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ARE VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES CREATING VIOLENT KIDS?
My audience is the general public. I want to enlighten them about the consequence of violent video games on children.
The violent content in videogames has long been in question. The level of violence in video games increases over the years. This has led to numerous breakthroughs in the gaming industry. Technology has made it possible for the children to be subjected to strikingly realistic and violent images and themes in video games. This causes a strong association between the violent nature of games and the aggressive tendencies in the players these days.
The era of video gaming can be said to have begun in 1947, when Thomas Goldsmith Jr. filed a patent for his Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device. It consisted of an analog device that allowed a user to simulate the firing of a missile. Since after that many great inventions had been done to make video games more attention-grabbing, and thus a well planned video games were first introduced in the 1970s and become the most popular entertainment source for children. With the development of new processors, video games with higher capabilities came into existence in between 1990s and 2000. The 1990s witnessed a rise in the use of 3D graphics and multimedia in video games.Online gamingand Internet multiplayer games were also come into view in this era. Due to this the popularity, arcade games declined and games with more violence became popular (Oak).
The decade 1980 to 1990 is considered as the golden age of video games. This decade saw the beginning of high powered video games with new features; better graphics and increased playability. Moreover, in 1990s, video game companies started to introduce 3D graphics, and the notion of entire video game changed. More violent games were released that had realistic graphics and encouraged children to be aggressive. The current wave of violence in video games can be traced back to 1992 with the release of the first segment of the Mortal Kombat series by Sega and Nintendo. Though Nintendo tried to modify the game by cutting down some of the spike by removing weapons and by changing the color of blood to white, the unchanged version released by Sega sold considerably higher than Nintendo. Thus most of the kids got violent version of the game released by Sega which cause a bad affects on them (Oak). In the article “A History Of Virtual Violence” Forbes magazine collected the history'smost violent and shocking video games. According to it, 1976's 'Death Race 2000' by Atari is the game that is credited with introducing violence into video games because it prompts users to run over pedestrians with a car. More accurately, it let them push a couple of blocky pixels into some other pixels. Further, Death Race is followed by other games likeGTA,Doomand Manhunt, which contains more violent and thus increases more violence in children which can be seen in the past.
Many violent activities had happened due to these violent video games. During the 1990s, however, a series of violent crimes, including deadly shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton were committed by individuals who said to be devotee of violent video games. Moreover recently on March 11, 2009 a world-shocking campus shooting happened in Germany, leaving 17 people dead. The murderer was only a 17-year- old boy, who, according to investigation, is enthusiastic about violent computer games (Fuchs and Rippert).
In the 1980s and early 1990s, as video game technology improved, the violence in certain games became more graphic and realistic. Violent games such as "Mortal Kombat" and "Doom" provoked legislators to develop the rating system in the video game industry (Males, 7). Thus in 1994, the video game industry established the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), a well-known labeling system that rates over thousands games per year. The ESRB applies five different rating symbols and over twenty five different content labels that refer to violence, sex, language, substance abuse, gambling, humor and other potentially sensitive subject matter (Thierer, 1).
Just over thirty years old, video games have quickly become one of the most pervasive, profitable, and influential forms of entertainment across the world.. Many people believe that violent video games have many positive sides. According to an article, “Violent Video Games Don't Cause Violence,” author Tim Steven describes about the research conducted on gaming. According to the research “gaming is actually a very social activity for most children, with friends frequently gaming together or talking with friends at school about gaming.”(1) He explains that video game develops the social skills in children by encouraging them to talk about it with other children. Moreover children who play M-rated games are found to have wider circle of friends and thus they develop border repertoire of response to bullies (Kitner Lawrence 100). In another article, “No strong link seen between violent video games and aggression,” author William, a professor of speech communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, believes that video games leads to substantial gain in learning teamwork, managing groups and most important, problem solving. Further he states, “How often can someone direct and coordinate a group of eight or forty real people to accomplish a complex task, as they do in these role-playing games? That's a real skill.” Moreover, he believes that games are about solving problems.
Author Lee Bains argues in his article, “Violent Games Don't Cause Violence,” that violent video game has no correlation to school shootings. He also discusses about the most notorious incident of school shootings, such as Columbine, Santee and Paducah, in which the young perpetrators had been linked in the press to violent video games. According to Bains, the Secret Service found that that there is no precise relationship with playing violent video game. Furthermore, he conducted a research on school shooters and found that only one in eight school shooters showed any interest in violent video games and only one in four liked violent movies.
In another article, “The Surprising Truth about Violent Video Games,” the author of Grand Theft Childhood, Cheryl Olson explains the positive effects of video games on children's. According to him, “Some violent game play seems to improve visual-spatial skills - but it's the fast, unpredictable action, not the violence, that does it” (qtd. in Thomas). In addition to that he claimed that video game skill can give kids social status and this can be especially valuable to kids who have disabilities or ADHD. Moreover he also believes that, games help some kids to cope with negative feelings. According to Olson if someone had a bad day at school, he or she can play a violent video game which helps him/her to relieve all his/her stress. In the article, “Dream Machines,” Will Wright believes that video games help children to increase their power of imagination and creativeness. According to the author, games include features which let players to invent their virtual world, and it entices players to become creative in building things (qtd in Robert Atwan 281).
Despite this, there are many researchers who object to these games. Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olson of Harvard Medical School conducted a two-year research on more than 1,200 middle-school children about their attitudes towards videogames. Their research found that 51% of boys who played M-rated games had been in a fight in the past year, compared to 28% of non-M-rated gamers (qtd. in sharma). Moreover a survey by the Psychological Science Agenda found that the exposure to high levels of violent video game cause delinquency, fighting at school and violent criminal behavior. Author Adam D. Thierer argues in his article, “Regulating Video Games: Parents or Uncle Sam” that If kids are exposed to violent imagery in video games, they will become aggressive children or violent adults later in life (1). In an experiment to observe the level of aggression on fifth-grade students by letting them to play different kinds of video games in their free play time result that the group of students who played violent games regularly are tend to become more aggressive in nature compare to other group of students who played non-violent videogames (Cooper, J and Mackie 726-744).
In the article, “ Violent Video Games: Myths, Facts,and Unanswered Questions,” Craig A. Anderson believes that violent video games increase physiological arousal and decreased pro-social (helping) behavior(1). This is also acknowledged by David Walsh of National Institute on Media and the Family in his article,” Video Game Violence and Public Policy.” According to him “studies measuring the physiological responses to playing violent video games have shown that violent games increase physiological arousal. Heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and diastolic blood pressure all increase when playing violent games” (2). Moreover he also believes that the exposure of violent games increases aggressive thoughts. He found out in his study that the exposure to a violent video game increases hostile attribution relative to exposure to a non-violent video game. Children who tend to interpret ambiguous social cues as being of hostile intent are more aggressive (David Walsh 3). Further he explained his report on physical fights within previous years with a help of graph. According to his graph the 38% children who play violent video games are more likely to involve in physical fights as compare to 4% who do not play violent games (David Walsh 5). The report published by three scientists from the Psychology Department of Austria's University of Vienna reveled that “those youths who often play violence-related computer games tend to [become] more aggressive than those who only play games with less or no violence. Moreover, “Violent games not only tempt imitation but the gaming environment also easily leads to a reactive or imaginary aggressive mentality” (qtd in Caro).
Do violent video games create violent kinds? This argument has been answered by many psychologist and researchers. The preeminent side of this argument which shows more evidence indicates that, like viewing violence on the television, playing violent video games increases aggressive behavior. Dr. Craig A. Anderson, an expert on media violence explains aggressive behavior as a result of violent video games. He allege that instantaneously after revelation to media violence, there will be an increase in aggressive behavior tendencies in kids because of increase in aggressive thoughts, which in turn increase the possibility that a mild or vague annoyance will be interpreted in a hostile fashion. Moreover he also said general arousal like increase in a heart rate, tends to increase the prevailing behavioral propensity (1). This shows that people learn new aggressive behaviors by observing and also exhibit measurable decreases in pro-social behavior. Furthermore, a Survey by Psychological Science Agenda found that the exposure to high levels of violent video game cause delinquency, fighting at school and violent criminal behavior(2). According to a report by David Walsh of National Institute on Media and the Family explained the physical fights within previous years with a help of graph. According to his graph the 38% children who play violent video games are more likely to involve in physical fights as compare to 4% who do not play violent games. All these observations and experimental studies have revealed that after playing video games, there is an increase in aggressive behavior in young people(5). Scientists from the Psychology Department of Austria's University of Vienna suggested that youth should not play violent games as it is harmful for them.
Studies have shown that violent video games have negative effects on children's behavior and their outlook on society in general. By imposing government supervision on the video game industry, parents will become more aware of the situation and they will in turn, help to deter their children from violent video games. In conclusion, violent games do affect children, as the studies show, especially early teens, and I feel that children should not be continually exposed to violence in the video games they engage in and the government should take action to prevent this occurrence.
Aggressive material in video games leads to higher levels of hostility in children and adults.
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