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Author Topic: Violent Video Games & the Dishonest Debate  (Read 569 times)

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Offline kat

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Violent Video Games & the Dishonest Debate
« on: February 19, 2018, 03:07:04 PM »


So of course this discussion has to be had again despite it not yet being entirely clear if gaming, never mind violent ones, played much of a role informing this latest tragedy. And again this means looking at data that demonstrates violent videos games do not cause the type of behaviour society might nominally understand as violent[1]. This is so unequivocal it's astonishing it constantly needs to be said, the fact that it does reveals a lot about the "debate".

With that said it must be acknowledge the data does tend to indicate what might be better understood as describing predispositional traits or even telltale markers that could be used as diagnostic tools that create a picture of a given individuals mindset or attitudes towards a particular subject[2]. There is a caveat of course; this type of result is often consequential to highly conditional evaluation, that when individuals are tested under certain conditions using particular methodologies, apparent changes in attitude and behaviors can be observed.

And it's at this point the broader conversation about violence and violent video games disintegrates.

The problem is not the fact that something can be seen to occur, rather that as data points stripped of meaning and broader context, the objective results enable and embolden activist researchers, advocacy groups, politicians and politically motivated individuals pushing their own agendas, to subjectively and willfully disingenuously conflate conclusions with cause and effect; that any measured difference is somehow the gotcha that irrefutably evidences violent games cause violence behaviours when nothing could be further from the truth and nothing of the sort is being described[3]. But this seems not to have ever mattered.

Worse yet, this wanton politicisation further obscures the fact that source materials, the tests, surveys and studies, the foundation of the raw data, are as far as is possible to determine without compromising participant privacy and anonymity, nearly all conducted on mentally, physically and emotionally stable individuals, not 'at risk' groups, those who almost universally appear to suffer the kinds of mental impairment that would benefit from the research[4].

And this calls forth the biggest elephant in the room, the way mental health should be informing the debate but is not, or cannot, because activists and advocates are provided broader platforms to vociferously and aggressively push their obfuscating narratives as an intentional consequence of media networks, already culpable in pre-selecting and pre-filter their programming, being further fiscally compromised by Healthcare and Medical Ad dollars, by institutions whose practices might otherwise come under fire, be harshly criticised or subject to scrutiny[5]. Are these the conditions to facilitate an "honest debate" or merely the illusion of one, more a controlled conversation.

So too Governments and Politicians similarly lobbied not so insignificantly by the same politicised interests who are able to spend disproportionately more money lining the pockets of power-brokers than other parties to the conversation[6]. The fact this occurs is not allowed to be mention lest the person saying it be shouted down or shamed into silence. Are the political classes hearing all that needs to be heard, then able to make the decisions that need to be made.

Whether its acknowledged or dismissed as a conspiracy theory, the reality is there are significant economic incentives behind why the violent video game debate tends to form around and focus predominantly upon singular aspects and not others as a whole, there is simply too much money at stake from groups that have little, if anything, to actually do with video games[7].

This is not a debate about violence and violent attitudes or behaviours in media and entertainment, it never has been. Its a deliberately artificial polemic, an intentionally self-serving monologue easily dominated through the manipulation of emotion. Where different opinions, public discussion of certain topics are verboten for sake of being shunned and ostracised, or risk loosing advertising dollars, being sued for negatively effecting stock prices. Not exactly the sort of environment to have the necessary 'honest debate'.

In the meantime incidents will continue to happen and meaningful answers, of being able to develop a toolkit that helps spot or highlight individuals that might be at risk, will continue to be evasive all the whilst its pursuit politicised[8].

Further Reading
- Boom Headshot, perpetuating the 'murder-simulator' narrative through bad science.
- Dumb things pop-culture critics say: video games cause violence.
- Digital Self-Harm Among Adolescents, a new phenomena.
- Men harassed online more but like, seriously, it's not about them - Pew 2017.
- Moral Combat: Why the War on Violent Video Games is Wrong.
- Kicking ass and chewing bubblegum.
- Assassination Generation: Video Games, Aggression, and the Psychology of Killing.
- Virtual Reality Assault and Developer Responsibilities.
- Normalising/desensitising violence in games. An (initial) study.
- How social context influences violence-aggression relationship.
- Violence against males in games doesn't count... another study that 'proves' it.


Footnotes:
[1] it's important to understand there is a difference between outward expressions of violence society would normally consider to be "acts of", versus inward or internalised expressions or the same, i.e. attitudes, thoughts, mindset and so on the individual might have. This is not to say one is more of an issue than the other, rather than the former has the greater potential to affect others in day-to-day life, whilst the latter might lead to incidents that happened in Florida. With that said, the two do not specifically correlate.

[2] the general purpose of the research into violent games is the development of a diagnostic tool, if a such a set of traits or markers can be recognised effectively it means then being able to assess an individuals predisposition with respect to violent attitudes or thoughts, not specifically outward behaviours - someone might be tested as expressing negative attitudes or thoughts but not specifically outward behaviours, which would likely result in a diagnostic prognosis that would likely result in treatment or therapy of some kind. With that said research only appears to indicate temporal change in the immediate and short-term.

[3] although changes may be noted it is not entirely clear whether they are as a consequence of the novelty effect, the "meh factor" as it were, of literally thinking "not this image again" being registered as a negative, rather than a response specifically consequential to stimuli - typically using highly emotive or sensitive subject matter individuals may already have strong feelings about i.e., "sexism", "misogyny", "violence towards " etc., etc.

[4] it needs to acknowledge its no coincidences many violent acts are carried out by individuals who are mentally and/or emotionally impaired or traumatised in some way, and are or were on medication or treatment for such

[5] in 2016/2017 Ad dollars from Healthcare and Medical industries overall was to the tune of $9,000,000,000, that's nine BILLION Dollars

[6] the various Healthcare industry lobbies spent some $500,000,000 (2017) buying influence whilst comparative figures for the firearms lobby amounts to c.$10,000,000 (2017) (although is was c.$50,000,000 (2016))

[7] the figures for both 'industries' are difficult to determine exactly because both include federal spending. This being the case the general economic impact of the firearms and weapons industries amounts to c.$51,000,000,000 dollars on its own (fifty-one BILLION), including Federal spending some c.$650,000,000,000 Billion (close to $800 Billion accounting for 2018 budget request). Healthcare and medical on the other hand has revenues of c.$2,000,000,000,000 (two TRILLION), and including the Federal budget some $3,000,000,000,000 (three TRILLION)
.

[8] what is the debate about exactly, cause of death, or something else. If its the former then looking at broader statistics we find that firearms usage killed c.40,000 (2016); the number of vehicular deaths c.30,000 (2016); workplace deaths c.5,000 (2016); whereas medical deaths are estimated to account for some c.250,000 deaths (2016).


Offline ratty redemption

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Re: Violent Video Games & the Dishonest Debate
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2018, 04:39:01 PM »
well said my friend.

if tomorrow everyone stopped consuming violent media (games, comics, books, tv, films, music etc) then human beings would not all become peaceful. there will always be predatory or mentally unstable individuals, and the rest of society should not have to be punished the actions of the minority.

Offline kat

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Re: Violent Video Games & the Dishonest Debate
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2018, 08:19:43 AM »
Conflation is a big problem with this discussion, one where "behavioral change" in-part is equated to "violent behaviour" in-summary, which itself is rarely defined beyond observations typically made during study participation, e.g. (as discussed here) when exposed to an staged incident after gaming an observed 'negative' response was taken to mean gaming had desensitized the individuals to be less empathetic to and disinterested in the situation as it unfolded rather than more empathetic and fearful to engage (similar to a hysterical response causing inaction). How then is it possible to conclude one outcome if others are not considered.

Looking at the violent incidents news media, advocacy groups, politicians et al pick up on the following pattern often emerges;

- unstable home environment - abusive siblings/parents/guardians/spouses.
- poor/unstable peer or social environment - bullied by, or bullies others.
- mental health issues - often depression or 'attention' disorders.
- reclusive or anti-social behaviour - spends excessive time alone/loner/has few friends.
- overtly aggressive behaviours - violence/aggression towards animals and people.
- unwillingness to interact with others.
- and so on...

The addition of violent video games is a relatively recent phenomenon, since perhaps the mid-90's, so how then does the research account for incidents that occurred prior to the mass consumption of the media. Is this a general pattern of behaviour, or are the traits common to particular individuals or personality types. Are these traits always or sometimes present etc., etc.

Or how is ideology and politics taken into account, many violent individuals in the incidents media chooses to obsess over espouse strong political views. Do/should we ask questions about political rhetoric's negative influence over people - there are more people on the streets right now committing acts of violence against others, obstructing and deny others their rights based entirely on their politics than there are gamers on the streets acting out because of the games people play.

As we can see there are far too many questions and variables involved in this conversation for anyone to be oh-so-confidently declaring the "debate is over" or the "science is settled" as some foolishly are, when it clearly is anything but.

Offline ratty redemption

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Re: Violent Video Games & the Dishonest Debate
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2018, 06:55:09 PM »
agreed good points.

 

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