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Assassination Generation: Video Games, Aggression, and the Psychology of Killing

November 19, 2016, 12:16:41 PM by kat

[original image courtesy Wikipedia]

Paducah, Kentucky, 1997 (Heath High-school shooting): a 14-year-old boy shoots eight students in a prayer circle at his school. Littleton, Colorado, 1999 (Columbine): two high school seniors kill a teacher, twelve other students, and then themselves. Utoya, Norway, 2011 (Norway Attacks): a political extremist shoots and kills sixty-nine participants in a youth summer camp. Newtown, Connecticut, 2012 (Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting): a troubled 20-year-old man kills 20 children and six adults at the elementary school he once attended.

Fact Check: FALSE.

Within the context of video games causing violence or creating killers, almost without exception the individuals involved in the shootings referenced above all suffered underlying, often long-standing, problems with mental illness - depression and/or personality disorders being common, which in most instances remained undiagnosed until after the fact, and consequentially affected their trail status and outcomes.

Many also existed within environments where those around them were not duly attentive, or simply did not see any behaviours that might otherwise indicate a cause for concern sufficient to result in preventative action, care or intervention, regardless of any consequential professional diagnosis or treatment.

It is also not immaterial that many perpetrators either claimed to have been, or were later discovered to have been, bullied, abused or otherwise physically or sexually harassed, were mentally depressed or otherwise 'out of it' or were impaired of their agency in some way, and did not exhibit overt 'symptoms' or outward signs to family or friends that something untoward was going on (or in a general sense nothing considered sufficiently of concern to the persons immediate safety or raise the alarm).
What links these and other horrific acts of mass murder? A young person's obsession with video games that teach to kill.

Fact Check: FALSE.

Given the time frames in question when many of these crime occurred, video games as popular form of entertainment, being found in these individuals possession means nothing more than their being items had in the individuals possession, much the same as for books, movies, music or indeed any other material used to pass the time or 'entertain' a person - possession is not cause.

The claim is false in a number of instances because although a law suits related to the particular crimes referenced above may have been presented to the Court stating "games are to blame", it was often done from the point of view of throwing mud at the wall to see what stuck. This is especially true of cases where video games were not evidence in primary trials as a 'cause' but were referenced in later suits in an attempt to 'shop' a cause onto which a law suit could be hung (as is the case of those issued by Jack Thompson).
Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, who in his perennial bestseller On Killing revealed that most of us are not "natural born killers" - and who has spent decades training soldiers, police, and others who keep us secure to overcome the intrinsic human resistance to harming others and to use firearms responsibly when necessary - turns a laser focus on the threat posed to our society by violent video games.

Fact Check: FALSE

With respect to killing in general, Homo-sapiens are a top-tier predator species, as such we are physiologically "natural born killers" because we're agile, thinking, tool makers, able to manipulate our environment like no other species, skills instinctively honed as infants on into our junior years through play acting the 'hunt' and similar activities, i.e., games that involve 'chase', 'take-down' and 'fight'. In Western or Colonial societies subject to European or 'civilised' modes of thinking and behaviour, these learned skills are of little to no inherent use so fall by the wayside because killing serves no inherent purpose beyond food gathering, itself a redundant act in modern mechanised societies; food is  farmed not hunted. In non-Westernised societies, the opposite is generally true, the skills are still honed and used as they form an important aspect of daily life.

With that said, the instinct to kill people is different, it's typically a defensive act, not predatory one because being so carries greater risk of consequential harm - a hunter being killed by a cow falling on top of him/her has no consequence beyond the scope of the incident itself. Whereas being killed by another person does  because there's greater risk of others being involved or involving themselves due to our capacity to emote, to act emotionally and irrationally.

In this context being "natural born killers" and "being trained too overcome the intrinsic human resistance to harm" are different aspects of the human psyche, linked, not to the act of killing itself, but to knowledge of consequence; humans don't kill offensively under normal circumstances because we're acutely aware of the consequences or costs associated with doing so, not because we're born unable to kill so have to be trained to do it - we're quite capable of both but society doesn't require it of us so the instinct has to be reactivated, or the governors prevent our doing so selectively bypassed.
Drawing on crime statistics, cutting-edge social research, and scientific studies of the teenage brain, Col. Grossman shows how video games that depict antisocial, misanthropic, casually savage behavior can warp the mind - with potentially deadly results. His book will become the focus of a new national conversation about video games and the epidemic of mass murders that they have unleashed.

Fact check:FALSE

The only things games can be accused of doing with some degree of certainty is; 1) putting ideas in peoples heads in terms of scenarios they might act out (this is a more rational argument to make than "games made me doing it" and differs enough to be a distinct reason), and 2) desensitizing individuals to cartoon violence - killing a person in real life is not in any way like killing a game character, just ask a soldier that's engaged in front-line combat (that's if they're able to talk from laughing); there are such fundamental differences between the two experiences one might as well ask why football doesn't taste like cheese.
After-thoughts of sorts
The above is in response to a rash of content emerging in support of a new book by the same name, "Assassination Generation: Video Games, Aggression, and the Psychology of Killing", authored by a long-standing go-to supporter of the "games create killers" narrative, the highly academically credentialed Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, who was/is also supportive of the approach Jack Thompson took whilst he was still active[1]. Although the book has not been reviewed, given the reputation of the author, and the bias often present in other writings, it would not be surprising to discover it based upon advocacy research rather than impartial scientific data. In other words evidence filtered to fit a pre determined conclusion. For instance the assertion that there is an epidemic of mass shooting is misleading because the defining characteristics of what constitutes a "mass shooting" has changed over the decades and depends upon who is collecting the data.

Additional Reading
- Dumb things pop-culture critics say: video games cause violence.
- Dumb things pop-culture critics say: boys don't like female soldiers.
- Normalising/desensitising violence in games. An (initial) study.
- How social context influences violence-aggression relationship.

[1] Grossman is the source of the persistent myth that the Military's used Doom to desensitise soldier to kill when they were instead using a modified version of the game (MarineDoom cf. below) to teach hand/eye coordination and teamwork skills - "... the surgeon general’s office when we asked for a more current opinion, told us the Marines use the game Doom to desensitize recruits. Where did they learn that? From Grossman. We also called the Marines. They say the games are not used to desensitize Marines. They say they used a version of the software to teach eye/hand coordination and team work. The Marines deny your (Grossman) claim that it’s about desensitizing people"[ABC News "20/20 The Games Kids Play" (March 2000)]

MarineDoom "Description: This is the first of what we hope will be many efforts to provide an inexpensive fire team simulation to the fire-team.  Set up is a demonstration of the fire team in the defense. The situation is high intensity combat- with opportunity to prosecute a follow up counter attack against enemy held positions. The intent is to provide follow on improvements and enhancements following user feedback on this initial offering..."

Virtual Reality Assault and Developer Responsibilities

October 26, 2016, 05:36:10 PM by kat

With news of an alleged "sexual assault"[1] taking place in a virtual reality game[2] comes a whole host of questions largely relating to the way players are able to control their in-game experiences and what they can do when that goes South for the Winter. It's also pertinent to ask about culpability; just who can be held to book for the behaviour of others. For game-makers and developers, if they are to be liable, how does the threat of legal action, of being sued or prosecuted, affect the individual, independent and smaller studios that don't typically have access to the same level of legal protections afford larger studios. What do they need to do to protect themselves[3].

Fortunately, at least for now, game-makers being prosecuted over the actions of others is still ordinarily an unlikely scenario, so traditional contractual and legal protections still prevail in that regard[4]. However, the 'cyber assault' incident referenced above brings to light a tangential issue that relates to an increased likelihood of liability and prosecution; with this new influx of initiates to VR and gaming in general, a self-styled group of non-traditional, non-self-identifying-as-gamers gamers, comes a different perspective the industry isn't really geared up to deal with, a world-view based entirely on subjectivism, an environment of personal politics where the individuals outlook defines the most virtual of realities; if they feel slighted, they are slighted[5], and will be more likely to seek remedy.

It's crucial developers and game-makers understand the paradigm shift this new crop of users bring with them; they are not necessarily playing games to escape real life, as has more or less been the traditional modus operandi for decades[6], they want games to reflect it, augment it, so bring to the medium the subjectively interpretive perspective of not being a traditional gamer; games must now conform to the individual, played by their rules not those presented. Games, and entertainment more broadly, are idealised extensions of their "lived experiences", a nouveau facile approach to the exploration of self as individual, their thoughts and ideas defined though a set of entirely personalised sensibilities others are often coerced into accommodating else an assault on their person has been made[7].

These new rules, underpinned as they often are by a broad spectra of concerns revolving around "social justice" that often has the individual defined by seemingly arbitrary considerations[7], is never wrong because they speak to the individual components of person-hood, each element of which is just as important as the greater whole, denial of one is to deny all, the whole person, resulting in an 'injustice' that's corrected by affording the aggrieved the ability to speak to power[8], the game developer, who typically then find themselves in the position of capitulation, rather than compromise, else run the risk of targeted harassment, where the most vitriolic and vindictive schemes of public shaming is often tolerated and excused[9].

The upshot of this for developers means being cognisant that offense can always be taken no matter how hard the efforts to avoid giving it ("offense is taken, not given"), so unless the concerns raised seem objectively reasonable[10], it's best to politely stick to the business/development road map/plan of action and thank the person for their comment. Should the grievance be sufficiently clear or aggravating the person, encourage them to seeking legal council or contact the appropriate authorities, with full cooperation to the extent allowed by law of course.

Additional Resources
- Tips for dealing with Abuse & Harassment Online
- Keeping kids safe; do more...
- ESA: Essential facts about the games industry 2016
- "Freedom of speech ends where threats abound"
- Developers and self, voluntary, censorship
- The dark side of diversity: "positive discrimination" (reverse discrimination)

[1] although much news coverage claims the incident was a "sexual assault", a majority of news outlets using those very words in their titles and headlines (c.700,000 hits to Google), the author of the original blog-post at the centre of the controversy makes no such claim directly; the use "sexual" and "assault" is not concurrent, the incident is described as an "assault" that had a "sexual" component (cf. [2] & [3] below).

[2] the alleged incident occurred in QuiVr, a virtual reality "...Archery Castle Defense game for the HTC Vive". Players are displayed as a pair of disembodied hands with a bow in one, and a medieval style helmet approximately where the players head would otherwise be. Beyond these UI elements, for all intents and purposes the players avatar is invisible and able to freely interact with anything within reach (at the time of the incident which has since been changed by the games development team) - note: from the perspective of game development its not clear whether the game uses an underlying structure that's simply rendered invisible to the player, perhaps there for game-play purposes (rudimentary collision), or that nothing is shown because nothing is pulled in for use.

[3] developers need general protections against simple comment trolling to civil or criminal prosecution, all of which may or may not be the consequence of something caused by the game (e.g., seizure caused by rapidly flashing light), or a player interaction over which the game-maker has no control. The alleged virtual assault is a broad example of the latter, the result of an interaction between players the games designer had no control over nor anticipated, but was facilitated by the mechanics of the game, i.e., avatar hands being able to grasp at anything within reach, including the vacant space a torso would otherwise be if in-game characters had them. Whilst not an issue unique to VR, or indeed this generation of it, how then does User subjectivism square away with other types of unwanted gameplay, if a player is assailed by more enemies than expected, should that too constitute an assault because the event was unwelcome.

And herein lies the problem, from an interpretive stand-point, and the way the game works, its not entirely clear if the other player was intentionally trying to grab at the woman's avatar, or the bow she was holding, or some other element of the invisible player. In addition aside from the author of the incident laughingly exclaiming "no" to the player alleged to have assaulted her, and likely inadvertently egging them on in the process, there appears to have been no indication anyone other than herself was interpreting the incident as an assault instead of the funny event it appeared to have been by the way she was responding (although the blog post explains where she was touched, she does not clarify if she made those concerns known to the two people physically in the room with her, also laughing along as the incident transpired).

This is not to negate the incident or its effects, rather it highlights the problems developers face with a Users highly subjective interpretations of events, and the players own limitations in not knowing how something works and behavioural responses in not making their feelings immediately known and/or taking immediate action themselves to remedy the situation, e.g., taking the helmet off the moment it became clear what was going on rather than "running away" and in doing so allowing more time for the event to escalate. On this point, had the individual removed the helmet would it still be assault if the assailant continued despite the User no longer interfacing with the game. To what extent does the User have agency in VR or any game for that matter, and how long does it persist, if at all.

[4] game developers have been protected to a large extent through the contractual and legal obligations afforded by the "use = consent" principle; terms are considered binding, having hold or being agreeable between parties simply by a persons use, or continued use, of a device/s, app/s or software etc., tacit or implied consent in other words (beyond the initial "yes" upon account creation). The new breed of gamers however, bring with them the desire for "active consent"; instead of the users 'granting' consent through use, the principle is inverted such that consent now has to be expressly requested of the User (and to the extent they not obliged to acquiesces whilst simultaneously requiring providers ask - "no consent is not consent"). In essence once the VR headset is donned the User requires the developer ask if that's OK to continue - "press 'OK' to continue".

These new rules of engagement upset the historical "consent relationship", one more-or-less based upon mutual agreement and responsibility. Instead Users are now able to employ rationale based on a framework that essentially absolve themselves of all culpability through the expectation all consequence be subsumed by another party, the developer, whilst simultaneously demanding their agency and person-hood be recognised and acknowledged, be the impetus for preferential treatment based on arbitrary characteristics, while simultaneously insisting on enjoying all the benefits of the gaming experience available to everyone else.

Or to use an analogy, the picture this present developers is one within which a person stuffs their face with cake, eats other peoples cake, eats any remaining cake not yet taken, then blaming the host for there being too much cake, their eating it all, and their passing out due to a sugar overdose. In these instances hosting less cake, next time, doesn't solve the problem, they'll simply shove whatever cake is available into their faces regardless. Rinse and repeat until there is no cake, or cake is no longer provided due to their remonstrations, at which point they will complain there is no cake, which will be taken as an affront, insult, or some other fictional grievance, while demanding cake be provided, next time.

[5] holding open a door for most would be considered a courtesy one person performs for another because the two individuals may be close enough for the door being held open aiding the passage of both through to the other side. This same act of consideration can also be interpreted as a slight or offense to some whose personal politics or world view sees the incident as an act of oppression or intolerance, that the person holding the door open is exercising privilege and power over the other. The act is not a courtesy or kindness but meant to demean and belittle.

[6] much like other forms of entertainment, games have traditionally been considered an 'escape' from the pressures of life, some research indicates they may even be of benefit beyond being a time-sink (cf. Pew Research Center: Gaming and Gamers; The Hitman Study. Violent Video Game Exposure Effects on Aggressive Behavior, Hostile Feelings, and Depression (alt); The Science of Gamer Motivation etc.).

[7] the underlying framework bolstering this new outlook is "intersectionality", the unfalsifiable notion that a "white, CIS-gendered, male" (person born 'white' and 'male') has great "privilege" and "power" relative to a "black, non-binary" individual simply by virtue of being "white", "CIS" and "male". It speaks nothing to the persons character, their deeds or manifest accomplishments, which are often negated as being different forms of "privilege" and "oppression", instead only to arbitrary traits the person may or may ascribe to or may or may not have been born with or have control over. It is used to pre-excuse bad behaviour and pre-define interpersonal relationships, typically turns anyone in disagreement into an "agent of patriarchal oppression", and exists as it does today largely due to taking advantage of the "protected characteristics" discrimination laws, and societies broader intolerance of genuine social injustice and inequalities.

[8] the individuals ability to "speak to power" is a fundamental credo often found at the heart of the subjective "intersectional" world view and "social justice" in general. Its often used as justification for the most appallingly vicious and vitriolic speech and behaviour others, typically targets, are often accused of.

[9] one of the broader consequences of #gamergate was the revelation that harassment and abuse isn't a one-sided affair, nor gendered - some 50% of women engage in theharassment and abuse of others online (ostensibly through social media). So whilst 'gators' action were/are universally vilified in the press and across social media, 'sjw' abuse was/is universally praised, tolerated and supported by a network of enablers often populated by the same press and social media personalities castigating anyone even loosely connected to what was/is going on. This is where the intersectionality comes in to play, by 'projecting' a broad-sweeping victim narrative fueled by arbitrary individualistic traits for which offense can be easily taken but poorly defended against, abuse without consequence is afforded the faux victim under the guise they are speaking to power, fighting back, whether there is an objectively legitimate claim for such action or not. Abuse is abuse no matter the reason or rationale.

[10] in the alleged sexual assault referenced above the developers addressed the issue by creating a bubble around the player (cf. #2 above). Other solutions might include;
- denying avatar inaction unless express permission is granted, or players know each other.
- creating a 'lock-down' zone that disables actions when entered.
- a direction based denial system to prevent weapons being fired at a person.
- an 'emergency exit' or 'eject, eject, eject' button that instantly removes the player from the game/level.
- as well as user reporting systems where incidents can be sent to 'staff' for a response.

More Police interested in harassment as hate

September 11, 2016, 08:48:56 AM by kat

[image courtesy of Nottinghamshire Police]

According to a number of new reports (here, here etc.), it appears other Police forces around the UK are showing interest in Nottinghamshire Police's "misogyny" initiative after they reported some 20 or so incidents in the two months since launch in June 2016 (source does not appear to be available online at time of writing to confirm these numbers).

It's still unclear what the change actually entails as headlines and reporting make the initiative appear as if individuals (men and/or boys) are being singled out and specifically arrested for "misogynist" offenses/hate crimes/abuse, rather than their being arrested and charged for an hate/abuse act that's then simply statistically categorised as "misogynist" due to the victims being women/girls. The difference matters.

As discussed in the original post above the UK already has a dozen primary and ancillary laws on the books protecting individuals (subject to certain "protected characteristics") from the kinds of harassment, abuse, etc., they may encounter on a day-to-day basis (see links above) as voiced by the NWC in the reportage. From an 'offense' point of view there doesn't seem to be a need for something specifically tailored towards women and girls when the aforementioned laws are supposed to/already cover, such transgressive behaviours. This then begs the question; if such offenses/crimes are already covered, why is this initiative needed to "encourage" women/girls to come forward and/or for the system to "take such crimes/behaviours more seriously". In other words, if the laws are already there, what's preventing people from using them to prosecute offenses/crimes appropriately. What does this initiative do the laws and policies weren't already doing.

With that said, is this policy redefining current legislation/law absent proper Parliamentary/Judicial process/debate/change, are the Police granting themselves authority to arrest men/boys specifically for "misogynistic" offenses or crimes - are the Police are creating a new category of arrest-able offenses. Are men and women arrested for serious offenses like "sexual assault" or relatively minor ones like "online offensive/hate speech" being treated prejudicially as different crimes as a consequence of offender/victim sex/gender relationships - are men treated more harshly for example if the offense is perpetrated against a women or girl. Or is this simply a re-categorisation initiative, an attempt by Authorities to readjust (fudge) Crime Data already captured so they appear more pro-actively supportive of openly Feminist mandates from organisations like the Nottingham Women's Centre, the Register Charity behind the scheme[1] - are boys/men essentially 'counted' multiple times for the same offense/crime, once for the act itself, another if such act are perpetrated women or girls. For sake of equality and fairness, are MRA[2] organisations going to lobby women be subject to 'misandry' for committing sex/gender-specific offense/crimes against men/boys.

[1] The line between what a Charity can or cannot do in terms of lobbying for change/s to law, policy, regulation etc., is fuzzy and subject to interpretation; under current guidelines so long as any such activity is supplementary to the Charities main cause (it isn't the Charities primary mandate), they are permitted to engage in 'lobbying'. Having said that the guidelines do make it clear that prejudicial or biased campaigning is not permitted, i.e., activities that specifically target, or result in the targeting of others - an openly Feminist Women's organisation lobbying for change that specially targets men and boys, rather than protecting women, can be argued to be misandrist because its prejudicial against the former group, using the latter as leverage to goal achievement.
- Speaking Out: guidance on campaigning and political activity by charities.
- Charities and Campaigning.

[2] MRA = Mens Rights Activist/Advocate. Groups, organisations or individuals lobbying a "men's/boys rights" platform.

Tips for dealing with online harassment or abuse

August 28, 2016, 07:20:16 PM by kat

Finding yourself subject to online bullying, harassment or abuse can be as confusing as it might be traumatic, but Don't Panic!(Amz), there are things you can do. It doesn't matter if you don't know the person or people involved, or it happens playing games, on social media, forums, or other public communities, there are steps you can take to stop it. Although not 100% foolproof, most social network services - Twitter, Facebook, SnapChat, Imgr, Skype, et al - provide tools and resources for Users to report upsetting content or conduct. Elsewhere this same process might instead be facilitated by contacting a website owner or community Administrator or Moderator with a complaint.

IMPORTANT: be very clear in your mind that what you are looking to report is in fact unwarranted/unwanted attention or abuse and not simply the consequence of a heated or emotional argument or discussion between you and the person, or people, you allege are being abusive - whilst all such behaviour should be reported, Service Providers can only act upon reports within the confines of their respective Terms of Service (ToS) agreements, content, conduct or Users should never be reported expecting otherwise (Providers acting beyond the scope of their respective Terms or Service) - content or behaviour reports are treated as violations of Service, not the individual or their presumed 'rights'. In other words, whilst you might find something personally upsetting, the conduct, content or User may not actually be in violation of their Terms of Service, and/or may not be engaged in any 'criminal' or 'illegal' activity in the conventional sense. Understanding this distinction will better enable you to help yourself in dealing with harassment and the general abuse you may encounter online.

What to actually do
Although the process differs from service to service, when looking to report or flag upsetting, harassing or abusive content or conduct, keep the following in mind as it may help expedite the process;
  • Do not engage.
  • Collect the evidence.
  • Screen-capture everything else.
  • Block, report, flag.
  • Call non-emergency number.
  • Call emergency number.
  • Seek legal advice.
In detail...
  • First: DO NOT ENGAGE. Avoid engaging with the person or people sending harassing messages or content, especially if they are unknown to you, doing so only makes a bad situation worse, potentially undermines the credibility and/or veracity of claims made, as well as giving the abuser the opportunity to report you for abuse. DON'T use other people or third-party groups or Organisations as 'tanks'[1] to absorb abuse or run 'interference' between you and the harassing individuals, people or groups either, as this too will make the situation worse.
  • Second: collect the evidence. Do this yourself, or have someone you trust do it for you by taking screenshots and saving them to your device or computer – do NOT upload these to an online service or cloud storage as, depending on the content, the messages could be used to trigger an abuse report against you.
  • Third: screen-capture everything else. Wherever possible, screen-cap any communication with 'support' or whomever administrates the abuse or notification system. This creates a clear procedural history and makes clear the steps taken to solve the problem - your own efforts in this regard will help your case as no-one can report abuse for you (typically reports have to be made by the person receiving it).
  • Fourth: block, report, flag. Once the material has been collected and saved, keep copy(ies) for your records and then block, report or otherwise flag the messages or Users using whatever tools may be provided for such purposes by the Service Provider - Twitter, Facebook, SnapChat, Imgr, Skype, et al, provide tools to flag, remove or report abusive messages and or behaviour/Users.
If material is significantly abusive there may be cause to involve the Authorities - whilst individual messages might be considered harmless on their own, Criminal Harassment could potentially be invoked if the abusers actions are persistent and/or are expressed through multiple channels of communication with intent to cause the recipient distress, especially where doing so bypasses service blocks, bans, or suspensions that might already been in place against the person(s), if this includes threats of harm against you or someone you know, call the Authorities;
IMPORTANT: Do note that going down this path and calling the Police to report a potential crime/criminal act, obligates you to provide information to the dispatcher handling the call, details that might include personal information such as your name and address, and/or recounting the experience (upsetting as that may or may not be). There isn't a way to avoid this if a record of the incident is to be made which can later be relied upon, or a Police presence is wanted.
  • Fifth: call a non-emergency number. If threats are made, but nothing specifically indicates an immediate intent to cause harm, call your local Police Dept. using a non-emergency number or communication channel.
  • Sixth: call emergency number. If threats are made and they do appear to indicate an imminent intent to cause harm, call the Police emergency number.
IMPORTANT: it's critical to note here the Police are more likely to respond with personnel if they determine a credible, imminent, or immediate threat to a persons safety or well-being. It's vital this fact be understood to obtain a satisfactory result within the system as it stands when dealing with online harassment or abuse, because the realities of Policing and the Internet, regardless of internal policies on responding to harassment and abuse generally, means they are unlikely to dispatch personnel only if they cannot determine a credible threat[2]. This does not mean they don't believe you, that they are not “listening and believing”, it simply means they cannot determine the severity of the threat, or where they can, deem it to be non-credible with respect to there being an imminent or immediate threat to someone's safety or well-being.

This being the case, when making a call to the Police, never embellish the severity of the threat and/or activities being directed at you in an attempt to coerce a response from the Police. Do not make claims that cannot be later backed up with facts and information, as this only undermines your cause if you later need to correspond again with emergency services and/or the situation escalates to include prosecutory services. In other words, when involving the authorities the goal should not be to specifically elicit a physical response from the Police (absent actual threats of personal injury/violence), rather the generation an official record of the incident (an “Incident Report”), evidence that combined with further inevitable reports, creates a clear history of online harassment by a person or from an abuser/s that bolsters the case against them, making it more likely prosecutory action can be taken[3].
  • Seventh: seek legal advice. Once reports have been made and/or the Authorities involved where necessary, the final step is to seek advice from a suitable qualified legal professional to see what action can be taken - although reports may be made to the Police, unless a Criminal Offense (for example a specific incitement to violence against you or someone you know) has been committed they are unlikely to actually be able to do anything. Under such circumstances Civil litigation is the only viable option remaining. Talk to a lawyer specialising in online abuse/harassment etc.
The effectiveness of step seven will depend entirely upon steps 1 through 6; the more information there is to back-up a claim, the better chances are of litigation being possible and a faviourable outcome being had, i.e., the person going to jail (note that litigation is usually against individuals rather than groups, for that a slightly different approach needs to be take depending upon whether the group is just a collection of disassociated individuals, or an actual group like a Charitable, Non-Profit  Organisation or Advocacy Group, these can be reported to various governing Agencies - the Charities Commission in the UK, IRS in the USA for example.

Additional ResourcesFurther Reading

[1] a 'tank' is a person or group that acts as a damage control - when they see, or are asked to get involved, in a situation where an individual is being harassed, they will often attack or otherwise interfere with the attackers efforts, redirecting the abuse away from the original target onto themselves. Whilst this works to a degree in the short-term, it imbues greater animosity mid to long terms once the 'ruse' is discovered, or as a direct consequence of such groups employing questionable tactics themselves to counter the abuse (being abusive in return) - two 'wrongs' don't make a 'right' in this situation.

[2] although online harassment does not typically carry the same degree of concern over a victims physical safety as perhaps domestic abuse/harassment (unless the abuser is known to the person), a majority, if not all, Police forces/depts. have policies in place that obligate the dispatch of an Officers to investigate the situation and advise the victim of their options - "All forces told HMIC that force policy is that an officer will always attend a domestic abuse incident and will be dispatched immediately or within a non-emergency response time (typically one hour)." {cf. pp. 42, para 1 - "Everyone’s business: Improving the police response to domestic abuse"}.

[3] it's critically important to always report abuse and/or harassment that crosses the line at the time it happens to establish a record; regardless as to what some Advocacy Groups may advise, the Authorities take harassment and abuse very seriously, and are more likely to respond the more data they have available to them, not reporting incidents because you read the Police don't take things seriously, is counter-productive, and results in exactly that, lack of Police action.

Dumb things pop-culture critics say: video games cause violence

August 13, 2016, 07:28:03 PM by kat

[original image courtesy Wikipedia]

Summary: to "culture critics", the social and political sciences, psychology, sociology et al, video games cause violence because of an innate aggression pathology, a linear and highly scalable framework that accounts for otherwise innocuous to more acute expressions of aggression. In other words a gamer aggressively throwing off their headset post-match is simply a matter of degrees below acute or lethal expressions of violence; the leap from one to the other having never been manifestly shown, does not matter, it only matters that the framework allows for the possibility. It's in the possibility, combined with the individuals infinitely flexible response to stimuli, researchers are afforded the latitude required to advocate and popularise what then becomes the unfalsifiable premise that violent video games cause violence or violent behaviour[0].

• • •

To date there are in excess of 10,000 published papers on "video game violence"[1], some dated prior to what has now become the go-to incident frequently used to evidence the violent games cause real violence[2] argument, Columbine. That's a good 30 to 40 years of video game specific research all told. So much data in fact the American Psychological Association (APA) has long held the position, at least since the mid-2000's, the " [between violent video game exposure and aggressive behaviour] continues to be a reliable finding..."[3] even though "...literature [on the subject] uses a variety of terms and definitions ... sometimes ... interchangeably"[4], an equivocacy the APA dismisses as being in any way detrimental to the disciplines collected findings on the matter by in fact suggesting such interpretive flexibility speaks to the "breadth of interest" in the subject, one in which language and meaning is used contextually by the layman, the politician, policy maker, to law enforcement and the Courts. This stance on the effects of exposure to violent video games is considered settled science, enough for the APA Council and general members to advocate the games industry address a number of issues research highlights as published in the "Resolution on Violent Video Games" policy report (last updated in 2015).

This contextually sensitive reading of "aggression" and "violence" as behavioural patterns is increasingly difficult to reconcile with the realities of understanding passive (potential) versus active (kinetic) aggression and violence, the difference between acts expressed in, and as responses to, video games and other media, versus those of real people in the real-world committing real, harmful acts of aggression and/or violence against others. As the above Resolution states "[t]his distinction is important for understanding this research literature, which has not focused on lethal violence as an outcome. Insufficient research has examined whether violent video game use causes lethal violence.[5]".

This intrinsic subjectivity essentially makes it relatively straightforward to find both correlation and causation links between violent games and behavioural violence because an underlying and defining characteristic is an easily evidenced aggression metric[6], a matrix of expressive probabilities to stimuli, motivators designed to elicit a theoretical likelihood of an aggressive behavioural or emotional response that can then be scaled towards more extreme outcomes. In other words, the correlation/causation links proposed position individuals on an aggression scale[6b] that trends towards more predictable possibilities of harm, rather than an accounting of actual harm[7].

This makes findings in support of a positive assertion[7a], that perhaps stimuli event = (+/-) response = aggression + frequency|intensity = violence[7b], a highly probable, even likely, outcome of such research regardless as to its merits, significance, or veracity, results more-often-than-not difficult to disprove or challenge precisely because of such scalable association/s[7c]; once aggression is evidenced, violence being an outcome is considered an all but foregone conclusion because each expression simply manifests at a different location on the same linear aggression scale, e.g., [less aggression] passive > insignificant > minor > heightened > overt > severe > acute > lethal [more aggression].

Such predetermined conditions, when considered in relation to the question "do violent games cause violent behaviour", mean it is neigh impossible to answer in the negative, that violent video games do not cause people to become violent in a way that matters in the real world, because "violence" as noted above, is simply a unique response node on the same theoretical aggression continuum - the more suggestively 'aggressive' the individual responds to stimuli associated with the emotion/action, the more likely they are considered to be "aggressive" in the sense of being potentially violent, even though they may never outwardly express any such sentiment(s)[8].

And this leaves the larger discussion at an odd, never-to-be-resolved place, because that simple question does not hold the same meaning to a behavioural or social scientist as it does to a lawyer or jury, or even the layman, their interests are fundamentally different, the former deals ostensibly with speculative 'cause', the latter with actual 'effect', which requires objective, tangible evidence of an occurrence, a legal test the former can never adequately satisfy[9].

[0] the claim that violent video game cause violent behaviour is ostensibly unfalsifiable using the same principles, processes and tools as those employed in establishing the argument.

[1] Using the explicit search term "video game violence" to search a number of academic and research 'clearing houses', the following results were returned, for which there may be a degree of overlap/cross-over/duplication where the same material is published to multiple networks. Furthermore there may also be significant issues with content miscategorisation due to materials dealing with video game violence being mentioned in passing support of a papers thesis, rather than specifically as a primary subject of research or study (especially with regards to Google Scholar);
 - 289,
 - PubMedCentral: 1,006,
 - American Psychological Association: 211,
 - Sage Journals: 4,824,
 - Wiley Open Access: 99,
 - Open Science Framework: 721,
 - Science Direct: 3,238,
 - Google Scholar: 166,000 (search lists any mention of the terms),
 - Microsoft Academic: 324 (search modified to "video gameS violence" else 2 listings reported).

[2] Klebold and Harriswere found to have had significant interest in Doom and other 'violent', often 'mature' rated, games.

[3] Resolution on Violent Video Games, para. 5 - "The link between violent video game exposure and aggressive behavior is one of the most studied and best established. Since the earlier meta-analyses, this link continues to be a reliable finding and shows good multi-method consistency across various representations of both violent video game exposure and aggressive behavior (e.g., Moller & Krahe, 2009; Saleem, Anderson, & Gentile, 2012).".

[4] Resolution on Violent Video Games, para. 7 - "The violent video game literature uses a variety of terms and definitions in considering aggression and aggressive outcomes, sometimes using "violence" and "aggression" interchangeably, or using "aggression" to represent the full range of aggressive outcomes studied, including multiple types and severity levels of associated behavior, cognitions, emotions, and neural processes.".

[5] Resolution on Violent Video Games, para. 7 & 8 - "Violence can be defined as an extreme form of aggression (see Encyclopedia of Psychology, 2000) or the intentional use of physical force or power, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in harm (Krug, Dahlberg, Mercy, Zwi, & Lozano,2002 ). Thus, all violence, including lethal violence, is aggression, but not all aggression is violence.".

[6] an "aggression metric" can be considered the collation of various factors that might result in an individual expressing aggression; for example from simple emotional responses to subjectively upsetting materials, to factors such as socioeconomic affects on upbringing, work/life stressors, down to the individuals physiology.

[6b] an "aggression scale" is simply any means through which subject response to stimuli can be comparatively measured and/or assessed - scale of 1 to 10, less likely/more likely, negative to positive scale and so on.

[7] theoretical aggression responses are not necessarily manifest instances of aggression, i.e., physical acts, actions or outward expressions of aggression, a subject punching a wall for example. They are instead typically non-kinetic emotional 'beacons' researchers can tag as "aggressive" responses to appropriately designed stimuli, often cue-cards or questionnaires, but can be anything that is likely to elicit a response. With that said there is a body of research showing apparent causal links where minors have shown increased tendencies towards "aggressive" behaviours after exposure to stimuli. However, such research often fails to sufficiently clarify whether the individual is responding to the nature of the material they were exposed to, or because they were subsequently 'ginnied up' (colloquialism for "ginned up") as a consequence of the mechanisms used to test their exposure, i.e., is watching video footage of a fight making the person fight/want to, vs. their role-playing or otherwise physically acting out a fight or conflict. Furthermore in this regard, rarely is the context of aggression distinguished; the aggression expressed during competitive activities (sports) seem simply a different node on the 'aggression scale' as responses to passive media consumption might be (action/thriller movie), or that attributed to physical/kinetic conflict (bar/street fight). As the APA notes, "all violence is aggression, but not all aggression is violence" (cf. note 5).

[7a] "positive assertion" is the recognition a response was had, not that such was 'positive' ('good') or 'negative' ('bad').

[7b] "stimuli event = (+/-) response = aggression + frequency|intensity = violence" this faux equation helps visualise how the process by which simple emotional responses tagged as "aggressive" can be scaled infinitely to include overt, acute and lethal aggression (lethal violence). In essence the individual is prompted through stimuli and gives a response, one that is not necessarily required to be outward or obvious. The frequency or intensity of the response then indicates whether there is a possibility of more severe or lethal expressions, violence, without there being the need to induce such behaviours. In other words the equation is calculating a theoretical potentiate, not an actual one (the rules, regulations and policies in place protecting all research participants from direct and indirect harm prevents, or restricts what can and cannot be done for research purposes, even with informed consent).

[7c] in other words,,because violence is simply an extreme form of aggression, finding cause for the latter (aggression) instantly means there's a potential for the former (violence) regardless of there being any direct indication of such, i.e., the subject actually expressing violence towards others.

[8] e.g., requiring an individual go through anger management therapy despite there never being any indications they were angry, thus causing them to become angry by denying of them the fact they were not originally angry, which in turn justifies their being in therapy because they now are  angry.

[9] SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES - Brown, Governor of California, et al. v. Entertainment Merchants Association et al. (Argued November 2, 2010—Decided June 27, 2011): "Psychological studies purporting to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children do not prove that such exposure causes minors to act aggressively. Any demonstrated effects are both small and indistinguishable from effects produced by other media." (pg. 2) [emphasis added] and "...have been rejected by every court to consider them" (fn. 6, p14) pp. 14-15. [Justice Breyer's dissenting opinion in this case, which addresses Anderson et al's research specifically, was predicated on his own ignorance of the materials referenced in the case so his dissenting conclusion was drawn through an "appeal to authority"; it wasn't that he found the research to be true, rather that he assumed it must be true because the researcher(s) are experts in their fields, whereas he is not, and their conclusions, say they are].
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