Are games dangerous?

edited September 2012 in Story Games
Please bear with me here. I'm trying to analyze something I find a bit disturbing, that is present in most role-playing games, and game-groups, I know of.

Both violence and sex are controversial topics in the real world, but they seems to elicit quite different reactions when encountered in games, by role-players:
- Violence is fun!
- Sex is uncomfortable ...

Strange. Can there be a correlation between these two reactions?

Could it have something to do with a lot of us choosing an escapist stance in role-playing games, that includes an emotional distance that is not healthy? And by "emotional distance" I also include a distance to our fellow players; we wear masks, to mask the fact that we do not really trust each other in the game. It makes us enjoy killing living things, while we abhor the showing of emotions and giving comfort to each other ...

In my world (and fantasy) emotions are fun! I love playing fantasy-rpgs, but I do not find it very interesting to play around with emotionally empty elements. Conflicts are mostly about emotions to me, so emotional conflicts in rpgs are all the more engaging.

In another thread JasonT writes this:
In Nomine's rules are quite clear (though we didn't recall this at the time) that Seduction CANNOT be used against PCs; players always get the final say in what their characters feel or believe, as long as they have control of their own mind. Of course, you aren't always in control of your own mind. If this NPC had used a supernatural power to force the PC to fall in love with her (which she definitely could have done if the NPC had been built that way), the player would not have been mad about the loss of agency any more than he'd be upset about losing in a combat scene. My players are great about rolling with the punches whenever demons manipulate them, and roleplaying accordingly.

This is not an unusual principle of game design or gameplay: Apocalypse World is a great example of this being codified in the rules, as there are totally different versions of the Seduce and Manipulate skill as used on PCs versus NPCs, and the one for PCs lets players DECIDE whether they're persuaded/seduced/manipulated/whatever. Anybody can shoot or stab you without your permission, steal from you without permission, or spit in your food without permission, but nobody can definitely say "this is what you think/feel/believe."
I recognise this from a lot of other role-playing games too, of course. And I find it strange ...

So strange I have to ask; are games like these broken games?

Never allowing the PCs to be influenced by emotional stress, or lust, or mental shock, or insidious manipulations ...
- that sounds like a fiction too far removed from reality to be of any interest. It's sounds as interesting as a dolls house.

In my view Barbie dolls are dull, due to the fact that they reduce humanity to such a degree it seriously manipulates the way girls perceive a human (looks-looks-looks). These games does the same, in another manner; reducing humans into a kind of soft mechanic. Dull.

And potentially dangerous; I believe this seriously manipulates the way boys perceive a human. No wonder a lot of boys have problems building a wholesome identity in a world where games does this to them.

I know it may be a strange take on it, but seriously; let us try to explore this premise in this thread:
- 1 - The popular myth is that you can play anything/anyone in a roleplaying game; "Everything is possible"
- 2 - But roleplaying games does little to simulate real world emotional influences; emotionally charged/engaged characters are a rarity
- 3 - So boys growing up with games as their primary field of human fiction are playing emotionally empty characters
- 4 - This has the potential of damaging their development into fully functional grown men
- 5 - They may end up emotionally stunted, partially due to the lack of emotions in the characters they play


When I see how much my two sons (9 and 13) go into their online games, with the same reductionist view on human nature, I find it doubly disturbing that this may be damaging to them.

So; what say you?
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Comments

  • I say that the benefits one could potentially get from allowing seduction mechanics to work on the PCs are more than outweighed by the potential for hurt feelings and uncomfortable silences.

    That having been said, Monsterhearts hits this topic's nail on the FUCKING HEAD.
  • So strange I have to ask; are games like these broken games?

    Never allowing the PCs to be influenced by emotional stress, or lust, or mental shock, or insidious manipulations ...
    - that sounds like a fiction too far removed from reality to be of any interest. It's sounds as interesting as a dolls house.

    In my view Barbie dolls are dull, due to the fact that they reduce humanity to such a degree it seriously manipulates the way girls perceive a human (looks-looks-looks). These games does the same, in another manner; reducing humans into a kind of soft mechanic. Dull.

    I know it may be a strange take on it, but seriously; let us try to explore this premise in this thread:
    - 1 - The popular myth is that you can play anything/anyone in a roleplaying game; "Everything is possible"
    - 2 - But roleplaying games does little to simulate real world emotional influences; emotionally charged/engaged characters are a rarity
    Essentially, I will question Item #2.

    Very few games I've been involved in allow the PCs to not be influenced by emotional stress. Emotional stress just isn't necessarily something dictated by the dice or rules of the game -- part of roleplaying is dictating your character's emotional reactions. Mechanics may not simulate emotional influences, but actual play tends to.

    Even video games don't necessarily live up to this at all -- Planescape: Torment has a lot of engaging characters, more recently, so did Analogue: a Hate Story. Final Fantasy occasionally might even have some emotionally resonant characters, although I can't seem to remember any...

    Heck, even D&D mechanizes emotional stress for barbarians. It's not necessarily deep or engaging, but it isn't by design shallow and boring.

    Perhaps my view is skewed, as I tend to play with a heavy slant towards being invested in the characters' internal psychodrama.

    Interesting idea, though. You'd think you'd already see it, though -- people who grew up watching hollow characters in movies versus those who did not, does this have an effect on emotional range, etc. Can't say I'd predict it, but it's a question.
  • 4 is wrong. Vote 5, close thread.
  • edited September 2012
    I've gamed with people who have experienced sexual violence. A common and recurring aspect of their experiences has involved compulsory interaction that was sexualized in an unwelcome way, as a prelude to and justification for violence. So they don't want to talk about sex with just anyone. Talking about sex is not something they assume is always casual or safe.

    The people I'm talking about generally agree that sexual themes are okay in a game, but only if they know that it's part of the game going in and consent to that, only if those themes are introduced with the agreement of the players involved in the sexualized situation, and only if anyone can veto an instance of sexual content with no need to explain or defend their veto. There are certain thematic spaces they have very good reason not to want to explore (eg. in-fiction sexual coercion or violence), and other thematic spaces with respect to which they have good reason to insist on a higher level of delicacy and sensitivity in how they are handled (eg. in-fiction consensual sex, which adds sexual content to the collective conversation of the game). They only play with people they trust to be aware and respectful of these limits.

    This is not because they're emotionally stunted, but because they are attending to their own sense of personal safety. The conditions tend to be non-negotiable, and most of the people I'm talking about would rather simply not game with a certain group of people than have to explain or justify those conditions, which means their gaming options are severely curtailed unless they find a group they trust that respects those limits. Personally, I suspect this attitude may be more common among female gamers than is widely recognized or appreciated.

    In my experience playing with these people, their preferences and choices don't result in characters who are hollow or one-dimensional. It just means that the characters tend to be developed in different dimensions, in response to other themes in play.
  • edited September 2012
    Monsterhearts hits this topic's nail on the FUCKING HEAD.
    How? Do you propose that one single game significantly change the fact that an overwhelming majority of games are doing a lousy job of simulating socio-psychological realities?
    Mechanics may not simulate emotional influences, but actual play tends to.
    I have to disagree with you on this. There is a lot, A LOT, of anecdotal evidence to the contrary;
    - players telling how little they care for emotions shining through in their games
    - telling how they effectively avoid it altogether
    - telling how they protest to having their character "taken away from them"
    - talking about how characters being subjected to socio-psychological effects are manipulation
    - etc-etc.

    I know of certain mechanical tools that helps players get into a more whole character, but such tools are lacking in the games I'm talking about; the wast majority of classical role-playing games.

    So it is no surprise that I find actual game-play to be very shallow and narrow in most games. Most role-playing games moves about in the same narrow canal of violent action, in spite of role-playing games actually having a great potential for creating broader scopes and deeper drama.

    So I am thinking of how a broader view in actual game-play would change the way these games affect us. I believe it would help us, and make it easier for younger players to develop into sound and happy humans.

    I'm wondering if the wast majority of games today, are doing more damage than good for the young ones playing them.
    Interesting idea, though. You'd think you'd already see it, though -- people who grew up watching hollow characters in movies versus those who did not, does this have an effect on emotional range, etc. Can't say I'd predict it, but it's a question.
    There have been debates for decades on the damages done by violent action-movies. I do not want to visit that terrain.

    In my view games are a media with the potential for much deeper impact; interaction makes the experience stronger; YOU are the one doing the deeds, and reaping the benefits.

    If the benefits comes at no cost, even when you win them by excessive use of violence ...
    - and if the characters you portray are effective psychopaths in behavior; with no sentiments to them at all ...
    - then a young and growing "you" may become a bit disturbed in your view of what a human are, or should be.

    It is cool, yes, to play the great warrior. But "cool" is a word with connotations like "free of emotions" and "cynical". Is that an ideal to strive for? Is that a hero?

  • edited September 2012
    I've gamed with people who have experienced sexual violence.
    ...
    In my experience playing with these people, their preferences and choices don't result in characters who are hollow or one-dimensional. It just means that the characters tend to be developed in different dimensions, in response to other themes in play.
    Of course! You don't HAVE to play sex-scenes in a game to broaden the scope of it. Having had bad experiences like this makes it important to weight your ability to deal with these themes in fiction. Being a victim of such abuse, you should ask yourself ...
    Can I stand playing intimate sex-scenes in a game?
    - No; then don't!
    - Yes; then do. But do it in a game-group building on trust, and on the truly beautiful principle of "I will not abandon you".

    I am talking of this in general. Having sexually abused players in the group is a special instance. It makes for special considerations. The fact that a lot of women are sexually abused is, in my view, lending acuity to this discussion. It is a fact that a lot of young men are bad in their heads, and violate women. I suspect games, and the way we play them, to be part of that problem.

  • Small changes in a game's design can help to encourage the behavior you want to achieve. For example, I wanted a game about characters taking up a heroic role, so I gave an xp bonus for. . .
    -Avoided violence, A GM could interpret this as avoiding violence in a single act but we play it that the character performed no violence that game. I have had many players claim this xp award.
    -Good/Noble, was the player guided by goodness or the idea of acting for a noble cause?
    -Brave/Heroic, was the character hiding or confronting problems? As a hero, this (to me) means protecting people even when the character may be harmed.

    This simple system has played a big role in my games and shaped my player's mindset. They rejoice when they get these bonuses like it's a great triumph. And it is, isn't it? I think so.

    Beyond the XP I've built new stress rules and new social interaction rules in The Artifact. I can't say they'd make a person want to show a range of emotion, but I do see them as significant. My son and I are on the mild spectrum of autism (HFA). I didn't intend it this way, but one day he was having a meltdown and I was able to explain what was going on in his head with the game rules. He understood and was able to deal with the situation better. I'm not saying I've decoded the human psyche with a simple rule but if it's accurate enough that a young man can learn how to better cope with stress, well, that's cool to me.

    Where I might have fallen down is explaining emotions in general. Being HFA me expressing emotions is difficult, understanding how to express them is difficult. That's not to say I don't want to try though. So my question is how do we get a game that encourages emotional interaction? I know there are plenty of games that have emotional links built in to world creation and character generation but in game, can we build something that creates a place for this? I'd like to know how to do that.
  • edited September 2012
    A very interesting post, Onix! Very nice to hear about how your game could help you and your son.

    You are quite right; simple mechanical tools can help encourage a particular behavior in players, and broaden the scope of their game-play. So can simple dialogue-techniques. The methodology of role-playing games is young, and largely untested, so we have every reason to explore it more, and make better games.

    Once we go down this path, there is little we cannot do, in game-design. And my strong feeling is that it has to be done. I fear that too many games are harmful in the way they play out. That has to change. It is an important task for game-designers to change this, on behalf of all of us, our society, and future generations.

    I am not against happy-go-lucky games of the action variety, but I am increasingly doubtful about us having the majority of games working like that, putting forward a view of humans as reduced as that. The sheer volume of games, and the dominance they exert over the cultural lives of young humans, makes this dangerous, in my view.

    I know that it is possible to design outside that formula, and create fun and exciting games. Games that are more fun, actually! More designers should do that! I challenge all of you to do it!
  • I have been playing roleplaying games since I was ten. More often than not as a GM admittedly. But I felt like the characters were somewhat emontionally charged most of the time. In the realm of our abilities. Me and my groups got better at character development and understanding human behaviour over time obviously.
    But even in our dark Shadowrun teeange years we had a character trying to safe his marriage despite the crimes he had to do as a job. The stress of running the shadows and how the characters dealt with it was an important part of the "downtime" scenes between assignment. Reminds me of the Mouse Guard player turn a little now that I think back. (Which is a mechanic to make part of the game about the characters emotions too.)
    During a long campaign we also had unrequited love between two characters that influenced the actions of both. All in all most characters seemed to have an emotional core. Even if the game was one that did support hacking and slaying more.
    I would say roleplaying gave my circle of friends a central activity to share and a creative outlet. I'd say it helped more than it did endanger us, looking bakc on it. I don't know what kind of person I or my friends would have become without it and if I might be one of the lucky few who have good players. But I would count it as one of the positive influences.

    There always is the danger of escapism of course. That you want to spend more time with whatever hobby you persue than with real life problems. You can have that with movies, books and computer games too. But forgetting your troubles for a few hours a week I count as something positive as well.
    The danger might be there if you are inclined to emotional or psychological problems.

    Even in systems that allow rolls to seduce someone or force them to do something I like to give the reaction into the hands of the players. How far their characters go with it. I once GMed a situation where a player character was magically seduced by an npc that in the end turned out to be evil and disgusting. Looking back that was a bit too "rapey" for tastes all around and since then I avoid not giving them a choice. I rather go on a meta level and annouce something like "That seduce check went extremly well, with a [high sucess number]. How do you react." if game mechanics have to play a role.
  • Monsterhearts hits this topic's nail on the FUCKING HEAD.
    How? Do you propose that one single game significantly change the fact that an overwhelming majority of games are doing a lousy job of simulating socio-psychological realities?

    In Monsterhearts, if someone uses the move "Turn Someone On" at your character and succeeds, your character is turned on by that character. You can still choose what you do about it (the game does not force you to act on your new desire).
    When you turn someone on, roll with hot. On a 10 up,
    take a String against them. • On a 7-9, they choose one:
    give themselves to you, promise something they think
    you want, give you a String against them.

    This move implies something about sexuality, and
    particularly teenage sexuality. We don’t get to decide what
    turns us on. When you make a move to turn someone on
    (with a character action or with scene description), the
    other player doesn’t get to exclaim, “Wait, my character
    is straight! There’s no way that’d turn them on.” That’s a
    decision that we as players can’t make for our characters.
    The dice are going to be the ultimate referees of what is
    and isn’t sexy for these characters. Their own sexuality
    will confuse them and surprise them; it’ll show up in
    unexpected places and unlikely situations. Regardless of
    the results of the roll, however, each player still gets to
    decide how their character reacts. Being turned on by
    someone doesn’t imply or demand a particular reaction.
    "Strings" are like a social currency that you can spend, one for one, to:
    *Add +1 to a roll against that character, after the roll (+3 if they are an NPC and you are rolling to Manipulate them).
    *Subtract -1 from a roll they make against you.
    *Add +1 Harm to the damage you do when Lashing Out Physically against them.
    *Cause them to falter or freeze up.
    *Place a Condition on them (conditions are a fictional leverage that people can use as a circumstantial bonus to rolls against the character.

    I feel like a lot of this could (and deserves to) be translated into other games that have the potential for sexual themes. In fact, I hold this up as the standard for how sex ought to be handled in tabletop games.
  • Some games might be potentially dangerous. But hardly because of a lack of simulation rules making choices for characters instead of the players.
  • This thread is full of myths and sound and fury and broken premises.
  • Could you unpack that statement a bit, Teataine?
  • edited September 2012
    I am talking of this in general. Having sexually abused players in the group is a special instance. It makes for special considerations. The fact that a lot of women are sexually abused is, in my view, lending acuity to this discussion. It is a fact that a lot of young men are bad in their heads, and violate women. I suspect games, and the way we play them, to be part of that problem.
    My intention in replying was partly to challenge the idea that this way of dividing and excluding thematic content reflects "an escapist stance in role-playing games, that includes an emotional distance that is not healthy". I wanted to give a concrete example of how this way of dividing content is a matter of respect and safety.

    I'm lucky and grateful that my friends disclosed to me the violent things that happened to them. But the division of content you find troubling is now my default mode for gaming, because for each friend who has disclosed their experiences to me, I expect there are others who haven't. People who have experienced and survived sexual violence are the minority, and in that respect they represent a "special instance", but any given group of players is rather likely to have at least one survivor in attendance, who may or may not be willing to disclose their experience. And they shouldn't have to. And since the comfort levels of given individuals may be vary considerably (eg. one person may be perfectly okay with, say, Monsterhearts' Turn Someone On move, where another may not be okay with it), I think it's always wise to err on the side of caution by default, leaving open the possibility of negotiating a different consensus with a particular group. That is what I see as the general issue.

    None of this is to say that I think there shouldn't be game with sexual themes, or even games where sexual themes can be the outcome of rolls without the player's agreement. If that's a thematic space you want to explore, that's great! But I don't think there's anything troubling about it not being the general trend. On the contrary, I would be very troubled if it were the trend.
  • Are RPGs real?
    Answer: No.
    Should people base their social prowess on the game system they play?
    Answer: No
    Are there people who place waay too much importance on their favorite game that it consumes their thoughts and the line between reality and fantasy becomes skewed so they begin to believe that a game system is a tool for learn how to interact with real life?
    Answer : See original post.

    Ya know. I don't want to see my players play out seduction scenes. I especially dont want my children playing Rape the RPG. You want seduction in your game, do it. But don't say the genre is hollow because all rpgs don't have an Emotionally Scarred chart to roll on.
  • Yes, the original post comes across to me similar to my parents arguments about RPGs when I was young. These days, I have a page of psychological studies regarding RPGs that refute most of their claims.

    http://www.darkshire.net/jhkim/rpg/whatis/psychology.html

    In general, their argument was against escapism in favor of what they pointed to as character building activities. I now think that this was about control more than anything else. As the saying goes, the people who are most opposed to the idea of escape are jailors.

    These days, I raise my son in a different style. He chooses his leisure activities, and I try to model being a good person for him - which includes sometimes escaping and sometimes charging into the fray. What he's gotten into lately is Pathfinder, and it seems like a positive thing from playing with his cousins and at a recent convention.
  • Well, I think part of the problem is that, at least in British and US culture, violence of the imagination IS touted as fun. There's a huge industry on both sides of the Pond where people find emotional release through fake violence.

    And, at the same time, our Prudish American past (and, let's face it, some continuing traditions in the UK) tell us that sex is something delicate and private that should not be brought out in public. Add into that the sad truth that many gamers (myself included) aren't that attractive, physically, and you got awkard coming out your ears.

    Would I rather live in a sex positive society that abhorred violence? Well, yeah. Do I? No.
  • Well, I think part of the problem is that, at least in British and US culture, violence of the imagination IS touted as fun. There's a huge industry on both sides of the Pond where people find emotional release through fake violence.
    This is true, but to be fair, there is also a huge industry where people find emotional (and other) release through fake sex.
  • edited September 2012
    There's a huge industry on both sides of the Pond where people find emotional release through fake violence.
    Emotional release? Hardly! There's a lot of things you can do, that have an effect on you, which still don't give you any "release" or "nourishment".

    It's a fun thing to delve into the darkness of the cinema, but doing it as a frequent ritual of violence give you no "release". The same is true for role-playing games too; a role-playing game is a ritualistic interaction with power to change you, and that makes it all the more tragic when you use it solely to delve into fantasies of unbridled violence.

    I do see that our world will never be perfect. We live with elements that can be both good and bad. I understand that any change is difficult and slow, and often challenging. But I balk at some peoples adamant defense of a shallow and potentially hurtful praxis, that has evolved through historical whim, rather than conscious choices. Why should we be fettered by incidental developments in the early history of role-playing games. We are given this form to do with as we like, and may use it to better the lives of ourselves and our fellow humans.

    I believe that role-playing games are not dangerous by nature. Far from it! They are tools we can use to build and create, to grow as humans, in a playful way. It is our narrow use of them that brings danger to us, especially to the youngest amongst us. To the rest of us, we; the elder ones, it mostly brings a bit of fun ...
    - but it could give us so much MORE FUN!
    - and we could share in the responsibility for developing the form into its full potential.

    There is so much more joy and excitement to be had embracing change, being active part of a positive development towards more rewarding games.

  • edited September 2012
    I believe that role-playing games are not dangerous by nature. Far from it! They are tools we can use to build and create, to grow as humans, in a playful way. It is our narrow use of them that brings danger to us, especially to the youngest amongst us. To the rest of us, we; the elder ones, it mostly brings a bit of fun ...
    - but it could give us so much MORE FUN!
    - and we could share in the responsibility for developing the form into its full potential.

    There is so much more joy and excitement to be had embracing change, being active part of a positive development towards more rewarding games.
    I honestly am getting creeped out by this dude. Feels to me he is trying to get a forum stamp of approval on running Pedofile the RPG. Dude, if its not that way, sorry. If it is, get some help. But you are creeping out a 40 year old man by your comments, anyone who claims to have a 9 and 13 year old and wants them to have a good dose of sexual awareness in their RPG, needs their head checked.
    Honestly I'm a live and let live guy. But when it comes to the topic you seem to be hinting at, its live and get some serious help.

    EVO
  • edited September 2012
    EVO; where do you read that I want my boys to "have a good dose of sexual awareness in their RPG"? And how do you dare speculate in public on me being "pedofile"!?

    Please refrain from such comments. Keep such "honesty" to yourself! It is not a level of discussion we need to stoop to. I've flagged your post.
  • Like i said if im wrong, sorry. but that being said. i still think you're creepy. if you want to flag me for that fine. you think I'm immoral for having my opinion but im not flagging you for your opinion. But yeah I'll leave this thread because its just getting awkward.
    good luck with the whole using rpgs to teach your kids about violence and sex thing. especially the youngest among us..... right?
  • This is a very broad question that's worth addressing, but considering that it started with a long quote from me about one of my games, I thought I should chime in to say that the example that inspired this is an imperfect example of this phenomenon. That example did not show that my players are more comfortable with violence than sex because there was no violence in it. In fact, the character being seduced was an angel whose very existence is endangered if he ever tries to deal with a situation through violence instead of diplomacy. Fully half of that group plays that kind of character, so most of my players are pretty averse to committing violence – and when it does happen, I try to make the consequences complicated or disturbing enough to remind them why they should avoid it. Killing someone is typically not a solution, but something that may land them in prison for the rest of their lives.

    That said, I'd be lying if I said that I didn't play in other games in which killing bad guys is the norm (hello, Dark Sun!), so I'll concede that the broader question is worth addressing. To that, I have a few responses (with the admission that I have a Ph.D. in Communication and have read a lot of research on game violence, but not actually conducted any experiments specifically on what games "do" to people).

    a) For pretty much everyone I play with, violence is not a part of our real-world, daily lives; sex is. This makes game violence pure fantasy, and game sex a reference to something both familiar and private.

    b) There is a lot of research on the effects of media on behavior, albeit only a small slice of that is on games, and an even smaller slice of that is on RPGs. That said, even the most rigorous research is tough to interpret as "violent games will make you violent or emotionally stunted." Researchers will claim that because that's the way they view their data, but frankly, it's tough to imagine that honking an air horn for a few extra milliseconds in a lab actually has anything whatsoever to do with actually changing a person's personality.

    c) The research on super-heavy porn consumption leading to distorted values of sex is actually a lot more persuasive to my eyes. One study found that the more porn their subjects were made to watch, the more lenient they were in doling out sentences to convicted rapists. That's an effect with real-world implications that I think should give us pause more than any vague claims researchers have made related to violent games.

    d) If you are to take "effects" research at face value, it's worth noting that the more realistic and immersive the media experience, the more pronounced the effects tend to be. RPGs in "the theater of the mind" are so abstract that it's pretty unlikely they're doing something to you – though it's entirely possible that players are doing something with games. RPGs may be a tool to act out aggressive thoughts, and for some, I think this is actually probably healthy. When you get players using games to fantasize about how they'd kill people they know in real life, however, or modding a video game to make maps of their school, that's not the game encouraging violence; it's the players spiraling into social isolation and fantasy away from reality, and just happening to use a game for it instead of writing their demented thoughts into notebooks. It doesn't make any more sense to blame the game than the notebook.

    e) The presence of violence in games is not inherently a problem. It can actually even be quite healthy, even encouraging players to confront difficult, real-world issues in a safe space. The problem is when players retreat into games to support their own isolated, problematic world views. Escapism is natural and can be healthy, of course; my own doctoral dissertation was on geek cultures, and my research suggested to me that a lot of people get into games at least in part as an escape from a hostile social atmosphere in school. Plenty of people in that situation grow up into perfectly healthy adults, but that kind of experience can shape a person forever. I'd recommend being more mindful of the social factors that might lead kids into retreating excessively into violent games than about the violence in the games themselves.
  • Two comments, Jason:
    a) For pretty much everyone I play with, violence is not a part of our real-world, daily lives; sex is. This makes game violence pure fantasy, and game sex a reference to something both familiar and private.
    My experience is that when I play with a relatively larger percentage of women, our games contain proportionately more sex and less violence. I'm loathe to attribute this to the mixed-gender groups, as I'm not noticing any real-life sexual tension in the room. I'd rather like to attribute this to media preferences - "male"-targeted media tends to have more violence and less actual sex, "female"-targeted media tends to have less violence and more actual sex (I say "actual sex" as opposed to sexual innuendo and allure, which male media has plenty of). The women in our groups has just as much sex as the men (one would hope, anyway), and experience just as little violence. So I'm inclined to argue that it has less to do with escapism and privacy, and more to do with narrative preference.
    RPGs in "the theater of the mind" are so abstract that it's pretty unlikely they're doing something to you – though it's entirely possible that players are doing something with games.
    I'm also of the school who believes the impact of the games we play on our personality to be relatively mild and benign. However, in the case of tabletop role-playing, we're doing something very different than playing a first-person shooter - we're actually communicating and crafting shared narratives. When I contribute something to the story, it's something my mind produced and I'm now relaying it to the others at the table. This act of communal opening up, even if done through the medium of fiction, is something I think can serve to normalize and align peoples' personalities and values.

    In the context of playing games with honestly contributed sexual content among older teens, presumably this could serve as an antidote to narratives produced by the porn industry or by posturing boys and girls in locker rooms. I don't see that as unhealthy and certainly don't believe it'd have an effect of any similarity to excessive porn usage by rape juries - if anything, the opposite.
  • edited September 2012
    There is always one going over the line. Sigh!

    The rest of the thread is great, handling a difficult theme, and disagreements, with grace. Thank you!

    @JasonT: thanks for the solid and thoughtful answer. I'll try to discuss your points in sequence, citing the parts that I comment on.
    a) For pretty much everyone I play with, violence is not a part of our real-world, daily lives; sex is. This makes game violence pure fantasy, and game sex a reference to something both familiar and private.
    Yes, you are right. To me the playing of role-playing games is an ethical praxis; you get to make choices on behalf of a character, and get to "live" the consequences. The core of ethics.

    To invest our rpgs with themes that mirror our real world, being in a game of contemporary setting or a game of fantasy, makes the ethical praxis of playing a role all the more engaging, and joyful. To me, that is.

    A game do not have to be a comedy to entertain us; a tragedy can entertain as much, if done with conviction and elegance. And a broader spectrum of themes in a game, may help us play both comedies and tragedies, and that does a lot to enrich our gaming-experience.

    This is nothing we have to do, but it helps if we grow bored of the "good old hack'n slash".
    b) There is a lot of research on the effects of media on behavior, albeit only a small slice of that is on games, and an even smaller slice of that is on RPGs. That said, even the most rigorous research is tough to interpret as "violent games will make you violent or emotionally stunted." ...
    As we have little research on rpgs/games, and that media is different to other media, in the fact that it deals with a much more direct interaction, there's little to gain from leaning on research in this discussion. We have to lean on anecdotal evidence, and gut feeling, and try to sort out how this may play out in role-playing groups.

    I am concerned with the actual game-play, as inspired by the games, and how it plays out. And I am concerned with an industry that has made it their business to spew out games of violence to the point where other games is drowning in the flood. It is a sad waste of a media with much greater potential. I do not expect the industry, nor the players, to change over night. But I do expect us to take heed of this sad fact, and make our voices heard for the sake of slow and constructive change. We need more diverse games!
    c) The research on super-heavy porn consumption leading to distorted values of sex is actually a lot more persuasive to my eyes. One study found that the more porn their subjects were made to watch, the more lenient they were in doling out sentences to convicted rapists. ...
    In general I believe that art, both popular and more narrow, help us build values. It is done over time, and the way it is done is not easy to understand, or dissect. And it is done in correlation to the way we talk with each others too, and the way newsreaders speak, and popular TV-personalities, and football-coaches, etc. There are a lot of factors influencing humans on this. I believe no arena of play or work is outside of this discourse. So it is smart to be mindful of the values inherent in every part of it.

    John Cage said it like this: It is possible that art constitutes an alphabet, by which we spell our lives.
    d) If you are to take "effects" research at face value, it's worth noting that the more realistic and immersive the media experience, the more pronounced the effects tend to be. RPGs in "the theater of the mind" are so abstract that it's pretty unlikely they're doing something to you – though it's entirely possible that players are doing something with games. RPGs may be a tool to act out aggressive thoughts, and for some, I think this is actually probably healthy. ...
    The myth that "acting out aggressive thoughts" is healthy; isn't that refuted by recent research? I believe it has been proven that by acting out aggressive thoughts, or impulses, you make this a more likely venue of action in a real situation too. That is what makes a professional soldier much more efficient in combat than the soldier of old (who was, actually, crap at taking lives). In our world today, it cannot be healthy to hone such impulses. We are expected to stay peaceful. Violence is frowned upon in civil society.

    A sidenote; I really pity soldiers that tries to come to terms with the ghastly discrepancy of their role as brutal killers in war, and the expectance to be peaceful and loving partners/parents in their home-life, when returning from war arenas around the world. It is too many of them that goes about with no support, and meet with little or no understanding of the challenges they face in this dilemma.
    e) The presence of violence in games is not inherently a problem. It can actually even be quite healthy, even encouraging players to confront difficult, real-world issues in a safe space.
    I do agree with you; violence in games is not a problem in itself. War and fights is fun to play. It is the utter dominance of brutality in games that makes my hair raise. I find most of it to be far removed from the realities in actual violence, and suspect it of feeding into brutal behavior, rather than being a safety valve for it.

    And when modern war-games up the ante, by getting more and more realistic, it freaks me out much more. then we talk about games that is directly damaging for younger players. In the neighborhood where I live, in Oslo, I have heard of several young boys who have played adult war-games (those games are THE COOLEST, of course), and been changed in bad ways by the experience (changing personality, loosing sleep, becoming aggressive). Why do parents let their young play such games? Well, due to the fact that they do not know the power of this form, and that no one talk about the dangers! We need to address this topic, and spread awareness of the powers inherent in this new media, for parents to take these games seriously. Do not give an adult game to your 12 year old son! Never!
    The problem is when players retreat into games to support their own isolated, problematic world views.
    That is a problem, yes. It is not the only one.
    Escapism is natural and can be healthy, of course; my own doctoral dissertation was on geek cultures, and my research suggested to me that a lot of people get into games at least in part as an escape from a hostile social atmosphere in school. Plenty of people in that situation grow up into perfectly healthy adults, but that kind of experience can shape a person forever. I'd recommend being more mindful of the social factors that might lead kids into retreating excessively into violent games than about the violence in the games themselves.
    Escapism is fun! But particularly healthy? Nah! Healthy is the game-play that lets you toy about with ethical dilemmas of substance.

  • I have several responses, but I have to head out the door. For now, I'd just like to add:

    There is a big difference between "problematic" and "dangerous." If we are going to talk about games as dangerous, anecdotal evidence is not going to be as useful as empirical evidence. You're right that other media research will only get us so far, but I think unsubstantiated rumors and opinion may lead us even further astray.

    Also, escapism isn't just healthy; it's practically necessary. Plenty of research supports this (including my own). While certain traditions of die-hard experimentalist media researchers believe we "know" violent media leads to real-world aggression, the benefits of depictions of violence in media are definitely still hotly debated even among experts.
  • edited September 2012
    If you by "unsubstantiated rumors" refer to me saying boys changing personality due to gaming, it is not rumors. These are boys in my neighborhood, known to me and my family. It is an example of how games can influence young humans, and damage them. The episode I'm referring too is in fact a cluster of 12 year old boys, all of them going into the adult war-game Call for Duty last year, and coming out of it with lesser and stronger symptoms similar to that of war-trauma. The parents of the boys were bewildered, and frightened by the experience. They took away the game, and the boys slowly got calmer again. It was an educating experience for all involved, and for us standing on the sideline of it all.

    I believe it is important to understand that interaction of the kind boys and girls grow up with today, has a potential for influencing us, young and old, way stronger than anything you can experience in a cinema, a book, or a stage. It's no wonder games have become so popular, so fast.

    Even in games as "abstract" as ours, it is necessary to see how strong it can be, the interaction we partake in. I am a bit frightened by people who refuse to see this. I'd very much like to see GMs and game-designers respect the very powerful tools and techniques of their trade. Be brave, but don't be blind!
  • I don't know, it seems like if your kids are doing just one thing most of the time, it's going to mess them up, no matter what that thing is. Doesn't matter if it's playing CoD or playing D&D or reading the Bible or practicing the violin or eating sandwiches, if that's all they're doing, they're going to turn out weird and sad.

    It's not like violent games have an uniquely pernicious influence that cannot be defied or counteracted by all of the other things that kids do in a day: it's that there are kids who don't do anything else in a day. And sure, having more games available that don't focus on violence is a great idea...but it's not really addressing the problem, is it?
  • Thomas, if you don't like the term "unsubstantiated rumor", then let us call it "opinion", the other term used by JasonT. Either way, it is anecdote. The empiric evidence has not really shown any definite effect, or at least any possible effect is hotly debated. This empiric evidence may be in other media forms, but it has been in more than one media form. Granted that this may just be my opinion, but I see no reason to think that RPGs are the "special" art form that can effect us in dangerous ways that other art forms have not been shown to. Escapism is escapism, moderation is the key to a good life, and conscious consideration of all you do can keep you out of a lot of trouble. Adding a little pretend violence without violating these principles will not make you a worse person.
  • edited September 2012
    If you by "unsubstantiated rumors" refer to me saying boys changing personality due to gaming, it is not rumors. These are boys in my neighborhood, known to me and my family. It is an example of how games can influence young humans, and damage them. The episode I'm referring too is in fact a cluster of 12 year old boys, all of them going into the adult war-game Call for Duty last year, and coming out of it with lesser and stronger symptoms similar to that of war-trauma. The parents of the boys were bewildered, and frightened by the experience. They took away the game, and the boys slowly got calmer again. It was an educating experience for all involved, and for us standing on the sideline of it all.
    I didn't mean to imply your personal experiences are invalid, and I apologize if I came across that way. I would never presume to tell you how to raise your own kids; you're the expert there.

    When I said "unsubstantiated rumors," I was responding directly to the statement, "We have to lean on anecdotal evidence, and gut feeling." Personal stories and gut feelings are fine when we're dealing with instances close to home, with one's own family, but they are far less useful when we're making broad, sweeping claims about a social phenomenon more generally. That is the essence of moral panic: fears and anecdotes and rumors and suspicions that aren't necessarily backed up by reality on a more widespread scale. And while it's possible that "no one talks about the dangers" in Oslo (I'll defer to you on this one, as I'm ignorant of the culture there), lots of people have talked about the "dangers" of RPGs here in the US over the years, largely based on rumors and unchecked fears. I'd be sad to see the same happen in your neighborhood.

    The original post asked whether games may be dangerous to emotional development. Since I was quoted in that post and I actually have expertise related to this, I figured I might as well chime in to give the best summary I can. The answer is "no, but games can be problematic, just like any other human activity." No offense taken if you'd rather go with your gut instead.
  • edited September 2012
    Jason; I get the feeling you do not listen here.

    What I am telling you, and others, is a story of a game hurting people. It is one example of the strength of modern interaction. There are other examples, both of hurtful experiences, and beautiful ones. When the anecdotal evidence piles up, it is reality knocking on the door. Please take heed. Research is not the only way to learn truths about the world.

    If you fail to see the strength of interaction in modern games of different types, you fail to understand games. Games may be used, effectively, to induce almost any human condition and emotion. It may be used to do this very effectively. I've done it. Others have done it. Some do it on purpose. Some by chance. I prefer the ones doing it consciously, purposefully, and with respect for the form they are using.

    But that aside; there is another facet to this, that has drowned a bit in this discussion. Please bear with me here; this is something I really want to explore, not preach about (yes, I know; I tend to preach a bit). I am talking a lot about game-play with trust and respect as the leading principles. "Say YES", as the number one rule, the one rule that makes the basis of great improvisation. BUT (here it comes); in most rpg-groups I find the trust to be weak, or absent. We make ourselves social I-am-cool-masks, to be used when we sit down with our game-groups. The masks are a hindrance to our interaction, and makes our game-play into a shallow and tense praxis. Most classical games are conductive to this mood, by the theme they choose to put on the table, the character-types we are given to play (cool killers outside of morality), and by the sheer reason that the games do not address how to give and receive trust in a good manner, in the heat of interaction that constitutes our game-play.

    I've been in such groups, and have experienced a growing distrust of fellow players, a distrust that has been damaging to the way I wanted to portray my character. I do not want to go into new territory with players who clamps down with ridicule on any sign of inventiveness. So I stick to the scheme, and as play goes on the scheme gets pretty boring (I believe a lot of players has experienced The Great Boredom of rpgs; it was very much about in the 80s and 90s). This is damaging to our game-play, obviously, but I wonder if it is damaging to us too ...
    - is the praxis of distrust in game-groups something that hurts us?
    - could it be that this praxis is not only a story of missed opportunities, but also a story of players dealing small social and/or emotional hurts to each other? By being so passive-aggressive in a field of interaction; where people are meant to open up to improvised action and dialogue?

    Is it hurtful to misuse interaction in this way? Does it change us in negative ways?

    Is it possible that the "modus operandi" of many game-groups is damaging?
  • I've been in such groups, and have experienced a growing distrust of fellow players, a distrust that has been damaging to the way I wanted to portray my character. I do not want to go into new territory with players who clamps down with ridicule on any sign of inventiveness. So I stick to the scheme, and as play goes on the scheme gets pretty boring (I believe a lot of players has experienced The Great Boredom of rpgs; it was very much about in the 80s and 90s). This is damaging to our game-play, obviously, but I wonder if it is damaging to us too ...

    - is the praxis of distrust in game-groups something that hurts us?
    No, it doesn't really exist to any significant degree, you are 100 percent wrong about this. So it can't hurt people.
    - could it be that this praxis is not only a story of missed opportunities, but also a story of players dealing small social and/or emotional hurts to each other? By being so passive-aggressive in a field of interaction; where people are meant to open up to improvised action and dialogue?
    No, it doesn't really exist to a significant degree.
    Is it hurtful to misuse interaction in this way? Does it change us in negative ways?
    No, not at all. And no, not at all.
    Is it possible that the "modus operandi" of many game-groups is damaging?
    No. Thanks for asking! Glad I could set everything square!
  • edited September 2012
    Ok. I won't mention it again. Dumb of me to think anything could be wrong with such a glorious activity as role-playing games, JD.

    Seriously;
    - irony is a defense strategy: you use it to keep yourself distanced, un-commited, un-assailable and SAFE; this is often a stance taken by role-players, when playing

    - ridicule is an attack strategy; the ironic player use sublime or blatant ridicule to undermine anything that may threaten his/her distance to the game, to keep "unruly" co-players in check

    I've seen the frustration this leads to, and how destructive it is for the game-play. So your easy dismissal of it is something I do not trust, JD.
  • Jason; I get the feeling you do not listen here.
    I am listening, Tomas. We just have a basic philosophical disagreement about the best way to classify a broad, social phenomenon as "dangerous."

    I am perfectly comfortable with the value of anecdote. I relied heavily on anecdotes in my own research (which mostly involved ethnography and interviews), and as a researcher, I can't help but approach this in a systematic way, looking at anecdotes as data to be interpreted rather than as plainly obvious truth.

    I don't mean to derail this thread with a theoretical/methodological discussion. I'm only responding now because I took your last comment as a personal attack and I thought I should clarify my position. Perhaps it would be better if I excused myself from the conversation from here on out; I have a feeling we will not be able to persuade one another, and I'd rather leave before things get testy.
  • It was not meant personally, Jason. I saw your comment about "unsubstantiated rumors" as a bit too dismissive, and had the feeling you did not read me correctly. So I tried to clarify in the next post. I'm sorry if it came out as a personal attack. Sorry!

    Your arguments are good, even if I disagree with you, Jason. And clarifying your position will not derail this discussion. So do stay! Make your points! OK?

    Good to see you are comfortable with the value of anecdote. I hope that is true for everyday insights and wisdom too, as a guiding principle in most of the choices we make.

    As for my interpretation of the things that took place here last year, it is of course something you have to take into consideration; it may be wrong. So let me lay it out more clearly.

    - 1 - The personality changes the parents experienced in their boys, started the first week of playing CoD.
    - 2 - The nature of the changes corresponded to mild war trauma; a clear increase in aggressive behavior, anxiety, inexplicable mood-changes, sleeplessness ... and CoD is a war-game with quite realistic graphics and narrative.
    - 3 - The symptoms decreased when the parents stopped the boys from playing CoD.

    To me these three factors together makes me believe that the game was to blame in this case. The parents were ignorant, and could be blamed for not heeding the age-recommendation on the game, but as we tend to play down the dangers inherent in modern games, they are as ignorant as anyone else. I suspect a lot of parents to boys in the same age group, has been as lax in their control of what the boys play, and possibly experienced similar effects. I do not know.

    But I do not need to know more than this, to conclude that games are indeed able to do damage. So for me it is more a question of verbal role-playing games; do they have the same potential for damaging people? Generally I believe not. But I do see some potential for damage in our form of games too, and that's the reason I opened this thread.
  • Ok. I won't mention it again. Dumb of me to think anything could be wrong with such a glorious activity as role-playing games, JD.
    There can be plenty wrong with it! Nobody is denying that.
    I've seen the frustration this leads to, and how destructive it is for the game-play. So your easy dismissal of it is something I do not trust, JD.
    Yes, this can happen, but it's not that common and it's certainly not a "praxis". The overwhelming majority of roleplayers are having a harmless good time most of the time and absolutely no damage is done that is attributable to the game.

    And anyway, you don't have to trust me, you can say "well, JD, your anecdotal experience is completely invalid, all that you know is wrong, you are blind to the dangers, and I can prove it." and show me up, assuming you do have that proof in your back pocket.
  • edited September 2012
    @JDCorley: We seems to have different backgrounds, you and I. I've seen this often enough, in groups playing classical rpgs. Everything I've read and heard about US gaming culture indicates that the same is true for groups over there. But I have to concede the point; you live there. I do not. Your first hand experience trump my hearsay. Good for you that there is little problems with frustrated, manipulated, bored and unhappy role-players. And that leaves them well out of danger too. You are dead sure of it. I am wondering if all is as well as you say. Let us leave it at that.
  • We're talking about the Call of Duty video game? I don't know much about it, but it is very very different from tabletop Dungeons & Dragons or other classical RPGs. I accept the general premise that games can be dangerous - better-documented examples include poker and blackjack, which can be addictive and destructive. That doesn't mean that tabletop RPGs are harmful.
    As we have little research on rpgs/games, and that media is different to other media, in the fact that it deals with a much more direct interaction, there's little to gain from leaning on research in this discussion. We have to lean on anecdotal evidence, and gut feeling, and try to sort out how this may play out in role-playing groups.
    Tomas - I posted a list of quite a few psychological studies specifically of tabletop RPGs. I'll include it here again:

    http://www.darkshire.net/jhkim/rpg/whatis/psychology.html

    I'm open to criticism of them, or explicitly saying that such research isn't an effective way to learn what games do. However, we should at least acknowledge that the research exists - as do many anecdotes of the positive effects of RPGs (I was quite touched by the documentary Drakmar: A Vassal's Journey, as an example).
    Why do parents let their young play such games? Well, due to the fact that they do not know the power of this form, and that no one talk about the dangers! We need to address this topic, and spread awareness of the powers inherent in this new media, for parents to take these games seriously. Do not give an adult game to your 12 year old son! Never!
    As Jason said, here in the U.S. there has been plenty of talk about the dangers of games and RPGs in particular. When I was growing up, my parents would often use negative, critical language similar to yours - saying that my hobbies of movies and RPGs were useless and not character-building. It is demeaning and insulting to have my hobby talked about that way, when I experience my life being enriched by the positive experiences of these games.
    I wonder if it is damaging to us too ...
    - is the praxis of distrust in game-groups something that hurts us?
    - could it be that this praxis is not only a story of missed opportunities, but also a story of players dealing small social and/or emotional hurts to each other? By being so passive-aggressive in a field of interaction; where people are meant to open up to improvised action and dialogue?

    Is it hurtful to misuse interaction in this way? Does it change us in negative ways?

    Is it possible that the "modus operandi" of many game-groups is damaging?
    (emphasis mine above) I'm in agreement with Jason - it's not irony to deny that these exist. I don't experience the misuse you talk about here. In my experience, classical RPGs are full of improvised action and dialogue. There are sometimes disagreements where people are critical of each other - but that is normal for social interaction. Only being positive and accepting and always trusting as right seems more like cult-like behavior to me than healthy social interaction.
  • edited September 2012
    You can't blame the role playing game. Blame the GM running it. I as a game master can take Vampire the masquerade and make it Twilight the sucky rpg. If I was running it for kids, thats what I would do. I could take Call of Chuthlu and make it Scooby-Doo adventures. The fact about the difference between CoD and RPGs is that the GM in CoD is programmed one way and does not care about the age of the person playing. Responsible GMs and adults have that ability.

    I can't think of one GAME MECHANIC that could be considered "dangerous". But I can think of SEVERAL people that I would not have at my table or running a game for me or anyone I cared about.

    People finally begun to understand after the whole 80s witch hunt, that maybe there were actual real factors which related to these obscure cases. But there will always be those out there playing the blame game for their own failings as parents and teachers.
  • Research is not the only way to learn truths about the world.
    Divine revaluation? Tea leaves? Taro cards? Crystal ball? Gut feelings? Sneaking suspicion? Anecdotal evidence?
  • edited September 2012
    Research is not the only way to learn truths about the world.
    Divine revaluation? Tea leaves? Taro cards? Crystal ball? Gut feelings? Sneaking suspicion? Anecdotal evidence?
    you forgot Wikipedia :)
  • Research is not the only way to learn truths about the world.
    Divine revaluation? Tea leaves? Taro cards? Crystal ball? Gut feelings? Sneaking suspicion? Anecdotal evidence?
    Reply hazy. Try again later.

  • @jhkim: Thanks for reposting that list again! I've read it now. I were happy to find that there is nothing in that list of studies that indicates that role-playing games are damaging. Quite the contrary; some of the studies indicates that rpgs can be quite beneficial to the players. That is great!

    I accept the findings in that list as a final answer to my questions; role-playing games are not damaging. Role-players display no dysfunctions, social or mental, that sets them apart from other people. I'm happy with that.

    End of discussion.
  • @jhkim: Thanks for reposting that list again! I've read it now. I were happy to find that there is nothing in that list of studies that indicates that role-playing games are damaging. Quite the contrary; some of the studies indicates that rpgs can be quite beneficial to the players. That is great!

    I accept the findings in that list as a final answer to my questions; role-playing games are not damaging. Role-players display no dysfunctions, social or mental, that sets them apart from other people. I'm happy with that.

    End of discussion.
    Cool. Thanks for reading.
  • I find this about as problematic as "Will playing a lot of Wii Bowling have a negative impact on my real-life bowling?"
  • It's not the subject matter, or even the sex/violence present, which makes an RPG most destructive or its players emotionally distant. It's the 'collect and compete' conditioning those games feature.

    This film is an excellent example of the kind of sociopathic behavior such conditioning can lead to, even in regards to sex. Beyond that it features a world where you never have to leave the 'game', which is important because most gamers I know ONLY display such behavior in the context of the game. But if they're always playing it, the danger is that behavior will always be on.
    My son and I are on the mild spectrum of autism (HFA). I didn't intend it this way, but one day he was having a meltdown and I was able to explain what was going on in his head with the game rules. He understood and was able to deal with the situation better. I'm not saying I've decoded the human psyche with a simple rule but if it's accurate enough that a young man can learn how to better cope with stress, well, that's cool to me.
    This is just plain awesome, and I'd love to hear how you explained this to him.
    I believe that role-playing games are not dangerous by nature. Far from it! They are tools we can use to build and create, to grow as humans, in a playful way. It is our narrow use of them that brings danger to us, especially to the youngest amongst us. To the rest of us, we; the elder ones, it mostly brings a bit of fun ...
    - but it could give us so much MORE FUN!
    - and we could share in the responsibility for developing the form into its full potential.

    There is so much more joy and excitement to be had embracing change, being active part of a positive development towards more rewarding games.
    I honestly am getting creeped out by this dude. Feels to me he is trying to get a forum stamp of approval on running Pedofile the RPG.
    How old were you when you started playing RPGs?

    I've gotten into similar trouble for suggesting that the age limits in my local group were too restrictive (18+, and it had nothing to do with the subject matter despite what anyone said). But here's the thing: I got involved in RPGs when I was around 12, and in the beginning I played with kids my own age. Any you know what? Most of the time it sucked, and the sex was STILL present, only it was juvenile and meretricious.

    On the other hand despite most of the older groups being so rules heavy that I was bored out of my skull (sometimes I'm really not sure why I stuck around this hobby), the fact that I was allowed to participate was IMPORTANT because I was a precious child and found my peers to be somewhat banal (to say nothing of what they thought of me), and would have had few friends if it wasn't for my seniors. And if you're into gaming as a child, chances are you're not exactly seeing eye to eye with your peers either.

    These days age isn't a factor, and I've had to deal with more emotionally stunted 40+ year olds than emotionally immature teens, and I'll take the latter any day.

    Regardless, you're misrepresenting TomasHVM badly enough that I find it comical. He's suggesting nothing of the kind. And when the 'youngest amongst us' roleplay, they ARE building and creating their future selves far more than we adults are. And it IS stunting if boys only play war and girls only play house. Luckily that doesn't happen if you leave kids to their own devices. They are imaginative and anything but narrow.

    Oh, and finally, have you SEEN young girls play Barbie? It's FULL of relationships, pregnancy, and other sexual charged issues. Really, I suspect if parents paid more attention to what their kids played, or (*gasp*) actually PLAYED WITH THEIR KIDS, they'd be more than a little shocked/enlightened. And while I'm not really sure if these issues are best explored through Barbie, having more/better tools wouldn't hurt either way.
    You can't blame the role playing game. Blame the GM running it.
    I'll remember that the next time I run FATAL.
    I as a game master can take Vampire the masquerade and make it Twilight the sucky rpg. If I was running it for kids, thats what I would do.
    Do me and everyone else here a favor and NEVER RUN AN RPG FOR KIDS! You obviously have no respect for them.
    People finally begun to understand after the whole 80s witch hunt, that maybe there were actual real factors which related to these obscure cases.
    Considering the context of this comment, I'm assuming you to mean other gamers when you say 'real factors', in which case I'd like a citation to support your premise. Scratch that, I'd like a citation regardless, as we don't need this kind of ambient speculation.


  • dang anon. Pretty sure you mistook everything I said in my posts... I am basically saying that game settings can be tailored to the group your running it for. So the game can't be considered "dangerous". The witch hunt factors were hinting to personal issues of the people and not the game as being the cause of their actions.
    Never heard of fatal so I'll check out the mechanics and see how dangerous they are sometime.

    Love the passion though dude.
  • edited September 2012
    Game Design is Mind Control.
    If you don't agree with that at least to some degree, I question why you would bother playing story games at all. Why not play only one system and adapt the settings from other games? Or, why even bother with a system?
    And if you do agree with that at least to some degree, in order to debunk that game mechanics can be dangerous, you then have to disbelieve that mind control can be dangerous.
    Not saying I necessarily agree with Tomas' position of hack & slash games being inherently dangerous, but I find it extraordinarily difficult to disbelieve in a general sense that game mechanics cannot possibly affect the brain in a potentially dangerous or harmful way.
    Never heard of fatal
    Oh, you're in for a treat.

  • Looked into fatal. Do you really have a game of that lined up to play in the future anon? Too funny. But yeah, a rpg written for shock value is about as dangerous as putting on my socks. (I will add this disclaimer: this is my opinion. i am not a licensed psychiatrist and quite often wouldn't care about their evaluation if they gave one. But I do appreciate games and those who are passionate about them.)
  • oh and about Luke and Jerrods seminar. despite the grandeur of the title, It taught how to build fun mechanics and get the player engaged with the system and get them to play it in a certain way to get as much fun as possible with their experience. Wasnt about putting danger in games to f-up the kids as much as possible. See above disclaimer.
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