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Enkido avatar 9:44 PM on 07.19.2010  (server time)
Rebuttal: Collateral Damage to Children's Psyche?

[Disclaimer: This blog does not represent the views or opinions of Enkido as he exists in a sane state and he cannot be held responsible for the content expressed in this article. For real, it's arguin' time, hold onto your hats. Also, cocks.]

This originally started as a comment refuting Collateral Damage to Children's Psyche? that got way too overblown. So instead you get this blog. I suggest reading the previous argument before delving into my rebuttal. Be warned, this blog contains rampant opinions and no pictures (gasp)!

I am going to have to respectfully disagree with many of your points. For one thing there has never been any evidence to support the idea of "causation" and instead only "correlation" has been found. In the scientific community, the burden of proof is a requirement and has never been something this argument has been able to bear. As well, it seems that in your third paragraph you give a quote that essentially invalidates your argument.

Here is what you said.
"There's a documentary called 'the soundtrack of war' where soldiers interviewed literally say a lot of them were expecting the war to be like a video game. 'I was expecting to just aim down the sight and shoot...It's a lot more gruesome than you think'"

If it is so much different than a video game, and so much more gruesome in an actual war, then I would argue that they have not been desensitized at all, perhaps misled, but not that video game violence has blunted their empathy. If the soldiers themselves are admitting that war is so much different than a video game, then I fail to understand how this helps your argument. If games are such an accurate depiction of war and violence then why is the real thing experienced so differently? There was recently a very good example of just how different real and fictional violence are in this video (be warned, it is not for the faint of heart and contains actual violence). Still, this video demonstrates exactly how different the two are in a very definite way.

Your point about who a person is fighting also seems to fall short. If the topic is violence in video games, it should not really matter who the violence is directed toward. You bring up racial or religious minorities in America as generally being the enemies of these games, but just as often the enemy of America is the Russians, who are not well known for their abundance of melanin or their religious extremism. Similarly, you bring up civilians, including women and children, which I find strange as these are never the kinds of people the player is shooting at in war games. Their inclusion in your argument seems like an emotional pull rather than a notion grounded in fact. Perhaps if you provided an example.

I also have a problem with your assertion that the U.S. Government stepped in and regulated Black Hawk Down. I have never played the game, but as far as I know there is very little the government can do to step in and alter creative content such as this without treading on the First Amendment rights of the developers. Also, when a game like that is already so far in production it is very difficult to change it and I find it hard to believe that such an example as this is an accurate account.

You also delve into how players carry themselves online, via voice chat. I will be the last to say that there is nothing wrong with some of the things that are said in the online chats of many gamers, but it is important to realize that this is not the way in which a person will conduct themselves in normal society. The problem is anonymity, not the games themselves. Kids used to do prank calls, but when Caller ID became a prominent feature on phones and anonymity was stripped away, it ceased to be an issue. Now that anonymity exists online, where a much larger number of people can participate with an even greater amount of anonymity, the issue has resurfaced through another medium. The games are not the issue in this case, they merely carry the burden.

As for why games are targeted, I believe it is because games are the new thing. It has yet to be established and until it does it will continue to come under fire. I don't believe it is because it allows the player the power to carry out such acts because ultimately the player can only experience what the developer will allow them to experience. Perhaps if there were some game that everyone experienced differently it would be different, but to my knowledge such a game does not exist. Another part of this is that when people go to see a movie they have to go through the ticket window, and if they are not old enough they are not allowed to enter without an adult. It is much easier to regulate. Because video games are consumed in the home, only parental supervision can account for what a child is subjected too, and more often than not very little care is put toward finding out what is and is not appropriate for a child. I would also argue that very little effort is put forth by those who make this argument to find exactly how these types of games are prevented from reaching those whose minds may not be mature enough to handle the themes.

I will agree with you on your point that the "violence was there before video games" is a fairly impotent argument. Instead a better argument would look like, well, ^that, but I do believe much of what I have said to be not only logical but also provable. If I may surmise my rebuttal, though I do not deny that video games have some impact of the minds of young children, I also do not believe that it affects them to the extend and with the severity which you state or imply. Essentially, much of your argument is shallow, with very little real backing, several attempts at emotional plays and fear-mongering, and is open to simple rebuttal and even self opposition.

While my argument to your original post is over, I would like to also discuss your statement about Roger Ebert. I am an enthusiastic gamer (I rather dislike the "hardcore" label) and had no problem with him stating his views. I took issue with the fact that he based it on what he assumed to be true and not actual first hand experience, a mistake that he admitted to and regretted. Also, you say that many of the gamers that responded to him were close minded and didn't read past the title before responding. This I have an issue with, as in his final blog on the issue he said that a majority of the responders were well expressed, perhaps a bit rough, but earnest nonetheless. He admitted to removing only a small few that did not address the subject or were outright offensive.

I also don't enjoy copy pasta.

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