PLAYDo Violent Video Games Encourage Violence
Violence in video games has been a topic for discussion for years, but is there a link to changes in behaviour?
With the popularity of video games on the rise, violent games have been in the media spotlight.
Whilst there may be some links between a violent game being played and the player then being violent, absolute confirmation is yet to be delivered.
You might be thinking ‘I play games and I’m not violent’, but some of the evidence I dug up to write this piece may surprise you.
The “Of Course They Do!” camp …
With so much research dedicated to finding an answer to this question, the results are pretty varied.
One article, written in 2016 for theconversation.com, shares the opinion of most parents, that violent video games cause violent behaviour. The research includes one group who were given non-violent games and another group who were given violent games. These groups included both guys and girls of all ages.
The research on the kids who played violent games showed that they were more likely to give each other electric shocks if they were given the opportunity to. It also says that some of these kids showed signs of being less cooperative and less likely to share. The kids who were playing violent video games exhibited more aggressive tendencies and less empathy.
Some violent games even encourage the player to commit crimes and be violent. Games such as Grand Theft Auto (GTA) and Mortal Kombat serve the express purpose of beating on and killing people. Having played these games myself, they do deserve the rating that they were given in Australia (R18+). The story of GTA involves shoot outs, drugs and excessive violence and swearing.
It is games such as these that cause this reputation for video games as a whole. These games have been brought up in court cases as evidence towards the guilt of a defendant. Whether this is fair or not it was part of the deliberation between the jurors and contributed to the final decision. An example being a 16 year old in Chicago getting ordered to ‘stop playing violent video games’ by a judges decision.
The “No They Don’t!” argument …
One argument that I’ve heard so much is that ‘playing violent games desensitises you to violence.’ This is mostly true, but not entirely. Let’s consider young children who are in a more developmental stage … A quote that I hear with this usually goes like ‘A child’s mind is like a sponge’ or something similar. Considering this, yes, violent video games can cause a child to be more violent, however it does not affect all kids. Many generalisations are used in discussions about this and it is important to know that each individual is different. Whilst mass media streams stories of the evident link between a tragic event and violent games, this does not represent the vast majority of players.
For many, video games can be a way of relaxing or spending time with friends. It’s less about the game and more about the conversation around it. Gaming is fun! And so many people ignore this. Ask any active player of Fortnite or Call of Duty, the response is almost always that it’s a fun way to spend their time.
The “Violent Games don’t promote violence” camp say that gaming also gives kids a sense of achievement in the form of in-game rewards and levels or managing a win. Another lesson that is taught subtly is perseverance. Whilst it can be seen as being glued to the TV, it could also be that there is a healthy sense of competition in the game. Collaboration and teamwork is also a part of some violent video games such as Fortnite. The use of communication means that kids can be developing conversational skills and important lessons of teamwork.
The evidence and research points towards the signs of violent video games leading to violent behaviour, however nothing is conclusive. Whether or not you choose to believe or accept the opinions of others, there are so many factors to consider. Whilst aggressive tendencies seem to arise due to exposure of violent video games, it does not always translate to violence.
I’d say that if your parents are worried about the games you’re playing, the best way to get them to see your point of view is to ask them to sit with you for a short time so that they can actually see what you do and how you’re interacting with your friends during the game. I’d also say it’s a really great idea to keep watch on how many hours you’re spending gaming without a break. If your folks think all you do is sit in your room all day (especially if you are!!) saying that games make you violent is going to give them a reason to limit your time.
Do it yourself – take a break every 45 mins and actually go out of your room and spend some time with your family. When they see you moving around the house and being part of the family, they will no doubt feel better about your ‘gaming’!