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Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, and Resident Evil are all popular video games in the gaming community. Each of these games have similar motives behind them, which is violence. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), 97% of children who ages range from 12 to 17 are partaking in these violent video games. Established on the research done by the APA, it is evident that under age children are obtaining access to these video games. Hence, the concern society has about the effect these games have on children’s behavior. However, minors are able to legally purchase violent games. Therefore, violent video games can not be responsible for aggressive behavior.
If you were to search for “violent video games’ on Google, I can assure you come across several articles claiming a correlation between the said video games and behavior. Many of these articles are plastering negative images in an attempt to get rid of them. For instance, in an online article it was said that many people have the aforementioned concern due to the widespread popularity of these games. Another article stated that violent video games affect behavior due to the high levels of viewing and repeated exposure to the violent media. It was said that engaging in such games for a prolonged time desensitizes viewers to those suffering around them. As a matter of fact, skeptics claim playing these games results in a decrease of prosocial behaviors such as being empathetic and externalized behavior.
As previously mentioned, articles are all over the internet claiming how violent video games are solely responsible for behavioral problems. Despite these false narratives you may come across, violent video games are not to be held accountable for one’s behavior. In fact, being that I am an active member of the gaming community, I can vouch that there is little to no correlation between the two! Actually, it just so happens that my favorite games are labeled as violent, however it has yet to negatively influence my behavior. In fact, after thorough research it has been proven that there are several other factors that are actually responsible.
Over the years, video game visuals have become more gory and gruesome than they have ever been. With this in mind, it is appropriate for these articles to be cautious about the potential influence these games may have. However, these violent video games ensure to include the necessary precautions prior to being purchased or downloaded. These precautions are known as ratings and they provide a warning of the games content. Therefore, any person who purchases a violent video game is aware of the R rating and should be prepared for what is in store.
Not only do these violent video games include ratings but in 2011 the United States Supreme Court enacted laws which allowed minors to purchase these games. As the director of the Hagemann Center for Legal & Public Policy Research, Patrick Garry states, “in the case, Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Ass’n, the court said the government doesn’t have the authority to ‘restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed’ despite complaints that the popular and fast-changing technology allows the young to simulate acts of brutality. The case recognized that video games get free-speech protection” . In fact, the Court settled on this decision due to the fact that video games are a form of expression entitled to First Amendment protection. With saying that, if violent video games were negatively affecting behavior why has this law not been vetoed? Being that it is nearly a decade later and this law is still intact, maybe it is time to consider the positive aspects of these games. Disregarding the negativity the articles published, let us shed light on the positivity.
In addition to the previous statement, as you may or may not know all video games require a set of skills. However, violent video games in particular assist in the development of decision making. Though, decision making tends to be a central for all genres of video games, VVGs usually require more analytical skills. Being that the game provides little to no instructions in the manual on how to win or complete the game, the players are given a blank slate and are subjected to win through trial and error. Another skill that benefits from gameplay is hand-eye coordination. One analysis’s article Do video games actually improve hand-eye coordination?, explores the effect on hand-eye coordination. Not only are players exposed to these skills, but it has also been confirmed that one’s prosocial behavior increases. This simply means, a player will more likely help another individual in the real world. All of these positive skills are being gained from a simple video game. All things considered, there is not enough research to hold violent video games accountable for behavior problems.
Given these points, violent video games have created controversy for many years, but have not been supported by any factual evidence. Despite the lack of evidence and support the media and public officials continue to swirl speculations. For instance, it has become somewhat of a trend to blame VVGs for major crimes like school shootings. In fact, one article published “after mass shootings, the media and public officials often question the role of the shooters video games habits”. This statement is a prime example of how one unsupported claim can lead into a bigger accusation. The accusation of VVGs being responsible for mass shootings, can simply be an attempt to overshadow society’s concern with gun control. In that case, it is crucial that this claim is cleared and violent video games are able to be redefined.
As shown above, it is evident that each of these games expose the player to its gory graphics and mature language. Consequently, the question on whether violent video games induce aggressiveness in children has become a controversial topic among the gaming community. As a matter of fact, researchers have begun to study this topic. Relying on the methodology of observation, researchers utilize experimental studies where they observe only a small amount of participants, which reduces their chances of proper findings. Therefore, it is invalid to conclude that all, if any, violent video games negatively impact a child’s behavior based off of these studies. In spite of the negative feedback violent video games may receive, the positive benefits can not be disregarded. For instance, research has shown that adding a prosocial aspect to the game, such as protecting a character— either one controlled by another player or NPC (non player character) can increase prosocial and helping behavior. All things considered, there is no stern evidence that correlates violent video games and aggression within the children who play.
In fact, based off of research VVGs did not make the list as a leading factor of aggressive behavior in children. Does this mean that it is not possible? No, but until there is proof and statistical evidence that shows, we can conclude that VVGs are not the reason behind a child’s misbehavior.
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