Columnist: GTA IV “Stimulates Dark Impulses”

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Columnist: GTA IV “Stimulates Dark Impulses” -

In the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune, columnist Katherine Kersten has a lengthy whine about Grand Theft Auto IV:

Games like GTA IV stimulate and glamorize our dark impulses. They create a taste for the psychological thrill that can come from dominating and degrading others. They encourage us to strip our fellow human beings of their dignity, and view them merely as objects of violence or sexual desire.

The hazards of violent games will only increase as new, more advanced technologies like the Wii system take hold… you can act out a game physically.

The average 32-year-old man who plays violent video games — and spends his free hours fantasizing about murdering passersby and roughing up strippers — is likely to be someone’s husband and father. What qualities of character will his wife find when she looks to him for love, steadiness and fidelity?

And when his young son looks to Dad as a role model — well, that’s the problem, isn’t it?

[Game Politics]

So... I happen to be 32, at least for a few more weeks... I also happen to be fairly average, at least in terms of a game consumer...

So, is it a surprise to any of you that I don't think of the GTA game world in that way, at all? I certainly don't fantasize about murdering passersby or roughing up strippers in my free hours... even when I'm playing GTA IV. So, who is she talking about, again?

I don't think someone with such dark thoughts is average, at all. Nor do I think that GTAIV generates those dark thoughts -- I think mental disorder causes those dark thoughts. At best - and I use that word with a wince on my face - GTA IV is a catalyst, and to that I can only say, "If it's true the same must also be said of books, television and movies -- violence is pervasive and part of the culture. You can't fix the problem by pointing at one specific form of media."

We need to grow up, we need to look at this stuff seriously and stop painting with such broad strokes. Games are not the issue; if an issue exists at all, we need to recognize that it's much, much larger than that and we need to act accordingly.

For my own part, I don't really think there is a problem. I think it's a clever device used by people who would like us to remain scared and paranoid because it makes things easier for them. No tin-foil hat stuff here, just some pragmatic politics. Complacent people don't want things to change, but scared people will allow any change that seems to assuage their fears. A LOT has changed in America in the last 8 years, and it's hard to deny that fear is the primary reason.

I think the way to deal with the "problem" of violent media is to admit that we're a violent people. The statistics on violent crime are sort of interesting in that regard. Generally speaking, we grow less violent every year. Who's to say that isn't because we're expressing our violence in non-harmful ways, such as through entertainment media? I won't and can't say either way, but I'm sure someone could make that argument.

Unlike our ancestors, we live in an age where we can be violent and no one has to be hurt as a result, surely that's better for the species than the alternative, right? I mean, the fact that we still fight wars at all suggests we're not done being violent beings, but we're further along the path away from violence than we were 32 years ago, when I was born. Aren't we?

I haven't seen a race riot once, in my life. They still happen - but none have happened in my vicinity the entire time I've been alive... can the generations that weathered 1969 say the same? Maybe video games had a part in that remarkable difference.

Realistically, probably not, but can you honestly say they've made us worse people? The numbers don't back up the claim, so why do people still insist on making it?

I guess, as a species, we still have a long, long way to go.

- Snipehunter

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