Imagine yourself in a scenario where you are killing fifty zombie pedestrians ruthlessly one by one with a chain-saw in front of a food court. Red hot blood is gushing from their open cuts with a gurgling sound which engulfs your mind in a trance from which you cannot get out. Wait! It’s not over yet. One zombie avoids the swipe of your blade and reaches you. Its white teeth glisten in the moonlight as it is coming closer to your neck and you open your mouth to scream! Quite an intimidating scene, isn’t it?
It subdues even a guileless person’s mind with an overwhelming sense of violence and a sort of primitive pleasure and the seed of this sort of sensation lies within the deep recesses of our mind. It’s a scene from a popular video game called “A Night of the Dead” which is quite popular among thousands of children and teenagers. Just think for a moment what kind of mental damage this game could inflict upon the unripe minds of children who don’t understand the difference between right or wrong.
What kind of sense of morality they would grow with if they continue to watch these kinds of violent content over and anon? As preposterous it seems it is the real picture of today’s almost every youth with a computer at his disposal. The rapid aggression of technology made it easy for the youth to lay their hands on such things as violent video games for passing their leisure hours. They pass their idle hours killing unreal persons in a virtual world while fidgeting with their controllers.
The important thing which they don’t know is playing these games essentially leads them to such a miserable situation where they are going to experience a drastic change in their behavior such as growing aggressive through watching violent contents, reenact them in their real life which often leads to crime and become so engrossed in obsession that they end up losing their social skills. At the outset, the effect of violent video games on aggression is a germane issue as video games have become very popular.
For example, a nationally representative study of video game play among adolescents in the United States showed that 97% of adolescents aged 12 to 17 years play computer, web, portable, or console video games. In terms of frequency, 31% of adolescents play video games every day and another 21% play games three to five days a week (Lenhart et al. , 2008). Up till now, what may be most concerning is that almost half of the adolescent population plays violent video games. In addition, five of the 10 most frequently played games are violent. Thus, research is needed to examine the effects of violent video games on aggression.
The majority of experimental studies that have compared the effects of violent versus non-violent video games on aggression have failed to equate these games in terms of competitiveness, difficulty, and pace of action. A study found the following: The magnitude of these effects is also somewhat alarming. The best estimate of the effect size of exposure to violent video games on aggressive behavior is about 0. 26. This is larger than the effect of condom use on decreased HIV risk, the effect of exposure to passive smoke at work and lung cancer, and the effect of calcium intake on bone mass (Bushman & Huesmann, 2001).
Although the common finding is that violent video games produce higher levels of aggression than non-violent video games, it may be that violent video games are also more competitive, difficult, and contain more fast-paced action than non-violent games. These kinds of games trigger the part of human brain from where human emotions are controlled through certain brain waves. Two prominent scientists Anderson and bushman found through a research: Violent video games influence aggression through short-term and long-term effects.
In the short-term, violent video games function as a situation variable that can increase aggressive cognition, affect, and arousal, in turn leading to increased aggressive behavior (Anderson & Bushman, 2002). In the long-term, violent video games can influence aggressive behavior by promoting aggressive beliefs and attitudes and creating aggressive schema, aggressive behavioral scripts along with aggressive expectations; which in turn, may bias an individual’s personality toward aggression. In other words, each violent video game episode may reinforce the notion that aggression is an effective and appropriate way to deal with conflict and nger (Bushman & Anderson, 2002).
Based on video games characteristics we can assume that there are distinguishable contents on a violent video game such as violence, competitiveness, difficulty and pace of action which pass through a mechanism phase on the individual player’ mind which consist of cognition (aggressive thoughts or believes) and affect (frustration hostility) then result into a state of physical arousal (heart rate), all these factors together cause aggressive behavior which is the instant outcome of playing violent video games.
A vivid example of what can people do due to this instant aggression is; In January 2010, Gary Alcock punched, slapped and pinched his partner’s 15-month-old daughter in the three weeks leading up to her death before he delivered a fatal blow to the stomach which tore her internal organs because she interrupted him playing his Xbox. She died from internal bleeding after suffering 35 separate injuries including multiple bruises, rib fractures and brain damage, which were comparable to injuries suffered in a car crash. Alcock was jailed for life and must serve at least 21 years (London: Daily Mail, 19 November 2010).
From this miserable incident we can see how severely aggressive people could be while playing video games full of violent contents. Secondly, people tend to reenact the violent scenes in their real life which may result into incidents with severe consequences. The enactment of aggression is largely based on the learning, activation, and application of aggression-related knowledge structures stored in memory (e. g. , scripts, schemas). Here I would like to give an example, In February 2003; 16-year-old American Dustin Lynch was charged with aggravated murder and made an insanity defense that he was “obsessed” with Grand Theft Auto III.
Long time video game opponent and former attorney Jack Thompson encouraged the father of victim JoLynn Mishne to pass a note to the judge that said “the attorneys had better tell the jury about the violent video game that trained this kid and showed him how to kill our daughter, JoLynn. If they don’t, I will. ” Lynch later retracted his insanity plea and his mother Jerrilyn Thomas commented, “It has nothing to do with video games or Paxil, and my son’s no murderer’’ (Stephen, 2003).
In the matter stated above the boy who murdered the child was obsessed with a violent video games “Grand Theft Auto” where you have to play the role of a criminal and do different missions which involves killing innocent peoples using automatic weapons. This kind of action scenes engrave such an impression on the children’s mind that whenever a similar situation arises in their real life they tend to act as they had acted in the video games beforehand with a violent action.
They respond to every situation in their life violently and this habit finally impels them to commit heinous crimes. In another incident on May 2010, “French gamer Julien Barreaux located and stabbed a fellow player who had stabbed Barreaux on the game Counter-Strike. The judge at his trial called him “a menace to society” (London: Telegraph. co. uk. May 27, 2010). There are many more examples where the same thing has been happening over and over and these incidents are the burning examples how malevolent the effects of a violent video game could be.
As the final point, playing violent video games often leads to the loss of the individual’s social skills. Video game addiction is excessive or compulsive use of computer and video games that interferes with daily life. Instances have been reported in which users play compulsively, isolating themselves from family and friends or from other forms of social contact, and focus almost entirely on in-game achievements rather than broader life events and eventually submerge in the deep sea of video games obsession.
The first video game to attract political controversy for its “addictive properties” was the 1978 arcade game Space Invaders (computerandvideogames. com, 2012). Some scholars claim that the social dependence that may arise from video games occurs online where players interact with others and the relationships “often become more important for gamers than real-life relationships. ” According to Griffiths “all addictions (whether chemical or behavioral) are essentially about constant rewards and reinforcement”.
Griffiths (2010) believed that addiction has six components: salience, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal, conflict, and relapse. Some scholars suggest that psycho-social dependence, if it occurs, may revolve around the intermittent reinforcements in the game and the need to belong somewhere. When all these factors mingle together they create obsession in the gamers’ mind from which they cannot differentiate reality and prowls around the virtual world of video games.
Some gamers get addicted to the consternating violence of the violent games which also might contain sadistic sexual themes and nudity which in turn desensitize human feelings and cause social behavior problem and therefore loss of social skills. Excessive use of video games may have some or all of the symptoms of drug addiction or other proposed psychological addictions. Some players become more concerned with their interactions in the game than in their broader lives.
Players may play many hours per day, having late baths and regarding personal hygiene as a waste of time, gain or lose significant weight due to playing, disrupt sleep patterns to play and suffer sleep deprivation as an effect, play at work, standing in the middle of nowhere looking into space for a considerable amount of time, avoiding phone calls from friends and/or lying about play time. An example of this to the extreme is “A seventeen year old boy named Zach Richardson would go on streaks of fifteen hours of straight playing.
He skipped meals and only stopped when he blacked out (Crey, 2012). As by playing violent games one gets aggressive the society does not accept him and hence makes him a mentally disabled person which is more exasperating than anything. So games full of violent content cause behavior problems. Some scientists and addicted gamers try to nullify the fact that violent video games do not cause behavior problems. According to them it is the individual’s fault which is caused by the violent games as these might trigger the dormant violence in the gamer which was instilled beforehand.
Some even say that violent shooting video game players have better hand-eye coordination and visual-motor skills, such as their resistance to distraction, their sensitivity to information in the peripheral vision and their ability to count briefly presented objects, than non-players. Video games also develop the individual’s intelligence. A scientist olson (2012) went as far as saying that violent games affect students positively and not negatively because the violent crime rate is going down while the popularity of M-rated video games has increased.
She suggests that instead of stopping children from playing M-rated games completely, parents should just monitor how much time their children spend playing games; parents should take responsibility. I strongly oppose her opinion because in several researches conducted by prominent scientists as Anderson (2009), it has been proved that playing violent video games cause changes in certain brain wave patterns which not only cause mental imbalance but make the gamer prone to violence.
Likewise it has been said by Anderson and Carnagey (2009) that violence may influence physiological arousal, frustration, and hostility. For example, games that are more difficult and violent tend to produce more frustration which makes the gamer more vulnerable to aggression. The goal of violent video games tends to range from trying to shoot or stab opponent characters (e. g. , first-person shooter games such as the Call of Duty series or action games such as the Grand Theft Auto series) to competing against opponents in a physical battle (e. g. fighting games such as the Mortal Kombat series or sports games such the Fight Night series).
Although some non-violent video games involve competition, such as racing games (e. g. , the Gran Turismo series), many non-violent video games do not (e. g. , The Sin City series, the Myst series, Tetris, and Solitaire). Consequently, violent video games may prime competitive schemas more than non-violent video games. Thus, when participating in the TCRTT after playing a violent video game, the competitive aspect of the task may become especially salient (Anderson and Dill, 2000).
All these studies construct a strong base for the fact that violent video actually cause behavior problems. To infer an end to my logical arguments I would say that we must stop the production of these violent games if we want to see that our youth are not suffering from aggression complex through watching explicit contents, they are not reenacting these things in their life and therefore committing horrible crimes and maintaining their social skills by avoiding these games.
Therefore, the fact that many adolescents play violent video games for several hours every day clearly stresses the need for a greater understanding of the effects of violent video games on aggression. Last of all I evenhandedly want to ask a question to the producers of these violent games, would you want your own children to play these kinds of games and then kill a score of people by shooting in a moment of demonic rage on a sudden whim caused by the particular game?
Courtney from Study Moose
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