Video Games

'Dog Wars' or 'Kill Bin Laden Yourself' -- Virtual Violence Hurts

| by Phyllis M Daugherty

Kage Games, the creators of “Dog Wars,” didn’t waste any time getting their “KG Dogfighting” application back up on Android.  Now, only one week later, you can also “Kill Bin Laden Yourself.”  

‘Dog Wars’ reincarnated in two days and was up as ‘KG Dogfighting,’ despite pleading and rebuke by Paul Weber, President of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, humane organizations, and even Michael Vick.

Bloodlust can now also be virtually satiated in the new “Kill Bin Laden Yourself” by Kuma Games, rushed to market within a week after the real event so that, “…gamers will be able to virtually experience the raid and pull the trigger to kill the al Qaeda leader.”

With over 100,000 ‘Dog Wars’ downloads in the first few days, it’s not hard to understand KG’s motive.  In the virtual world, money speaks louder than morals, and you can break any law or violate all ethical precepts as you indulge your fantasy or perversion in the confines of your computer screen.

Humane experts warn that it is an easy step from fighting dogs to maiming or killing humans.  In the virtual gaming world, the gradation takes place faster, but no less predictably, than in the real world.

And, just as the Dog Wars/KG Dog fighting app was described as just a video game--in no way meant to encourage this type of behavior--and  a chance to teach about animal cruelty, the Osama-killing game is justified because, "Bin Laden was a bad man, and people feel relieved that he is gone. To be able to recreate his death is just an added bonus."

It’s scary that a day before the release date of “Kill bin Laden,” 23,000 people had already “clicked” on Facebook that they “Like” this!  Undoubtedly some of them are parents who can’t wait to get it for their sons.  In a few years, when their child blows somebody’s brains out in a drive-by or is killed by police in a shootout, we will see these parents on TV explaining tearfully that their kid has never been in trouble before and waving their fists about police brutality and excessive use of force.

That is why Paul Weber advised in his LA Times interview that “Dog War” (aka KG Dogfighting), which provides a virtual gun to shoot responding law enforcement should be immediately withdrawn by Google and banned.  . "The entire concept is repulsive and sickening," Weber said, noting that the app simulates dogfighting, which is a felony offense in all 50 states.”

Not only does virtual dog fighting incite violence against police officers, but it has the potential to rob the next generation of productive youths who succumb to the addictive qualities of dog fighting , gambling, and violence.

Is dog fighting an addiction?

There is no question that animal fighting and the gambling promoted in blood sports are addictive.  Those heavily involved in dog fighting will tell you that they live through their dogs, identify with them when they win and have the right to abuse them or kill them when they lose.  It is a cowardly total control over life and death, “gain-without-pain” power trip –for a very brief time.  It is an adrenaline “high” that must be recreated, like any addiction.

Michael Vick’s estranged father, Michael Boodie, is quoted in Bad News Kennel, the Untold Story of the Michael Vick Dogfighting Case (Kathy Strouse and Dog Angel), in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “He claimed Vick had fought dogs in the back yard of the family home. 'l wish people would stop sugarcoating it.  This is Mike’s thing.  And he knows it—likes it…'”

Can the gambling aspect of “Dog Wars”/”KG Dogfighting” have a permanent effect?

In an article entitled, Gambling rewires brain in a negative way, on,  Dr. Howard Shaffer, director of Harvard Medical School's Division on Addictions states, "Addictive behaviors rewire the brain…when people gamble, they feel excitement, control, power and stimulation.

He cites 2006  research experiments which measure blood flow in brain regions:

Steven Quartz and colleagues at the California Institute of Technology…found they could distinguish brain regions that specifically responded to either reward expectation or risk.

“Importantly, these areas showed activity that increased with the level of expected reward and perceived risk. The researchers found that the activation related to expected reward was immediate, while the activation related to risk was delayed.”

Does exposure to virtual violence desensitize?

In 2007, the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology published “The Effect of video game violence on physiological desensitization to real-life violence,” which states,

 “Past research shows that violent video game exposure increases aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, physiological arousal, aggressive behaviors and decreases helpful behaviors.  This experiment examined “…violent video game effects on physiological desensitization.”

“Participants …played one of either violent or nonviolent video games for 20 min. Next, participants watched a 10-min videotape containing scene of real-life violence while heart rate (HR) and galvanic skin response (GSR) were monitored.  Participants who previously played a violent video game had lower HR and GSR while viewing filmed real violence, demonstrating a physiological  desensitization to violence.”