Ironic Situation

Ironic Situation

Ironic Situation

by Steve Napierski to Comics

Let me preface this post by saying that I enjoy a clean headshot as much as the next guy. And I’m not suggesting that violent content should be removed from video games either. In fact, I’m a proponent the belief that giving people the ability to act out this sort of behavior in a fantasy environment decreases the chance of acting it out in reality. [1]

What I’m saying is that I don’t see the logic behind an illegal behavior being considered more acceptable than one that isn’t. I understand that a lot of these laws ideas spring less from logic and more from environmental influences. But that doesn’t mean it makes any more sense.

An with that I leave this diatribe vague. I could talk about religion, politics and a bunch of other things, but I would really rather leave that to you. See what you have to say about the situation in the comment section below. Looking forward to seeing what you have to say on the matter.

Discussion (80)¬

  1. Rynon
    Rynon says:
    February 7, 2011 at 12:02 am #

    First?

    and should “Us” be “Is”? otherwise 100% agree.

    • Steve Napierski
      Steve Napierski says:
      February 7, 2011 at 12:39 am #

      It’s been corrected. Thanks!

  2. Anon
    Anon says:
    February 7, 2011 at 12:44 am #

    We live in a religious world. Almost 51% of the entire human population is either Christian or Islamic which both have very strong views regarding sex. (Although Christianity is by far the worst IMHO, and just so happens to be the largest religion in the world, ugh)

  3. Spyda K
    Spyda K says:
    February 7, 2011 at 12:45 am #

    I’ve always felt that violence is more acceptable in video games BECAUSE you’re not likely to do it in real life. It’s pure escapism. I have no desire to go out and kill anyone. I’m just having an action adventure fantasy RPG here. And really, violence is the most direct way of conveying conflict. And without conflict, there’s usually not much of a game or story. And generally, the violence isn’t as gruesome or disturbing as it would be if you were actually committing those acts.

    Sex on the other hand, well… I like having me some sex. And to have it in video games makes it closer to real life than when we’re blowing up dragons with laser chainsaws. I’m not saying that I agree with the mentality, nor that it’s the “right” way, but when you start showing nudity and sex, it tends to feel more awkward than titillating. And really, what’s the point of putting sex in movies and games other than to titillate. Sure, sometimes it can be used to a more serious effect, but most of the time, nudity is there for the sake of nudity. We didn’t need to see Dante’s dead wife lying there with her tit hanging out. It just distracted from the scene.

  4. Bonkers
    Bonkers says:
    February 7, 2011 at 12:51 am #

    If video games are more prone to causing us not to do it (violence), why would we want a game that makes us less likely to have real sex?
    Simple.

    • PianoCat5
      PianoCat5 says:
      February 8, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

      This rather begs the question. Do video games stop people from committing violent acts? You’ll have to support this idea before you suggest that they would stop people having sex.

      • anon
        anon says:
        February 13, 2011 at 4:37 pm #

        The government of India officially stated they are looking to get electricity and the ability for televised broadcasts to the vast majority of the nation “because people watching tv spend less time engaging in procreative acts.”

        Video games definitely equal LESS sex.

        @Spyda K: You say sex would just make it “awkward”, but that’s the point of the conversation, **WHY** would it be awkward? It’s much more to do with societal (esp. religious) hangups than anything else.

  5. Roblynn
    Roblynn says:
    February 7, 2011 at 1:10 am #

    Your viewpoint on videogame violence being cathartic is simply not based in fact. It’s a fact that violent television and videogames increase aggression. That shouldn’t really be up for debate, research dating back to at least the 70′s supports it.
    Before anyone gets all defensive I don’t think videogames turn people into homicidal maniacs. I don’t want violent videogames banned. I’m just saying that denying facts doesn’t make them not true and wanting to believe something doesn’t make it true either. The idea that viewing violent acts is cathartic has been completely disproven and to continue to believe it is denying reality.

    • FishPotato
      FishPotato says:
      February 7, 2011 at 1:33 am #

      I do hope you’re a troll. This is not a fact –> “It’s a fact that violent television and videogames increase aggression.”
      There is a plenty of studies that have found no correlation between violent games and aggression. It is certainly not a proven fact.

    • Lax
      Lax says:
      February 7, 2011 at 1:50 am #

      And it’s a fact that violent video games haven’t influence acts of violence in society. Also, people (mainly parents and idiotic politicians) restrict the knowledge of sex that their children should be learning and gives them plenty examples of violence that they themselves indulge in. And parents wonder how teenage pregnancy has risen in the last 10 years. They don’t understand the latest generation, so we rebel against them in numeral ways, including having sexual intercourse without enough knowledge and experience with it. We live in a bullshit society

    • IMakeIce
      IMakeIce says:
      February 7, 2011 at 3:08 am #

      Yes, but it is a fact sexual acts in video games have been proven to increase underage sex by %500. There have been studies that show that.

      See? I can make baseless claims legitimized by the almighty “There have been studies”, without actually providing any real evidence.

      Honestly it’s all about social stigma, and that’s it. Porn is a taboo; action movies, gore, murder, etc are not. We’ve been desensitized to the latter, and not the former, so the former remains taboo whether or not it’s technically the more natural of the two. If it was the other way around we’d have all sorts of sex missions in games and the Save the Children groups would instantly jump on any game including a fistfight scene.

      But I’m curious Steve. You have to know that this is probably one of the top 10 big-ass-can-of-worms you can open on the internet. Many web forums will instantly shut down threads even alluding to topics like this, and almost always have to shut them down after some time even if they let them continue. Is it your intention to have hundreds of circular/flaccid/baseless/etc arguments, many of which will simply rehash what’s already been said tens or hundreds of times before it in this comic’s comment section?

      • Steve Napierski
        Steve Napierski says:
        February 7, 2011 at 9:23 am #

        Dueling Analogs‘ comment threads are open for seven days before automatically locking. The discussion here has a finite end one way or another.

    • Alastor
      Alastor says:
      February 7, 2011 at 5:37 am #

      That is a complete load. There was never been a reputable study that connects violence and video games in any way.

    • Kinsho
      Kinsho says:
      February 7, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

      I enjoy the fact we’re debating studies and what not, and the author is the only one to link any sort of outside source for proof of any sort. :)

      • Shihoku101
        Shihoku101 says:
        February 7, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

        And what would this source be that was provided? All that is mentioned is “research dating back to the 70′s” with not a single source cited. If you want to defend the poster, please provide some sort of tangible proof of what they are posting since they obviously didn’t.

        • Sarssol
          Sarssol says:
          February 7, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

          If you had read the whole article supplied by the author, he took the information about violent crimes from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Statistics.

    • Fata_Morgana
      Fata_Morgana says:
      February 7, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

      “It’s a fact that violent television and videogames increase aggression. That shouldn’t really be up for debate, research dating back to at least the 70′s supports it.”

      [Citation needed]

      • Cortney
        Cortney says:
        February 13, 2011 at 4:11 am #

        Video games do not MAKE someone do crazy shit. The people who do end up going on massive killing sprees and just so happened to play a violent game are most likely messed up in the head before they event started playing the game. Crazy peeps gon’ be crazy no matter what triggers they are exposed to, whether it be videos games, or movies, or seeing someone get slapped in the face.

  6. Katona
    Katona says:
    February 7, 2011 at 2:26 am #

    So, basically… You’re making us think so we don’t realise you used the same panel three time? :)

  7. Triaxx
    Triaxx says:
    February 7, 2011 at 7:07 am #

    Comment should probably be okay with violent, rather than violence games. ;)

    But I agree, it’s too much of a ‘save the children’ mentality going on. Another poster decried violence as ‘increasing aggression’. I feel that it’s true, but, and this is a big but, it’s also a very directed aggression. So rather than going out, and taking an ax to a bunch of strangers on the street, you play some GTA, or Halo, and purge it out of your system.

    Of course, I don’t think sex in a video game would have quite the same cathartic effect. After all, it’s hard to be sexy when the game is telling you ‘Press X to insert.’ Of course, Kinect opens a whole new range of options, but I’ll leave that to the imagination. Because it’s Squicky.

  8. Gobold
    Gobold says:
    February 7, 2011 at 7:33 am #

    Funny that you come up with that fact now. I don’t know what’s going on in America right now, but we’ve been having this discussion for years in Germany, because here it’s rather the other way round, boobs for everyone s.t.s. but getting a violent game on the market isn’t that easy.

    • BigLord
      BigLord says:
      February 7, 2011 at 1:57 pm #

      I was about to post that yes, what Steve said is indeed the situation in America. On other countries it can be the opposite.

      By the way, afaik we don’t really care about either of those things in Portugal. But there is indeed a belief that “Videogames are and will always be for kids” here… So no sex or violence for us?

      I dunno, heh

  9. rov
    rov says:
    February 7, 2011 at 8:10 am #

    “Giving people the ability to act out this sort of behavior in a fantasy environment decreases the chance of acting it out in reality.”

    This is relevant to both scenarios.

  10. Roblynn
    Roblynn says:
    February 7, 2011 at 8:13 am #

    Nope, not a troll. Like I said, I like violent video games just as much as anyone. But the evidence is there. Scientifically, there’s not a debate over it anymore. Bandura showed that kids who viewed violent acts played more aggressively, Latane showed that children who viewed violent acts were more willing to hurt another child, violent acts that people see on television are mirrored in headlines. There’s not only a correlation, there’s experimental evidence. Media might still be debating over whether or not viewing violent acts increases aggression, but the scientific debate is over how much, how long and to what degree. This is something that I am actually pursuing my degree in, what background do you have that lets you claim there’s no correlation?

    • Anon
      Anon says:
      February 7, 2011 at 8:27 am #

      Tch. I’m from the internet. I’ve been on the internet for like, 7 years. Trust me. I know what I’m talking about.

    • Anon1
      Anon1 says:
      February 7, 2011 at 9:19 am #

      Bandura showed that children who witnessed adults commit violent acts played more aggressively. He had nothing to do with television or video games what so ever. So unless you can provide evidence of video games causing children to behave violently STFU.

    • BullSh*T
      BullSh*T says:
      February 7, 2011 at 9:24 am #

      My 5 year old daughter watches me play GTA. She still yells at me when I play aggressively with her barbies.

    • Steve Napierski
      Steve Napierski says:
      February 7, 2011 at 9:28 am #

      Did you see the link in the article to Game Revolution that referenced the U.S. Department of Justice’s statistics on violent crimes? Violent crimes have decreased over the years, not increased. And the amount of people playing video games, especially those who would be violent offenders, has drastically increased over the years.

      Couldn’t it be just as simple as people with violent tendencies are more likely to gravitate towards violent games than the game made them violent in the first place?

    • Shihoku101
      Shihoku101 says:
      February 7, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

      Could you please provide links to these ‘studies’ that you keep talking about? I know it might be difficult to prove without facts that aren’t there but please, try harder.

    • Fata_Morgana
      Fata_Morgana says:
      February 7, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

      [Citation needed]

    • Chris
      Chris says:
      February 8, 2011 at 7:00 pm #

      What need do we have for backgrounds? I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m pretty sure just about everyone here is a gamer. I’ve been one wince I was about 7 or 8, I’m now 18, and I’m one of the most pacifistic people I know, despite having played some of the most violent video games I could get my hands on.

    • Luis
      Luis says:
      February 8, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

      yeah, 4- 5 years old probably will try to be more violent if they see violence, you know, like in kindergarden you would play pokemon cause you seen it on tv or play the games, but we are talking about violent games that are rated for either teenagers of adults, meaning that no child has bussiness with them…

    • Ryu
      Ryu says:
      February 8, 2011 at 11:41 pm #

      “I’m curious as to what magical scroll these oft proclaimed degrees are, because they seem to give people some magical power over other idiots. Even if I believed you had one simply because you say so in the comments section of an internet comic, the eagerness with which you measure your ePeen with it, tells me it probably isn’t worth the toilet paper I wipe my ass with (at least that’s soft and less likely to paper cut my rectum).”

      “The day that some great, almighty force hands out common sense degrees based on actual usage of one’s brain, is the day I’ll care that you’ve got a piece of paper some other idiot signed that says you’ve trained to be a specialized idiot.”

  11. BullSh*T
    BullSh*T says:
    February 7, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    Also what scientific debate is ever over. That statement alone shows your ignorance.

  12. Why Can't I Hold All These Limes
    Why Can't I Hold All These Limes says:
    February 7, 2011 at 10:25 am #

    Look, let’s take a step back from the safe ledge of reality and head for the open window. Say that video games and violent behavior have been linked. Let’s say there is a direct correlation (though not necessarily causation) between video games and violent behavior (understand that the previous is all hypothetical and still under debate).

    Aroused violent and sexual behavior has already been linked to television and movies with what we call “suggestive content”. Is it ok to ban video games with this behavior but not other forms of entertainment? Consuming alcohol has been linked with more aggression, impaired judgement, and a number of criminally liable accidents, but we all saw what happened when prohibition occurred. I say it’s better to let the people have freedom of speech at the risk of the occasional violent teenager going mental and blaming Halo 3 for it.

  13. Michael
    Michael says:
    February 7, 2011 at 10:33 am #

    I’m going to jump on the bandwagon that blames religion. Religious teachings, particularly the story of adam and eve, and pretty much any passage in the Qu’ran that involves women, stresses the importance of shame. Being naked got linked to shame, and thus society has evolved in such a way that censoring the human body has become the norm. I think the best way to describe this is that the parts of the body that should be covered are connected to passion and lust, things that religious people link to sin.

    Violence managed to take a different route, probably because is a source of conflict, which is a key ingredient to any good story, (violence or no violence). And so books, stories, movies, and other media gradually opened the doors for game developers to have much more liberty with violence than with nudity/sex. Don’t get me wrong though, as it has been mentioned, there is plenty of opposition to the violence in video games… In Australia we don’t have an R rating and quite a few games get toned down or banned all together here.

  14. Zuljin
    Zuljin says:
    February 7, 2011 at 10:45 am #

    I vastly prefer violence to sex. If anything, violent games help me control my anger, giving me an outlet that hurts no one at all. As for sex, why would anyone want to play a stupid game like the Japanese get where you feed phallic-shaped foods to anime girls? I’m glad and proud to live in a country where that kind of garbage is shunned.

  15. Digitalmoose
    Digitalmoose says:
    February 7, 2011 at 11:08 am #

    Any correalation between violence/sex and videogames is bullshit. We’ve evolved as a society to accept them more. In the 50′s, you only had sex in high school if you married in high school. Now a days, most of the kids I went to high school with screwed around loads before graduating, moving on to college, or getting married. We’re also more violent as a society. Hardcore decades ago was Frankenstein. Now we have movies like the Saw and Hannibal Lecter series. We idoloize complete psychos and enjoy watching some of the most messed up shit to come out yet.
    Videogames had nothing to do with it. An evolving society did.

  16. giesewickl
    giesewickl says:
    February 7, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    I Think, it is up to you, what video games you play. if there’s a market for Unreal tournament, make this game!
    If there’s a market for Hentai games, why not publish it?
    And if there’s a market for (god forsaken) Dance Dance Revolution, then bring it out!
    What i play at home, is my thing. What you do at home, is your thing.
    You like to crave a nude woman in stone? Do it! ;-)
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milo%27s_Venus)
    Nudity was always displayed in public, why hide it at home?

  17. Cynic
    Cynic says:
    February 7, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    American culture has long been lax regarding violent content but very sensitive to sexual content.

    Europe is the other way around.

    I think Japan is less sensitive in both situations.

  18. austin128
    austin128 says:
    February 7, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    I guess since I’m a Christian I can jump in on the religious side of things.
    What the Bible said is that in the beginning God made man (naked), and
    “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”
    So in God’s perfect world, everyone was naked.
    Only after sin entered the world did they feel ashamed about that. So, like every other religion, it’s people perverting the original text.
    I don’t think religion plays as big a part in America as people think, though. If you were truly trying to follow God, you wouldn’t want sex OR violence in games. It’s just that violence has always played a role in American cinema, so, as with anything, familiarity has made us immune to it. If they had had just as much sex since the beginning, I think it would be just as accepted as it is in other countries.

    • The Anarchyz
      The Anarchyz says:
      February 8, 2011 at 2:22 am #

      Really? because usually Christians follow both testaments of the Bible (which i don’t get, Christians are supposed to follow Jesus Christ), and the Old Testament (and a few parts of the New one) is filled with wars and smiting and pure violence… the thing is, the religious books are filled with all kinds of stuff for everyone, so if a violent person reads the Bible and finds the vicious warlike monster that is the Old Testament God, he will look at it as the right thing to do, and if a peaceful person finds Jesus talking about the Beatitudes, he will also look at it as the right thing to do… So, like with every other book out there, it depends on the person, genetically and environmentally speaking… America is filled with war-like people (and lots of gun nuts), along with a chunk of peaceful ones, that’s why the debate in the US is never gonna stop…

      • austin128
        austin128 says:
        February 8, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

        Don’t get me wrong, it is confusing. But Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.”
        So it’s all about knowing what’s called the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. I know it’s confusing as crap lol

      • austin128
        austin128 says:
        February 8, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

        And you’re totally right, people try to follow both in ignorance.

    • Oneofmany55
      Oneofmany55 says:
      February 10, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

      I can relate. I grew up in a conservative Christian household (two beliefs which I still hold, by the way), and I have always felt personally that games don’t make people violent. This is sort of the same way I feel about guns. The vast majority of people who play video games or own guns don’t go on shooting rampages. So why should we stereotype them?
      Remember the whole stigma back in the late 70’s early 80’s with D&D, saying it promoted devil worship? What do we think of the “science” behind that now? In fact, I met several D&D players at a Christian homeschooling co-op. I play it, and I have never wanted to slit my wrists and summon a demonic entity. The whole argument is based on the 1977 Monsters Manuel which contained Demons, Devils, Yugoloths, and assorted other fiends. After some players became an heroes, it was inferred that this is what pushed them over the line. However, we now know that this is utter rubbish. When people have mental issues (I for example have ADD and OCD), we mustn’t blame what they were doing by happenstance. I think the whole “Video Games make people very violent” will die in time as we find a new scapegoat.
      PS. Matthew 10:34 Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword

  19. Dirk
    Dirk says:
    February 7, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

    In Germany it’s the exact other way around actually. Sex is more acceptable than violence here. The consequence of course being that lots of games get an “adult only” (18+) rating and / or have to be changed in order to get a release at all.
    Sex on the other hand … Anyone aged 16+ can buy soft porn magazines, and you usually get to see a bunch of tits zapping through TV stations, no matter what time of day …

    • ikinone
      ikinone says:
      February 7, 2011 at 10:38 pm #

      I don’t think being able to see breasts equates to a society being comfortable with the concept of sex.

  20. Scott
    Scott says:
    February 7, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    While I agree with your sentiment, part of it may be the fact that parents/the power that be are probably more concerned about their children/all kids engaging in some sort of sexual impropriety (at least, improper according to them) than they are that kids will assault and/or murder someone.

    i.e.: I’ll let him shoot aliens in a video game because I doubt he’ll ever actually shoot anyone in real life; but I’m not going to let him watch sexy (alien) ladies in video games because that might actually encourage him to engage in an immoral behavior (again, according to them) which he is *already* inclined to engage in.

    • austin128
      austin128 says:
      February 7, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

      That’s a very good point as well.

  21. Galstaff
    Galstaff says:
    February 7, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    Sex in video games doesn’t necessarily have to be a game where you purely have sex. Like, “press x to insert penis.” A few great examples I have seen are online dating sims. They play surprisingly similar to turn based RPG’s, except instead of choosing combat options (use lightning to attack the water elemental, the skeleton is weak to bludgeoning) you use various talking options and roleplay elements (this girl likes sand so take her to the beach, while this one is adventurous so go on a hike with her). The ultimate goal can be sex, but that is not required. And in a dating sim, sex will naturally be a strong theme if you build it for at least a semi-adult level.

    I actually think Mass Effect handled it very well. They couldn’t actually show the sex scene due to societal reasons or whatever, but you develop a relationship with a character, and it naturally evolves as you engage in idle chat with the person. It would, I think, be very possible to make a full scale game revolving around sex as socially acceptable. It would just require a non-conventional approach to gameplay, to approach it in a mature manner.

  22. Rick
    Rick says:
    February 7, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    Violence in games is only natural, given the action-oriented focus of the gameplay itself. In games where there is a decent role-playing element, in which characters might reach that point in a relationship, I know that personally I would rather fade to black and imply than go out to the store to buy a gallon of eye-bleach. Movies, games, TV, all of it leans towards showing all of the violence but keeping the sex under the covers or off-camera. It leaves things enjoyable for those who don’t want to..see things..just at random.

  23. Timothy
    Timothy says:
    February 7, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

    Representations of violence are acceptable because they are the means through which we achieve a vicarious immortality, a triumph over evil and death. Representations of sex are not acceptable because they remind us of our animal nature, obscure individuality, and thereby relegate the human creature to an inevitable death without purpose or meaning.

  24. Kaye
    Kaye says:
    February 7, 2011 at 9:28 pm #

    Steve, it’s comics and discussions like these that make me want to change my major from software engineering to psychology or sociology. This is actually the topics I want to test with people over a span of time and get reactions for a study.

    After looking through the comments, I’m surprised no one has mentioned Columbine. The largely-believed tale was that Harris and Klebold modeled Doom stages after the school.

    Here’s the Snopes article debunking the tale: http://www.snopes.com/horrors/madmen/doom.asp
    And here’s the general Wiki article about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbine_High_School_massacre

  25. Randomgamerdude
    Randomgamerdude says:
    February 7, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    Doesn’t god of war have a sex minigame that can keep you sane?

  26. Awesome66
    Awesome66 says:
    February 7, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    It all depends on the person and their ability to seperate reality from fantasy. I guess alot of people have a hard time doing so, which gives violent games and such a bad name. It’s the person, NOT the game or tv or what have you. Least that’s the way I see it.

  27. Gr8g0ry
    Gr8g0ry says:
    February 8, 2011 at 12:04 am #

    This is quite funny, however…. The only real point I see on why they don’t really have mainstream sex in videogames is because it Is far to easy, and people will loose interest. Also it may be because people can’t just ho out and kill people, so they put it in videogames to alllow them to feel the act without actually doing it… While you CAN go out and have sex, so why waste your time playing a game about it when you could just go have sex and enjoy it in REAL life… Besides people leaving comments seem to over complicate things, just laugh and enjoy the funny picture and it’s funny truth.

  28. Ido013
    Ido013 says:
    February 8, 2011 at 1:36 am #

    This has been like this ever since books were invented. Sex was prohibited but you could kill and be as violent as possible. God liked violence and disliked sex (by god I meant the church, and by church I mean the guys who controlled the book media before..). So now it’s only the same thing repeating itself all over again ;)

  29. Jakk Frost
    Jakk Frost says:
    February 8, 2011 at 3:04 am #

    With no research or studies whatsoever to cite, just my own observational opinion, I feel the need on yet another forum to point out that the increase in aggressive tendencies could also be linked to the increase in medicated children. For the past several decades more and more children have been diagnosed as ADHD or ADD and prescribed medications by pill-pushing, pharmaceutical-company-endorsed doctors/shrinks.

    Now, I’m sure SOME of those kids may really have ADHD, but how many of them were just naturally active children who’s parents had no patience to tolerate the activity and dragged them to psychiatrists complaining that they “just can’t handle them”? The shrink is all too happy to sound “all smart ‘n shit” and doses the kid into a stupor. Then the kid has no outlet for pent up energy, and it builds up and eventually explodes outwards when the kid reaches adulthood and/or stops taking the meds.

    Another culprit in the increase in aggression is the government itself. While I agree the line can be very easy to cross into abuse, the laws against corporal punishment have taught kids not to fear any consequences, until it’s too late, because until the kid actually commits a crime, “Mommy and Daddy can’t do anything or I’ll just scream abuse”. I mean, how many stories have we heard of this happening, the kid gets his/her x-box taken away (for example) or gets a bad grade on a test, and the kid throws a tantrum, dials 911 and says “daddy/mommy/teacher touched me in a bad place.” The worst part is, the kids who pull this shit in a fit of spitefulness make it harder for kids who really need help in those situations to get any.

    But people don’t want to blame society for these problems, they want a scapegoat like cartoons, comics, movies, and ultimately video games, which if you think about it, for the most part haven’t LED the world down the path of violence, but followed it.

  30. Ejigantor
    Ejigantor says:
    February 8, 2011 at 5:00 am #

    It really is all about politics and religion- and to the dismay of anyone who favors a rational decision making process in their government, the two have become inexorably linked in the USA- since the end of World War Two, when the “Godless Communists” became the new boogey-man, and some hard-core fundamentalists got themselves in charge of things, at which point our elected officials changed their mandate from “run the country to the best of our ability” to “rile up the populous enough that they re-elect us and we stay in power” and the entire experiment in representative democracy devolved into an “US vs THEM” power grab, where both sides want the world to fall apart, as long as they can blame the other side- not that either side is interested in fixing the problem (heck, that would make you less likely to send them money when they promise, again, to fix it).

    In truth it’s a war against Freedom, fought by our government against us. The “Right” wants to ban some things, the “Left” others, but both of them are solidly focused on depriving the citizenry of freedom. Video games are just another target in this war. Ban this, ban that, think of the children! We have to protect them. Except WE don’t, their parents do. And if parents are allowing their kids to play age-innapropriate video games, the solution is not to ban the video games, but to educate the parents. Not that the “education” option is ever at all considered.

    So they keep right on going, legislating away right after right, freedom after freedom, and people complain, but never really do anything about it. Seriously, do things need to get as bad here as they’ve been in Egypt for the past 30 years before we’ll rise up and remove our corrupt government? Hell, we don’t even need a violent revolution, because our system was setup with built-in peaceful revolutions every 2/4/6 years, yet every time we have one the same corrupt asshats keep getting voted back in, term after term.

    Until we start standing up and speaking up for ourselves, in the real worlds as well as on the internet, until we replace the broken system we’re currently saddled with, until we stop allowing the politicians and the media conglomerates to keep scaring the masses into conformity and submission, things are only going to keep getting worse (for the 95% of us who don’t hold 99% of the wealth, at least).

    Congratulations America, you’re letting the Terrorists* win.

    *ter·ror·ist: noun; 1) a person, usually a member of a group, who uses or advocates terrorism[ter·ror·ism: noun; the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes]
    2) those who seek to create fear in a population for the purpose of guiding or controlling that population.
    Examples: US News Media, Political Candidates

    • Chris
      Chris says:
      February 8, 2011 at 7:10 pm #

      I don’t know who you are, but I think I love you now. You’re one of the few people I’ve seen who use the term terrorism as it is actually defined. Most people just use it to reference anyone in the middle east with an opinion, or, for that matter, anyone who disagrees with them too vociferously. With it’s honest definition, you’d be hard pressed to look up at the highest echelons of American power and now find it staring you in the face. But to bring this comment back to the subject at hand, just like politicians do with any subject, they’ve been trying to stir up fear about sex in games just to have another thing to turn people’s attention to while the country circles the drain.

  31. Tweeg
    Tweeg says:
    February 8, 2011 at 8:54 am #

    Sex is a no no in video games instead of violence mainly because Americans (and I mean this in the citizens of the USA sense not the North American sense) are basically prudes.

    Lets look at something mundane like The Sims.
    If it had the nudity of Singles: Flirt Up Your Life people would have freaked out.

    Did society crash in Europe when that game released ? Did everyone just start humping the crap out of each other. No because the Europeans are more mature when it comes to sex, they don’t giggle everytime someone says the word titmouse they look at it as it is, just sex.

    Stateside, boom game gets censored.

    Same thing with other games like The Witcher.

    I think it mainly has to due with that fact that theres a obesity problem in america, most of the population are big fatties so wouldn’t you be a bit prudish over sex if your men hadn’t seen their wee wees in years and your women looked like manatees ?

    Remember when Hiliary Clinton freaked out over hot coffee, which had to be hacked to be seen, which no one in their right mind would have found sexy. Yah … total prude. Which is so hypocritical cause she married a total sex freak.

    You know what sent ameircans into a hissy a couple years back, what would have WARPED the minds of their children. Not all the graphic news coverage of wars … nope … it was a wardrobe malfunction at the superbowl.
    And there was a freaking nipple shield so it was pretty tame.

    Americans fear sexuality and love violence.

    Which makes sense, seriously if you were a repressed prude you’d need some sort of outlet. Repression leads to violence.

  32. TecXero
    TecXero says:
    February 8, 2011 at 10:58 am #

    I don’t think that sex is that frowned upon in video games, it’s just that’s it’s not that plot relevant. I mean it wouldn’t make any sense if in Halo you went around a screwed all the aliens to defeat them. There have been sex oriented games but they never seem to do well and they tend to get boring before you can even get the game out of the box.

    • IMakeIce
      IMakeIce says:
      February 9, 2011 at 12:05 am #

      GTA was pulled from shelves by lawmakers as an “Adult Only” game when they found out that a hidden sex minigame (which required that you literally hack the game and/or the game system to even access). The only way they got it back on shelves was to change the game _and_ patch old versions to break if the minigame was accessed.

      If that isn’t “that frowned upon” then you’ve got a wild and crazy idea of what that statement constitutes.

  33. tudza
    tudza says:
    February 8, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    I smoke a pipe and wear a monocle in real life, and I approve this message.

  34. Maga
    Maga says:
    February 9, 2011 at 12:01 am #

    For the most part, this has been a thought-provoking and intellectual discussion. Now, while I may not agree that it’s a government/media conspiracy to herd the populace or that American sexual repression is because we’re “all a bunch of fatties,” I would like to pitch in my two cents here.

    Sex is a problem for us as a society. And the problem isn’t that we shouldn’t be having it. It’s that we have it everywhere and refuse to admit it. Our comedy commonly employs sexual tension, our advertisements sometimes consist of no substance outside of a half-naked woman offering us a product, and even our fashions are getting more revealing. In spite of all this, we make big pulls to keep sex “out of our media” like it’s not already there, and video games are a great indicator. I will solidly point a finger at religion here. Ours is a country founded on religious values, and religious organizations are loath to admit there could be a different way to think most of the time. So, while sex is becoming increasingly accepted by individuals and businesses, these founding values are passed off as the “American” way to think, and society fights to keep the image of these values. And it causes problems. Trying to sweep sex under the rug in such a sex-saturated culture increases the risk of people doing something stupid with it. Did a paper on that last semester, and I can rummage up the research if anyone cares. So, while I don’t think sex NEEDS to be in video games, if there’s a market for sex-based video games, or (heaven forbid) just regular video games that may have sex IN them, that shouldn’t be a problem. After all, if the consumer is a prude, the answer is to just not buy the damn product, not try to make it so the rest of us can’t, either.

    As for violence/sex in games raising or reducing the risks of these behaviors in real life… I think we have a lot of cause/effect mixup here. IMO, the root cause is the parents, really. It’s the parent’s responsibility to raise their children, and that does not mean put little Timmy in front of GTA for endless hours when he’s 5, refuse to look after him outside of that, and then wonder why he grew up to be a head case. We as a society fail when we cave to the demand for more restriction because we’re telling bad parents, “That’s okay, Timmy wasn’t really your responsibility.” Children can be taught the lines between fantasy and reality, and it is the responsibility of the parent to monitor the child’s understanding of those lines and allow or restrict entertainment media accordingly. And the gaming companies even go so far as to put a convenient stamp on the box to help parents make the right call. Now, that being said, I don’t think video games warp the minds of the average consumer. The material is presented to us (ideally) at an age where we can handle it and file it neatly under “fantasy” in our heads. Our preferences for these games will be based on the kind of people we are, though. As a guy who thinks a lot, I gravitate to strategy and role-playing games, but the more aggressive among my friends go for gratuitous violence. The observant here will note that we play because we were that way to start, and not the other way around. These gaming choices are an outlet for our natural impulses, and so while we don’t necessarily find ourselves less likely to engage in these activities in the real world ever, we do keep the impulses and urges to a manageable level. It’s a subtle distinction, but it’s there.

    Anyway, that’s my two cents.

  35. Scott
    Scott says:
    February 9, 2011 at 1:25 am #

    I’m heavily into politics and Christianity, so here’s my take on the cultural aspects of the violence/sex dichotonomy.

    As noted by others, in American entertainment blood splattering violence is okay, but not even casual nudity. The reverse is true for Europe and some other Western nations, where you can’t even show digital blood (everyone is a robot in Team Fortress 2 for Germany) or violence against authority figures (Left 4 Dead 2 riot-cop infected was initially banned from Australia).

    This may have to do with America being as a whole much more conservative than Europe (and by conservative, I mean the American understanding of conservative values and politics). Sex is bad, but self defense with firearms is an integral part of the US Constitution. By contrast, in Europe hot man-on-horse action in an open field is perfectly legal as long as the horse is not harmed, while pointing your finger at a classmate like a gun goes on your permanent crime record for life.

    And like it or not, America was founded and populated mostly by people from a Christian background. Hence many of the cultural norms and even official laws lean toward traditional Judeo-Christian values.

    A quick browsing of the Bible finds sexual transgressions extremely vile in God’s eyes (Mosaic laws put them on the death penalty list on par with murder), while violence is often a God-sanctioned necessary means to an end. This dischotomy can be explained by the human body being the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) versus God having and giving the authority over life and death (hence death penalties do not fall under the Sixth Commandment).

    No, that doesn’t actually justify good little churchgoing kids blasting the cops in CounterStrike, but it does lend some background to why those from Judeo-Christian influenced cultures react more strongly against sex than violence.

    However, we are seeing these lines being blurred and eroded – witness MTV’s latest borderline child-porn offerings, or customs confiscation of fluorescent plastic nerf shooters as ‘fascimilies of firearms’.

    PS. A thought experiment: Try and set Left 4 Dead in London – there’s a reason 28 Days Later and Shaun of the Dead almost exclusively feature melee combat and running the heck away. Then compare Fallout and Fist of the North Star – both are post-nuclear apocalypses, but the American one has guns everywhere while the Japanese one has martial arts of already-death.

  36. Roblynn
    Roblynn says:
    February 9, 2011 at 8:32 am #

    So, I’m seeing a lot of strawman arguments being constructed from my original one, so let’s stop and clarify.
    First, I never said we should ban violent video games. As far as I’m concerned it’s in more or less the same arena as violent movies, junk food, and alcohol. It’s one of those things that we enjoy that are kinda bad for us. ESRB ratings and a little parental discretion are pretty much the best we can do right now.
    Second, I never said the scientific debate on video game violence was over. But, it is over on this point. Correlation and causation have both been found again and again and again. Now we’ve moved on to finding out the details on types, amounts, durations and contexts of the aggression that’s produced. Scientific debate does finish on points and moves forward. That’s why you don’t see a lot of supporters of Lamarckian evolution. It’s how science gets stuff done.
    Third, everyone is taking aggression to be equivalent to violent crimes. That’s not what we’re talking about. The statistic that violent crimes is decreasing while violent video game use is increasing is useless here. First, because there’s too many variables going into crime to isolate video game use. Second, because the argument is not that television or video games turn people into psychos (although homicide rates do increase after a big televised boxing match and most of the victims are the same race as the losing boxer). The argument is that it increases aggression. Aggression here being defined as verbal (yelling, swearing), physical (pushing, hitting), willingness to harm another person and confrontational attitudes.
    I have provided a few studies. Bandura’s study showed video clips of adults behaving aggressively increased aggressive behaviour in children. This finding has been replicated both with actual video programming and video games. I don’t have the time or energy to make up a whole citation list for people who I’m fairly sure aren’t going to read it. Luckily, it’s unnecessary. Go into Google SCHOLAR and type in “video games” and “aggression.” Then click on any study there. 80-90% will support this finding. 10-20% will be inconclusive because scientific studies at best have 80% power to detect and effect. 1 of 100 might support catharsis. This 1 is a statistical anomaly.
    The idea that violent media reduces violence and aggression has been disproven and abandoned. There’s no reliable evidence for it. Violent media increases aggression as described here. The extent of the effects is still being studied. I’m not for banning violent video games, and at the end of a long frustrating day I still like to come home, pop in Devil May Cry, and wail on demons to industrial metal. It just doesn’t really make me feel any calmer.

    • Roblynn
      Roblynn says:
      February 9, 2011 at 8:41 am #

      Please avoid single case study references, such as “I play lots of violent video games and am one of the most pacifist people…” Not good logic, we’re talking statistical trends.
      Kids should absolutely be kept away from violent video games, but correlationally adolescents (high schoolers) who report more time with violent video games also have more conduct problems. And Bandura’s studies have also produced at least short term increases in aggression with adults. It’s one of those things that needs more study.
      A degree generally means you have studies in an area for an extended period of time. Generally meaning you know more about that area than a person who has not. In my case, I’ve studied social psychology and media influence for 5 years and am finishing an honours thesis on media influence. Most people haven’t. So yes, people with a degree in an area generally will know that area better than you. Sorry if this offends you, but it’s common sense.

      • Anony
        Anony says:
        February 10, 2011 at 12:21 am #

        Funny thing: my shrink doesn’t agree with you.

        Also, you said not to use single person cases, yes? How about: in my dorm, nearly every guy played Halo. None of those guys killed anyone. How’s that? :)

        • Roblynn
          Roblynn says:
          February 10, 2011 at 12:44 am #

          Why is this so hard. We’re not talking murders. We’re talking increased aggression. Read the definition.

        • Anony
          Anony says:
          February 10, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

          I was addressing your single case complaint and please don’t forget the question mark.

      • Ejigantor
        Ejigantor says:
        February 13, 2011 at 12:30 am #

        You state repeatedly that there is no catharsis from violent video games, but the research you keep citing, (indirectly, of course), based on your statements, are studies of VIEWING violent acts. You seem to be failing to account for the fairly important distinction between passively viewing something on a screen and actively interacting with something that outputs to a screen.

        There may be no (outside statistical anomaly) catharsis from watching, but you cannot apply studies on passive media as blanket truth when referring to interactive media.

  37. Scott
    Scott says:
    February 9, 2011 at 9:49 pm #

    Question Steve: Why the auto-close comments after a week? I know that this is a webcomic, not a blog, so hundred-comment threads on decade old posts are a distraction But what’s your own reasons?

    • Steve Napierski
      Steve Napierski says:
      February 10, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

      It becomes hard to manage the threads if they all remain open. This isn’t a forum and I’m only one guy. I also like knowing that when a thread is finally locked it’s not full of spam or trolling.

  38. baha
    baha says:
    February 11, 2011 at 8:32 am #

    For one, I don’t like the generalizations about American society and how Americans are “violent” or “prudes”. That kind of broad stroke isn’t fair, nor is it likely based on anything but what you see on TV, which is just ignorance. It would be like stereotyping all Europeans as dried-up snobs and all Canadians as drunk rednecks.
    Next, I have to agree that it is a trenchant point Steve brings up. The potential harm of sexuality in media (and I’m not just talking video games) is generally overblown and generates a false moral panic whenever it appears. I mean, pre-pubescent teens have been seeing sex and nudity for generations, whether it was your a kid stealing his dad’s Playboy a few decades ago, or a kid today sneaking onto the net to find some naughty websites. Either way, young boys are sneaking peeks at boobies long before they are having sex, and probably long before they get the “birds and bees” talk (if they get it at all). Heck, I learned what I knew about sex before my first time from 7th-grade health classes and reading lad magazines (like Maxim and FHM). So why does it always have to be so damn hidden? Kids are going to learn about it with or without thier parents, so it would probably be better to have the parents indroduce it and teach thier kids in a safer way.
    Next, it also depends on the depiction of sex and nudity itself. Some circumstances would make it smutty, some would be ok, and some would be art. For example, American Pie was just titties for the sake of titties, but the stripping of the jews in Schindler’s list demonstrated the depravity and inhumility they suffered (and couldn’t have had less to do with sex). A lot of other good movies use sex as a medium just to demonstrate interpersonal connections between characters, and while most of them simply allude to it instead of being explicit, I wasn’t at all uncomfortable with the scene at the beginning of Stigmata that showed the main character as a promiscuous girl, because that was relevant to the plot. I might not want a 10-year-old to see it, because he or she might not have the depth of understanding to get that point quite yet, but I think a few years later, after a good long conversation, he or she would be ready for it.

    And I think that’s the main rub for the controversies on both sex and violence: parents simply don’t want to be bothered to explain to thier children about how violence is bad and sexual responsibility. Instead of giving thier children the knowledge they would need to enter adulthood with a moral compass, they choose to ignore it, and see video games as a threat because they expose thier children to things that force them to take thier heads out of the sand.

  39. GFYM
    GFYM says:
    February 13, 2011 at 6:18 am #

    You enjoy a clean cumshot as much as the next guy?

    Maybe there’s the difference.