Video game violence superstition

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Deacon
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Video game violence superstition

Post by Deacon » Sun Aug 25, 2013 5:25 pm

Story: http://us.cnn.com/2013/08/25/us/louisia ... index.html

It just doesn't quit. You know how some people think that if you go out in cool weather without a jacket you'll catch a cold? Everybody knows it. This one time, my mom's sister's friend left the coat at home and she totally caught a cold.

Anecdotes that make the news due to their sensationalist nature tend to build irrational reactions and fears. When people are afraid to fly its because they hear about every commercial airliner that has even the slightest hiccup, and they believe it happens often. Together with the lack of easy familiarity (like they have with their much more dangerous car), they develop an irrational fear of flying, so much so that even when confronted with the statistics that should put their mind at ease, they either refuse to accept it or are incapable of processing it correctly.

That's what I think we're facing with "video game violence" hysteria that seems to pop up on slow news days. People used to be panic-stricken about cartoon violence. Remember that? Jerry would smack Tom in the face with a hit iron, Elmer Fudd would get blasted point-blank on the face by a shotgun multiple times in a cartoon, and generally anvils would rain from the sky onto colorfully inked skulls. Yet there were very few incidents of children ironing, shooting, or anvil-ing anyone's faces or heads. Yet that debate still rages, primarily among fluttering-heart new-age soccer moms and those in the field trying to justify their paycheck. It doesn't have quite the bite as video games, because there are a whole new set of parameters to get giddy with fear about, primarily interactivity and laughably called "realism."

And so we get stories like this one, where it is reported that a normal, healthy, well-adjusted 8 year old child in a loving relationship with his 90 year old babysitter (!!!) shot her in the back of the head and killed her. Why, you ask, would a precious child be looked after by a 90 year old woman on her own, transfixed by TV in her recliner and unaware that the 8 year old had obtained a loaded firearm and was aiming it at her? If you asked that, you have stepped further toward responsible journalism than CNN. Instead, it is briefly admitted that the "motive" is "unknown" before leaping eagerly at the idea that he was playing GTA minutes before the incident, thus serving as a platform for launching into throwing conjecture and empty questions about video game violence into the ether.
The follies which a man regrets the most in his life are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity. - Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922

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Re: Video game violence superstition

Post by ampersand » Sun Aug 25, 2013 6:59 pm

I think the media should focus more on the ways that female characters are treated like objects in games, you know, the whole Damsel in Distress trope I see get railed against on Tumblr.

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Re: Video game violence superstition

Post by Rorschach » Mon Aug 26, 2013 9:08 am

Whew. That's a story. I don't know what to think about that. But as I try never to let lack of knowledge hamstring my opinion, here's my ill-informed reckoning:

Does video game violence influence impressionable minds? Yeah, probably. But then so do TV, the movies, advertising, life, observing nature, evolved instinct, and just good old fashioned crazy.

Obviously as we've become more intellectually sophisticated, we no longer explain birthmarks on women as evidence of congress with the Devil, mental illnesses are unlikely now to be explained away as demonic possession, we know illnesses are down to itty bitty things smaller than the eye can see and if the sun sets, it's more than likely to return the next morning.

Blaming one sole strand of the rich tapestry that bombards our senses sixteen hours a day is the equivalent of expecting the buoyancy of women to be a good indicator of religious bent.

It's laziness mixed with ignorance.

[edit]I forgot to ask: amp, what's this?
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Deacon
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Re: Video game violence superstition

Post by Deacon » Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:42 pm

Well said, Rors.
The follies which a man regrets the most in his life are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity. - Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922

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Re: Video game violence superstition

Post by Arres » Mon Aug 26, 2013 9:58 pm

Being that I'm in the middle of a Psych 100 class, I'm now authorized to comment on the motivations and behaviors of all those around me with Authority; regardless of whether I'm filled with BullShit or not.

I'd like to see some genuine responsibility being pushed onto the adults that are leaving their guns just LAYING THE FUCK AROUND. Have you met an 8 year old recently?! They are not exactly safe crackers. I noticed that it was ruled an accident, until "investigation" occurred. THEN (after finding out the kid plays Grand Theft Auto) they decided it might have been intentional.

On a seperate note, why THE FUCK is an 8 year old playing GTA?! I've decided, this woman committed suicide by neglect.
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Re: Video game violence superstition

Post by Deacon » Tue Aug 27, 2013 1:35 am

Haha, very well phrased last line, there.
The follies which a man regrets the most in his life are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity. - Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922

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Re: Video game violence superstition

Post by ampersand » Sat Aug 31, 2013 10:09 pm

Better to show a link (~23 minutes, so it may be a bit longer than most videos):

[youtube]X6p5AZp7r_Q[/youtube]

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Re: Video game violence superstition

Post by Deacon » Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:28 pm

Evil villains attacking loved ones to get to the hero isn't exactly new, but neither is the damsel in distress concept. To suggest that neither are steeped in long tradition in both real history and fiction (or that they're not leveraged by women from time to time) is silly.

If the best they can come up with is a game that never got released but ended up being transformed into an old Starfox game, then that's not really going to lend them much credit, especially when they have to go back to King Kong to establish their argument. Are they annoyed that not all of the characters in Left 4 Dead are women? I love that they discount Peach being a playable character in SMB 2, saying it was basically an accident, and that it didn't sell very well was never mentioned or apparently even considered. I mean, they get into some serious interpretation territory regarding the objectification of women and "relegation" to a treasure to be won or a goal to achieve with little to no thought about how successful (or not) various games were other than pointing out how successful the Super Mario Brothers games were and how it's a major problem.

I think it's fair to mention that as she wraps up her meticulously researched video essay, she finally gets around to what she was trying to establish the whole time. "The belief that women are somehow a naturally weaker gender is a deeply engrained, socially constructed myth, which of course is completely false." Oh of course. It's totally false that men tend to be physically bigger and stronger than women. Damn you, biology!

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The follies which a man regrets the most in his life are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity. - Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922

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Re: Video game violence superstition

Post by BtEO » Thu Sep 05, 2013 6:08 pm

Deacon wrote:Evil villains attacking loved ones to get to the hero isn't exactly new, but neither is the damsel in distress concept. To suggest that neither are steeped in long tradition in both real history and fiction (or that they're not leveraged by women from time to time) is silly.
I don't recall that ever being suggested. She's done videos that look at other forms of media. That gaming has borrowed these tropes doesn't absolve them from using them, nor dampen their impact on the cultural landscape. In fact, she spends the first 5 minutes looking at how existing media dating back to Greek legends set the stage long before the introduction of video games. If your only or best appeal as to the merit of something is tradition then I find you're typically already on shaky ground.
Deacon wrote:If the best they can come up with is a game that never got released but ended up being transformed into an old Starfox game, then that's not really going to lend them much credit, especially when they have to go back to King Kong to establish their argument. Are they annoyed that not all of the characters in Left 4 Dead are women? I love that they discount Peach being a playable character in SMB 2, saying it was basically an accident, and that it didn't sell very well was never mentioned or apparently even considered. I mean, they get into some serious interpretation territory regarding the objectification of women and "relegation" to a treasure to be won or a goal to achieve with little to no thought about how successful (or not) various games were other than pointing out how successful the Super Mario Brothers games were and how it's a major problem.
The damsel in distress trope was so broadly covered in games as to be split across three videos of which ampersand only posted the first. The second focused on more modern examples, showing the trope as alive and well; the last looked at games that attempt to alter or subvert the trope. If the point (and it certainly was the point) was to show a strong undercurrent in video game narratives in which women are helpless or near helpless plot points (even though a minority swim against that current) it doesn't matter how successful or not a game is in that context as they all contribute their piece, large or small, to the overall fabric.

The discounting of SMB2 is directly contrasted against more modern four player Marios (i.e. New Super Mario Bros Wii ) where they continued to play the captured princess card by replacing her with… a different coloured Toad (not even Toadette, handily invented for Mario Kart: Double Dash!!).

Deacon wrote:I think it's fair to mention that as she wraps up her meticulously researched video essay, she finally gets around to what she was trying to establish the whole time. "The belief that women are somehow a naturally weaker gender is a deeply engrained, socially constructed myth, which of course is completely false." Oh of course. It's totally false that men tend to be physically bigger and stronger than women. Damn you, biology!
Weaker is not helpless. I don't imagine that's what you were suggesting, but it's the view the trope both feeds on and feeds back into.

Not only that, were you to somehow chart every human, male or female, on some measure of strength (even if you removed outliers with medical conditions, the elderly, etc… — and just selected a healthy range of adults) I would expect the overlap area from the weakest man to the strongest women to still be pretty large. It's very difficult to separate the social influence when measuring differences between male and female.[1] To make a blanket statement that men are stronger than women ignores that society teaches boys to be active, to kick around balls or otherwise run around with their friends, while teaching girls to be passive: to play with dolls, and hold tea parties or sleepovers, and never ever ruin their pretty dress. Now of course when you look at most children they won't have absorbed either lesson completely, probably not even half, but parts get through.[2] If boys grow up stronger than girls, how much is nature and how much is the encouragement to more active play and the muscle and bone growth that results?

Going back:
Deacon wrote:Evil villains attacking loved ones to get to the hero isn't exactly new
But why is it so often a male hero and a female loved one? Was Faith's goal to save her sister in Mirror's Edge so unrealistic; I certainly haven't seen anyone complaining that Lara Croft's motivation in the Tomb Raider reboot included a hefty does of rescue the father figure. It didn't feel contrived or unnatural to me; they even managed to give him plenty of definition as a character — something not a lot of traditional damsels get.

Would the gaming world really be a worse place if fewer writers defaulted to male protagonist and female motivation?
[1] Not to mention that biology can throw up any number of surprises with genetics wherein you can get people who have lived their whole thinking they were one gender or the other only to find their genes disagree, or people whose gender is ambiguous.
[2] Anecdote of course, but I can see exactly this as my nephew starts to learn which things are for girls and which are for boys. I know he's not being taught anything like that intentionally, but the lesson is getting through regardless. Hopefully as his sister grows that'll temper it somewhat.

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Re: Video game violence superstition

Post by Deacon » Thu Sep 05, 2013 7:31 pm

It's not about whether it's a worse place but rather whether it would sell as much.

And it's a male hero saving a female loved one because that's how it has played out in real life and the way it would make the most sense in primarily patriarchal western societies since...pretty much forever. The queen rarely has to rescue the king. Generally it's the other way around.

I think when you're super sensitive to stuff like this, you end up trying to pick it all apart rather than recognizing that the reality is a mix. Look at the current Game of Thrones series (haven't read the books so I can't say), where you have women being slow and frail, haughty and bitchy, conniving and manipulative, strong and duty-bound, or determined and inspirational leaders. Nobody suggests that this is silly and should not be.

And to address your point: women are physically weaker. Even in matriarchal societies, women are rarely (if ever?) the warriors in place of the men. At best the strongest and fiercest women fight alongside the men. The lady in the video would have you believe that, sexual dimorphism be damned, the only reason women aren't all at least equivalent fighters to men is because they weren't trained to be. There are outliers both ways, but that venn diagram doesn't overlap just a whole lot. The massive mistake is to believe that women must be physically equal to a man in order to have equal worth or equal rights.
The follies which a man regrets the most in his life are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity. - Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922

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Re: Video game violence superstition

Post by BtEO » Thu Sep 05, 2013 8:02 pm

Deacon wrote:And it's a male hero saving a female loved one because that's how it has played out in real life and the way it would make the most sense in primarily patriarchal western societies since...pretty much forever. The queen rarely has to rescue the king. Generally it's the other way around.
But if the point of feminism is to create a post-patriarchal society analysis and criticism like this makes perfect sense right?
Deacon wrote:And to address your point: women are physically weaker. Even in matriarchal societies, women are rarely (if ever?) the warriors in place of the men. At best the strongest and fiercest women fight alongside the men. The lady in the video would have you believe that, sexual dimorphism be damned, the only reason women aren't all at least equivalent fighters to men is because they weren't trained to be. There are outliers both ways, but that venn diagram doesn't overlap just a whole lot.
Women were also expected to said at home and raise children because they have the correct equipment (breasts) for it initially, and then after a year or two of this you might as well keep going even though you've stopped breastfeeding. Only the most well-off could generally afford wet nurses.

And lack of effective contraception (especially the pill, which requires zero co-operation from a partner) meant women had to either remain celibate (or lesbian) or risk this 'trap'.

That women have never fought in large numbers could be explained by this just as easily.
Deacon wrote:The massive mistake is to believe that women must be physically equal to a man in order to have equal worth or equal rights.
[Emphasis added] So even if she's wrong about physical strength her point that women deserve more positive representations and fewer damsels in distress in video games stands — correct?

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Video game violence superstition

Post by Deacon » Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:30 pm

Yes they should have children or pets instead. Women aren't worth fighting for.
The follies which a man regrets the most in his life are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity. - Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922

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Re: Video game violence superstition

Post by Arres » Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:43 pm

I haven't had a chance to watch the video, but I think I get the gist from the conversation here.
This conversation seems to boil down to:
Fems:It's not FAIR this unbalanced state of affairs
Gents: Maybe not, but it's what always has been, and look at the progress that's been made! We're trying. Maybe more of you should help write these things?
Fems:NOT FAST ENOUGH. All Media should have a perfect 50/50 representation regardless of the stories and cultures the stories are being pulled from and if you aren't part of the solution you're part of the problem
Gents:...Feminists are real bitches.

It's not a perfect world, but the fact that so much media can be pointed to and shown as "look here! Here we have women being kickass, by whatever means available (strength, guile, sexiness, etc)" says to me that we've come a long way. We're not totally post-patriarchal, as a personal anecdote relates. We can't even sort out surnames!

Wife: I'm gonna go get my PhD!
Me: Awesome! You're so smart and pretty! When can I retire on your massive PhD cash?
Wife: HA! Jokes on you, I'm gonna make the world better by doing research, and noone pays obscene money for that kind of thing
Me: Crap! Wait....So....When you get your PhD will we be Dr. and Mr. Curtis? Or Dr. and Mr. Hughes-Curtis? (she hyphenated) What about Mr. and Dr. Hughes-Curtis? We get announced at formal events so frequently, this is a critical question!
Wife: You SO married up.

*Side note: Deacon, you're starting to sound like a confirmed Bachelor. I hope you have nephews and nieces you can lavish insanely awesome uncle affection on.
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Re: Video game violence superstition

Post by Rorschach » Fri Sep 06, 2013 12:20 pm

Aren't there video games designed exclusively for women? Like porn? You know, where the muscular guy orally pleasures the actress for more than just the minimum amount of time it takes to achieve sufficient lubrication like the rest of the world does?

Raises the bar to an unrealistic level, that. If women are to complain about pornography normalising sexual misanthropy, I'd like to complain about female porn normalising considerate love-making and skillful bedplay.
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Re: Video game violence superstition

Post by Gowerlypuff » Fri Sep 06, 2013 1:15 pm

Video Games is an odd industry (being in it).
Outside of licensed games (Woo F1), you see games being made in the belief that the average gamer is a 19 year old male, when in reality the average age is 34 (I think at last count) and there are a vast number of females that play, too.

It's not just the image given out that females are always the ones that need saving, it's also the images of the female characters themselves.

As an example, the characters in The Dota games.
You've got male characters, some of them are muscular machines, some are tiny, some of them are drunken fat guys.
The female characters? All lithe agile creatures.

Thinking about it, I'm struggling to find much variation in body type for female characters in ANY game. You are a girl? You will be thin, end of.
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