Thursday, June 25, 2009

FINALS: Episode 25 - "Violence is Golden"

UPDATE! As of 9/13/11, this episode can be found on the NEW ScrewAttack at THIS LINK.

Here it is, folks. Episode 25, in which I finally get around to The Big One: Video game violence. I could think of no place more appropriate to do this than in my Finals entry in the ScrewAttack contest...

If you enjoy it, why not go HERE and vote for me in the contest itself?

However it goes down, I appreciate every vote I've gotten and will get. None of this is possible without the fans, and I don't plan on forgetting that.


Aurabolt said...

I just saw it..and I want to believe you, and I do for the most part. We need to fight back. We need to talk and be heard so that these fools can understand or at least someone who thinks within the government can make their voice heard...Not like I think gaming legislation can go anywhere anyway, due to the amount of money it rolls in for a global economy, and to a lesser extent, the economy of a country...

But, I feel mad (this may be my Asperger's, mind you. I tend to feel things out of context) and hurt because they are harming something I have cared about since I was 4, and when something I care about is being hurt, I want to hurt them back. It's not like I have raved at them or anything, but I've wanted to. Badly. I don't know if you want to either, but it seems like "Fighting Smart" is not nearly as forceful or effective from a purely technical standpoint. I'm sure you're right, and I'm sure I'm missing something, but I'm willing to do what is nescessary...although I don't know if Senate people or Congressmen will even take the time of day to listen to people.

Craig said...

The problem with fighting smart is that the idiots won't know they've been punched in the face. They are litterly that stupid.

A good piece of evidence for this is Jim Sterling's interview with Jack Thompson.

and this enlighting exchange between the two

Seriously, these guys are so thick they could be used as cement.

@Aurabolt, i'm sure they'd be intrested if you voting for them was concened.

Eric said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric said...

Nice overview, and I love that you outright start with saying "you guys are wrong". The fact that we even have to debate this question is patently ridiculous when it has been debated before in the context of comic books, as well as rock music, rap music, and television. Every decade, there is a new scapegoat, and for some reason we never look to the past and realise that we're just repeating the same idiotic arguments over and over. This shit goes back to ancient Greece - hell, Plato was a believer in the powers of persuasion of theatre on simple people, and thought it should be outlawed to stop them from potentially being deceived by it, not because he was afraid people would start shooting each other, but because he thought it would stifle creativity and free thinking. Here we still are, though, trying to

I thought the whole rallying cry at the end was a little overdramatic, to be honest, but you did a great job nevertheless. There are places where games (maybe we need a less suggestive word for them?) are discussed in an intelligent sort of way, but they are small, and need to be found. Such things are so far beyond the mass media and mainstream understanding of games that I doubt they would as of yet even be recognised as legitimate discussions and arguments.

I've always sort of said it, but what we need is time - time for the old to die off and the new to come along and take up the reigns. It's maybe a little sick, but with every new generation comes new ideas, ideals and new concerns. Why do we no longer talk about Communism as a serious threat, or comic books, or whatever? Largely, because the people who were responsible for creating moral panic over those things are all long dead, and those who always claimed the accusations were ridiculous moved on to become the ones with the political and media power (for the most part). I have to wonder - when I've got grey hair and liver spots, and games are considered antiquated, will we be blaming all the crime on the new virtual reality simulators that are all the rage? I wouldn't be surprised if the same thing happens all over again - and don't say that it won't, because I'm sure the ones who thought the anti-comics movement was ridiculous thought they would never be so blind as to question the influence of television.

Alex Howard said...

I liked that a lot, mainly because you're asking we repudiate Gabriel's Greater Internet Dickwad theory, and elevate our arguments to a higher level.

However, the connection to the Silver Age of comics (something I think might become more and more apt with each passing year) got me thinking. It's been decades since that, and only recently have comics managed to escape just being labeled ridiculous kiddy entertainment, and into art. They've only just started to be considered in the universities as actual pieces of literature, able to be taught and critically evaluated. So, does this mean it'll be another half century before videogames begin to reach the true potential we predict for them? Because, I don't want to have to wait that long.

Also, just an addendum about Wertham, he wasn't a total hack, or, if he was, some of his hack-ness did some good: some of his findings on racial segregation were used as evidence during Brown v. Board of Education. I mean, I'm not defending the man for what he did to comics, which I love, but he's also not the villain that everyone would prefer he be.

Kyle said...

Good luck man. I've enjoyed your stuff for a long time. All the best.

When you see me other places I'm KyleGamgee, btw.

Violence is Golden: Genius.

Mark said...


Back in prime form, in my opinion. I totally appreciate that this is not only an innocent musing, but a call to action, and a wake-up to us gamers about our responsibility for the medium. I also enjoy the new format - show a bit of yourself, show some cool 8-bit thought bubbles, otherwise engage us. It works. Keep up the excellent work.

However, I should go against the grain for a moment. I totally agree that gaming doesn't cause violence, nor does TV, etc. However, I don't personally believe that the arguments in favor of it are totally BS - or rather, they are at least based on a sort of misguided half-truth. I think they are an exaggerated, possibly even diabolical misinterpretation of something I *do* believe happens - gaming helps to *desensitize* us. I've seen hitler's head explode in a game. I've seen it in movies, TV., comics. Some of use gamers have probably even seen it in snuff films on the 'net. The fact is, the notion of such a thing probably doesn't bother me as much as it would my 97 year old great grandmother. Would I vomit and burst into tears if i saw it in real life? Probably, but I also feel pretty certain that to a certain extent we are desensitized to violence because of the entertainment we have. Does that mean we are any more likely to engage in it? heck no, but I think it goes a long way to explain what these people *think* they are seeing in gamers. Disagree?

Jamazz said...

I was very impressed by your video. People often find scape-goats for their problems. By pinning the cause of his or her issues on wanton beliefs and illogical reasoning, they find an excuse to what the REAL cause may be. These individuals need to find the root cause of what truly happens to violence supposedly disseminated from video games. Your absolutely right, and all the ambiguous finger-pointing needs to stop. The same bull happens with gun rights. People fail to believe that people kill people, not guns. The same thing can be surmised with video games. People kill people, not video games. Bravo, Game Overthinker; your message speaks volumes.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand...we are in the right, because we are thinkers, not believers? Sure, I mean, the facts are on our side - no studies have managed to find a link between videogame violence and real violence. But, in the case of comic books, there WAS a study. Were the people who defended comic books back then only believers?

I, for one, don't care about studies. I am a believer. I believe in freedom of speech. Sure, right now, no links have been found, but, if they are found eventually, I won't switch sides. I think the most important thing in this world is the freedom to read whatever you want, to say whatever you want, and to play whatever games you want. Nothing's gonna change that.

In my view, people who don't think this way are the problem. It doesn't matter if it's their religion, Jack Thompson, a child psychiatrist or some bogus study, they're all connected by one idea - the lack of respect for other people's freedoms. And, this is what must change. Not scientific studies, or erudite discussions.

Well, that's just my opinion.

Ender said...

I thought this video was particularly sharp and well argued. You missed one of video games' major original influences, good old D&D. This was the major one during the 70s and 80s, and acusations inlcuded incouraging drug use.
Those who call for censorship should be fought, at every step, at every point, with every breath. It is a natural human tendency to want to have others to believe, to think, or to act the way that we do. The memes that run our daily lives are powerful things, and they natural lead us to try and share them. This is a normal part of life, but the danger comes where government steps in.
The simple fact is, we would all have a good laugh at Sen. Libierman everything he started his mindless acusations if we all knew the government had no power to impose censorship. It is true as true for us who see our favorite entertainment targeted by the 'save the children' crowd. Notice the theme in all the examples provided? It's always about saving the children.
And you have allies. Millions of them, if we could all just band together and demand government get out of our lives.
The gun nuts and the pot heads, role-players and gamblers, smokers, those who like rich foods and loud music. We're all under attack, and from all sides. The police state grows and metasizes and grows some more.
You're too right, but it's so much more than you cover...

Nicolas said...

First off, I'd like to say I've been a big fan of yours for awhile now. Previously, I've never felt it necessary to leave a comment since I hold the truths and ideas you present to be self-evident.

Since I reached the age of reason, I've despised people like Sen. Joe Lieberman and Hilary Clinton, both for their pre-supposed, ill-informed views and the danger they present to one of my favorite pastimes, Gaming. I completely agree with your assertion that they are believers and as such, should be treated to intelligent rebuttal WHENEVER they make accusations about the psychological manifestations of the continued participation in video gaming culture when they have ABSOLUTELY NO evidence to back up their claims. Without evidence, empirical evidence that can debated, analyzed, and repeated, everything they say is hearsay.

Further, your thesis that violence video games is no more 'responsible' for violence than film, literature, music, art, etc. was worded eloquently. If we examine any of the forms of the arts (or geek culture), one can find that the acceptance of simulated violence is widespread and deeply embedded in American culture. Graphically violent gorehouse films, lyrically explicit music and other violent media are capable of delivering enjoyable violence to viewers without converting them into killers and sadists because every human everywhere is fully capable and actively engages in cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously.

For example, say someone watches Dexter or American Psycho. Both programs feature protagonist serial killers, both struggling to cope with their 'condition' and, obviously, violently murder a number of innocents on their path to self-understanding. The average (American) viewer can watch both of these programs and revel in the bloodshed. However, at the same time, usually unaware to him or her, an internal struggle occurs where the embedded morals of the viewer recognize the violence as a brutal violation of human rights. They would never condone, let alone enjoy, the act of watching a serial killer if they were within proximity of said person. They would feel afraid, and upset for the poor soul who's live is currently being robbed. However, they subconsciously acknowledge that the crime being on screen is simulated and by its very nature, non-existent. Fantasy of that kind cannot affect reality (at least, it hasn't been proven it can't).

The same can be said for video games. Because it's 'make-believe,' it's okay.

Like you said, the invasive politicians will always find new ways to obstruct liberty and captivate the minds of worried parents in the process, nearly always without any solid evidence to back them up. As for fighting smart, I agree that people should find some way, any way to get involved.

Literature, film, and music should be more closely analyzed and appreciated in order to produce a more intelligent society, free of Tyler-Perryism. Video gamers need to start taking their games as serious as these other mediums because they allow creative and intelligent individuals to weave together stories, characters, ideas, and messages in ways that may or may not get through to anyone.

Ryan said...

First off, let me say that this is a great video...that I happen to disagree with to a certain extent.

Video games do cause violence. Or rather, they cause an increase in aggressive behavior and thoughts. However, the increase is so slight that, if someone were to go on a killing spree because they played Call of Duty 5: World at War, they were pretty fucked up to start with. "Video games made me do it" is, unfortunately, a good defense, and one that contributes to the fear of the unknown (Which, in turn, contributes to the fact that it is a good defense: it's a Jormundgandr cycle.).

I'm glad you mentioned "Seduction of the Innocent," since it is one of the first (American) instances of "blaming the media," or at least one of the first that got so far into the censorship stage. However, as Nero Wolfe once said, "What good is an obscenity trial except to popularize literature?"

To a certain extent, this is a good thing. As long as the game industry remains such a large percentage of the world economy, censorship will not be feasible. Comic books were still fairly small and vulnerable when "Seduction of the Innocent" was published. The government could step in and censor everything. The video game industry is larger (by several orders of magnitude) than the comic book industry was, even accounting for inflation. The government would find it nearly impossible to censor the industry. The companies would simply move everything back to the birthplace of video games, Japan, cutting our (U.S.) economy off from a very juicy teat indeed. (I cannot believe I just typed that. Wow.)

The level it is at now simply does what Wolfe saw happening with the obscenity trials: exposing the public at large to what had, previously, been a niche market. It is in humanity's very nature to want to experience the things society tells us are bad (hence pornography. And /b/. Much the same thing, now I think about it...). It's just the way we're wired.

I also love the new format, if you at all plan on keeping it. Show some of yourself, give us a point of reference. Oh, and you have the same black trench I have. Those things are warm aren't they? Love mine.
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear--not absence of fear. Except a creature be part coward it is not a compliment to say it is brave; it is merely a loose misapplication of the word. --Mark Twain

Information is infectious. Sneeze. --Unattributed, to the best of this user's knowledge

The motto of chivalry is also the motto of wisdom; to serve all, but love only one. --Honore de Balzac

A wise man fights to win, but he is twice a fool who has no plan for possible defeat. --Louis L'Amour

The mountain remains unmoved at seeming defeat by the mist. --Rabindranath Tagore

the BootLeG sampler.. said...

Honestly, it's already been said. And truthfully, it's pretty cool that someone is actually taking a more proactive view on their take on videogames and pop culture in general. It is indeed bullshit and shouldn't be tolerated. And truthfully, the only way to logically fight back to these censorshiping repressive assholes is to battle with the brains versus going apeshit over them. Because if we do that, then they win.

Fight the power, rock on, awesome...

Anonymous said...

Like many have said, mos of the video is good. But there are certain points you do seem to ignore.

Historywise, the writer of Seduction of the Innocent never wished for anything like the comics code to be made, he just wanted there to be age limits to what comic is too scary for the little kids and what isn't. If you've checked some of the EC horror stuff, most of the time it is pretty scary and clearly geared towards older readers. While putting a rating to a book may seem pretty odd, comics,videogames and movies are a visual medium, so anyone who has working eyes can somewhat understand what is happening in them.

Second,we aren't entirely right about games not making us more violent or the complex stories of games. Case in point, while Bioshock has absolutely brilliant story, a gamer can easily just ignore it and go kicking Little sisters. Games give one inversion that no other medium can, but it does lead to this double edged sword. While a player can be more moved by the story by taking part in it, a player can just as easily ignore the story and just be a violent douche. And we do get easily used to quite the goriest stuff as gamers, so while a nongamer might feel sick about gutting someone with a chainsaw sword, a gamer is usually less repulsed by it.

And that isn't even going to the anonymity that gaming allows. Like it or not, it is easier to hold very negative opinions about things when you don't face the one you are arguing with. This can be said about all internet related things, thought. Also, net gaming has created a nice amount of hostility among fellow players. In the old days, one had to atleast be friends enough with another person to get them play with you. These days we have WoW guilds that are easily full of people hating each other and just working for a unified goal because of the prizes. And since it is the internet, some people go farther and can sabotage accounts of the people they hate, all without any real punishment. And then there are the ones that get hooked, they live to game and can get easily violent if denied their joy.

Now you can say this is all about the people that play, everyone has their unique experiences. But that's the thing, gaming brings together all kinds of people. And some are sadly messed up enough to gain encouragement from games to kill people.

But I'm not saying it's the fault of the games, they are mostly neutral terrotory. All I'm saying that gaming CAN make someone more violent, but it's not the fault of the game.

Nicolas said...

Demondogweed, I think you missed the point however. Yes, because video games allow millions of people to get involved in a medium that allows and encourages the player to engage in simulated violence, there will inevitably be a few nut cases playing video games (or watching movies, or listening to music, or observing a Dore painting) and get some terrible ideas. This claim, however, is based on the logic of large numbers.

What MovieBob is arguing, is that ill-informed politicians and believers make the claim that ALL gamers are more desensitized to violence and more prone to commit acts of violence in real life than their non-gaming counterparts. They make these accusations without any evidence, psychological or sociological studies that would be necessary to make such a claim.

Everyone here who posts an opinion on this topic, you and I included, aren't in a position to make any sophisticated claims on the nature of gaming without due research. Since no research exists, however, we have to base our claims on logic and experience.

GameOverThinker is saying that these people need to be confronted with, and argued with, on an intellectual level that they are not accustomed to dealing with. In this way, we can make sure that no censorship or anti-gaming legislation constricts our love of games.

Bob said...


I'm aware that Wertham has been perhaps unfairly "demonized," but I'm sorry... whether he wanted a code or not is ultimately irrelevant.

The man's research was singularly flawed, based on bad data and a MOUNTAIN of supposition and what I can only concievably read as personal fetishes and obsessions passed off as analysis. He released this bad data in the form of a study, bouyed by his medical credentials, and continued to press these theories in the realm of a federal inquiry that cost hundreds of thousands of people their livelihoods and good names for no good reason.

"Not meaning any harm" doesn't excuse that.

Alcibiades said...

I'd love to vote for you, Bob, but alas they've turned off registration to SA's forums.

Good luck!

moviemike said...

I teared up a bit at the end, bob. Really, really good job. Keep overthinking.

dorklordunder said...

This is the only way I've been able to find to contact you, since you (wisely) keep your email address a secret. I be brief: I'm a musician, my name is Sam, I've written and recorded what I think would be a good idea for the game overthinker theme song (rough recording though it may be). If you have any interest
(or if you would like to politely explain to your biggest fan why you don't want a theme song) please send me an email here:

Jacob Martin said...

Frankly I'm tired of having my government not listen to me, I live in Australia. They're planning to censor the INTERNET here as well as online games, this affects gamers as well as people who enjoy freedom.

Look at this article Bob.

America is laughing at us and I don't like it. I'm sick of my country being a laughing stock due to censorship of video games as well as shockingly bad internet access. I might only be an Australian but I encounter anti-Australian sentiments from online gamers all the time, they boot me from servers and sledge me on forums.

America at least has a bill of rights to stop this from happening to you guys, we got nothin'. No bill of rights, nothing. You can help. Spread the word and help out us Aussies if you ever loved Mad Max at all, we need your help.

By the way, you know me on The Escapist as NewGeekPhilosopher.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me for my post then, I didn't mean to offend anyone.

Mark said...


A a music composer myself, I can only applaud you for a great idea - Bob is one of those guys who deserves a theme song.

However, I must unfortunately point out the fact that every second of music on Bob's vids will cost us a second of actual OverThinking. While I find the chipmunk voice endearing, others have maligned it, and I wouldn't want Bob to have to cut any more ideas to have to make room for a song. Right?

Rembrandt18 said...

I have to agree that it doesn't lead to people going directly and committing crime but I do see a correlation between desensitzing youth to violence when they play these games and do not understand the morals or true purpose behind the violence. There are many other factors of course but violent video games, music, and movies do all play a role in the aggression and violent behavior of those exposed to them over a period of time.

Honestly, I think it is easier to see when you actually have children and are seeing their reactions to said games, thus I stick to racing and sports games around my own children to avoid exposing them to such things.

Alcibiades said...

Do you have any idea when the voting will be over?

Johnpinecone said...

Anyone know what game that is about 8 mins in? Its driving me nuts...

MasonR said...

When talking about racial stereotypes in V22, you talked about how racial stereotypes in media subtly molded the minds of the kids reading, playing, or watching the media. If that's true shouldn't the same apply to violence? If someone playing RE5 is influenced by Sheva being dressed half naked in tribal attire, then wouldn't that same person be influenced by the mowing down of cops with RPGs in the bank robbery scene in GTA4? You're right playing GTA4 won't make you rob a bank but you're wrong by saying violence in games doesn't affect people but racial stereotypes do. Both have very subtle effects, but effects all the same.

Sir Laguna said...

This video make me proud of being a gamer.

Greetings from Colombia!!!

Greg said...

I'll agree in conclusion if not content. The state has no constitutional mandate to censor anything, or even control who owns what communication capital. I despise bullies and moral scolds as much as the next guy, and there is no virtue in taking away people's choices in the hopes of forcing the "ethical" one.

However, I don't think I can endorse your view that video games have ZERO psychological consequences. Imagination is the backdoor into the conscious mind.
The effectiveness of propaganda in the 20th century should evidence this. That doesn't give anyone a right to nanny our imaginations, but we are liars if we don't acknowledge it.

As for a total absence of evidence, I can find at least one credentialed psychologist who has conducted Studies otherwise (Craig A. Anderson.). I don't lay up much confidence in experimental psychology (sufficiently rigorous experiments are either unethical or too complex) But claiming unanimity where there is none will also bite us in the ass.

Likewise, I hate this gassy faux-intellectual sansculottism. The only thing reliable about modern intellectuals is the unreliability of their courage.

Alexander said...

Point one: it's not the first time you appear on camera, you did the Duke Nukem thing.

Two: It's odd that you'd say that violent games are completely harmless when you said not two-and-a-half episodes ago that subtly racist video games played by kids colored their perceptions as an adult. Now, I know that violent video games aren't for kids, but for the sake of intellectual honesty, we really can't have it both ways; either they have no effect, or have some effect.

Three: I'm all for on-camera appearances, but using the camera mic and shooting outdoors is a recipe for disaster. I say, shoot yourself if you want to, but either voice it over private-eye-style or do it inside. Crickets and birds kind of break the level.

Chris said...


The game 8 mins. in is Contra 3: The Alien wars for SNES.

It was bugging me too.

vasudean said...

good vid moviebob. Simulated violence is something gamers love from stomping on Goombas to gunning down digital Nazis. I agree that people shouldn't act all enraged and fight barbarian-style when people say uninformative blather about how video game violence can turn into actual violence, they should start fighting Wizard-style against them(if you understand the analogy, you get a cookie) . Also to take a bite of the proverbial humble pie, I used to be that way when people bashed my favorite pastime, but since my stint on gamespot, I opened my eyes and started using my brain more. Also can't wait until you do your next OverThinker video.

hans said...

While the video/commentary is decent, It doesn't sync up well, at least for the version I'm watching. The dialogue doesn't match the scenes well. It seems that the Video goes faster than the audio.

Might just be my computer...

J said...

The audio and video are out of sync. By the time all the video has played, the audio is just over the halfway point.

Blake said...

Yeah, I'm not sure what is going on with that because it was fine the first time I watched it. I'm thinking it is a problem with ScrewAttack because the YouTube videos are fine.

Moviebob, if you could get this fixed, that would be great.

Anonymous said...

I voted for you in the My Vids Don't Suck contest and have since gone back to view your entire body of work.

I love the eloquence with which your arguments are deliever and, as an old school gamer, I share many of your frustations.

Keep up the great work and thank you for the entertainment. I appreciate it.

In regard to the contest entry files (seems like thos only on Revver), I too am experiencing the video/audio synching issues. Is it possible to load them on YouTube or reload them with that issue fixed?

Thanks again.

Daniel German said...

I found striking similarities between this video and an article I once read by Michael Rose titled "Killing Time." Replace "Satanist" with "Gamer" and you have yourself the counter-argument I was going to leave in this comment box.

Normally I would feel the need to explain what exactly Satanism is, but Satanism is not the issue. Read up if you're curious.

I don't see any benefit in defending my games. If history is truly repeating itself, a new scapegoat will come about in a few years and solve this problem anyway, so why bother?

DSL said...

While the episode was motivational, interesting, and well said. Viewers need to understand that experiences make up our understanding of the world through analogies. Without that bit of understanding your "rallying cry" seems to be a mockery of an inspirational speech, instead of the honest and realistic speech it really was.

Don't give up, but some further explanation of where you are coming from would be appreciated as not all of us have matured to understand the world on the complex level that you do.

Domien said...

While I appreciate your passion about the subject, I also think it does get the better of you in this video, causing it to lose a bit of perspective. I love games myself and I bemoan the fact that they are used as easy scapegoats but if you really want to have an honest argument about these things, you should start by respecting the other side. Not all people who fear that games are dangerous are stupid, disingenuous or heavily conditioned - they're people and they have an opinion, which you should respect if you want to win them over. Sure, many of these are zealots who resort to dishonest practices, but even more are just concerned parents and you can't blame them for fearing the unknown in a world as perverted as this one. I also have a bit of trouble with your "thinker" vs. "believer" distinction. If you ask me, pretty much everyone is at least a bit of both and exaggeration in either direction is just as bad. Belief is an essential human quality and a good quality at that, as long as it is informed, open-minded and critical. I strongly oppose the view that any belief in an unproven notion is stupid or ignorant. That would just lead us to a cold, logical world where only rational thought is thought to have any merit. I don't think that's ever going to happen, though, because again, we are all believers to some extent... And certainly, anyone as passionate about something as you, is clearly a believer in the subject of their passion.

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