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Screen violence: At what point does "But it's only fiction!" stop working for you?

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Posts

  • AxenAxen My avatar is Excalibur. Yes, the sword.Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Axen wrote: »
    Well I will say one thing. At least while I was in Iraq in 04/05 we were not allowed to shoot at enemies unless they were shooting at us first. I think that makes a big difference with most people.

    Plus, and I am just going to pull a number out of my ass here, I would say that 90% of the jobs in the army would never involve a person actually being in combat. Unless I am forgetting one, which I may, I think only Infantry, Combat Engineers, and Military Police would actually find themselves in combat. Aside from tank crews and the like, which isn't quite as personal.

    Yeah, I would think the fact you're being fired upon would make it feel a lot more justified.

    I was also wondering about that, but I don't know the details of the jobs. THose people who want to help their country but not kill for it I guess, plus I'd imagine more than a few see it as a relatively easy to get job with fairly high job security( again, not casting aspersions)

    Also there's fairly aggressive recruitment in poorer areas, in the US, and it's a viable reasonably well paid job in a place where those are rare, no?


    Heh, I don't know if many would consider it a "well paying" job, but generally most soldiers live in the barracks and really only have car payments, cell phone bills, and xbox live to pay for so it sort of offsets the less than stellar pay. I mean hell, it seems every other soldier has a new Mustang or Harley.

    Plus the military is a fairly good way to pay for college, you can get a MOS that matches up with pretty much any Civilian job. I think most people just do their four years then get out, but others enjoy it and become lifers. The jobs range from cooks to veterinarians to shrinks to accountants to dentists and everything in between.

  • SilkyNumNutsSilkyNumNuts Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Well paying in that it's reliable and probably a bit better than mcdonalds. I really hope it is, anyway.

    It's a job that will take a huge range of people, and thus give you experience, as well as making you look like you've stuck with something and are patriotic, all nice ticks whoever you are.

    Yeah, I do wonder what the ratio of actual frontline soldiers to support staff is.

  • PhantPhant Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Axen wrote: »
    spamfilter wrote: »
    This idea that everyone says "I just don't have it in me to be a killer" is complete bull.

    Because almost *everyone* says this, yet I think the history of the human race has shown that there is almost no one for whom this is actually true.

    I think you're missing, oh, I don't know, the huge amount of people that won't kill in war. In WWII, it would appear that only 50% of soldiers would even fire a gun at all.

    Even with the more advanced training of today, 1 in 50 soldiers will refuse to fire when placed in actual combat, and nothing can be done to switch that part of the brain off after, which suggest there is a huge mental barrier being removed.

    It's difficult to plot previous conflicts to that, and society changes incredibly in very short time spans, but at no point was the majority of the human race murderous.

    I think quite possibly you could convince people with clear immediate benefit, but that's not usually present in war.


    I certainly can't speak for all soldiers, but for me went shit went down two things happened to me. First I got pissed that some mother fucker was trying to kill me or my buddies. Of course I understand the irony in this. Second, about the only thought going through my head was, "Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit!". My body just went through the motions really. Chalk that up to training I guess.

    I suspect I know what hes talking about and I'm fairly certain hes misreading the findings. Its related to the 'Oh shit oh shit oh shit' thing Axen is talking about. Robert Young Pelton, in his book "The worlds most dangerous places" describes it thus "The brain has a bad habit of pushing your "Holy shit, what are we going to do now?" button every time it hears a loud noise. This button immediately sets into motion helpful self-defense devices like shadky knees, dry mouth, buggy eyes, stammering, slack jaw and mental confusion

    For some people, especially in their first few firefights, training is not quite enough to overcome this primal reaction. The report/study I remembering hearing this from determined that after a firefight, there would be a certain percentage of soldiers who would realize that they hadn't actually fired their weapon, not because they consciously refused to return fire, but basically because their brain was jamming on that "OH SHIT" button so hard they weren't able to concentrate or coordinate themselves enough to do so.

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  • SilkyNumNutsSilkyNumNuts Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    That's not the way I'd understood it, but it's possible, that was a second hand fact. I'm not quite sure whether even then WWII conscripts with minimal training would fire their weapon. It's quite possible it's due to locking up, rather than that. I'd have thought though, that even if it's less than I said, there will be those that realise they can't actually do it when on the battlefield, however few in number.

    It may be that in some of the nastier battles in WWII they didn't have a chance to get through that first few times of firing a gun before dying, and it's taken from that.

    I don't know, personally I'd like to believe my version better, but rationally you're probably right.

  • PhantPhant Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    That's not the way I'd understood it, but it's possible, that was a second hand fact. I'm not quite sure whether even then WWII conscripts with minimal training would fire their weapon. It's quite possible it's due to locking up, rather than that. I'd have thought though, that even if it's less than I said, there will be those that realise they can't actually do it when on the battlefield, however few in number.

    It may be that in some of the nastier battles in WWII they didn't have a chance to get through that first few times of firing a gun before dying, and it's taken from that.

    I don't know, personally I'd like to believe my version better, but rationally you're probably right.

    I don't really see why you want to believe so badly that people aren't capable of killing in what equates to defense of their own lives. If that were a widespread trait among homo sapiens we would probably have been wiped out long ago. Its a survival trait, life WANTS to live.

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  • LeitnerLeitner Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Spoiler:
    Well we’re pretty much a tabula rasa.

    I'd be wary to make any sweeping generalisations.

    I mean hell, there's evidence that people don't necessarily know how to have sex unless taught via culture. And that's something your father onwards had to have succeed at since before we were mankind.

  • SammyFSammyF Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Having taught martial arts and having been in an embarrassing number of fights (it always seems bad-ass when you're in your teens or early twenties, and then all of the sudden you're in your 30s and have to explain to your wife why your jaw dislocates everytime you yawn) I have to say: the human "fight or flight" instinct biases pretty heavily towards flight whenever that looks like a viable option. It's a logical instinct -- you might win a fight and survive, but if you can stay out of harm's way and avoid a fight, you're survivability is much more certain. So if you're cornered, and the flight option is removed, and the fight option is the only viable alternative to death, yeah, you'll fight. But of all the skills I taught people, the most important thing for any fighter to learn isn't how to throw a punch -- it's how to override the fear instinct that tells you to flee after taking the first hit. Rather than listening immediately to the fear instinct, you have to train a killer instinct into the fighter (hopefully while teaching him enough philosophy to understand what you're teaching him so he doesn't completely misapply what he's learning).

    Which is actually why training is so important. If the proper behavior in combat was as common-sense and instictual as it's sometimes made out to be, we wouldn't actually have to train soldier to do anything more than how to hit a target and maintain their equipment. Training is actually much, much more sophisticated than that, and for good reason.

    As it applies to the conversation of games -- I go back and forth. Games can be a great teaching tool, especially at the strategic and tactical-skirmish level. It might even dessensitize you to violence on some level. But I remain unconvinced that games can teach you a killer instinct because they don't incorporate enough actual pain or fear to address your instinctual responses.

  • PemulisPemulis Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Also wanted to briefly mention Dead Space. The game is without a doubt one of the goriest experiences I've ever played, but it's downplayed somewhat by the fact that the mutated humans are already dead at the point they take such horrific shapes.

    Even so, the enemy zombaliens (yes, I'm still calling them that) that are attatched to walls while carrying an engorged sack that spits out baby zombaliens is quite disturbing. The way they scream their heads off while endlessly giving birth to little fetus creatures is just nasty, and it's even worse when their screams increase while you're blasting away at them. They take a lot of shots to bring down too, so it's basically an exercise in mental patience as you're trying to put this disgusting mutation out of its misery.

    Bottom line, dead or alive, I hate it when they scream and writhe around while you're just trying to kill them off and advance to the next area. :|

    God yes, I hated those things.

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  • Professor SnugglesworthProfessor Snugglesworth Bullied BatRegistered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Another rather gruesome moment is in Turok 64, whenever you knife a raptor in the jugular. It releases a blood curdling scream as it drops to the ground and wiggles around uncontrollably, spilling blood everywhere.

    Ironically, that was the deciding factor for me to purchase the game, despite the ugly fog.

  • ubernekouberneko Registered User
    edited April 2009
    Pony wrote: »
    My mom plays the Sims games. She enjoys them, and has Sims 2 along with several expansions.

    When she talks about them to other people, she talks about them as basically hi-tech dolls, fun toys she plays with to kill time and such.

    She doesn't really like violent video games, or fast, reflex-based games. The Sims takes something she enjoyed as a little girl (playing with dolls in an elaborate dollhouse) and gives her a new way to enjoy it.

    The one time, my brother was on her computer dorking around with the game. He wasn't on her saved game, he had made a new game. He had used cheat codes in order to make stuff happen and screw with the Sims. Light them on fire, remove all the toilets so they pee their pants, etc.

    He was having fun and chuckling about it, in the sort of absently sadistic way that little boys burn bugs with a magnifying glass.

    My mom got really upset about it, and gave him shit for it.

    And in listening to her give him crap for what he was doing, she made an interesting viewpoint:

    The way she saw them, the Sims were not people. Of course they weren't people. She didn't compare them to people.
    She did, however, compare them to animals. She compared them, in a way, to pets. She pointed out that Sims have hopes, desires, fears, and things that upset them. That they can, in a way, feel pain and suffer and they will try to avoid things they do not like.

    My brother tried to counter-point that the only reason that Sims feel these things is because programmers programmed them to feel them, and that made those feelings not real. That Sims weren't self-aware, didn't understand why they felt the things they felt, they just did what they were programmed.

    My mother questioned how that makes them different than say, a goldfish or a dog, and my brother didn't have a good answer that.

    More importantly, she raised an interesting question: If you have an artificial intelligence that is pretty close if not equivalent to an animal, and that intelligence is designed in such a way that it is capable of suffering, if you choose to make that intelligence suffer to amuse yourself, is that not cruel?

    Doesn't it speak poorly of the person? I mean, when we see people torment and torture animals for their own amusement, most folk are repulsed. Not just because they feel sorry for the animal, but because the enjoyment the person is deriving from making these things says something really bad about the person.

    As artificial intelligence technology advances, before we ever get even close to creating truly sapient AI on par with humans, we're going to create "in-between" steps of AI that might appear human, but are probably closer to the intellectual capacity of a dog or ape.

    If we design that AI to be capable of suffering, and in turn we deliberately provoke that suffering, does that say something really bad about us? Isn't that comparable to animal cruelty?

    I just wanna say that this is a fucking amazing post, and seriously caused me to think a lot about video game violence.

    When reading this thread the first thing I thought of was how when I was younger and played Red Alert 1 all the time I never ever used the attack dogs because I seriously felt bad about them dying. I also hated shooting the dogs in Wolfenstein 3D. Violence against animals in video games is horrible to me, which is so hypocritical because I can spend all day crowbarring a scientist into gibs in Half-Life. I also have always really felt bad in squad shooters sending my guys into harms way if I am not going with them. It's not an emotional "I really feel like I know this guy and don't want him to die", but I will completely reload entire games just so my guys don't die. In video games it is always "us vs. them" and that there is rarely a grey area. If there is a twist in the game that's simply the fact of the game.

    I never thought about the fact that it would make me a cruel person to do cruel things to AI when in actuality, based on our current knowledge, doing that to an animal is almost the same thing. However, if you are hurting an animal you're going to hear it be hurt, see it be hurt, and FEEL it be hurt, and to me that is a completely different experience because it's a PHYSICAL experience, while hurting Sims is a detached, almost mental "Haha these are fake, it's fun to set them on fire" experience. I would never ever in my whole life hurt an animal intentionally unless it were out of self-defense, but some how this pervasive thought carries on into video games for me. Humans, not so much, which explains a lot about me I guess :P

  • LeitnerLeitner Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    It's not really like hurting an animal. I mean ouside of like a plant. It's pretty much a flow diagram. If x then y.

    Though this issue might be raised when we start designing actual decent ai.

  • ZackSchillingZackSchilling Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Or when we begin to understand how our own neural networks work, and figure out that they're basically a really, really big flowchart where if a then b then... z then the bowels release.

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  • Evil MultifariousEvil Multifarious Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    the sims are clearly not in any way alive or close to sentient

    there is an astronomical difference between a dog and a fairly simple piece of code like a sim

    hell, there is an astronomical difference between an ant and a Sim. The sims are not even things; they are just representations of very simple data. You might as well say that one could be cruel to a graph.

    One theory of physics is that all things are in fact representations of data, that the universe is fundamentally monistic information, but even so, the complexity required to generate consciousness or sentience and the capacity for suffering is mindboggling.

    That being said, the barrier between "simple representation of data" and "genuine artificial consciousness that is so close to being real that it might as well be real" is growing ever smaller. When we get past binary computation and into something more complex, more similar to whatever it is that the brain uses to store and process information, we may start to discover that we are generating minds - especially if we continue to use natural selection as a method of generating mechanisms and models.

    Or maybe we won't discover it, and we'll simply create an entire universe of endless, screaming consciousnesses, blind deaf and dumb, unable to move beyond their paramaters but able to think and be aware of themselves in some way, and we will never know as we inflict endless torment upon them.

    Inquisitor wrote: »
    I fucking hate you Canadians.
  • mspencermspencer Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    On that subject, did anybody here play the Creatures games? Norns? Albia? Grendels?

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  • FireflashFireflash Montreal, QCRegistered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Another rather gruesome moment is in Turok 64, whenever you knife a raptor in the jugular. It releases a blood curdling scream as it drops to the ground and wiggles around uncontrollably, spilling blood everywhere.

    Ironically, that was the deciding factor for me to purchase the game, despite the ugly fog.

    Shooting humans in the jugular was even more shocking. They would put their hand to their neck and make a screaming/gurgling sound while blood sprayed everywhere from the wound.


    Sometimes when I play a shooter that involves somewhat realistic human enemies I start wondering why these guys I'm killing are here right now, trying to stop me. I wonder why they work for the big bad dude, and if these guys have families waiting for them at the end of the shift. Then I start feeling a little bad about killing them. And then I remind myself that this is just a game and keep on killing them.

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  • AxenAxen My avatar is Excalibur. Yes, the sword.Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Fireflash wrote: »
    Another rather gruesome moment is in Turok 64, whenever you knife a raptor in the jugular. It releases a blood curdling scream as it drops to the ground and wiggles around uncontrollably, spilling blood everywhere.

    Ironically, that was the deciding factor for me to purchase the game, despite the ugly fog.

    Shooting humans in the jugular was even more shocking. They would put their hand to their neck and make a screaming/gurgling sound while blood sprayed everywhere from the wound.


    Sometimes when I play a shooter that involves somewhat realistic human enemies I start wondering why these guys I'm killing are here right now, trying to stop me. I wonder why they work for the big bad dude, and if these guys have families waiting for them at the end of the shift. Then I start feeling a little bad about killing them. And then I remind myself that this is just a game and keep on killing them.

    Especially when you think about the logistics of it all. A near endless wave of enemies? You would think they would have an army of cooks, accountants, maybe doctors to take care of things. Of course then what if they have families? Does their employer give their henchmen life insurance, dental, what about paid vacation? You would have to think insurance premiums would be through the roof!

    Then how do they keep all this secret from the IRS or OSHA? Or even Union reps? Do henchmen even have a unions? You would think red flags would be popping up all over ATF or FBI agencies when they see the amount of weapons and other things being purchased.

    Hell, how do these orginizations even pay for all that stuff?!

  • Dr SnofeldDr Snofeld Registered User
    edited April 2009
    Axen wrote: »
    Fireflash wrote: »
    Another rather gruesome moment is in Turok 64, whenever you knife a raptor in the jugular. It releases a blood curdling scream as it drops to the ground and wiggles around uncontrollably, spilling blood everywhere.

    Ironically, that was the deciding factor for me to purchase the game, despite the ugly fog.

    Shooting humans in the jugular was even more shocking. They would put their hand to their neck and make a screaming/gurgling sound while blood sprayed everywhere from the wound.


    Sometimes when I play a shooter that involves somewhat realistic human enemies I start wondering why these guys I'm killing are here right now, trying to stop me. I wonder why they work for the big bad dude, and if these guys have families waiting for them at the end of the shift. Then I start feeling a little bad about killing them. And then I remind myself that this is just a game and keep on killing them.

    Especially when you think about the logistics of it all. A near endless wave of enemies? You would think they would have an army of cooks, accountants, maybe doctors to take care of things. Of course then what if they have families? Does their employer give their henchmen life insurance, dental, what about paid vacation? You would have to think insurance premiums would be through the roof!

    Then how do they keep all this secret from the IRS or OSHA? Or even Union reps? Do henchmen even have a unions? You would think red flags would be popping up all over ATF or FBI agencies when they see the amount of weapons and other things being purchased.

    Hell, how do these orginizations even pay for all that stuff?!

    See this is why when I put my world conquest plan into action all my soldiers will be robots, and all the flesh-and-blood humans will be in the production plants and intel bases and so on.

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  • NEO|PhyteNEO|Phyte Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Dr Snofeld wrote: »
    Axen wrote: »
    Fireflash wrote: »
    Another rather gruesome moment is in Turok 64, whenever you knife a raptor in the jugular. It releases a blood curdling scream as it drops to the ground and wiggles around uncontrollably, spilling blood everywhere.

    Ironically, that was the deciding factor for me to purchase the game, despite the ugly fog.

    Shooting humans in the jugular was even more shocking. They would put their hand to their neck and make a screaming/gurgling sound while blood sprayed everywhere from the wound.


    Sometimes when I play a shooter that involves somewhat realistic human enemies I start wondering why these guys I'm killing are here right now, trying to stop me. I wonder why they work for the big bad dude, and if these guys have families waiting for them at the end of the shift. Then I start feeling a little bad about killing them. And then I remind myself that this is just a game and keep on killing them.

    Especially when you think about the logistics of it all. A near endless wave of enemies? You would think they would have an army of cooks, accountants, maybe doctors to take care of things. Of course then what if they have families? Does their employer give their henchmen life insurance, dental, what about paid vacation? You would have to think insurance premiums would be through the roof!

    Then how do they keep all this secret from the IRS or OSHA? Or even Union reps? Do henchmen even have a unions? You would think red flags would be popping up all over ATF or FBI agencies when they see the amount of weapons and other things being purchased.

    Hell, how do these orginizations even pay for all that stuff?!

    See this is why when I put my world conquest plan into action all my soldiers will be robots, and all the flesh-and-blood humans will be in the production plants and intel bases and so on.
    People like you are why heroes that refuse to harm/kill humans aren't all dead.

  • Dr SnofeldDr Snofeld Registered User
    edited April 2009
    NEO|Phyte wrote: »
    Dr Snofeld wrote: »
    Axen wrote: »
    Fireflash wrote: »
    Another rather gruesome moment is in Turok 64, whenever you knife a raptor in the jugular. It releases a blood curdling scream as it drops to the ground and wiggles around uncontrollably, spilling blood everywhere.

    Ironically, that was the deciding factor for me to purchase the game, despite the ugly fog.

    Shooting humans in the jugular was even more shocking. They would put their hand to their neck and make a screaming/gurgling sound while blood sprayed everywhere from the wound.


    Sometimes when I play a shooter that involves somewhat realistic human enemies I start wondering why these guys I'm killing are here right now, trying to stop me. I wonder why they work for the big bad dude, and if these guys have families waiting for them at the end of the shift. Then I start feeling a little bad about killing them. And then I remind myself that this is just a game and keep on killing them.

    Especially when you think about the logistics of it all. A near endless wave of enemies? You would think they would have an army of cooks, accountants, maybe doctors to take care of things. Of course then what if they have families? Does their employer give their henchmen life insurance, dental, what about paid vacation? You would have to think insurance premiums would be through the roof!

    Then how do they keep all this secret from the IRS or OSHA? Or even Union reps? Do henchmen even have a unions? You would think red flags would be popping up all over ATF or FBI agencies when they see the amount of weapons and other things being purchased.

    Hell, how do these orginizations even pay for all that stuff?!

    See this is why when I put my world conquest plan into action all my soldiers will be robots, and all the flesh-and-blood humans will be in the production plants and intel bases and so on.
    People like you are why heroes that refuse to harm/kill humans aren't all dead.

    Yeah but the final obstacle before the heroes reach me is a ten year old girl. With a knife. They'll never see it coming!

    And then while they're distracted I'll swap the heroes' guns with walkie-talkies or something like that.

    EDIT: I apologise for this post. It was 2am. It is silly.

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  • Raiden333Raiden333 Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    I think Pony's post was completely right. I can't imagine an AI so advanced that it will get scared, drop its gun, and beg me for mercy based on the conditions it finds itself in along with some unique personality variables without feeling like I'm harming an entity.

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  • SilkyNumNutsSilkyNumNuts Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Phant wrote: »
    That's not the way I'd understood it, but it's possible, that was a second hand fact. I'm not quite sure whether even then WWII conscripts with minimal training would fire their weapon. It's quite possible it's due to locking up, rather than that. I'd have thought though, that even if it's less than I said, there will be those that realise they can't actually do it when on the battlefield, however few in number.

    It may be that in some of the nastier battles in WWII they didn't have a chance to get through that first few times of firing a gun before dying, and it's taken from that.

    I don't know, personally I'd like to believe my version better, but rationally you're probably right.

    I don't really see why you want to believe so badly that people aren't capable of killing in what equates to defense of their own lives. If that were a widespread trait among homo sapiens we would probably have been wiped out long ago. Its a survival trait, life WANTS to live.

    Because less death is probably a good thing. We attack ourselves from so many angles, actively and overtly killing ourselves is kinda overkill.

    I realise that being able to kill is a good thing, but being able to kill other homo sapiens is only occasionally a good thing, ofr extreme circumstances. To put your average person without training, without breaking that mental block into a do-or-die situation, most of the time they'd die.

    Constantly betraying your own kind isn't an Evolutionary stable strategy, and neither is being completely nice, although completely nice is actually the best outcome for everyone if everyone follows it, and we are capable of throwing of the behavioural shackles of our evolution, so I don't think, while rationally I know that we are pretty fucking bloodthirsty, that we can be better, and that our chances aren't quite so low. THe cynic in me sees that that's wrong, but also that we're fucking stupid and that really we only survive well by averages, but is still aware that a majority being able to easily kill others isn't really a stable outcome. The deaths caused by everyone being like that outweigh the deaths caused by being properly afraid of taking a life, and thus a good deal of resistance is proper in most cases.

  • mspencermspencer Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    mspencer wrote: »
    On that subject, did anybody here play the Creatures games? Norns? Albia? Grendels?
    I don't think I did enough to seed discussion here. People talk about cruelty to Sims, but I think the Creatures games take that a step farther.

    http://creatures.wikia.com/wiki/Norn_torture

    Essentially the Creatures games go to great effort to simulate living organisms -- to the extent that having a lot of creatures alive at the same time would significantly slow down your PC. Each creature is represented by a genetically-specified ANN (artificial neural network,) with network nodes linked to each sense, each class of observable object, each possible action and action target, and with various "neurochemicals" -- essentially global variables which are influenced by a creature metabolism simulation, this simulation also genetically specified. (example: http://creatures.wikia.com/wiki/ChiChi_Norn_Genome )

    The game also provides "engineer" tools that let you peek under the hood of one of these creatures -- and the data you can read about your creatures can be surprisingly technical, revealing that much of the behavior I describe below really does grow organically from complex systems. (Also they have an academic paper, from 97: http://sigart.acm.org/proceedings/agents97/A157/A157.PDF )

    To make the game "experiment" interesting, Norns live in a complex synthetic world with various opportunities for creatures to self-train through trial and error, and various levels of "safety" where failures and unwise actions can have various consequences. Norns left to their own devices could learn a lot of interesting emergent behaviors and almost appear to be intelligent. Add a human "player" to help the creature learn and steer it toward new learning opportunities and away from danger, and Norns become very successful at stimulating someone's parenting/mentoring instincts.

    To add to the illusion of intelligence, basic verbal communicative abilities were added, where a creature can choose to say out loud what their attention-direction mechanism is making them currently consider. This all leads to amazingly intelligent-seeming interactions where a creature can: say out loud that it wants to eat some cheese, walk to an elevator, press the call button and wait for the elevator, get on and use the appropriate "push" or "pull" action to go up or down, arrive on another floor that has cheese, and then see a butterfly and completely lose the plot and start chasing the butterfly.

    The Creatures games have a robust genetic grammar that makes it difficult -- but not impossible -- to combine genetic information from two dissimilar creatures and have the resulting creature be unable to sustain life. (As with real life, there are mechanisms in place which limit the impact of random mutations.) Mutations do frequently occur though, and the imperfect nature of the biology simulation means you can get some wild mutations: creatures that never need to eat or sleep, creatures unable to metabolize sugar, creatures that generate lethal poison within their own bodies, or even creatures who perpetually feel intense pleasure or intense pain. Many of these never survive, or if they survive, their "broken" learning and feedback mechanisms make them too difficult to keep alive, like a special-needs child that needs constant supervision. Invariably these unfortunate mutants wander into something deadly while your attention is directed elsewhere, and you don't realize you have a problem until the creature is dead. (Other Norns evolve undesirable traits which can frustrate players. One person's solution: http://creatures.wikia.com/wiki/Creatures_IQ_test )

    So that's the background. Cool technology and really lifelike creatures.

    Some people would torture their Norns -- not just kill them, but create oppressive and painful environments for their creatures to live and suffer in. I think one of the arguments was that since Norns simulate living beings more realistically than most other games, torturing Norns can be compared with torturing small animals. It is further claimed that torturing small animals seems to be correlated with psychological problems which can cause people to become violent or sociopathic later in life. More practically, since these sites depict cruelty to video game characters, the sites aren't likely to be blocked by web filters so children can be more easily exposed to this sort of content.

    The Creatures games are extremely old, the original developers have long since had their companies liquidated, and most of the interest in their community has died off. Still I think people with opinions about torturing Sims should at least experience Creatures. They should see how different the experience feels when you raise the creatures from eggs, when you teach the creatures and watch them grow up and watch their capabilities and mastery of their environment grow, and then something tragic happens and a virtual life is erased.

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  • RoshinRoshin My backlog can be seen from space SwedenRegistered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Trying to compare game AI to living creatures is theoretically interesting, but the technology isn't anywhere near that stage yet. You could code the AI to laugh happily when they're hurt, bleed flowers and pink unicorns, etc, and it still wouldn't change how they "feel", because they don't.

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  • ThrymThrym Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    My brother tried to counter-point that the only reason that Sims feel these things is because programmers programmed them to feel them, and that made those feelings not real. That Sims weren't self-aware, didn't understand why they felt the things they felt, they just did what they were programmed.

    My mother questioned how that makes them different than say, a goldfish or a dog, and my brother didn't have a good answer that.

    I would say we are not programmed. No one sat in the sky and programmed us to feel the things we feel. Or maybe your mom believes in intelligent design, but if she doesn't that's a pretty key difference. I can empathize with the sims, or any thing I see on a computer screen, read in a book, etc., but those feelings come from a personal place, and are not the feelings of my computer or whatever program is running.

  • DisruptorX2DisruptorX2 Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Thrym wrote: »
    My brother tried to counter-point that the only reason that Sims feel these things is because programmers programmed them to feel them, and that made those feelings not real. That Sims weren't self-aware, didn't understand why they felt the things they felt, they just did what they were programmed.

    My mother questioned how that makes them different than say, a goldfish or a dog, and my brother didn't have a good answer that.

    I would say we are not programmed. No one sat in the sky and programmed us to feel the things we feel. Or maybe your mom believes in intelligent design, but if she doesn't that's a pretty key difference. I can empathize with the sims, or any thing I see on a computer screen, read in a book, etc., but those feelings come from a personal place, and are not the feelings of my computer or whatever program is running.

    What drives a person to behave the way they do if not all of the experiences and influences they have had? Obviously we are not advanced enough to actually calculate all of these countless factors, but if we could, we'd see that people are "programmed" in a sense.

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  • mspencermspencer Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    I'm not sure the implementation details matter that much to the effect we're talking about. Sure I spent a lot of words talking about implementation details, to create a sense of an interesting and intelligent creature. As humans interacting with the outside world, though, we generally don't have a clear understanding of the implementation details of the beings we interact with.

    No matter how crude the simulation, if we subject a virtual creature to a certain stimulus and the creature behaves in the same way we expect a real pet would behave, we should perceive that behavior as life-like. Humans are very curious creatures and while playing with these creatures we will eventually exhaust the interaction possibility space. We will eventually find places where the simulation breaks down and the creature is revealed finally to not really be alive.

    If the simulation is good enough, it will take us a long time to reach this point. Until we do, we can perceive the simulated creature to really be alive. If we are cruel to the virtual creature, our expectations about the creature's reaction to this cruelty will be informed by our understanding of other, real, people and animals. Debatably we would be playing pretend and acting out "cruelty games" within this simulation. The nature of that kind of play is what's in question here.

    I think the original topic was formed about violent video games and the ways fake violent interactions can resemble real violent interactions in our minds. This seems to be a significant sub-discussion on that same subject.

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  • SilkyNumNutsSilkyNumNuts Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Thrym wrote: »
    My brother tried to counter-point that the only reason that Sims feel these things is because programmers programmed them to feel them, and that made those feelings not real. That Sims weren't self-aware, didn't understand why they felt the things they felt, they just did what they were programmed.

    My mother questioned how that makes them different than say, a goldfish or a dog, and my brother didn't have a good answer that.

    I would say we are not programmed. No one sat in the sky and programmed us to feel the things we feel. Or maybe your mom believes in intelligent design, but if she doesn't that's a pretty key difference. I can empathize with the sims, or any thing I see on a computer screen, read in a book, etc., but those feelings come from a personal place, and are not the feelings of my computer or whatever program is running.

    We certainly are. Possibly noone sat down and wrote out code, but we have predictable responses to sets of stimuli. That is programming. The only difference is ours is a combination of inbuilt programming and experience programming us, but whether genetic or experiential, we're ceratinly programmed.

  • Werewolf2000adWerewolf2000ad Suckers, I know exactly what went wrong. Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    On the subject of torturing virtual beings:

    The Seventh Sally. That is all.

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  • Waka LakaWaka Laka Faggot of tremendous proportions Melbourne, VicRegistered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Raiden333 wrote: »
    I think Pony's post was completely right. I can't imagine an AI so advanced that it will get scared, drop its gun, and beg me for mercy based on the conditions it finds itself in along with some unique personality variables without feeling like I'm harming an entity.

    There was a game a while back, I think it was an armed forces game, Close Combat first person shooter that actaully gave the enemy morale, most of the combat was about breaking the morale of the enemy forces. Suppressing, killing their comrades, using devastating explosives, calling in air support and backing them in a corner would make them surrender or turn tail and run.

    Shame the game fucking sucked ass though, it had a good idea, but it wasn't backed up by solid gameplay.

    Found it

    God, it was horrible.

  • Mr RayMr Ray Sarcasm sphereRegistered User regular
    edited April 2009
    The Creatures games annoyed me no end. Sure, Norns are a "more accurate" way of simulating life, right down to the ability to monitor their brains and individual neurons firing (a feature you'd need a degree in neuroscience to fully understand), but that doesn't change the fact that the vast majority of them were fucking retarded. No, worse than that. Most retarded people know to eat when they're hungry and sleep when they're tired. Leaving them to their own devices tended to result in a big clusterfuck (literally) of creatures in the starting area breeding / playing with each other continuously until they die.

    Spoiler:
  • Professor SnugglesworthProfessor Snugglesworth Bullied BatRegistered User regular
    edited April 2009
    I came across this Silent Hill picture. I'm not sure if it's just a coincidence or not, but...
    Spoiler:

    Just thought that shocking realization would add to the whole violence debate. Me, I'm personally freaked out if it's actually true.

  • RoyceSraphimRoyceSraphim Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    the sims are clearly not in any way alive or close to sentient

    there is an astronomical difference between a dog and a fairly simple piece of code like a sim

    hell, there is an astronomical difference between an ant and a Sim. The sims are not even things; they are just representations of very simple data. You might as well say that one could be cruel to a graph.

    One theory of physics is that all things are in fact representations of data, that the universe is fundamentally monistic information, but even so, the complexity required to generate consciousness or sentience and the capacity for suffering is mindboggling.

    That being said, the barrier between "simple representation of data" and "genuine artificial consciousness that is so close to being real that it might as well be real" is growing ever smaller. When we get past binary computation and into something more complex, more similar to whatever it is that the brain uses to store and process information, we may start to discover that we are generating minds - especially if we continue to use natural selection as a method of generating mechanisms and models.

    Or maybe we won't discover it, and we'll simply create an entire universe of endless, screaming consciousnesses, blind deaf and dumb, unable to move beyond their paramaters but able to think and be aware of themselves in some way, and we will never know as we inflict endless torment upon them.

    Fallout 2 had several computers involving this concept. 1 could become a companion if you could acquire the necessary parts.

  • SilkyNumNutsSilkyNumNuts Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    It's beginning to look as if we won't do that though. Top-down true AI programming is looking, right now, to be impossible. A learning, evolving system, with a couple of simple rules is looking to be the more likely way.

    Incidentally, the guy that created creatures wrote a book that looks at this (I haven't read it personally) And he believes that as current computer architecture cannot parallel process, it is impossible to directly create intelligence upon this. However, it's possible that a computer could simulate an environment in which intelligence might arise.

  • mspencermspencer Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    I totally agree -- but I don't know if the discussion about violence in games cares about the distinction anyway. We don't need to create actual intelligence, able to stand trial like Data in Star Trek TNG and prove its sentience, to create things that interact like an intelligence would in certain limited circumstances.

    We already have clever computer programs which can pass a Turing Test in a specific subject area.

    We just need a little more clever programming to create programs which can pass a Turing Test in the "3D game environment where one guy has a rocket launcher" subject area. Or any of the darker, more disturbing violent-interaction environments that games might replicate.

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