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 »
Tuesday 19 July 2016 04.03Â BST
Last modified on Tuesday 19 July 2016 09.50Â BST
New South Walesâ€™ top police officer has warned against the society-wide impact of violence in video games, saying that in real life â€œgame over is game overâ€.
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.
â€œI think there is enough research to suggest that we really should be concerned,â€ he said. â€œGiven 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 â€“ and this is why
â€œWhen you see video games that reward behaviour, where somebodyâ€™s murdered, where somebody is abducted and raped and they get credits for that â€“ what sort of messages are we sending our children?â€
Guardian Australia understands there are no games on sale in Australia that feature rape â€“ such a game would be almost certainly refused classification and banned under the federal governmentâ€™s rating system.
He said the role of the police was not only to reduce violence and crime but also fear.
â€œIn reality thereâ€™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.â€
Attendees praised Scipioneâ€™s â€œinspiringâ€ 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 â€œthe stories and the scienceâ€ behind violence in the media and was presented by Australian Council on Children and the Media with Macquarie Universityâ€™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.
â€œThereâ€™s very, very clear evidence that accessing violent media is a risk factor for aggressive attitudes and behaviours, and for becoming desensitised to violence,â€ Handsley said.
Rather than enacting the virtual violence in real life, Handsley said people who played violent video games more often developed a â€œmean and scary view of the worldâ€, and assumed the worst of othersâ€™ intentions.
Related: Video games are not making us more violent, study shows
â€œThe 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 peopleâ€™s aggression is going to be greater, and that will have that broader, society-wide effect that we wonâ€™t necessarily be able to identify.â€
She said it was frustrating that questions over the potential harms of violent video games were often oversimplified.
â€œThe research of the impact on media violence tends to get boiled down to â€˜is it going to make you a mass murdererâ€™,â€ she said. â€œItâ€™s much more complex.â€
The effects were more likely to be â€œsubtle but widespreadâ€, such as less constructive interactions and relationships, and a â€œdiminution of civilityâ€ in general.
â€œIf you have inherent distrust of people, or read aggressive intent into words and actions that might otherwise be quite innocent ... thatâ€™s going to have an impact at a societal level,â€ Handsley said.
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