Researcher Talks Game Violence, Jack Thompson

Australian gaming site Atomic MPC has a wide-ranging interview on video game topics with Dr. Guy Porter, a researcher at the University of Sydney.

Porter told Atomic that his interest in video game issues was sparked in part by Jack Thompson’s incessant claims that violent games are behind school shootings:

Previous studies have suggested… while certain games may make some individuals more aggressive, it is equally likely that these individuals will choose to play violent games in the first place.

Therefore it is difficult to separate cause from effect. This finding appears to be more significant for young children than adults. Existing studies tend to be of a poor quality and are by no means conclusive. There is a need for better designed, longer-term studies.

So, can violent games be blamed for actual violence? Porter told Atomic MPC:

It is very difficult to establish a link between the use of violent video games and real world acts of violence… there are so many other variables which have not been controlled for in previous research – these include social factors such as drugs, alcohol, mental illness, access to guns, and so on.

Regarding the controversial Thompson, Porter said:

Jack Thompson’s case has been greatly supported by the work of Dr.Craig Anderson… [But] Anderson has done some experimental work which we regarded as suffering from methodological problems…

Anderson also did a meta-analysis of the existing research… His conclusion was once again that video games lead to aggression. However his meta-analysis included many poor quality studies…

In 2007 a similar meta-analysis was published by [Ferguson] contradicting Anderson’s findings.

Porter opined that Thompson’s school shooting claims ignore other more significant factors:

Jack Thompson is also against children being exposed to the sexual content in certain video games and is an advocate for correct classification and parental supervision. So he is not all bad.

However, I think that directly linking video games to school shootings is overlooking other more important factors – such as mental illness or psychopathy in those who commit the crimes as well as access to guns…

I can sense that the gaming community is looking to find someone to counteract Jack Thompson. I may not be that person but I am someone who is trying to take a more balanced approach.

Porter added that 15-20 more years of study are needed in order to make a determination regarding the effects of violent games upon users. To participate in Porter’s current research project relating to video game addiction, click here

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  1. 0
    Gir says:

    @E. Zachary Knight

    I’m sorry to continue detracting from the discussion at hand, but I had to say something to a few of the things said above…

    First of all, divorce is not a problem. It’s not. Period. If people want to get married, and then get divorced, they can. Hence the nature of a “free” society not controlled by the major religious institution. We no longer have to be King Henry, and create our own church in order to escape from the Pope and his rules. It’s a choice like any other, and you can feel free to like or dislike the choices that other people make, but to call it a problem is almost asking for religious control of government again. It’s asking to set society back a few hundred years.

    If your personal belief system is such that you don’t ever wish to have a divorce, then I hope you never do. I admire your commitment. That doesn’t mean that anyone else should follow your example… but they can if they want to.

  2. 0
    Karsten ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The big thing & the big challenge as well is how you determine whether a game or not is actually violent. I just visited my local Blockbuster Video store who also sells some video games. Much to my surprise, I see that the adventure game ‘The awakened’ which is a game in the Sherlock Holmes series, made with great inspiration from H.P. Lovecraft. As such this game is supposed to be very scary, and almost thriller and horror like in its gameplay. However, the PEGI (the rating organization in Europe) only rated this game 12+ for —- violence.

    When I saw this, I was like: what? I couldn’t believe my eyes. I know some folks over at who won’t play this game alone, but play it together with their husbands (or wifes) literally holding their hands. The point here I sometimes don’t get the PEGI ratings. I mean, Hellgate:London was rated 18+ by the PEGI when I, after having played the demo, probably would have rated Hellgate:London as a 12+ game. I mean, there’s violence and killing of course, but the things you kill aren’t really people, they are more animated cartoony figures walking around. And I still don’t get why Mass Effect is rated 18+ while Halo 3 is rated 16+ by the PEGI organisation…

    FPS-games is for the most part violent, e.g. you shoot a lot of monsters and people etc. However, in the best of them you can also use stealth etc. to reach your objectives or goals for your missions in that game.

    Most RPG-players probably don’t think that the play violent games at all, but play games in which they play a role, using choice and consequence to guide them through the game(s).

    I don’t think I have seen any violence in Myst games or in the SIMS games, though. I mention these games since they (still) continue to outsell every other genre in the game industry, except maybe for the World of Warcraft game.

  3. 0
    ZippyDSMlee ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    Father Time
    I believe the gun permit system needs to be expanded to include mental health, this will reduce murders “some” and if handled correctly its no worse than the criminal check.

    However there will always be 1 thing you can not prevent and thats a sane person breaking down one day and buying a weapon wit the intention of harming others, one can reasonably build a system that can keep some/most “inadequate” people from owning fire arms without lowering the populaces right to them.

    The more I look at things the more I see indavenal state “rights” as a joke, but then blanket mandates from the fed are not that great anyway.

  4. 0
    Father Time ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @las, attorney

    If he was taking medication for his illness and seemed to be doing fine how was the gun store owner supposed to know that he’d stop taking his medication and snap?

  5. 0
    ZippyDSMlee ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    E. Zachary Knight
    100 would be the 1900’s…ya 15+ sounds reasonable the 1800’s were when 13 year olds got sold…married… LOL

    2 things have changed since those times life span and information that can mature knowledge and apparent wisdom, with both age of consent and how people marry i society change.

    Also another important aspect of it then it was a need to proliferate the species/blood line/deals today its more about heart and feeling and as such you more break ups…of coarse back then yo got more death..I’d say 3 – 6 times more than the deadly relationships we hear about on TV where the male feels the need to kill both child and mate and such..I wonder if they made it easier to give up all rights and not have to pay child support it would lessen the deaths…it could would raise suffering in the populace tho I guess having the child support system is more benfitail it at least gets most/some of the kids ready for life.

  6. 0
    E. Zachary Knight ( User Karma: 2 ) says:

    @ Rigo

    Hey E. Zachary Knight, if your commitment to your wife is so strong, then where is the threat to your marriage if you were subjected to nudity?

    I can run around on a fire range and avoid being shot, but don’t you think that it is easier to just stay off the range to begin with?

    Sure I could handle a little nudity if I stumbled on it, but I would rather not seek it out.

    Thank you.

    Also, much of divorce as you say is not tjust the reuslt of a lack of commitment, but it stems from a lack of commitment in the right thing. Some people are committed to their jobs and ignore their spouse. Some Are committed to money and when financial hardships kick in, they let that commitment get in the way of each other.

    But to try to pinpoint the exact cause of divorce is like pinpoint the exact cause of school shootings.

    But yes, some people are too immature to get married at such a young age. But that is not due to age. 100 years ago, people were getting married as young as 16 and divorce was rare.

    So what has changed?

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  7. 0
    Altair says:

    I might want to elaborate on them a bit. I meant that there are adult rated games that are being published by the developers, thus not receiving much attention.

  8. 0
    DarkTetsuya ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “Jack Thompson is also against children being exposed to the sexual content in certain video games and is an advocate for correct classification and parental supervision. So he is not all bad.”

    That’s funny, I thought he wanted to abolish any and all violent videogames for all of eternity until the end of time? If he really wanted to do like they said, then there wouldn’t be a problem… but we all know that’s not the case here.

  9. 0
    ZippyDSMlee ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    “I agree with you on the fact there is not a lot of sexual content in games that are not meant to be actual porn games, con… “
    Congrats mental fortitude is a lost tact.

    Depends on culture but the point of a rantings system is to slot media into age ranges, it helps to have it when you don’t want to deal with mature themes and issues.

    Agree with most points, however you said kids can have maturity but doubt his maturity as a married person, contradiction is only for religion, government and zippy :P, sometimes life blesses you with finding your mate in life,even if the union ends in 20-40 years it dose not make a correlation, people of all ages join and un-join all the time because humans are errours fickle creatures.

    I am 32 or 33…never dated from ..mmm “online simulations” with “friends” I have found I am not fit for “the game” or being in any sort of “relation”, I am just not fit for the stress of such responsibilities I still pyne for “love” but I am getting over it, dose this make me realistic mature or a foolish child only time will tell but zippy is pretty dam childish.

    What am getting at people are people indavendauls that led lives that can slot into hundreds of similar paths just because we suck at relations dose not mean some don’t find such responsibility early and cherish it with every fiber of their being while they can because life and the roads we take alone or with others will end sooner or later.

  10. 0
    E. Zachary Knight ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ Rigo

    There is nothing wrong with being married at 25, thank you. I was married at 22. I am sorry that you cannot find the maturity to make a commitment of that nature. But for those of us who love the person we are with enough to make a lifetime commitment of marriage, it is the best thing in the world.

    There are a lot of problems in this world because people refuse to commit. Divorce is a large problem and much of it stems from the fact that one or both parties could not keep the commitment they made with the other.

    I would rather not be subjected on a constant basis to material that would threaten the commitment I made with my wife to honor her. That is what Roebuc feels.

    So lay off.

  11. 0
    Rigo Bustamante says:

    What is Roebuc’s problem? His own inability to deal with sexual hang ups or his sexual proclivity should in no way be projected towards society. This is the major problem in this country, a few people that can not deal with their own feelings or have issues in interpreting their sexual thoughts and desires, these are the ones that feel the need to legislate for the larger populace. Repression and the sheltering people at a young age from the realities of the world are the reasons we have so many individuals that feel entitled to regulate the thoughts and beliefs of others. Sexuality and sexual feelings are natural, we are hard wired for these responses. The inability of one individual to stay true to his wife, just because he saw a naked man or woman, should in no way be taken as the general point of view of the population. It does not take someone to be mature to look at a nude body and not have sexual thoughts, it takes for somebody to be dead, and that’s the simple truth. Just because someone has sexual thoughts or feelings doesn’t mean that they are going to carry out those feelings, that would be immature. The immaturity stems from a lack of education or an exorbitant amount of repression in their lives. Even a child or a teen can have the maturity necessary to be able to deal with sexual feelings and thoughts. All it takes is the understanding, love and the “parenting” aspect of being parents to educate the youngest members in society so that the small amounts of sexual suggestion in game will not be misconstrued as anything other than than just a harmless game. My other gripe with Roebuc is, what the hell are you doing married at the age of 25? Really, 25? The only reason you could not stay true to your wife would be that you just got married way too young and did not get the opportunity to live life first, or that she just might be a tad on the portly side. These reasons will definately lead you astray. At the age of 25, if I saw sexual activity or a beautiful nude woman, I would only want to go home and plow the “Fertile Crescent” known as my girl friend, that’s it! Perhaps you should deal with your issues before you accidentally catch a glimpse of an ankle or a shoulder, who knows what you would be capable of?

  12. 0
    deejus says:


    I don’t think animals are primative per say…just cause they don’t have thumbs to write and dress themselves and do those types of things. In fact, I think there are animals just as developed as we are but have a different set of circumstances they are constrained to. But I do see where you are coming from.

  13. 0
    Deejus says:


    “Also, I don’t care what you or the government says, Porn is not Art! Adults should adhere to the same policy. It takes a very mature and stable mind to be able to look at a nude body and not get sexual thoughts. I am not capable, if a women stood infront of me nude I would have to turn away as I am married and could not honor my vows to my wife of stay physically and mentally committed. I am 25, how could you expect a child or a hormonal teen to go through it without thinking anything sexual.”

    Sexual thoughts aren’t the problem. The problem is that sex and nudity has become such a stigma (thanks religion) in recent history that kids and teens and even many adults are afraid to talk about their feelings to better understand what’s going on and thus have more of a chance to become repressed and/or deviants. No one should feel wierd or shameful about seeing a naked woman or man. If it was an open subject for all ages, and not so frowned apon would this even be an issue? So I guess my question is, did we forget that we are just animals and share the same instincts and biological hardwiring to procreate as all other creatures on this planet?

  14. 0
    Tammej says:

    Hey “balance approach” is perfect. We are not looking for black or white here. So if Mr. Porter would consider it, he’d probably be the perfect person to stand up and against those who seek to demonize video games per se. Somebody who’d simply deny the possibility that games could influence somebody in any way whatsoever is clearly the wrong individual.

  15. 0
    Roebuc says:

    @Ian Cooper

    I agree with you on the fact there is not a lot of sexual content in games that are not meant to be actual porn games, however there is enough suggestion in GTA and Mass Effect that some people could take offense.

    I agree with you that there is nothing wrong with nudity in itself, however most people can not look at nudity without there mind or eyes moving to a sexual point. Guys, much harder for then women since we are visualy stimulated however women can not do it either. You might take the argument children are not sexual and will not, I disagree with that. It is built into us, I knew what breast were by the time I was 6 and though I would not ammidt to it for “kudies” reasons, my eyes were drawn to them. A child should not feel dirty when they see themselves nude because they are in the shower or because the accidently saw a family member. However, they should not be allowed to just stare and watch nudity even as art. It takes a mature mind to seperate sexuality from nude or body art. Also, I don’t care what you or the government says, Porn is not Art! Adults should adhere to the same policy. It takes a very mature and stable mind to be able to look at a nude body and not get sexual thoughts. I am not capable, if a women stood infront of me nude I would have to turn away as I am married and could not honor my vows to my wife of stay physically and mentally committed. I am 25, how could you expect a child or a hormonal teen to go through it without thinking anything sexual.

  16. 0
    gitrooman says:

    I’ve been talking about Dr. Andersons crappy work for the longest time. I have reviewed ALOT of his studies and ALL of them are flawed to say the least. I’ve seen college freshman conduct better research.

  17. 0
    James says:

    a logical saying comes to mind “correlation dosn’t equal causation” or more accuraty the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, just because one happened after the other dosn’t mean the one caused the other.

  18. 0
    ZippyDSMlee ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    “also against children being exposed to the sexual content in certain video games and is an advocate for correct classification and parental supervision. So he is not all bad.”

    Adults shielding children from adult content within a society is not a bad thing, however getting to a point where they are fully protected.

    Some governments can do it without stepping on the populace some can not, retail could do more to standardize enforcement and slot “labels” to age ranges.

    Industry can not see beyond itself to standardize ANYTHING and government would most likely do to much, so what can be done?

  19. 0
    Tiki says:

    @las, attorney:
    Notice though that the interviewee is from Australia, somewhere extremely free from the second amendment and associated mentality. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone of repute in America willing to support gun control when the political repercussions (‘freedom-hating fascist!’) would be pretty, um, damaging to their reputations.
    Sorry, let me rephrase that:
    Australia: random whacko kills a few dozen people. Public, politicians, just about everyone: shock! outrage! kneejerk disarmament! let’s see that happen again! (now nobody can shoot the psychos, but oh well)
    America: random whacko kills a few dozen people. Public, politicians, just about everyone: Huh. Not again. Ah, well. If it ain’t broke… (now the psychos can shoot everybody, but oh well)

    @Father Time:
    Easy. Wave a magic wand that makes it next to impossible for people to obtain guns unless they actually have a good reason to shoot people on a regular basis (so perhaps military, private security and public law enforcement, though ideally not even that).
    Once that happens – oops! – gun stores no longer exist because in this new paradigm they aren’t vicious-cycle necessitated! Or something.
    Also, it was kind of interesting on how you jumped on the other guy for and immediately started pushing a not-entirely-related agenda. Just like I’m sort of doing here. But by pointing out my own hypocriticism I deprive you of the change to do that to me. Or something.

    Um, I have no idea what I’m talking about. Just ignore that.

  20. 0
    Rigo Bustamante says:

    @E. Zachary Knight

    That’s ok, that’s your business if you want to get married, but at 25 you are hardly mature enough to commit your self to that sort of long term contract and if you are, then that is a rarity in our society. The fact that more than half of marriages in this country end in divorce is hardly due to the lack of commitment, it’s because people get married for the wrong reasons. Some people are just not ready and have various motives for getting married. My gripe is not with marriage though; it is with this person that can not even look at an image of a nude person without having conflicting feelings and thoughts that would compromise his relationship with his wife. Now, doesn’t this sound like a person who is immature and can not handle the commitment of marriage?
    As for ZippyDSMlee, there is no contradiction in my statement. I question this person’s maturity based on his statement that the sight of nudity would make him compromise his vows. This is not the thought process of a mature person. On my other point, young people and children can have mature ways of thinking if they have the proper guidance and life lessons that enrich their ways of viewing the world and dealing with others. So I’m sorry if you did not understand my initial statements but hopefully this will clear up any questions. By the way, you should really get out and have a few drinks and cut loose, take a swing at a cop, maybe diversify your group of friends and just don’t be so uptight when talking to women. I’m only writing this because I care and to tell you the truth…you do come across as desperate in your last paragraph.
    Hey E. Zachary Knight, if your commitment to your wife is so strong, then where is the threat to your marriage if you were subjected to nudity?
    And 22? Wow, you were just old enough to legally drink at your wedding. Have fun, enjoy your vows and I wish you nothing but the best in your endeavors. Just remember that when you see nudity, you’re supposed to use your imagination and your eyes are naturally drawn to it, that’s the way it works, we are men and it is a part of our genetic code. Doubt should not arise, only the equipment which we were born with should arise and that is when you share that with the one you love. If you do feel compromised when you see nudity, then perhaps you were not as ready as you assumed. Best of luck guys and try not to see any nudity on the way home.

  21. 0
    Ian Cooper ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    What games have ‘sexual content’? I mean Hot Coffee was never intended to be in GTA: San Andreas, and apart from games that are purely intended to be porn, I can’t think of a single game that has any sexual content that goes beyond seeing a game character kiss – and a kiss is hardly something that a kid would not be exposed to in his daily life.

    I fear that what Thompson means when he says he’s against ‘sexual content’ is nudity, and in that case I have to disagree with both him and Dr. Guy Porter – nudity is not wrong, immoral, nor is it necessarily sexual, and there’s no reason to shield kids from it. In fact I think it may be harmful to their own self/body-image to tell kids that nakedness is wrong or that the naked human body is shameful.

  22. 0
    janarius ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    It took me awhile to find Guy Porter’s article, it’s a short summary. If anyone wants me to read it and comment on it. prod me.

    on a side, one research issue at hand that is bothering me is the geographical distribution of psychological video game research. So far, most of the research is U.S. centric, with Europe as second. Right now, I’m getting the impression that American and European scientists seem to disagree on the matter of aggression and video games.

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