Friday, March 20, 2009

Violent Video Redux...

An earlier post by yours truly chided well-meaning but misinformed American (ah, but I repeat myself) parents who allowed their children to play violent video games as long as they followed the "laws of war."

Now, a German retail giant has gone a laudable step further, as this article in Der Spiegel explains. Following a high-school killing spree that left 15 people dead, it was discovered that the shooter had spent the previous night virtual opponents in much the same manner that he would slaughter his classmates a few hours later. Galeria Kaufhof has now pulled all copies of such first-person shooters from its shelves and vowed not to distribute ultra-violent games.

The German government is also considering banning these types of games outright; said Joachim Hermann, the Bavarian interior minister "We must finally muster the courage to ban the most brutal games... It's not a question of media and artistic freedom anymore."

Bravo, Herr Hermann! Anyone who doubts the farsightedness of this policy should definitely read Chapter 7 of Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman's book "On Combat", some highlights of which include:

Through violent programming on television and in movies, and through interactive point-and-shoot video games, modern nations are indiscriminately introducing to their children the same weapons technology that major armies and law enforcement agencies around the world use to “turn off” the midbrain “safety catch” that Brigadier General S.L.A. Marshall discovered in World War II. In terms of combat evolution, this indiscriminate use of combat conditioning techniques on children is the moral equivalent of giving an assault weapon to every child in every industrialized nation in the world.

It remains to be seen if Germany will succeed in making Galeria Kaufhof's corporate policy of sacrificing the profitable sale of an addictive and dangerous "virtual substance" to increase public safety a national policy, or if it will succumb to the pressures to prostitute the public welfare to those who would rather make bloody lucre from the wholesale export of virtual violence as "good, clean fun" for der kinder, while hiding behind the myth that companies and citizens have an inherent "freedom of expression" and "artistic license" that transcends the common good.


LFC said...

I would support banning these types of games, which sound disgusting. However, as a side-note, I think it's hard to establish a cause-effect relation between playing the game and actually going on a shooting spree, as the German teenager in question did. At most, I think one could argue that the culture of violent games pushed an already disturbed kid over the edge, but he probably had to have been disturbed already. That would be my guess, without having gone into the details of this particular case. Effectively barring childrens' access to guns (which is more of a problem here than in Europe) would be a more immediate preventive measure. But ditch the games too, by all means.

hank_F_M said...

I heard LTC Grossman being interviewed a number of years ago.

One of his points it that the police and military temper this training with a strong dose of obey orders which more important than the order to shoot is the order not to shoot except under certain constrained circumstances. Video games teach the same skills but do not come with this indoctrination and if any thing, teach the opposite - no constraint in routine circumstances.

Since realistically it is impossible to completely eliminate these games, there needs to be strong cultural training about responsible use of force.

Kiara said...

I think the child has brain disorder. Why was he not able to digest the information that it was just a game. Ultra violent games, I think this kind of game should be completely eliminated though. There are numerous Download Games that children can play and learn at the same time.

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