Games, Guns, Politics and EA Earnings Call

“… there has been an  enormous amount of research done in the entertainment field about looking for linkages between entertainment content and actual violence, and they haven’t found any.  And I could give you long stories about how people in Denmark or the UK or Ireland or Canada consume as much or more violent games and violent media as they do  in the United States, and yet they have an infinitely smaller incidence of gun violence.”

- John Riccitello, EA Earnings Call, 31st Jan 2013

Like many non-Americans, I watch the current round of discussion in the aftermath of the (latest) tragic school shootings with mild bemusement. To me it reads as though the NRA blames computer games and basically anything and everything else they can think of except guns. And whilst the various industries and groups picked out rebutt the claims, they don’t seem able to respond in kind. Like:  It’s not the games, it’s the everything else including the guns. (I know how playground arguments go, that’s what you do.)

The part where the government then runs around consulting everyone and tries to think of some kind of quick fix doesn’t induce mild bemusement, that’s business as usual – except that the US government is more competent than our homegrown omnishambles.

Riccitello isn’t politically able to take a poke at the NRA  (too many US gamers and investors don’t want to hear that argument), but it is his job to defend his corner of the gaming industry, which is an uphill struggle when you can’t use one of your best arguments. As soon as he starts citing countries like Canada, the UK, Denmark, and Ireland (as per the above quote), it’s kind of implicit that:

  • Gamers are gamers. People are people.  So you can compare like with like in different countries.
  • One of the big differences between all of those places and the US is that they all have strict gun control, which may be relevant if we’re talking about gun crime.

In any case, EA are shuttering the Medal of Honor series for awhile, because the last game was a critical disaster that vastly underperformed in sales.   This is a purely business decision and nothing at all to do with the political climate. They’re enthusiastic about other shooters like Battlefield and again, they’re too reliant on selling shooters to criticise them or stop making them anyway.

So again, a bit of dancing on eggshells to put this across while backing the government’s call for research into video game violence and also asserting that there’s no connection between gaming and RL violence.

Gaming <—> Violence? Who knows?

We take tremendous joy in virtual violence. We squeal with glee when life-giving liquid squirts out of men’s necks. Does that cause violence? Probably not. I don’t have any concrete reason to believe so, anyway. But it gives violence an active, constant role in our day-to-day lives. We can’t just ignore that. We shouldn’t ignore that. It’d be outright irresponsible to do so.

– Nathan Grayson, Rock Paper Shotgun

Personally, I’m all for more research being done on links between gaming and violence. I doubt that gaming has much to do with violence, it’s as likely to be a substitute (i.e. people who might otherwise have gone out and got into fights may play games instead) as a normaliser. But I could be wrong, and it would be good to know more if we can.

And if it becomes less politically fashionable for devs to make ultra-realistic ultra-violent shmups then I won’t be complaining, since it increases the chance that more games will be made that I personally like. John Walker (also in RPS) argues that EA should not have canned Medal of Honor but instead use it to springboard a series of FPS games that challenges the players preconceptions and portrays the experience of soldiers with more choice (and therefore taking responsibility for the consequences of those choices) and less railroaded “kill X enemies” scenarios.

And I think “yes, that sounds interesting”, I’m playing through The Walking Dead at the moment and loving how it carefully explores its genre. I could imagine a war game that took a similar approach. But I don’t like FPS games, and that’s the problem in a nutshell. Your average FPS player may not be your average story-loving RPG fan. EA probably did the right thing to shoot MoH in the head.

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40 thoughts on “Games, Guns, Politics and EA Earnings Call

  1. The problem with any of these single-point answers (I’s Guns! No, it’s Games!) is that it ignores individual psychology and acculturation. Somewhat uncommon point of discussion here in the US but Switzerland and Finland have a large number of guns per capita, though not close to the US, but don’t have the problem with gun violence that we experience. Part of the answer is economic, part social integration vs. isolation, part of it is actually training gun owners. It’s a hideously complex problem if we insist that ultimate, rather than proximal, causes are the only possible route to investigate.

    More directly though, if games cause violence do tragedies cause suicide? I would imagine that is true for a small fraction of the population but is that a reason to ban the genre? Perhaps we should hire a raft of government “happiness monitors” who will ensue that no one is ever subjected to Hamlet and so endangered.

    Sarcasm aside, I do agree that it would be nice to see some work on other game concepts. Shooters and slashers are an easy sell with an obvious and immediate adrenal payoff but some creativity would be good.

  2. I’ve always felt that people inclined to violent acts would naturally prefer to play more violent games.

    One thing I really don’t like about where the current debate on stuff is going is the constant focus on people with mental health issues. There are more people who have suffered from mental health issues and did NOT commit some horrible crime than there are gun owners who did not commit a crime. And both of those groups of innocents are very large. It’s only the smallest percent who go nuts and want to hurt people.

    Not to mention that it makes me very nervous to see proposals about banning anything to people with mental health issues, because the only way to enforce that would be to create a database or lookup table that could be widely available. They’re talking about making a universal background check, which means that I’d need to check my neighbors criminal and psychological history before selling him a gun. Which means that I have to have that info _available_ to do so. I don’t want my neighbors being able to look me up. What if my boss wanted to check me out and found out that I saw a therapist for a few years back in college? Would that hurt my future promotion chances and salary?

    It’s worrisome. Also it’s hard enough for people having troubles to choose to seek therapy even in complete anonymity. Knowing that doing so would put you on a list of those who today can’t buy guns, maybe tomorrow can’t fly on planes? Not be a boy scout leader? Someday not work for the federal government at all? Not be able to adopt or foster children? It’s such a barrier to seeking aid that I think we’d lose more people to preventable suicides than any possible benefit of doing it.

    • “One thing I really don’t like about where the current debate on stuff is going is the constant focus on people with mental health issues.”

      It’s miserable, and people with mental health issues don’t have multi billion dollar lobbying interests arguing their case in the way that guns, films, and computer games do.

      I’m not here to argue the gun control case, it’s down to Americans to decide what they want to do in their country. I do think you could save lives if people at risk of suicide didn’t have access to guns, though. And I also think it’s entirely reasonable for fostering social workers to want to know if foster parents are able to manage their own mental health issues.

      • The U.S mental health care system is abysmal, is the thing. Many years ago many institutions were shut down and many ill people had no where to go but the streets. It’s an offshoot of the same problems we have with out healthcare system in general — poor people are generally out of luck at getting care, and that includes if you have a mental illness.

  3. It’s hard to get the American attachment to guns. I can see that part of it comes from very skilful politicking by the industry and the NRA. But a lot of it comes from a view that it’s right for regular people to carry guns.

    It’s constitutional so maybe that’s part of it. But the constitution was written in the eighteenth century after a Revolution. And it’s not, on the whole radicals who want to overthrow the US government who are loud in support of private gun ownership.

    It’s also hard to see a military scenario where citizens with rifles will matter when the US professional armed forces can’t cope.

    So if the reason citizens own guns is not to overthrow the government nor to protect against foreign invasion what are these weapons for? I suspect the answer is vigilantism, and further fantasy vigilantism. People watch films like Taken and Commando where one man has his daughter kidnapped and shoots a load of people and gets her back safe and decide they want a gun. Those scenarios are pure fantasy though, most parents attempting an sas-style rescue would just get themselves shot or shoot the wrong person or screw it up in some other way.

    But I guess that as long as their daughter isn’t kidnapped they can feel happy and secure in the “knowledge” that they could protect their family if necessary. Basically it’s a security blanket for man-children.

    • I think it’s very foreign to non Americans to see the right to bear arms as a basic inalienable human right.

      (Also we have the benefit of hindsight to say that the founding fathers were incorrect if they thought the right to bear arms was necessary to a free state. Because in the modern world, there are plenty of states with good civil rights which also practice gun control.)

    • “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Army, shall not be infringed.”

      That is a very 18th century view of a Federalist state in which the vast bulk of the nation’s armed forces are controlled by the constituent states as a wedge against central authority. It’s no longer the political reality of the US. It is also not well applied by the courts as the militia clause is routinely discounted.

      Non-criminal, non-revolutionary, non-sociopath ownership of weapons is usually based on one of three things:

      1) Need. Hunters, ranchers, and other people who live far enough out in the wild that they need to own guns, varmint or otherwise. Australians understand this sort of thing much better than Europeans in my experience.

      2) Sport. Quite a few people target or skeet shoot and have a legitimate need for weapons to practice their hobby.

      3) Fear. Each time there is a killing, or a rape, or a slaughter people become understandably afraid and want to get a weapon for self-defense. Unfortunately many do not get training or learn safe storage. And let’s not forget that there is a significant profit center in encouraging people to make fear purchases.

      It’s also rather important to not that none of those points requires military hardware. There is no defensible reason to own an AR-15 or a Kalashnikov and extended magazines.

      • It’s not unusual for a farmer to own a shotgun here either, and I suspect even more common on continental europe (being bigger).

        I take your point, but I think that as soon as you are arguing that people should have a need before they own a gun, you’re already stepping away from the rights argument. Or rather, if you argue that only people who need guns should have them (which is pretty much the default position here), then that’s a bit different from arguing that they’re a human right. It is confusing that people in category 3) will argue that they are in category 1) though :)

      • Only to a degree. One of the tragedies of the late 20th century was that rights and responsibilities were divorced. Under a strict constructionist view you have the right to arms but the responsibility to participate in a well regulated militia. Even removing that clause, which I believe is a mistake, we still regularly restrict rights – the classic “you cannot yell fire in a crowded theater” comes to mind. There is no logical reason not to apply at least the level of diligence to firearms ownership that is applied to a driver’s license. Emotionally, however, some people hold weapons to a different standard..

      • 1) Need. Granted, I accept this and as Spinks says the same applies in gun controlled countries too.

        2) Sport. Don’t accept this. Leave the weapons at the range. If you mean hunting then I’m opposed to that as a form of entertainment.

        3) Fear. I don’t think this is quite the right word. I used to do martial arts and at one point a lot of us realised we would love to be mugged or picked on in the street. We were responsible enough not to go pick fights with untrained people but some thug asking for our wallets? Hell yeah that would have been fantastic. I think a lot of gun people in America seem the same – they’d love a reason to use it (the Commando/Taken scenario). These guys aren’t scared.

        If instead we use “anticipation of violence” which covers anything from a waitress who has to walk home every night through a bad neighbourhood to a nut living on a mountain awaiting the zombie apocalypse I don’t actually see why we can’t licence these people on a case by case basis.

      • Stabs, I don’t think I explained myself clearly enough. My three points are on the reasons people decide to purchase weapons. Licensing, mandatory training, holding people responsible for safe storage – I consider those to be common sense practice. But if you ask most nominally sane and non-criminal people why they want a gun it comes down to one of those three cases. And none of them require a Bushmaster with an extended magazine.

        “Fear” is definitively the word I wanted. I know two women who have concealed-carry permits because they work in areas that have a not-really-good policing record. Both purchased the weapons out of fear. The handgun may be a way to assuage the fear but I have no doubt that fear motivated the purchase. I personally question the sanity of the would-be vigilante who hopes for a shoot-out. What sane person not only wants to risk death but is eager to seriously injure or kill another?

        And there is a “citizen militia” in one of the more whacked states that does claim to be preparing for the zombie apocalypse…

    • I had a long, detailed discussion with some absolutist Second Amendment supporters. The thread started with a post that said, “You can’t say you support freedom if you tell me I can’t buy firearms.”

      I was pretty ambivalent about gun control, but after the discussion my opinion shifted to very strongly in favor of gun control. I’ve been to Europe and while there are certainly encroachments of freedom there (how about a few more cameras spying on citizens, England?), I didn’t feel more or less free than I did in the U.S. I just had a different list of freedoms that were valued.

      Basically, what i got from the conversation was that stringent second amendment supporters treat guns like a magical talisman. With a gun, they can ward off foreign invasion and a tyrannical government just by having them. For others, the gun is a symbol of their rights and honor, taking away their gun means taking away their honor. For you English readers, think of it like someone wanting to abolish the royal family. Only gun sales don’t exactly promote tourism, I guess.

      One person in the discussion talked about guns protecting us against “jackboots”, a reference to the Nazi takeover and invasion of other countries. I mentioned that a tyrannical government or foreign invader would more likely use unmanned drones or bombers, like the U.S has done in the wars we’ve been fighting for the past decade. I also reminded them that the attack in 2001 didn’t involve a single armed soldier stepping foot on American soil. The concept of protecting against “jackboots” is so hilariously antiquated, but it’s a serious argument for them.

      I also asked where these defenders of freedom were when the executive branch suspended the rights of habeas corpus or when it defined “enemy combatants” to circumvent people’s rights and rules of engagement. Where were they when the government stooped to torture to get false information that perpetuated costly wars? Answers were not forthcoming.

      In the end, I decided I would prefer to see less guns. As other people have said, we have restrictions on other rights that are guaranteed by the U.S. Bill of Rights. The freedom of speech doesn’t allow me to libel/slander someone. The freedom of religion doesn’t allow me to engage in human sacrifice. We take steps to prevent people from harming others, I don’t see why firearms should be any different.

      I also see a rather toxic attitude being perpetrated, that guns are the solution to any problem. That gun owners should be able to decide when the government has become a tyranny and should be able to go shooting when they feel like it, even though obvious violations of our rights go unnoticed. Or the (not-so) subtle threats of gun violence, where people say things like, “I hope the government backs down, because all those people have guns and, gee, you never know what might happen if they feel threatened!”

      I’d be happy if guns were eliminated as a “choice” for having to deal with problems, so that people would actually choose to deal with problems rather than ignoring them because they have a gun to “protect themselves”. I’d also like to see our police officers become helpful members of the community like we see on old TV show rather than a paramilitary arm that treats every citizen like an armed crazy person when they see them in the street.

      Maybe I’m just an idealist. :P

  4. I’m working at a place where many medias (mediums?) are represented, so I’ve been told all of their stories: books would corrupt the masses, and should be available only to the educated elite, films ect colour-films ect ect MUSIC ect ect, television so on and now games.

    I’m tired of this part of history repeating. My bet is, that the same people saying games are making people violent, where in their youth defending either television or movies or music of the same.

    And until I see a study telling me otherwise, ill still believe it’s people and their easy access to instruments of rash-unrecallable-tools that’s to blame for these sort of things.

  5. Eurogamer did a surprisingly good piece on the connections between arms dealers and FPS game. It’s a real thing, though another thing I got out of it was that there is still a problem of kids getting their hands on adult-rated games they should NOT be playing. I don’t know how widespread parental ignorance is over how to figure out a game’s content rating, but I get the impression that maybe that is something we should be focusing on harder as well.

    In my opinion, military assault rifles have no place being easily-acquired in ANY country, and making it harder for people to get them is not infringing on anyone’s 2nd Amendment rights; the Founders were not talking about people keeping personal-grade military arsenals! Regardless, since the NRA is owned by gun manufacturing interests, they directly benefit from glamorized weaponry and people having easy access to buy them, therefore Pierre’s statement come from a place of self-interest rather than actual concern for what’s best for our society.

    http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-02-01-shooters-how-video-games-fund-arms-manufacturers

  6. Sigh. Europeans largely don’t understand guns. You haven’t had to, the US protected you from the USSR and continues the world police gig even today. It’s easy to be all morally superior when the rough men protecting you aren’t even from your country.

    Military assault rifles are not easily acquired in the US. Military assault rifles can shoot more than one bullet per pull of the trigger. To get one, the person must pay $400 for the government to do a background check. If cleared (over six months later), then the person can buy one of the pre-1985 weapons if one becomes available, adding another $200 for a special tax stamp. It’s a niche market, and very expensive.

    What the media describes as military assault rifles are civilian semi-automatic rifles made to look like military. I can take my ranch carbine and change out the stock, sight, foregrip and such to where it will look like a military weapon in less than 15 minutes if I cared to do so. It would shoot the same bullets the same way, but somehow would be ‘evil’.

    As far as infringing on the second amendment, that’s been happening since 1934. The Founders were definitely talking about people keeping military arsenals. History lesson: the English raid on Concord was to confiscate cannon. Yes, we colonials had cannon, and attempting to take those cannon with the 18th century equivalent of a swat team was a prime mover for the American Revolution.

    Why were almost 2 million firearms purchased in 2 months? Why is ammunition in short supply? I guarantee that the people that bought the stuff do not plan on giving it all up to the government. What we have seen is folks arming themselves for another civil war. I do hope that level heads prevail and the government backs down, otherwise…

    • . I do hope that level heads prevail and the government backs down, otherwise…

      To whom exactly is your government supposed to back down to? The zombie apocalypse guys?

    • Then I guess it depends on what your definition of a ‘well regulated’ militia is. A bunch of private citizens sitting on stockpiles in their basement is neither ‘regulated’ nor answerable to anyone else.

    • ” It’s easy to be all morally superior when the rough men protecting you aren’t even from your country.”

      Lucky for you we protected the world from Argentina in 1982 while you guys tried to pretend it wasn’t happening :P

      • LOL! Hey, Thatcher wanted all the glory from that one. We did supply you guys, and were prepping the Iwo Jima to turn over for a Harrier aircraft carrier, but the spanking ended before it was ready for you folks to take possession. Sorry!

  7. In 1774 there was no US army. The cannon were for the use of the militia.

    I’m sure your military uses guns, but when another country spends more on your defense than your own country does, the attitude changes. As far as military effectiveness goes, judging from Afghanistan, the Brits and Canadians are decent, the rest have been more hindrance than help.

    Stabs, know your memes. Zombie apocalypse guys don’t use EBR’s (evil black rifles) as a general rule. 5.56mm is better at wounding than killing, and zombies don’t care much about wounds. Shotguns and large-caliber rifles work much better. Believe it or not, there was no organized push to weapon-up, it happened spontaneously. Is that worrisome? It should be, to those wishing to disarm the US citizen.

    Pai, the militia is defined in law (search for militia act in wikipedia). Every able-bodied male between the ages of 18 and 50, with exceptions for older veterans, is the American militia.
    “A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.” — George Washington
    Answerable? The government answers to us, the people. Well Regulated? That means that felons and the insane are not part of the militia, no more.

    • You, sir, need to review the Militia Act of 1903. The “well regulated” militia is the National Guard and Army Reserve. The rest of us are the “unorganized militia”. There is interesting legal consequence to that phrase but it is quite clear, as the Dick Act intended, that the unorganized part was an escape clause for the vase majority of men who did not want to face “well regulated” militia service.

      • I know what the Dick Act is, and it is indeed aptly named. It, like many other acts of Congress, encroached upon the Constitution and was allowed to do so. That totally changed the meaning of the Founders, as is obvious by their writings and the first militia act. I am also cognizant of the various gun control acts that have followed. That does not make them right, and more folks are saying ‘no more’ by their words and actions.

    • This is going to sound like a strange argument to any non Americans, because you have a democratically elected government, taking all guns away isn’t even on the agenda, and a civil war/revolution would cause untold misery for millions. Plus no war ever has been won via small arms.

      Anyhow, you guys are welcome to keep discussing this and exchanging views as long as it all stays civil! I don’t expect any minds are going to be changed so try not to get too worked up (that’s a general comment, not aimed at anyone in particular).

  8. Guns are not sufficient, or even necessary, for a free society. Start with Saudi Arabia that has about 35/100 (US is 88/100), or Yemen at 54/100. Somehow those societies are not free, not even close. Maybe they’re just 30 guns short. On the other hand, the Netherlands are at a mere 3.9/100 and as far as I can tell, have not yet been rounded up and sent to concentration camps (maybe the cover-up is just that good). There is no correlation between freedom and weapons.

    There is a correlation between freedom and respect for the democratic process and for using voting and protest as the first hedge against potential tyranny. Go to a town hall in New England and see a strong debate about all aspects of their government, with many voices represented, and not a single gun is needed to get their point across. Freedom is not maintained by threatening to kill anyone who opposes you; that is, in fact, tyranny.

  9. I’m wary of more studies being done to “show the connection between games and violence.” Ignoring the fact that this premise already implies a connection exists, there are two main reasons.

    1. “Lies, damned lies, and statistics.” As much as we might like to pretend that a study would be completely scientific and unbiased, it’s pretty common for studies to support a bias. It might be obvious, but the worse one are the one with subtle bias. Keep in mind that bias can be for or against the issue. But, we’re dealing with a soft science here, and there are no absolute answers.

    2. It will resolve nothing, only potentially making things worse. There have been plenty of studies done before, and people can just cherry-pick the ones that support their position, or at least say the results are “inconclusive” (and that it’s better to protect innocents now than to take any chances).

    So, we have three likely outcomes:

    Study shows games don’t cause violence. Politicians promptly ignore it and keep scare-mongering, presenting the newest media as the corrupter of children. Any references will be countered by references to older studies that had a bias toward showing a connection, or use pithy sayings like, “the absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence.”

    Study shows games do cause violence. (This could happen even if they don’t, because of biases.) Even though games have first amendment protection, if they present a danger they can be heavily regulated. Games become like pornography, and the U.S. industry withers.

    Study is inconclusive. Politicians keep scare-mongering without worry of being discredited at all.

    If there were a chance that a study could demonstrate that games do not cause violent behavior, I’d be all for it. But, “you can’t prove a negative.” (Not quite true, but you get the sentiment.)

    • I’m a bit more optimistic than you about what research might achieve. What it likely won’t do is come out with any clear results about the longterm effects of violent video games on behaviour. The government is also really unlikely to stomp a successful (and growing) industry, and the industry won’t stop making AAA shooters if they sell well.

      I also side-eye the articles I’ve seen about how arms manufacturers advertise in games. I don’t doubt that they do, but for most players, the chance to virtually fire a tricked out assault rifle is up there with driving a Pillar Box Red Lamboughini in a racing game as a harmless virtual fantasy.

      But it might stimulate researchers and designers to think about how design can be used for good. I’m sure there’s tons of research on games being used for learning and therapeutic purposes. Could game design make it less likely that people will ragequit (ie. help them to calm down before they log out)? Could game design help people with anger management issues learn to handle their emotions? Could they encourage people to make friends, reach out to strangers and develop empathy? Could these types of design make it into AAA games?

      A lot of the discussion about F2P design in the last year have been about how games can be designed with the specific goal of making money rather than fun. So if game designers have these skills to drive player behaviour (which I am sure they do), could fun, successful, games be designed with social good in mind?

      Those all seem questions worth asking, to me. I’m excited to see the answers.

      • You probably are more of a diehard optimist than I am. After all, you think the U.S. government is somehow competent according to the article above. ;)

        I think any game designer who is going to be influenced to try to use games for good is going to be more influenced by other designers than by a government-funded study. Many designers I know were influenced by Jane McGonigal’s book Reality is Broken, which touches on the power as games. A government study is likely only to be fodder for people already participating in the debate.

        The reality, though, is that the games industry is still a for-profit industry. It will make whatever sells. We’re seeing more people creating interesting side projects, but real change comes slowly as the market and culture changes. I think games are like most media in that they reflect culture, but don’t necessarily have a lot of power to change it.

      • “I think any game designer who is going to be influenced to try to use games for good is going to be more influenced by other designers than by a government-funded study”

        I think they’ll be influenced if the government offers suitable tax subsidies. I’m not THAT much of an optimist :)

      • Stumbled across a perfect example of what I mean. I was listening to Jane McGonigal’s TED 2012 talk and she said there was a study that said game playing was as good as anti-depressents at addressing depression. Hooray! Issue resolved!

        Not so fast. Found a press release about the study:

        http://www.ecu.edu/cs-admin/news/newsstory.cfm?ID=1906

        Now, obviously McGonigal thought this was worthwhile enough to mention in a TED talk. But, it’s easy to pull this apart. It focuses on “casual” games, specifically non-violent ones. It’s underwritten by a developer of such casual games, PopCap. This article is also about 2 years old, so those results didn’t change much. (Also note this is before EA bought PopCap, so we can’t blame EA for any underhandedness.)

        So, this study is basically a reflection of a person’s desires. Want to believe games are always good? You look at the results and cheer for the home team. Want to believe games are corrupting young minds? Attack the underwriter of the study.

        As I said, in the end, little is likely to change, no matter how many studies we get.

      • I hear what you’re saying but I’d take another angle. I know frex after my father died, I found there were some games that I found quite soothing (I think I may have blogged about it at the time), so I could easily imagine some games might help some depressed people to manage some symptoms some of the time.

        Yeah, lots of ‘some’ in that sentence, it can never be an easy cure or one size fits all, and ridiculous of her to say that playing a game can substitute for anti depressants. (Although maybe some people get prescribed drugs when they don’t actually need them or will get much help from them.) However it should be something health workers are aware of so that they can invite patients who are gamers to try game X when they are feeling down/ liable to self harm and see if it helps. That’s a good research outcome, IMO. (Frex, in the UK they sometimes prescribe self help books for mild depression.)

        So if you see her talk in the context of a target audience (doctors, healthcare workers) who may have ZERO understanding of games as media that can affect mood positively, her message makes more sense.

        Example: I was working with families and did a visit with a child psychologist to a mum and 4yo. The psychologist commented afterwards that there were computer games in the house that the child played. I said “Sure,” and explained how I’d talked to the family about it and they were all age appropriate and/or educational games, and while I had some concerns that the kid was being parked in front of the games/TV, I didn’t think the games per se were harmful. She was silent a moment. Then she said “I’d never thought of games as being age appropriate.” That’s the people McGonigal needs to reach.

  10. reading some of the replies and just..

    1. NRA doesn’t represent all gun owners. not even close. they are a lobby organization that lately seems to do more harm then good.
    2. Media is very deliberately skewing things to look a certain way. I’ve been seen as anti family planning, anti everything, just because I’m against ineffectual changes they are trying to make when it comes to gun laws.
    3. even if you live near a police station – response time is almost never less then 5 minutes a lot can happen in 5 minutes. a law abiding citizen protecting themselves with a gun is able to do something to protect themselves immediately.
    4. no martial arts self defense will protect me from someone who heavily outweighs me. or outnumbers me. guns are equalizers. AND deterrents.
    5. crime happens even in very “safe” neighborhoods. especially safe neighborhoods, and criminals love gun free zones, because then they are not getting resistance.
    6. taking away guns or implementing odd measures like less ammunition per magazine (because switching already loaded magazines is slow or something, not to mention – there’s always illegally obtaining military grade stuff) – will not stop criminals from being criminals. even if somehow you will manage to make guns completely impossible to find for everyone (and considering that you can make at least basic guns in your own backyard with very rudimentary tools…), criminals, people who’d like to do some damage – would resort to other methods. mass stabbings do happen. mass bombings certainly do happen and bombs are easier to make with stuff that you can get anywhere, with a bit of basic chemistry knowledge and some cash.
    7. Chicago has some of the strictest gun control laws in a country. it also has some of the highest occurrence of gun violence. why? because criminals don’t care about laws. they are criminals. law abiding citizens do. and they are the ones getting disarmed, made into criminals because a new law declared that some often purely cosmetic feature they used to have on their gun is now illegal.

    education, training – those are important. but demonizing anything, be it guns or video games or anything else – fixes absolutely nothing.

    and btw, if I were to suicide, i wouldn’t use a gun. I would use over the counter (aka no prescription needed, just walk in and buy) sleeping pills. why? less mess, more reliable, aiming at self is much harder then just grabbing some pills and falling asleep. it would be nice though if anti depressants didn’t have a common side effect of making you MORE suicidal.
    lastly – I would direct you to an absolutely fantastic write up by Big bear butt as well as the article he quoted. http://thebigbearbutt.com/2013/01/10/i-am-standing-by-what-i-believe-in/
    and after you are done, please watch this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-oNMHNrS-8&feature=share

    thank you
    P.S. I don’t appreciate the fantasy vigilantism assumption. I cannot say for every single person because I don’t know what every single person thinks, but I can say that for most people, they hope to never use their firearms in self defense. they hope to never need to. it is a case of “better to have and not need, then need and not have” it is the same reason why I have antihistamines, etc in my first aid kit. hell, its the reason why I HAVE a first aid kit.

    • ” if I were to suicide, i wouldn’t use a gun. I would use over the counter (aka no prescription needed, just walk in and buy) sleeping pills. ”

      I’d have guessed you were female just from this comment, even if you weren’t posting with a female name. Guns are way more popular as a suicide method among men, women do tend to favour pills. (So really, it’s our fathers, sons, brothers, lovers (for straight/bi women) and male friends etc who are more vulnerable to this specific issue.)

    • This smells like astroturf. It covers a ton of stock arguments I’ve already seen in other places.

      Two rebuttals:

      1. “no martial arts self defense will protect me from someone who heavily outweighs me. or outnumbers me. guns are equalizers. AND deterrents.”

      It’s called Judo, and it really is effective in defending yourself against a larger opponent or multiple opponents if you’re good. Problem is, it takes work to get good, and it’s a lot easier to just go get a gun license and firearm.

      If someone steps out from between cars in a parking garage pointing a gun at you, you aren’t going to have time to fumble for the gun in your purse or in a concealed holster. But, you absolutely can get them in a wrist lock if you’ve trained and are fast enough. Of course, the reality is that you should give them whatever they want instead of being the vigilante hero and trying to stop them, because your stuff is more easily replaceable than your life.

      And, I’m not sure how a gun helps you if three people step out from between cars with guns, even if you’re packing an Uzi.

      2. “…criminals don’t care about laws. they are criminals.”

      This old chestnut. The purpose of gun control isn’t to eliminate gun crime, it’s to reduce the availability of guns. It’s to make sure little Johnny doesn’t find daddy’s firearm and treat it like a toy. It’s to make sure daddy doesn’t lose his temper and use the gun to teach mommy a deadly lesson. It’s to make sure someone doesn’t get mad at their mother, go steal her guns, shoot her, then go to a school and murder children and teachers. And, yes, it’ll keep a some criminals who intend to commit a crime from having a deadly weapon. But, no, it won’t magically stop crime, but it will stop a whole lot of senseless firearm fatalities.

      You say that criminals would just use knives, but those are a much less deadly weapon. The same day that Sandy Hook hit the news, someone in China attacked a school with a knife. 22 wounded, none dead. Yes, 22 wounded people, mostly kids, is still a tragedy. But, take a look at the Sandy Hook stats and tell us again how knives are just as horrific as guns.

      The reality is that if the U.S. really wants to cut down on crime, we’d outlaw handguns. But, that’s pretty much a non-starter for gun advocates, isn’t it?

  11. I’ve a hard time stomaching this debate. if we consider millions of people play violent games, and a handful of those may one day happen to shoot someone else or multiple people in real life – then surely that is proof that games are NOT to blame? what is the relation here that warrants endless studies and media hype? the ’70% of all killers ate bread the day before’-ad may be cynical nonsense, but the message it tries to convey is fairly clear. there are a ton of things murderers have in common which are a lot more likely and plausible to connect than gaming….but of course to go there as a society is to have a very hard look at yourself and how you treat your so-called ‘outliers’.

    PS. If there’s places where guns are still ‘taught’ properly, it’s certain parts of Europe. I’m appalled how few people in the US actually learn to handle guns responsibly and the way they can be acquired without training and checks. for what its worth, there’s probably one to two army rifles in every household where I live and it’s one of the most peaceful countries in the entire world. party because guns aren’t a big cool deal and the military teaches young men early on how to handle the responsibility of owning one. not that I’m a fan of our military – I think it’s a waste of time. but to me that’s the way to go about weapons; nothing adds mystery the way prohibition does.

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