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September 01, 2014
The monthly journal for independent thought, ethical standards and moral responsibility The international journal for independent thought, ethical standards, moral responsibility,
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Current Concerns  >  2009  >  No 7/8, 2009  >  Send Back US-Army Killer Games to Where They Came From [printversion]

Send Back US-Army Killer Games to Where They Came From

by Renate and Rudi Hänsel

During the nineties the killing simulators, employed for hand to hand combat in the US army and police, were released by the Pentagon to be sold for private use on the public markets. As a consequence the computer and video game industry that had co-operated with the Pentagon from the very beginning, boomed. Since then the so-called killer games have wreaked havoc among children and youths.

“War toys definitely have a war promoting effect, the protection of the children constitutes a higher goal than the interests of the toy industry.”

(Substantiation of the decision of the German Bundstag, 23. June 1950)

The US army’s electronic training programs for killing people must be taken back to the US barracks, where they came from. They have to disappear from civil society altogether. They may be appropriate for the purpose of national defense or fight against crime; they have no place, however, in children’s rooms or in living rooms.
In Germany after the Second World War, there was much more awareness of the danger arising from letting children play with war toys than today: Women from the German Christian Democratic Party (CDU) moved for the condemnation of any war toy in the German Bundestag (German Parliament). On 23 June 1950 the German Bundestag voted that “it was prohibited to produce and to sell war toys of any kind.” This decision is still valid today. It was substantiated as follows: “War toys definitely have a war promoting effect, the protection of children constitutes a higher goal than the interests of the toy industry.” (www.schleidinger.com)

“It is intolerable that hundreds of thousands of children and youths are using computer games for several hours daily that glorify violence”.

(Press release of the Bavarian Minister of the Interior, Joachim Herrmann, CSU at the Munich Conference on Media Violence in November 2008)

The murderous influence of killer games has been proved in uncountable research studies up to now, most recently in a German longitudinal study (Hopf, Huber, Weiss, 2008); among all factors reinforcing the readiness to use violence and violent actions among children and youths (peer-group, school, personality, parents) the impact of violent electronic games and other violence containing media is the strongest. That means: Even if a youngster is not socially handicapped, media violence has an immediate impact on his emotions, and his readiness to behave aggressively and violently. Playing computer games containing violence – and this was another result of the study – is also the highest risk factor for later violent crime. The addictive potential of computer games has also been shown over and again, most recently in a study conducted by the Kriminologisches Forschungs­institut Niedersachsen (KFN) (­Criminological Research Institute Lower Saxony), the greatest German youth study on the use of computer games from March 2009. Brain research as well confirmed these causal relations. (“Wie das Gehirn Bildschirmgewalt verarbeitet”; “Neue Zürcher Zeitung”, 21 May 2008).
In an analysis of 30 school shootings since 1995 media psychologist Rudolf Weiss found that almost in all cases excessive use of violence containing electronic media had played a significant role. Also in those three cases where there had been evidence of psychotic disturbances, use of games containing violence had been one of the triggers.
All these facts lead to one conclusion, which common sense has long since come to: Electronic training programs for killing people have to be taken off the market and must be banned.
This claim is also raised by the families of the murdered students from Winnenden as well as by the German Bundespräsident (Federal President) Horst Köhler and by Joachim Herrman (CSU), Bavarian Secretary of the Interior. German criminologists and neuro-biologists also advocate the ban and renowned media effects researchers from Germany and the USA have long since requested a ban.
In an open letter addressed to the Prime Minister of Baden Wurttemberg Oettinger the grieving parents from Winnenden write: “We want these killer games to be forbidden. Games, whether played on the Internet or on the PC, pursuing the goal of killing as many humans as possible, must be prohibited.”
During the obsequies for the Winnenden victims Bundespräsident Köhler confirmed the parents’ point of view: “Are we doing enough to protect our children? […] We have known for a long time that in uncountable films and computer games extreme violence, the exhibition of destroyed bodies and the debasement of human beings constitute the main plot. Is it not common sense to say that these products harm, if consumed during a longer period of time? My view is this: Such market development must be stopped. Parents and relatives of the victims told me: ‘We want these things to be changed!’” (Spiegel Online, 21. 3. 2009).
Following a move in the German Bundesrat (Federal Council of the German Parliament) in 2007 by Günther Beckstein (CSU), former Bavarian Secretary of the Interior, who had demanded the prohibition of production, trade and sale of killer games, today’s Secretary of the Interior Joachim Herrmann also demanded a ban: “There are killer games on the market which are absolutely intolerable and reduce young people’s inhibition to use violence.” (www.sueddeutsche.de)
The same demand is raised by one of the most renowned criminologists and President of the Deutsche Stiftung für Verbrechensbekämpfung (German Foundation for the Fight of Crime), Professor Hans-Dieter Schwind – Chairman of the Anti-Violence Commission of the German Bundestag and, since 2002, chair member of the White Ring, a relief organization for crime victims. After the Winnenden rampage he advocated a total ban of computer games containing violence as well as a tightening of the weapons legalization. (Interview with the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung”, 12.3.2009)
Some years ago a group of media effect researchers – drew the conclusion that dangerous products of the video and computer game industry must not fall into the hands of children and youths. Recently they founded the association “Mediengewalt – Internationale Forschung und Beratung e.V.” (Media Violence – International Research and Counselling). In their press release about the Winnenden case they write: “What we call for is a consensus of the whole society to ban media containing violence and degrading human beings.” (www.mediengewalt.eu)
Media researcher Professor Helmut ­Lukesch, chair member of the association wants aggressive games to be banned. “It is no cultural loss, if this whole junk disappears and such computer games are taken off the market. […] For the computer game industry it is high time to separate from aggressive games and not to spread this degrading stuff any longer. Somebody who makes money with such games should be ostracized by society.” (“Aggressive games have to disappear”, Faznet, 12.3.2009)

Parliamentary motion in the Swiss Ständerat (Council of Cantons) for the prohibition of “killer games”
Based on Article 1, paragraph 1 of the Bundesverfassung (Federal Constitution) as well as on Article 79, paragraph 1b of the Kantonsverfassung (Constitution of the canton) the Federal Assembly is requested, to lay the grounds for the following concern: To forbid the production and advertisement, the import and trade and the spreading of game programs that award cruel violence against humans and humanlike beings as an essential objective of the game.

Motion from Roland Näf-Piera, Muri (SP)

In Switzerland as well there was an effort from the political side. Canton Councillor Roland Näf advanced an initiative in Parliament about the ban of “killer games”. The Federal Assembly is requested “to lay the grounds for the following concern: To forbid the production and advertisement, the import and trade and the spreading of game programs that award cruel violence against humans and humanlike beings as an essential objective of the game.”

“The Eurpean Parliament calls for the creation, in the interests of the defence of children’s rights, of an adequate, effective and proportionate regulation system in dialogue with providers, the media (public and private television companies, advertisers, the press, video games, mobile telephone operators and the Internet) and industry, aimed, among other things, at prohibiting the broadcasting of harmful images and content (including cyber bullying) and the marketing of violent video games, which, by encouraging violence and sexism, may cause harm to children’s physical and psychological development; points with concern, moreover, to the growing problem of MMS exchanges of pornographic or child-abuse related images [...]”

European Parliament resolution of 16 January 2008 : Towards an EU strategy on the rights of the child (2007/2093(INI))


It is high time to unify these efforts of some singular countries to protect their youths0 and to come to an international ban of these “landmines for the soul”,
(koelner.aufruf@gmx.de).
International organizations as the UN and UNESCO must lend a hand. That would mean a real change.    •

(Translation Current Concerns)