The Bulletstorm Controversy

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well if your publicity are in the forms of raving bad reviews of your book on Amazon...that's actually pretty bad and can hurt heh

Mark J Kline:
If we can agree that intensive gaming can create or exacerbate mental health problems for some people, then perhaps the industry ought to take a careful look at its products and their impact. Of course it's about fun and entertainment first, but if the products you make can have adverse effects on intensive users, don't you have some responsibility? The tobacco and alcohol industries have found the answer to be yes.

I don't think anyone should agree with that. Especially not the "create" part. What could possibly be created? Could it be some latent inner desire that never surfaced until it was experienced in an interactive virtual environment? Even that seems like a stretch.

The effect games have on users, if anything, is one of having theirs inner desires placated. Just like a crazy woman that wants to live out a rape fantasy, she typically doesn't really want that to happen, and if inclined to go through with it would pick a person she knows or an organization she trusts. Running from the cops in GTA might give you a rush and a thrill, but anyone that isn't a moron would realize he/she wouldn't actually desire being chased by cops, because that shit is scary.

This is the reason why ESRB ratings exist. A bit of mental preparation might be required so the user isn't freaked out or given the wrong impression, the latter being associated with the "morons" I noted above. Just like the dumb kids doing Jackass stunts and hurting themselves, you don't want the audience to be confused. That is the only real danger I could ever agree with.

Whether video games could be used as a gateway for your ultimate desires is murky territory. You could speculate that it can be used as a testing ground, to feel out actions you may wish to do for real. For some, it may bolster their desires, but others may have the opposite reaction. Their ultimate desire could just be to become a snowboarder.

I'm pretty sure rape and pillage didn't increase when this painting was released

It seems to me that some (I'm really trying to restrain myself from calling names here) people don't realise we have a history, it's like the only real thing for them is the present.
Humanity is a treacherous race, we kill for no reason, it's always been like that, and it will always be.

In the past people simply didn't know that some German kid went on a rampage in his school, or that someone in America shot a politician. But now we do, and people (just like in the 16th century with the Witch hunts) search for "rational" explanations. They don't try to see the bigger picture, because keeping it simple, is well... simple.

This is the exact same thing with games. They ("The Wizards" -Bill Bailey) don't understand what's going on, and out of some personal bias picture games as a scapegoat. Frankly I'm happy that it's games and not a religious minority... OH WAIT

So until games will be widely socially accepted as a real medium other than superficial and childish, games, and gamers will be depicted as immature and a danger to society.

Fox News personalities always blow things out of proportion, and yeah, its usually just to get publicity. O'Reiley does it, Glenn Beck does it, and its Lieberman's lifeblood. Its best to just ignore them - if they don't get any reaction to their headlines, they'll change their agenda almost immediately.

Though she's totally right about Bulletstorm causing an increase in violent crimes. After playing for only five minutes, I went and punched my dog.


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Lots of very interesting reaction here. To clarify, I think it probably isn't great for very young kids to be exposed to graphic violence in any media, and I think ESRB rating and film rating can indeed be very helpful to watchful parents in protecting them. I can't see any good coming from desensitizing young kids to violence, if games can indeed do this. Interestingly enough, with my own kids, I find them more averse to video game and TV violence than I am. I was raised with lots of cowboys and native americans killing each other and constant newsreels from the Vietnam war. They don't generally see this kind of stuff and are horrified and appalled when they do. Maybe I've protected them too much!

As I think back on this column, the thing I really wanted to emphasize (other than pointing out the motivations of "media psychiatrists" and respecting the rights of those who try to put them in their places) is that the hullabaloo over video games causing violence so easily obscures other gaming related mental health issues that I see in spades every day in my office. I think of myself as a gamer, so I agree that many of us can manage this hobby without major difficulty, but there are also many who can not. They may bring emotional problems into gaming, or suffer problems in living as a result of gaming. These are often bright, capable and articulate young adults with so much potential. Having never seen a client whose violent behavior seemed to be the result of gaming, but knowing many in this other category, I think its important to acknowledge: gaming can be an big part of some peoples' serious mental health issues.

I think there is something more psychoactive about gaming than other media forms. Maybe I went too far in equating the gaming industry to tobacco and alcohol, but lawmakers in some states are already trying to put limits on who can sell games to whom, and I'm not sure it's so unreasonable for gaming companies to think more carefully about the mental health impacts of their products on consumers--especially when your consumers are an ardent community of people who care a lot about the hobby.

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