This essay sample essay on Is Video Games Bad For You offers an extensive list of facts and arguments related to it. The essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and the conclusion are provided below.
Introduction In recent decades, attention has been placed on the influence of violent videogames on the aggressive behaviour of individuals. While some scholars believe that videogames increase aggression amongst children in particular, others claim evidence on the catharsis hypothesis where videogames are argued to be a safe outlet to express aggression (Berger 2002).
Although many theories have emerged regarding the influence of violent videogames, the debate continues to be divided between those who claim its destructive nature and others who claim that videogames cannot be solely blamed for the aggressive behaviour expressed by young people. This essay therefore aims to examine different arguments raised in the literature regarding the moral and social issues that are associated with violent videogames. The Debate about the Influence of Violent Video Games
In recent times, the nature of video games have become an important topic of debate as politicians in the UK and America argue that videogame playing increases aggression, particularly in children (Freedman 2001; Berger 2002).
Despite the absence of scientific consensus, there seems to be a rising concern that videogames can in fact lead to ‘real life’ violence. In 1993 the British Parliament showed concern over the dangers of games such as Mortal Kombat, in 1997 similar questions were raised about Grand Theft Auto, where the aim of the game is to steal cars, shoot people and engage in criminal activities.
Videogames have also been blamed directly for the school massacres in the United States, where teenage murderers were reported to be avid players of violent videogames such as Doom and Duke Nukem. As a result, parents of the children murdered filed a $130 million lawsuit against 24 videogame and Internet companies. Although the suit was dismissed in May 2000, the debate of the dangers of videogames continues (Poole 2000). It is in fact true that most videogames are violent in nature or have violent elements.
But whether or not they lead to players becoming violent is difficult to answer (Poole 2000; Berger 2002). In particular the concern lies mainly in the effects of these games on children as it is argued by psychologists and paediatrics that children are unable to differentiate between fiction and reality. In fact, by becoming regular players they become desensitised because it becomes so much a part of their lives (Jenkins 2006). The question therefore arises whether children should be allowed to play violent and sadistic games.
Berger (2002) argues that although there is a significant difference between mediate violence, where the individual sees hundreds of killings, it has a different status from real violence, where the majority of us have never seen anyone get killed. Thus, the fact that violence in videogames is mediated gives it the status of ‘just’ play (see also Poole 2000). However, although a game may not be real, does not mean that it does not have a profound affect on us. As Berger (2002) argues that it may affect us in ways that we are not aware of. Particularly in videogames, people become active participants.
Videogames are an active medium that requires constant physical input by the player. Accordingly the player is deeply involved with the game and therefore is significantly more than a mere audience member (Galloway 2004). As violent videogames are more interactive they may also be more harmful than violent television for the player is forced to identify with the aggressor (Anderson 2000; 2003). In addition, many become addicted to the high levels of excitement of videogames and as a result this can lead to the individual trying to find the same levels of excitement in the use of drugs (Berger 2002).
The addictive quality of videogame playing has also been reported to lead to personality problems where the individual loses his/her ability to interact in the real world (see Anderson 2000). As such they immerse themselves into a fictional world where they can forget and avoid the reality in which they live. On the other hand in television and films, people are passive spectators however, it is argued that television violence may in fact be a greater concern as on average, most people watch more television.
Thus, for children who are regularly exposed to television violence it could have a worse or similar effect to video games (Berger 2002). Some scholars argue however that violence in television, films and video games has in fact the opposite effect. As individuals become ‘saturated’ with violence, it can lead to a catharsis where videogames, television and films become a safe outlet to for aggressive feelings and emotions; as a result, individuals become less violent. Naturally, this argument goes against the idea that children are highly influenced by modelled behaviour as they try to replicate what they see (Freedman 2001).
The influence of video games is therefore highly complex to resolve. Poole (2000) therefore argues that videogames may simply be part of many factors that lead to violent behaviour. Videogames as films and television may influence real life violence by having a particular style that is imitated. Pool argues that it is possible that the teenage murderers in America may have imitated the way in which people are killed in the video game Doom, however it is not possible to say that without playing the game they would not have killed their classmates.
Research conducted in America reiterates this statement, violent video games may be one risk factor – when coupled with other more immediate, real-world influences — which can contribute to anti-social behavior. But no research has found that video games are a primary factor or that violent video game play could turn an otherwise normal person into a killer (Jenkins 2006, website). Rollings and Adams (2002) therefore argue that the debate is not about violence per se, but rather about how violence is portrayed and the circumstances under which it is acceptable.
In their book ‘Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams on Game Designs’ (Rollings & Adams 2002), they examine the nature of violence in video games as being highly influenced by the similarities to the real world; the more a game resembles real life ‘situations’ the more debate and opposition it will raise amongst politicians and the general public. On the other hand, if the violence portrayed is abstract and unrealistic, as e. g. killing aliens in Space Invaders, it becomes less controversial. As a result, the more a game resembles real life the more ethical issues it will raise.
Rollings and Adam (2002) therefore strongly recommend that ethical realism need to be tied closely to visual realism. Video games makers consequently need to understand this link for there will always be some individuals who will have difficulties in differentiating between fiction and reality. Children in particular need to be protected, as the younger they are, the harder it is for them to distinguish between play and reality, A few designers, mostly young and male, seem to think that deliberately including gratuitous violence in their games is a gesture of rebellion against the antiviolence crusaders.
We encourage these gentlemen to grow up and to remember who the game is for. Our customers don’t buy games to see rebellious gestures; they buy them to be entertained (Rollings & Adams pp 80) Jenkins (2006) also argues that advertising and marketing aimed at young people need to be restricted however parents also need to take more responsibility. The Federal Trade Commission in America has found that 83 percent of game purchases for underage consumers are made by parents or by parents and children together. Conclusion
The debate regarding the impact of violent videogames, particularly on children and young people, continues to remain complex. Although research has shown the link between videogames and aggressive and anti-social behaviour, the assumptions on which this argument is based remain disputed. In recent times these research studies have been criticised on methodological grounds and many scholars now invariably question this link, for they do not accept that videogames can be accused of increased aggression, especially amongst young people.
In fact, many argue that due to the mass media frenzy around the impact of violent videogames has led authorities to be more suspicious and hostile to many young people who already feel excluded from the system. It also misdirects the debate from the real causes of anti-social behaviour that seem to be blamed on videogames, television and films alike (Jenkins 2006) However as mentioned in this essay, although the link between violent videogames and increased aggression of young people and children continue to be contested, it is clear that childrens’ use of these games need to be closely monitored and restricted.
The fact that children are reported to replicate and follow modelled behaviour is an issue that cannot be taken lightly. It could be argued that without close supervision and support from parents and policy regulations to protect children, some children may in fact be motivated to act upon what they experience in their video game ‘reality,’ due to their inability to differentiate between fiction and reality. References Anderson, C. A. (2000) Video Games and Aggressive Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviour in the Laboratory and in Life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 3, No. 4, 772- 790, American Psychological Association, Inc. Anderson, C. A. (2003) Violent Video Games: Myths, Facts, and Unanswered Questions. Psychological Science Agenda Volume 16: No. 5, American Psychological Association, Inc Berger, A. A. (2002) Videogames: A Popular Culture Phenomenon. New Jersey: Transaction Publishers. Freedman, J. (2001) Evaluating the Research on Violent Video Games, Toronto: University of Toronto. http://culturalpolicy. uchicago. edu/conf2001/papers/freedman. html (Accessed 18th April 2006). Galloway, A. R. (2004) Social Realism in Gaming.
The International Journal of Computer Game Research, Volume 4, Issue 1. http://webct. londonmet. ac. uk/SCRIPT/SM2007N/scripts/serve_home (Accessed 18th April 2006). Jenkins, H. (2006) Reality Bytes: Eight Myths About Video Games Debunked. Impact of Gaming Essays, The Video Game Revolution. http://webct. londonmet. ac. uk/SCRIPT/SM2007N/scripts/serve_home (Accessed 18th April 2006) Poole, S. (2000) Trigger Happy: The Inner Life of Videogames. London: Fourth Estate Limited. Rollings, A. & Adams, E. (2003) Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams on Game Designs. USA: New Riders Publishing.