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Impact of Violence in Video Games

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Impact of Violence in Video Games essay

With video games becoming increasingly violent throughout the years, the controversy of whether or not they cause children to become more violent has increased as well, however this statement has yet to be proven. Many people believe that the portrayal of violence in video games and other mainstream media is causing children to grow up to be violent and commit crimes. Several groups have publicly campaigned against violent video games; groups like Parents Against Violence, Parents Against Media Violence, and One Million Moms all oppose violent video games. However most studies suggest that video games are not directly if at all responsible for how violent video games affect children.

It is an inconvenient truth that when something goes wrong, or something bad happens, people will immediately look for someone or something to blame, no matter if it’s a legitimate cause of the problem or not. People generally tend to ‘hop on the bandwagon’ and blame something on whatever everybody else is blaming it on at the time, even if they have no idea about what it is their blaming. One of these popular bandwagons has become video games, specifically violent ones. Violent video games are becoming the go-to scapegoat for youth violence today, shootings like Columbine, Virginia Tech, and even Sandy Hook had many media sources calling into question whether the shooter played video games and if they were a cause of their violence. While video games may be a factor in some of these cases, a lot of times in debates about violent video games the culprit’s mental health or personal life outside of/before video games are completely ignored. Society continuously tends to find these scapegoats in order to escape the fact that some people can’t be changed, people want a singular reason to blame for evil in the world. People also want to find something to immediately blame without having to research it, people will site anything that is heavily discussed in media and expect it to be viewed as fact. But people need to learn to actually do their own research into a topic before accepting it as fact;“The research is inconsistent, and thus psychiatrists may wish to be more careful in their public statements linking violent digital games to harm. There is indeed a lack of scientific data dealing with the relationship between violent video games and this interaction between the individual’s mental state and aggressive outcome. More research is needed before we can fully understand the influence of violent video games on real life” (Fournis, 2014).

The reason this scapegoat became so popular is because of a research paper done by Craig Anderson of Iowa State University and Karen Dill of Lenoir-Rhyne College in North Carolina. The students claimed they had new evidence showing that violent video games cause violence, and that they are more harmful than other forms of violent media.Their main reasons were that video games are interactive and captivating and players tend to identify with the assailant.“Their research consisted of two studies, both involving undergraduate students at the University of Missouri at Columbia. In the first, 78 male and 149 female students were asked about their five favorite video games, how violent they considered them and how long they spent playing them. In addition, the students had to fill in questionnaires about their aggressive behavior and delinquency. They were also asked how much time they had spent playing video games when they were younger” (Cumberbatch 2000). The researchers claim to have found that students who played more violent video games in junior and high school engaged in more violent behavior. However their research fails to ask whether the games they had played in earlier years were violent or not and cannot be based on any results in their paper. As Guy Cumberbatch says in his article Only a Game?“What the data [does] show is a reasonably strong association between the playing of violent video games and concurrent aggressive behavior and delinquency. This may be troubling, but it tells us nothing about causal relationships: are video games the root of the problem or the fruit of it? In other words, finding that people who enjoy violent media may also be aggressive is tantamount to observing that those who play football also enjoy watching it on television”

The second study, which the researchers attach more importance, had 106 male and 104 female students in a lab experiment. Each one was asked to play either the violent video game Wolfenstein 3D or the non-violent game Myst and was then assessed for violence. First, the students played for 15 minutes and then took tests to measure the speed with which they could repeat violent words flashed on a computer. The authors claim this is a measure of violent thinking, and potential for violence. The students who had played the violent video game displayed faster response times to the violent words. However, we cannot know whether the violent game sped up times or whether the non-violent game slowed them down, as the research does not say, effectively making the authors’ conclusion that the effect is due to the violent game a leap of faith.One week later, students came back to the lab for more time on their game. They then had to play a game of reflex to respond as quickly as possible by clicking a mouse key when a tone was sounded against a computer they thought was a human. If they failed, they received a burst of noise from their opponent, but if they won, they gave their opponent a burst of noise.

Students were asked to set the decibel level of the noise burst their opponent received if they won. They could change this level and the duration of the blast by holding down a control bar. The research reported that the students who played Wolfenstein played longer blast than players of Myst, which they claimed showed that people who played violent video games were more aggressive. However they failed to reference the fact that the sounds were about 2% longer, which when averaged out with all students clocks in at just over half a second. The research also fails to mention the volume at which the students played the sound.

It’s not like violence is a new thing in society, it’s not even new in entertainment, put best in Nature magazine’s article ‘A calm view of video violence’“There are good reasons to be troubled by the violence that pervades the media. Movies, television and video games are full of gunplay and bloodshed, and one might reasonably ask what’s wrong with a society that presents videos of domestic violence as entertainment. Of course, the same questions could have been raised about watching Macbeth, or Punch and Judy. Let’s face it, people have always enjoyed watching other people’s mayhem” (2003). Violence is, and always has been, a defining part of our nature, it’s almost impossible to get rid of. Entire industries have been created because of violence; militaries, law enforcement agencies, weapons manufacturers, etc., would either be non-existent or less successful without violence. If all portrayals of violence had been removed from the world a long time ago there would be less violence in the world today, however that’s no longer possible with today’s world. With today’s ability to easily access and add to the world’s biggest collection of knowledge (the internet) it is impossible to erase anything from our history, so violence will always be a part of our society, it’s in our nature. It is for this reason that society needs to learn that blaming things rather than people teaches that rather than holding people accountable for their actions, we should find something wrong with the world.“…it seems to me that increasingly… we have shied away from holding people responsible for their behaviors, and instead prefer to seek out easy or even abstract entities to blame. Events like school shootings tend to make people nervous. We would like to think that such events can be explained, predicted, and prevented. We like scientists and politicians who stand up and claim to have the answers so that we can fix the problem” (Ferguson, 2007). We cannot continue to act like one simple solution will fix all of our problems, we as a society need to understand that people’s actions are their own and not caused by one thing we can immediately label ‘evil’ and lock away forever. People have free will and they use it, they must be fully accountable for their actions.

While it cannot be labeled the main reason, video game violence can contribute to violent behavior. Seeing violence may not make us violent, but children being exposed to it at an early age can be more prone to it. We cannot completely isolate children from the world, but we shouldn’t expose them to everything immediately. It is also impossible to remove video games from our society;“…children see video game play as socially desirable. Neither gender is immune to the lure of violence, with children of both sexes preferring video games that contain violent content” (Lee, 2000). Studies prove that kids prefer violence in their video games:“One study reported that of 357 seventh and eighth grade students, approximately 32% selected games that involved fantasy violence, 17% selected games that involved human violence, and another 30% selected sports games, many of which have violent sub-themes. In general, boys prefer games with sports and action violence, while girls prefer fantasy violence. Boys also play video games far more frequently than girls” (Lee, 2000). So while children prefer violence in video games, it doesn’t mean that we should give Call of Duty to 5 year olds, it should be the responsibility of the parents to decide when they should allow their kids to play certain games.“Monitoring game selection is imperative. Initially, it requires parents and other interested parties to determine what type of video games they will allow their children to play” (Lee, 2000). And video games shouldn’t be the only thing that parents regulate with their children, while they may be a factor in violent behavior they are not the only one. According to the academic journal Nature “Most researchers agree that the causes of real-world violence are complex. A 1993 study by the US National Academy of Sciences listed “biological, individual, family, peer, school, and community factors” as all playing their parts. And a 2001 report by the US surgeon general concluded that “the preponderance of evidence indicates that violent behavior seldom results from a single cause; rather, multiple factors converging over time contribute to such behavior” (A calm view of video violence, 2003). Parents need to attempt to control their child’s environment, even if it is not always possible. Regulating what a child learns and in what context controls how they will grow up, and whether they will turn into contributing citizens or criminals.

The entire premise that video games cause violence is flawed from the start. The initial experiments that every news story and debate draws from on the subject fails to report all of its research and ignores the research that goes against its thesis. While it is true that video games do seem to be a factor in violent behavior, it is impossible to determine that it is a main factor in it and not just a byproduct. Society as a whole needs to learn to not look for an immediate scapegoat to blame, and to accept that people are fully responsible for their own actions.

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Impact Of Violence In Video Games. (2019, May 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 4, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/impact-of-violence-in-video-games/
“Impact Of Violence In Video Games.” GradesFixer, 14 May 2019, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/impact-of-violence-in-video-games/
Impact Of Violence In Video Games. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/impact-of-violence-in-video-games/> [Accessed 4 Dec. 2022].
Impact Of Violence In Video Games [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 May 14 [cited 2022 Dec 4]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/impact-of-violence-in-video-games/
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