Dr. Walid Phares: Video Games Don't Create Terrorists

January 28, 2011 -

Dr. Walid Phares, the security expert cited by Russia Today in its report on Modern Warfare 2 and a recent Russian airport suicide bombing, has penned an editorial telling his side of the story.

The overall theme of his editorial is at least positive to video game proponents: video games do not create terrorists, Jihadi ideology does.

First he tackles the tenuous link that Russia Today tried to make between the bombing and the "No Russian" scene in Modern Warfare 2:

So far the report attempts to make a direct link between people who have played the game and those who have perpetrated the actual attack on Moscow's airport. Obviously such a charge is global, and generalizing, even though the scenes in the game and in the terror attack are at first sight, comparable. The critics, mostly from the US but many other countries counter-charged that a game by itself is not responsible for bloodshed in any particular country. This heated discussion has to be backed by research, data, psychologists and social scientists. The direct relation between a video about war, strikes, and in general terms violence, and acts of violence in the real world is a discussion that needs its own experts, assuming the equation is about individuals who play games and individuals who commit acts of violence.

He then sums up his opinion on this particular case, which basically is, if these terrorists were inspired by video games, then they were probably produced by groups such as Hamas. He does not discount the fact that some terrorists infiltrate certain online games to train among the world's masses (there is an extensive explanation of this in the article that is interesting to read).

In the first set, we're all very familiar with the computer games created by Hezbollah and Hamas. They are available online. Some Salafist groups have also produced theirs. These aren't commercial series but they are part of the organizations' propaganda machines. Children and young adults are encouraged to watch them and play so that they harden their convictions. This has nothing to do with regular videogames produced by companies for the purpose of entertainment. The Jihadi videogames are aimed at real world killing with very precise characterizations. While the war-like videogames such as "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare," "Rise of Nations" or "Counter-Strike," even though very graphic and in some cases silly, are just games played by teens and older people. They aren't directly and ideologically inciting and aren't connected to real world organizations.

But getting back to the story at hand - Russia Today - Phares says that he was specifically asked by the network to offer "background analysis "on the possibility that individuals could have been inspired by 'Call of Duty (an American produced game) scene "No Russian" to perform the massacre in Moscow." Phares claims that his answer to that question in a long interview with the network was clear:

"Games (any warfare or violence game) could eventually influence a crazy guy who may go on a rampage, but games do not create terrorists. And those who attacked Moscow's airport (the people who decided, prepared, and executed) aren't isolated gamers but part of an ideologically motivated network. In several other interviews that evening I argued that Jihadists both originating from the North Caucasus and beyond are waging a war not just on Russia but on the US, Europe, India and parts of the Muslim world."

The abridged version of his interview was this:

"Indeed it is a trouble to look at the game and reality. The issue is we need to know if terrorists or extremists are using these videos or DVDs or games to basically apply the model," Walid Phares, Director of Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said.

He closes his article with a swipe at the New York Times, because he feels that the article they wrote did not accurately reflect the views he espoused during the interview. He blames some of the misunderstanding on New York Times writer Robert Mackey, who wrote the article "Russian Media Points to Moscow Airport Attack in U.S. Video Game." More from Phares:

This branding of my statement as an "endorsement" of the RT argument, while I was arguing otherwise, triggered a chain reaction in the blogosphere –which was amusing and educational- with many video-gaming bloggers unhappy with my distorted comment, thinking wrongly that I am arguing that this videogame "Call of Duty" is an inspiration to the Moscow attack by some player. I wrote this piece to set the record straight and reiterate my point: games don't create terrorists; the latter are the ones who use games to enhance their capacities.

In this piece I also achieved two goals: One is to educate my readers about the real use by Jihadists of video and cyber training and two is to admonish the New York Times "trick" and warn readers from drawing conclusions too fast at the reading of this media's production.

Source: Family Security Matters


Comments

Re: Dr. Walid Phares: Video Games Don't Create Terrorists

How is that this man is not the king of the world already? He basically can kill any anti-videogame propaganda with these comments withe ease.

The only part I disagree is this: "Indeed it is a trouble to look at the game and reality."

No, it´s not. If you want to take a piece of fiction and turn it in a threat to society, it´s because you want to believe it or because it´s on your interest that everybody should look it as a threat to gain something. This can be applied on games, movies, books, music, etc.

Only very little children have problems distinguish fantasy from reality.

------------------------------------------------------------ My DeviantArt Page (aka DeviantCensorship): http://www.darkknightstrikes.deviantart.com

Re: Dr. Walid Phares: Video Games Don't Create Terrorists

 I would even argue that very small children can easily distinguish fantasy from reality when it's in a game.  The part children have trouble with is when adults are telling them things like "those people are evil and want to kill us, so we have to kill them first."  Children are trusting and don't know any better.   But when it comes to pixels on a TV screen, are very keen to the fact that it is bogus, like a Saturday morning cartoon.

 
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ConsterDon't 'beauty rags' already get plenty of criticism?02/27/2015 - 9:02am
ZippyDSMleeEh still rather subjective… the haters would be better off going after teen and beauty rags and magazines than fiction, fiction follows reality and going after fiction tends to turn into a bullying fest’s… plus its fiction its unrealistic to start with….02/27/2015 - 1:10am
MechaTama31That's a pretty difficult anatomy to break.02/26/2015 - 11:09pm
MechaTama31"the way her animations repeatedly break her anatomy" <-- I'm sorry, but we are talking here about the woman who can roll up into a little ball and live to tell the tale, yes? ;)02/26/2015 - 11:09pm
Andrew EisenAs far as examples that could be culled from female game characters though, that one's pretty mild.02/26/2015 - 9:11pm
Andrew EisenNot as much the heels or the suit in and of themselves but certainly the way her animations repeatedly break her anatomy to show off her lady bits.02/26/2015 - 9:10pm
E. Zachary KnightWell, Samus's heels are certainly impracticable, but I wouldn't really call her Zero suit objectified. I don't really feel that the new Lara Croft is objectified either, but that is my subjective opinion.02/26/2015 - 9:08pm
Andrew EisenTomb Raider: No but we haven't seen much of anything yet. Samus: Yes.02/26/2015 - 9:07pm
ZippyDSMleeWould you call the new tomb raider objectified? WOuld Samus Aran from the new Smash bros be objectified?02/26/2015 - 9:02pm
WonderkarpI'm hoping they put the rest of the comic book ghostbusters in there. Ortiz and Rookie(From GB the game)02/26/2015 - 8:38pm
Wonderkarpghostbusters board game is doing great. getting close too a 3rd extra playable Character. Ron Alexander.02/26/2015 - 8:37pm
Andrew EisenSmurfette is not subjective. If there's more than one female character, it's not Smurfette. Anyway, as with everything on the list, Smurfette is, in and of itself, not necessarily a bad thing.02/26/2015 - 8:32pm
Andrew EisenI think there's 5 women (out of 15, I think) but other than one being a bit more "hippy" than the others, they pretty much all have the same body type. Especially when compaired to the huge variety of male body types.02/26/2015 - 8:31pm
Wonderkarpso I dont see Smurfette as a bad thing. Unless like all your female characters are Smurfette. remember the Smurfs also had Sassette02/26/2015 - 8:29pm
E. Zachary KnightOne good example of the larger issues is one Anita used in the presentation, Blizzard's Overwatch game. There are a dozen men in the game with a dozen body types. But there are only 4 women with 2 body types, but 3 of them have the same one.02/26/2015 - 8:28pm
Wonderkarpthe smurfette thing is subjective to how many female characters you have. Take Sonic for example. You have Amy, who is obvious smurfette, but there's several other female characters now without that. Including the original animated seriescomics with Sally02/26/2015 - 8:28pm
E. Zachary KnightAE. Very true. I think that is where I was going, but it didn't come out right. Jack Harkness is sexy but not objectified. Whereas, a women would have to be objectified in order to be "sexy" in most games.02/26/2015 - 8:26pm
E. Zachary KnightAnd as Andrew pointed out, there is a big difference between a sexualized man, and an idealized man. But for some reason, there is no distinction between women in games. For the most part.02/26/2015 - 8:25pm
Andrew EisenI think one of the issues we run into repeatedly with these conversations is the confusion over "sexy" and "sexually objectified."02/26/2015 - 8:24pm
E. Zachary KnightYet, for some reason, in orde rto have a sexualized women, she must be wearing lingerie or a bikini. Can't women be sexual and still dress for the job at hand?02/26/2015 - 8:24pm
 

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