One Author Breaks Down The Reality Of Violent Games In The Media

The sober truth of the world is often a hard thing for the 24-hour TV news cycle to stomach. Blaming violent games is easy, so it’s refreshing to see someone break down the reality of the situation in one fell swoop.

In the clip above, taken from C-SPAN 2’s Book TV, author Karen Sternheimer gives a quick summary of the uncomfortable truths of how the media reports on violent games — about how they regularly warp the findings of violent game studies and ignore the violence that happens every day to children. It’s an adult, calm and rational approach to a complicated, systemic failure — which is exactly why it is on C-SPAN 2.


  • Careful Karen Sternhelmer, Fox News will label you anti-american for speaking logic and common sense!!!

    • She defended video games AND brought up the mental health crisis…she could be in trouble. If she’s brought up gun protection too she’d have no hope.

  • The title had me thinking that she broke down crying because of violent videogames.

    I did just wake up a little while ago though.

  • I’m sure this must have been proposed before, but does anyone else get the feeling that the media loves to point the finger at video games to distract from the truth of the matter. Which is that the attention the media pays to these violent incidents is much more likely to seduce an attention seeking psycho into violent action than almost any other contributing factor.

  • Love this video! I have a job where I’m am exposed to a lot of violence and the biggest issue that does not get talked about enough in relation to violence is mental health! The two go hand in hand.

  • There’s still a link. If you were an alien and you came down and saw the movies we watch, the games we play and even the books we read, you’d be thinking “wow these people are obsessed with violence!”.

    It’s a cultural thing. It’s not good that our MA are R rated movies are so graphic now. But no, they won’t make you go out and kill people. But they’re a factor. And it’s very common that the people who do commit these crimes, do enjoy this kind of media.

    To ignore that fact is very silly. But to then run with that fact and BAN things or blame things is even worse. But I think violence in media and games is getting very graphic. Just look at the latest tomb raider. Or game of thrones. Or Walking dead. Or any tarantino film. I don’t think we should stop being violent, but we should glorify it less and tone it down a lot. Or our culture is never going to get over our violence issues, because we will always see it as a legitimate option. Because we’re told this by our movies, books and games.

    • And because we’re told it by our genetic heritage. For thousands of years, human history has been built by the victors on a mountain of bones.

    • I don’t think the conclusion you are drawing is more factual than anything else someone ‘just says because so’.

      These people are saying it is not a factor when studied correctly while you say that it kinda is a small factor that will be more substantial a factor in time as things get more graphic.

      What do you have to factually back that things need to be less graphic, less glorified or toned down to not have an impact on violent behavior to the extend you think?

      The human race in the first world is far more civilised now than it ever was yet we only have had these movies and games recently compared to histories timeline which to me is evidence that your tone down claim is nothing more than baseless opinion.

      • I guess I should respond with “what do you have to prove that there is no link between violent media and violence”? I mean, apart from reading articles about it in kotaku?

        I have young kids. I can see how they act when we watch an action movie. There’s a reason why we are careful what we expose our children too. I also have a degree in psychology. So I’ve met many academics and read many studies. A lot of academics are absolutely off with the fairies. They may study something for years and have no concrete skills in the area, just an advanced understanding of the concepts involved. These are people we should listen to, but we should not blindly follow their advice. That’s a classic case of the tale wagging the dog.

        What do YOU think? Do you think someone who watches a lot of disturbing material on tv or in games is more likely to be mentally unbalanced? I do. And it concerns me that this disturbing stuff is starting to trickle down into mainstream culture. Because the stuff you take in, on the net, on tv, in games, does effect you. It DOES do something. It’s silly to complete disregard the obvious ‘because the scientists don’t agree yet’.

        I mean, it all comes down to what kind of society you want to live in? I’d like the peace loving mung bean eating type thanks. It seems safer and the people are nicer to hang around with.

        So there you go. It might be opinion, but it’s not baseless.

        • Exactly. Parenting.

          Young impressionable mind VS well developed adult with a hold on reality.

          If people take responsibility for what CHILDREN are impressioned by than maybe they wont be impressioned by it?

        • Yes but I am not saying we should not restrict kids/immature minds from it, I think the opposite and agree with you.

          Adults who have been raised to value life, no right from wrong and comprehend make believe though should not have things toned down like your original post states though. Those adults do not become violent, irrational etc from it if they are balanced and should/need to make there own mind up about what they view.

          We should not dumb down things to the lowest common denominator. We though need to keep our kids from it as you say till the are mature, hence ratings for content etc.
          So in essence I agree with your logic in your 2nd post as far as impressionable minds but not in the sense it is degraded society. That is just talking out your hat

          I hope what I just said makes sense to anyone else not just me.

    • I agree with you that violence is glorified in our media, be it in games, movies or books. That said, I don’t think the link between violent media and behaviour is justified. After all, correlation is not causation.

      • Yeah, that’s a good point. And I agree with you. But I still think that it shouldn’t be glorified to the extent that it is. But a well rounded individual shouldn’t be affected. I mean I’ve watched ‘the hills have eyes’ and ‘dawn of the dead’, hostel and saw and I’ve barely killed anyone this year!

        • “But I still think that it shouldn’t be glorified to the extent that it is. But a well rounded individual shouldn’t be affected.”

          If a well rounded individual should not be affected then this “glorification” is not an issue. Plus the Hills Have Eyes etc is not glorifying it.

          • It’s not dumbing things down to have less extreme close ups of bullet wounds. But if you think that would diminish your enjoyment of the art form, then that’s your perogative.

            But you don’t think the hills have eyes glorifies violence? In the film every problem is solved with violence, where almost every death is in the form of an execution, and the protagonist starts off as a wimp, but is a warrior at the end.

            Well if you don’t think that’s glorifying violence, then I don’t think we’ve got anything left to talk about. Let’s just agree to disagree.

          • No I am saying don’t watch those things rather than having them changed to your views. Let adult’s decide rather than saying they have no impact yet that they do have impact.

            I am also saying your argument is inconsistent nonsense as quoted previously.

          • Lol – dude you can’t even spell or use grammar properly, yet you’re critiquing my views?

            Okay. Cool. Everyone’s entitled to an opinion!

          • Grammar, spelling and opinion have nothing to do it with.
            I have had about 5 people in person read what you said and they have all come back with the same conclusion as me.

  • How about a little empirical, although, rather anecdotal evidence:

    Last Saturday, being a good dad, I threw my 14 yr old son an awesome geeky birthday party. First, I took him, his two younger brothers and my best mate to laser tag. We played as a team; we kicked arse. Three games; three wins. It was a great bonding experience for us all. Our level of competitiveness was high, we were all pumped, but the level of aggression was low. We congratulated members of the other teams who did well.

    After lunch we played AvP2: Primal Hunt LAN matches for about 4 hours. (BTW. Best PvP FPS game ever. Find texture and map packs online). I ran the server on my linux machine, and we used five laptops to play. Teams were broken into: 2 aliens, 2 marines and 1 pred. The more we played, the more aggressive everyone became. I had to break up brawls three times, and tell them to keep the killing in the game.

    So, comparing real live FPS vs gaming FPS. The lasertag brought out good sportsmanship; The gaming brought out the worst in us all.

    Of course we’re still going to keep on gaming, but it was food for thought.

    • Were you all on the same team in the laser tag? I read it as you were.

      In the AvP you were competitive.

      I appreciate what you say, but I think your point is null.

      1) You were a team and bonded as a team in laser-tag
      2) You were competitors in AvP and as such accrued aggression as a competitor.

      I’ve seen good friends come to blows in a football field because they played opposite sides.

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