Australia NSW Police Commissioner Takes Heat for Video Game Comments

Australia New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione is taking a lot heat for comments he made recently blaming the rise of teen knife-related crimes on playing violent video games. Scipione recently told The Daily Telegraph that teens were being desensitized to violence by playing violent video games that reward them for "killing and raping people." Obviously a tired trope related to Grand Theft Auto spewed by politicians.

In a recent story in, Dr. Christopher Ferguson, associate professor of psychology and communication at the University of Texas, said that the Police Commissioner's comments were "irresponsible" and a knee-jerk reaction to a rise in knife-related crimes. He also said that Scipione had "no idea what he was talking about."

"In fact, in most countries youth violence has reached 40 year lows during the video game epoch," said Ferguson, who added that Scipione ignored data that showed no increases in youth violence.

Even his own government disagrees with him: a March report by the Australian Institute of Criminology showed that crime rates had fallen across most major categories; car theft had dropped over 60 percent over the past decade and homicides had dropped by 27 percent between 1996 and 2010. A government report in 2010 also came to the conclusion that there was no correlation between violence in the real world and playing violent video games.

"Although many video games do allow players to explore a range of moral choices both good and bad, they do not typically set up rigid reward structures to reward antisocial behaviour," Ferguson said. "Many games have considerable consequences for the moral choices players make."

Dr. Jeffrey Brand, a Professor of Communication and Media at Bond University, echoed Ferguson, saying that the Police Commissioner ignored several major studies on playing video games and violence that found no correlation between the two activities. He also ignored the ruling in Brown v. EMA, which weighed research from both schools of thought on video game violence. The court sided with researchers such as Ferguson, who did not find a link between playing violent games and real-world violent acts.

Brand also points out that most Australians play video games, which means that criminals and law-abiding citizens are in the same group. Criminals use phones, read books and watch television too. Trying to find causation when the majority of the populace engages in an activity is highly problematic…

"If Commissioner Scipione is part of the one third of Australians that don't play video games it may be useful for him to get to know them before making those claims, because it might help the police in their work to better understand the medium or dismiss it as potential cause of violence," said Brand. "Or if they believe it is harmful they can more tightly focus on that basis for concern."

Source: Herald Sun


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  1. 0
    Prof_Sarcastic says:

    "you can rape people in GTAIV"

    Really?  This is the first I've heard of this.  I haven't played it, but I've played GTA3, where you could have sex with prostitutes but you couldn't rape them.  I would be surprised if GTA4 were different.  A quick google search reveals a huge number of pages laughing at a certain politician for searching for the rumoured rape scene in GTA4 that apparently doesnt exist.

    That, I think, is the 'trope' he's referring to: the accusation of rape followed by killing is associated primarily with people bewailing GTA.  That accusation itself is the trope, not the (nonexistent) rape ability.

  2. 0
    Mrxknown_JG says:

    "playing violent video games that reward them for 'killing and raping people.' Obviously a tired trope related to Grand Theft Auto"

    Obviously, because you can rape people in GTAIV. How about just say it is a tired trope of any violet video game. This assumes he is referencing a well-known game.

    What about that Japanese game that had players in the role of a rapist, RapeLay.

    Those games do exist, and there have been people who get violet because of games. Not that the game tells you to do it, but thye get the idea to try it for real or their at an internet cafe and knife someone (seen reports of it in Korea).

    Games do not cause violence, but violet people can be attracted to games, in my opinion.

    I recall when Modern Warfare 2 came out, there was an article about some gamers going to an actual gun store to buy guns. The kid primarily focused in the article said something like (I'm used ot it auto-zooming".

    So clearly, games do get players interested in the objects, stories, etc used in games and can even cause gamers to research how to obtain that stuff. Just like movies, books, and TV. People will want to look into the stuff that grabs their attention in games.

    –Wow, did not intend for it to be that long. Usually don't post on these topics, guess I had it built up in me. In essence, games may not force someone to do violet acts, but there's an underlying current in the industry on violence.

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