Thursday, April 19, 2007

Dr. Phil makes a fool of himself.

Sure, it's not the first time, but he wins the race to name video games as a contributing factor to the VT Massacre. Okay, maybe he comes in second to expert Jack Thompson, but who can beat him?

You cannot tell me - common sense tells you that if these kids are playing video games, where they’re on a mass killing spree in a video game, it’s glamorized on the big screen, it’s become part of the fiber of our society.
Despite the iron-clad reasoning presented by the Philster (common sense), let's review the statistics. Say a million kids play violent video games in the US. If there was some kind of correlation, we might expect at least one percent? That means that we'd have ten thousand crazed massacre killers in the country. That ain't happening. Crazy people play video games, but video games don't make people crazy.

If you want some good gaming news, some soldiers in Iraq are having a D&D convention. They're asking for rulebooks and polyhedral dice, hard to come by over there. Rock on, guys! I hope all your rolls are 20s!


Trevor said...

My issue, if you can call it an issue, with violent video games is that sometimes they just aren't necessary. Should someone be allowed to make violent video games, sure. I just think some video game studios use violence or sex or pushing the issues instead of quality when it comes to games.

The VT thing came about for the same reason all things like that happen, someone is deeply disturbed. Video games or the media or women or the sky being blue didn't set him off, he was just a messed up person.

JasonWinter said...

Well, I think you could apply your "violence for violence's sake" to just about any medium. Not that they don't rush to blame movies or TV when something like this happens, but there's no reason to single out video games.

Heck, if you want to look at violent media, it doesn't get much bloodier than this book. And it's inspired far more than its fair share of wackos.

Kindralas said...

I think it's interesting, if a bit sad, that people are quick to attempt to find or place blame for someone doing this without stopping to think about what or why or how this happened. They're not looking for a way to correct whatever problems that Cho, or Dylan, or Eric had which "forced" them to do these things, they're talking about all the warning signs.

What bothers me is this. Cho produced "disturbing" plays in a playwright class. Does this mean that anyone who mentions someone getting killed in an art class from now on will be subject to scrutiny from their teachers, and then federal law enforcement? People will now view art of a more gruesome nature as a "cry for help," whatever the hell that means, instead of viewing it as art, and understanding the message the author attempts to get across.

I don't intend to defend what Cho did in the slightest. He was a nutcase. But he did it for a reason. We probably shouldn't be thinking of ways to further persecute people who do the sorts of things he does, we should be thinking of ways to help them.

Kathy said...

And on top of everything else, the police have searched the shooter's home. He owned no video games, nor any consoles.

Clearly this is yet another example of people needing complicated things to be simple. They aren't simple. You can't fix it with a band-aid. Bad shit happens, and if you ask me, it's not possible to catch everything.

God, does it suck that bad things happen. If the B had been one of those students, I'd be...well, shit. I don't know what I'd be. That's the gig, though. The world is full of risks, some of which can be averted, some can be minimized, and some are part of the entropy.

So, no. You, Phil, and you, Jack, can't point a finger and fix it all. Not only are you wrong, but you are dangerously naive. You can't make things better by wishing like hell that it had a single cause and would be easy to fix. In fact, by thinking you can and convincing others that it's true, you divert resources and interest from the things that might actually work to avert disasters like this in the future.

It's a primitive mindset. We need to evolve beyond that. Now is the time. Wake the eff up.

TheGirard said...

why would you hope that they fail their save vs. poisons?

Anonymous said...

Of course, people still killed people 30 years ago, before video games were around. I assume that Phil blames those needless deaths on schoolyard "cops and robbers" teaching us how to chase each other around with guns?

DavĂ­d said...

While I agree that Dr. Phil, Jack Thompson, et al are ridiculous in how much blame they give to video games for violent outbreaks, I can't say your hastily-made off=the-cuff statistics hold any more weight than Phil's "common sense" argument.

To show a link between violent video games and acts of violence, you have to study those who commit violence and whether they played violent video games. But that's just correlation. I'm sure 100% of those who commit violent acts breathed oxygen and drank water, but it is patently silly to suggest those as causes.

Those who do actual, real, scientific research on this find that, at most, exposure to media violence is one among many dozens of risk factors for increased aggression. Or that, in those who already have anxiety, neurotic behavior, or aggression show increased aggression after exposure to violent media, but the vast majority of kids are unaffected. Most studies do not find any increase in violent behavior from playing video games.

Video games are just the latest folk devil, following in the footsteps of Heavy Metal, Dungeons and Dragon, Rock 'n Roll, and Catcher in the Rye.

If you are interested in studies on video games, is a very good aggregator of studies under their video game research tag. It is where I found out about this study showing a correlation between violent biblical passages and aggression.

Trevor said...

I agree with 100% Jason, it applies to just about any medium. We were just talking about video games here.

Muse said...

I really don't get why people are so incredibly reluctant to believe that there are whacko crazy people in this world. Why must there always be something/someone to blame?

TV, video games, Marilyn Manson...nobody wants to admit anymore that they are in control of their lives, they're just puppets with all of these horrible influences pulling their strings! OH NOES! We're definitely not to blame for our own actions!

Completely ridiculous.

Kindralas said...

Think about the last time you got a ticket. Did you curse the cop for pulling you over (either in front of him or not), or did you shrug and think "well, I was going 5 miles over the speed limit."

People, in general, don't like to be accountable, and don't like to hold other people accountable. People can't fathom doing something like what Cho did, so they assume that something had to cause him to do so. Fact is that he was messed up, and did what he did. The thing to blame here is Cho, not anything he may or may not have done in the weeks, months, or years before he came to Virginia Tech.

Dave(id) said...

Off the subject sorta......had to post here since I don't write on my blog anymore :) Sorry for the rant.

- I don't see people having a moment of silence at noon everyday or wearing camo colors for the 11 US soldiers (mostly college age) killed since Monday, 4/16. Or maybe it could be for the approx. 1000 civilian deaths in APRIL only.

- I also don't see a full front page of any newspaper listing the names of these soldiers and giving details about the lives they led, how heroic they were, who they left behind or how much they'll be missed.

- I also don't see a handwritten sign on my bank's drive up ATM saying "Honk for the Soldiers!" instead of "Honk for the Hokies".

- I also don't hear the blabbering news hounds filling a complete hour about how these deaths could have been prevented and who's fault it is.

I understand the horror and closeness of what happened at VT. I can only imagine going through something like that as a victim, friend or family member. I feel for all of them.

On the other hand........while Iraq may be a war zone and deaths are expected, explain that to a child who has lost his/her parents or a parent who has a lost their child/s in one of the 4 huge bombs that went off on Tuesday in Baghdad in public places. Those bombs killed around 150 people. A massacre? Yep. Couldn't imagine what that looked like afterwards. I didn't see any images of the aftermath either.

Maybe we could think about Sudan. Just 2 days ago Bush threatened SANCTIONS only against the Sudanese government while acknowledging that they (and the militias) are committing GENOCIDE (over 400,00 killed so far). To me this seems a better reason to send our young people off to fight and die. Even I'm willing to fight for that and I'm a liberal wussbag.

I believe America's overall response to the war would be on a different frequency if the media exposed us to the disturbing reality of it all in much the same way they are flooding us with every detail of 1 man who tragically killed 32 people.

Ok, I'm done.

Shocho said...

Well said, David. This is not how wars were reported in 1973.

stingite said...

Cho was rehearsing anger . . . whatever mediums that helped him were probably sought after and abused. Attacking "video games" or any other medium is akin to what Thoreau called "hacking at the branches of the tree of evil." You'd hope Phil would try to hack a bit closer to the trunk of the tree of evil.

Shocho said...

I love that phrase! This has been the best thread ever on my blog.