Instigator / Con
7
1646
rating
59
debates
66.1%
won
Topic

THBT Violent Video Games Ought to be Censored

Status
Finished

All stages have been completed. The voting points distribution and the result are presented below.

Arguments points
3
0
Sources points
2
0
Spelling and grammar points
1
1
Conduct points
1
1

With 1 vote and 5 points ahead, the winner is ...

Undefeatable
Parameters
More details
Publication date
Last update date
Category
Games
Time for argument
Three days
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
One month
Point system
Four points
Rating mode
Rated
Characters per argument
10,000
Contender / Pro
2
1603
rating
352
debates
65.34%
won
Description
~ 597 / 5,000

Burden of proof is shared

Pro: There is a moral obligation to censor most, if not all, violent video games

Con: There is no moral obligation to censor most, if not all, violent video games

Ought: Having a moral obligation. [Ex. People Ought to be Treated Fairly]

Violent: using or involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something

Censor: examine (a book, movie, etc.) officially and suppress unacceptable parts of it.

Video Game: a game played by electronically manipulating images produced by a computer program on a television screen or other display screen.

Round 1
Con
Let's open up with an excerpt from my other debate about video games:

Video Games are not inherently evil or unconsciously cause violence. In Cristina Cabras and Maria Cubbadas’s article “Relationships Among Violent and Non-Violent Video Games” [4], Cristina and Maria agree that aggression levels are also greatly affected by “peer pressure, depression, family violence, and antisocial personality”. It's too difficult to say that video games alone are dangerous.

Indeed, no matter what moral perspective you use, you will find that there is no moral obligation to censor violent video games in general. As one expert article analyzes, video games are ethical/moral under Kantian, Aritstotle, and utilitarian philosophy. [1] The key takeaways are such:

A) Violent video games (VVG's) are acceptable by Kant because the characters do not hold same value as human beings. Killings and thievery can be accomplished because of the lack of impact in real life. Even though some extreme situations people may feel some distress at their character dying, they accepted this risk by going into the dangerous game. The consensual fight then, is therefore still moral. So there is no need for censorship here.

B) VVG's are acceptable under Aristotle's thinking, because games can force moral choices to make meaningful messages. The improvement of character and the potential for lessons mean that merely violence cannot violate Aristotle's standard of moral. As long as they can be constructed to learn lessons, not even Aristotle would censor VGG's.

C) Under utilitarianism, many cite the potential harm due to encouraging the consumers to deliver harm. However, the causation-to-effect is demonstrated by very little rigorous studies. In fact, a 2019 study counters this by noting that in Europe, VVG's have little to do with aggressive behavior. [2] If this wasn't enough, a meta analysis in 2020 counters a previous analysis in 2015, proving that VGG's were not linked to aggression. [3] Many experts argue that video games allow you to channel your anger and your frustrations somewhere else more harmless. By keeping people playing VVG's rather than resorting to other means of release, VVG's are the lesser evil and prevent a lot of real life violence. Furthermore, the entertainment to millions to billions of people is even more difficult to weigh against the vague harm that may be caused by VGG's. The money created by the industry fuels the economy, and was even able to help adolescents gain control and freedom to understand their feelings; confronting their identity. There are quantifiable numbers with hours of entertainment delivered to people, and improvements of visual perception, hand-eye coordination, so on and so forth. 

My expert goes further to even dissuade the reasoning behind VGG's causing violence -- there is too little similarity between the VGG violence and the real life violence. Just as a master of Guitar Hero would unlikely be able to easily master the guitar, it seems unlikely that the VGG's would train killers or brutal fighters. Furthermore, realistic graphics do not necessarily mean realistic narrative, and the vast majority of VGG's are so over bloated in plot that you would know it is a fake world, thus not applying the same violence to real life. Next, he argues that VGG's do not necessarily destroy empathy, and that studies on de-sensitization only prove that physiological responses are changed, rather than actual use of violence. Merely being able to stomach a person being stabbed better does not necessarily mean you are going to actually stab someone.

The author also picks out Japan as a more neutral example of a country where violence is less wide-spread overall, and tells us that Japanese gamers' violence affected by VGG's has not been proven empirically. I would argue that most studies are American based and may be biased due to the way our culture works. Keep in mind that any studies in the US from my opponent must also be judged with a doubtful eye because US already has highest gun homicides, and an unusually high rate of violence.  There is also the logic that NPC's are clearly not human -- they "speak using a few standardized phrases, have no personalities, and have no existence in the game aside from their reaction to the player". Unless you are an idiot, I hardly see VGG's affecting you to treat real life people like NPC's. 

Finally, even if Con toppled everything above, Con would still have to worry about the slippery slope impacts. There is sacrifice of freedom of speech, essential to democracy. You could argue that even competitive sports should be banned, as the explicit injuries and deaths are far more obvious. It is such a radical change to what is free speech, the implications to shows, movies, and even general public information could be incredibly harmful. 

Even though there can be regulations on games for age and even for specific audiences at risk, the general censorship of VGG's seems absurd and unfounded. As you can see, there is no moral obligation to censor VGG's.

Pro
Warning for later Rounds: To make this easier on you, the reader, and myself, I have worked out a way to structure my Round 1 (since this is 4 Rounds as opposed to just 3) where I don't go very explicit or gory in Round 1.

I highly recommend you to be 18+ or very willing to read explicit and/or graphic content and description if you truly want to vote on this debate or read it through, I will not sugarcoat or highly censor myself in later Rounds when I go into depth on just how bad uncensored violence and gore can be.

What Pro is doing is relying on your ignorance, in order to stand by flimsy philosophical pseudo-'wisdom'.

I will be simply laying out the framework of my case this Round, if Pro wants to do nothing back to that it's up to him, my Round 2 will not pack any punches.


Contention 1: Even the absolute worst videogame that you probably know of and can buy is censored vs how bad and gory it could be. You have no idea just how brutal games would be if they included detailed rape, beating-to-death, Sharia Law stoning so on and so forth.

Contention 2: There is indeed a moral responsibility to censor what people receive in their minds. While it's true to say that the type of person who tends to go truly violent and brutal from violent videogames is already mentally unstable to a degree, regardless of gameplay, it's untrue to say they'd do what they end up doing anyway.

Contention 3: The entire world seems to dedicated from sheltering people, especially younger people but even people in general, from pornography. Why is this attitude not even more strong when it comes to violence and gore? I would never, unless we mean hardcore porn that is abusive, rather find out that my child or adolescent had accidentally come across severe gore and violence than some soft-to-medium-core pornographic material. Sure, I'd dislike both circumstances and would have a stern chat, especially about safe sex and what a real loving relationship is like vs what's shown in porn, however I would freak out much more if they'd come across some of the worst violent scenes and/or games our species has to offer. When it comes to what is censored, violence and gore is/are probably the single most important thing to censor and not expose people to, they scar deep.
Round 2
Con
Con decides to ignore my entire argument and focus on a more emotional aspect that we have the right to prevent mentally unstable people from going over the edge, as well as preventing children's innocence from being violated.

He dropped the Kantian argument.

He dropped the Aristotle's argument.

He dropped the two studies highlighting that VGG's don't inherently cause violence.

Con dropped the millions of dollars generated from VGG's.

Con dropped the study from Japan.

Con dropped that VGG's create a clearly different world due to lack of realistic stories.

Con dropped the sacrifice to freedom of speech.

Con has not even tackled the right of people to make their own choices -- the children know that the games are age-restricted, contain a lot of blood and violence, and still choose to go through to buy the video game. 

Even if voters don't buy all of this, Con's argument is too generic, reductive and has zero sources for backing.

Let's stack more information on top.

A study finds that the cooperation prevents the aggressiveness caused by VGG's, and counters Con's effects. [1] The previous studies finding aggression were merely from playing solo, and the ability to work together means that the context of how VGG's are played must be considered. Video games don't control who you are, or cause any "loss of innocents". We hardly censor news of murder, or books describing in great detail blood on the floor with stabbing over and over again. Even the creator of Sim City argues that Sim city, a completely non violent game, was similar to Grand Theft auto in the end. He sees that people are able to come together to work on the social aspect. [2] The lesson they learn is the key, linking back to the Aristotle philosophy. The teaching of experimentation -- and even link to scientific method -- prove that the element of violence doesn't destroy any "innocence" that Con claims.

If this wasn't enough, yet another study finds that the effects of violence have very little impact (with regards to games), proving my logic laid out above. The abstract alone lays out that aggressive behavior isn't affected by physiological arousal or postgame aggressive behavior. There are more variables at play than merely violence. [3] Narrative matters. Context matters. Kids are smart enough to realize that difference.

Pro
Pro vs Con in this debate is NOT ABOUT IF VVGs should be played (at all), it is if they should be censored and controlled.

Pro has tried to alter the dynamic of this debate to be Con denying violent video games existing at all. No. There is a difference between a video game having the most graphic and realistic violence imaginable as a commonplace feature in the game and a game having an unrealistic gun, non-human and non-animal like characters and it merely seeming like a very fast 'sport' of sorts.

To me, there's a massive difference between a thrilling action game with no realistic violence and a severe gang rape scene where you spend 8 minutes tormenting the victims' husband and beating him to death before 'enjoying' her. That is just the tiniest glimpse of what kind of stuff is censored.

Let me just establish something about the flaw in Pro's Round 1:

A) Violent video games (VVG's) are acceptable by Kant because the characters do not hold same value as human beings. 
However, when real humans are influenced in the direction of valuing real human beings as little as the characters (instead of the opposite) that becomes the precise issue.

B) VVG's are acceptable under Aristotle's thinking, because games can force moral choices to make meaningful messages
Wrong. This is firstly absolutely nothing to do with Aristotle's thinking, he doesn't say making moral choices is automatically resulting in the correct choice being taken.

As for what this implies, VVGs that are so gruesome and realistic that they are basically an action horror/thriller 18+ movie turned into a game are probably the worst game-type to help the brain learn meaningful decision making of any kind. You just spam buttons and get off on the violence, at most you make tactical decisions about how to win fights.

C) Under utilitarianism, 
Sure, utilitarianism is very important in this debate, thanks for bringing it up.

Now, let's get to the real juicy stuff.

Pro ignores that harms video games cause real human beings. My rebuttal to his Kant point explains what actually happens with VVGs to those affected by them. I have never come across someone who enjoys and will purchase VVGs that are so bad they should be censored (but which made it to market anyway, though the gaming industry has got better at censoring things nowadays in 2021) that values the game character as much as real human beings that way around. Instead, what happens is that they potentially, and by potentially I mean it does happen to quite a few not just theoretically, find the concept and genuine act of brutally harming, maiming, tormenting, even raping another human being as 'fun' or a 'light topic' to talk about.

To be clear, I don't think Pro is correctly depicting to you just how bad uncensored violence is. 

PLEASE DO NOT READ THE FOLLOWING IF YOU ARE VERY SENSITIVE OR UNDERAGE TO PERCEIVE SEVERE VIOLENCE, I NEED TO HINT AT AND DESCRIBE HOW BAD IT CAN GET.

Do you understand how bad a video game can get? Manhunt 2 and games like it involve taking a crowbar to someone's skin, bones, eyes, you can imagine what is done. It's displayed in extremely clear HD graphics. You can say 18+ is enough but any adult who has a minor or sensitive adult (yes adult) in the home could expose them to it fairly easily and accidentally. That said, it's a fair enough argument that that's their fault and they should be held responsible. So, what exactly makes adults so immune to violence? Nothing at all, really.

Unlike pornography, there is never an age where a human naturally gains the innate urge to beat the absolute living shit out of another human being. Some have severely sadistic fantasies, anger issues and thrillseeking tendencies that do result in enjoying violence to unhealthy levels however there is nothing in us that leads to that. Male-sex individuals will experience an increase in raw aggression because of what testosterone does to the body and mind and since they're not so used to it puberty will change them in that direction but that's not close to the level of violence I'm implying.

I want you to a second imagine a human head and neck, or even an animal in a slaughterhouse's general upper body, let alone backside. Now imagine the upper-limit of brutality, skin ripping, flesh, weapon-based abuse to the person you can without wincing. Really close your eyes and do this, if you don't want to then admit how sickening it is. I am asking people who don't believe it to properly experience it first-hand.

This is not a healthy urge to even be simulating the experience of or lust towards. This is extremely dangerous to encourage someone to indulge in. While not all video game enthusiasts who enjoy first-person shooters go shooting everyone, there slowly becomes a fine line when the games get too realistic and brutal in what they accustom the player's mind to be okay with seeing (and eventually dreaming, which alters you at a subconscious level).

==

In the description of this debate, there is a definition:
Censor: examine (a book, movie, etc.) officially and suppress unacceptable parts of it.
This is not what Pro is implying. Pro is implying that Con has to advocate for the abolition of the entire genre of Violent, Action-packed video games.

Perhaps the most iconic fighting franchise of all time, Mortal Kombat never skimped on the blood and gore, whether it was Johnny Cage literally punching someone's head off or Sub-Zero ripping out his opponent's spine.

Released in 1992 on the Sega CD, Night Trap used full-motion video to suggest violence and murder as vampire-like creatures known as Augers stalked teenage girls through a mansion.


While racing titles are common in video games, ones that give you bonuses for running over pedestrians are not. That led some countries, including Germany, to censor Carmageddon. Pedestrians were replaced with zombies and robots. Brazil outright banned the title.

This 2003 survival horror title, filled with gruesome executions, is considered one of the most graphic and violent video games ever. It was banned from sale in Australia.
Manhunt also wound up at the center of the investigation of the murder of a 14-year-old in England.

One of the first controversial games, this Atari 2600 game from 1982 featured a naked General Custer who rapes bound Native American women.
While the game sold more copies than others released by publisher Mystique, the controversy eventually led to it being removed from circulation.


It should come as no surprise that the Grand Theft Auto series has been courting criticism since its very beginning. The games include violence, killing (even cops), drug use and torture.
While GTA has become one of the most popular franchises in gaming with 15 titles thus far, that has not stopped some countries -- including Thailand and the United Arab Emirates -- from banning the series.

As the name suggests, Postal follows a man with mental health problems as he kills civilians and law enforcement. The game was popular enough that sequels, spinoffs and a (terrible) film were all made.
Its sequel, Postal 2, was banned in New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Germany and Sweden.

This game proved controversial, in part, as the first high-profile FPS released after the massacre at Columbine High School.
Its portrayal of violence earned Kingpin: Life of Crime a mention in the US Senate. Some stores, including Toys R Us, refused to carry it.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
This game drew heavy criticism for its "No Russian" mission, which allows you to take part in mass shooting attack at a Moscow airport and murder civilians. The mission was removed entirely from the game in Russia.


While there are many violent survivor horror games, Rule of Rose came under fire due to the young age of the characters in the game.
While it was released in the US on the Sony PlayStation 2, the game was canceled in the UK shortly before release.

The sixth installment in the Silent Hill franchise was also the most graphic. Due to its content, which included torture, dismembered bodies and decapitations, the game was banned in Australia and Germany.

That is just a glimpse of games that were actually created and got banned for how brutal and/or gory they were. The reasoning? Mental scarring and potential violent acts that could result from what it did to the minds of those that played it and took it into their subconscious mind.

Dreams overall can have much more of an impact on our brains than we’d like to believe. Whether it is affecting our moods, relationships, or defining issues and problems in our lives, it is clear that dreams can affect our day-to-day actions without our knowledge. So next time you wake up in the middle of the night due to a crazy man chasing you down the street, remember to define the context of the chase and identify the man pursuing you.

This study even proves that we dream about things we don't consciously realise impacted us and set into our memory throughout the day:
^ study focused on amnesia patients.

If you are a person of normal memory and play a brutally violent videogame, even if you don't realise how much that impacted you, it will. The reason videogames are only borderline increasing aggression at the moment is because they already are being censored, you have no clue the kinds of games that could/would be invented if people thought they could put the effort in and it wouldn't get banned.

This is a debate about limiting how violent and horrific video games can get, nail-ripping, eye-gouging, brutalising one person while you hurt another they care about in front of them, normalising mass murder as a 'lol it's just characters' concept (which devalues real people, not the other way around so Kant is irrelevant) all apply.
Round 3
Con
Pro's entire argument is heavily emotionally weighted with little to no moral system backing to it. If voters are convinced by his in-depth imagery, they are free to vote for them. But my framework still is more powerful overall, with Kant's, Aristotle's, and Utilitarian ideas holding strong.

None of my benefits have been shot down, and Pro has failed to establish a clear correlation or cause-effect with the violence in games actually causing people to treat others as a means to an end. If anything, his argument destroys himself because he uses vivid violent imagery to cause disgust and reprehension for the games. Therefore, he is actually highlighting how the violence may make people think twice, especially if you know you're slaughtering symbolic representation of humans. 

If people buy his argument, then they also buy that the violent video games would teach important lessons about how slaughtering people is meaningless, or merely an outlet if they are virtual. As previously noted, the unrealistic narrative means that people would not apply in-game actions to real life. 

Extend all ideas.

He dropped the two studies highlighting that VGG's don't inherently cause violence.

Con dropped the millions of dollars generated from VGG's.

Con dropped the study from Japan.

Con dropped that VGG's create a clearly different world due to lack of realistic stories.

Con dropped the sacrifice to freedom of speech.

Pro
I didn't drop the sacrifice to 'freedom of expression' (not speech), I accept that that's 'sacrificed' because of the harm it will cause.

Every single link and study Pro provides involves censored violent videogames. All VVGs in the store are already censored, you have no idea how bad and gruesome they'd be if they weren't. I am here to defend that censoring, Pro has to advocate for totally uncensored gore, brutality and adult themes in games.
Round 4
Con
Vote Con, on the framework that Pro has demonstrated zero actual effects, zero true linking of video games to those effects, and my successful counter based on my three moral basis.
Pro
Note the definition of Censor.