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Police chief warns against violent video games that reward rape and murder

July 19,2016 07:11

New South Wales' top police officer has warned against the society-wide impact of violence in video games, saying that in real life “game over is game over”. Andrew Scipione, the state police commissioner, expressed concern at the potential effects, ...and more »



Elle Hunt

Tuesday 19 July 2016 04.03 BST

Last modified on Tuesday 19 July 2016 09.50 BST

New South Wales’ top police officer has warned against the society-wide impact of violence in video games, saying that in real life “game over is game over”.
Andrew Scipione, the state police commissioner, expressed concern at the potential effects, particularly on children, in his opening address to a conference on violence in the media in Sydney on Monday.
“I think there is enough research to suggest that we really should be concerned,” he said. “Given that children and young people are large consumers of this sort of content, this is of great concern to me.
Related: Do video games make children violent? Nobody knows – and this is why
“When you see video games that reward behaviour, where somebody’s murdered, where somebody is abducted and raped and they get credits for that – what sort of messages are we sending our children?”
Guardian Australia understands there are no games on sale in Australia that feature rape – such a game would be almost certainly refused classification and banned under the federal government’s rating system.
He said the role of the police was not only to reduce violence and crime but also fear.
“In reality there’s no reset button that can bring the player back to life. The real world is not a video game. Game over is game over. We deal with that every day.”
Attendees praised Scipione’s “inspiring” speech on Twitter, but the commissioner was unavailable to expand to Guardian Australia on Tuesday.
The conference, held at the parliament of New South Wales, was on “the stories and the science” behind violence in the media and was presented by Australian Council on Children and the Media with Macquarie University’s Children and Families Research Centre.
Elizabeth Handsley, a professor of law at Flinders University and the president of the Australian Council on Children and the Media, said violence in video games was last topical in 2012, when a law to create an R18+ classification was passed in the Senate.
“There’s very, very clear evidence that accessing violent media is a risk factor for aggressive attitudes and behaviours, and for becoming desensitised to violence,” Handsley said.
Rather than enacting the virtual violence in real life, Handsley said people who played violent video games more often developed a “mean and scary view of the world”, and assumed the worst of others’ intentions.
Related: Video games are not making us more violent, study shows
“The number of people that end up behaving violently or aggressively is only ever going to be very small, but the number of people who become desensitised or oversensitive to other people’s aggression is going to be greater, and that will have that broader, society-wide effect that we won’t necessarily be able to identify.”
She said it was frustrating that questions over the potential harms of violent video games were often oversimplified.
“The research of the impact on media violence tends to get boiled down to ‘is it going to make you a mass murderer’,” she said. “It’s much more complex.”
The effects were more likely to be “subtle but widespread”, such as less constructive interactions and relationships, and a “diminution of civility” in general.
“If you have inherent distrust of people, or read aggressive intent into words and actions that might otherwise be quite innocent ... that’s going to have an impact at a societal level,” Handsley said.

Games,Game culture,New South Wales,Australian police and policing,Australia news,Media,Sydney

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