The violent game debate is over

A year after Newtown, the industry is getting all the defense it needs from games it never wanted to make in the first place

The great American debate over violent video games is over. Like cigarettes being good for you, pro wrestling being real, or 9/11 being an inside job, the idea that a few hours of Grand Theft Auto can turn well-adjusted kids into middle school Manchurian Candidate killers is being clung to by a vanishingly small portion of the population.

I bring this up because this week marks the anniversary of game industry figureheads meeting with Vice President Joe Biden to discuss what can be done to prevent mass shootings like the one that took place in Newtown, CT, the previous month. As with any unspeakable tragedy, there was tremendous pressure put on politicians to make sense of something senseless, to assign blame and pass laws to ensure such horrors could never happen again. In the wake of Newtown, the spotlight shone on three potential culprits: guns, the mental health system, and violent video games.

"The debate has been won on the legislative front. It exists now only in the cultural arena, and even there only for a small window longer."

While I didn't expect Obama and Biden to believe games were anywhere close to the root of the problem that the other two subjects represent, they did seem like the easiest scapegoat. After all, opponents of gun control in the US wield an incredible amount of political influence (more states responded to Newtown by loosening firearm restrictions than tightening them) and reforming mental health care in the US carries all the logistical headaches of reforming general health care (see the agony surrounding Obamacare), and combines it with the challenge of eradicating profoundly entrenched cultural stigmas. Given that, I was legitimately concerned that throwing games under the bus would be the most politically expedient course of action for the administration.

I can't say how seriously Biden and President Obama were considering pushing for laws regulating violent games, and how much their calling of game execs to the principal's office was just to appear open to options beyond gun control. But I hope I am accurate in saying that was the last moment in my life I would ever feel legitimate concern that wrong-headed legislators would constitutionally quarantine games from the rest of the creative arts.


Video games, circa 2014

It was a brief moment of panic, a fleeting worry that a groundswell of public support would overrule the 2011 US Supreme Court verdict ensuring games would have the same constitutional free speech protections as any other creative art form. But that moment has passed. President Obama instead called for more research into the effects of game violence on kids, the findings of which would have almost no chance of spurring legislation, barring some sort of smoking gun. (Then again, the NRA has shown that even with a literal smoking gun, these sorts of laws are not always easy to pass.)

So the debate has been won on the legislative front. It exists now only in the cultural arena, and even there only for a small window longer. What remains now is the final push to take the impact of violent games on mass shootings from "different angle on a tragedy that may help fill time on a 24-7 cable news network" to "even Fox News wouldn't suggest this with a straight face." I believe we've actually crossed that threshold now, and can only hope I never have an opportunity to be proven right. And as much as I might congratulate the Entertainment Software Association on this development, it would be for good fortune as much as good planning.

"What will finally inoculate the major players the industry from this sweeping criticism is the rise of games they would never have published..."

After decades of dealing with this issue, the tipping point was not a refinement of the ESRB rating system, a PSA campaign with cherished professional athletes, or a fundraiser to support the creation of educational games. Those are all fine and good, but they've been done plenty of times, and they haven't clinched the debate. What will finally inoculate the major players the industry from this sweeping criticism is the rise of games they would never have published, games with introspective stories about straining family ties, exploring the difficulty of maintaining a healthy work-life balance, or coping with a child's terminal cancer.

It's no coincidence that games like Gone Home, The Novelist, and That Dragon, Cancer are emerging from outside the framework of the traditional gaming industry. From the way they're made to the way they're marketed, these games run counter to everything mainstream gaming has been doing for decades. They are the products of extremely small teams, with similarly tiny budgets. They are digitally distributed, avoiding all the expenses related to getting a game in a box on Walmart's shelves. They aren't planned for traditional consoles (at least not yet), where games must pay to go through the ratings process. In the case of Gone Home and The Novelist, the creators are selling their games directly to consumers (although those who prefer can grab them off Steam).


The industry will benefit greatly from efforts like The Novelist simply existing.

Despite their outsider status, these games represent the industry's best chance of making the mainstream reassess what games are and the respect they should be afforded. Until now, the non-gaming masses have split games into two general categories: colorful toys for children and ultraviolent toys for manchildren.

Did that last statement make you pause? Are you thinking of counter arguments, games that don't fit into either category in any way? If so, it's probably because you understand the industry well enough to see the nuance, to spot that oversimplification. Lots of non-gamers don't. So when they hear the game industry described as "a callous, corrupt, and corrupting shadow industry that sells and sows violence against own people," they compare it to what little they know of the industry. And every holiday season, the industry spends a whole lot of money to make people think it exists solely of Battlefield, Assassin's Creed, Grand Theft Auto, and other nasty-sounding titles.

Fortunately, this new breed of higher profile narrative-driven games, commercially viable titles that would rather explore a collapsing relationship instead of collapsing skyscrapers, give the industry clear counterpoints to its critics. And once people accept that the medium is not a monolithic entity, that just as with film and books and music, the best-sellers don't come close to encompassing all that is possible with the art form, then the argument shifts. At that point, the object of the outcry transitions from the medium to specific entries therein. There will always be button-pushers, headline-grabbers, experimental works that attempt to shock the conscience. But winning this debate means that from this point forward, the onus of answering for these potentially offensive works will fall more squarely where it belongs, on the people who create them instead of the medium as a whole.

Related stories

ESA opposes potential DMCA rule change aimed at preserving abandoned online games

"Preservation of online video games is now critical,” says Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment

By Haydn Taylor

Hawaii proposes landmark legislation against loot boxes

UPDATE: State representative who previously declared legislation a "slippery slope" affirms support for efforts toward regulating loot boxes; expects more states to follow Hawaii's lead

By Haydn Taylor

Latest comments (34)

Gregory Hommel writer 4 years ago
Excuse me. Your lib is showing. I am on the same side of the "violent video games" debate that you are, which is the reason this article caught my attention. There is, however, no need for me to have to ignore your hypocritical jabs at firearms to convey the message you set out to bring to light.

The NRA is not evil, they are trying to protect the freedoms of the American people from wrong-headed legislation based off the elementary school model of group punishment. Sounds familiar doesn't it? It's funny how the freedoms you care about are important but you have no issue with attacking mine.

Let's suppose the last, or even worse, the next mass shooter is obsessed with Grand Theft Auto. Plays it uncontrollably, and his murderous actions mimic those of the in-game characters. Imagine that he leaves a note that reads, "Life is more fun in GTA so I decided to have some real fun in real life." Signed, Franklin, Michael and Trevor. Now imagine this kid murders 50 children, two decorated military heroes and 20 puppies, spray painting GTA5 as he goes. Should the actions of this freak affect your ability to purchase or play any game you choose?

The answer is NO. I hope you will learn to hold dear every right bestowed to you by the Constitution of these United States. Lastly, my opinion is that my ability to own a firearm to try to stop violent crime from befalling my family is a good deal more important than how video games are rated and whether or not you can find mature rated titles at big box stores. Get your priorities straight please.
8Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Morgan King Animator 4 years ago
The NRA isn't protecting your right to bear arms, they are selling it out to firearms manufacturers. Their efforts have reduced the right to the ownership of weapons from an ideological stewardship of democratic military power to the right to buy weapons at retail. No organization has done more to harm the 2nd Amendment than the NRA - it's baffling that weapons advocates so often can't see that.
23Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Nick Ferguson Sr. Business Development Manager, Amazon4 years ago
"The violent video game debate is OVER!" /Portlandia
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Show all comments (34)
Gregory Hommel writer 4 years ago
That is a nonsensical rant if I've ever seen one. Libs lobby to restrict and ban weapons. The NRA lobbies to stop them. Pretty cut and dried if you ask me but feel free to elaborate.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Jim Huntley4 years ago
I don't know if it's quite that cut and dry. So much of our discourse in the modern age has devolved into "black vs white" debating, that when issues get increasingly gray, we as a society (at least American society) want to continue to make a binary decision about virtually everything. When we start labeling people or POVs, it gets even worse. The reality is, you're both partially correct.

The gun debate isn't really a "debate:" a vast majority of Americans believe in and support the 2nd Amendment. Even if they don't have a firearm--they support the rights of others who do. Study after study has shown that no linkage exists between LEGAL firearm ownership per capita and crime/murder rates. The issue is more ILLEGAL firearm use, and how to stem the tide of legally owned weapons flowing into the black market.

Most Americans would agree that background checks, closing gun show purchase loopholes, and holding gun owners who fail to report a theft (or sometimes "theft") or loss of a firearm accountable (as in, "if you keep losing them, you can't buy more," after a certain point).

The NRA started out as a grassroots organization but has since been co-opted by gun manufacturers who whip their membership into a frenzy whenever it appears gun rights might be infringed; the stark reality of how far the gun lobby has co-opted the NRA was made clear in polling during the last round of gun legislation:

Why does the gun lobby not want background checks? Because they've made their products TOO good. It's a classic marketing conundrum when faced with finite market: you have maximized household penetration, so you won't necessarily grow your market into new homes, so you're left with selling more product to the homes you're in. That works with, say, cereal, but not so much with a product that,l--if cared for properly--lasts for decades.

The primary consumer benefits of gun ownership are hunting and home defense (and sport shooting); if you have a device that adequately achieves those goals, you don't need to buy a new one every 5 or even 10 years: dead is dead, a newer version doesn't shoot a person or thing "deader."

So if the lobby doesn't want its sales shrunk to the smallish group of hunters who want the newest everything and sport shooting enthusiasts, it needs the casual gun owner to (1) be afraid and (2) buy more weapons to protect themselves. You can see that effect every time there's talk of banning an assault weapon or class of gun, sales for that gun (and all firearms) spike. There's also a robust black market benefit the NRA indirectly benefits from; if criminals are arming through the loopholes in the current statutes, those guns are coming somewhere...why stem that flow?

So most Americans, including the NRA rank and file membership, more controls. The lobby, as long as it essentially runs the NRA, will continue sow fear within its members to drive more sales. One could argue that it's actions are more important than it's motives as it's "protecting the second amendment," but I'd counter that the motive makes the action suspect. And until the membership of the NRA realize they're being crudely manipulated by corporate interests, we'll be playing this loop repeatedly until the likely-never-coming day when campaign finance reform arrives and lobbyists are drastically curbed.

Likely an overly long response, but a complex issue that deserves more consideration than the usual "spy vs spy" back and forth. All societal debates need be viewed a lense of "who financially benefits from these options" and scrutinized accordingly.
6Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Jim Huntley4 years ago
Also, I have to say: I was a little disappointed in this article.

As well-written as it was, the writer or editor should have curbed their desire to create a sensationalistic headline for an article that essentially was about a series of unique and innovative games that virtually have nothing to do with the "violence in video games" debate.

The headline is spurious in that it implies that some key milestone in the debate has occurres, and the content doesn't back up the headline/topic, except by inelegantly linking a premise of "there was recently a debate" on violence in games" to a payoff of "here are some clever games that show video games aren't ALL violent. Not to take away from these particular games (I'm sure they're all excellent and awareness for indies is always good), but the history of gaming is filled with games that strike new ground without being violent, Psychonauts, Mini Ninjas, and Portal to name an incredibly small recent few.

The cynic in me thinks GI intentionally headlined it this way to get more clicks, but I like your content overall (and this is the first time on your site I've felt bait and switched), so I shall give the benefit of the doubt. But please don't fall into the trap of doing this type of "big news, not really" stuff on the regular; it's beneath you. And I say this with love.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jim Huntley on 6th January 2014 9:02pm

7Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Steve Wetz Reviewer/Assistant Editor, Gamer's Glance4 years ago
There's also a robust black market benefit the NRA indirectly benefits from; if criminals are arming through the loopholes in the current statutes, those guns are coming somewhere...
That REALLY seems a bit much. The NRA is an advocate of legal gun ownership. How can illegal gun ownership, which has only historically lead to further restrictions on gun ownership, benefit the NRA? I don't think it does, and disagree with your assertion.

As for the somewhere the guns are coming from - it's the same sources that most illicit goods are trafficked from: robberies, imports and the like. I seriously doubt gun shop owners - saddled with very tight regulation, regular monitoring, etc - would risk their businesses and their freedoms to supply weapons to criminals. There just isn't enough money in it for the risk. A couple of intermittent sales to people who would rather kill you with your product than pay you, plus the risk of getting caught - it's definitely not in the gun shop owner's best interest.

As for your assertion that one doesn't need to buy a new gun every five or ten years - um, check your own industry, dude. We just had a console cycle there was almost no demand for beforehand in which Microsoft and Sony sold out supply immediately. iPhones sell out and the customers waiting in line spend their time waiting by using the previous iPhone! I mean, people are always going to want new and shiny objects to replace their still-functioning, somewhat less shiny objects. Why would gun owners be any different?

I always wonder why we don't have the same debates about knifes (and before you go on about how there are no knives for which combat is the exclusive purpose, Google "KA-BAR"). Knives are quieter, can be thrown, require less training (supposing you don't try to stab someone with the handle) and, according to Counter-Strike, allow you to run faster. And yet there is almost no law organization outside the TSA which is concerned about knives.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Brendan Sinclair North American Editor, GamesIndustry.biz4 years ago
Hey Jim, I appreciate the feedback, and I'm sorry you felt misled by the headline, but I believe the sort of indie games we're seeing now really are changing the dynamic for the cultural discussion in ways that previous games haven't.

I love Psychonauts and Portal as much as the next person, but I also think they're not readily distinguishable from previous platformers or first-person shooters for people who don't play games. Portal is a sci-fi prison break with an insane AI trying to kill you, which sounds right up video games' alley. And Psychonauts' off-the-wall psychic summer camp premise is weird even for gamers to wrap their heads around. They're both awfully easy for the mainstream audience to dismiss as "just more stupid game stuff." (Sorry I'm not familiar with Mini Ninjas, but I'm comfortable saying that the presence of "ninjas" in the title likely makes it similarly at home in people's concept of what video games can be.)

I don't think we've ever had so many non-violent games about relationships, about real-world issues, games that critics must acknowledge as at least attempting to be thoughtful, edifying experiences, games that don't exist in the worldview of these people who don't think the medium deserves First Amendment protection. And I think what these games are doing to legitimize the medium as a place to examine these subjects and tell these stories has absolutely made the argument against games an untenable one for rational members of society. An editorial is going to reflect the opinion of the author, and I believe the headline accurately reflects my position.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Brendan Sinclair on 6th January 2014 9:41pm

2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
Not to take away from these particular games (I'm sure they're all excellent and awareness for indies is always good), but the history of gaming is filled with games that strike new ground without being violent, Psychonauts, Mini Ninjas, and Portal to name an incredibly small recent few.
Exactly what I was thinking. And it's not like you can't go back 10/20/30 years and find interesting, thought-provoking and mature content. Lords of Midnight's 30th anniversary is this year.
The cynic in me thinks GI intentionally headlined it this way to get more clicks,
Mmmm... Not wanting to beat a dead horse, so I'll just say "Mmmmm".

And I think what these games are doing to legitimize the medium as a place to examine these subjects and tell these stories has absolutely made the argument against games an untenable one for rational members of society.
A couple of points to raise:

1) Comics have been going longer than games, have more maturity, have a more cohesive storytelling style, and have won more awards than games. Yet even they aren't easily treated as a medium worthy of protection under the First Amendment. And let's note the CBLDF and its vociferous defense and fund-raising team, here, because there'd be many a lost-case if it weren't for them.

2) Arguing a point that is good enough "for rational members of society" does not, sadly, mean that the "violent game debate is over". Books are banned (excuse me "removed from shelves") every month in American libraries for the most small-minded of reasons. Such small-minded reasons will be ever more pervasive when it comes to video-games (in the same way as animation). There's a certain amount of complacency that I took away from this article which I think is needless. Just as authors and readers have to continually ensure that all books are available, so, too, it falls to publishers and consumers to ensure all video-games are available.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 6th January 2014 10:18pm

3Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Aleksi Ranta Category Management Project Manager 4 years ago
No normal private person in any part of the world needs to be able to carry a gun. The whole premise is from the middle ages.
23Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Sasha Yelesin Student 4 years ago
I don't think the game violence debate is over as a result of the prevalence of mainstream games like Gone Home or Journey (i.e. games that are closer to someone reading you a book) in an industry full of games that feature lots of interaction between virtual victims and their perpetrators, like in GTA or CoD. Instead, I think people have just gotten it in their heads that if you buy a 6 year old, like, a dirt bike, and they don't understand how to use it or the responsibility it carries, than it's not the dirtbike's fault.

I thought the articles was still good, though. I think people are taking the wrong ideas from the author. He's saying that our government isn't scapegoating video games anymore, and that, yeah, maybe guns and mental health have something to do with shootings and it's a hell of a lot more complicated than a persons choice in entertainment.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Tanya Rei Myoko Programmer 4 years ago
Yes the NRA is evil, they stopped laws that could have prevented tragedies like this and instead blame videogames which have nothing to do with it. And given the topic is videogames have nothing to do with these tragedies the comment about NRA is perfectly relevant
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Morgan King Animator 4 years ago
I'm not interested in clogging this site's comments section with non-videogame industry content - if you want to actually discuss this, I'd love to dig into it - write me at donkeycity at everybody's favorite gmail dot com. Please write if you are actually interested in delving into that - I'm always down for a long-form political discussion. If my prior comments seem nonsensical, though, I'm not sure I can make them any clearer - that's the long and short of what I'm getting at. The NRA trivializes gun rights to fill their masters' coffers and gives no care to the ideological or political repercussions of that which they evoke.
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Maged Hamdy Studying Computer Science, Rochester Institute of Technology4 years ago
If you can't see why the game industry is sexist, then you should quit your job as a journalist immediately as you clearly have no sense of the world. At a gamestop there was a divider at the DS games for "boy games" and "girl games." A very vast majority of games have male protagonists, I can't even name you a game outside of Beyond Two Souls that's triple A, sold well, and doesn't have a male protagonist (before you say "The Last of Us" that still had a male protagonist as well as a female one, but you played as the male.)
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
David Canela Game & Audio Designer 4 years ago
I really don't see how the existence of non-violent games ends any debate about violent video games.

As for the gun thing: there's great points in this article if you're able to look past the clickbait title, e.g. the suicide issue and how it's all about selling a fantasy:
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 4 years ago
The violent game debate will not be over until Congress and cable news are packed with active gamers

Then, like Comic books! Rock n Roll, Jazz, pulp novels, and whatever came before that ad nauseum, a new scapegoat for the downfall of society will be found
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
Then, like Comic books! Rock n Roll, Jazz, pulp novels, and whatever came before that ad nauseum, a new scapegoat for the downfall of society will be found
Considering the recent spate of pinball games just released on Steam, I'm gonna say that it goes back around to Pinball being evil. :p
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Sandy Lobban Founder, Noise Me Up4 years ago
@ Aleksi Ranta. In full agreement. However, coming from Europe that's easy to say.

I'm sure it varies from state to state, but when compared to Europe, I would say the US is generally a more self serving type of society. Therefore it's no surprise that the self preservation and protection mindset exists. Statistically I believe you are more likely to get shot if you own a gun, or you are around some one who owns one though. Even so, that wont fix the fear that people feel, and the percieved threats that they believe surround them.

If I was to go and live there, which I can, then I couldn't guarantee that I wouldn't buy into the idea of protecting my family in that way. Although it goes against the greater good, it may make sense if you felt threatened in some way, and given the current state of affairs it would probably just take one small thing to happen for you to buy into the self preservation idea of owning a gun.

It will have to happen at some point down the line, but it's a shame a lot more kids will have to die before the weapons clean up starts.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Sandy Lobban on 7th January 2014 12:42pm

3Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 4 years ago
@Morville: Ha and ha ha. In truth, Pinball WAS "illegal" for DECADES in spots here in the US including New York:

I can even recall in 1972 playing my first ever pinball machine ("Batter-Up") and at one point being chased off by the pizza shop owner who didn't want to get in trouble for letting a kid play! I don't even think that law was enforced at all, because I clearly recall arcades and even some candy stores had pinball machines in them and no one was getting pinched by the fuzz back then for stepping up with a quarter or four...
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
Ah, haha. :D Damn... The rise of Pinball is actually one of the reasons I wish I'd be born in the US during the 60s/70s (that and the rise of skateboarding). I've got that link bookmarked for reading later. :)
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
John Donnelly Quality Assurance 4 years ago
I will start off and say that in my opinion there is zero need for anyone outside of a farm/rural environment to own a gun

I grew up in a place where the military patrolled the streets and the average police office is as armed up as most US SWAT teams and still have to deal with the legacy of the past on an almost daily basis so for me a gun is not a sing of peace or protection but one of violence and destruction.

The NRA are another lobby group and it has it own agenda that may not fully reflect the views and opinions of its entire membership.
It has it own self interest and will try and water down any attempt to make it harder to own a gun even if the idea is to make everything safer for everyone in the long run.

Now that being said I think the majority of commentators have focused on a small part of the whole article.
The whole "games causes violence" argument is over overdone and its finally good to see that people are realizing that this is not true, its no more true than rock&roll caused the destruction of youth or that raves needed to be banned to protect the population.
There has always been a destructive force for people to target, be it music, books, movies, games, opinions.
We need to look past this and be ready to defend the industry against those who are looking for an agenda to gain points in the ongoing fights that happen in politics be it by the politicians or the lobby groups trying to force an agenda or opinion.

Its good to see different styles of games coming out and raising awareness of what interactive entertainment can really do in the right hands.
We need to focus on that and not on the headline grabbing articles that pop up from the media, ill-informed politicians or taking heads.
3Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Christopher Ingram Editor-at-Large, Digitally Downloaded4 years ago
Intriguing article. In fact, one that I agree with on many points as well.

"The violent game debate is over."

I initially took this title as a fact, but then quickly realised that this was an op-ed. The writer is entitled to his point-of-view, which I respect in full, but it isn't a sentiment that I can reason with. The reason for this is found in the very substance of this piece and it's something that I, in truth, find fundamentally flawed.

When violence erupts in adolescents in America, this is when the lawmakers typically start to point fingers at the gaming industry, especially when there are guns involved. These lawmakers (by the majority) are not gamers, not affiliated with the gaming industry and do not keep up with the game releases - these people would have these emotional indie games fly completely under their radar. Also, while these games - Minority Media's Papo and You should absolutely be featured in this article - do indeed show the maturity of the industry first-hand, they still are not the 'face' of the industry. The most prominent games, some of which are printed in this piece, are filled with violence, just like the vast majority of the games that fuel the industry's revenue streams. Unless this changes, lawmakers will continue to blame the gaming industry for extreme adolescence violence.
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Steve Wetz Reviewer/Assistant Editor, Gamer's Glance4 years ago
I'm flabbergasted by the amount of commentors which believe that more gun laws would have prevented tragedies like Sandy Hook and Columbine - both examples of the very common element of these shootings, which is that the shooter obtained their guns ILLEGALLY. Usually through theft.

Tell me, if criminals and psychopaths don't respect the law when they massacre innocents, how exactly does MORE LAW help this situation? You're surely not supposing that somehow restricting guns from legal law-abiding owners somehow leaves them more protected against those who are obtaining guns illegally. Because, you know, that doesn't make any sense at all.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Gregory Hommel writer 4 years ago
If ignorance is bliss then you must be one happy camper. The NRA blocked laws that could have prevented these tragedies huh? Because we all know that criminals don't want to break any laws do they? Hey, didn't all the recent mass shooters ignore many different laws to perpetrate their crimes? Oh I see. You meant the kind of laws that stop law abiding citizens from freely owning firearms right. I'm confused. Perhaps you could cite one of these laws blocked by the evil NRA.

@ Jim Huntley; Your response was classy, well thought out and highly objective which I appreciate, but, you mentioned the key issue quickly, almost ignoring it. "Every time there is talk of banning an assault weapon or class of gun." The difference in the two sides is one has the power to impose a ban on legally acquired weapons. The other only has capital and awareness to fight it. One vote can secure a win for opponents and the only recourse for proponents is to fight viciously every single time. If the NRA seems bloated and infiltrated by other interested parties, it is only because it is necessary to push back against all those misguided, misinformed good intentions.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 4 years ago

Read this instead, Morville. Yeah, it's a stupid list instead of a proper long piece (how I miss the days of actual articles instead of "reasons to" lists!), but it's more informative...

Also for some insane reason I recall seeing MORE skateboards and roller skates in the 70's than I do now with today's boards and blades. Maybe I'm nuts, but on my block pretty much every kid had something with wheels underneath that wasn't a bike and now, it seems like it's more adults than kids. Eh.. just gettin' old is all... eyesight... zzzzzzz.
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 4 years ago
Simple solution no one will like to the gun debate in America:

Mental test for CURRENT and would be gun owners. Not an "I'll tell you about my mother..." test, though. Something complete and thorough and non-partisan, of course. Political views are all shit when it comes to who's a nut anyway because "nuts" has no party affiliation .

You pass, you get to buy and keep as many weapons as you feel you need (not including actual collectors who should have their stuff insured, listed and perhaps digitally labeled in case of theft which seems rare unless it's one collector stealing from another).

You fail, but sorry, you're now a known threat on a sliding scale from definitely paranoid and unbalanced to "how the hell did he or she pass a background check?" and basically need to have your toys taken away until you earn the right to get them back. Hell, if people get fired or can't get certain jobs by failing a mandatory drug test or can't get a driver's license because they keep failing the road test, or other things that require simple testing for competence... shit, they certainly don't NEED to have a firearm handy.

As I see it hunters and sportsmen and potential Olympic target shooters get an automatic pass (but should still be tested anyway just to keep it even). Now of course, how you gets guns from a crazy person I have no idea, but you'll never solve a problem like that if you don't try.

That and according to an ex-cop I know, at gun buybacks like they have in some urban cities, they'll often get a few firearms from someone (or a few people) who were a bit... off who are now on meds or in therapy. They simply decide they don't need that gun they picked up for $100 in a bar somewhere or a bit more from an illegal street sale. The only reason he knew they had some sort of condition is because some who get better after seeking help automatically volunteer that info despite buybacks being completely anonymous when it comes to why or when that gun was acquired.

Confession is good for the soul, I guess...

I mentioned this idea years back a a party and both NRA supporters AND civil liberties fans went ballistic on me. Which would mean to me that yes, it would work to some extent provided human nature didn't kick in and people decided to go back to their usual ways of putting profit and politics over human beings. Just because you can own a gun here doesn't mean you SHOULD own one. I know people with them and people without them and they're all sane (as far as I know) and disagree on some points, but they all think that there are just to many guns floating around that no one knows what to do about. ..
4Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
David Serrano Freelancer 4 years ago
The main problem with politicians and mainstream media outlets exclusively focusing on non sequiturs about direct links between violent video games and real life violent behavior is their (for lack of a better word) ignorance facilitates complacency within the industry. Complacency towards addressing and answering the valid questions and concerns about how specific design practices or paradigms in specific types of games can positively or negatively impact the abstract reasoning and problem-solving skills of different groups of players.

So while the violent game debate may be over, the industry's trade organizations and groups should not attempt to conflate this into a generalization by claiming all of the valid questions about video games and the impact they may have on behavior and abstract reasoning have been definitely answered. Because they have not. The truth is all of the existing research to date has barely scratched the surface. And regardless of any external pressure, the industry should collectively want to answer those questions because there's simply no downside to doing so.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Morgan King Animator 4 years ago
Laws exist to designate criminality - by definition, 'criminals' haven't followed a law. To suggest that all criminal (as if that were a class of person) actions exist despite laws and, therefore, laws are useless, is to both misunderstand and invalidate the very concept of law, as neither of those terms have meaning without each other. It's a popular argument, but it's a poorly reasoned one. A law-abiding citizen is law-abiding until he isn't, just as a criminal isn't a criminal until he is - laws affect both of them equally by designating the line between them and defining what both of those terms mean relative to the policy in discussion.
3Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 4 years ago
Careful, Morgan. Raising the intelligence of an argument/debate/fact vs fiction-off to common sense is in of itself a crime in some circles ...
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Sandy Lobban Founder, Noise Me Up4 years ago
If you apply some game theory (The prisoners dilemma) to the US gun debate then you can see why the whole thing is a complete mess, and why you ultimately need strong restrictions on guns in society.

Basically, no one "co-operates" or trusts anyone else enough not to have a gun, so they "defect" and get a gun, and everyone recieves a sentence (the culture of fear)'s_dilemma

Worth a read anyway, its interesting stuff for game developers :)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Sandy Lobban on 9th January 2014 11:26am

1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Jim Huntley4 years ago
Hi Brendan,

I don't disagree with your assertions about how games have evolved in terms of handling player motivation, conflict, reward systems, and progression, but the fact that the article is all about these innovative games but shoehorns in a broad "Video Game Violence Debate is Over" headline still seems misleading. It's as if someone wrote an article about strong female protagonists in games with a headline that read, "Misogyny in Video Games is Over." It's not over, these are just a few examples that buck the trend. The actual debate against video game violence is far from over, it's just faded (as it tends to do) until another instance of mindless violence occurs, committed by a consumer in our industry. Then gun owners will whip out the gaming industry as chaff. It'd be nice if there was never another one but...sigh....
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Jim Huntley4 years ago
Hi Steve,

Appreciate your POV. I'm a skeptic too, so trust me when I say, don't just take my word for it:

NRA is co-opted by gun manufacturers:

And manufacturers dont care about illegal arms as long as they make a sale:

Ergo, the NRA (essentially owned by the gun Industry) benefits from sales loopholes currently in existence.

Also, as an aside, nowhere on the official NRA website or charter, does it clearly state it's focused on legal gun ownership; they don't care where you get yours from, they only care if someone's trying to takei it away. The only time their focus on "legally owned" comes into play is when there's a shooting that leads to talk of gun control.

As for where guns come from, your perspective is shared by many. Unfortunately, the ATF has confirmed it's inaccurate:

Actually, your comment about the console cycle is PERFECT in that it totally proves what I'm saying: during the 360/PS3 era, hardware manufacturers were seeing year over year flat-to-shrinking markets. Their solution: new hardware cycle! The difference is that gamers actually NEED the new hardware if they're also going to play modern games; if I want to play "Watchdogs," I'm going to have to drop five-hunndy to do it (plus $60 for the game).

If the game industry was like the gun industry, we would have one console forever. It might come in different sizes and maybe colors and maybe be able to stack multiple disks into the unit simultaneously, but it would play the same games of the same graphical fidelity forever. The gun industry would need to come out with an amazing (fictional) .60 caliber bullet that had double the stopping power of a .38 (or whatever), driving people to upgrade to get access to this amazing bullet...which they don't. Well, can't, really, for technological and market force reasons (there's a point where a bigger gun is too unwieldy to be useful for the average consumer). So, like consoles, sales go flat unless the industry decides to drive a new must-have technology. Unfortunately in the world of guns, that "console cycle" hasn't changed enough to drive large chunks of their consumers to need to upgrade every xx years. Put simply, if I have a .45 for home protection and recreational shooting, they haven't changed enough in the last 20 years where I need a new one. And if I've taken care of it, it can easily last longer. Which means I need to be made afraid so I can be driven to buy more "for protection."

Finally, knives are weapons of single use, and some ARE outlawed at the state level (switchblades, some butterly knives, brass knuckle/knife combos, etc.), usually the ones that are clearly designed for stealth combat (stealth is not a necessity when using a knife for self defense). Moreover, if I have a full clip in a semi, I have 15 lives I can quickly take in a crowded area, where a knife gives people a chance to subdue or flee (even throwing, which trust me is much, MUCH harder than it looks). Put another way, if someone pulls a gun in a crowded mall, I'm hauling ass; if he pulls a knife, if I have distance, I'd see if there was a way to stop him from hurting anyone.

And with that, feel free to have the last word if you're so inclined. I'm done with this thread to avoid being this guy:
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Jim Huntley4 years ago
Hi Gregory,

Thank you; your points are valid as well.

As objective as I try to be, I'll confess to having a deep mistrust about anything that's "for the public good" by any corporate entity. The NRA may staunchly defend gun rights but they do it for cynical, selfish, profit-driven reasons. The link I posted earlier about how their rank and file members SUPPORT background checks but they officially fought tooth and nail against them. One must ask, "why" and the resulting answer is "money talks."

I wish there was another organization that was pro-gun rights but not co-opted by the industry; I could get behind them. There likely are, but just not funded to the degree of the NRA.

It will be the very DEFINITION of fascinating when 3D printers allow for the manufacture of firearms in one's own home; while the NRA rank and file will likely embrace the technology, I think the lobby itself itself will be the first ones to want to ban it, lol.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
NRA isnt evil huh, what do you call holding a rally in a town the day after a young boy shot a young girl in a primary school, I call that EVIL, the last thing that town and the people in it and the parent's needed was a GUN Rally the day after a shooting, they put their own personal interests ahead of any idea of morality, any ideas of common decency, sympathy and frankly good taste, that is evil.

I will say I'm not against the concept of gun ownership, I'm english, so it's a bout as far from a right as you can get here, but I have no problem with the concept, but way you people go about it is morally abhorrent, anyone who thinks the above is acceptable in any way shape or form and then brandished a piece of old paper written by a bunch of representives of mostly slave owning plantation owners, who didnt like being taxed to justify it could pole vault under a water snake's bottom side in the Marianas trench with plenty of clearance.

The nra mostly represents commercial interests as shown by behaviour such as the above, you can defend your freedom's without resorting to such behaviour, infact every time theres a mass shooting, the nra descend like locusts, in a country with a persistent self-belief of superior moral fibre, you surely should be worried but such decisions, theres nothing wrong with wanting to own a gun, nothing wrong for campaigning to keep your right to do so, but as an organisation the NRA has proven itself beyond reasonable doubt to ignore morality at the expense of its own interests, such a view is a slippery slope, which it slivered all the way down long ago, find another organisation with a bit more moral fibre, to be a part of to represent gun's.

As for games the murder rate in the middle ages, was 45 / 100,000, which has been reduced well it was 0.5/ 100,000 in the 50's but has since risen to around the 1 mark in many places, that still means you were at least 45 times more likely to be murdered in the days before video games then times with video games, which is more than sufficient a statistic to make the idea of video games being a serious contributing factor to murder laughable, and as for your theortical puppy murderer the reason why he'd have done it was he was nut's, if he played candy crush saga he would have just left candy in their mouth's or something in stead of spray painting, people like that dont need a reason, that's what being nuts is.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alexander McConnell on 28th May 2014 3:49pm

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply

Sign in to contribute

Need an account? Register now.