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Old 04-25-2008, 07:26 PM   #1
ronnoc10
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Default The Video Game Milgram Effect?

For those of you not familier, a bit of reading:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment

I have recently been playing Second Sight (one of the best games that no one played last generation, and by no one played, I really mean no one, this isn't Psychonauts), and at the being of the game, you run across two security guards. The main character, John Vattic, exclaims "Maybe I can scare them away with my new found physic powers!" Being the well conditioned video game player I am, I immediately ran at them and hit the melee button until they were both dead. John Vattic then declared "That's horrible! I didn't have to kill them. That's just horrible...", which made me very sad, and caused me to play pacifistic for a large portion of the game. Later on, when the game started to become difficult, I started killing people at the usual video game rate (50+ a level). Upon reflection, I began to wonder.
I read an interview a while back, in which the subject was criticizing BioShock's morality. He proposed that since you are rewarded for saving the little sisters, there is no true moral choice. I disagree. I believe that removing any incentive for either side made it a true moral choice. If killing the little sisters was rewarding, it would simply become a game mechanic. Much like players in GTA pick up prostitutes, not because they are living out their fantasies, but simply because they regain health, players would kill little sisters without really thinking.
I think it was a Ben Yahtzee movie, but I remember seeing something on the RE5 controversy, in which something along the line of "Isn't that the point of a horror game? To make you do something that is uncomfortable, like killing crippled children?" was stated.
What I have been tossing around in my head is this: What wouldn't a player do, if it were necessary to advance in a game they enjoyed, even if it was against their morals? Would a player take part in a virtual rape? (I don't know if they advanced the game, but players where perfectly fine with sex minigames in God of War.) Would they participate in a interactive Wiimote timed-movement sequence, even more hardcore then Manhunt 2, such are applying a cheese grater to a persons skin?
In The Elder Scrolls IV, I assisted a character's suicide, even though is offended all of my sensibilities, and those of my sister (who suffers from depression, and has attempted suicide), who was in the room, and it was a minor sidequest, not required to forward the action. Around 2004, when I first started to use the program, a Game Maker user released a game call Rape, in which the purpose was to gang-rape women. He later claimed that it was a social experiment, and that he was disturbed by the results.
Reflecting on the Milgram experiment, the Video Game Dungeon Master, or the Video Game Narrator, if you prescribe to either of these Game studies theories, could easily take the place of an authority figure. If a player honestly enjoyed everything up to that point, or even if they didn't, I find it very likely that they would preform the act, no matter how despicable they would find it. Reflecting on the Standford Prison Experiment, I find it likely that video game players easily assimilate into their character's role.
I find the implications of this rather disturbing, and would like to hear your thoughts.
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Old 04-25-2008, 11:38 PM   #2
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Hmmm, you bring up very intereting thought,
I think that my main point is that players will do a lot of things in games that they won't do in real life becuase it's just a game and no one gets hurt.
The question is do they enjoy doing this in the process? I admit that I still hate killing animals in games, every time I kill a wolf or a dog in Oblivion and it wines my conscience yells at me to stop, and I still have a problem going into peoples houses and stilling things, although I know its just a game.
I think its all a matter of how much the game rewards you for non-acceptable bahavior and how much it pushes you to take these desicions (The wolves and dogs always atack me first leaving me no choice but to kill them).
I do find it disturbing to know that some games encourage this behavior and even more disturbing that some players find it enjoyable, but the question is -do all people understand the difference between real life and games? if someone enjoys rape or murder in a computer game are they closer to performing these actions in real life? how much do games emphasize the message - "I allow you to do this in the game, but this is only accaptable in the game world"
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Old 04-26-2008, 11:48 AM   #3
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Well, the other thing that comes up when you make comparisons to the Milgram Experiment is, none of the participants went out and electrocuted anyone. I don't think video games can cause violence, personally, and, despite coming to the conclusion that a player would do virtually anything to advance in a fun game, I remain steadfast in my belief.
I don't believe that if a game required a player to punch someone and film it with their PlayStation Eye, many players would comply. I do think there is a line that everyone can recognize, between fiction and reality.
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Old 04-26-2008, 08:07 PM   #4
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ALthough it might have not come out this way from my previous post - I agree with you and I also think that games are not the cause of violent behavior, and I wish parents will stop accusing TV, games or music for their childrens behavior. I think it was Sutherland that said that people that are affected by the violence they see on TV are prone to violent behavior and that is usually the reason they choose to watch these specific things in the first place; but I still find it disturbing to know that some people will think its fun to rape someone in a video game, even if this someone is made of pixels, I know I will definetly won't enjoy that (but maybe that's becuase I'm a woman) and to be honest I don't think I'll even be able to be in a team that develops such a game (as much as I want to get into the idustry)
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Old 04-26-2008, 08:13 PM   #5
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I'm not sure if we've just gotten off on a tangent, or if you've missed my point, but just in case, I'm going to reiterate: No one in the Milgram Experiment enjoyed what they were doing. I'm not concerned with enjoyment, but making players do something they don't enjoy.
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