Has the Video-Game Industry Lost the Gun Debate: What is Your Take

First check out:  How the Video-Game Industry Already Lost Out in the Gun-Control Debate by Ian Bogost.


What do you think? How are real and virtual guns the same/different from the perspective of causality? Are they lines on a continuum or “apples and oranges”?



5 responses to “Has the Video-Game Industry Lost the Gun Debate: What is Your Take”

  1. Tyler Dennis

    Although perhaps not always correct, I think a grey-area compromise is in order here. I cannot rightly say that a violent video game incites violence. At least, I don’t expect it to be a sufficient causative factor explaining the mass murders in schools as of late.

    There’s lots of guns in Canada, but we don’t see the same phenomenon occurring. It may not be AS easy to legally obtain a firearm here, but if you’re planning on going on a killing spree, I should think the circumvention of Canadian gun laws would be of little concern. But granted, the lower inaccessibility of hand guns and machine guns may just be a large enough brick wall to deter the average (lazy?) potential mass murderer.

    I should also say, with the advent of modern war/FPS video games, I’m a better infantry tactician than I would be having grown up being a master of “Frogger”. It shouldn’t escape us that the better FPS games are made to be more realistic, including the reactions of civilians when the shooting starts. It’s easy to see these games as little more than training exercises on how to herd a bunch of panicking civilian (game sprites!) into a DPS wall and have them efficiently mowed down. The rag doll physics given to the bodies is so well done, I admit that I’ve experimented with shooting/blowing up non combatants just to see how well the system models a body flying through the air and rolling across non-linear environments. … It’s probably unnecessary for games to allow us to gruesomely –bullet by bullet– chop off someone’s limb with an excessive amount of blood when a game sprite is “dead”.

    But to restrict and realism being modeled for fear of it somehow causing people to behave the same way in real life (IRL) seems intuitively MORE wrong. The freedom of expression lost is more important to me than having to tolerate the odd mass murderer. I don’t like the slippery slope argument, but restrict video games; and then movies? Restrict video games, movies, literature, etc… I won’t want to live on this planet anymore! If what “we” are is a race of violent maniacs that can’t stop cowardly running into public institutions and going on a rampage against unarmed innocents, then so be it. Repressing a natural urge will only have it present itself in a potentially more harmful way (I know it’s difficult to think of what could be worse than shooting up a school, but some of us humans are rather creative…).

    Of course, this probably isn’t the case! We are an extremely violent species, but going on shooting rampages is too isolated a phenomenon to rightly say it’s the natural state of being. I’d go with a mixture of: American media circus glorifying psychopathic behaviors; programmed self-entitlement let down mid-late youth; the pressure/expectation of the sexualized Western culture (and concurrent let down when you find out you’re poor and ugly like everyone else!); the pharmaceutical industry and drug pushing lazy MDs that over charge and under treat every man woman and child; a whole many others, and yes – “video games”.

    [TL/DR: it’s video games, but not JUST video games; and freedom of expression is more important]

  2. Michela

    What I find interesting is that particular first person shooter video games are deemed partially/fully responsible for real-life shooting events but are car racing games blamed for car crashes? Are tony hawk games blamed for skateboarding injuries? Not nearly to the extent that so-called “violent” games are blamed for violent behaviour.

    Another point to mention is that the number of teens and young adults who play video games hit numbers ranging from 80-95% in North American depending on various methodology. With numbers like this, there’s a good chance that anyone under the age of 25 who goes on a shooting spree will have played violent video games, regardess of any other factors.

    What constitutes a “violent” video game anyways? Like Tyler said, there are varying degrees of realness – is this the factor that makes a game “violent”? It must be, as Super Mario killing Bowser by jumping on him is apparently deemed to be less violent than Sam Fisher sniping a terrorist with an FN F2000 in a Tom Clancy game. What about violence in Halo? They are not humans so does this make it a non-violent game because it is not realistic?

  3. Merrick Cohen

    I know individual case studies are not very important in the grand scheme of things, but I have played all manner of violent video games for many years now and I would be afraid to touch an assault rifle in real life. People like me are not the problem obviously, but figuring out who the problem are can be a daunting task. Even if we train the masses to spot anti-social behavior early on, there seems to be no typical profile for a mass killer.


    Cracked.com may not seem like the best source but they actually have some great writers. They have a good piece about gun violence and video games:


  4. Jon Festinger, Q.C.

    Michela, you will be amused to know that there was once an attempt to ban a racing game (Project Gotham 2) in Australia because it had a track set in Sydney and there was a concern about copycat driving. Kid you not:
    MP demands ban on video hoons (2003)

    By the way anybody know what a “hoon” is in Australian slang?

  5. Jon Festinger, Q.C.

    Just wanted to re-post this article that goes well with your point Merrick. It is also in this week’s News of the Week – “Video Games Hold No Answers”: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-mones/video-games-violence_b_2480823.html