At PAX, Cliff Bleszinski Said Something Interesting About Video Game Violence

Since Cliff Bleszinski left Epic Games he's become, as he stated at the beginning of his PAX Keynote earlier today, "that guy who talks crap on the internet all the time". His talk at PAX was an extremely personal one — covering his early youth, the bullying he went through in junior high school and the impact of his father's death on his future life as a game designer. But amongst it all, he said something very interesting about video game violence. It was a broad statement, but I think it has merit.

He said that, while "old men" like to use the topic of video game violence and its impact on young men to get ratings, in all his years at conventions he's never seen a single fist fight. He then compared that to sporting events which, of course, has its fair share of fisticuff action. Gamers, he said, are a gentle species.

It got me thinking about my own experiences at expos like PAX.

PAX East is crazy. There are 70,000 human beings here, a large majority of which are young men. Conditions are cramped. Super cramped. I've had accidental elbows to the ribs, I've had to shuffle past people. And the queues... there are queues for everything here, literally everything.

You'd think this stressful situation would be a massive catalyst for at least some act of minor violence. All it would take, you'd imagine, is someone verbally calling out a queue jumper, or getting aggro during some sort of multiplayer game. Maybe one of those accidental elbows hits the wrong guy at the wrong time — if this was a music festival, for example, there's no way this many people in such an enclosed space wouldn't result in some sort of violent altercation during the three days.

But no, Cliff is right. Nothing. I haven't seen any kind of violence at any of these events I've ever been to. Ever. I've witnessed my fair share of dickheads do minor dickhead things — but never has it ended in a physical confrontation. And better still, I've never had that feeling; the weird tension that arises in clubs, or pubs when you're just aware of an atmosphere, or the possibility that something bad could kick off at any second. Shows like PAX are completely devoid of that.

It's not scientific and of course it doesn't prove anything really, but it is a point worth making. We are lovely, we are docile and we treat each other with respect in real life. That is a very cool thing indeed.


    Yeah, but spend an hour in a CoD lobby and tell me gamers aren't overly aggressive.

      Spend a football match as the opposite side in the wrong side of a grandstand, you'll be treated the same way... Soccers even worse. You'll probably get beaten up IN the stadium seats.

      Last edited 23/03/13 2:24 pm

      Yeah, Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory, and all that.

      Yea but there's a difference between raging 10 year olds and people old enough to play the game and go to conventions. XD

      CoD players aren't gamers. Especially after seeing that last article and their raging.

      I'd actually go so far as to say most CoD players aren't really part of the gamer community. It's those same nutso football supporters that spend their nights at home playing CoD. It's the people involved in the bigger arena of gaming that are a lot more civilised.

      Well, imo I think that's just what COD brings out of people though, and not necessarily just the type of people who play it.

      COD seems to be the type of game that generally brings frustration out in people, even when they are normally a docile cat... OR maybe it's just that COD is a good game to play when you feel angry at something. lol

      Last edited 24/03/13 9:11 am

      But at least that's where the aggression stays.

      I find it fucking hilarious.

    This is definitely true. At comic conventions and the few low-rent gaming (Video and miniature) cons I've been to in Brisbane, Australia, I've never ever seen a fistfight break out. Yet when I went to suncorp stadium for a Broncos game with my dad around 10 years ago for the first time at the age of 24, we saw a punchup between around 5 guys over their teams, Broncos and Penrith I think it was from memory? Last year at my sons friends rugby game (grade 3) there was a parental fight, 2 men having a punchup over their KIDS on the field. Men. Fighting over kids on the field. At a sports game. Ridiculous.

    I think this statement can be applied to any fandom or convention. If any group shares a similar interest, they are generally more accepting of each other. When it gets broken down into smaller groups (such as consoles, games, whatever), that is when things get hostile. People bond with people of similar taste. I am sure an NRA convention is a fairly polite and peaceful event to attend, because it is attended by people of similar interests.

    I think there's one factor missing that may be an important oversight. Alcohol is rigorously consumed at sporting events and that may be a factor contributing to the violence in stadiums. On the other hand, gaming conventions are pretty much alcohol free which would make it less likely for someone to have an impediment in judgment and try and take a swing at some innocent bystander.

    I agree sports seem to make people more agressive, but I think the lack of violence might have more to the fact that sports crowds drink a lot.

    I disagree. I think people are more likely to be violent at a sports event for two reasons; sports fans are divided into teams (or fandoms, if you will ;) ), and are more likely to be drinking. Combine that "us vs them" mentality with copious amounts of alcohol, along with people who just can't handle their booze, and you've got a situation where people are more likely to start fights. Compare that to PAX where everyone has similar interests and are less likely to be drunk, and of course there would be fewer physical altercations. I suspect some PAX attendees could possibly be just as bad if they were liquored up and separated into competing fandoms.

    ill treat you with respect in real life, but I will be that 12 year old douche teabagging your corpse before the respawn

    -by the way I am actually 24 going on 13 IRL since there is "no such thing as an adult gamer"

    Last edited 23/03/13 3:25 pm

    Man I have always said this: gamers are only violent in game, irl we are pacifists really.
    If you want to see real live aggression go to any sports game, fan or players.

    On the other hand, I had a guy try and start a fight with me because he lost a round of a Magic tournament against me. What does that say? lol

      you were probably cheating. lol

      I gave up on those card games because I always had the right cards to win, but could never bloody use them

    Access to alcohol and drugs that you would find at sporting events and music festivals plays a major difference in this scenario. A Game convention is a completely different environment.

      It's a good thing too, otherwise we'd all be busting out our AKs and our 9mms.

    I know a guy who was stabbed at an internet cafe, and another mate got slugged in the shoulder after a game of dota in yet another cafe.

      I've seen fights break out in internet/gaming cafes, but they have a very different atmosphere to an event.

    One of my friends was in a bathroom at PAX and a LARPer took his wedding ring and he got into a fist fight with him. For some reason it was hilarious that the thief was a LARPer, I don't know why

    The people who you may consider that violent gaming has had an effect on, are usually socially inept and you wouldn't see them at a convention anyway.

    I guess I'm pointing out that for most people violent games have little to no effect, but for someone with a mental issue the effects could be dangerous.

    Also, when I was 16 I was playing Mortal Kombat 1 at an arcade and a 21 year old drunk guy put $2 in and challenged me. I beat him with all 5 credits then all I remember was waking up on the arcade floor with a huge pain in my mouth. I don't remember a thing. He punched me so hard in the mouth I got stitches inside my mouth/cheek.

    But overall I agree that gamers are very non-violent. That guy was just a drunk wanker.

    Interesting point indeed. It does go to show that most people who play violent video games aren't violent/aggressive. However, that being said there are links between playing violent video games and (soon after) experiencing aggressive/violent thoughts and behaving in an aggressive/violent manner (for reasons other than just being frustrated after losing) among several other things

    Last edited 24/03/13 8:56 am

      I wanted to do a German suplex to my little brother not because I was playing WWF, but because he was pissing me off- I swear man

    Thank you for making me feel good for being a gamer. This in fact I have noticed myself at expos such as supanova and eb expo. I think its due to the fact that when we play online games there is the avatar which removes any kind of initial descrimination which we noticed but a lot of the time don't take note of. I guess in a way it does alter our views and expectations of things.

    There's usually a lot more drugs & alcohol being consumed at a music festival or a sports match though. I'd imagine if every second guy at PAX had had a couple there'd be a lot of altercations.

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