Adam Ruins Games

Jan 22 2019

In this episode, Adam hits pause on the myth that connects video games to real-life violence, and reveals that Monopoly was a rip-off of an anti-capitalist teaching game. Here are his sources.


“In 1976, the National Safety Council panicked over the arcade game Death Race, calling it ‘sick, sick, sick!’”

Ralph Blumenthal. “Death Race.” New York Times, 28 Dec 1976.

“Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman claimed it taught kids to quote, ‘enjoy inflicting the most gruesome forms of cruelty.’”

“Senator Calls for Warnings on Video Games.” Washington Post, 2 Dec 1993.

“Paradoxically, as video game sales in America have spiked, violent crime has actually gone down!”

Patrick Markey et al. “Violent Video Games and Real-World Violence: Rhetoric Versus Data.”  Psychology of Popular Media Culture 4.4 (2014).

“Japan has 96 times fewer gun homicides than America, even though we play more games!”

Max Fisher. “Ten-Country Comparison Suggests There’s Little or No Link Between Video Games and Gun Murders.” Washington Post, 17 Dec 2012.

“Multiple studies have found that school shooters actually consume significantly lower amounts of violent media and games than their peers -- including an analysis by the Secret Service!”

Bryan Vossekuil et al. The Final Report and Findings of the Safe School Initiative: Implications for the Prevention of School Attacks in the United States United States Secret Service and United States Department of Education, Jul 2004.

“I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence in video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts.”

Jamie Ducharmie. “Trump Blames Video Games for School Shootings. Here’s What Science Says.” Time, 8 Mar 2018.

“But what got left out was that his favorite game, the one he’d play up to ten hours a day, was Dance Dance Revolution.”

Maggie Caldwell. “Sandy Hook Crime Report: Adam Lanza Obsessed With Mass Murder and Dance Dance Revolution.” Mother Jones, 26 Nov 2013.

“And, even if these studies had measured more real world acts of aggression, the fact is, the change in behavior they measured was tiny -- just two percent on average!”

Jason Schreier. “From Halo to Hot Sauce: What 25 Years of Violent Video Game Research Looks Like.” Kotaku, 17 Jan 2013.

“Because it wasn’t just a game -- when social activist Lizzie Magie invented in in 1903, it was called ‘The Landlord’s Game,’ and it was meant as a teaching tool about the evils of capitalism!”

Mary Pilon. “Monopoly’s Inventor: The Progressive Who Didn’t Pass ‘Go’.” New York TImes, 13 Febr 2015

“And he was so impressed, he decided to pitch it to Parker Brothers as his own.”

Kate Raworth. “Monopoly Was Invented to Demonstrate the Evils of Capitalism.” BBC, 28 Jul 2017.

Parker Brothers convinced her to sell them her patent -- for just 500 bucks.”

Mary Pilon. “The Secret History of Monopoly: The Capitalist Board Game’s Leftwing Origins.” The Guardian, 11 Apr 2015.

“And Monopoly was such a huge hit, it made Charles Darrow a millionaire -- while Lizzie Magie never saw a penny in royalties.”

Mary Pilon. “Monopoly Was Designed to Teach the 99% About Income Inequality.” Smithsonian, Jan 2015.

“Incredible! just like Ronda Rousey, who had to live in her car even after medaling in judo in 2008!”

Suzanne McGee. “Go for Gold, Wind up Broke: Why Olympic Athletes Worry About Money.” The Guardian. 7 Aug 2016.

“And only the most famous athletes are able to get those, because the International Olympics Committee bars anyone but the biggest names from using phrases like ‘the Olympics’ and ‘Team USA.’”

Will Hobson. “Olympic Executive Cash In on a ‘Movement’ That Keeps Athletes Poor.” Washington Post, 30 Jul 2016.

“The Executive Director of U.S. Swimming makes 854 thousand dollars a year, while most of his swimmers make less than 5% of that!”

Will Hobson. “Olympic Executive Cash In on a ‘Movement’ That Keeps Athletes Poor.” Washington Post, 30 Jul 2016.

“At the 2012 games, London only made back 29 percent of what they spent.”

James McBride. “The Economics of Hosting the Olympic Games.” Council on Foreign Relations, 19 Jan 2018.

“Beijing spent almost half a billion building its Birds Nest Stadium, and they’re still spending 11 million per year to maintain it, even though the stadium hardly ever holds events!”

Jordan Weissman. “Empty Nest: Beijing’s Olympic Stadium is a Vacant ‘Museum Piece’.” The Atlantic, 31 Jul 2012.

“Analysts even believe Greece’s debt from the 2004 Athens games helped lead to the country’s economic crisis, which has had a ripple effect all over the EU.”

Nick Malkoutzis. “How the 2004 Olympics Triggered Greece’s Decline.” Bloomberg, 2 Aug 2012.

“Before the Rio Olympics, business leaders spent 12.7 million dollars on private security to force over a thousand homeless people and young black men out of high tourist areas.”

Vigna and McLoughlin. “Private Police Target Rio’s Dark-Skinned and Homeless.” Al Jazeera, 17 May 2016.

“And in Beijing, an estimated 1.5 million people were kicked out of their homes to make room for Olympic construction.”

“Fair Play for Housing Rights: Mega-Events, Olympic Games and Housing Rights.” Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), 2007.

“The battle to host the Olympics is so fierce, the IOC has even accepted bribes.”

Larry Siddons. “IOC Expels Six Members in Salt Lake City Scandal.” The Guardian, 17 Mar 1999.

“In the last Olympics, the IOC made over 3.5 billion dollars in TV rights and company partnerships.”

Emma Baccellieri. “Where Does the IOC’s Money Go?” Deadspin, 13 Feb 2018.

For More On This Topic

Our expert Patrick Markey built out his argument in his book Moral Combat: Why the War on Violent Video Games is Wrong

In her bestselling book The Monopolists, Mary Pilon lays out her extensive research into the life of Lizzie Magie, and how Monopoly came to be

This website maintained by the NOlympics campaign in Los Angeles compiles resources about how the Games harm host cities, and why coalition member organizations don’t want them.