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Do Violent Video Games Have an Impact on Today's Society: Youth and Adults?

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Do Violent Video Games have an Impact on

Today's Society: Youth and Adults?

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ILR 260

Do violent video games have an impact on today's society; youth and adults? Can prolonged exposure and gameplay impact a person's concept of reality? Are violent video games to blame for violent outbursts and can they be definitively linked to these games? Who is and who should be held responsible for the exposure of these games to today's youth? These are some of the questions explored below.

Since 1976's Death Race by Exidy Games, violence has been portrayed in video games (Wikipedia). The principle has always remained the same; kill or be killed; the idea has been heavily scrutinized by many with their own political, religious, and/or social agendas. In the early years, Death Race, Pac Man, Space Invaders where the video games that portrayed violence and carried the most scrutiny. Today our the video game industry is saturated with games like World of War Craft, Gears of War, Hitman, Medal of Honor, Black Ops, Resident Evil, God of War, Dead Space, Assassin's Creed, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat or Call of Duty. Many in today's society believe that violence portrayed and acted out in these video games can and does warp children's minds. The games mentioned are only but the few of the videos laden with sex and violence. The claim is that these violent video games are partially to blame or as much to blame for today's violent outburst among youth and even some adults as the misuse of drugs, alcohol, rap and rock music, sex (ie: ungodly), bad parenting (ie: spanking vice redirecting), and any other unfounded claim to draw the same conclusion.

"In-depth, evidence-based research about the effects of violent video games is rare. Still, the Dayton Daily News reported recently that a new Ohio State University study shows that playing violent video games can make people more aggressive over time" (Akron Beacon Journal, 2013). None of the aforementioned studies have been shown, scientifically, to be the sole cause leading to violent behavior. It has been linked to an increase in violent thoughts, but nothing conclusive with regards to actually being the sole cause of acts of physical violence. In some of the cases stated above, such as drugs and alcohol, the nay sayers have some ground to walk on due to the lowering of a person's inhibitions with these two instances which could possibly lead to violent outburst, but that is another study entirely. Many studies have been conducted on this subject matter; however there has been no conclusive data to prove any such claims. The studies are split right down the middle as to what they prove C. A. Anderson and L. R. Huesmann's study conclusion claims, that video games stimulate aggressive behavior (Huesmann, p. 2). Dr. P. Markey of Villanova University and Dr. C. Markey of Rutgers University have presented evidence that some children show signs of aggression after playing violent video games; however most children do not show these signs. Both doctors concluded there are three personality traits together that are most likely the cause to the aggressive behavior after playing these games. "The three traits they identified were high neuroticism (prone to anger, and depression, highly emotional, and easily upset), disagreeableness (cold, indifferent to other people), and low levels of conscientiousness (prone to acting without thinking, failing to deliver on promises, breaking rules)" (Harvard Mental Health Letter, p. 2).

Most studies claim that certain populaces have a higher tendency to play violent video games and the ones most at risk have preexisting personality disorders, mental health conditions, traumatic upbringing, and insecurities (Hall, R. C. MD, p. 317). Some short-term effects linked with the aforementioned aggression are mimicry, angry emotional reactions, and emotional arousal upon observance of violence. Long-term effects are considered consequences of social observational learning, developing of beliefs supporting aggression that accompany expectation in social interactions, conditioning of aggression-promoting emotions, and emotional desensitization (Bluemke, p. 2). Some preexisting mental disorders may include, but are not limited to Aspergers, autism, schizophrenia, and other associative disorders. Some of these disorders lead to possibly not distinguishing the difference between the games and reality. Those who already pose a higher propensity of emotional or violent outbursts, are at a much higher risk of additional aggressive behavior after playing the violent video games.

Other studies show that social theory suggests that video games may provide an outlet for an individual to work out aggression, therefore, lowering their levels of aggression (Hall, MD, p. 318). This release of aggression therefore could impede possible outward aggressive behavior. Some parents view video game play as isolating and anti-social; however with the technology of today's systems, youth may play and compete online with all of their friends (Harvard Mental Health Letter, p. 3). Violent video games are similar to rough-housing and acts as an outlet for competition to establish dominance amongst peers (Harvard Mental Health Letter, p. 3).

These days, video games can also act as a means of training, whether it military training or for someone searching to conquer their fear of heights (Farman, p. 100). Our military uses games such as Call of Duty and other military like games to help keep our forces minds ready and tactically sharp. With the development hand gun and riffle shaped controllers, this assists in the reality and feel of the training. Flight simulated aerial battles and flight simulations assist in carrying out essential unmanned flight missions. These types of violent video games are being utilized to keep our men and women of our militaries safe and out of harms way.

Responsibility falls on three entities, and one more than any other. The video game industry holds the responsibility to the parents for providing them with the proper rating for the games. The Government holds the responsibility of regulating the video game industry, and the video game distributors. Finally the parents are the first and last line of defense for our impressionable youth. Parents need to explain that the game is not real and that there are consequences for violent actions in the

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