VA Tech Panel Witness: Violent Games Should Be Banned Like Heroin

May 20, 2007 -
Should violent games be banned like the illegal and addictive narcotic heroin?

That suggestion was made recently to the Virginia Tech Review Panel, an elite commission appointed by Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine to study the April 16th school shooting rampage committed by madman Cho Seung-Hui.

The panel, composed of a variety of experts and specialists as well as former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, held its first public meeting in Richmond on May 10th. Among those testifying was Don Phau, a member of former fringe presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche's political action committee.

Much has been written about LaRouche and his movement over the years, but little of that material is germane to GamePolitics' editorial focus. Phau's testimony before the VT Review Panel, however, is something that merits a look.

Speaking near the end of the May 10th hearing, Phau began by recounting Miami attorney Jack Thompson's claims that Virginia Tech shooter Cho Seung-Hui was motivated to commit the killings by playing Counter-strike. Phau also mentioned the Washington Post's initial report that Cho played the game, a reference that was later deleted by the newspaper.

Like Thompson, Phau also cited the 2002 Erfurt school shooting and the killer's play of Counter-strike. In addition, Phau referenced game violence critic David Grossman and his writings about video game violence. In speaking about first-person shooter games, Phau said:
[FPS games] were developed after the Vietnam War... But the video game industry in the year 2000... when we had the Y2K phenomenon, the video game industry decided to make a  lot of money. They developed the first-person shooter games and Counter-strike was developed by Microsoft.

GP: There's a good bit of misinformation packed into that paragraph. It's true that FPS games were developed after the Vietnam War - about 20 years after - with id Software's 1992 release of Wolfenstein 3-D. At the same time Phau seems to be saying that the FPS genre was created in 2000, which is obviously incorrect.

Nor did Microsoft develop Counter-strike, as Phau states, although an Xbox version was published under the MS label in 2003. This misinformation was also put forth by Thompson around the time of the Virginia Tech massacre.

Phau also seems to be drawing on Grossman's frequent assertion that FPS games are used by the military to break down recruits' inhibition to kill. However a recent book by ABC news reporter John Stossel disputes Grossman's claim.

Phau continued:
These games, I propose, should be banned. The same way you cannot buy heroin; the same way you cannot be a 16-year-old and buy pornography.

Phau also incorrectly cites statistics on the ability of underage buyers to purchase M-rated games: 
82% of games rated M... 82% of kids can buy these games. You can go to Wal-mart. You can go to Best Buy and buy them.

Actually, due to increased retail ratings enforcement efforts, the most recent (April, 2007) figure from the Federal Trade Commission is 42%. It was 85% in the year 2000 and 78% in 2001, which is what Phau may be referring to.

GP readers can watch a video of Phau's testimony before the Virginia Tech Review Panel on the C-SPAN website (skip ahead to 3:26:30 for Phau). If you'd just like to hear the audio, GamePolitics has created a six-minute mp3 of Phau's testimony. 

The LaRouche camp touts Phau's appearance before the panel on its website, echoing his call to ban violent games. Among other projects listed on the site is one entitled Destroy Al Gore. Readers will also find The Cheneyites and the Killer-Trainer Lobby, a lengthy article that sees collusion between the government and the video game industry in just about every corner.

In regard to the LaRouche material, it's hard to miss the group's overlap in ideas with those of Jack Thompson. GamePolitics recently asked the anti-game attorney if he was working with the LaRouche team on video game issues. His terse answer:
I have nothing to do with LaRouche's people.

Comments

Re: VA Tech Panel Witness: Violent Games Should Be Banned ...

I agree with Peter. Violent games should be banned. I don't see the point in just killing people. Where's the fun? I find violent games as harmful and useless as heroin!!! I don't understand what kind of people would like to play these type of games...

____________________

Drug Rehab Programs

Re: VA Tech Panel Witness: Violent Games Should Be Banned Like

Violent games should be banned , that should have happened long ago. When people start to play these kinds of games with  violent images and actions they don't seem to realise whats right and whats wrong.

And in the end they start to behave like this in society.

@ Unrated: I know how you feel, but perjury is one of the hardest crimes to get an actual conviction for, especially in cases like this. In order to convict, you'd have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he knowingly and willfully lied. If he can claim that he's just an ignorant, arrogant jerk ("My sources must have misinformed me, your honor"), then he can get off scot free.

*tries to make some sort of a joke about having to binjury before you perjury, but fails*

I'm surprised the LaRouche guy didn't say that games are as dangerous as the heroin that Queen Elizabeth continues to smuggle into the country:

http://www.stanfordreview.org/Archive/Volume_XXXII/Issue_2/News/news2.shtml

Makes ya wish they had some kind of, I dont know..... What is the word?.....LAW, that says you cant lie to the senate and other law makers. Just some kind of THING that says you have to present truthful and accurate facts. Yeah one of those things.

@Grimm22: Don Phau isn't on the panel. He simply testified before the panel. How much weight his words carried is another matter.

So now we're having the mentally unstable join panels which decide how tragedies occur?

Wow....just...wow

the problem with saying that video games cause people to be violent is that the people who are violent are the minority in the larger community of gamers. i've played my share of shooters and games like resident evil. if it was true that games make you violent i'd be dead or in jail by now.

Has anyone confirmed that Cho was an avid videogame player?

I checked all over the web, including wikipedia, and none of the reports on VT point to him being a gamer- or even having games.

@ BBen: "Once again, the ‘media’ has created an instant expert by accepting the incoherent ravings of a conspiracy nut. No one in the news media bothered to check the ‘expert’ credentials of Thompson, Grosseman or Phau. (is anyone surprised?) Fron what I have read none of these ‘experts’ has a clue about reality, let alone violence or video or games. Makes you wonder what else the news media are not checking."

Actually, Grossman has pretty impressive credentials. Unfortunately, that's all he's got. The original data his research is founded on was fraudulent, his deductions and logical connections are spurious, and his conclusions are absurd.

I love this article.

You would ban someone's freedom of expression and freedom of speech.

Last I checked, the government wasn't allowed to censor ANYTHING. The can pass legislation regulating it. But they can't out and out censor anything.

I would ban LaRouche's brainwashing cult and put people like Phau behind bars because they're trying to ruin all values American people have died protecting. Since (unlike Thompson) they're not only targeted against video games, but also against (more or less - read what SoldatLouis wrote here: http://www.gamepoliticsforums.com/showthread.php?t=2152) all forms of popular culture, I don't expect anybody will take them seriously (I mean, even Jacko-Wacko distanced himself from them). Their views alone make them bigger threat to American society than the Ku-Klux-Klan - they're even more degradating, retrograding and neophobic (I would rather have a pedophile for a neighbour than one of their members)! If they're to be ignored or treated like lunatics they really are, it's OK - they don't deserve any attention, good or bad. But if gaming industry wants to start a fight against them, then it'll be a fight to the end, so they have to be sure they will finish it too.

[...] Pero no lo mencionaría aquí sino fuera porque encontré algo que me resultó extremadamente curioso durante su lectura, y sumamente contemporáneo, además, considerando los hechos recientes. [...]

They can take their efforts to ban things and shove them where the sun doesn't shine. They can have my video games at the same time they can have my guns - when they take them from my cold, dead fingers.

Such massive misinformation. It's almost mind-boggling!

I wonder what would happen if I send this Phau with the correct information and dispute every single claim he just made.

~Otaku-Man

Let's not forget the Bath school massacre-- one that actually had a higher death toll than V-Tech. Of course, the media got that one wrong, too.

I was just reading one of the links provided by jccalhoun, and one of the comments on it struck me as odd.

"but that on the contrary, this New Violence is a just as much a threat to human civilization, as a global outbreak of cannibalism"

WTF!? Comparing school shootings and perceived youth violence to a "global outbreak of cannibalism"? Most people I know don't even think of cannibalism. For them, the worst crime imaginable would be murder or rape (yes, even my gamer friends for those people who think we are desensitized). Almost makes you wonder if the author of the article contemplates eating people on a daily basis.

If these idiots are trying to scare people, that's all they are really trying to do, why not just say anarchy or global nuclear holocaust or war? That's much more effective and comes off much more sane.

The article even says, "these computer games were originally developed in the United States for use by the military, for the purpose of breaking down the inhibitions which new recruits would experience when ordered to kill enemy troops". So they are accusing the American government of this? I think I sensing a trend.

These people have no sense of personal responsibility or Free Will!

Long story short, the Schiller Institute is a nut-house. I can't even Begin to rebut everything on this ONE article. It'd take too long. If you're curious I'll re-post the link here.

http://www.schillerinstitute.org/new_viol/hzl_banviol_502.html

@Kobra

Oops i didn't know about that one, but after a quick search it's the only one.

Plus, things like that happened in USA even before the first videogames ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Whitman for instance )

Mahn, I want what Don Phau was smokin'.

The problem is with society, not with entertainment.

He was under heavy pressure to pass. From experience, I can tell you students are pushed to perform and achieve. While this is wonderful, many are "forced" to cram in the rest of their lives around their study.

While it may seem obscene to some of you that a university or college student be doing something that isn't learning, thus leading toward longer terms and higher expenses on the institution, there is a value to be had in taking things slowly:

Low stress, an open mind and creativity are not crushed under demands.


Granted, in the eastern nations, it's 10x worse than it is in the western world, Japan's Hikkomori life-style often the end-result for people both in the east and western world when they become qualified and yet nobody will hire them out of a lack of experience.

The education system is trying to turn us all into PHD scholars yet increasingly, that's not what the world wants of us as employees. The idea of an employee thinking for themselves is obscene for the most part.

They want...

-Experience
-Social skills
-The ability to deliver
-The ability to see what everyone else misses or give original/fresh input
-Someone who actually enjoys the job they're doing

Lets make a FPS Clan called TKEC (Tim Kaine Elite Commission) and TK the crap outta each other...

[...] VA Tech Panel Witness Ban Violent Games Like Heroin Filed under: Uncategorized — recar @ 1:04 pm VA Tech Panel Witness Ban Violent Games Like Heroin In official testimony before the commission investigating the Virginia Tech massacre, a representative of fringe political figure Lyndon LaRouche called for banning violent games in the same way that heroin is banned. The witness also testified inaccurately on several issues and cited game critics like Jack Thompson and David Grossman.[industry news] [gaming] [game] [news] [...]

"volient video games kill"

Thats either a spelling error or an incredibly subtle latin joke, since 'voli-' is a prefix for 'free will'.

(Kudos to google for this)

volient video games kill.

Oh, and I forgot this link that summarizes and compiles the Larouchites' articles on Va-Tech shootings :
http://www.larouchepac.com/pages/developing_stories/new_violence.shtml

I'm sure this goes without saying, but it's a shame that many people believe these "people" (and I use that term lightly) and don't get the facts. They see these things on tv and accept it as true. Man, what has this nation (and world) come to?

Once again, the 'media' has created an instant expert by accepting the incoherent ravings of a conspiracy nut. No one in the news media bothered to check the 'expert' credentials of Thompson, Grosseman or Phau. (is anyone surprised?) Fron what I have read none of these 'experts' has a clue about reality, let alone violence or video or games. Makes you wonder what else the news media are not checking.

What about that high school in Germany, Kevin?

[...] Click here to read more | Source [...]

Give me a break... we have the same video games here in Europe and yet no one tried to commit mass murder in a college or high school

Along with video games let's ban 1) Violent Anime 2) Action Movies at\over the R rating 3) Anatomically correct Barbie (No Titties!)
anything else rediculous that I can add to this list that holds no bearing on what happend and was just an Incorrect reference by phau (obviously not a true gamer or a very good one if he doesn't take the time to be right and proof watch himself) and as far as the "Just for men" crew, Assholes looking for something to shit on.

I assume i can't be the first to actually do this, but lets just draw a rough correlation on the rate of violent crime to the availability of violent video games using the fbi national data at http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/05cius/data/table_01.html

Violent crime rates, as well as the individual rates of violent crimes, in the US have been falling steadily from 1993 till leveling off at about 2004.

The idea of blaming a crime which has been around since the dawn of humanity, no matter what viewpoint you take on that dawn, and exists in animals too, on something invented in the last 20 years just seems absurd to be.

@monte:

Marathon was released after Wolf3D. In addition, Wolf3D still isn't the first FPS, as it's predated by Catacomb 3-D (possibly Hovertank as well if you include non-textured walls).

A quick way to tell which game came first is to check the rendering engine. Simple rendering engines appeared first, which are limited in map complexity or some other factor (e.g. maximum sight distance, as with Ultima Underworld). More advanced engines gain support of more complex maps, such as stairs and stuff.

OK, for all those who discover the LaRouche cult's theories on V-Tech shootings, go check these pages, they compile almost everything they said about "violent" video games :
- http://www.schillerinstitute.org/new_viol/ctte_vs_newviolence.html
- http://american_almanac.tripod.com/violpt.htm
- http://www.larouchepub.com/eirtoc/2007/eirtoc_3417.html
- http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/articles/New_violence.html

Wow, and I thought Jack Thompson and David Grossman was bad. Wow.

@Ronnie Barzel: I lol'd.

[...] In official testimony before the commission investigating the Virginia Tech massacre, a representative of fringe political figure Lyndon LaRouche called for banning violent games in the same way that heroin is banned. The witness also testified inaccurately on several issues and cited game critics like Jack Thompson and David Grossman.read more | digg story Share: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

I think this guy may have a point. Since I first played a first-person shooter (Battlezone) back when I was eight, it's been a constant struggle to resist the urge to drive my tank around a vector graphic landscape populated by other tanks and geometric shapes.

@Tommy

Wrong. Marathon came out two years after Wolf3D. It is however far more advanced than Doom.

Hmm, well I suppose I was lied to then. LIED!!!! (sorry random mood at the moment -_-)

Sometimes life needs a fast forward button...and occasionally a volume control.

@Phau:

I see what you did there.

I can't believe I actually went and listened to that idiotic testimony of Don Pha(il)u(re)...

Obvious troll is oooooooobvious.

Wow......
What did I just read? Sounds like the chewbacca defence.
"VIOLENT VIDEOGAMES WERE MADE AFTER THE VIETNAM WAR!!!"
sane people- "so?"
Him- "THEN Y2K HAPPENED AND FPS'S WERE MADE!"
"what?"
-----------

Has anyone confirmed that Cho was an avid videogame player?

Also, in terms of a class-action suit, I think the ECA might be the only entity that can organize such a thing effectively.

Holy crap! "You don't need a Playstation, you can play these games on a regular computer."

What? Really? WOW?!?!

Sheesh this guy is very out of touch with anything more complicated then a calculator.

I don't know, depending on who you ask marathon was pretty major.. wolf was first however.

MArathon was released in 1994, I thought?
Wolf3d was 1992.

@Tommy Westerman

err... i just looked that up, and Marathon came out in 94'... Wolfenstein 3D came out in 92
 
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