Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
 
Thought for the day: Banning Need for Speed

If we accept the notion that video games can alter the behavior of teenagers, shouldn't the first games to be banned be racing games? It seems unlikely that playing Counterstrike would cause school shootings, but playing Need for Speed would not result in reckless driving, which is ultimately much more frequent and thus more deadly. After all, people have easier access to cars than to guns and samurai swords.
Comments:
More frequent is more deadly? If I really wanted to take that out of context, breathing could be considered deadly. As it is, I have to ask what kind of cars your country has, because they apparently don't have seat belts or air bags.
 
Also, katana, not samurai sword, because that sort of thing bugs me. (Masterwork bastard sword is also acceptable.) Though I suppose the article didn't specify katana over wakizashi or any of the other swords... But nine times out of ten, katana.
 
In pretty much any civilized country the number of traffic deaths largely surpases that of gun deaths. For example the US in 2008 had over 37,000 traffic fatalities, and only 12,000 people killed by guns (not including suicides).

And neither the killed burglar nor the police nor the Baltimore Sun cared even the tiniest little bit how specific you would like that samurai sword to be called.
 
@Armond, seatbelts and airbags don't save the person getting hit on the zebra crossing. Many of the traffic deaths are not the drivers but bystanders being hit by reckless drivers.
So cars in our country have seatbelts, airbags and some have rollcages, sideimpact protection etc. etc. but still a car with a reckless driver behind the wheel is a dangerous tool. In games like Need for Speed, Burnout, you cut corners by driving over the sidewalk. It doesn't take much to imagine what would happen if people did that kind of thing in real-life.
 
@Armond: that's like getting upset someone calls a manga a comic. Not every item of every culture has to be said in the culture's language to still refer to the same thing. In other words, for the average person it's a samurai sword, for those who need to know the specific, you have Katana, or "masterwork bastard sword".

Other examples: Online Journal, instead of Blog, calling tomato a vegetable instead of a fruit, etc etc.

@tobold: so you're saying make it M for Mature instead?
 
Ugh, horrible story. But I don't see that anyone's pointing a finger at games. Heck, entertainment has been glorifying violence for far longer than the games industry has even existed.
 
Remember that airbags or no, going from 100km/h to standing still in seconds takes its toll on your body. Airbags can save you from getting cut, but your heart/lungs etc can still take a deadly beating just from the huge negative acceleration. Granted, modern cars take care of some of the kinetic energy by deformation zones and such - but they can't give us innards of adamantite ;)
 
Interesting news article. I wonder what's going to happen to the guy. Part of me thinks he should go free but part of me thinks it's not right and that even killing someone who commits a crime on your property is not acceptable.
 
I would question how much video games influence behavior in real world interaction. Anyone who has played GTA has killed a countless number of innocent people but somehow we all find a way to restrain ourselves from bringing that into reality.
Perhaps I just have too much faith in my fellow man.
 
Ugh, horrible story. But I don't see that anyone's pointing a finger at games.

That story could have been the consequence of somebody watching Kill Bill. :)

I would question how much video games influence behavior in real world interaction. Anyone who has played GTA has killed a countless number of innocent people but somehow we all find a way to restrain ourselves from bringing that into reality.
Perhaps I just have too much faith in my fellow man.


I do think it has a lot to do with how different the game action is from your real life. Decades of Mario games have not caused a large amount of people to become plumbers and hop on other people's heads, because it is easy to see where the fantasy ends and the reality begins. But how sure are we that after playing a racing game for X hours and then stepping in a real car, our driving behavior isn't affected? Because frankly, a big part of my daily driving is more or less on autopilot, without too much of conscious thought.

I wonder what's going to happen to the guy. Part of me thinks he should go free but part of me thinks it's not right and that even killing someone who commits a crime on your property is not acceptable.

It depends on whether he acted in self-defense. According to the Washington Post the prosecutor hasn't decided yet whether to charge the wannabe-samurai.
 
Katanas Are Just Better

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/KatanasAreJustBetter
 
From the story the burglar had 29 similar convictions.

It also states that it is legal to keep swords in Baltimore, and I guess a suitable item to scare off any potential burglars. If (as the story claims) he lunged at the student then injury was inevitable, wasn't it?

The scenario here is nothing like GTA where you wander the streets with your weapon of choice in full view with the specific intention of killing.

If I saw someone wielding a sword I would more likely retreat than lunge!

And what video games did Attila the Hun play as his inspiration? ;)
 
I also don't get the link between the story and computer games. The conclusion - I think - Tobold wishes us to draw is that:

a) Out there weird things happen. and it depends on your background if you see them as stemming fron a certain subculture or another.

b) All people advocating the banishment of "addictive" software like MMORPGs or "dangerous" software like FPS should also clamour for the banishment of race-games. That they usually don't do so only proves that the fingerpointing is only some kind of fashion without substance or logic.

On a sidenote officials of the same government in Germany on the one hand blame gomputer games in general and FPS and MMORPGs in particular for every highschool-shooting and on the other hand award the German Computer Gaming Award to Drakensang (an MMORPG). Talk about logic here.

Kyff
 
I think choosing the path of censorship to control other people's behaviour doesn't really work.

First you would have to also ban dvds, tv programs, novels, racing and so on.

Second because a generation of teenagers would be brought up without seeing speed when they first experience it it would be cool as hell.

I just don't think it would work.

Instead of banning information and experiences, people need to be taught responsibility and consequences.
 
I'd argue its much easier to acquire a sword sharp enough to kill someone then it is to buy a car :p
 
Um, are we short of ideas for posts?

Tobold, any thoughts on the recent Aion open Beta or the now free D&D Eberron release?
 
I would say it's way easier to get a katana than a car for a child (hell you can go to Medieval Times and buy any number of them), but that's not really the point here. The kid defended himself, and was a bit MORE successful than the average person because he happened to own a sword (which is perfectly legal). Not sure how this is not cut/dry self defense. As someone who also owns a sword collection, I don't think I would have done any different.
 
I've got to say I've never thought of this before, but thinking back on it I realize I may have fallen victim to the evils of racing games. When I was 17 and had my freshly minted license I was driving around and I tried to make a turn following the racing line I'd learned from Gran Turismo. I slammed my right tire into the curb causing it to go almost immediatly flat. Oddly enough that one version of the game was the only time I was really into any racing games. I don't blame the game for my own stupidity, but
it certainly had an impact.

I love FPS games and I've never had the inclination to gun someone down. I think the very mundaneness of driving causes you not to even think about the consequences and makes you more seceptable to doing something stupid. Especially from a 17 year old teenager.
 
@all, my point was (and I thought it was obvious) that shooting sprees are *absolutely* more deadly - when was the last time you heard of a school shooting in which the shooter and one other person didn't die? I admit I don't keep meticulous track of this sort of thing, but c'mon now, car accidents don't tend towards a dozen plus people dead - while car accidents are *relatively* more deadly because they result in more deaths per year. Is that a little more clear now?

@Tobold: the story could also have been the consequence of the guy reading the Order of the Stick, or playing WoW, or any of a number of other things, too. Has there been any update on that front since last night (when I last checked)?
 
Buying a car, spending thousands of dollars upgrading it for speed, and then street racing is a very popular passtime where I live in Vancouver, Canada. About 1 pedestrian per month is killed here by street racers. Doesn't sound like a lot, but its considered a big problem here. When I played Gran Turismo for the first time I realized that the game is very close to what the street racers here are doing. Makes you wonder ...
 
Walking around on the streets with a Katana in Belgium would get you a fine, for carrying a knife longer than x centimeters... :p

And errm, I do not believe that video games influence people that much, really. If it did, I should not have a driving permit and I should not be allowed anywhere near a firearm etc.

Games do get more realistic, and the 'active' part of them would probably cause them to have more influence than say, movies and books. But still...
 
Um, are we short of ideas for posts? Tobold, any thoughts on the recent Aion open Beta or the now free D&D Eberron release?

No, short of time. Not only short of time for blogging, but also short of time for playing. I haven't played Aion since I blogged about it last, and while I did install it, I hadn't have time to play Free2Play D&D either. What could I possible say about them in this situation?

I'd argue its much easier to acquire a sword sharp enough to kill someone then it is to buy a car

Most teenagers who drive a car didn't buy it themselves. And I'm pretty certain that in the US as well as Europe there are more cars than katanas in circulation.

Not sure how this is not cut/dry self defense.

It is only self defense if the burglar attacked YOU. You can't just kill people just because they were breaking and entering into your property. And if for example you see a burglar with a sack full of your stuff fleeing from your house, you don't have the right to shoot him in order to stop him either. In the story with the katana the student claims the burglar lunged at him when accosted, which if true would make this legal self defense.
 
Tobold that may be the law in Belgium and it certainly was in Germany when I lived there but, there are parts of the world including some US states where it is legal to kill someone in defense of your property. In other states you have to prove they were trying to hurt you. It's one of the wierd things about the US. Each state has its own variations of law.

Not sure about the laws in Maryland. But I do know in Florida and Texas and several other US States defending your property is actually a protected legal right.
 
@Armond

You still don't get it. A school shooting in the US happens once every couple years. There hasn't been one in the US for 2 years at V Tech which killed 32 people.

That doesn't even compare PER YEAR the amount of people killed in car accidents.

Further more I personally believe pushing a 16 year old to street race is alot easier than pushing a 16 year old to frag his school. The difference is that they believe they wont get caught street racing, while they almost ALWAYS know they will get caught if they commit a shooting.

The problem is school shootings are more sensational in the headlines than car accidents. The ironic thing is both were happening prior to video games being invented... actually prior to computers being invented.
 
I'm proud of that guy. One less human piece of trash breaking into people's homes. The article said the burglar lunged at him when the owner walked into his garage. I don't have a samurai sword, but I am sure I would have blown that guy across the room with a shotgun.

If someone broke into my house I would not wait for him to attack me or my wife either. He'd be a dead man.

I should probably be living in Texas where it's 100% legal: http://www.tdcaa.com/node/1523
 
In my opinion this while discussion is a little bit strange.

If the number of dead people was of any significance, leaders of a state should not be allowed to play any strategy games like civilization, because wars can kill millions.

That's obviously nonsense; so the question remains under what circumstances should such things be forbidden.

My answer is:
It's determined by how objectionable it is in the culture in question and what's the probable influence the activity has according to scientific tests.
What's also very important is the feasibility of a prohibition.
 
In Texas if you see someone stealing your car and he's driving away you can shoot and kill him legally. Also most states in the US have some version of a castle law.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_law

There have been cases where someone committed a crime to someone elses property and a bystander shot them and they still were not prosecuted and in some states its prefectly legal.

I've always been of the mind that if you violate someone elses property, safety, etc. that you have williningly put your life in danger and you have to live with the consequences.
 
Yea in parts of the US someone just BEING on your property is good enough to kill them (I'm guessing you have to ask them to leave first, but who is going to prove that?). And I was refering to this story in particular, where the guy said he fought back because the criminal tried to attack him. I would call being unarmed and attacking someone with a katana dumb, but then again the guy did have 22 or so previous criminal charges.

And I don't know about the cars/swords ratio, have you ever seen QVC? Every other show is a knife/sword show, so someone must be buying the damn things :)
 
The typical claim of TV and movie producers and game publishers when confronted about such negative behaviours like ‘copycat crime’ is that their products do not influence behaviour.

But those same TV and movie producers and game publishers take in a lot of money selling advertisements -- presumably with the intent to influence consumer behavior. A tremendous amount of money is spent in advertising in various visual media, including sources such as movies, TV, and computer and console games -- I assume that businesses are getting something for their money, such as increased sales (a measurable change in human behaviour).
 
@Doeg

While you make a valid comparision of advertising to other media sources I still consider them different.

There are different marketing ploys put forth in commercials to get you to purchase an item than their are in other visual media whose goal is entertainment.

Someone who sufferes from a mental illness which would cause them to be easily susceptable to visual media depicting viloence could have just as easily been swayed by the news... or anything they saw on the street.

Individuals suffer from an illness that in some cases, sure maybe a video game helped push them. However if you remove the video game from that person's life with no other form of intervention they still would have eventually been pushed by something else.
 
The really sad thing about these kinds of stories is the first thing that gets forgotten is context. Overall all types of violent crime have been on the decline in the US for over 20 years. But somehow we have more news about the fewer and fewer crimes that happen.

The news has become a mirror of your average internet forum. Flame on Flame off just forget the facts please.
 
It is only self defense if the burglar attacked YOU. You can't just kill people just because they were breaking and entering into your property. And if for example you see a burglar with a sack full of your stuff fleeing from your house, you don't have the right to shoot him in order to stop him either. In the story with the katana the student claims the burglar lunged at him when accosted, which if true would make this legal self defense.

Actually, in Texas the "Castle Doctrine" was passed recently. It basically states that during the night-time hours you can use deadly force upon someone breaking into your home, regardless if they attack you first.

And, you are also allowed to use deadly force on someone retreating with your property.

I'm just pointing out that the rules around home invasion are different from state-to-state in the US.
 
It is funny, but back in the day when I was playing a lot of the Battlefield 1942 MOD Desert Combat, if I went out for a drive soon after playing, I felt a huge urge to tear across the terrain in the same way I would do in the game.

Of course, the fact that my car is a desert sand color and filthy enough to seem as though it had been in the desert probably egged this feeling on.

But it was only if I drove just after playing. So perhaps some "do not drive/handle a fire arm/unsheathe your katana" within 30 minutes of playing this game" would be sufficient?
 
You could also make the arguement that video games provide a safe outlet for people to get their 'killing fix'.

Heroin addicts are given methadone, pedofiles (in some forms of treatment) are given pornography, and smokers are given 'the patch'. Are video games then a safe outlet to vent the devil inside us?
 
I think the reason why politicians don't bring up racing games is that their goal isn't to kill people.

Assume the hypothetical premise was right, that more kids go out and race or drive dangerously because of racing games than go out and shoot up classrooms because of FPS games. Even if true, dangerous driving or racing isn't intended to kill people. It might be an accident, and even a foreseeable accident, but it wasn't the intent.

Politicians can focus a lot easier on the kid using a gun to kill classmates because they were practicing killing people.

Given how shallow Politicians are in general, I wouldn't expect them to draw as logical a conclusion as you have done here Tobold, hence it isn't mentioned at all by anyone except you.

Of course I don't think FPS or racing games really influence kids to go out and do dangerous things anyway...more like the kid played the game because they already had the penchant for it.
 
People, I'm surprised at some of the comments to this post. Do you think Tobold seriously suggests banning racing games?

I thought it pretty obvious that this is about the absurdity of banning fps, when a positive connection between shootings and fps-playing yet remains to be (scientifically) proven.

Another example I have read about makes this abundantly clear: Most of the culprits of school shootings own sneakers - so let's put a ban on those dangerous sneakers ;-).

Politicians go to all lengths to forbid games that probably don't have much of an influence on death statistics just because these games are a strange thing which consequently scares them, and which seems a complete waste of time to them...whereas it's their neighbour's Toyota that they should be concerned about...

Talk about perception of dangers.
 
My favorite comment from the article

"He wasn't a ninja," Guglielmi said. "He may have been moderately trained or on the intermediate level."

People amaze me.

Anyway, we can't start blaming the media for people's actions. Every person is responsible for the deeds they commit and the actions they take. You don't get to scape goat onto the media just because you don't like the consequences of your actions. Overall, people need to take more responsibility for what they do.
 
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