Violence in Video Games

Critics of video games have long used “violent video games” as a scapegoat for acts of violence. Personally, I believe there is no correlation between the violence in video games and the violence we see in today’s society. As a culture I believe we have retracted from taking responsibility for our actions and instead use the first opportunity given to place blame on anything but ourselves.

In Violent Media is Good for Kids, Gerard Jones, a renowned comic book author, examines how violence in video games and music strengthen today’s children more than they hurt them. Jones uses his son to support his argument by describing how Tarzan comics helped his son to overcome the fear of climbing trees. His son feared the sharp branches and the possibility of falling. According to Jones, the Tarzan comics were “rich in combat and bright with flashing knives.” This emboldened his son to conquer his fears and climb the tree at school. Max fisher of the Washington Post examined crime data of 10 countries with the largest video game markets and concluded that there is “no evident, statistical correlation between video game consumption and gun-related killings.” Melanie Moore, Ph.D., a psychologist who works with teens suggested that children need violent media to “Explore the inescapable feelings that have been taught to deny and to reintegrate those feelings into a more whole, more complex, more resilient selfhood.” Jones and Moore both have kids and studied ways in which kids use violent media to meet their emotional and developmental needs.

My brother is in the 8th grade, and leads his school’s debate, whiz quiz and mock trial teams. He is a member of the national honor society and received the president’s award for academic excellence. Outside of school and sports, my brother is what you would call a “hardcore gamer.” Fifa, Call of Duty, Assassins Creed and Skyrim are some of the games he plays on a daily basis. There is no shortage of gun battles, slayings, and ruthlessness in his games, but to succeed and complete missions my brother said that he had to develop a  competitive nature that embraces strategical and logical decision-making skills. If anything, games have been a vessel through which he is able to enjoy casual interaction with like-minded individuals. In part, his character is a product of his environment, so I believe having a strong support system has played a vital role in keeping him grounded and in control of his emotions. These are just a few examples on how violent video games can benefit a child, and although I can see how violence in media can add to a child’s desensitization, I believe it will take more than just media to push one to go over the edge.

GAMES

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6 thoughts on “Violence in Video Games

  1. I think you blog post was FANTASTIC. It was very well thought out and you explained your point of few very convincingly and with a lot of references from the article we read, and also with personal experiences and examples. The story about your brother was perfect for the argument you are trying to make in your blog. Furthermore, I truly believe that we live in a society now that is constantly searching for excuses for other peoples actions, or as you put it, they search for “scapegoats”. I also feel the same way as you do in the fact that videos games may desensitize individuals, but I do not believe they are the reason for ones act of violence. There are definitely other factors that I believe drive someone to act violently towards another human being. I believe things like bullying, isolation, and lack of good parenting have much more to do with violence than do video games.

    • Jacob, thank you for the response, and I’m glad we were able to see eye to eye on several points. I believe using a personal experience when trying to make an argument, strengthens the writers position. There are plenty of factors that can cause a child to go to the dark side, but I think even they are able to tell reality vs fantasy. Overall parental guidance and a strong support system are two of the most important things that a child will ever have. They are brought into this world, and I believe they need to be shown the ropes of Life to get a broader view of things.

  2. From Parker Higgins
    Yes I agree with jacobluna17, your blog hit the nail on the head. I’ve always thought that video games were just an excuse for the violence of kids. Yes, some video games have violence that is not acceptable in society but in all honesty the video games that are most popular to kids don’t have any violence. Take Madden or any other sports game for example. If we consider a football game as being too violent for children to play then we shouldn’t let children watch it on TV or go to a real football game because it would promote the same violence, right? So where do we draw to line of a game being too violent? I really liked how you used your brother as an example. I believe that parental involvement is 90% of how successful children become, and not the amount of time playing video games. It’s the parent’s responsibility to make sure their children understand what’ s right and wrong in our society, not relying on video games.

    • Parker, thank you for the response. I agree with your emphasis on parenting. Personally, parenting is responsible for me being healthy and growing up to be a responsible citizen. My older brother and I lived and breathed video games. They were a way we could compete against each other. Ultimately, it was a great bonding experience for the two of us.

  3. I appreciate your clearly thought out points! However, I do not agree with all of them and do have a couple of thoughts to add.

    I agree that a person who is pushed enough to contribute to gun violence did not get there through one sole factor; however, I also believe that violent media must be considered as an important factor. For example, the shootings in Aurora, Colorado, last year were committed by someone imitating a character in the Batman series. Some movie-goers did not know to react because they at first thought that the costumed shooter was part of a promotional stunt for the movie. There is no doubt that media contributed to how the mass murderer committed such a horrific crime and how some audience members reacted to the shooter at first. This may be only one example, but this example involves 12 lives cut way too short, 58 lives physically affected by injuries, and millions of lives emotionally affected (including both loved ones of the victims and the American public as they realized the reality of such violence). Media absolutely should be considered an important factor.

    I do understand that for many gamers, video games enhance lives. More research is necessary, but if scientists could find a direct correlation and causation between video games and crimes, is the fun for some gamers worth the lives of innocent civilians? When one determines the value of a person’s life, they can answer this question. However, I do recognize that this correlation and causation has not yet been proven.

    Also, I want to discuss video games in the context of obesity. The attached link displays a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article from last November about the link between video games and obesity. With the exception of fitness-based video games, video games do correlate with childhood obesity. Looking at data published by the Center for Disease Control, diseases caused by obesity are the #1 killer in the United States (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/lcod.htm). Like gun violence, obesity has a lot of factors, including genetics, diet, activity, and lifestyle. However, once again, video games need to be considered an important factor because they do decrease activity and often increase snacking (as explained in link below).

    In conclusion, video games have a lot of benefits, but also a significant number of (deadly) drawbacks. By determining the value of life and deciding whether or not video games actually contribute to the deaths as explained in this post, one can decide the true value of video games.

    http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/health/tv-video-games-linked-to-obesity-661685/

  4. I really appreciate your post! It was very well written, and you supported your argument well. This is an interesting debate, one which I doubt society will ever agree upon. While part of me is horrified when I see video games in which shooting students in a school is the objective, I cannot help but feel like any rational person should be able to distinguish the difference between reality and this virtual world. In my opinion (which I am sure not everyone will agree with), the people who are “inspired” to real life violence due to video games probably possess these tendencies regardless. These people would more than likely still find an outlet for their violent tendencies. Video games just happen to fill that role. For example, many claim that the Columbine High School Massacre was inspired directly by a video game. While that may be true, I believe the individuals who committed those atrocities would have still found a way to commit their crimes regardless. To a rational person, video games do not inspire murder. But those crimes which have been related to video games were no doubt caused by unstable, psychopathic individuals. But I understand the correlation. It is important to educate children of the differences between reality and virtual reality. The example you used of your brother says it all: he was no doubt taught the proper way, therefore being able to distinguish real life from game play.

    Overall, a great post!

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