Videogames & Violence Go Together Like Cigarettes & Lung Cancer

March 1, 2010 -

An Australian TV report on violent games and their impact on the country’s youth uses a quote from a psychologist to claim that the link between violent videogames and youth crime is greater than the connection between smoking and lung cancer.

The Ten News report details recent violent crimes—the slashing of a “young customers” throat at a Kings Cross, Sydney chicken shack and a bouncer who had his face slashed in Melbourne in one “of a string of weapon attacks,” and then attempts to link a perceived rise in violence to games, stating  that, “Psychologist say the explosion in youth crime is inextricably linked to violent videogames and other media.

Next to appear, Dr. Wayne Warburton from the Council on Children and the Media, who apparently came up with the lung cancer comparison, as he stated, “It’s much greater that the effect of smoking and lung cancer. There’s a study showing that the average child sees in a childhood, 16,000 murders and 200,000 act of violence."

The Council is calling for an information packet to be mailed to every household in Australia.

Reporter Matt Doran then cites  unknown “experts” as saying that the game industry has much to account for, then attempts to lay some of the blame on “Modern Warfare: Call of Duty 2,” a title in which “gamers plot terror attacks against civilians.”

Wrapping up, Doran quotes “psychologists” as saying that “regular exposure to games like these actually rewires a child’s brain, making them more amenable to violence.” He then alludes to a conference on youth violence taking place in Sydney “later this month,” which will feature “the world’s leading researchers.” He added, “Tougher classifications for violent media will be top of the agenda.”

The Council on Children and Media has a section on its website dealing with the R18 Discussion Paper, which it claims came about as “a relentless push by gamers and the industry.” They are against the addition of an R18+ rating category for games and run down their opposition here.

Among their points:

The gaming industry and gamers make much of the supposedly maturing and gender-balanced population who play video games. So what? One can say the same thing about many populations, such as car drivers and alcohol users, without this being an argument for, in effect, making drinking or car driving more easily available to minors.

 
Thanks Graham and Jamie!


Comments

Re: Videogames & Violence Go Together Like Cigarettes & ...

The Ten News report details recent violent crimes—the slashing of a “young customers” throat at a Kings Cross, Sydney chicken shack and a bouncer who had his face slashed in Melbourne in one “of a string of weapon attacks,” and then attempts to link a perceived rise in violence to games, stating  that, “Psychologist say the explosion in youth crime is inextricably linked to violent videogames and other media.

Really?! B/c I would really like to see that link between teens & video games related to violence. I would like to see the study on every child or do tests on them.

Next to appear, Dr. Wayne Warburton from the Council on Children and the Media, who apparently came up with the lung cancer comparison, as he stated, “It’s much greater that the effect of smoking and lung cancer. There’s a study showing that the average child sees in a childhood, 16,000 murders and 200,000 act of violence."

Ok.....are you talking about children all over the world or just in certian parts of the world where kids are exposed to radio, TV, & internet for their daily viewing of murders and violence? B/c right now & when I was younger I wouldn't have that problem being exposed to murders on TV mainly. I knew what it was, but now that I am older & a little bit past my teens, I don't watch TV much at all. I still play tons of games & I am not violent nor do I have a violent personality.

Reporter Matt Doran then cites  unknown “experts” as saying that the game industry has much to account for, then attempts to lay some of the blame on “Modern Warfare: Call of Duty 2,” a title in which “gamers plot terror attacks against civilians.”

The link between violent videogames and youth crime is greater than the connection between smoking and lung cancer.

Where I'm from, in my state, video games are not killers, drunk driving is for young teens and adults. Smoking and second hand smoking is a killer just as much as alcohol. Video games cannot be used inside of your body but you can still have the images from the game. That is just memory. How about you actually come up w/a legitamate study on lung cancer and video games b/c you failed at convincing me.

Idk if anyone else caught this, but isn't it supposed to say "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.? This proves my point this guy has no clue what he is talking about.

 

"It's better to be hated for who you are, then be loved for who you are not." - Montgomery Gentry

"It's better to be hated for who you are, then be loved for who you are not." - Montgomery Gentry

Re: Videogames & Violence Go Together Like Cigarettes & ...

If violent video games is worse than cancer then how come I'm writing this comment and not in jail on charges of murder and/or assault?

-- Randi Tastix

Re: Videogames & Violence Go Together Like Cigarettes & ...

I think he may be right, I already want to perpatrate violence against this guy and his group.

Re: Videogames & Violence Go Together Like Cigarettes & ...

"One can say the same thing about many populations, such as car drivers and alcohol users, without this being an argument for, in effect, making drinking or car driving more easily available to minors."

To extend this analogy to its logical conclusion, you asshats are arguing that adults should not be allowed to drive cars or drink, for fear that some children might also do it.

Ouch.  I wonder what it feels like to be pwned so hard by your own argument...

Re: Videogames & Violence Go Together Like Cigarettes & ...

Modern Warfare: Call of Duty 2 does incite violence! I went and smashed in the faces of some "psychology" "experts" after it re-wired my brain. I guess I am one of those vulnerable adults. I thought women liked vulnerability in men. 

Re: Videogames & Violence Go Together Like Cigarettes & ...

Oh yeah, cause THIS hasn't been claimed before. It failed all other times, so why do they keep trying?

We all know I'm a damn dirty murderer because I play video games! Watch out, or I might stab ya! Idiots.

-- Randi Tastix

Re: Videogames & Violence Go Together Like Cigarettes & ...

"One can say the same thing about many populations, such as car drivers and alcohol users, without this being an argument for, in effect, making drinking or car driving more easily available to minors."

Neither of those things are banned from everyone the way violent video games are, and if they were suddenly banned from adults there would also be efforts to reverse the ban.

Besides having things classified as 18+ vs. 15+ would make it less available to minors since the ratings have the force of law in Australia.

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Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it's over they have the same positions they started in.

---------------------------------------------------- Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it's over they have the same positions they started in.

Re: Videogames & Violence Go Together Like Cigarettes & ...

And so the pile of 'stupid' just gets bigger and bigger.

Re: Videogames & Violence Go Together Like Cigarettes & ...

I'm guessing when he says a child sees 16,000 murders, he's talking about killing characters in video games (either that or Australia has some serious problems!).  I have two points to make in response to this:

1) I doubt he's stopping to make the connection between killing and murder.  In Mass Effect I killed a lot of people, but I only murdered one.  Admittedly in games like Grand Theft Auto or the Legacy of Kain series, there's a lot more murder, but in most games, you only attack enemies who will kill you if given half a chance.

2) So what?  This is a common tactic.  Stating how much death a child sees in video games is just a way of dodging the question of whether virtual death actually has an effect on children.  It's like if I claimed rain was bad for Irish children, and when asked why, I just pointed out that it rains a lot there.

Re: Videogames & Violence Go Together Like Cigarettes & ...

Hack Thompson tried more or less this exact same argument before. Nobody bought it then either.

Not to mention they, likely intentionally, got information wrong about the one game they mentioned.

If I remember right, in Modern Warfare 2 the ONE level where you shoot at civilians is when your character is trying to maintain cover as a terrorist, and it's skippable, as in you don't have to do it, it even warns you before it starts and asks if you'd like ot skip it, but of course that fact isn't convenient enough, so it's swept under the rug.

I wouldn't be surprised if they appeared again and right after they had a voice quickyl saying "Paid for bythe office of Michael Atkinson"

Re: Videogames & "Violence" Go Together Like Cigarettes & ...

If wishes and dreams were like candy and nuts......

The song "Dirty Laundry" by Don Henley fits this pile of bullshit from an Australian tabloid trash reporter and an Australian version of the Parents Trash Cult.

Geaux Saints, Geaux Tigers, Geaux Hornets, Jack Thompson can geaux chase a chupacabra. Hell will stay frozen over for quite a while since the Saints won the Super Bowl.

Geaux Saints, Geaux Tigers, Geaux Pelicans. Solidarity for the Saints = No retreat, no surrender. 2013 = Saints' revenge on the NFL. Even through the darkest days, this fire burns always.

Re: Videogames & Violence Go Together Like Cigarettes & ...

"Reporter Matt Doran then cites  unknown “experts” as saying that the game industry has much to account for, then attempts to lay some of the blame on “Modern Warfare: Call of Duty 2,” a title in which “gamers plot terror attacks against civilians.”"
 

Wow, just this part alone ticks me off. First, their "experts" are unknown. Big surprise. Then they blame a popular game in some rather sad attempt to garner crediblity, while they have actually unwittingly shown their ignorance, by stating factual errors about the game.

 

"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." -Albert Einstein

Re: Videogames & Violence Go Together Like Cigarettes & ...

"The gaming industry and gamers make much of the supposedly maturing and gender-balanced population who play video games. So what? One can say the same thing about many populations, such as car drivers and alcohol users, without this being an argument for, in effect, making drinking or car driving more easily available to minors."

Yeah, but the answer to alcohol abuse is not to ban ADULTS from doing these things - that is what the refusal to rate certain games in Australia does. Banning adults from partaking of certain types of alcohol was tried in the 1920s in the US - it didn't work. Nor would it be a good idea to ban adults from buying cars simply because cars cause accidents.

Adults are not children (except, it seems, in Australia).

Re: Videogames & Violence Go Together Like Cigarettes & ...

I agree with Darksaber - let's try to avoid the usual cut-and-paste quotes we always see in the comments of such posts.

However, I hope everyone is taking the time to actually visit their website as GP mentioned:
http://www.youngmedia.org.au/mediachildren/05_12_R18+_games.htm

Shortly down the page is a list of their counter-arguments for the introduction of R18 games. Each has a whole sentence dedicated to it, sometimes two!

Seriously: what do you guys think? Personally, there are plenty of fallacies in there and I can't help but imagine that it's some fretting midwife who wrote it.

At a glance, let's take a look (And I'm only giving short answers for lack of time at work - I'd expect more detail and information at an actual website!):

1. The point is that a large amount of Aussie gamers are not kids and are well over the age of 18. Those adults can't choose whether to get 18-rated content, the Aus government is removing that choice. Unlike movies...

2. "The link between the consumption of media violence and violent behaviour is twice as strong as the link between passive smoking and lung disease " - bullshit. Simple as that.

3. Either way, let's get a proper, unbiased, comprehensive survey done in Australia to find out.

4. It's resulting in content being cut out solely for Australia. An R18 would certainly help to alleviate that.

5. Define 'violent'. See surveys done in America that showed the vast majority (90%+ was it?) of retail stores doing checks prevented younger children from purchasing games of inappropriate content based on age ratings.

6. No comment.

7. The enthusiasm with which some gamers describe extremely violent games ("good harmless fun") suggests researchers who maintain that such games have a desensitising effect are right.
What? Or maybe they DO know that it's harmless. Maybe it's because gamers aren't psychotic monsters currently maiming people in the streets RIGHT NOW - as there are plenty who have played violent videogames for years.

8. Awesome, they want censorship for anything they imagine to be anti-social. There's plenty more in other mediums, so I hope they get to work in music, comics, movies, books and all.

Meanwhile, the industry is expanding in the world, but titles being limited in certain countries does not help it. Speak to the publishers and developers (Such as Valve with Left 4 Dead 2 and Rebellion with Aliens Versus Predator) who have had to go to various lengths to modify their game in order that it can be released in Australia. Such will likely have ripples throughout the industry and may avoid the establishment of studios in Australia and the like.

9. Yet Aus clearly has many cultural similarities to other developed nations. It is also apparently identical in its treatment of ALL other media - e.g. 18 rated horror movies (correct me if I'm wrong). This is clearly biased picking and choosing, or however you want to call it.

That's my take anyway.

Re: Videogames & Violence Go Together Like Cigarettes & ...

This is something that Michael Atkinson will like to use as "evidence" to back his nonsense.

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Re: Videogames & Violence Go Together Like Cigarettes & ...

Same old dogma masquerading as science.

Re: Videogames & Violence Go Together Like Cigarettes & ...

Actually there is some truth to the claim. Most people who smoke will never get lung cancer and most people who play games will never commit a violent act. The few who do develope a problem, in either case, are obviously just predisposed to such.

Re: Videogames & Violence Go Together Like Cigarettes & ...

That's not technically true.  Smoking increases lung cancer risk 23x compared to non-smokers.  Lung cancer is very, very rare in non-smokers, but quite common in smokers.  The misleading element of this discussion is that those smokers who don't die from lung cancer, in most, cases die from other medical conditions brought on or exaccerbated by smoking...emphasema (spelling?), heart disease, worsening of diabetes, stroke, etc. 

Whereas nothing comperable is true in the case of video games.  Violence is quite common in non-gamers and there's little evidence to suggest it's more common in gamers (certainly not 23x so!).  It's really a misleading comparison of apples to oranges.

 

Re: Videogames & Violence Go Together Like Cigarettes & ...

I think the point was tha as with smoking, a violent person just quitting gaming all together won't suddenly make them a pacifist.

Re: Videogames & Violence Go Together Like Cigarettes & ...

Their entire argument is basically that "Australian parents can't raise their kids properly."

------- Morality has always been in decline. As you get older, you notice it. When you were younger, you enjoyed it.

Re: Videogames & Violence Go Together Like Cigarettes & ...

The statistics behind this "cigarettes/lung cancer" claim have long since been refuted, yet like a bad penny this particular "urban legend" keeps resurfacing.

Basically what happened was that some researchers (like Anderson and Bushman in 2001) miscalculated the medical effect sizes for smoking and lung cancer and made them look really really small...just as small as for media effects.  Since then other researchers have pointed out that these statistics are deeply flawed see:

Ferguson, C. J. (2009). Is psychological research really as good as medical research? Effect size comparisons between psychology and medicine. Review of General Psychology, 13(2), 130-136.

Block, J., & Crain, B. (2007). Omissions and errors in ‘Media violence and the American public.’ American Psychologist, 62, 252-253.

So as is typical "junk science strikes again" but because it makes such a good sound-byte it will probably take decades for this particular urban legend to go away.

Re: Videogames & Violence Go Together Like Cigarettes & ...

If your sourcing "unknown" “experts” then this comparions failed before it was even typed it.

http://www.magicinkgaming.com/

Re: Videogames & Violence Go Together Like Cigarettes & ...

In before the usual cut + paste replies we've seen so many times before to this sort of thing.

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I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

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