For many years, the question of whether or not video games cause violence has been brought up a numerous amount of times. As technology advanced, games became more graphic. Games also came to be where the player was more involved, such as having them shoot guns from first-person point of view or having them commit crimes inside the game to unlock achievements and/or prizes. Whether anybody wants to admit it or not, these games have effects on people, especially teens and young children. Video games, upon many other factors, are indeed a cause to the increase of violence in today’s youth.
The number of studies done in order to answer the frequently asked question “Do video games cause violence?” are also numerous, and they all prove a correlation between aggression and video games. The research team called Dartmouth analyzed twenty-four studies between the years of 2010 and 2017, with “more than 17,000 participants 9 to 19 years old” (Kids’ 1). They noticed that there was an association showing that violence on a screen affects players. Dartmouth, however, suggested flaws in old studies, thinking that flaws could be the reason why video games causing violence has been an ongoing controversial issue. They did figure out what some of these flaws could be.
Video games had different effects on people with different ethnicities, such as a larger association among whites than among Asians with nothing found for Hispanics. Dartmouth then decided to look at studies that “included reports of overt physical aggression over time” (Kids’ 1). After doing this, Dartmouth found that video games are more connected with subsequent, or not immediate, increases of physical aggression. After doing a variety of these types of studies, they did not find any kind of bias.
Dartmouth had said that their research was aimed, more or less, to give current and accurate responses to the topic of video games causing violence. They had also said that they hope the findings they have will turn people away from questioning if video games cause violence to the questions of “why, when, and for whom they have such effects” (Kids’ 1). Many researchers and research teams started to focus on how to answer those questions, from looking at shooters and their connections to video games, to doing studies on specific effects video games leave on the mind and body of a player.
School shooters and non-school shooters have links to video games. There was a shooter, by the name of Aaron Alexis, who killed thirteen people at the Washington Navy Yard. After this incident, the topic of if violent video games made him do it was brought up. Friends of Aaron admitted that his frequent play of violent video games could have been a potential factor. Another shooter, by the name of Adam Lanza, took the lives of a total of twenty 6 and 7 year old elementary school students, six staff members, and then himself. Lanza had a collection of first-person shooter games. However, Lanza and Alexis are not the only shooters having connections to video games.
Violent video games started to come out more and more in the 1990s, and increases in school shootings came in the late 1990s. A school shooter in 1997 never had firearm training. However, this school shooter had played many violent video games. There was a shooter that shot two policemen who was quoted to be saying, “Life is a video game. Everybody’s got to die sometime.” (Violent/Laws, 5-6). Beyond those shooters, the infamous Columbine shooters had made a video the night before the incident happened, connecting the violent video game “Doom” to what they had planned for the next day. There are more, but these are just a few of the many examples.
It is not just violence that is portrayed in these video games. Many games are accused of misogyny, and for having sexualized female characters. Misogyny is prejudice against women. Back in 2014, there was an online movement on Twitter called “#Gamergate” that was on the defense of video games, claiming that there was no harm being done to players. That is not true, though, because some people part of Gamergate have made misogynistic and violent threats, though it is only a “vocal minority” (Gamergate, 2-5). Gamergate has opened up many controversial issues, including the mistreatment of women inside video games. These games that portray misogyny have led to misogynist bullying and even harassment.
Video games are not harmless to the mind nor the body. A study of college students playing video games for only twenty minutes a day for three days showed “increased levels of aggressive behavior” (Do, 1). Other studies have shown that violent video games also cause increased heart rate and blood pressure. Another study had shown that people who play first-person shooter games had more accuracy when firing at a mannequin. These people were also more likely to aim for, and hit, the head. Many gamers have more accurate shooting, and defenders of video games, even Gamergate, rarely mention this fact.
Another study had shown that there was a significant difference in brain activity between people who played violent games and people who played nonviolent games. A controlled study took place where functional magnetic resonance imagings (“fMRIs” for short) were performed during the time frame of the study to measure the activity and functionality of the brain. There was no difference in accuracy or reaction time. There was, however, higher activity in the brain area that controls emotional arousals and lower activity in the brain area controlling planning, thoughts, and behavior for the people who played the violent games. It is vice versa for the people who played the nonviolent games: higher in planning, thoughts, and behavior; lower in the emotional arousals area. The findings were consistent and current, the correlations found were significant, and the effects games had on these people affected the short-term brain function.
Not everyone is affected in the same way or in the same amount. Exposure to violent media, more often than not, causes little, minor forms of aggression; however, it can cause big, major forms of violence, too, especially after time. Many become more violent due to other factors such as bullying or having a mental illness. Some factors, such as a mental illness, cannot be controlled. Bullying is also a factor that is hard to control. However, there can be laws and restrictions placed on the buying, selling, and playing of video games.
Video games, alongside many other factors, are a cause of the increase of violence. Shooters have linked themselves to the ideas of games, as shown by the Columbine shooters and the shooter that shot the two policemen. Many studies have been tested and retested, all with the same results. Beyond that, different kinds of tests have been done as well, also giving factual evidence that video games do indeed cause violence, whether it is a little amount or a large amount.
- ‘Do violent video games play a role in shootings?’ CNN Wire, 18 Sept. 2013. Student Edition, Web. Accessed 7 Mar. 2019.
- ‘Gamergate: Is misogyny widespread in the video game community?’ Issues & Controversies, Infobase Learning, 19 Dec. 2014, Web. Accessed 7 Mar. 2019.
- ‘Kids’ violent video game play linked to increased aggression.’ UPI Health News, 2 Oct. 2018. Student Edition, Web. Accessed 7 Mar. 2019.
- ‘Study: Violent Video Game Exposure Affects Self-Control; The differences were associated with emotional arousal and controlling behavior.’ InformationWeek, 29 Nov. 2006. Student Edition, Web. Accessed 7 Mar. 2019.
- ‘Violent Video Games: Should the government pass laws restricting children’s access to violent video games?’ Issues & Controversies,Infobase Learning, 28 Apr. 2014, Web. Accessed 7 Mar. 2019.
- ‘Violent video games spur child aggression.’ USA Today, Dec. 2014, p. 6+. Student Edition, Web. Accessed 7 Mar. 2019.