How the Anti-gaming Shitstorm of April 1999 influenced “Media Violence Research”

Posted: June 14, 2012 in Moral Panics, Video Game Violence, Video Games
Tags: , , , , , , ,

DOOM iPod (Photo credit: scottkellum)

My last 2 posts went into 3 very questionable newspaper “articles” written by 3 different newspaper writers in 3 different newspapers, and how they claimed Eric Harris had modified Doom to allow him to train for Columbine on it, with features that (surprise!) Doom Could not do in 1999.  The newspapers, Denver Post, The rocky Mountain News, and Times Magazine, all mentioned the same hate site tracking group, but differed in the “quote” said by (virtual) dying students in the mod supposedly found, and had different features in each article, but some were the same between them. Denverpost mentioned nothing about Infinite Ammo, Extra Weapons, a Second Shooter, but did mention the “quote”. Rocky Mountain news said the mod had “Infinite Weapons” (how the hell is that even doable in ANY shooter?), “Infinite ammo”, dying students in certain places that say a quote (but it was a different quote than the denverpost article). The Times article failed to even mention the quote, but mentioned a second shooter, infinite ammo, and the shooter running out of  (the infinite?) ammo  first dying automatically.  The times news article was quoted by an APA paper on media violence, but the running out of ammo and dying part was left out. Later on the Paper was cited in this thesis on Video Game Violence, claiming to prove violent games cause real life violence, done by a college student in some Biology class.

When reading this “Thesis” for the first time I was shocked to see how many lies it contained. It mentioned how the Military used Doom as a training tool (debunked by the Design Synthesis Blog article : “Training our kids to kill”), mentions all the “Hate site tracking group found a modified version of doom” claims minus the ammo kill one, and worse. I wanted to see how many articles “cited” this as proof violent games cause real life violence. I was in for a shock.

Searching on google using the URL for the site revealed 15+ pages of results with at least 28 articles demonizing violent games among them. Searching with the title of the thesis revealed 10+ pages with 31 articles all demonizing violent games, and finally, searching with the quote claiming the hate site tracking group found the modified version of doom revealed 10 more pages with 11 articles attacking the games. All these results cited the search choice and I decided to study how many of each type there were.

Types included articles that asked whether games lead to real life aggression, articles that said that they definitely do, articles that asked “should violent games be banned”, articles that said they should, articles asking if games lead to real life violence, articles saying they do, articles asking if there was a link to real life violence, articles saying there was, articles saying violent games change the frontal lobes brain in brain scans of people who played them, articles claiming violent games were a “danger to society”, articles complaining about the EMA vs Brown decision by SCOTUS in 2010,  and finally one forum which basically said, “Violent Games breed Psychos!”.

URL Used in URL Search:

Title Searched in Title Search : Video Games: A Cause of Violence and Aggression

Quote used in Quote Search : “The Simon Wiesenthal Center, which tracks Internet hate groups, found in its archives a copy of Harris’ web site with a version of Doom. He had customized it so that there were two shooters, each with extra weapons and unlimited ammunition, and the other people in the game could not fight back.”

Here is a screenshot of the spreadsheet I used…

Out of all 31 articles found while searching with the Thesis Title, 22% asked do violent games cause aggression, 32% said they cause violence, 22% asked if they did, and 16% said they cause Aggression. Pretty high totals for such a small sample size, yet it’s still quite alarming due to the questionable and even fabricated evidence cited. Out of all 28 articles found while searching with the Thesis URL, 32% asked if violent games cause aggression, 32% said they cause Violence, 22% asked if they did cause violence, and 14% said they cause aggression.  Notice a pattern? More people think violent games cause real life violence than mere aggression, even though the studies “prove” the former…. Just goes to show you how believable the hack psychologists claims on the talk shows in the 1997-2002 period were….  Now this is not true for the search done with the quote. I got a lot more extreme stuff with those results. 27% of the search results were the same page saying the following quote in it’s title :  “is violent games bad for childrens brain?”. I had less articles found in the results that said or questioned if violent games caused violence. That’s a good thing. But here’s the bad thing. Out of all the search results with the quote, 11 of the articles were from LAST YEAR… The quote came from a times news article done right after columbine. The BS was still being brought up in 2011!!!! How is that for ridiculous. I ended up debunking it recently but still a lot of it is really obviously “questionable” and no one questioned it even after 10+ years? It is so insane that no one ripped this one journalist from Time Magazine for posting these impossible doom features  in an article, yet they get cited by over 50 pages, once by the APA, and even a college Essay Writer cites them? How improbable is that? To show you how impossible these are, lets first look at the program dehacked.

Dehacked was made by Greg “Tree” Lewis in 1995 to edit the thing,frame,sound, and sprite data tables found in the Doom EXE (main program). These tables allow people to drastically change how the games enemies and weapons work. To do any kind of modification to Doom at this time, dehacked would be required, IF it allowed the editor to do them…. BIG if in this case, for the thing table has no property for friendly AI, whatsoever. Impossible in 1999. PERIOD. Later on a source port called MBF would develop such a way to do this in dehacked patchs but No one did it till 2000, and no documentation was released till then, at the earliest. So that’s not going to work either. Even if I am wrong there… The next 2 claims are still impossible at this time, with the normal Doom or MBF. The photo below shows the thing table property list for all things (they all share it) on the bottom pane.

The next claim is that this modified  version of doom added extra weapons + infinite ammo for both shooters.  Another bogus statement. The weapon table has 9 entries in it and the total number of entries depends only on the game (Doom, Doom 2) that is being used. Doom lacks one gun Doom2 has so Doom 1 has only 8 weapons. There is no way in dehacked to even add extra weapons without replacing others… And to make them work with the second shooter would also be impossible for weapon switching code for AI is FAR beyond ANYTHING dehacked can do, so is any 3rd party AI fire coding needed to even make this work. These things are not doable in dehacked, PERIOD. The photo below shows the weapon property screen with no  “Add Weapon” Button or Key at all.

So now we come to the most stupid quote ever uttered in an article attacking Doom.

“Harris’ customized Doom game was programmed so that the shooter who runs out of ammunition dies first. “

1) How can you run out of ammo in a mod with INFINITE AMMO? You can’t. Assuming that is possible…..

2) Even if you could run out of ammo, there is no variable in dehacked weapon table (image above) that tracks your current ammo. Dehacked does NOT let you edit these variable because it’s in Memory and always changes. Dehacked also cannot let you do anything that involves doing a certain action (killing the player/or the “shooter” when a variable meets a certain value. So this whole quote has been invalidated even if the infinite ammo COULD allow you to run out of ammo.

The screenshot below shows NO way to kill the player if he runs out of ammo for any gun, or health (that happens automatically anyway), or any statistic, whatsoever. The players properties are his max health, speed, whether he can even be hurt (how GOD mode can be done in dehacked), etc.

Now to discuss this “quote” supposedly said by dying students. Number 1, nowhere in the Times article is it even brought up. This article was done BEFORE the denverpost article and also BEFORE the rocky mountain news article. So the quote is most likely  bogus. But not neccisarily. This idea CAN be done in doom. I’ve tested it several ways and there is nothing stopping this idea from being real, but the 2 differing quotes, and the 2 different ways of saying it (Shouted in Denverpost vs Cried in Rocky Mountain News) should make it questionable at the very least. It’s weird that the denverpost article  cut out all the stuff that Doom Can’t do. Too Weird. This stuff would invalidate the article completely by fans of the game who would all call in complaining. Did Denverpost know this ahead of time? I don’t know…. But it’s very odd. Why not publish that stuff to add to the “controversy” if it’s not questionable…. The only way that it makes sense is that it IS questionable feature wise and they knew it… But that’s not something I am certain of.

Now for the most Bullshitic ™ response to the whole “paper”…. I quote:

“Of course people who create, sponsor/support gaming industries, and those who love playing the games will say it has no affect, just as tobacco companies said there was correlation between cancer and cigarettes! But we now know just how wrong they were on that don’t we!! Let’s just put it on a simpler note. DOOM WAS CREATED TO TEACH SOLIDERS TO MURDER EFFICIENTLY…. THIS SAME GAME IS BEING PLAYED BY THE MASSES……SO WHAT ARE THEY LEARNING???? I have never used a gun outside of the shooting range, but i learned how to load and shoot one before i ever had a real one in my hand….how? Video games….. Say what you will but the thought that there is no correlation between the two isn’t holding water!”

Number 1 : DOOM WAS NOT CREATED TO TEACH “SOLIDERS” TO MURDER EFFICIENTLY!!!!!! That’s Complete Fucking BS. This moron makes it look like Doom was created as a military training tool first and nothing more, by the military, BLAH BLAH BLAH.  The military training Modification by the Marines, was not even done till 5(!!!!) years later after Doom was created… Doom was created to be fun, nothing more. There is no MURDER in the game because murder requires Intent. Combat with a hostile enemy force (demons in the game are not innocent, they qualify as that) is not murder. Marines modified doom to train soldiers group tactics in such combat with enemy forces, not to “TEACH ‘SOLIDERS’ TO MURDER EFFICIENTLY”.   Obviously this peon has been believing the media lies and BS WAYYYY Too much…

Number 2 : People who play violent games end up having violent tendencies… There is not ONE study to even back this up. Aggression (which as been “proven” by “millions” of FLAWED Studies), is NOT the same as a real violent tendencies. To say gamers have violent tendencies ignores all the obvious issues that REAL Killers like Harris had, Racist Thoughts, Uncontrollable Anger,  Serious Mental Issues, etc. No normal gamer has any of these… Period!!!

Number 3: Comparing the gaming industry to the Tobacco industry (More BS!!) Is more proof this person is a moron. The tobacco industries ads went to the length to entice kids with Joe Camel. I don’t see that in Violent game ads, at all, hell I’ve never seen one of those  Violent game ads on billboards in public that everyone keeps whining about, outside of 1 bus in Boston 5 years ago. Number 2 there is actual scientific evidence to prove Tobacco causes cancer. There is NO Scientific evidence to prove violent games cause Real life violence. A bunch of right wing game hating morons purposely misquoting studies that prove “Aggression” to make it look like they cause real life violence does NOT COUNT…. PERIOD.

Number 4 :  The claim that you can learn how to “load” and “shoot” any gun by playing video games is BS. Video games lack realistic firing physics (recoil, etc) in many cases, and the older FPS games teach BAD tactics like hold down the trigger until all enemies are dead. They don’t work in real life due to recoil making the gun fire higher and higher and they do not force the player to adjust because of the lack of recoil in many games. Anyone who says they learned how to handle a gun through a video game is a LIAR.


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