Paras Chadha

Violence in Video Games

People can agree that many video games are violent, but does playing a violent game really increase your chances of being a violent person? Many people seem to believe that it will, this writer however disagrees with them. There are many reasons to believe this including scientific studies, personal experience, as well as a poll conducted amongst friends and family.

Many people only see the bad things about video games and fail to recognize the many positive things that can come out of them. Games such as Halo and Gears of War, while violent, also help with hand-eye coordination, divided-attention performance, and provide a safe outlet for aggression and frustration. “Rates of adolescent violence, homicide, weapon-carrying, and other markers of antisocial behavior fell consistently during the period when violent video games became ubiquitous, more graphic, and more realistic.” It is also stated that, “In children of middle school age and younger, no association was found between video games and aggression in girls. In boys, studies report both increased and decreased aggression. Studies of middle- and high-school students predominately studied boys and often used self-report. Again both calming and arousal effects were reported, and no consistent relationship was demonstrated between violent games and actual behavior. In college students and young adults, results were again mixed, but studies reporting calming effects were more common, particularly if the prior mood was hostile, angry, or aggressive.”

Video games can also be used to train our newest fighting troops. “Two men climbed into something resembling a jeep. One clutched a pistol and positioned himself behind the steering wheel, while the other manned the vehicle’s turret. In front of them, a huge, three-paneled television displayed moving images of an urban combat zone. Nearby, another man shot invisible infrared beams from his rifle at a video-screen target. In the middle of the room a player knelt, lifted a large, bazooka-like device to his shoulder, and began launching imaginary antitank missiles.” This is a way to train our new fighting men and women in lifelike combat without having to worry about accidents such as fratricide. There are even better uses for games as well. “Games have been devised to train emergency first responders, to recreate ancient civilizations, to promote world peace.” It is also wrong to assume that all video game players are bloodthirsty people. In the year 2005, of the top ten best selling games for the Xbox and PlayStation, not one was a shooter.

Many studies have been conducted to try and prove that it is indeed video games that are the cause of the problems that children have. However, if it is in fact video games, it is not the video games fault. It is also bad parenting, if a parent believes that video games can and will cause violence, then the easiest way to protect their child from it would be to supervise what their child plays. Some parents know that their children are able to differentiate and separate the real world from the world of video games whereas other children are not. It is children like these that are the cause of this hatred towards video games, the ones that are not able to separate the game world from the real world. It is children like these, who likely have more problems than people are made aware of. They may have been abused, or neglected by parents, or maybe some other traumatic event happened to them at some point in their life. These are the children, who, since they can not differentiate between reality and games, act like they would in games. They kill, hurt, and maim because that is what they think they have to do because to them, life is just one giant game.

However, even though studies have been conducted trying to prove that violent video games cause violence in children, none of them have proven that without a doubt they are the sole cause of violence in children. All the studies have had children who showed signs of aggression and signs of calmness after the tests had concluded. Also, as is stated buy Cumberbatch “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.” This goes on to explain that the research does not prove that the games are what cause the violence, the people who have become violent could either be inherently violent, and have found a release for it, or the violence could be the fruit of playing a violent video game.

All of the evidence used to support video games as the cause of violent behavior has flaws. This is not to say that some of it has valid points, but there are holes in the data and the arguments. Things like having the subjects record their own data instead of having it all controlled by researchers are simple things that could have been done to make the data more credible and believable. It is due to little things like that which make this writer believe that video games are not the cause of violence but are instead just a scapegoat used to help make sense of something that is much deeper.