact that Aaron Alexis regularly meditated, and the article claimed that was the reason he went on a rampage, discounting all the ways meditation actually benefits the mind.

    I just wish people could focus on the important details.

  22. ucfalumknight says:

    Great article John.
    I truly believe that video gaming is nearing the end of its cycle as the whipping post of violent crime. I remember as a youth in the late 70’s and early 80’s that it was Heavy Metal that made young people commit suicide, murders, and random acts of violence. Today, it isn’t even a blip on the collective radar. I remember my parents fretting over my AC/DC shirt and albums, and constantly asking if anything was wrong. Of course, the games I was playing on my C64 wasn’t even an afterthought.

  23. K33L3R says:

    I’m glad I’ve got a week off work because otherwise I would have to explain to the drooling retards at my workplace how these newspapers are as ignorant as they are hypocritical when the offending papers get pushed in my face and I get declared a “psychopath” for being outspoken about how I’m a gamer

    The average age of my esteemed colleagues is between 40-45, anything that falls outside their narrow minded, racist, sexist, homophobic values is instantly declared to be “wrong” and “should be lined up against a wall and shot”, the good part is when I write something about society and intolerance I have a boundless source of stupid to draw from and destroy with reason and common sense

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      Get a job in games, most of the people I know professionally in that age range are designers, programmers and studio leads whose only problem with games is not having enough time anymore to play them as much as they’d like to :)

  24. finalfanatik says:

    “100% of law-breakers confess to consuming a chemical cocktail of hydrogen and oxygen a week or less before committing felonies. This substance is easily purchased over-the-counter at most pharmacies and supermarkets with no checks regarding age or criminal records! Read more on page 12.”

    Fear-mongering sells newspaper, unfortunately.

    • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

      You joke but Dihydrogen Monoxide is a substance that has been found in the systems of ALL recent gun massacre perps, its a very worrying thing! There is talk of goverment plots etc and there being a mass state initiated distribution system, scary stuff.

      • finalfanatik says:

        I heard that it’s crazy addictive. Once you get started, no amount of therapy or medical treatment will get you off. In some countries, this stuff is being given to children, before they’re old enough to know better, meaning a lifetime of dependence.

  25. vivlo says:

    for french readers :

    link to

    i need to at least translate the headline : “society accused of making videogames violent” and the conclusion, which reads something like “After the results of that study, numerous voices arise already to suggest we should plain and simple forbid the society.”

  26. S Jay says:

    To be fair, if you spend 18 hours a day doing anything, you are probably a bit crazy.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      I always knew that ‘hardworking’ was an insult rather than a compliment. ;)

  27. Cytrom says:

    Sigh.. just a few more years and these anti gamer journalists, who think of videogames as some sort of unknown black magic that turns EVERY children into raging psychopaths, will be dead or unable work anymore.. hopefully. Until then, ignorance shall prevail.
    I’m probably assuming too much about the newer generations though.

  28. Don Reba says:

    Meanwhile, a couple of weeks ago we were hearing how gaming improves multitasking skills, keeping our “brains younger”.

    Wrong. What the study was about is that a specific game designed by psychologists for the purposes of improving multitasking in the elderly in fact improved multitasking in the elderly. It was not about us and it was not about gaming in general. The researchers themselves are also uncertain that performance on their multitasking test extends to real life. I normally would not nitpick, but I just read an article about the value of truth and objectivity in reporting.

    • P.M. Gleason says:

      Perhaps, but either way, there’s common sense in the issue itself.

      I.E. I am currently in pilot training and I play FSX.

  29. benjamin says:

    Debates like this remind me of the story in the gospel when people were complaining that food can make men evil and Jesus responds with: “But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

    Can pretty much apply it to all situations where video games get blamed. It’s our evil hearts not the “evil” of video games that causes men to do evil.

    Great article John :)

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      He’s pretty wrong, though. Eating with unwashed hands can defile.

      • Don Reba says:

        Curiously, filing with unwashed hands could defile as well.

  30. Wisq says:

    Judging from the whole Grand Theft Auto V release kerfuffle — Gamespot’s review was by a transgender and the Escapist gave it a trend-bucking 7 out of 10, both of which led to MASS GAMER HYSTERIA — I’m starting to think that rather than violence, games just cause rude, narrow-minded online behaviour. :/

    Thankfully, I know it’s just a vocal minority. But I can’t help but wonder if this really is something we can (partially!) pin on (some!) games. The ones with the most toxic communities (CoD, several MOBAs, etc.), where players routinely scream at each other, either verbally or in text chat. Where being rude is the norm rather than the exception. It doesn’t strike me as unrealistic that these sorts of toxic behaviours would then carry over to other (anonymous, faceless) conversations online.

    (My personal theory is that games involving “feeding” of any sort — rewards for the enemy team if any member of your team dies — lead to the most toxic communities. Because now a bad player isn’t just deadweight, they’re actively harming your team; hence all the screaming at each other. But, just a pet theory.)

    • P.M. Gleason says:

      You can lead a horse to water, etc.
      But your labeling of the Gamespot writer automatically disqualifies you from any kind of reason to comment here.

      • Wisq says:

        I’m guessing you’re referring to the fact that I mistakenly said “transsexual” instead of “transgender” (and have now fixed that). My apologies. I don’t usually type about these issues (despite being being reasonably versed in them and having 100% respect for anyone to whom they apply) and the correct terminology eluded me.

        (I do understand that it’s difficult to judge tone on the internet, but might I suggest that we not assume malice or ignorance merely because someone uses the wrong word or says the wrong thing? It’s incredibly frustrating to support a cause but be told to GTFO because of a minor misstep. “Do it perfectly or don’t do it at all” is a recipe to get a lot of people not doing it at all, which I don’t think is the goal here.)

        • Sparkasaurusmex says:

          Yeah, I could tell your intent was genuine.
          The malicious reply you got was fairly rude, though.

          • Sheng-ji says:


            Going back to the original point, I agree – it’s almost a shame those games include random stranger teams, those games are clearly intended for a team who work together often and not giving a matchmaking option would create a better environment, I believe – but I’m not so naive as to think that would ever happen.

    • HadToLogin says:

      I jumped through that Escapist review and I can understand why people hate it. From my “scan” his whole wall of text was this one sentence: “you play as bad guys who are bad, worse and evil and you can’t like them, so game is shit”. Not sure I seen even one word about technical problems or graphics or anything, only that criminals aren’t nice people.
      That’s was like reading Half Life series is shit because Freeman doesn’t say a word. And he doesn’t speak. And let’s not forget he never opens his mouth…

      • Wisq says:

        That may all be true — I honestly haven’t read the review, just seen the fallout surrounding it — but I don’t think it detracts from the fact that the reviewer played the game, decided on the level of entertainment it provided them, and issued a review score on those grounds. If you’re being asked to play a game that is focused on a central story, and you hate the central story, then surely it doesn’t matter how pretty the graphics or how few the technical problems — it simply wasn’t entertaining for you.

        My objection to the vocal internet gamer response to the Escapist review is not too dissimilar from my objection to the vocal internet gamer response to the Dragon’s Crown review, in which the (woman) reviewer felt that the game was sexist and gave it a lower score accordingly. All political objections aside — if you are a fan of the game, there is no reason to focus on that review and yell at the reviewer for not giving it “the rating it deserves” (according to you).

        Why do we require all our reviews be roughly the same? Why can’t we accept that some people may derive more or less enjoyment from a game, without automatically declaring that any outliers are being “sensationalist”, or “unfair”, or have “been bought”?

        As a gamer reading a review, what if I don’t like sexism in my games, or I don’t like protagonists I can’t relate to? Should all reviews be required to gloss over those issues because they’re a minority objection, or because they don’t detract from the technical quality of the game? Surely it’s of more value to the consumer to get multiple varied viewpoints?

        Many of us have been bemoaning and doing our best to fight the growing trend in AAA gaming to produce bland, homogenous games due to an unwillingness to take risks. Why do we then turn around and demand the exact opposite from our games reviewers?

        If the problem is Metacritic scores, or sales / publisher response due to those scores, then I think we can safely say that the fault rests solely on scores, score aggregators, and/or the people who put too much value on those (aggregate) scores — not on a single reviewer who gave an honest review.

        • HadToLogin says:

          You’re right in general. But in this case, it felt like he was FORCED to find something bad, just so people would talk about it and this review would get more views.
          And Escapist is known for writing that kind of reviews, where they give “bad” reviews to big games while only focusing on one detail.
          Like “The Witcher 2 is too hard” review.

          • Wisq says:

            All the more reason that people should just ignore the review if they disagree with it, instead of going hysterical and driving more traffic to it. :)

          • bleeters says:

            Reviews are a highly subjective thing, though. They’re always going to be, first and foremost, what the person undertaking them thought. Do I think “the witcher 2 is too hard” isn’t a particularly compelling reason to downgrade the game? Yes. Do I also think it can easily discourage people from wanting to play and give them an overall negative experience? Absolutely.

            I think people need to get past the idea that every review is useful to them. If someone writes a review and focuses primarily on a point or feature that I personally won’t be put off by or interested in and uses it as the groundwork of whatever conclusion they draw, that doesn’t mean the reviewer has failed. It just means the review isn’t for me, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

        • ScorpionWasp says:

          Excellent points, and very well argued, sir.

    • bleeters says:

      I’d be more inclined to say internet anonymity leads to that, more than gaming specificially. It’s not as if I haven’t witnessed similar behaviour from people who’ve never played a computer game in their lives.

      • Wisq says:

        I expect a certain amount of rudeness from most public internet conversations, certainly, but it seems like gamers take it to the next level in terms of the number of things they find to be always automatically pissed off about, the generally-accepted shorthand with which they attack those things, and the lengths to which they’ll go (death threats, etc.) to attack them.

  31. pupsikaso says:

    How about we simply keep ignoring newspapres, huh? They are already on the brink of irrelevancy, serving only an ageing population that doesn’t WANT to know the truth or change accordingly. So let the newspapers die together with them.

    Although it’s hilarious how this same population is convinced that every single thing they read in newspapers is the real truth.

    • Ein0r says:

      It is hilarious how this same population is convinced that every single thing they read on thousands of news pages on the web on a daily basis is true. ;)

      People just tend to ignore that every article is biased. Biased because they work their own oppinion into it, biased because they get payed to be biased, or biased due to lack of knowledge.

      As long as the people made good money out of the argument that the earth was a disc and not a globe they tried to defend this oppinion at all cost. But once the people finally had real evidence, and enough influence to make it credible, even thos oppinions changed.

      • Wisq says:

        Of interest: link to

        Granted, that only talks about educated people, not the general public as a whole, so it may not be relevant, and I’m not trying to argue against you. But I do quite enjoy things that dispel myths that I myself fell victim to and wanted to share that.

  32. Scratches Beard With Pipe Stem says:

    Over the last twenty years in America, video game playing has increased by a factor of a TON, while the violent crime rate has dropped a lot — I think as much as 50%. (I don’t know the stats for the UK though.)

    So if you’re interested in correlations, you’d have to conclude that video games help stop crime. (And you could probably make some pretty reasonable arguments to that effect, like idle teenagers play video games instead of making mischief on the streets.)

  33. kwyjibo says:

    Call of Duty has just got a front page ad for free. No one of merit actually takes The Mirror seriously. Looks like a coup for Activision PR.

  34. sophof says:

    It’s a profession-culture thing. In most of journalism, ‘selling’ a story in any way possible is perfectly acceptable. So an editor will feel completely ok changing the title a little for instance, just to get those few extra clicks.
    They are ‘just’ reporting, ‘just’ asking questions. It is a way to hide from morality and it is very effective. A concious lie is rephrased as a smart seller’s trick.

    I’m sure the people at Fox know somewhere that they are lying. However, they are so much part of a specific culture that it enables them to ignore that nagging cognitive dissonance. A cognitive dissonance that would normally push a person to challenge their own beliefs.

    • Arglebargle says:

      Fox News went all the way to the US Supreme Court to defend their ability to lie in their broadcasts (and won!). I don’t think it’s at all surreptitious behavior.

      • airmikee99 says:

        The case didn’t get all the way to the US Supreme Court, Jane Akre and her husband stopped fighting after a Florida Court of Appeals found against them. But you’re right that Fox went to court to defend their ability to lie and distort the ‘news’ as entertainment. link to

        • Arglebargle says:

          Good point! Thanks! And a bit encouraging, as it hasn’t met with it’s final pronouncement.

  35. bill says:

    The other unfortunate side effect is that gamers have now been so trained to despise and attack any negative media coverage of their hobby, that any actual serious concerns get swept away along with the real trash.

    No one can raise any concerns about any possible mildly negative impact of any games without becoming a target for the reflexive gaming defence force.

  36. Sharlie Shaplin says:

    It’s like the modern equivalent of a witchhunt, just change magic for video games. People like to demonise anything they don’t understand, and the older generations don’t understand gaming.

  37. Vinraith says:

    Remember when rock and roll was to blame for all this? Maybe it’s that new Miley Cyrus video’s fault.

  38. TechnicalBen says:

    There seems to be an error in the article. Here, let me fix it for you:
    “However it’s approached, the mainstream media really doesn’t seem to know what to do with [facts, except possibly hide them].”

  39. TheTaxManACometh says:

    It’s all ridiculous, I play strategy games doesn’t mean I want to be a general. I play building games doesn’t mean I want to be an architect. I play robbery games doesn’t mean I want to be a criminal. If games cause violent actions why has war been around for thousands of years? There is no correlation between the two, it would be more apt to apply the fall of societal values to the increase in violent actions than to blame it on the entertainment industry. Everyone looking for a place to put blame instead of having people take responsibility for their actions or the actions of a mentally unstable few.

  40. melnificent says:

    Take two of the articles you linked to, firstly this one… link to

    Seems pretty clearcut, blame the games as much as possible…. the entire article says “it was the games what did it”, yet it also says “The 34-year-old was being treated for serious mental illness and had been ‘hearing voices.'”
    So hang on, the games did it, but he had mental health issues where he heard voices.

    They even did an entire article on the voices and the more likely reason of his mental health link to

    Now the dates on those two articles are very interesting, the Mental illness one is dated 13:33 17th September, and was updated 10:52 18th September. The other was put up at 5:58am 18th September and updated at 6:00am the same day. What does this tell us? They knew the type of person he was, and that severe mental health problems were the most likely cause BEFORE and after blaming videgames.

    However the real reason doesn’t sell papers or generate pageclicks, better to blame that new fangled thing (that appeared in the 1960s) instead, I mean finding a shooting game in an adults game collection is like saying kids like sweets. It doesn’t show anything beyond they played games like a large proportion of the population does on a daily basis.

    Kids play games like Angry birds, does that mean they are going to catch some pigeons and start throwing them at houses? How about adults playing Saints Row IV? Was there a sudden outbreak of aliens and superheroes? No because that’s silly.

  41. brutaldeluxe09 says:

    I have GTA V and yet I’m perfectly capable of a non violent approach to society although I can’t wait to parry and riposte my way home from the Dark Souls midnight release next year!

  42. Leandro says:

    I’m from Brazil, and last week we had a case like this as a teenager stabbed his parents to death. They are blaming it on Assassin’s Creed, which ruined the Altair costume I was making for a party.

    Seriously, though, we’ve had a case in Brazil where 4 college students have been arrested for murder on the basis that one of them owned D&D books (the body was found in a graveyard, which somehow proves RPGs were involved). 10 years later they were declared not-guilty. The victim’s dangerous drug dealing boyfriend is still free.

  43. Lambchops says:

    Nice article. As a side point:

    “Yes. It does. (It matters for the misrepresentation of science stories too, of course – the horrendous holding back of progress following the idiocy over GM still haunts scientists, and revolutionised how they communicate with the press and public.) Because the misrepresentation of the truth has serious consequences.”

    Has this revolution been entirely a good thing though? Yes scientists are more aware of the possible repercussions of dealing with the media so now most of the stuff out there is either sheer showmanship, playing to the galleries aimed more at the funding bodies than enthusing the public (there are some less cynical exceptions where people just get a bit carried away with excitement about their research and it’s all very charming, but they are in a minority) or even worse (and far more common), tedious fucking fence sitting borne out of a fear of being misrepresented.

    A revolution leading to the majority of quotes from scientists being, “This is interesting research with potential application but more time is needed” is a pretty half-hearted and ineffectual one. It’s a boring fucking line, that enthuses nobody; I’m sure even the layperson by now knows that they are just hedging their bets and scientists know for damn sure if this person is an expert in the field then they’ll have a far more interesting and forthright opinion.

    Here’s an article from it from the standpoint of a science journalist (which does a much better job than I of tearing about why banal quotes are of no use to anyone) – link to

    Guess this is going somewhat off track from the gaming example. I guess the problem with games is that people in the area are rarely consulted in the mainstream media and even when they are (I seem to remember some of the RPS hivemind cropping up with forthright opinions on BBC articles – Alec slagged off the Ultima Kickstarter if I recall correctly) it’s on niche articles that probably only appeal to the gaming community anyway, the “moral outrage” type articles don’t even bother trying to find some sort of inside angle contradicting what they say; or even worse they are roundly ignored despite being utterly reasonable, like that poor bloke who got stuck talking to Titchmarsh and some lass from Loose Women.

  44. BarneyL says:

    A good article although I’m not sure using a link to the Daily Mail article on the Bulger killers was an ideal choice as it pulls most of the same tricks you’ve called them out for using on games on other targets (and even a passing hint at games).

  45. stoner says:

    I’ve played Farming Simulator 2013 for several hundred hours. Yet, I don’t have the urge to run out and start farming. I guess only “violent” video games cause changes in our behavior.

    • Don Reba says:

      Just as well, there might be plenty of people believing they receive messages through the microwave who don’t run out and start shooting people (I bet more of them farm, though). Maybe you need the combination.

      • alw says:

        My microwave sometimes tells me my food’s ready, does that count?

  46. hahahuhuhehehaa says:

    The entire article in The Mirror is terribly counterproductive, lazy and cheap.

    The videogame attacks i’m used to, The Daily Heil usually leads the attack there. But what sets this article apart from the rest is that on the one hand The Mirror ‘campaigns’ to promote helping people with mental health, and then in this article, (when it is clear to anyone who even has a basic level of understanding about psychology that Alexis was schizophrenic) uses cheap terms like; “maniac”, “crazed” and “twisted”.

    • bleeters says:

      Honestly, the ongoing demonisation of people suffering from several mental health issues angers me more than the pointless accusations towards gaming.

      The latter will pass. The former remains stubbornly persistant and far more problematic.

  47. TClub says:

    People need to realize that they are not writing these articles because they actually believe it. The NRA has so much power and influence whose money goes well beyond our borders that they are using video games as a scapegoat over the real issues.

    1. This man was arrested twice and both times involved his use of guns. The first offense was in 2004.
    2. Despite his criminal record he was able to purchase more weapons
    3. He was discharged from the Navy and yet still had access

    Yet they somehow connect all of this to, ‘because videogames?’ It’s a big joke and people are falling for it, they don’t believe this nonsense they write.

    The fact is the US is Gun Country. People are borderline psychos when it comes to their guns here and any sort of legistlation is considered a ‘attack on freedom’ when one by one they’re taking over our actual rights and privacy.

    We want to invade Syria and yet 30,000+ people die a year due to gun murders here in the USA. We have a mass shooting involving an AR-15 month after month after month.

    Not to mention our immoral and disgusting health care system where people like this can’t get the care they need because they will either go into bankrupcy or the insurance company WILL find a way to screw you over thus once again you pay from your own pocket and give up an arm and a leg for it.

    Gun rights and health care are the driving force behind this. Why is it that the US has more gun murders than the entire continent of Europe combined? Last I checked the EU played video games. Last I checked Asia played video games. Yet we are the only ones to suffer from this problem.

    The blame on video games will continue by the media during every mass shooting (the vast majority will take place in the US). The Assassination lobby, oops I mean the NRA, has powerfuly lobbyists that know what they are doing and I’d bet anything they payed some nice money to get a article like this in a UK paper.

    • airmikee99 says:

      “We want to invade Syria and yet 30,000+ people die a year due to gun murders here in the USA”

      The last year for which I can find figures is 2010, and there were 14,748 homicides, not all of them included guns. Where are you getting your 30,000 figure? Are you mistaking automobile deaths with gun deaths? Cause in America, twice as many people die in car accidents than are killed by guns. Are you advocating for more car control legislation?

      “any sort of legistlation is considered a ‘attack on freedom’ when one by one they’re taking over our actual right”

      The 2nd Amendment isn’t an actual right? Huh.. interesting, thankfully the Supreme Court disagrees with you.

      As I posted in another comment, there is no correlation between gun violence and gun control laws. The single largest correlation between gun violence and anything is the Gini coefficient. Regardless of the number of guns, or gun control laws, if a nation has a higher income equality rating, it has a lower homicide rate. Whoodathunk that desperate people turn to desperate measures to solve their problems?

  48. pertusaria says:

    Nice article, thanks John.

    Re. bad science reporting, see obligatory PhD Comic: link to (completely safe for work unless laughing too hard makes your boss yell at you). On a slightly more serious note, unfortunately it can be hard to track down the original scientific article behind the news. Open access looks to be gaining ground, but it’s slow and uncertain.

    Re. the thing with parents possibly being responsible for their offsprings’ over-reliance on television and/or computers, my sense* is that this is a lot like how diet pills are sold. You could take this wonder drug with unknown side effects, or (not stated in any of the advertising) you could eat a balanced diet and get plenty of exercise. The second one is much more difficult. Similarly, it’s hard for working parents, with all the things going on in their lives that most people have, to interact with their children. It’s easier to blame the child and the technological nanny for whatever’s up with the child than to tell your boss you can’t put in the overtime anymore.

    * citation needed

  49. Maelig says:

    An interesting if somewhat tangential point is that this issue of skewed representation of video games in the mainstream media seems to me like a very anglo-focused problem. Like, we hear about stuff like that from US, UK and Australian media regularly, but hardly (or so it seems to me) from continental Europe media? Dunno, I might just be missing it, but I feel like it’s not as bad of a problem at least in France and Belgium where I live/d.
    In the case of the US it might be explained by the fact that mass shootings are more common so people are looking for a scapegoat, but in the case of the UK? I think it might also have to do with the media culture of a country (the popularity of tabloids in the UK case). I’d be curious to have the perspective of others not living in an English-speaking country?

  50. icarussc says:

    Fantastic post. Might as well be called ‘The Mainstream Media and Everything’, since the last bit has some important ideas to keep in mind when interacting with any sort of writing. Keep up the good work, John.