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?



By going how many people love to use their age as an argument on "experience" as to how long they've lived on the planet as proof of their point, I'm going to assume the 32 years is some marker she establishes to be knowledgeable about people that age. This I believe is why she is at least 10 years older if not older that 32 years mark.

I said I doubt she has a husband, judging by her remarks. I didn't say I know for sure. People with extreme emotions like her is rare to come across that "supposed" husband. We all have our own "perfect" partner, I just find it unrealistic. That's my reasoning.

"(They) 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."

Actually, that's my workplace. That's why, at age 45, I go home and play videogames.

(Am I the only one who thinks that writing that paragraph got her excited in a particular kind of way?)

Um, GTA IV isn't on the Wii.

She can read minds! A witch! A witch!

its these so called conservatives that worry me the most. Normal people just don't come up with this kind of twisted logic.

Incidentally, I still haven't gone off the rails in GTA. Liberty city is so well rendered, i'd feel.... bad. I might be a hired killer [in the game] , but I've got to sleep at night.

@ David D. Where do you work? Correction facility? IRS?

@ Joe Actually I think she has kids so that assumes she had a husband at some point. She is pretty much into the "traditional family Christian yada yada values" so I'm pretty sure she would be married.

But who really knows?

double post:

I just made a horribly false statement. It assumes she had sex at some point.

@ Stu

That's where people like this would go "Po-tay-to, Po-tah-to." XD

Charles Manson was supposedly inspired by The Beatles. Nobody tried this hard to ban them!

actually, I think people did...


Her kind reproduce asexually.

This article is funny in a different way. Because unlike other people that warn about the effects of GTA IV, this columnist is obviously aware that it is mostly played by adults. But she warns adults as if they were kids. I read the whole article, and she finds out through surveys GTA players average age is between 29 to 32, so it's not just a number she pulled out by chance. She thinks that it's a LESS comforting fact than thinking it's only the youth that want the game. At an age of 32, obsession with fantasies is caused more with your mental disposition than your general maturity.

There are weirder fantasies out there that adults practice, and most do not originate from some video game. I don't believe most BDSM fetishists got their start from fighting as Spawn or Voldo in Soul Calibur. I can't safely raise a family knowing I blast undead corpses and shoot video game cops? I can't have a girlfriend if I play Dead or Alive and see digital boob candy?

Granted, some video games do make you see things a different way. When I was playing Tony Hawk 3 a lot I'd make up skate combos around the things I see in town. But you'd need to be very delusional to act on these thoughts. I know I would get scraped knees and broken bones if I tried those crazy combos, since I don't know how to skate for real and have no interest in doing it.

"all of us have a potential for coarseness and cruelty that may emerge after months or years of immersion in lurid and prurient games."

Has anyone ever conducted experiments on playing video games that tested the long term effects over years, or months?

Her final verdict in the article is "don't marry a gamer, he'll treat you like trash". Yeah, just let the stereotype of a socially inept gamer get worse, and then gamers will be even more socially inept because they get rejected. It creates a vicious circle! :p


Yeah, I read the article too. The thing that really made me mad was this paragraph:

"Adolescents who play violent video games tend to be more hostile, to argue more with teachers, to get into more physical fights, and to do more poorly in school, one national study reports."

I'm the least hostile person in my school, I only argue with teachers who I'm friendly towards and it's almost always constructive, I've never been in a fight, and I'm in the top of my class.

I know that I'm just one statistical point on the bell curve (whether at the ends or the average, who can say?), but if we go with Thompson's method of statistical sampling (i.e. his son buying an M-rated video game), we can say with confidence that video games increase intelligence and decrease aggressive behavior.

"What qualities of character will his wife find when she looks to him for love, steadiness and fidelity?"
This is insulting beyond words, to think playing game would make you a terrible husband and human being...

"I’ve NEVER raised a lethal weapon toward another person."


It's a videogame lady, not a freakin' demon projector. Oh and great job neglecting all the lovely young LADIES who play GTA and other videogames. Sexist much?



Silly! Women don't play games. They do the dishes and fix my Sammich.

GTA IV on Wii? Oh my $Downtrodden_Socioeconomic_Class_of_your_Choice beating dreams are coming true!

I couldn't get past page 2 when she pulled a Godwin.

Actually this lady is another know nothing and I say that politely. I sent her a polite email asking her where her sources come from and if she has ever played the game and how there is no explicit sex in the game. It's for GameTrocity my blog and if she gets back to me I hope to put a post on it.

On the case of the article, one has to wonder how she says research shows kids are effected by violence and how she has no research that is cited so I think she pulled it out o her bum just to make herself sound credible.

I live in Minneapolis. The Star Tribune's letters to the editor frequently features people arguing against something Kersten said.

I see why she is a columnist and not a psychologist. *sheesh*

The fact is that people have dark impulses anyway. Everybody has that dark pit within themselves. For some people is comes out only when they are drunk and they bash their wives ... or out at the pub when they get into a fight. Some people watch horror movies to indulge their dark fantasies. And others safely enact on the dark impulses in a fake, fictional world.

When will people get it! It's AN OUTLET. Would she rather people get drunk and bash their wives?

*weighs her against a duck*


/Monty Python mode


In fact most of the violence over the past 2000 years have been because of Thompson's good friend, the Bible. The Crusades, the burning of witches, the KKK is also religiously based.

this bitch = IDIOT she sounds as dumb as she looks.

I hope she realizes how much hate mail is heading her way ^^


@ Rob 413

Hate mail will just prove her, and everyone else's point. "Gamers gone mad: attack nice conservative lady after she criticizes their hobby"...we will see it on fox right after JT comes in as a religion expert to tell us why violent video games cause Islam.

She has violated the media ethics by A. Not quoting her sources and B. Providing her own opinion.
I wish the media still had ethics, where they would not post opinionated rubbish and only posted the news.
There are no scientific studies, and if their were she should only quote them not give her own opinions.
I hate fascists, she should move to a country where they have cencorship if she does not like it.

Hmm, does watching the Crime Network on tv do the same? No? Then shut the fuck up. I play these violent games (although not GTA in particular), and I can honestly say that I never once got into a fight in my life. Yelling some, yes, but I never ever came to blows with another person.

I hereby conclude that video games encourage LESS violence in the real world :)

Who is she to judge what 32-year olds think!?

To Ms. Kersten:

Your opinion is nothing more, nothing less, than a BIASED, ONE-SIDED VIEW OF OUR INDUSTRY AND THE PEOPLE WHO KEEP IT ALIVE.

If you think that we gamers talk about killing like it's a hobby, then you're missing the whole point. Why don't you focus on other things, like the GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS!? I think that's far worse than what 32-year olds are thinking after playing GTAIV.

The writer just met failure.

If you've got the time, read this article from my gaming website.
The poster pretty much covered everything and anything anyone could have possibly said about this disgrace of a story.

Dark impulses is a modern term for human instinct and behavior. Bottom line.
I may play GTA for hours, but have no sort of impulse to shoot a cop or whip out a couple lines of coke or rape a hooker.
And I'm sure everyone reading this post can agree with me.
Ms. Kersten, stay off the internet and please give up writing.

Or else GTA IV might be considered as an educating uncensored commentary on the ruthless elements of society. The game could be viewed as an expression unconcerned with the constraints of political correctness putting instead freedom as its prerogative. Whereas in a confined environment, like with a plant in a small pot, growth is constrained by exterior limitations uncensored creations avoid putting a persons mind in a box. Now if a person walks around all day in GTA doing nothing but roughing up prostitutes you’d have an excellent method of diagnosing a potential illness. But to claim that the freedom of expression in itself is a cause of disease requires considerable amounts of evidence to be accepted by me.

Im a bit annoyed at GP.
I live in minneapolis and I saw an article in the st. paul pioneer press where the columnist mentions grand theft childhood, and tells parents the evidence points the other way and they need to chill out, among other things.

That wasn't looked into but this one gets posted?

Anyways, I cant even put into words the incredible amount of hatred and contempt for this pitifull excuse for a human being... Ive been playing these games my entire life and if anything, its ensured me the ability to be a loving, kind, and competent husband/father.

Id love it if she payed a visit to a high school /college to see how much better the gamers treat the girlfriends than.. well.. any other social group, its one of the prime things I pride myself on.. and for this.. "woman" to say those things based on complete ignorance leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

I've played all the PS2 and PSP GTA's and...I don't fantasize about murdering passers-by or roughing-up strippers...what kind of moronic sick psychotic freak do you have to be to fantasize about that stuff? Honestly if that's what you do in your spare time, you've got bigger problems than anything a video game can cause.

"psychological thrill that can come from dominating and degrading others" "fantasizing about murdering passersby and roughing up strippers" Seriously, when i play gta i just wanna see how fast i can hit someone with a car, and have some fun chase scenes. It's not like i can unzip and take a piss at my victims while they beg for mercy. Maybe she is talking about the wrong game?

I very rarely post responses to blog, but this one just got under my skin for some reason. Here's a transcript of the email I sent:

GTA IV "opens with an S&M sex scene"? Obviously, I haven't been playing the same version of the game that you have. The one I've been playing opens with an eastern European man arriving in Liberty City aboard a ship, then meeting his cousin once he gets into town. As a matter of fact, I haven't encountered any graphic depictions of any sexual activity more sinister than a lap dance, so please send me a link to a place where I can get the version you're playing. I only play so I can give in to the dark impulses I have about beating up hookers and killing cops with rocket launchers, so I'm looking for all the gratuitous violence and sex I can get.

I understand that your blog is essentially an opinion piece, and that it doesn't qualify as news per se, but isn't a little bit of journalistic integrity still necessary? I would not comment on specific details of any work; movie, book, video game or otherwise without first having personally reviewed and understood its content. It is painfully obvious reading your blog that you did not do this in the case of Grand Theft Auto IV. I also take issue with you asserting that my relationships with my wife and children suffer because I play this or any other game. As others have pointed out to you in separate correspondence, the research you quote as proving a causal connection between violent media content and aggressive behavior is inconclusive at best.

Go play the game. Likely, your opinion of it won't change, but at least you'll be equipped with facts rather than rumor, speculation, and the ranting of others who have jumped on the bandwagon of condemning violent video games.

Thank you for your time,

I got the chance to view a bit more of GTA today. I was actually somewhat impressed. The television show within the game (in this case a poker match) was filled with such biting satire I was left nearly breathless. Anything that contains that level of political and cultural commentary MUST be defended. It is a matter of pride as an American and a respect for the liberties that make this country great!
I may not like the game. I may never even chose to play it on my own. But it is against everything I believe in to silence a group who are truly making relevant comments. This is not just some juvenile fantasy fulfillment (there have been games that fall in that category) but rather an actual dystopian social satire and as such it DESERVES the protection of freedom of speech.

im a gta fan and im out raged @ this women.
hasnt she got anything better 2 do than crittisize video games,i cant stand people like that they are fucking twisted sad twats people these days need to get a grip on themselves. who would in real life would go out and do what they say gta inspires no one i prove my are for fun and enjoyment, no one is a bad person or a bad father if they play grandtheft auto,
for fuck sake who does this woman think she is, im going to give her a piece of my mind she talks crap

she is a sad old woman who talks crap just coz she didnt have games in her days stuppid old hag i got no time 4 ppl like her trying to ruin games 4 otha ppl

"Opens with an S&M sex scene"

oh I think I know what their talking about, In the opening cutscene their is a moment when Niko is knocking on a door in his boat and it cuts to a scene with some perv and a girl wipping him although it wasn't a "sex" scene

Apparently, parts of Kerten's column were ripped off from another article:

The insult to injury is that the reviewer she was ripping from actually gave a well-balanced review of the game:

Kersten, you digust me.


so wait She plageraised?



Listen carefully now.

Listening? Good.

You haven't played any GTA game whatsoever, no? Didn't think so. And you're not psychic? You can't read minds? Didn't think so either. Also, HAVE YOU BEEN LIVING UNDER A EFFING ROCK FOR THE LAST 20 YEARS? Thought so.

These kind of people piss me off more than anything. They're not with the times. They don't know what games are about, nor are they willing to find out. They are nothing but sad, bitter individuals who whine about things they don't understand rather than let us have our fun. Everyone has the right to their own opinion, I don't claim otherwise, but that doesn't mean we have to like those whose opinions are moronic.

Go back to your alcohol-centered little bubble universe, and leave us gamers alone to do whatever we want in thE V-I-R-T-U-A-L-W-O-R-L-D. Got it now? I hope so, because if i need to go over this one more time, I'm going to ascend into psychic energy for the sole purpose of going manó-a-manó on Idiocy and saw its bollocks off.

Whoops, ignore the tag in the beginning. That wasn't supposed to be there. Edit button!



Based on what I've dug up, she's been doing that for years for her other columns.

Stop comparing games with real life problems, I am 14 years old and when I play I dont think about picking up hookers and killing them. I play this game for fun, and for me picking up hookers is not one of my interests.
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