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Video Games Don't Cause Violence Essay

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Video Games Causing Violence is a Misconception

There have been many things to come from the 20th century and one of the most notable ones was video games. Video games are a form of digital media used for entertainment. One of the most common tropes in video games is violence. Violence is usually looked down upon in our society minus a few exceptions like video games. This explains why some people are against video games. Those people believe that video games cause children to become more violent. They usually never let their children touch a video game because they believe it is the right thing to do. Now, parents not wanting their kids to play video games and preventing them from playing video games is fine, but believing that video games are causing violence is an issue because they will usually spread their idea to others. Video games causing violence is a misconception when in reality, it reduces violence, acts as a way to help people, and have little to do with whether someone is going to commit a crime or not.

Video games causing violence is a misconception because of the data that has been created and spread. This idea that video games cause violence is something that a lot of people believe and it is not entirely their fault. There are some games that can be seen as morally wrong like Grand Theft Auto. This game allows the player to commit a multitude of crimes whether it be for fun or not. Games with this range of violence found within them have caused people to question the morality of this kind of game. Just because there are violent activities in games, does not mean that these are the causes of violent activities in people. According to the APA,

“4 time-series analyses investigated the associations among violent crime (homicides and aggravated assaults), video game sales, Internet keyword searches for violent video game guides, and the release dates of popular violent video games (both annually and monthly). Contrary to the claims that violent video games are linked to aggressive assaults and homicides, no evidence was found to suggest that this medium was positively related to real-world violence in the United States. Unexpectedly, many of the results were suggestive of a decrease in violent crime in response to violent video games. Possible explanations for these unforeseen findings are discussed and researchers are cautioned about generalizing the results from laboratory and correlational studies to severe forms of violent behavior.”

From this research, there is no evidence to suggest any direct correlation to an increased scale of violent video games that lead to a spike in violent crimes. This misconception is not completely unwarranted though, since people are committing violent acts in video games, one can assume that the same behavior would transfer into real life. So, it is not inherently bad to think this way, but that still does not make it right either because the information is incorrect. Parents also do not look at the contexts of these violent games. With Call of Duty, you are usually playing as a soldier who tries to save the world or at least defeat the antagonist(s) of the game. You are usually playing as a hero or a person who is good and will try to do what is right. Companies try to make likable protagonists because there is a higher chance of people enjoying the game. Most video game protagonists can be looked at as some kind of role model. Video game protagonists like Mario, Sonic, Link, and Master Chief come from different genres of video games but are all considered heroes in them. They all have different traits that are considered desirable, this can be seen with Master Chief’s willing self-sacrifice, to Link’s tremendous amount of courage. Even then, not all video games are violent. There are video games that allow you to do different activities like golfing or dancing. Since most video games are associated with violence, all games are being blamed even though they have nothing to do with violence. What all of this does, is spread misinformation that hurts the gaming industry and other industries that work with it while preventing kids from playing good games.

Video games have helped prevent violence because of the different ways people have used them. Whether people are aware of it or not, people are becoming more aggressive. One of the biggest gaming genres to be blamed for this increased aggression is First-person shooters. Call of Duty is one of the biggest named first-person shooter series to come up that has led to this belief. In Call of Duty, you play as a wide range of soldiers with having the task of killing people. Even though this genre of gaming is believed to create violence, it is actually the opposite, “First-person shooter video game players are 67 percent less likely to produce hate materials than are non-players(Virginia Tech, 2018).” The reason this is important is that first-person shooters are probably the single most contributor to this video game misconception. Then there is the fact that the internet produces so much content that has a wide range of material for the general public. A lot of the material on the platforms of the internet involves some form of hate, “This research shows not only are more Americans being exposed to online extremism but more is also involved in producing and disseminating it(Virginia Tech, 2018).” What all of this data suggests, is that people who play first-person shooters are actually less likely to create hate-centered material even though they are exposed to so much of it online. While video games are helping prevent violence, studies also show that “Males are 1.76 times more likely than women to produce hate material online(Virginia Tech, 2018). What this study is showing is that video games are acting as an outlet for pent-up aggression and this information saying that males are producing more hate material than women is suggesting males are letting out much more aggressive than women. Video games allow people to do things that normally cannot be done in real life, video games can give people this sense of freedom that only they can give. There are even games that are meant to help people relax From everything that I have shown, we can see how people are using gaming as a way of letting out aggression and that video games help with stopping real-world violence along with online violence.

A lot of people believe that violence has increased over time and video games are the ones to be blamed, but it actually has helped to prevent crimes. Now, some people might think there is more violence now than there was in the past, but that is incorrect. The idea of crimes increasing is an illusion. According to the Brennan Center For Justice,

“The national crime rate peaked in 1991 at 5,856 crimes per 100,000 people and has generally been declining ever since. In 2015, crime fell for the 14th year in a row. Estimates based on preliminary data for 2016 indicate that the overall crime rate will remain stable at 2,857 offenses per 100,000, rising less than 1 percent from 2015. Today’s crime rate is less than half of what it was in 1991.”

The reason this has happened can be somewhat credited to the internet and how it has allowed media to be spread so easily. When something extremely bad happens, the media will see it and report it. A lot of these violent actions occur, and people will hear about it, when unlike in the past if something happened, it would be spread far less quickly if at all. So that can be another reason for this misconception, but it is just an illusion. For actually preventing violence, there are many reasons for this to happen, but there is one very simple answer that no one really thinks about, which is, “Violent video games may actually reduce crime as aggressive players are “too busy” shooting virtual enemies to cause trouble in the real world, experts claim(Violent Video Games Reduce Crime, 2011).” This is something that I do not really see is brung up in most conversations regarding video game violence, but it is true. If someone is playing video games, that means there is less time for those people to cause problems like committing crimes. So, going from this logic, video games do affect crime, just in a positive way,

“It states that rather than violent crime rates soaring when new violent video games are released, they actually drop as gamers are ‘too busy at home playing the games, adding: ‘Time spent gaming cannot be spent on other activities, both legitimate activities and illicit violent activities(Violent Video Games Reduce Crime, 2011).”

This can be seen when popular releases like GTA or FallOut release and a bunch of people play it. Data shows that,

“When violent video game sales increased by 10%, the crime rate decreased 0.3% – a decrease that was not found when comparing to non-violent video game sales. This effect was actually not only shown in video game sales, but also in violent movies. Crime rates decreased by 1.1% for every 1 million people that watched a violent movie. (Winchester, 2017)

So many people are attracted to this kind of media, but it does not inherently make them more violent or aggressive. There are people who love killing people in games but that does not mean that they will do that in real life because most people have some moral compass that keeps them on the right path. These games act as a way to help vent this feeling that people have when it comes to violence. Video games can take up a lot of time which is why people need to be careful not to spend too much time playing them, but this addiction is what is preventing crimes.

Video games have become so common in our lives that makes it seem really hard to believe that it causes so many problems. According to the ESA, “Sixty-five percent of American households are home to someone who plays video games regularly, and 67 percent of American households own a device used to play video games” and “Gamers age 18 or older represent 72 percent of the video game-playing population, and the average gamer is 35 years old.” With this data, we know that pretty much everyone is aware of video games. Even then, a lot of families play video games with each other or share consoles which makes you think about how gaming has really been integrated into most first-world societies. Almost everyone has a console in their household or at least some device that allows them to play video games. Consoles are not even the only way to play video games, you can use computers or even phones to game. But there is something that everyone looks down upon and many blame video games, which is school shootings. Now, school shootings are an extremely touchy subject and a lot of people like to blame video games for these terrible acts of violence because you are able to kill people in video games which can lead to people becoming desensitized, but it is untrue. “…about 20% of school shooters played violent video games, compared to close to 70% of their nonviolent peers(Loria, 2018),” which means that not even half of the shooters play video games. Even then, the amount of nonaggressive people who play video games outweighs the number of people who act aggressive and violent. These games only seem to help decrease crime but are constantly being blamed for these problems.

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Another reason why video games do not create violence is that gaming has very little to do with whether someone is going to commit a crime or not. Henry Jenkins, an MIT Professor found that “According to federal crime statistics, the rate of juvenile violent crime in the United States is at a 30-year low. Researchers find that people serving time for violent crimes typically consume fewer media before committing their crimes than the average person in the general population.” When someone is going to commit a crime, it would make sense for that person to look at fewer media. Most criminals would usually have a plan before committing a crime which would in turn make them use less media because they would not want to risk going to jail if they make a mistake. It’s not even just in America,

“In Japan, about 60 percent of the population played video games in 2016, according to NewZoo, a gaming market research company. But almost no one is killed by a gun in the country, which bans possessing, carrying, selling, or buying handguns or rifles. There were only six gun deaths in Japan in 2014, compared with over 33,000 in the United States, according to GunPolicy.org, which tracks published reports on armed violence, firearm law, and gun control(Salam, 2018).”

First-person shooters are one of the most prominent gaming genres out there and there seems to be no correlation between the people who play them and the gun crimes there are nowadays. It does not seem to matter whether someone plays a game and then decides to commit a crime or not. Most people are rational thinkers and know what is right and what is wrong which is why not everyone commits crimes. Even with the people who are not able to think as properly as others, they still have people that try and help them stay on the right track. It more or so has to deal with people who are alone and are not able to keep themselves on the right path.

Even though video games are believed to make children more aggressive and violent, it actually helps prevent it. Video games act as different ways of dealing with anger and other emotions. Video games can be somewhat cathartic in how they can relieve stress because you are doing something that you normally cannot do in real life. Even if it is not for the freedom that it allows in games, it can allow someone to vent stress because they are doing something. It does not even have to be someone venting and helping with distressing because of the different activities you can do in gaming. There is also the fact that if someone is spending time playing a game, that means that they are not spending that time committing crimes. This is information that most people tend to look over when accusing video games of causing real-world crimes. There are so many revolutionary inventions that have risen in the 20th century and some have increased the ability to be more violent, but video games are not one of them. Video games have done so much for this world. It has created millions of jobs, used to increase creativity, to help teach kids and adults alike, and has created so much enjoyment in people’s lives that without them, would be far less happy. It is a shame that video games are being blamed for problems that are not occurring and are actually making better.

Annotated Bibliography

Friedman, Matthew, et al. Crime Trends:1900-2016. New York University School of Law, 2017. Brennan Center For Justice. Scribd, www.brennancenter.org/publication/crime-trends1990-2016. Accessed 8 May 2019.

This is a report that examines crime trends at the city and national levels for the last quarter of this century. It analyzes data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and from police departments in America’s 30 largest cities to find that crime rates have dropped over the last quarter-century. I used this data because it gives factual evidence of the decrease in crimes. I believe that this article is extremely reliable because it uses data collected from police departments in the largest cities in the nation along with data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI) which is a national security organization that deals with law enforcement. The audience for this seems to be aimed towards people who have law enforcement backgrounds and government employees because this uses data from many government agencies and this focus on the crime rates in the United States which these people would require or have.

Salam, Maya, and Liam Stack. “Do Video Games Lead to Mass Shootings? Researchers Say No.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 23 Feb. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/02/23/us/politics/trump-video-games-shootings.html.

This article talks about how many people believe the reasons for school shootings are because of video games. The article then brings up multiple studies that disprove this notion. I used this article for the extra data that I could get from this article. Even though the two people do not have anything special, because they are only journalists and not scientists, they are talking about events that have happened in the past and using different studies to talk about what they found which is why I find this article reliable. The audience is aimed at parents who are trying to figure out more about the effects of video games. This is probably the case because this person takes a relatively unbiased position and gives data that she found on the matter.

Sirwinchester, et al. “Do Violent Video Games Actually REDUCE Violence and Crimes?!” Steemit, steemit.com/sirwinchester/@sirwinchester/do-violent-video-games-actually-reduce-violence-and-crimes.

Sir Winchester talks about there is a misconception about video game violence and how it is understandable while trying to find points that support video games through different analysts and charts with data that puts video games in a better light. He concludes that you can find arguments for both sides, but the inconsistent data makes it extremely difficult to get a definitive answer. I used this article because of the chart and data Winchester uses throughout it and from his neutral standpoint. While Winchester is just a journalist, he acts calm and reasonable throughout the article which is why I believe that he is reliable enough for my essay. The audience this is aimed towards seems to be towards people who are not necessarily for or against video games but are trying to find more information on the subject and then make an answer for themselves rather than being told what to think by an article.

“Do Violent Video Games Make Kids More Violent?” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 17 July 2018, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evidence-based-living/201807/do-violent-video-games-make-kids-more-violent.

This article is about how research about video game violence shows that video games help prevent violence. It uses multiple points taken from different articles and shows how inconsistent the data is towards violent video games leading to aggressive behavior. But also that, not all video games are suitable for every child and that it is best to understand each child’s needs and set up rules to keep them safe. I used this article because of the facts that it had and because it also lead to another article with even more information on the subject. There seems to be no author for this article but I think that this article is still somewhat reliable because it gave me a link to another article that had an author with valid information and statistics. This article’s targeted audience is parents because the main idea of it is whether violent video games make kids more violent or not which would grab the attention of parents who are wondering whether to let their children play video games.

Markey, Patrick, et al. “2017 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry.” The Entertainment Software Association, APA PsycNet, October 2015, www.theesa.com/article/2017-essential-facts-computer-video-game-industry/.

This article is about the different behaviors that are found to be linked to aggressive behaviors and whether or not video games affect them. This article comes to the conclusion that there is no evidence found when looking at data within the United States and that results show a decrease in violent crimes in response to violent video games. I used this article because the journalist who used this information left out certain parts and only gave a brief summary of some of the statements within the article and I think it would be more effective to get better statistics from the people who actually published the data. The authors of this article are professors in Psychology who have earned PhDs in that subject which is why I believe that they are reliable authors. The audience aimed towards this would probably be other scientists who are looking into the subject as well because they are finding and collecting the data so it can be published.

Loria, Kevin. “How Playing Video Games Affects Your Body and Brain.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 19 June 2018, www.businessinsider.com/video-games-and-violence-2018-3.

Kevin Loria is a journalist at Business Insider who made an article talking about the correlation between people playing video games and aggression. Loria uses surveys from organizations aimed at video games causing violence to find whether there is a correlation between the two. It concludes that video games are making people become less aggressive and are being used to deal with things like depression. I used this article for the data from the surveys that were collected and put into it. Loria is a lead journalist in Business Insider which gives him more merit than a normal journalist and used a wide range of data to get his answer.

Jenkins, Henry. “Reality Bytes: Eight Myths About Video Games Debunked .” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 2005, www.pbs.org/kcts/videogamerevolution/impact/myths.html.

This article is by Henry Jenkins who is the Provost’s Professor of Communication, Journalism, and Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. It goes over multiple myths about video game violence and goes over why each myth is false. I used this article because the journalist who was using some of Jenkin’s information left out certain parts and I thought that it would be more effective to get information from the source of the journalist’s information. I believe that Jenkins is a reliable resource because he is a professor that focuses on culture and has written around 17 books on pop culture. This article is aimed at parents because this is published by PBS and talks about many myths that parents would have heard about video games and separates what is and what is not really about them.

“Violent Video Games May Serve as an Outlet for Aggression, Not a Precursor, Says Virginia Tech Expert.” Virginia Tech Daily | Virginia Tech, Medicalpress, 22 Feb. 2018, vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2018/02/videgamesviolence.html.

Jim Hawdon and the Virginia Tech Center use multiple sources and surveys to show whether or not people produce hate material if they play video games. They found that people more specifically Americans from ages 15 to 35 are producing more hate materials that have increased over time but are being used as a way to relieve aggression and are less violent in real life. This is used for the data and how many people are becoming more aggressive. This article seems to be aimed at people who are against video games and uses many points and data to try and persuade them not to hate video games.

“Violent Video Games ‘Reduce Crime’.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 30 Sept. 2011, www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/video-games/8798927/Violent-video-games-reduce-crime.html.

This article is about how games like Grand Theft Auto that are extremely violent reduce crimes. The author uses multiple reports to show that crimes are reduced when reducing crimes and comes to the conclusion that people are too busy playing video games to commit crimes. I used this article because of some of the points that were in it and also because of the main idea that was presented in it. People who are playing games are not spending that time committing crimes is something that makes sense, but I never thought of it until this article. This article also does not have an author’s name attached to it, but I still believe there is some credibility in it because it brings up the names of other people that made the data that was in the article. This article’s targeted audience is people who can vote because the article brings up parts about regulations on video games.

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