Of Video Game Violence and new Horizons
Earlier this week, the BBC series Horizon, a long running and highly respected documentary series with more than fifty years of service under its belt, turned its eye to the subject of video game violence. Many a news outlet has already covered this by saying that, effectively, the Beeb concluded with a somewhat middle of the road opinon that the jury is still out. And whilst this may not be entirely inaccurate, nor is it really correct. Truthfully, they presented the issue as more akin to what it actually is, far more complex than a simple yes or no answer.
There is, certainly, evidence to support the belief that video games not only reinforce, but actually cause violent behaviour. However, there is just as much, if not more, evidence to show that it has the exact opposite effect. As mentioned within the documentary, immediately following the release of a major title, incidences of teenage violence see a marked decrease as the kids are inside playing games instead of beating each other up.
One thing the episode does, I think unintentionally, show is that there are too many biases, on both sides of the argument, for us to reach a consensus any time soon. There are interviews with researchers both who are fervent in their assertion there is a link, but also those who refute it entirely. And in both instances, the starting premise is flawed. For, you see, the former makes the assertion and has conducted experiments to find evidence, whilst the latter asserts the opposite...and also looks for evidence to support it.
Both are as equally flawed as the other. One should not, and indeed must not, begin with the goal of proving or disproving any position. But rather look at the evidence around the issue and see where it points. Both questions must be explored with equal fervor by both sides before the truth of the matter can be truly ascertained.
Aside from that, the fifty and change minutes are well worth your time and should be viewed with an open mind. There are a lot of extremely fascinating points raised which require far more consideration both by those in academia, and by we, the gamers. And, dude, there's a bleedin' surgeon making his own game to teach other people how to do his job!
Now that's amzing.
The embed above is a third party upload, but at time of writing, the original can be found on the BBC iPlayer website for another 28 days.