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Phait On "The Entertainment Of Violence"
In the man's own words...

"I decided not to post as a discussion thread because we have discussion nazis."


Here's his blog:

And here's what he wrote:

The Entertainment Of Violence
posted by J. Kohli at 9:40 PM

There hasn't really been any form of media that hasn't escaped some controversy ever since it's origin. Certainly stories handed down vocally from one generation to the next weren't without some controversy or ridicule. We know this has carried on in book format, film format and audio format. The next level of media to explore and promote controversy is rather apparently, video games.

I'm not going to get into the issue of video game violence influencing kids, because we already know there are two sides this: yes, it influences kids, and no, it does not influence kids. My take is violence, no matter the media, has the potential to influence, but isn't guaranteed to influence. It seems many people give the impression of the latter notion. Besides there are enough cases of putting the blame on various media, or dangerous people citing media as an influence.

Despite the controversy, and the blame game, and the finger pointing, there is one simple question that is eluding each case, every single time that I've read or heard about one:

"Why is violence entertaining?"

Why isn't this question ever answered? I believe it's integral to unraveling the issue. First, I state no sources for the rest of this article, it is all of my opinion and naturally you may disagree or agree.

I don't think it's necessarily violence that is primordial, but conflict that is primordial. Human beings are conflicted. Animals are conflicted. The earth is conflicted. Conflict is eternal as long as you have more than one facet to anything in the realm of opinion, viewpoint, thought, belief, tradition, religion, love, hate and so on. Conflict is something of the mind that can act as a catalyst to defense. Defense is the protection of one's self, or others around them, or the domain around them, or anything we feel the need or obligation to defend.

Now bear with me, but dig a little deeper and I think you may find defense is also a shield for our egos. How many times have we been involved in a mindful debate, until someone takes so much offense that they must especially defend their point to the extreme of say, fanaticism. Eventually you have everybody trying to defend themselves because each person thinks they are right and the others are not. Conflict waiting to happen? You bet. Eventually conflict can boil over and breed extreme defensiveness - violence. And before you know it, three people are lying on the ground with gunshot wounds.

My example is so vague, but my point is that I believe extreme defensiveness can solidify conflict, and become violence. So, in the scope of the entertainment of violence, where does this all fit in? What makes violence exciting? Conflict and defense and the suspense between. Protecting yourself, and ultimately survival. Being on the edge, not knowing what will happen the next minute or second. That is the entertainment, that is the fun. Not knowing, is especially a part of this, as well as believing you have control, and a totally out-of-control situation.

This is simply, purely fun. You will find it in a range of sports, from soccer to basketball to boxing to wrestling to even billiards. They all share conflict that creates tension. And you may even argue while some sports are not particularly violent, there is a violent seed within them -- offense, defense, conflict, winning. Survival!

Of course, whether sports or murderous rampage, neither are without a number of sadists. But I think that's for an entirely different article. So, maybe you see where I'm coming from. These are my reasons why I enjoy some violent video games. I am placing myself in a virtual arena of sorts. A showdown between me and the enemy, whoever or whatever they may be. My goal is to survive and often destroy the enemy. The fun isn't in the gore, the fun is in the tension, the excitement, the fear, the chase especially.

The ultimate problem is some people take this fun just a bit too far, and the next thing you know, latest headline is a kid who played Grand Theft Auto and killed his neighbors.

Have fun, but be aware, be realistic, and be mindful.

I Like Violence, Even For Its Own Sake 
This isn't really disagreeing with Phait, but anyway...

/lots off this is probably off topic warning

In a university setting I run into people of various viewpoints, who disagree with me and therefore are wrong :)
Basically, though, unless you are religious (which I'm going to arrogantly categorize into two "ways of being religious"):

1) you believe in science (and therefore evolution) but sorta vaguely believe in religious concepts as well, wherever these and science do not explicitly clash; for example you might believe that psychology and biology are true, but you still think that leaves from for free will, morality, and so forth

2) you are insane and do not believe in evolution or science, and your mindset is basically from the middle ages AND though you take advantage of the scientific progress of the past few hundred years (you drive cars, watch TV, shoot abortion doctors (in the west) or un relief workers (in the middle east) with modern guns), you'll never accept science though it proves itself true every time you drive your damned CAR YOU ASSHOLE

to continue... so basically, unless you are religious, you are agnostic or atheist and presumably have arrived at such a position by believing that science is correct and that various irrational religious positions do not merit belief without rational reason...

which leaves a whole mishmash of secular belief systems one *could have*, almost all of which are totally retarded in my opinion. You could be a humanist, marxist, existentialist, feminist, etc etc etc, and from any of these perspectives, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, you would ignore the fact that violence is ingrained in human behaviour because of your vested interest in rebuilding morality from the ruins of theism.

My views are pretty much biological determinism; here goes my offensive rant, as I am a male I'm going to enjoy seeing people get beat up, seeing shit get blown up, pretending to rip people's faces off and simulating sword fighting, and women will enjoy playing with dolls and working together, and watching soap operas which men notoriously don't like, ET CETERA ET CETERA.

It's not some sort of "cultural thing" it's not "the influence of the environment" it's part of human nature. Let's face it - men are programmed to perform certain tasks, women are performed to perform certain tasks, just like the males and females of any other species that reproduces sexually. Let's get rid of all this so-called "secular" humanist optimism about how we can somehow transcend the basic fact that we're anmials, and recognize realistically that people are obsessed with sex, violence, food, and everything else that dogs and monkeys are.

I'm not saying that kids should have unlimited access to GTA3, but I am saying that I enjoy violence for the sake of violence, many of my friends do, and it's not like were corrupted into it. I really hate how western society so often strives for the appearance of things rather than addressing a reality which isn't quite to its SUV-driving, 2.2 kid-having, "Friends"-watching, vaguely-religious-ina-self-interested-way TYPE OF TASTE

We in the west are in the position we are in right now because we used many methods, a lot of them violent, to kick the ass of the rest of the world and that's why we're rich and they're not. We are still doing that very thing right now. The world is not a cutesy wutesy place so stop being so naieve about it and fuck off.

(expecting some nasty responses) 
... or rather <4 :)

I didn't read all in this thread but I generally agree with some sentiments.

It's just a fucking political suicide to say some things and one of those things is that "enhanced genetic disposition towards something in gender whatsit". But we are not yet politicians so we can rant and the stuff comes back at us only later, if ever. 
You are so wrong because RECURSIVE ERROR: There was a SQL error. 
Violence Is The Result Of Things People Enjoy Doing 
I think at least in the FPS world, marksmanship plays a big part in driving home the fun. Obviously virtual violence is the result of testing out this marksmanship with virtual rifles and what not. To me at least, there's something infinitely satisfying about having the steadiness, luck, and strategy to outgun your opponent. I think it's no different from any other sport really (e.g. basketball) where you need aiming, balance, and all the rest to get points.

For example, I find violence in real life at least, to be very sickening still. My heart always sinks when I'm witnessing a particularly violent event. So in that sense, I think the case can be made that people don't actually enjoy violence, but rather they enjoy doing things that result in the equivalent of violence in real life. (fighting games, FPS, RTS, you name it)

If you asked most people here, I don't think any would tell you they enjoy seeing violence in real life, or that the find the essence of violence to be exciting. They just like doing things that result in violence. 
Good Discussion So Far 
from troyn's post: would ignore the fact that violence is ingrained in human behaviour because of your vested interest in rebuilding morality from the ruins of theism.

excellent! thats a perfect way to describe the situation... i look forward to hearing more people discuss these things... 
This very quickly runs into the area of "why are we here?" and "what's the point of it all?" and if you think that the answer to these questions is "no reason" and "there isn't one" (like I do) then you have to ask yourself what you're trying to get out of this life you've been handed.

rebuilding morality from the ruins of theism

One of the better (IMHO) attempts at this is in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy (which is a fluffy kids book ya ya ya -- but also the two main characters are a liar and a murderer). At least he's fairly explicit that this is what he's trying to do... 
Ot: Morality And Theism 
it sucks when people, even a god damn fucking chief of department university professor thinks that there can't be any morality without god, so they desperately use their power to ... promote intelligent design! It's sad.

Do you guys belong to the church? If yes, do you participate in the confession of faith or whatever it's called they do in the church? At least for lutherans there is this thing that is read aloud by the priest and the people together.
Like that Jesus was the son of God and that God created the earth etc. This is the core of it all, and it's all very clear and there are no "weasel words". So, how many of you actually believe in that? 
I like to stab children. 
Predation And Genetic Propagation 
If I had to take a guess at this topic, I'd say that as one of many preditor species on the planet, we are inherently violent in that we kill other creatures for food. So violence is rewarded with a nutritional component that is good for growth, health and neural development.

So if we're strong and healthy, we want to pass along those quality chromosomes. In the competition for reproductive privilage, it may be necessary to club some of the competition and scare off others by using violence as a message that we are more deserving of a higher place in the breeding que.

On these two, most animalistic criterion, violence is rewarded and if our needs are met, we can engage in more benevolent, contemplative and intellectual pursuits of a non-violent nature (art, agriculture, science and so on.)

Now how you go from killing and cooking a rabbit to gunning down innocent people on a bus over an argument and insults is beyond me. If such unstable people played rugby instead, would they have been calmer and not a public danger because they vented their inate violent drives in a controlled and consensual setting? I don't know.

For me, some of the violence in games is comedy and fun because the enemies are clearly fictitious. In other games, I agree that violence is merely a byproduct of what you do for fun in the game (marksmanship, swordsmanship, movement etc.) Straight exploration wouldn't be enough - you need challenge and conflict.

I'm a peaceful person but as a kid, I would participate in the lunchtime war for supremecy on the snowbanks against kids much bigger then me. It was good fun, you may get the wind knocked out of you a few times but you returned to class feeling good and with no interest in troubling others.

Perhaps violence is partly entertaining because humans as a preditor species need a place to channel that energy. Hockey, watching COPs of TV, Unreal Tournament or wrestling your big brother is a result. As long as you don't cause suffering or enjoy the suffering of others, I think that it's possible to be 'violent' in a benign sense and still be healthy, normal and a benefit to society. 
co-operation and community is very important with human gene-propagation. Violence works often against that and breaks communities apart. Same is with other co-operating species like for example wolves. There co-operation is actually often more important than competition, as discovered by Kropotkin. He travelled in Siberia approximately the same time as Darwin in Galapagos.

So don't forget that argument. Religious people often have a very one-sided view of evolution. 
has the correct answer.

Phait, were you the one that posted earlier this year about the illuminati sending brain control waves to the fillings in our teeth, or was that someone else? 
Phait, were you the one that posted earlier this year about the illuminati sending brain control waves to the fillings in our teeth, or was that someone else?

Don't think so. But I may have mentioned the illuminati before. 
Repeated Sql Error 
they've replaced him. The old one said it'd happen. These errors are also part of the conspiracy - a devious censorship method! 
post 13 rules

reminds me of "the whisperer in darkness" when the guy who writes of evil aliens invading suddenly starts saying that the aliens are peace-loving and benevolent, not sinister at all.... because he's been REPLACED (cue evil music) 
Morality Without Theism 
the only way I can possibly envision morality without theism is sort of a social contract type deal - basically "well, we're all here, so let's not be assholes to one another"

but that wouldn't have anything to do with internal conscience or so forth - it's just an agreement people may make.
also, there'd be no way to guarantee that people wouldn't just follow the terms of such an agreement only in the most self-serving ways they could, and of course, deception could end up being highly effective
basically, morality becomes politics

anyway, given that our society does have such an agreement in place and institutions to enforce it, I think it's totally reasonable for them to regular access to various adult things... for example, I think deadwood is a great show but it's not something a 5 year old should watch. On the other hand, the mass hysteria against video games seems to be nothing more than empty, uninformed and unproductive ranting. It's kind of obvious that a person who walks into a resteraunt and shoots 10 people has some problems a little more serious than playing duke nukem. 
To Triple Post... 
btw Scragbait I liked your post. It seemed well-thought-out, insightful and accurate. 
Morality Without Theism 
the only way I can possibly envision morality without theism is sort of a social contract type deal - basically "well, we're all here, so let's not be assholes to one another"

but that wouldn't have anything to do with internal conscience or so forth - it's just an agreement people may make.

You seem to be discounting/dismissing empathy as "just an agreement", but empathy seems much more visceral and less rational to me. i.e. "I won't be an asshole to you because it feels bad when someone's an asshole to me, and we seem similar."

I believe there's a simple human mechanism at work whereby we feel good when we make others feel good--not because of some convoluted conscious or subconscious rationalization about what best serves our interests, but purely via empathy and being part of the human race.

I'd like to think that empathy is also what keeps (most of) us from taking the gun to school/work and killing off our annoyances, after playing a video game or not. (Of course, I'm simplifying--there's always a whole stew of environmental, bio-chemical, and historical factors at work when someone snaps, but empathy is a pretty basic emergency brake for most people.)

(btw, I personally believe in God, but I certainly don't think that a belief in any sort of higher power is necessary for morality; there are aetheists out there who are wonderful invaluable and very moral people. My belief doesn't arise from any sort of ideological or philosophical structure; I choose to believe simply because it makes my world a richer and more comfortable place.)

/me goes back to mapping 
Pjw Nailed It 
at least IMO. Humans have some pretty universal instincts for empathy and fairness, and the exceptions are usually diagnoses with mental illnesses like autism and sociopathy.

In healthy people, I believe the conscience is really the internalization of social expectations during childhood.

As for the original topic, I think there's probably a good evolutionary reason to pay attention to things like conflict and bloodshed and predators and fertile women. Movies and games that feature this sort of subject matter are compelling becuase we're bred to be interested in that stuff. 
To Wrap Up Year 2005 
There's probably a good evolutionary reason to pay attention to things like conflict and bloodshed and predators and fertile women. Movies and games that feature this sort of subject matter are compelling becuase we're bred to be interested in that stuff. by metl.

That's one nice (and fun) way to sum up a lot of past discussions about why games are like why they are. 
No Takers?? 
For my theory?? That the marksmanship is the real reason people are into the violence of FPS games?? I can think of one "real-life" example where this holds true -- the widespread popularity of paintball. 
After playing paintball on 1 or 2 occasions I came to the conclusion that I wouldn't like to be in a real war. 
Bambuz, Et Al. 
I am nearly finished reading a book titled "Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets". We should discuss anarchist communism soon! 
that's a different kropotkin afaik. 
Interesting . . . 
I have the penultimate answer to the questions discussed but I've resolved for this coming year to only discuss philosophical matters with those who are willing to spend the money on getting me liquored up. Sorry. 
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