Video Games and Violence
With media focus and the introduction of the R18+ rating in Australia it’s time for the discussion on Video Game Violence and impact on Game Players.
To continue on from last week with The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of video games a large area that gaming and media focus on is any incidents involving gaming and violence. From people being arrested for hit and runs or near misses because it’s how you score points in the game to games being used to practice shooting people. Through this article we are going to look at the arguments for and the arguments against how violent video games affect younger gamers.
Arguments that Violent Games influence Violence in people:
The idea that violent video games increase aggressive behaviour has the most backing among scientific research. Among the studies there has been a focus on brain patterns between players of violent games such as FPS’s. The findings indicate that younger people playing violent video games showed increased activity in the amygdala, which stimulates emotions, and decreased activity in the prefrontal lobe, which regulates inhibition, self-control and concentration.
This area is a huge influence on public perspective on how people are reacting to violent video games. While media does not provide its own argument that violent games cause violence in young people any instance of violence that does involve and video games is reported with an emphasis on how the violence is the cause where other external factors are not reported or considered as influential.
Inter player interactions:
While this has not had a focus in this debate, the interaction between gamers online can be compared to bullying with the anonymity allowing for people to say things without the fear of retribution. In the case of the player knowing who is saying these things to them and abusing them it can push them into reacting in person. This can vary in terms of severity of the retaliation and is generally not reported or seen as it can be linked to a form of bullying and classified under that.
Arguments that Violent Games are not the reason for Violence in people
Violent People choosing to play violent games:
One area that many people do not consider is that the games may just be used as a tool for aggressive or violent people. This area would promote games as a release for many people that do have violent tendencies and need a way to direct these. This is the main argument against violence in video games causing violent people. Most of the studies into the effects of video games randomly sample people to play them. This does not allow for the studies to look at the previous views of the people in the study and if they had a violent tendency beforehand.
Number of games sold vs Number of crimes:
Something that does not support that violent games produce violent people is the large increase in sales of video games (with the trend going to more violent games) some studies have shown that the crime has actually decreased in different regions. If there was a direct correlation between violent games and violence in people you would see an increase in crime rates.
With the introduction of the R18+ game rating in Australia the game ratings push more that the violent games are meant for a certain age group and above where the influence is no different to other areas such as TV and Movies. These ratings are set for the purpose to limit the exposure to the violence and in turn to offset any violent behaviour coming from it. While this is not an argument against violent games creating violence it is a way to limit the effects that violent games have.
While gaming has been shown to slightly raise aggression during violent video games it is not solely the fault of the game that an individual commits violent crimes. It also has to do with other external factors as well such as social and home environments. One thing to remember though is that games have a age restriction on them for a reason and anyone should consider this before buying a R-rated game for a younger person.