Author: Violent Play is Normal for Boys

Are those who rail against violence in video games and other forms of media actually hindering the natural male development of boys?

That’s the conclusion of former Newsweek reporter Peg Tyre, author of The Trouble With Boys.

Mike Thompson of Ars Technica reports on remarks made by Tyre to a parents’ group in North Salem, New York:

Many [boys] play and think around violence. We might see them as doing something potentially dangerous. But actually what they’re doing is playing around with ideas of courage and valor, good versus evil, and teamwork. These are ideas we want to inculcate in our culture…


There was such media saturation about [events like Columbine]… that it seemed to people that it was happening in their communities next door, [and] it created a zero tolerance policy towards violence…

You’re often playing a heroic role [in a video game]. I think that sense of heroism has been around since Greek drama. If you want to get into violence, look at The Odyssey  or The Iliad. Homer’s stories are very violent… but we regard them with less suspicion.

I started off, admittedly, as a video game hater… [But] I sat down and played Halo with [my sons], and while I saw that it’s very violent, I also saw that it’s a very condensed form of violence… so I started to take a different view about video games: maybe I should be a little less hysterical about them.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditEmail this to someone


  1. GryphonOsiris says:

    What I find interesting is that if you look at modern society compared to early times, we actually have less daily violence to deal with. For example, the Romans held public execution by wild animals in the arena, before the Gladiators would fight sometimes to the death. In the middle ages people would be burned publicly at the stake for heresy, put into the stocks to be tormented by the population, left to die in crow cages, publicly disembowed, beheaded, branded, and mutilated, and that wasn’t even near as bad as what happened in the Inquisitions either.


    "The Good, the Bad, and the Videogame" Reviews on the best, worst, and controversial issues of Videogames.

  2. Mattie says:

    Let this be a lesson to all parents, sit down annd see what your kids are playing. I love articles like these. It’s JT’s kryptonite. Not that I’m implying he’s Superman in anyway, but INFORMED parents are the worst thing to all of the anti gaming activists.

  3. Shadow D. Darkman says:

    I’ll confess, that would surprise me if he actually said that.


    "Game on, brothers and sisters." -Leet Gamer Jargon

  4. cpt crunchie says:

    this is a big "duh" moment here. video games are just the younger generation’s version of cops ‘n robbers, cowboys and indians…or whatever else my parents and grandparents played at when they were young.


    It is not murder; I am merely advancing the hands of the clock, just a bit.

  5. ZippyDSMlee says:

    How many societies in human history treated females as active members of society the Germanic tribes come to mind?


    The reason I ask society pushes children into pre destined roles, thus boys are more apt to emulate violence and girls more apt to emulate chores and dress up(and why oh why did I do both when I was a kid…) but anyway……  emulation of violence is something kids have always done its what young animals do to get ready for the real world only we sharpen are teeth on imagination and not to kill.


    Gore,Violence,Sexauilty,Fear,Emotion these are but modes of transportation of story and thought, to take them from society you create a society of children and nannys, since adults are not required.

  6. RavenMitah says:

    That’s very true.  I was the girl who ran around wrestling boys in a dress, playing video games before it was normal for girls to do so, fishing tadpoles out of the retention pond to feed my turtle, and swinging from trees while pretending I was Tarzan.  My parents never stopped me.  My younger brother on the other had LOVED Barbies to death as well as the colors purple and pink.  Sometimes he’d try putting my mother’s makeup on!  My father HATED it, and complained any time we bought my brother something "girly."  Whenever he could he’d secretly throw out some of the Barbie stuff.

    Eventually he started school, and thanks to peer pressure, he learned that boys just don’t do those things.  If you do, you’re "gay" and/or "weak."  Nevermind the fact that he was just a kid trying to do something he thought was fun.

  7. nightwng2000 says:

    Again, you’re basing this solely on genetics and evolution, while factoring out society’s perspective, teachings, and manipulations of individuals based on the assumed role of a particular group.

    Violence, indeed the very FORM of violence, is a taught response, while at the same time being manipulated by other factors. 

    If we teach, through societal stereotypes, that boys who aren’t violent are abnormal, soft, less male, etc., then turn around and imply that if they ARE violent, that it, too, is a bad thing, the individual may very well be left with choosing a lesser of two evil options, thinking themselves bad no matter what choice they make.

    It was society that placed these barriers on individuals, not their genes.

    An individual can be strong without physical violence.

    An individual can be angry without being preceived as a danger to others.

    An individual can be smart without having to be weak.

    These and many others are contrary to society’s stereotypes and prove the stereotype false.


    NW2K Software

    Nightwng2000 has also updated his MySpace page: Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as

  8. mdo7 says:


    "Jack Thompson calling her a "industry hoe" in 3… 2… 1…"


    and this is what I think JT is going to say:

    "that traitorous bitch.  The video game industry torture her to like video game, she now officially became a video game industry’s hoe.  They’re not getting me next because I know how they think and I know how they do it.  I’m the only one who’s into the conspiracy, the other people don’t believe me.  Now it’s only a matter of time before they use that method on everybody else.  I need someway to get more follower, I’ll think of something."

    Jack Thompson, will come back as lawyer in any way.


    I’m glad this women change from a hater to now having a brain to know video game does not cause violence.  There’s violence no matter what.  There’s violence even before TV, video game, comic book/manga, cartoon/anime, and other thing else.  I’ve seen more violence elseway beside video game and movie.  Trust me, it’s much traumatic in real life then on TV, and video game.  Thank you, miss for looking the other way. 


  9. clericsdaughter says:

     This is honestly the first time I’ve ever heard of a game critic who actually sat down and played a game with her kids. She deserves respect for that alone, although I don’t agree with her position entirely.

    As for the whole stereotyping thing, while it’s probably true that the differing hormones and growth patterns between boys and girls makes for some differences in interests, we mustn’t forget the ridiculous extent to which gender roles are culturally induced. Has anyone ever watched the commercials they have on kids’ channels? The ones aimed at boys are all about the loud, fast music, the fighting and the explosions, and the ones aimed at girls are all about pink, some lady singing in a high voice, and "taking care" of houses and babies and ponies or something.

    When I was a little girl, I loved violence. The games I played with my sisters and friends usually involved killing some invisible bad guy with sticks and shovels, or even our bare hands. Luckily my parents were all right with it and didn’t try to force me into a different mode than the one I found to be natural. I think it’s worse for little boys whose interests are different from the traditional ones. How many men here would honestly be fine with it if they had a son who enjoyed playing with dolls? Men have these tough-guy images forced on them practically from the beginning.

  10. Shadow D. Darkman says:

    Damn you. You beat me to it. I was gonna count down to Candle Jack’s inevitable respo


    "Game on, brothers and sisters." -Leet Gamer Jargon

  11. KaylaKaze says:

    Whether we like it or not, there are differences ON AVERAGE between the genders. We each have our own niche in the context of human reproduction and evolution has worked to improve the traits necessary to fill those roles. This obviously doesn’t mean there aren’t those that fall outside the pattern, but on a whole, within a degree of tolerance, most of a particular gender have traits more conducive to their role in reproduction. In our modern society, many of these traits may no longer be necessary or useful, but it’ll still be MANY generations before they are bred out. If you can’t see how a male being more generally violent contributes to procreation, I suggest you google for an article on gender roles in human evolution. A zero tolerance of ANY sort of violence will bring nothing but an emotionally ill society.

  12. Werrick says:

    I’m usually the first to eviscerate stereotypical portrayal of men and boys, it happens and goes unchallenged FAR more often than to women and girls. I’m also a believer in certain stereotypes as they pertain to women and girls. That being said, as a grown man I can recognize what this woman is saying, boys prefer play that is inherently more violent in nature. What we need to do is stop trying to paint that as inherently bad.

    Boys need that play steeped in violence, but we need to stop focusing on the fact that it’s violent and start realizing that it’s not about the violence as it is the lessons that we learn from play. She’s right, at least for me… that play in violence helped me to understand what was good, what was bad, what bravery is, what honour in play is and all kinds of other lessons, especially when those elements were communicated through gameplay that had story.

    I’m normally very critical of stereotyping boys and men and the first to launch into battle against some of the obvious hypocrisies we have to deal with in terms of the way we treat the two genders that represent humanity… but this one doesn’t bother me. In fact, I actually kind of agree with it.

  13. Rodrigo Ybáñez García says:

    I think that humans are inherently violent, not matter their genre. Women can be as violent and cruel as many men and backwards. I don´t think the author is trying to stereotype nobody, but I understand her statement.






    Jack Thompson calling her a "industry hoe" in 3… 2… 1…

    Dennis editing my post in 3… 2… 1…

    The cynical side of videogames (spanish only): My DeviantArt Page (aka DeviantCensorship):

  14. gaspar says:

    And here we have a debate on the GP forums that illustrates one of the most integral points that the video game industry (and all of the free world) faces, although most people don’t even realize it.

    "Many [boys] play and think around violence."

    1. she said many not all, therefore this is not a stereotype

    2. she did not say that girls do not play violence, that could simply be outside her experience or the scope of her statement. You should not force words into the author’s mouth.

    More importantly:

    If this statement is a negative stereotype then you are saying that violence is evil.

    If violence is evil then the government does have the right to ban violent video games, and if you consider yourself a moral person you are obligated not to play them.

    The truth here is that violence in itself is not evil. In fact in many places it is good.

    The liberties of our Country, the freedom of our civil constitution are worth defending at all hazards: And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. 

    -Saumel Adams

    You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us: to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.

    -Sir. Winston Churchill

    Here are two great leaders who believed in the good of violence, so why then, is it evil for people to play games in which the good guy beats up the bad guy? Why is it evil for an author to say that "boys play violence". I say she has offered great praise to our childeren that they play in such a way as to practice the courage that many of us have forgotten which is necessary to defend our now very quickly dwindeling list of freedoms.

    In summary, please reconsider if you believe that all violence is evil. Too many "civilized" people believe this, and in return they sacrifice their freedom.

  15. clericsdaughter says:

     Five of us at once (all girls) would play Power Rangers and all want to be the Yellow Ranger, but nobody wanted to be the Pink Ranger because all she ever did was get kidnapped.

  16. catboy_j says:

    When I was little girls wanted to play with us. Some did want to be the red ranger but mostly the pink or yellow (And once black) ranger. But it was no fun cause while the boys hitting sticks against each other was OK it was a no-no to do that to a girl because you might hit her.

  17. Kajex says:

    You don’t watch much football, do you.

    You could to any of my school playgrounds when I was a kid 5-10 years old, and there would be at LEAST one fight going on that consisted of rampant ass-kicking for no good reason, other than it got the adrenaline out and the blood rushing. EVERY boy I knew wanted to be the Red Ranger. Not a single time did I ever see a little girl in the fray.

    I think the point that was being made is the general "boys will be boys" point- that of COURSE, generally, young males are going to crave a little adventure and adrenaline-seeking in their lives, and much of it is going to be centered around bouts of violence in some form or another. Some of out most favored sports are full-contact. Some of the most enjoyable things among males are fighting sports.

  18. Duffy says:

    Really, really? A side note, stereotyping exists usually because a large population fill that stereotype or at one timed filled it, the important question is not if it’s a stereotype but why that stereotype existed and if it is warranted in any capacity. Stereotyping is always viewed as negative, when it does not necessarily connotate negative aspects, nor does it mean "all".

    Back on topic; I will happily admit that at this point in time we have hopefully developed enough to not automatically revert to baser instincts without good reason.

    I recall males being quite "violent" (not literally beating each other into bloody pulps but rougher, violent related activities whether imaginary or real) compared to females in general, especially at an early age. Enough so that as a young male at one point the behavior appeared to "appropriate".

    Now is this society based or instinctual based? It could be argued that our base instincts from back in the annals of time were to protect our ability to procreate, and thus a patriarch would use violence if he was to maintain his genetic line, and likewise he would have to insure that his offspring was also capable of surivival. You could probably see how this trend was maintained until relatively modern times, the important question then becomes: if our "violent" behavior is leftover social guidance for something that’s no longer particularly necessary, or if it’s roots are instinctual programming.

  19. nightwng2000 says:

    I’m not going to be sidetracked just because she claims to have switched her opinions about video games.  It’s good she actually sat down and TRIED to experience the video game from someone else’s point of view.

    But, naturally, my rant is along the continued nonsensical gender stereotyping.

    To claim that boys, males, are inheirantly violent is a misconception and an outright lie.  The complexity of individuals proves this beyond a shadow of a doubt.  All the various experiences an individual has throughout their life, how their genes play a role in their will, personality, and other factors, as well as how all those things and more come together to define how an individual reacts to any current event in the individual’s life rather than the limitation of the stereotype of boys are violent and like violence.

    Just the single argument that if boys, males, don’t act a certain stereotypical way, then they are viewed and treated negatively by society, whether close friends/family or society in general, is a sign of their gender not being the sole reason for how those individuals are preceived.  And remember there are many other factors as well.


    NW2K Software

    Nightwng2000 has also updated his MySpace page: Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as

  20. Geoff says:

    Every so often I get shit for having long hair, thankfully not from my family though.

    For crazed "traditionalists", I like to say something along the lines of "Well, historically, men have had long hair more often than not."

    If they’re a Christian, my favorite is "Well, Jesus had long hair."


    Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cook-book! Little Red Cook-book!

  21. catboy_j says:

    I was only ever violent with my little brother who generally hit me first, or the boys who beat me up. And sometimes not even then. But I was expected to be.

    Boys who like feminine things and girls who like manly things are shunned somewhat. And I know that lots of parents are guilty of trying to make their children adhere to the stereotypical gender roles. Even though I played with dolls with my nieces as a kid it was ok to my parents cause I played with typical boys toys. And even now I get yelled at for having long hair.

  22. Geoff says:

    Bunky dreck?  Or Drecky bunk if you prefer?


    Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cook-book! Little Red Cook-book!

  23. SimonBob says:

    I’ve got the book on reserve at the library, so we’ll just see if the essential sentiment of the review stands up to the scrutiny.  The last book I read on the subject was that "Boys Adrift" thing, which was a lot of nostalgic 1950s whinging.  I couldn’t decide if I’d describe it as "bunk" or "dreck."

    The Mammon Industry

  24. SimonBob says:

    Psh, you think big D has time to put himself on such a trivial assignment?  Obviously he’s got people working for him.

    ‘Scuse me, I’ve got a black helicopter to catch.

    The Mammon Industry

  25. TBoneTony says:

    Parent award to Mike Thompson Ars Technica and the Family Group.

    Finally we get some real common sence around the world.

    Too bad that the mainstreem news media will never really talk about it because it does not support their sensationalism goals.


    But this is really a good kick in the but for most of those politicians who hated games in the first place.

    They never really had a go at playing videogames.

  26. HarmlessBunny says:

    Replace Boys with YOUNG HUMANS IN GENERAL, and they have it spot on 🙂

    However yes, I disagree with some of their generalizations…I’m glad this person as a parent, instead of damning what their kids did, actually sat down observed and participated. Realized that this wasn’t something sick or making them serial killers, but rather something NORMAL. They win a "Thank god someone is actually parenting?! About fucking time!" Parenting Award!

  27. Geoff says:

    I like the fact that she has a better understanding of the situation, but this is another case where I think "No shit.  I could have told you that.  Years ago."

    Are boys inherently violent?  I don’t think it’s quite as cut-and-dry as that but we do tend to prefer combative or competitive situations.  And our hormones do make us aggressive, though there are plenty of ways to channel said aggression that doesn’t result in anyone getting hurt.  Like, say, play some Halo? 🙂

    Too early to go into depth with this topic.  Maybe I’ll come back later and see how the thread is doing.


    Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cook-book! Little Red Cook-book!

  28. DarkSaber says:

    Big basket of muffins for the Common Sense Lady!

    I’ve always said if the games are too violent, what about cartoons like Tom & Jerry?


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Comments are closed.