Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Gaming Risks

This thread discusses the hazards of trying to import a game with nazi symbols on it into Germany. Can't say that I blame the guy for feeling frustrated, but I can't say that I blame the custom officials or German laws, either.

My own group refused to play a game (Origins of World War II) simply because it had a picture of Hitler on the cover.

This leads to the deeper yet gingerly ignored issue of violent games in general. Games about killing, especially games depicting symbology of real-world evils and horrors, are not fun to some people. In fact, they are highly offensive to some people. Like violent video games, they don't lead to violent behavior (necessarily), but they do desensitize us to violence.

Isn't it possible that when we play games about raping, pimping, beating up women and children, slaughtering innocent bystanders, shooting cops, etc. that we don't work as hard to solve these problems in the real world, because we have gotten blase about them?

Is anything sacrilige? Is everything relative? Is censorship the only evil? Is it possible to make critical decisions without generalizing about slippery slopes?



ekted said...

Suspicious packages:

- leaking
- ticking/etc
- smoking
- smells like gasoline
- sets off detectors

NOT suspicious packages:

- "there's a bomb in here"
- swastika
- picture of osama

Pawnstar said...

I think the customs officials were probably being justifiably cautious about the game; the price of freedom and all that. I mean, they are people unfamiliar with these games.

As far as violence and the rest of it goes, I am not desensitised to any of it despite being brought up in the video generation the "experts" originally feared would be affected. I fear pain like anybody, I am revulsed by the idea of destroying other people's lives and upset that anybody would imply I am tarred with the same brush as the perpetrators simply because I play one or two games that possibly simulate it.

I don't think I get blasé about any of it; I do get blasé about people questioning the morality of playing games, however, and given the case you mention here perhaps I shouldn't.

Coldfoot said...

You'll need to cut and paste this link. http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/viort.htm But it is interesting. It is a chart on violent crime statistics in the United States from the US Department of Justice.

As television gets more violent, and as video games get more violent, violent crimes are at their lowest level since such statistics have been kept.

Because we now have multiple 24 hour news channels it may seem that violence in up, it is in fact down.

I am not searching for it right now, but school shootings were more prevalant when my parents were children than they are now.

Yehuda Berlinger said...


It is not a matter of suspicious, as in "bomb". I believe that literature glorifying Nazis and their symbology are generally illegal in Germany. As far as I know.


I would never equate people who play games that simulate violence with perpetrators. The only issue I was raising was if a large exposure to this subject in a non-educational format (and it could be from any media, not just games) may desensitize us from doing something about it. As in, "Oh, another act of violence. Whatever."


This link: http://www.columbine-angels.com/Violence_Chart.htm seems to indicate that lethal violence, in schools at least, has dramatically risen over the last century.

I don't know what to say about statistics; numbers can be molded in ways that anyone wants. I'm only asking a specific question: does a long term exposure to playing violent games, or a large exposure to "play violence" in the media, desensitize us to acting to prevent real-life violence?

Actually, I was suggesting that it might. I have absolutely no data to support this feeling. It could be that the answer is a resounding "No", in which case I'll shut up.


ekted said...

I am against violence of all kinds, and feel that people who want it have serious problems (including the United States), but I am also a strong believer in the right for all people to be allowed their own ideas, right or wrong. This includes being able to express those ideas verbally or in print. Obviously, Germany is sensitive about its past, just as the United States is sensitive about its past treatment of American Indians. Disallowing freedom of expression doesn't make the "hate" go away.

Anonymous said...

The swastika is a strange one, as it is an old symbol, pre-dating Nazism by a long, long way. However, I can well understand the German sensitivity towards it, and whatever those in other countries may say about freedom of expression, you would have to commend the Germans on the way they rehabilitated their society after the catastrophe of Nazism, the Second World War and the Holocaust.

In general, I don't assume grognards are warmongers, but I do get concerned by the flippant treatment of terrible subjects in some games. While there are (rare) occasions when it would be right to wage and attempt to win a war, it must never be acceptable to want to live the life portrayed in Grand Theft Auto.

As regards the difficulties of the German fellow trying to import a wargame, could the vendor perhaps put a note in the packaging saying "this is a war game designed for historical study. There is no political content in it whatsoever." That would demonstrate an understanding of the issue at least.

Pawnstar said...

Yehuda, I can't have you thinking I was under the impression you implied what I was saying; naturally I was referring to those ignorant enough to assume this.

Unknown said...

When you say "Isn't it possible that when we play games about raping, pimping, beating up women and children, slaughtering innocent bystanders, shooting cops, etc. that we don't work as hard to solve these problems in the real world, because we have gotten blase about them?" are you referring to board games or video games?

I think there's a big difference between playing a board/video game about a World War II battle (i.e. Memoir '44) and playing a board/video game about killing an actual soldier in a World War II battle (any FPS). In the former case, you're enjoying the battlefield tactics and strategy while in the latter, you're enjoying the actual killing of soldiers.

When I play a beach landing scenario in Memoir '44 I can't help thinking about what the soldiers went through, especially when I have units stuck on the left flank getting mowed down because I don't have the cards to order them. This doesn't glorify violence, it puts it in context. IMHO, running around shooting Germans in first-person glorifies violence.

I think watching the beach landings in Saving Private Ryan or watching Band of Brothers should be part of the high school curriculum. But that's just me.