2-2 Mortal Kombat’s History of Violence: Get Over Here!

So much drama over a few bloody pixels. This is a deep-dive into the controversy around Mortal Kombat, censorship, & video-game violence.

“Mortal Kombat’s fatalities were so graphic that they had to literally be seen to be believed. One kid would hold court on a playground and strive to convince a jury of peers that he’d seen one character rip off his face and breathe fire, reducing the other guy to ashes and bones. Another kid swore up and down that a fighter in a white jumpsuit and straw hat could zap characters’ heads off with a bolt of lightning. “That breeds interest and foot traffic,” later GamePro editor Dan Amrich said of the rumors surrounding MK’s gory finishing moves, “and before you know it, you have people looking closer because that controversial thrill was so unexpected. And that’s going to be very powerful with kids whose media is largely — and rightfully! — gatekept by their parents. Here’s a game you’re know you’re ‘not supposed to play,’ even if you haven’t been strictly forbidden to play it. It tapped into the lure of the forbidden.””

via: Polygon

1-5 Guns: Correlation Does Not Imply Causation

Video games do not cause violence. Research indicates the opposite. This is a scapegoat that is commonly used by conservative voices who are pro-gun. We need gun reform.

They use time-series modeling and also instrumental variable modeling, and either way you slice it, when a very popular violent video game comes out, violent crime goes down, not up. The researchers believe the method is what criminal justice scholars call “incapacitation” — if you are sitting on your couch playing video games you are, by definition, not out on the street making trouble. When it comes to ways to spend time that mainstream society finds uncontroversially wholesome, this mechanism is widely accepted. If you have teenagers doing summer jobs, attending after-school classes, or participating in recreational sports leagues, that keeps them off the streets and out of trouble. It happens to be the case that video games are a more stigmatized pastime than playing sports, but the basic mechanism is exactly the same. If you’re busy gaming, you’re not committing crimes. [via: Vox]

Understanding the Effects of Violent Video Games on Violent Crime by Scott Cunningham, Benjamin Engelstätter, and Michael R. Ward