Gamers and Weapons: Ask Dr. Mark

Mark J Kline

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Gamers and Weapons: Ask Dr. Mark

Examining the connection between a love of gaming and a love of weapons.

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Fappy

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I think it's more that the children are interested in FPS's because they are fascinated by weapons and violence. Though, I suppose it's the classic chicken & the egg conundrum. For me, it's not hard to imagine an impressionable, dumb kid who fancies himself a hardcore FPS gamer would be fascinated by real life weapons. In a way I think every gamer (in this case, by gamer I mean anyone who plays violent video games) is at least somewhat interested in real-life weapons. I know a lot of people who go to cons/Renaissance festivals and buy medieval weapons. It's usually for the novelty of it if nothing else.
 

Mark J Kline

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It's interesting, but let's say someone did something about these correlations between gun companies and video games.
Who would the state go after? The guns or the games?

Yeah...
 

Owyn_Merrilin

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As someone who goes shooting periodically: lord save me from people who decide to start shooting because of FPS games. Not always, but most of the time, those guys are the ones who don't give a crap about gun safety. If I'm around someone like that and a gun is involved, I'm always worried someone will accidentally get shot or something else stupid and dangerous will happen.

To anyone reading this who has never been shooting and is considering it: don't treat it like a game. You're basically training in how to use a deadly weapon, and there are safety procedures you need to follow in order to avoid killing anyone unintentionally. Videogames do /not/ model those procedures. Go with someone you trust who has actual experience with guns, and /listen to what they tell you/.
 

rofltehcat

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I don't really know if and what they could "do about" the product placement of real weapons in video games. If they'd be forbidden, video games would just be using weapons that look nearly exactly like real weapons and have names that can easily be identified as the original weapon the game's gun is modeled after.
This also applies to other items like cars in GTA, for example. It may not be called a Lamborgini but it still looks and sounds like one.

However, weapons clearly aren't for children (despite what some manufacturers might try to tell you) [http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=4Vi2df0ozSM]. The letter doesn't mention what kind of knives those were but regardless of it, they shouldn't have knives while in school. I can only assume they were something combat-knife-ish (something they simply shouldn't be able to buy), not some swiss utility knife.
 

Eleuthera

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I agree with Fappy, most (if not all) kids are fascinated with weapons. Some of those will start playing FPS games.

As a kid we had a Commodore 64 (showing my age here), with zero FPS games, they just didn't exist. Better yet I don't think we had any games that featured guns. Though if the weather was good we'd take our toy guns and go into the woods to play war (and later Tour of Duty). Later one of my friends managed to acquire a bb-gun (these are illegal in the Netherlands) and we went out into the woods again to shoot at trees, and birds and each other. This all happened before I ever say a gun in a computer game.

Kids (and many adults) like playing with weapons, always have, probably always will.
 

Thaluikhain

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As an aside, apparently the Walther PPK is popular because it's the gun Bond uses. People always have been influenced by popular culture, games are a big part of that, and guns are a big part of that.
 

moosemaimer

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"...my son's guidance counselor reported that some kids were bringing knives to school (and getting into trouble for it)..."

Long ago, in a time before zero tolerance policies and police hall monitors, the idea that a student might have a pocketknife wasn't cause for shrieking and drone strikes. There is a tendency to look at anything that's wrong with the world and believe that this must be a new problem, this didn't happen before, WHAT COULD BE CAUSING IT?!? Watch adolescent films from the 1950's and you'll see the stereotype "greaser" with a switchblade in his back pocket. There will always be an element of society that doesn't want to follow the rules, and an endless parade of scapegoats from the people who don't want to accept that.

I wanted to know everything there was to know about guns long before they were being depicted by name in video games or there was an internet to look them up on. I watched documentaries, read books, talked with people who owned them. I could watch war movies and point out the different models being used. None of this was a new phenomenon. Revisionist history wants to paint the past as an idyllic fairytale wonderland where children never did anything wrong, because that would show their generation in a more positive light. "Oh, we would never have done anything like that! Schools were better, and nobody was whipped with a bicycle chain for not joining a gang!"
 

loc978

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...I was fascinated with weapons as a kid... brought knives to school and didn't get in trouble for it (late 80s through the 90s). Late in my highschool career, they started worrying about guns... but knives were still normal.

And I was mostly into fantasy RPGs with magic swords at the time (mostly on the NES. I was late to the party with every console, so I finished the 4 dragon warrior games and the first final fantasy many, many times). My magic swords in the real world were broom handles or sticks, the knives were a separate thing tied to the probability of actual violence where I was going to school. These things are no more likely or frequent in the inner city... it's all pretty much the same, except now there are ineffectual security measures in place.
In suburbia, though... I'm sorry, I really have to laugh. The violence of the poor has gotten fashionable with the middle class as it falls on hard times, and everyone suddenly cares.

...can't really speak for modern games, though. Now that we've got realistic modeling (if not physics or damage) in games, I can see where it would be more likely to influence these kids... but I'm not seeing that difference in the news.
 

SoulChaserJ

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Kids, especially boys have been fascinated with guns for a very long time. Games like COD and Battlefield only serve to create a fantasy meant for adults and young adults to enjoy. If it fosters an appreciation for guns and shooting then so be it. The problem isn't that we have these games and our kids are addicted to them. The problem is that we have these games that kids shouldn't be playing to begin with. The game developing community was forced to create the ESRB and the rating system is being ignored wholesale by the buying public. It's like pretending to be concerned about your kid watching "R" rated movies but then buying them tickets to see Rambo. I say stop putting the responsibility on the developers and put it back on the parents. And to the parents that don't like it...try raising your kids instead of letting them do it themselves. Might lower the amount of 13 year old halfwits online spouting garbage and racial epithets like a verbal fire hose.
 

nacthenud

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I played video games all through my youth, including Contra and Doom and Wolfenstein and all other manner of games featuring guns and other weapons. I have never, once, in my entire life, wanted to hold or fire a real gun. I had friends who were not interested in video games and were fascinated with real life weapons. I also had friends who loved both video games and real life weapons.

Many boys are attracted to weapons. It was that way before video games were around and it will be that way for generations to come. I suspect the people who are, will also be attracted to video games that allow them to live out the fantasy of using those weapons, to some extent. But it seems foolish to me to suggest that playing video games featuring weapons will create a fascination with weapons where one did not already exist.
 

Insuite

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Thanks Doc! Good and interesting read...

Disclaimer... I born in Canada and lived in Arizona for 33 years. I live back in Canada now for the past 15 years, the West Coast, where there is seemingly more of a loathing of firearms than the rest of Canada and certainly more than the States. Having moved out of the States 15 years ago, it is disconcerting to go to my sister's and her husband's house (back in Arizona) and he starts bringing out his collect of assault weapons and handguns.

I am 53 and have been gaming video gaming since I was 15, yeah 15. I don't feel a great love of firearms, guns, weapons or the like. I have gamed LOTS, board and video. Having said that, while in grades 3-6, in my public school library in Tempe, AZ, I could easily check out and did, all types of books about weapons from WWI, WWII and then present day (late 1960's, the M-16 was the new wow thing). My parents bought me toy guns (gotta love that Johny 7 OMA) and I watched plenty of war movies and westerns but not the real violent ones, I snuck those in. Yet I turned out pacifistic. I credit my parents for helping me to understand and respect firearms as my dad was an ace hunter both game a foul. He was also a WWII vet, his father fought at Ypres when he was 16. My older brother did a tour in Nam and was in the Tet Offensive. They all had input into how I view weapons (and aggression) to this day. My guess is that parents and family do have a great deal to do with how their kids view weapons, their portrayal and use.

I do not think it is a good thing to set a grade or middle schooler in front of violent, graphic game for any period of time realistic or cartoonish. Having said that, if parents do allow that, then they would be wise to talk to and coach their kids on what they are seeing and doing, perhaps not using the PC or console as a babysitter.

Anyway... Just a thought
 

Mark J Kline

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Let me guess: Katie Curic's little rant got here too?

Wow, didn't think she would rattle the bee's nest this badly.
 

therealdan0

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It's an interesting discussion and definitely one that needs to be had in a calm rational manner from both sides. It's very easy to scapegoat video games for several reasons.
First of all because they portray, typify and even glorify what most people would consider to be extreme acts of violence.
Secondly because the vocal gaming community, while generally well meaning, is still in its infancy and often times acts that way.
Thirdly gaming is just something else to blame, like TV and music before it. It's a medium that is popular amongst a generally young sector who are considered to be more agressive and anti social by older sectors who in their own youth did not have such access to the medium.

Bearing in mind these sorts of things it's very easy to see why gaming has had these associations thrown at it.

I personally don't feel that video games have made me more violent as an individual. In my childhood and teens I did glorify the violence that I was producing but I never had an urge to pick up a real weapon or physically hurt someone. As I've grown up gaming has become more of an escape or stress release to me and the actual act of whatever is happening on screen is secondary to the relaxation of my mind when I pick up a controller.

We are currently very fortunate to be at a turning point in the parenting/video game relationship as the first generation of kids to grow up as gamers are now coming to that age where they will or have become parents and it will be interesting to see how this discussion is affected by that.

Obviously it should go without saying that this is all purely my experience of the situation.
 

VortexCortex

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Before Video Games: Cops and Robbers. Cowboy and Indians.
Cap Guns, Water Guns, Nerf Guns.

Screw this, I'm out. Don't feed the trolls.
 

Zeras

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VortexCortex said:
Before Video Games: Cops and Robbers. Cowboy and Indians.
Cap Guns, Water Guns, Nerf Guns.

Screw this, I'm out. Don't feed the trolls.
There will always be play based on violence/violent acts. People need to see that this fascination has been in our society since the beginning of recorded history. Time for some personal experience: my mom bought a shotgun for personal defense, and we ended up going to the local gun range, and we spent time getting a feel for firing it. Later, we had a learning experience cleaning it. I've always had a respect and reverence for firearms: I read all I can about their calibre, use, when/where they were used and how they impacted history (for the really revolutionary ones). That being said, I was extremely nervous about firing the shotgun for the first time, and I treated it like the deadly weapon it is.
 

UNHchabo

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Racers are some of my favorite games, especially "destruction racers" like Burnout 3 and Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit. Despite this, I'm an extremely careful driver in real life. Racing games that use licensed cars may influence my desire to buy certain cars (I love driving the Mustang GT500 in NFS:HP, even though it's not the best car in its class), but it doesn't make me want to drive in the oncoming lane in order to chase anyone down.

I also play first-person shooters, with one of my favorites being Day of Defeat: Source. I also like to go shooting, and I'm extremely careful that I'm safe while doing so. Shooters that use "real" guns may influence my desire to buy certain ones (I love using the M1 Garand in DOD:S), but I have no desire to kill anyone.

I may own guns primarily for defense, but only because there are evil, violent people in the world who don't mind harming my family to get what they want. If not for the evil in the world, I'd still like to go shooting, but only for the same reasons as I would go race a car on a track -- for fun.
 

Not Lord Atkin

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I like to think that it's violent games that made me into the pacifist wuss afraid of real-life guns to the point of not going anywhere near the bloody things that I am now.

I see what happens when I pull the trigger in a game. It's all nice and fun within the game environment but to imagine the same thing happening in real life makes me shudder.
 

Mark J Kline

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VortexCortex said:
Before Video Games: Cops and Robbers. Cowboy and Indians.
Cap Guns, Water Guns, Nerf Guns.

Screw this, I'm out. Don't feed the trolls.
Indeed, Kids have always loved guns, even before videogames. These kids grew up to be gun owners well before videogames.

Dont know why thats so hard to grasp for some people...
 

gphjr14

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I've never been into gun so much as I've been into swords spears knives etc. Grew up watching He-Man, TMNT, and GI-Joe. My parents never really encouraged it but never really bothered me since I wasn't one to shoot at birds or cats with anything stronger than a water or nerf gun. I think the US does have an over fascination with guns. Here in NC they're trying to get it so registered guns are allowed in vehicles on College Campuses. Don't see how that could go wrong /sarcasm
I have one pistol and that's more than enough I'm not fearing the collapse of Western civilization or Obama taking over with his atheist, Muslim, socialist army. So of my co-workers aren't so convinced ...