The fourth project for COM 216, taken at SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Fall 2015.
Video Games and Violence
It is a common concern currently in our society, that violent video games are a cause of actual violence. Different shootings and violent activities in the past have been blamed on violent media, but none so much as recently with video games. While it is no doubt that some video games are extremely violent, with blood, gore, and murder as common aspects of the game, we have to look deeper and realize that the actions in real life may not be affected at all by the actions in the game. As games get more and more immersive and ‘realistic’, the claims will only increase, as people see what the games look like and of course want to violent events in society on something. None easier than a video game which looks very much like real life, with someone holding a gun and shooting innocent people, ie Grand Theft Auto. However, this is just another form of moral panic, the same type our society has been going through since rock music, television shows, and other cultural phenomenon. Simply, this is moral panic is nothing more than mistaking a correlation for causality.
This same concern can easily be asked of the link between violent movies – hundreds of action movies exist with violent scenes commonly playing on your TV for everyone to see. Why then, have video games been targeted as the mechanism for violence, instead of easily viewable shoot-em-up movies? Again, stating that the problem is simply correlation can be shown by the numbers of people playing games. “97 percent of Americans play video games; 15 percent of that market represents mature games likely to include violence; and “first person shooter” is the most played genre at 21 percent” – Reed.
It can be obviously stated that there is almost never a direct link between what happens in any form of media and what happens in the physical world. For example if someone were to go play Grand Theft Auto, they aren’t going to get up, go outside and steal cars and run people over. One thing that can be proven with some evidence though, is that these media activities might in fact act in the opposite way that people think. Instead of a you playing Call of Duty and wanting to go join the military and kill people, it might act as an inhibitor, or as a safe outlet, which has the complete opposite effect. This is the same type of safe outlet that aggressive music has been proven to provide, rather than the common traditional thought of it being the sole thing causing the aggression.
Instead of looking at games as violent, horrible things that we shouldn’t let our children near, perhaps instead we should study the benefits and good factors that video games provide. Maybe we should look beyond just first person shooters and instead focus on other genres of video games, as there are many. What it comes down to, is that we need much more evidence to prove for certain that there effects of gaming that are inherently positive and negative, and whether or not they are affecting large swaths of the general population.
Writing about video games can be fun and interesting, however this is a more serious tone. The future of video games can be changed by how we currently respond to them as a society. If society deems games too violent, or not violent enough, the game industry adjusts to suit the demand. However, making claims that video games are causing our population, specifically our youth, to become violent because of what they see in their games is irresponsible. Also, there is the whole other side of video games, the other 70-80% of games which aren’t gory first person shooters or “murder simulators”. How about we look at all the sides and aspects of gaming before narrowing in on the easily targeted violent games.