Time just released a story that seems to indicate that video games have been proven to cause violence and aggression in those who play them:
From the article:
“Now the American Psychological Association (APA) has joined the debate, arguing in a research review that playing violent games is linked to aggression, but that there’s insufficient evidence to link the games to actual criminal violence.”
Basically the article says violence and violent video games are in some way connected. We’ve heard the argument for decades “violent video games make kids violent” – Honestly, I’m not buying it.
I’ve played video games since Super Nintendo, despite being in 2D and cartoonish in nature Mario still killed a bunch of guys (or do the turtles not count?). I remember playing Goldeneye and The World is not Enough on the N64 and have even played several versions of Grand Theft Auto (GTA). Now I pretty much just play racing games and entries in the Battlefield series when I can find the time.
Even with that long history of playing video games (many of which can be considered violent) I wouldn’t say I have a history of aggression, I don’t go around looking for fights, I don’t even give someone the bird when they cut me off (in MA, that’s a daily occurrence). I’ve played “violent” video games through much of my life, why aren’t I some psycho looking to fight everyone?
Honestly, I think our country is always looking for correlations to prove a point. We try and do it with everything that happens but sometimes it just is what it is. We have more than 300 million people in this country, many of which play video games. You’re bound to encounter people who happen to be violent/aggressive who also play video games, perhaps the reason those people to play the violent video games is because they’re already violent and angry? I’ve often thought that video games are an excellent way to work out your frustration. If something bad happens in my day I feel better after winning a couple games of Battlefield…
This is almost the same argument as people wanting to ban guns. Because an insignificant percentage of gun owners (mostly illegal) commit crimes with their guns, people automatically associate gun ownership with being a criminal… I disagree with that argument like I disagree with the argument that video games make people more aggressive, I’ll reiterate my previous point: We have hundreds-of-millions of people in this country, you’re bound to find a correlation between video games and aggression if you look at a small sample and disregard other facts.
If you want to target video games then I don’t understand why movies and television aren’t also up for discussion. PG-13 movies show plenty of violence… because it’s not as gory as an R-Rated film it’s ok to bring young children to see one? Plenty of TV shows which are able to be seen by everyone barring parental intervention show murders, serial killers, rape, gunfire, zombies, etc, etc… And those feature real people instead of CG characters… If anything is desensitizing today’s youth it’s the TV and movies their parents let them watch.
I can understand the ideas behind video game ratings and I absolutely support them. Though I don’t believe the video games lead to aggression like some studies suggest I feel there is content in video games like GTA, Call of Duty or Halo that would scare young children, many of them also feature adult language (and in GTA‘s case adult themes as well) which I do believe should not be repeated by children…
Video games already have an appropriate rating system, all three of the titles I just mentioned are rated “M” and are intended for people aged 17 and older, they are the “R” rated movies of the video game world. Most stores enforce a policy to not sell these video games to kids under 17, and yet there are still plenty of young kids playing these games, how’d they get it? How come they haven’t had it taken away? The answer yet again comes down to the parents: They are enabling their kids to play violent, sexual and profane video games even when they are deemed too young to do so by a ratings board. In addition to in-game content that might not be suitable for children these games also have online play where you can choose to talk via headset with other gamers. If you haven’t yet played one of these games online, you’ll just have to take my word that most other players speaking in the voice chat are not friendly to others or mindful of a 12 year old playing the game, they swear, make lewd jokes and even hollow threats to the other gamers, I certainly wouldn’t call that an environment suitable for young children…
Grand Theft Auto is without a doubt the least appropriate game for young children to play, it’s also the number one game people talk about when talking about violent video games. Contrary to the objective of games like Battlefield where the cause is noble, the goal of GTA is basically to be the best criminal. You’re rewarded for killing pedestrians and committing crimes.
We’d have no problem with video games being linked to aggression in kids if parents educated themselves before blindly buying whatever game their kid asks for. A two-second google search would show how inappropriate GTA is for kids, yet somehow plenty of young kids have it.
Bottom Line: I think the argument that video games cause violent/aggressive personalities is senseless. We keep looking for the easy out when the truth lies in the family life and even the chemical makeup of the person’s brain. I’ve become annoyed over the instant guilty verdict with every accusation levied or suggestion that gets made public. You parents have the power to keep your kids from playing these “violent” video games, the restrictions are there… Maybe you should learn a bit about the game you just bought your kid before letting your 7 year old go out and hire some virtual hookers instead of being so damn lazy and relying on others to police your kids.
I’ve always felt that to some capacity video games are healthy. I know that most parents don’t want their kids staying inside all day looking at a screen with a controller in their hands. Essentially, it’s television but with a different controller. Now, as to whether or not video games cause acts of violence I don’t think they do. I guess some people think that because they see it in a video game that it translates to real life. But that’s ridiculous! Its a virtual platform. It’s supposed to be fictional. I mean I certainly wouldn’t want people joining the military because they thought Call of Duty was cool and in real life it’d be better. In real life there’s no re-spawn after you get shot in the head like on Xbox!
That’s what I never understand about people saying that guns cause violence. I mean a gun is essentially a weapon used to harm someone. That’s really all it does. Now if I wanted to harm someone I could just hit them in the head with a frying pan and they’d be out cold. Does that mean that Martha Stewart influences deadly assault? I mean she must since she’s using all those lethal weapons in the kitchen. I mean look at those turkey basters. I could inject boiling hot bacon grease into one of those things and spray someone in the eye and blind them! Did Betty Crocker modernize pepper spray? I mean those things are so lethal!
In fact, I think that violent video games are helpful for people with aggression. I remember being in high school and getting rejected by women and I would go home and beat hookers in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Does that mean that I’m gonna go to Vegas, get tattoos, get a mean tan, and change my name to Paco so that I can become a pimp? Of course not! So when I hear that people say that video games cause violence I don’t see the correlation. I actually think that violent video games are helpful for releasing your aggression. Knowing that I could go home and pistol whip virtual-hookers made my adolescence as a young hormonal bound teenager a lot easier. I knew that I when I snuck into the girl’s locker room after gym class when they were showering that I had an outlet in case they didn’t wanna part-take in my “controversial photo shoots” (sarcasm). I was an artist! I had inspiration and I ran with it. I ran so far that I couldn’t hear their screams anymore from the gymnasium! And school’s wanna get rid of the art and music departments in schools. Where is the next Vincent Van Gogh gonna find inspiration from?
Bottom Line: I think that the argument that video games cause violence is futile. I don’t think they’re going to find much relevant research on it. If they conclude that most violent offenders played Halo growing up or before they committed their heinous crimes then I guess we can conclude that the MLB is an inspiration for crimes committed with a baseball bat. Its all those damn home-runs we see on Sportscenter! Studies have shown that people who commit crimes with baseball bats have at least one point in their lives seen a baseball game. Coincidence? Our top researchers think this is the tip of the iceberg for baseball’s negative affect on young people. First it was Barry Bonds and steroids and now research has shown that Babe Ruth modernized aggressive assault for the twentieth century. We need to tear down all these monuments to him and kick him out of Cooperstown because of the animal he is! How could he send such a negative message to young people?
So if you say that video games cause violence, just beware that you’re opening up a can of worms in what negatively affects people.