9 August 2019
9 August 2019
It’s a tale as old as the pastime itself: violent video games create violent people. The war against violent video games has gone on for decades, so why hasn’t it worked? Here are some claims (some of them get pretty wild and bizarre) that have been debunked.
1) Violent video games are associated with increased aggressive behavior, thoughts and affect.
Partially true. A common saying applies here: correlation doesn’t equal causation. A study conducted by Brock University found that people who already have aggressive tendencies are drawn towards violent video games. Indeed, everyone has their own likes and dislikes, so it makes sense that violent people are the one who tend towards violent video games. So in reality, it isn’t violent video games that causes aggressive behavior, it’s the other way around.
On top of that, multiple studies have also shown that the “aggressive behaviour” is actually competitive drive. It doesn’t mean it’s going to lead to real-world physical violence. Other competitive activities, such as sports, can also trigger a similar competitive drive within the participant.
2) Violent video games desensitize you more than other forms of media that portray violence (like books or movies).
On paper, this would make sense, wouldn’t it? You roleplay and immerse yourself into the mind of a psychotic cold-blooded killer, of course it’d be harmful, right?False. Patrick Markey, Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences of Villanova University said in an interview that studies show that video games actually have little to no impact on a players acceptance for violence. In fact, this study shows that violent crime rates go down shortly after a popular violent video game has been released.
3) Games like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty are simulators that train children to shoot guns.
This claim is absolutely bizarre and yet, there are many people who made that claim. NO. JUST NO. There are no transferable skill sets between a mouse and keyboard and handling a real-world gun. This is such a massive jump in logic, that it just baffles me to think that some people can agree with this statement.
4) Violent games which feature guns increase the player’s tolerance for guns
Untrue. The National Center of Biotechnology Information found that using guns in a game does not change their attitude towards guns.
The study used Doom, the classic (and also controversial) first person shooter. Participants were randomly assigned to play four different modified versions of the game. One version had an AR-15, and the other had a plasma rifle. Each version also had a weaker power level or a stronger power level. Despite these variations, there were little to no influence on their attitude towards guns.
So rest easy, playing first person shooters doesn’t actually breed gun nuts!
Trilz’ Thoughts on the matter
Alright, readers, I just threw a bunch of information and data at you (if you clicked the links), but what does this mean? Well, here’s what I think…
Firstly, there’s a political motive for voicing out against video games, in particular: FPS (first person shooter) games. It’s a lot easier to vilify video games and throw it under the bus whenever a shooting happens, than it is to address gun ownership laws, psychiatric help and school bullying. Because that’s the real root of the cause. And yet, it’s easier and more controversial to declare war on video games because it gives off the sense to the public that something is actively being done about gun violence.
Secondly, people are afraid of the unknown. When a person who plays video games starts talking about a specific gun model, or how he got a gnarly twenty car pile-up in Grand Theft Auto…it scares people. Especially people who don’t play video games and aren’t well informed about the topic. (And that’s why I’m writing about it!)
And this one is purely my opinion, but remember when I talked about violent games attracting violent people? Wouldn’t this finding also put previous studies into question regarding the validity of their findings? Just a thought, but I’ll leave this one up to the readers.
In conclusion, there might be a correlation between violent video games and violent individuals, but the research is inconclusive and remains a hypothesis.
And while violent video games don’t create violent individuals, it’s important to remember that we still have a responsibility to keep our younger audiences safe. It’s not because we’re afraid they’ll turn into murderers, but it’s the same reason you keep children away from other mature content: it’s unknown and scary to them.
Bonnie Ross, head of 343 Industries, the subsidiary studio that manages the Halo video game franchise, is a mother of two and has this to say: “…your kids are gonna play games, play it with them, you know? So that you can really be there to answer questions and help them through that.”
Bonnie makes a fair point, we don’t want to shelter our kids either. Children are curious and sneaky nowadays, they’ll just ask Google. So in the end, I think it’s better to just be there for them and make sure they’re well informed.
And with that, I’m off! Keep gaming and keep positive!
Adachi, P.J.C. & Willoughby, T. (2013) Demolishing the Competition: The Longitudinal Link Between Competitive Video Games, Competitive Gambling, and Aggression Journal of Youth and Adolescence
Hilgard, J., Engelhardt, C. R. & Bartholow, B.D. (2016) Brief use of a specific gun in a violent game does not affect attitudes towards that gun R Soc Open Sci
Markey, P.M. (2013) Expert: Video games don’t trigger violence Live CNN
Markey, P.M., Markey, C.N. & French, J.E. (2014) Violent Video Games and Real-World Violence: Rhetoric Versus Data. Psychology of Popular Media Culture
Murphy, S. (2009) Video Games, Competition and Exercise: A New Opportunity for Sport Psychologists? The Sport Psychologist
Written by: Dexter Lim aka Trilz
The views expressed are those of the author and do not in any way, represent nor reflect those of HP OMEN and its affiliations.