Columnist: GTA IV "Stimulates Dark Impulses"

May 5, 2008 -
In the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune, columnist Katherine Kersten has a lengthy whine about Grand Theft Auto IV:
Games like GTA IV stimulate and glamorize our dark impulses. They create a taste for the psychological thrill that can come from dominating and degrading others. They encourage us to strip our fellow human beings of their dignity, and view them merely as objects of violence or sexual desire.

The hazards of violent games will only increase as new, more advanced technologies like the Wii system take hold... you can act out a game physically.

The average 32-year-old man who plays violent video games -- and spends his free hours fantasizing about murdering passersby and roughing up strippers -- is likely to be someone's husband and father. What qualities of character will his wife find when she looks to him for love, steadiness and fidelity?

And when his young son looks to Dad as a role model -- well, that's the problem, isn't it?

Comments

Advanced systems like the Wii. ROFL.

I RTFA, and it is hilarious. She even went all "Godwin's Law" on GTA.

Roman Gladiators, Medieval Executions, Rwanda Genocide, Nazis, and ....GTA 4???! That's a logical train of thought there.

Her, JT, and Kevin McCoullagh (not sure the spelling, the Online Virtual Orgasmic Rape guy) should all team up. Imagine the combined force of their sexual repression. They would be able to create the worlds most extreme hyperbole.

Why do these people so worried about everyone else being a psychopath always look like they're about to go on a killing spree themselves? I mean look at her. She looks like she's about to give into a few "dark impulses" herself.

And Jack. I know we're all waiting for the day we hear he's in the clock tower with a Wii Zapper and a copy of Grand Theft Auto.

Another day, another moron jumps on the "GTA 4 will destroy us all" bandwagon.

''The average 32-year-old man who plays violent video games — and spends his free hours fantasizing about murdering passersby and roughing up strippers — is likely to be someone’s husband and father.''

lol what?

The average 32-year-old man who PLAYS GOLF— and spends his free hours fantasizing about murdering passersby and roughing up strippers — is likely to be someone’s husband and father.

The average 32-year-old man who READS BOOKS— and spends his free hours fantasizing about murdering passersby and roughing up strippers — is likely to be someone’s husband and father.

The average 32-year-old man who ENJOYS FRENCH COOKING— and spends his free hours fantasizing about murdering passersby and roughing up strippers — is likely to be someone’s husband and father.


the points are entirely unrelated

@ nighstalker160

That is a great letter. I would just once like to see anybody who's been sent a letter similar to this try and defend thier arguments in a rational and public manner. Then we will see how quickly the anti-game movement dies.

Wow! What kind of husband and role model? How about one that works two jobs? Or one that averages about 4-4 1/2 hrs of sleep a night during the week so that his family is taken care of? And one that no matter how tired he is, makes sure he spends time with his kids and wife, helping with homework and around house before trying to get sleep to start all over again. Not to mention one that makes sure all games his kids play are appropriate for their ages like parents SHOULD do. Nahhhh, I'm not a good role model after all I guess.

"The hazards of violent games will only increase as new, more advanced technologies like the Wii system take hold… you can act out a game physically."

These accusations are getting as tired as the jokes upon the name itself... this isn't virtual reality, and the remote's setup is in no way 'realistic.'

"The average 32-year-old man who plays violent video games — and spends his free hours fantasizing about murdering passersby and roughing up strippers — is likely to be someone’s husband and father. What qualities of character will his wife find when she looks to him for love, steadiness and fidelity?"

...no comment. Just no comment.

"And when his young son looks to Dad as a role model — well, that’s the problem, isn’t it?"

That's a bad thing for a child regardless of what video games the adult plays, isn't it?

By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.

What's done cannot be undone.

Macbeth does murder sleep, the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care,
The death of each day's life, sore labor's bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast.

Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him? Here's the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Out, damned spot! out, I say!

Fair is foul, and foul is fair.

This is probably the first time I've seen another person worry about what ADULTS are playing. I guess she felt the "for the children" concept got old for her? I'm not sure why she worries about 32 year old males, perhaps she has a son that age? I doubt she has a husband currently, especially at that age.

However, she apparently has dark thoughts when thinking of a game like GTA and passes it as proof that having dark thoughts will cause infidelity. If anything, wives cause infidelity not games. I digress though, I can't believe she's choosing to use her age as wisdom, she can't argue her age on grown men's thoughts, it's plain silly.
The son looks to dad as a role model and sees a man who supports him, when he looks at you [the columnist], he laughs and is glad he isn't a whiny old hag.

No freakin' way...

Is she serious? Let's see... in a given year - how many stories are in the 'news' - including newspapers that help boost human dignity? How many stories in the news are about others dominating and degrading each other?

How much of the news targets, exploits, and uses the 'thrill' of murder, violence, death, tragedy to boost sales?

PRETTY MUCH ALL OF THEM.

Get a clue woman. Seriously - open your damn eyes.

@ JC

What the hell does her age have to do with anything? And how in God's name can you claim to know she has no husband?

Quick! Someone call the Wambulance!

Here is my e-mail. I am wondering if it is a little to bullish.
Not like anyone there is actually going to read it.

"WOW. This is probably one of the most ignorant and out of touch editorials I have ever read.

The desensitization of entertainment is one of the most parroted myths around today.

The fact is people are built for survival. This means that they will do some pretty awful things to ensure their own comfort. If we are ever to move beyond these primal instincts we need to be willing to examine why they have such a strong hold over us. This not only means through scientific study, but also through cultural mirrors. Grand Theft Auto is hyper-violent. It uses extremes of dark comedy to illustrate what goes on around use everyday, everywhere.
I find it disappointing that so many commentators, such as yourself, are quickly jumping on a bandwagon of dim-wittednes rather than using their platforms to encourage discovery outside of what someone might be aware."

As for all the comments about movies:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076100/

Truly Ron Howard is the harbinger of the apocalypse.

@ Setesh

Amen brother. Well done.

Remember, only men play videogames. Glenn Beck and this woman said so.

Nice to see it's not just Minnesota's politicians that are idiots.

"The hazards of violent games will only increase as new, more advanced technologies like the Wii system take hold… you can act out a game physically."

Lady, most people would KILL to have that game on the Wii.

I only wish that article had a comments section. How dare that silly old bitch say things like that and insult me and countless other gamers.

"The average 32-year-old man who plays violent video games -- and spends his free hours fantasizing about murdering passersby and roughing up strippers -- is likely to be someone's husband and father. What qualities of character will his wife find when she looks to him for love, steadiness and fidelity?

And when his young son looks to Dad as a role model -- well, that's the problem, isn't it?"

I am a week away from 28 and am a Father to my partner and I's son. What gives her the idea that I spend my free hours doing what she says? In all of my time (well over 150 hours) spent playing any of the previous GTA titles, I have visited a prostitute once (because one of my friend's thought it was funny). The only passer-bys I have killed have been by accident. Guess what, in real life I don't fantasize about anything she suggests.

When my son looks to me as a role model, he is going to see an honest, hardworking man, which is what I am. How DARE she imply that due to my choice of entertainment I am some kind of a degenerate thug?

why did the mention of the wii remote, GTA 4 and sex evokes images of a strap on wii remote attachement?

i guess thats what she imagined.

Who would've thought. Another person bitching about GTA looks like she was born before cars were invented. Maybe THAT's why they don't like GTA, it glorifies those new fangled horseless carriages.

"The average 32-year-old man who plays violent video games — and spends his free hours fantasizing about murdering passersby and roughing up strippers — is likely to be someone’s husband and father. What qualities of character will his wife find when she looks to him for love, steadiness and fidelity?"

My girlfriend watches me play the game because she finds it funny when I get myself killed. It's called understanding the difference between reality and non-reality. The game is meant for entertainment value and these twits are getting on their high horses and spouting fictional content as if it were true to anyone that will listen.

As for a kid? I don't have one, but if I did play these games and had a child, wouldn't it be better that I spend time doing something they enjoy doing as well? Isn't being involved with your kids life and doing things that interests you both meaningful anymore? So what if it's a game such as this, at least then you're there to help them see the difference between right and wrong, real and not real.

These people that bash video games without every trying them or even bothering playing any video game just amuse me with their ignorance.

Apparently, video games don't bear the brunt of Kersten's venom:

http://fruitfly.wordpress.com/2007/09/27/katherine-kerstens-republicanvi...

Let her be folks - just another tired old loony who can't keep up with the world.

If anything, her rantings reflect more on her imagination that the demographics she's hitting.

I object. I thought about murdering passers-by and strippers long before I ever heard of GTA.

Just recently I finally had an opportunity to watch someone else play GTA.
The guy who was playing shot a man off of a motorcycle and I was amazed to watch as the victim crawled to the side of the road begging for mercy. What really amazed me was that other "civilians" in the area started running towards the injured man, yelling for help and trying to do what they could to aid him. This was some rather impressive crowd behavior in my opinion and I realized at that moment that I simply could not play this game the same way I see others playing it. I also realized that I did not have to play the game the same way he was playing it.
GTA provides an amazingly open environment in witch to act but the thing I noticed was that mindless violence and murder were not, in fact, rewarded in any way. From what I could see killing "civilians" and causing property damage is a choice, not an objective. And while I was disgusted with what the player was doing that was something he was choosing to do, much like someone choosing to unleash a tornado on their "SimCity".
There is a lot more thinking I need to do on all of this but I am hoping that I can eventually come to a better understanding of both sides of the issue of game violence.

10 dollars says she has not even played the game...

the least that these experts can do is play the freaking game, then criticize to get publicity...sheesh whats the world coming too? (dont answer that)

helpless you should try reading the 1up.com article they have on people being affected by games, theres this dude that says he cant in any way bring himself to kill anyone in gta unless its a direct mission objective, else he feels guilty and gets a sense of relief when hes caught.

quite interesting

My own email to the columnist:

Hello,

You have probably already received many (some better written then this, many probably worse) emails about your opinion piece but I wished to chime in too.

Putting aside just how amazingly insulting your article was to the many people who play games like this (including many wives, girlfriends, and daughters).. you do realize that your line of reasoning is the same basic one use to, say, stop women from having rights in many countries like leaving the home, working, or revealing their face to other men?

Even you admitted that such violent impulses are normal. Normal everyday people have a sadistic side and will revel in playing with it. But significant evil is done when we try to completely suppress or ignore this. Shelter someone from a topic and then introduce them to it late in life and you tend to get wild and do things they shouldn't. You see this all the time with highly sheltered people discovering pornography, violence, alcohol, etc late in their development. Repress something completely only leaves you with the two extremes.

GTA style games let people get out these impulses in a safe and healthy way. In fact the game can be a good bonding experience between couples and can even be a good way for younger players (who let's face it, have a lot of frustration and angst) to get their aggressions out in a healthy way INSTEAD of taking it out on real people.

I am also not sure which 'research' you are referring too, but the only studies I have seen have been pretty dodgy and fail to show causation (at best they show a correlation). The studies do not rise to the lofty level of 'confirming' that video games have the effects you mention.

Lastly as an active member of the bdsm community I am particularly disturbed that you use "S&M sex scene" as some horrible eye catcher to catch the reader. Wonderful example of your own pandering to puriant interest in an mock-indignant way. I would be more worried about teenagers trying to emulate, say, street racing found in so many games and movies then I would S&M considering such behavior is far riskier and kills more teens per year.

I'm willing to bet she goes to church at least once a week.

Her column also appears as a blog on the site where they allow comments. http://ww3.startribune.com/kerstenblog/?p=425
I suggest leaving one.

Hey look!

It's another person... bashing games... again.

...

I'll be playing GTAIV.

I used to live in Minnesota. "Lengthy whines" are pretty much the only thing Katherine Kersten's got. Aside from GTA, other things that annoy her are atheists, Muslims, and homosexuals! I think she's there to keep conservatives from throwing the newspaper across the room, but most of the right-wing nuts I've run across think the paper's full of commies anyway.

OH! So close! The word you were looking for was "simulate."

Also for the last time people, there is no rape in this game, and there are strip clubs in real life. You also, just like in real life, can't take out a weapon in the strip club or the bouncers will beat the crap out of you.

The only consequence I've ever felt from GTA was finding myself driving a little faster than usual if I go somewhere after playing.

I dunno... I mean, women my age play video games, right?

Does turning women to the dark side make them sexier?
Excuse me for the sexist joke, but I think it had to be said.

Anyway, bringing out our "darkest impulses" is one of the reasons why people play violent video games; we can't do this stuff in real life, but we *want* to do it anyway, so we act it out in video games. Harmless, virtual video games.

I've played every Grand Theft Auto game out.

I wouldn't dream of taking a life.

I abhor violence against women unless it's in self defense

I've raised a lethal weapon toward another person.

MY police record remains clean.

Wow, what is wrong with me eh?

And whatever happened to bashing the music industry? I'm pretty sure that more people watch music videos than play video games.

"The average 32-year-old man who plays violent video games — and spends his free hours fantasizing about murdering passersby and roughing up strippers — is likely to be someone’s husband and father. What qualities of character will his wife find when she looks to him for love, steadiness and fidelity?"

First off, most women I know are onkly interested in gangstas, wealth, and dnagerous men.

Second, it's called change. Society has to do it every once in a while. Women are going to have to learn to judge wether or not the gamer is still a good man or if he is a dangerous psychopath. I'll give you a hint, does his shirt have sleeves?

If we were to stick with dogmatic views of our potential mates, then women would have to start cleaning, get back into the kitchens, and keep their mouth shut when the men are talking.

But the funny thing is, society changed and we learned to adapt.

@ helpless kitten

''And while I was disgusted with what the player was doing that was something he was choosing to do, much like someone choosing to unleash a tornado on their “SimCity”.


best example ever!!

surely the critics cant pick and choose their arguments. Either it makes you violent or it doesnt. so the fact i loved to send volcanos, tornados , ufos and giant robots to stomp over my city killing millions of virtual people means that im a violent person in real life? does it heck!

And like you said, its a CHOICE. im getting fed up with the 'cop killing / hooker killing simulator' argument. I can go the entire game without killing either if i wish.

hardly a good 'simulator' .

(putting aside the 3rd person, giant floating aiming retucule, auto aiming and tracking of the floating reticule, auto reloading, recoilless guns, ability to fly 50ft off a clif in a car because its 'cool' and land unscathed, die and return to life at a hospital after being shot by 10 bullets, recovering from said bullets halfway through a fight by walking over a glowing medpac, driving erattically down the pavement and through people's front lawns, past cop cars, without them blinking etc etc.. the list goes on ..)

@Joe

And that in itself is a bad thing?


I suspect sending her emails is pretty pointless, except for helping us vent our rage. From what I have read on her, she seems pretty convinced in her point of view through emotional attachment rather than any rationality.

QUICK! SOMEBODY CALL THE WHAAAAAAAAAMBULANCE

its nanny nazis like this it makes my dark impulses surge.....

Here's what I posted:
I'm curious. You talk about the game as if it's video games are the only violent media glorifying the "bad guys" and their actions. When in fact, we have always had the urge to fantasize about being "the bad guy". Movies about gangsters and "great" criminals, TV shows like The Sopranos, and even themes where the "good guy" indulges in a little unnecessary cruelty as part of their trade (Batman, the Punisher, etc). Even books that follow the great criminal masterminds, elevating them to the realm of "anti-heroes".

These are the stories that allow us to explore our "bad" selves, safe in the knowledge that it's pure fantasy. We get to "stick it to the man" without actually doing so. We get to outwit the authorities. We get to engage in risky and outrageous behavior that would get us 20-life, and when it's time for dinner, turn it off (or put the book down) and go back to our lives.

I've heard some stats that many women fantasize about being raped. At first, it's a disgusting concept. Who would want to be raped? But when taken into context of a fantasy, it begins to make sense. It's a horrible act, but that may be it's allure, as long as it remains in the realm of fantasy. It doesn't mean that those women would ever dream of wanting to be raped in real life, but in their dreams, it's becomes part of the act when you're a "bad girl"...

Also, as callous as it may seem, the targeting of prostitutes in games like GTA4 is not, as the media portrays, intentional. You can kill anyone. The media love to fixate on prostitutes and police officers being killed, as if it's almost extra sinful to kill them, ignoring that in the game, you can kill anyone. Or you can kill no-one. It's up to the player. Yes there are missions where your job is to kill, but your targets are always fellow criminals. You are never "required" to kill bystanders.

Instead of thinking whether player are being "trained" to kill innocents (or motivated to be more aggressive, etc), we should be asking why when a person who has never played violent video games before can so easily jump into the idea of it being OK to run over pedestrians during a racing mission. People who wouldn't hurt a fly, sit down, and without prompting, shrug at the idea that maybe driving 60 down the sidewalk is fine. I don't if I'd call them heartless.

Perhaps another view would be that they are instead making that disconnect between fantasy and reality, and so they don't see the people in the game as "real", and therefore not worthy of the usual compassions they would extend to their fellow "real" humans...
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

LOL. My wife played more GTA than I ever did. I hate gender stereotypes.

Humans have dark impulses. This is a fact, and is unchangeable - and anyone who tells you differently is passing a collection basket.

What better way to expunge them than by playing a video game?

~~All Knowledge is Worth Having~~

Everyone who talks about this game always says husbands/fathers/brothers/sons/boyfriends/etc.

So what they're saying is no female in the entire world plays Grand Theft Auto?

That's pretty sexist.

Maybe we should be asking why all these fucking wierdos have these "dark impulses" in the first place? That sound good?

She lies.
You know? GTA4 brings family together. Just yesterday, I played GTA4 with my brother, sister in law, mom and dad. We passed the controller around for two hours. I've never heard my mom and dad laugh so much before.

So she has NO proof and claims to have mind powers? If I had mind powers I would be doing something cool instead of ranting about videogames.

Yes, the Wii lets you act out a game physically, but so does the PS2 that has an Eyetoy - or the Rockband or Guitar Hero games. Also, the Wii has more sports games than any gaming platform out there and it is also a very family fríendly gaming unit.

It also sound like Mrs. Kersten thinks that all 32-year old men must be phantazising about "murdering passersby and roughing up strippers". Generalizations much?

As for these men's wifes I hope, guess, feel and think that they know the difference between playing a video game and acting out something in the phantasy/imaginiation realm of the game and doing these things in REAL life.

And I hope the little boys' dads teacch the little boys to distinguish phantasy in a game from reality in real life ---

Yep. Every time I see a woman I suddenly go into GTA mode and attack them like some psycho. Please. Hehhehhehhehheh.

Wii system... Advanced?

It's painfully obvious she has no idea what she's talking about. Claiming that every person who plays this is suddenly going to wish they could go on a homicidal rampage is insulting to the human race. If we're so stupid that at the age of 32, or in my case 17, that we can't tell the difference between fantasy and reality than we should still be living in caves trying to make fire.

This woman is assuming that any 32yo man who plays violent video games also fantasizes about murdering people and abusing women... and how the hell does she know that?
Where is her evidence? Did she do some kind of psychological study? No, she's just a "journalist" who wrote this article because GTA is a well known and easy target. There are other games - and media in general - that are far more violent and get far less attention because they're not called GTA.
Violence imagery does not alter behavior. All these anti-violence activists and parents groups think that they're protecting children by sheltering them, but I think the opposite is true. The more you coddle someone and shield them from how the world really is, the more naive they are as a child and the more gullible they'll be as an adult.

I'd say that the Wii system is more cleverly put together than "advanced" (technologically speaking). There was a lot of intelligence and thought put into using the various pieces of already existing technology together in such a way to build a solid video game system that average people actually want to buy -- something not so intimidating, something intuitive, and works well.
 
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MechaCrashThey aren't being held accountable because *this is what GamerGate is really about.* Hatred and harassment under a thin veneer of concern for ethics; it's a rotten movement right down to the core. Related: http://tinyurl.com/o5mamgn10/21/2014 - 1:53am
james_fudgeodd why would they delete pro vita comments?10/21/2014 - 12:50am
Neo_DrKefkaI am a little disturbed that members of #GamerGate are supporting and not holding its same members accountable when they say remarks that are unacceptable!10/20/2014 - 11:39pm
Neo_DrKefkaSome #GamerGate people are defending @kingofpol many are however lashing out at him but if we held Sam Biddle accountable and Gawker so must we hold @kingofpol and #GamerGate10/20/2014 - 11:30pm
Neo_DrKefkaA big name in the Gamergate movement Kingofpol uses a offensive term about autistic people and in turn the entire GamerGate community lashes out at him. We do not need false leaders who think they can say anything https://twitter.com/Kingofpol10/20/2014 - 11:07pm
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MaskedPixelantehttp://www.reddit.com/r/vita/comments/2jbn6u/former_siliconera_moderator_leaks_screenshots_of/ Siliconera mods accused of deleting user comments that were pro Vita.10/20/2014 - 9:23pm
quiknkoldhttp://www.diamondbackonline.com/opinion/article_3fbc52ec-57eb-11e4-ba91-0017a43b2370.html10/20/2014 - 9:16pm
Neo_DrKefkaId love to see people come 2gether whether your 4 or against gamergate to gather 2gether and support an anti bullying charity and I would love to see a pro and anti gamegate debate on a neutral platform that promotes discussion and solutions10/20/2014 - 8:33pm
Neo_DrKefkaWhen someone was seriously hurt by a violent altercation. They have a prospective that people who have not had this experience lack. Bullying is a serious issue10/20/2014 - 8:30pm
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Papa Midnighthttp://i.imgur.com/dw0YPon.png10/20/2014 - 8:25pm
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quiknkoldAndrew : I dont accept any worded apology unless I can look the person in the eye when they say it. For me, he'd either have to make a video so I could read his bodylanguage, or actually do something. actions speak louder than words.10/20/2014 - 8:04pm
quiknkoldwell if they are looking for social pollution, Twitter is a great breeding ground for it. Its a breeding ground for deviance.10/20/2014 - 8:03pm
Andrew Eisenquiknkold - He had three tweets worth of apology the following day.10/20/2014 - 8:00pm
quiknkoldyou know, people keep saying Biddle's comment was sarcasm, but the thing is, Sarcasm doesnt translate well in Tweets. I took his words as really hateful, and unless I see an honest apology, I'm not going to be happy with him.10/20/2014 - 7:38pm
Matthew WilsonI doubt it will change much.10/20/2014 - 7:21pm
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.bbc.com/news/technology-29689949 Google's current piracy fighting plan.10/20/2014 - 6:58pm
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