Do Video Games Cause Violence

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 29 December 2016

Do Video Games Cause Violence

Do violent video games cause violent behavior? I believe that violent video games do not cause violent behavior. While I agree that violent video games may desensitize youth to violence, I don’t believe the games make the youth more violent than they already are. Its not fair to single handedly blame violent video games, when there are tons of other violent media sources out there. Karen Sternheimer is a sociologist from the University of Southern California and has been researching the topic since 1999 and she says “Placing the blame on video games exonerates the environment that a child lives in that might nurture violence: poverty, instability, family violence, unemployment, and mental illness, Sternheimer argues.” I agree with her that blaming the games is a cop out and an excuse for the parents and other violent media to not have to take responsibility. In Sternheimer article titled “Do Video Games Kill?” She says “If we want to understand why young people become homicidal, we need to look beyond the games they play,” I agree with Sternheimer here because I think that its safe to say a youth doesn’t just suddenly get the urge to go out and start killing people.

If people were willing to look beyond face value and beyond how something appears to be. They would see that these kids who become violent might be being bullied, or depressed or have other life things going on that pushed them to the “breaking point” and they just might happen to play a violent video game. The research that show violent video games causing aggressive behavior are not accurate to how these games are played in real life. Andrew Przybylski and colleagues who wrote an article in the Review of General Psychology say that “most video game experiments only have players play for short periods of time, often for as little as 10 minutes, and violent games tend to be more difficult to learn and have more complex controls than non-violent games, it appears that many participants in these experiments may simply have been frustrated by being cut off so quickly before they even learned how to play, rather than by the violent content of the game.” (Review of General Psychology).

To me this makes the research the people are using to discredit the violent video game unreliable. They are just taking the data and interpreting it to show their side as being right. I know that if I only had a short amount of time to learn a new video game it would make me pretty frustrated too. So the aggression that they are seeing is not necessarily aggression from the game as it is aggression from failing. Graduate student Jose Valadez found that both violent and nonviolent games tend to relax people over time, not anger them. People now days actually do use games to release stress and relax. Sometimes people who are feeling aggressive use the games to vent that aggression rather than have the game add to their aggression. Almost everyone will have a homicidal thought at one point or another in time. But for those thought to turn to action is a completely different problem that does not have any association with video games.

When a youth acts out in violent manner instead of looking at what video games they are playing they need to be looking at the mental health and stability of the youth. Consistent and ever present homicidal thoughts are linked with severe mental health problems such as psychosis, depression, anxiety or paranoia. (Scientific American) Those mental illnesses are causing violent behavior not video games. Blaming the video games also allows for a cop out for parents. In the United States the ESRB or Entertainment Software Rating Board puts ratings on all games. Those rating range fro EC or early childhood to AO or Adult only. All of the games accused of causing violent behavior in youth such as Call Of Duty, Halo or Grand Theft Auto are all rated M for mature meaning the parents or someone of authority had to purchase these games for the youth. The ESRB rates these games with certain age requirements for a reason.

Allowing anyone to blame the video game takes all accountability off of the parents because they don’t have to own the choice to ignore the advice of the rating company and allow their children to play these games. Being able to blame the video games also ignores the violence the youth is exposed to at home also allowing the parents to blame something else besides themselves. While the media says two boys went on a killing spree in the mall and they happened to play halo is a harsh generalization that shouldn’t be said or used, because while these kids may have played halo doesn’t mean that halo is the reason these kids went on a killing spree. These kids could have been being physically or emotionally abused at home. Abuse makes people feel helpless powerless and worthless. These kids could have finally just had enough and acted out in a violent manner just to finally feel like they had power in their lives. Abuse could be the answer but no one would know because the parents will never admit to being abusive.

If all other arguments fail the one that has to be considered is that videogames are not the only violent media out in the world. While violent video games are first person and put the player in the shoes of the shooter or killer it is no less desensitizing then it is to watch someone else on a screen kill somebody. Violent movies show some of the most realistic and grotesque violence around. When it comes to desensitizing someone to violence or glorifying violence movies are just as guilty if not more guilty than games. Movie like Act of Valor or Rambo glorify violence because they show the “hero” killing the “bad guys” in reality not on a animated picture.

Violent music is also guilty but has been brought to more light in examples such as the Cassie Jo Stoddart case where the two boys who killed Cassie said they were inspired by the lyrics from a song by the band Insane Clown Posse who are known for their intensely violent lyrics. If people are wanting to blame video games a form of media they also need to look at all other forms of media involved in that youths life such as what music they have on their iPods or mP3 players to what movies they have at home and that they have watched recently.

In conclusion while violent video games may contribute to the desensitization of violence they are not alone in the desensitization of violence. Also until there is a set scale and proven test to determine the aggression associated with video games they can not be blamed for the acts of anyone one else. Parents need to also be held more accountable for the actions and roles they play in these tragic events they need to stop hiding behind video games and take responsibility for what has happened.We as society also need to step up and look harder for the solution to why these teens go homicidal rather than blaming the first thing that we find.

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  • University/College: University of California

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 29 December 2016

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