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Morality in Game Design


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#41 m1dn1ght   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 03 May 2000 - 10:49 PM

Thought those that didn''t know might be interested as Columbine was mentioned here. I recently saw a report on the news stating that both shooters were on prescription psychoactive drugs which had aggressive and violent behavior as a side-effect.
Frankly I''m tired of the entire fingerpointing at various indutries. If you look at it, I bet back then when one caveman clubbed another with a bone, what was that from? Cave paintings? How about every other massacre documented and undocumented in our world''s history?
Only difference is now we have a media to help us point a finger. And it leads all of us down that path too, including me. For example, take Columbine again, how many different reasons have we cycled thru? Movies, Games, Neo-Nazi propoganda, the Media, now prescription drugs. All were mentioned. Who knew their real reasons? Nobody but themselves really.


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#42 GEo   Members   -  Reputation: 144

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Posted 04 May 2000 - 12:00 AM

Hiya,

I''ve only read about half the posts on this thread, so sorry if someones already said this. Also, this might be unusually deep for me, and I''m trying to express my opinion using only words that I can spell correctly, so it might not be too clear, sorry about that

I reckon at the moment computer games aren''t going to make someone go out and kill people.
I think there is a definite line between driving too fast because you''ve been playing racing games, and killing people because you''ve been playing FPS games. The driving thing is an impulse, you do it accendently because that line between reality and fiction becomes blurred for a few moments. But it is usually just a few moments, you don''t go around driving recklessly all the time, or if you do, it probably has more to do with your personality than the fact that you''ve been playing computer games.

Also, going out and shooting people requires you to own a firearm, and I imagine acquiring a gun is not that easy (even in the US ), it requires at least a few moments planning, so it isn''t an impulse in the same way as the driving thing discussed earlier.

In summary: To go out and kill people requires time and planning, it is not an impulse. I don''t think computer games (or films, books or whatever) could push someone to act in this way, unless they are likely to anyway, in which case we have another problem that would probably not be solved by removing violent games & films.

The obvious exception to this would be young children, and so censorship is very important in both games and films (IMHO). Although that rape scene is OK in the game sun&shadow is developing, since it is important in the plot, the game would have to be age-restricted, it''s probably not the kind of thing you want young children watching. As someone else said, having a game where you go around raping people would be totally unacceptable, because it''s just sick, and the only people who would play it would also be pretty sick.

I''m not a psychologist (bad spelling?) or anything, this is just my opinion, please feel free to disagree (I''m sure at least some of you will )

One other point, if you have a game that involves real-life politics or event, maybe you could have the option to play either side. Using the wolfenstein example (which is actually a pretty flawed example, but I can''t think of a better one): you could play the allied soldier, or a nazi, depending on your political stance.

In My Humble Opinion:
I think banning hand-guns in the UK was spot on, but Americans are having hastle with altering their gun restriction laws because for so many Americans, owning a gun is pert of their lifestyle. Also, where-as very few people in the UK used to own a gun for personal protection (that''s always been illegal I think), in America people do feel so unsafe that they need a gun to protect their home.

Just out of interest:
Alot of people who have posted on this thread are actually from the UK I notice, but for those who arn''t, there was a court case recently about this farmer guy who shot & killed a teenager who was breaking into his house. Although he claims he did not intend to kill the boy, he is still being charged for murder (I believe). In my opinion, it shouldn''t be illegal to defend yourself or your property, but murder is murder, regardless of the motivation. I still feel sorry for the guy though.

George.

"Who says computer games affect kids, imagine if PacMan affected us as kids, we'd all sit around in a darkened room munching pills and listening to repetitive music....uh oh!"



#43 Kylotan   Moderators   -  Reputation: 3338

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Posted 04 May 2000 - 12:30 AM

quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster

>quote:
>----------------------------------------------------------->--------------------
>I put it to you that eliminating all violence in computer >games will not stop school or any other form of actual >violence.
>----------------------------------------------------------->--------------------
>
>
>I agree that it will not stop it. I put it to you that it >would reduce it.

I disagree. Football (American), Soccer, and even worse Rugby have a worse effect. If you were to say we should limit violent games because they give people adrenaline rushes, why don''t we stop playing Football because they also do too? Why not stop firefighters because they may get an adrenaline rush that may make them kill someone? My point is, that if you cannot see the difference between right and wrong, fantasy and reality, murder and well... not-murder (couldn''t think of a word), then you have more problems than playing Doom, you would need serious help, or a re-programming (no pun intended)


Sure, that person needs help. But it''s no good saying "that person needs help" or "that person is messed up" and sitting back waiting for someone else to change something, or even worse, expecting them to sort themselves out. (One common part of the definition of psychotic is that the person cannot appreciate their own psychosis.) Again, people ignore how such a person may get to that state in the first place. It may be that desensitisation through some sort of violent activity accelerates this process.

Whether self (or mandated) censorship is considered acceptable in the name of saving lives is a matter for each individual society to decide. The old liberty vs. security issue. You can''t have 100% of both. But for anyone to shrug their shoulders and say games cannot have an effect, or to say that it''s not their problem, is missing the point in my opinion.

In rugby and US football, the violence is in pursuit of a wider aim, whereas in many games the violence -is- the enjoyment. Therefore you could argue that boundary.

Having said this, rugby players over here are known to be quite violent anyway And also observe the actions of certain groups of supporters who watch sports such as soccer, rugby, etc: people who watch entertainment that is heavily based on violence seem to tend towards exhibiting more violent behaviour themselves. Sure, part of this is down to the mob mentality, but that is not all of it: after all, I don''t hear of riots at the GDC each year.

#44 Facehat   Members   -  Reputation: 696

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Posted 04 May 2000 - 11:56 AM

>>> And also observe the actions of certain groups of supporters who watch sports such as soccer, rugby, etc: people who watch entertainment that is heavily based on violence seem to tend towards exhibiting more violent behaviour themselves. <<<

It''s probably more because of the large quantities of alcohol they consume .

Anyway, IMHO games will not cause (or even encourage) violence in people. I''m also getting a bit sick of self proclaimed experts trumping around telling everyone how computer games are worse then hitler, when they haven''t even played any of them.

That said, though, I think game companies need to take a bit more responsibility for what their putting out. Really, when a company is trying to release something in which the main feature is senseless violence, they should _expect_ a bit of outrage. It''s unfortunate that the entire industry is getting unfairly criticized for a few bad games, but should we really be all that surprised? It really pisses me off when I see a game advertising that "the characters die so realistically!" while the entire industry is under fire from certain pundits (who don''t even have a clue what their talking about).

My point is this: game designers need to realize that what they''re putting out there can hurt the entire industry, not just themselves. So before you start work on your ultra-realistic blood bath, remember that the consequences of your actions may have an effect on many more people than just yourself.

--TheGoop

#45 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 05 May 2000 - 03:31 AM

This has been an interesting thread, and I''ve found all the posts enlightening. I didn''t agree with some, I agreed with others, and what the heck, I may as well as throw in my two pence worth.

This is such a complicated issue, and this is my personal opinion (note: OPINION). If we were to remove all "potentially damaging" content from our environment (be it in Cinema, Magazines, Games, Whatever) we would live in padded rooms in total sensory deprivation. For example: Clowns at the circus. They really freak me out, I can''t stand them. Why, I have no idea, but just because they disturb ME, should we remove Clowns from society? Of course not. I don''t like clowns, I stay away from the circus. WOW! what a sensible idea...

There seems to be this theory that if we didn''t have censorship, the world would slide into total chaos and moral deparivity. Maybe YOUR world would, not mine. And do you have such a low opinion of the rest of the human race? Not all of us are as weak as you...

Ah, but what about the Children? If you want to cloud an argument, bring in the kiddies, why don''t you. *sigh* "We need to protect the children" Here Here! I agree! Kids should not be exposed to violence. Now who''s responsiblity is that? Now we hit the problem...
"If game producers didn''t make these games, there wouldn''t be these problems!" If we didn''t have cars, my best friend would still be alive. I don''t blame the car manufacturer. I don''t blame the Brewery. I blame the s.o.b. who got drunk and drove into the bus stop he was waiting at. You see, the developer of this "violent content" cannot take responsibility for every ****hole in the world. You can take procautions (ratings, warnings etc) but there is a limit to what can be done. Not release the game at all? Well that is a question only you can answer, it is, after all, your MORAL decision. (hehe, well actually it may well be a FINACIAL decision: "This game sux, it''ll never sell!")

I digress...

Personally, I''m sick and tired of someone else telling me what I can''t see or think for my own personal "moral" protection. You think you know better than me? You have all the answers? Well good for you. When we meet up in the next life you can gloat and laugh while I burn in the fires of hell. Or...here''s a thought.Could you be wrong? Nah. Thought not.

Sorry, I''ve rambled completly off message. Basically this argument has raged for centuries. IMHO it''s up to you. Not you, not them, not anybody, can be the world''s moral policeman. If in your heart, you feel you can live with the consequences of your actions, then be free! Just be prepared for the hoards of rampaging psychopaths (AKA "The moral majority") to denouce you as the son of Satan. We are fortunate to leave in a free world, it''s just a shame nobody realises that yet.

One more thing: (sorry)
The MacDonalds Case mentioned previously staggers me. The person concerned bought the coffee, and didn''t realise it was hot? Hmmm. Does this mean that if I buy a fork and stab myself in the eye with it, I can sue the manufacturer of the fork? BE AWARE! There are no warnings on forks about the damage of putting them in your eye! Maybe that''s because its common sense NOT to.
I also hear that Gun manufacturers are being sued by the victims of shootings. This doesn''t work I''m afraid. Guns are available for sale to the public (in the US anyway)Colt et al have no control over who those weapons go to. It is the responsibilty of the Shop owner, who is allowed to sell guns because the government let''s them. If these guns are going to the wrong people (eg Those with children in the house. Wow! we just stopped accidental shootings!) then the gun controls are too lacks, which is the governments fault Sorry, kind of a dream I have...

Anyway. I''ll shut up now. I''ve contradicted myself, left right and centre, but hey, it''s a complicated issue where nobody is right, and everybody is wrong (from someone''s point of view) If I have a point at all it is this: It''s a moral choice which only you can make. If someone disagrees then I suggest they stay away.

#46 Hase   Members   -  Reputation: 313

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Posted 07 May 2000 - 10:52 PM

I think this whole good guys - bad guys thing is more than moderately outdated.

Games are becoming increasingly lifelike, sure, but still the typical game hero is always right and nice and the villains are evil persons who deserved to die anyway.

I think this has to go. Games like Dungeon Keeper put you in just that position. You build your realm and then the "Goodies" come and want to take it all away. Do we hate them for that? YES! Will we torture them to death for that? YES!
But will I go out now and stab my neighbour because he has been using my parking space again? NO.

As long as the audience can handle what they are playing, it´s cool. There is such a thing as age limitations and it think the only way is to enforce them much more strictly.

In Germany there is a big thing about violence in computer games. Titles like WOlfenstein go straight to the "Indexlist", meaning that the title may not be advertised (Displayed in the store, not even mentioned as this could be seen as advertising) and may not be sold to persons under 18.
Is this a sollution? Probably not. THe game manufacturers loose lots and lots of money and those who may play the game can´t get it, because it´s not in the shops.


BUT, and this is the cool thing: The German versions of violent games (like Soldier of Fortune for instance) have "reduced violence", meaning no blood, no gore and no screaming people twitching on the floor. Now it´s kiddy-proof. Shoot - die (hygenic and effortless)

In my opinion this makes the whole thing even more dangerous (if that´s the word to use). YOu make it as life-like as possible, without the unpleasant bits. Talk about dreamworld.
(Quote from one of the kids who triggered the fire alarm and gunned down pupils as they were coming out of the building "We really didn´t think anyone would get hurt")

So i guess my statement is:
IF THE GAMES TOPIC IS ABOUT SOMETHING VIOLENT, THE GRAPHICAL REPRESENTATION SHOULD BE THERE IN FULL EXTENT - JUST DON´T USE VIOLENCE FOR IT`S OWN SAKE.

If someone gets killed, it´s violent and usually bloody and ugly. But show this because someone is dying and not let someone die to show off your new and improved GoreTek™ engine.


anyways, that´s about it
hase


#47 Kylotan   Moderators   -  Reputation: 3338

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Posted 08 May 2000 - 03:37 AM

quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster

There seems to be this theory that if we didn''t have censorship, the world would slide into total chaos and moral deparivity. Maybe YOUR world would, not mine. And do you have such a low opinion of the rest of the human race? Not all of us are as weak as you...


The issue here is not protecting people from the subject matter itself, but from other people who might be ''corrupted'' by the subject matter. I don''t care if someone messes up their own head performing some activity. Others might, but that''s not my point. But if that activity makes or influences them into doing something anti-social (such as blowing someone''s head off), then that is something to be concerned about.

quote:
Ah, but what about the Children? If you want to cloud an argument, bring in the kiddies, why don''t you. *sigh* "We need to protect the children" Here Here! I agree! Kids should not be exposed to violence. Now who''s responsiblity is that? Now we hit the problem...
"If game producers didn''t make these games, there wouldn''t be these problems!" If we didn''t have cars, my best friend would still be alive. I don''t blame the car manufacturer. I don''t blame the Brewery. I blame the s.o.b. who got drunk and drove into the bus stop he was waiting at.


Perhaps if the penalties for selling the wrong games to minors were as high as they can be for drink-driving, this argument would be less important...

Either way, the issue here is dealing psychological damage through a product you produce. And also, to someone who may not know the dangers.

quote:
Personally, I''m sick and tired of someone else telling me what I can''t see or think for my own personal "moral" protection. You think you know better than me? You have all the answers? Well good for you. When we meet up in the next life you can gloat and laugh while I burn in the fires of hell. Or...here''s a thought.Could you be wrong? Nah. Thought not.


I don''t recall anyone trying to censor your choice based on morals as such. I think most people here are against censorship for adults. I don''t hold much respect for so-called ''morals'', but when there is a chance of psychological damage which might possibly lead to someone committing violent acts, it''s something you have to consider.

#48 Landsknecht   Members   -  Reputation: 234

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Posted 12 May 2000 - 11:22 PM

I am going to quote myself from a different thread, please put it in context


quote:

These are games people. They are supposed to help us block out the crap we deal with on a daily basis, not make the 5'Oclock news look like a kiddie show.

Yes, I do think it would be cool if there was a little less hack and slash. But I'll be damned If I want it GONE. Yes, blowing off a lower leg can be fun. BECAUSE I WOULD NEVER DO IT IN REAL LIFE!!!!! I also am not suicidal, but I have jumped characters off ledges just to see if there was anything down there. The surrealism of game is what makes us play it.

Hell, one of the oldest board games in existence is nothing but hack and slash (CHESS). It is in the human nature to be violent. It is also in human nature to control our nature (Go figure.). There will never be an end to violence in games or society. It is what we are. We can however, choose how to include it within ourselves.



I am gonna get SO flamed....

Ahh, the children. It seems to me that the whole children thing is representative of a society that plays to the lowest common denominator. I am a parent, and as a parent, it is MY responsibility to monitor my child and make judgment based on MY morals and ethics. Nobody else in the entire friggin' world has the right to make those decisions for me.

If my child screws up, it is not the systems fault. It is mine. If my kid ends up being homicidle(sp), it is not the games she played or the friends she chose, it is MY fault. I accepted that responsiblity when my wife and I decided to have her.

When DOOM first came out, I played it in secret at my friends house. Why? Because my mom thought it was to violent and would mess up my behavior... You know what I do when I lose my temper now that I am an adult?

Butcher the neighbors in their sleep? nah.
Set bombs off at Wal-Mart? nah.

I go play a game. Sometime a violent computer game, sometimes chess with my wife. Often times the game is Pirates and Treasure with my 3yr old daughter. The screwed up behavior was never there to begin with. No amount of DOOM or Quake or anything can put it there. I have common sense. (some may question that, I did post this after all.)

Edited by - Landsknecht on May 13, 2000 6:27:57 AM

#49 Maitrek   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 13 May 2000 - 12:10 AM

Okay - this is a way oversensitive subject and it's easy to get flamed for having an opion, but I'm perfectly prepared to add my meagre thoughts.
As a society we can't keep traversing down the chain of responsibility for all eternity. You find the person that is most *directly* responsible for whatever action (for instance a child going on a killing spree) takes place and they should be held accountable for it.
However somewhere along society's evolution, we decided that children can't be held accountable for their own actions, so we have parents for them who should be accountable for a childs actions. And that's where it should stop, parents shouldn't shirk their responsibilty and point their finger to game developers.
A parent (as Langsknecht said) chose to be responsible for their child when they decided to have it. Whatever gets supplied to the child should be under the supervision of parents, which includes computer games. Game developers can't be held responsible for producing the content as they weren't the ones who handed it to the children.
And I agree with Bert Halligan, if games are ever going to develop as a serious story telling media, or an art media, then there is no way of avoiding mature content. The reason why we try to censor these kind of things, is because we don't want to accept our society for what it is, and we want people to live in some happy-happy joy-joy land amongst the daisies and the poppies in a world of peace and love.
I for one like the world we live in, sitting around looking at the hopeless morally afflicted people, and then the naive person walking down a street with a smile on their face joking with their other people as children starve in other countries. It's a philosphists playground out there! Game design is a great way for me to express how I see things and how I see people. If I am unable to show some kind of mature "evil" content how am I going to define the good content in the game? There is no contrast and the point of the game is left flat and dead.
The only other problem I can think of is that some people just want "games" and not a community message, and if you want to go ahead and write a multi-million dollar commercially succesful game that has no point but to act out violently at people for no reason, then that's fine, but leave out the mature content

I can say one thing - look what happened to DreamWeb - great story (almost art) - but not a great game in the terms of commerciality.

Edited by - Maitrek on May 13, 2000 7:14:22 AM

#50 Mantic   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 14 May 2000 - 09:40 PM

Games are hardly the first target of censorship, nor even have game developers or retailers yet been touched by the zealous hand of censorship. Perhaps it is coming, but the worst games have seen is propeganda, and that is no worse than free advertisement. But do be wary. Best take a stand with no reservations for freedom in and of itself or risk being trampled under the beast you let mature.

I come from a background in cartooning, where I risk a severe penalty with some material (especially if I tote a few samples along to the local conventions). The men who sold me the comics of Richard Corben when I was young, providing much of the inspiration to set me on that path, suffered for doing just that; read about it at: http://www.cbldf.org/casefiles/planetcomics.shtml

It's not about what you publish, as that is a matter of your own morality -- no matter what it is you can count on someone having a problem with it, or you. But when censors have power you cannot be certain you won't find yourself at their mercy.

Even your title could get an uninformed public behind a contract on your life (remember Salman Rushdie, ever read Satanic Verses?).

Do, please, think about where you stand.

Edited by - Mantic on May 15, 2000 4:50:37 AM

#51 Landfish   Members   -  Reputation: 288

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Posted 15 May 2000 - 04:18 PM

BLAME CANADA!



#52 Hase   Members   -  Reputation: 313

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Posted 15 May 2000 - 11:27 PM

CENSORSHIP is coming to the gaming world

In Germany for instance they are very hot on the topic of violence, and even more specifically, red blood. If that is included in any game (blood), 1st person shooters especially, the game is bound to be put on the index list.

Games that are on the index may not be advertised, displayed or even mentioned in the press. If you are over 18 you may legally buy them but you will in all likelyhood not get one because the retailers don´t have them (no advertisment-no sale).

This does not protect anyone, the kids get them from the net anyway (everyone has them once they are on the index - this makes violent games sooooo cool), and the adults are deprived of their right to play what they want (as long as it´s not unlawful).


Just watch out, it may be going around the world, i don´t know.

#53 Rainman   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 16 May 2000 - 01:50 AM

I probably can''t say much different than what is already posted, but since this is a heated debate, let me add my opinion. I look at this from several angles. First, Columbine. Did anyone hear how the gunmen shot various students? They shot them in the head and chest. Why? Because of a game they played. Games are truly becoming *too* realistic. That is good and bad. I think it is really cool that game developers can model real life as much as possible. I sit on the edge of my seat for the next major leap that gd''s will take to make things more realistic. The military is suppose to start using Microsoft''s flight simulator because it is more realistic than the ones that they can produce at a fraction of the cost. The closer games become realistic, I believe, poses a real threat as to the behavior of people. I think about my dad''s dog - a full blooded wolf. He is domesticated - but you don''t ever do one thing. If he ever gets a taste of blood, you better watch out because he will turn on you. Believe you me, I don''t want to be around when that happens. What about alcoholics - how many drinks before they become alcoholics? (Not another can of worms!) I think that both gd''s and parents (of which I am both) are responsible for what they allow others to see and play. I would hate to think that I developed a game that gave kids the expert marksmanship (from a first person shooter) to kill kids instantly by teaching them *where* to shoot to get bonus points. Ratings don''t work it seems because we can go to any movie we want or buy anything we want because the laws are not enforced. If we as game developers took a more active stance that we didn''t want to teach or train people violent behaviour, then there would be a problem. We need to hold ourselves more liable for our own actions, regardless of whether this game or that game would be a top seller. If people are in situations over and over, they become desensitized to that situation. Perhaps in the case of the rape scenario, people would be desensitized if that game had rapes occur over and over (not saying that it is). It is up to us as game developers to sensor ourselves and produce quality games that don''t promote violence (mainly killing others). There are several other great scenarios that games can be made from that don''t involve violence to a great extent.

#54 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 16 May 2000 - 05:46 AM

Columbine is an issue of gun-control, not petty
game-censoring. One has to see the true problem, instead
of some placebo explanation.


#55 Maitrek   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 16 May 2000 - 09:04 PM

Have we ever heard the term "political scapegoat" it''s what game censorship is about. Whereas the real issue in America that is causing the problem is gun laws. Because it''s in your constitution to be at arms and violence (whether you like it or not) is a big part of your culture. What percentage of america owns a gun? Even just for hunting, it''s just something that has become part of your culture.
And then politicians don''t want to touch this cause it''ll cost them alot of voters no matter which party, so they just find something else to blame it on.
Don''t lap everything up, the columbine killings were a combination of many factors of which only a minor one was computer games. Playing Doom or Quake is not going to teach you to aim at the head and chest, watching movies will, and anyone that knows where the heart and brain is could probably figure that out for themselves too.
Games should be able to contain a message and that''s what morality is about, there has to be some of it somewhere if we are going to have these "interactive movie" type PC games...games weren''t always about people and characters, but they were still violent so they got less attention back then.

#56 Kylotan   Moderators   -  Reputation: 3338

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Posted 21 May 2000 - 04:16 AM

quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster

Columbine is an issue of gun-control, not petty
game-censoring. One has to see the true problem, instead
of some placebo explanation.



This is just as foolish as blaming games for all ills. Just as eliminating violence from games will not totally stop people shooting each other, enforcing stronger gun laws will not reduce violence. There will just be a lot more stabbings etc. The gun is only the means. The -violence- is the problem. What causes the violence? It''s not the gun.

When game boxes feature the phrase "Shoot someone in the head and watch them bleed to death" (Kingpin, as I recall) and make out that is some sort of cool feature, you have to be concerned. This is not scapegoating. This is an example of someone claiming watching people die is fun, to sell their software!




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