Attila the Pun
Monday, December 13, 2004
Ban PacMan!

Here's a good reason why people who have no idea about a subject shouldn't write about it. The Age has jumped on the "violent video game" bandwagon - specifically the game Manhunt. The caption to the screenshots (thats an image from the game, for any Age journalists reading this)provided is "Scenes from the new Playstation 2 game Manhunt."

New? New? Manhunt was released in November 2003. To not much fanfare I may add. Then people start banning it, and blaming it when psychos murder people and all of a sudden you get news reports like this:

Since being linked with the murder of Stefan Pakeerah, Rockstar's Manhunt is reportedly selling out in stores across the UK.

Back to the Age:

These, and at least 12 other murders since 1997, have been linked to an obsession with violent video games.

Linked by the media. The Age trots out the usual studies which blame video games for violent behaviour:

Many studies have shown that people who play violent games regularly are more likely to show high levels of aggression. For instance, in 2000, Craig Anderson of Iowa State University in Ames and his colleague Karen Dill found that people who played violent games were more likely to admit to aggressive behaviour, including assaults or robberies.

Thankfully, at least one psychologist is quoted making the obvious point:

But he warns it might not be a simple case of cause and effect: aggressive kids might be most attracted to violent games.

Aggresive kids are also more likely to have mullets, and names where extra vowels have been either been added or replaced by 'y's, but that doesnt prove that either of those things cause violent behaviour (though I would have some sympathy for them if it did..) But back to the "studies":

Experimental studies have also hinted at a possible link. In one, Anderson and Dill asked a group of students to play a violent game, Wolfenstein 3D, while another group played the non-violent Myst. Those who played the violent game were faster to react to aggressive words subsequently flashed on screen and were rated more aggressive in a game where the object was to blast an opponent with a harmless noise.

The people who were forced to play Myst were slower to react because they were asleep - having been bored out of their skulls by such a dull puzzle game. As for Wolfenstein - that game teaches you to kill Nazis, zombies, and Nazi Zombies. I would have thought that raising a generation that can sucessfully take on hordes of undead fascist stormtroopers could only be a good thing.

I also find it interesting that no mention is made of any benefits that result from playing computer games. I am not just referring to a deeper understanding of the different bullet velocities of the most common assault rifles current being used, but also problem solving, spacial awareness and super opposable thumbs.

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