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Do video games promote violence?

SHEA PERERA, FOCUS EDITOR

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Teenagers gather together in a pitch-black room where the only source of light is the flashes of white from the television. Everyone clutches a controller in their hands while their dilated eyes remained fixed to the television. No motion other than the rapid movement of their thumbs clicking buttons on the controller can be sensed. The tense room remained silent as no sound or words are uttered until the accomplishment of their mission: their mission was to terminate the life of three individuals who escaped from jail and to capture two suspects in a murder case.

“Shootings and killings have become a typical occurrence in video games. After some time, we tend to become desensitized to this kind of violence,” video gamer and junior Melanie Langdon said.

Many individuals like to believe that the violence seen in games has a direct correlation to the criminal activity found in society. Games that display graphic violence such as “Call of Duty”, “Fallout 4”, and “Hitman” are a few games that have been criticized as key contributors to criminal violence.

“Whenever there is a violent event that happens, we always try to find the root cause,” Langdon said.

Back in 2014, Newtown mass shooter Adam Lanza was an avid gamer. After the Newtown shooting, police used his GPS to track down his actions in the preceding days. His GPS showed that he drove to a movie theater every day where surveillance videos captured him playing arcade games for stretches of nine to twelve hours. Later on, when police investigated Lanza’s home, they found a wide array of violent video games. These games included “Call of Duty”, “Dead and Alive” and “Grand Theft Auto” that have recently been scrutinized for their excessively violent contents.

Violent video games have not only been questioned as a motivator for the horrific occurrences in the Newtown shooting, but the issue has also been brought up when a young eight year old boy shot and killed his caretaker. Just minutes before police arrived at the scene to see the fatality, he had been playing Grand Theft Auto, a game that encourages violence by awarding points for killing people.

The controversy over video games has been an issue ever since 1976 when the video game “Death Race” was banned from stores. The increasing number of shootings has brought more attention to the issue of whether violent video games cause violent actions. Research has yet to prove that video games are the main culprit or cause of criminal violence such as mass shootings.

Although research does not support the fact that video games lead to criminal activity, the American Psychological Association reports that playing violent video games can lead to aggressive behavior in young teens. In a recent study in which adolescent males participated in playing violent video games, it was reported that males reacted in a hostile manner after playing board games. They were situated in a room where they played video games with graphic violence for two hours. Then, in stark contrast, the group played Monopoly. After some individuals lost, they reacted poorly by screaming and trying to ruin the game for the rest of the players. So whether, players play video or board games, violence is displayed by everyone.

Although parents may think that stopping children from playing violent video games may be the best way to ensure that their children will not have aggressive behavior, this has been proven as fictitious.

“I remember I was little, my mom did not let me play video games until I was twelve. I always thought this was unfair, but now that I am older, I realize that even if there is not enough evidence to prove that video games lead to criminal violence, it better to be safe than sorry ” Langdon said.

Many young children are unable to understand the value of life in video games as it is significantly undervalued. In video games, fictional characters tend to have many lives compared to only one life in reality. This distorts the real perspection of how important a human life is. Unlike a video game in which most characters are brought back to life, either after a round or when you restart a game, a human life, once lost, can never be restored.

Violent video games are not the single driving force that drives individuals to partake in criminal offences or violent behavior. Although there has not been enough research to correlate video game violence with violent activity in society, it is important for individuals to understand that video games can cause behavioral changes, especially in young children.

 

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Do video games promote violence?