The Violent Video Game Debate

A feminist defends video games and gamer culture, while Marin County and Ben and Jerry's give free ice cream in exchange for violent video games.

I stumbled onto this video earlier on Kotaku from Christina Hoff Sommers, criticizing the feminist movement against video game culture. At first glance, I thought to myself, "Oh boy, here we go again. Another feminist criticizing video games as being too violent and sexist". 

Are Video Games Too Violent and Sexist?

At first, she references an ESA report showing that gamers are now mostly women. At first it is shocking to discover this statistic until she uncovers that the ESA report is also including casual games such as Bejeweled and Angry Birds. To set up her points, she throws out these casual games, and instead, focuses on the core gamers. Citing a UCLA research report, she notices that the ratio between male-to-female core gamers is 7:1. At this point, I'm ready to listen to her rant about how video games are still a very male dominated past time that leads to violence and misogyny.

Do Video Games Promote Violence and Sexism in RL?

However, I'm surprised when she definitively says that this is simply not true. She backs this claim up by several research reports showing that there is no correlation between video games and increased violence or sexism. In fact, one report shows that as video game playing becomes more popular, youth crime has dropped. 

Critics Want Male Video Game Culture to Die

Where things got really interesting was when she started criticizing "a new army of critics: gender activists and, I don't know, hipsters with a degree in cultural studies." These people attack gaming asking why it isn't more inclusive, why must it always be male heroes, and why are women always damsels in distress or sex objects? She points out that although there are a vast amount of games now that are more inclusive, and are not purely games with male heroes and sexy women, it seems that the activists and hipsters just want to see male video game culture to just die.

She then compares this as if men started to criticize Oprah, The View, and Cosmopolitan magazine for presenting a women's perspective to the world. There was even a funny clip asking "So what exactly are you criticizing men of in the video game industry? Of not being women? Guilty!"

Gamers are Cool!

Finally, one really cool thing she points out that I really liked was that she actually spent some time talking to gamers and learning about gamer culture, and discovered that that it is a very vibrant and lively group of mostly tech-savvy men, and a very small group of very cool women, who don't care about age, sex, ethnicity, etc., but only care to game.

Video Games Are Not Guns

In a totally separate article on Joystiq, the District Attorney of Marin County is doing a buyback of toy guns and violent video games. WTF? To add insult to injury, this is being done in conjunction with Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, so in exchange for the toy guns and violent video games, participants will receive free ice cream. You can be sure that I won't be eating Ben & Jerry's ever again.

I can understand the buyback of toy guns, but the buyback of violent video games is complete and utter BS. 

"As we know, domestic violence incidents almost always have children present and these children develop over time imprinted images of the family violence. These children then carry those experiences into their adult lives and often repeat the pattern of violence in their own family units." -- Marin County DA, Ed Berberian

I'm not sure how he makes the link between video games and domestic violence. Maybe he's using Leland Yee logic.

Currently, video games are the newest scapegoat for violence in the US. It used to be rock and roll, and later with movies. If anything, bad parenting is probably more to blame, but it just seems that no one wants to take the blame for it, and instead, point to video games as the root cause. 

On GameSkinny, I'm going to guess that the majority of the readers agree that violent video games do not lead to violent behavior, but a 2013 poll conducted by Harris Poll showed that 58% of adults in America believe that there is a correlation between video games and violence

It all just makes me shake my head...

Correspondent

mchiu is an old-timer, falling in love with video games since the introduction of Pong. Nowadays, his passions in gaming center around social and political issues, game development, promotion of games as an art form, promotion of games as sport, and the business and economics of games.

Published Sep. 19th 2014

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