Boston Globe: Wii puts violence in motion

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Boston Globe: Wii puts violence in motion
The Boston Globe is taking a look at the dark and sinister side of the Wii in the wake of the Manhunt controversy this week. Looks like the New York Times owned Boston Globe is taking pointers from their tabloid competition the Boston Herald. Oh well, it's about time the Wii got a little bad press from the mainstream media. It can't all be old folk's homes and military rehab fluff pieces.

The story explores the possibility of the Wii being used in a "sawing motion, one used to separate a limb from a body, and the scene on the screen shows all the gory details." They speak to Joanne Cantor, a researcher of media violence on children, who was cited in the "Violent Pac-Man" research, and she says, "The more realistic and involving the game gets, and the greater the similarity between the action in the game and real life action, the stronger the negative effects would be. No, your son may not turn into a criminal. But exposure will take a toll on his life somewhere, probably in interpersonal relationships. These are subtle effects. They take time to surface. A teen isn't going to notice them." The Globe also speaks to child psychiatrist who says that violent actions through the Wii may not make someone into a killer, but "could it make someone prone to domestic violence or child abuse?" They also speak to pediatrician Michael Rich who says, "Wii provides a double whammy ... very violent content and physical involvement, which we know is how learning happens."

There is a little counterpoint in the piece, by none other than GamePolitics writer and Joystiq columnist Dennis McCauley, who says, "No question Manhunt goes beyond the pale in terms of violence. I'm sure this one will be worse ... But that Wii interactivity adds an extra kicker to what happens in the brain is purely speculative. The Wii technology isn't as bad as some folks say or as good as Nintendo wants you to believe." There is also the simple truth from David Finkelhor, co director of the Family Research Lab at the University of New Hampshire who points out that in the 10 to 12 years in which violent video games have exploded on the scene, the juvenile crime rate has gone down. Oops! Could violent video games actually be giving kids prone to violence an outlet for rage rather than increasing the probability for violence?
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