Violent video games have been portrayed negatively in the media. Mostly this is because they supposedly motivate the players to commit violence. However, this is not a proven fact. We will see that there are no real correlations between violence seen on the screen and the ones we encounter in real life.
Do video games cause violence? The fact is we cannot make a direct link between video games and violence, at least not to the extent this is sometimes portrayed by the media. Scientists have been all over this topic for the past two decades. They found a statistically significant shift in aggressive behavior among children that play video games with violent content. However, its significance is not so strong as to influence someone to commit monstrous acts.
Why do we have a need to pin the blame on something when we encounter violence? Why is the first answer we all go for the existence of violence in video games? As you will see this topic is additionally complicated by the fact that children sometimes commit mass shootings. The shock of such acts makes us believe that something out of the ordinary caused it. That’s where video games fall in as the perfect scapegoat.
Do Video Games Promote Violence Among Children?
I mentioned that people link video games with violence. Not only that but they presume that certain games give children particularly nasty ideas. Like the idea to commit mass murder in high schools. Obviously, one is led to believe that those who look at violence often commit it, and this can be true especially if the violence is experienced in their homes. There is little reason to believe that fiction causes people to crave for more violence.
The topic is too important to be left just as a passing discussion intended for the newspapers. If the implications are true, we can be looking at a big problem. Because of this scientist made extensive inquiries into the problem so they can determine what is the right answer. The information available online and through academic articles clearly shows that no significant link can be drawn between violent video games and real-life violence. Children that play violent video games show a higher interest in it, but this is never manifested through violent behavior.
Do Video Games Inspire Violent Behavior?
Let us look at the problem from a different perspective. Think about all the people that play video games. Most of the games have some form of violence in them, or they are completely based on conflict and killing. The people you know play those games probably never displayed any symptoms of erratic or violent behavior that should be troubling to you. If the games had such a strong effect on our mental health wouldn’t there be more violence on the streets? Or among the people, you know that play those kinds of games? The truth is, and anybody who plays games will confirm this, games are not the source of violence in us, they are just an outlet. The true nature of violence is linked with aggression.
The Link Between Aggression and Violence
The emotion of aggression is a necessary evolutionary adaptation present in all living and sentient beings. When we feel aggression, it is either in a situation that endangers us or when we are hungry. In any case, it is a situation that requires us to fight for our lives, sometimes literary and at other times figuratively. What does this mean for our discussion? Violence is an extreme form of aggression and aggression is inherent to all living beings. Any extreme expression of it cannot be attributed to one single factor.
We are all thought to be aggressive through our lives and to assert our own stand in relationship with others. There are situations in life that make us feel more endangered than usual and if we are not surrounded by the right people and the right support this feeling can linger. Over time it can develop into depression or violence. Both are forms of doing harm, only one is directed towards the self and the other is directed towards others. When we play video games in such a state, they can increase our level of stress and they can cause certain physical reactions. They do not make you do anything at all, we as people decide this.
Aside from that, there is no video game that explicitly tells the player to be violent towards others. All the aggression displayed in games is done through fictional characters that either serve a purpose in the storyline or they are here so we can pretend to be a soldier, assassin, or any other militarized personnel. If associations and depictions of violence cause it, children and adults across the world would commit such acts on a regular basis. Not only that, but it is hard for me to believe that a video game has more authority over a child then the society that made the game in the first place.
Where does that leave us in this debate? Video games can trigger acts of violence, and we all know this well. Especially when we failed a level ten times and our anger grows more and more. People are known to cause a violent scene in such a moment, they might even break the screen on their computer. But no person (be it an adult or an adolescent) was ever triggered by something like a failed level in a game.
Can Video Games have a Positive effect?
There are many arguments that go against the idea that violence in video games causes real-life violence. I also attempted to discuss how we can consider the aggressive influence of video games without pinning the blame for mass violence on them. Let us now consider other aspects of the debate.
There are those that claim that video games help people deal with aggression, and we have less of it in real life because of them. This is a hypothesis that is hard to prove because there can be no direct correlations drawn between the two. What we can notice is that there is a decrease of public violence in general in the past three decades. This can be because of video games, or because of sports and big sporting events, or even because the government does not promote the military as much. Some claim that the decrease in violence is linked with the raze in wealth among the general world population.
Whatever the reason we are becoming better at containing violent outbursts more than ever before in history. Need I remind you of the terrors that occurred during the World Wars, and the people that committed them had no video games to get ideas from. Violence and aggression, I believe, are reduced because society is placing fewer inhibitions on people and we can express ourselves freely and discuss our emotions even when they are violent. Video games help us channel our anxieties into a medium and through it, we can turn it into something constructive. Yes, this is manifested through the virtual world but it has meaning for us nonetheless.
Society and Violence
When someone commits a public act of violence, we are often shocked by it and we try to find answers. That is, we try to find someone to blame for the bad thing that happened. This is even more obvious when a child (the symbol of innocence) does something violent and cruel. Society seldom looks at itself in such situations and instead, we all try and find the subjective reasons from that person’s life that made them commit something so awful.
The boy who took the gun to school did it because he saw people shoot people in games. No, he did it because he felt endangered and he reflected the hatred he got from society back on to it. Aside from that, the weapons children use in such situations come from people and not from the game packages. Finally, why do we ask all the important questions when it is too late for the answers to make a real change? Children need caring all year round and if they are spending too much time locked in the virtual world it is probably because the real one is not to their liking.
When we say video, games are to be blamed for violence it seems to me we want to wash our hands of the responsibility. No one looks at what they do every day that can help contribute to a child’s feeling of seclusion and anger. We all usual presume that everyone is doing their best with children, but what if what we consider is the best actually makes the children feel worst.
The modern world brought many changes that are positively influencing our lives but with them came many others that are not so good. Placing expectations on people can be an excellent motivator for an adult. But a child that has low self-esteem and knowledge of themselves and they can be overwhelmed by the constant demands modern society has over them. So much so, that they start seeing their friends and teachers as enemies that they must eradicate from their lives. This has nothing to do with violent video games it is solely a social matter, and for me, it demonstrates the mistakes we all make every day. We should open our eyes to the children that surround us and notice the changes they go through. If we make too big of a deal of a movie they are watching, or a video game they play we are ignoring the central issues. They are not the cause of the problem; at best they can be considered its symptom. The rut cause is somewhere deeper.
Video games display violence but they do not promote it, on the contrary, they contain it through a medium loved and used by many of us. There are millions of gamers all over the world and they all love their hobbies. Most of the games they play are violent but they never cause one to commit the acts they see. And even if they wanted to, video games are often to fantastical for the ideas to be applicable in real life. If we want to find the source of violence in adolescent children we have to dig deeper. The answers lay in society as a whole and in the parenting decisions we make every day, not just when we choose whether or not to buy a game for our child.