Video Games: A Cause of Violence and Aggression
Video Games: A Cause of Violence and Aggression
There is a huge hype surrounding the launch of every new game system - Game Cube, XBox, and Sony Playstation 2 being just few of the latest. Affecting children age 4 all the way to 45 year-old adults, these video games have called for concern in our society regarding issues such as addiction, depression, and even aggression related to the playing of video games. A recent study of children in their early teens found that almost a third played video games daily, and that 7% played for at least 30 hours a week. (1) What is more, some of these games being played like Mortal Combat, Marvel Vs. Capcom, and Doom are very interactive in the violence of slaughtering the opponent. The video game industries even put signs like "Real-life violence" and "Violence level - not recommended for children under age of 12" on their box covers, arcade fronts, and even on the game CDs themselves.
In the modern popular game Goldeneye 007 bad guys no longer disappear in a cloud of smoke when killed. Instead they perform an elaborate maneuver when killed. For example, those shot in the neck fall to their knees and then face while clutching at their throats. Other games such as Unreal Tournament and Half-Life are gorier. In these games when characters get shot a large spray of blood covers the walls and floor near the character, and on the occasions when explosives are used, the characters burst into small but recognizable body parts. In spite of the violence, the violent video games are also the more popular games on the market. (2) When video games first came out, indeed they were addictive... however, there seems to be a strong correlation now between the violent nature of games these days and the aggressive tendencies in game players.
On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold launched an assault on Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, murdering 13 and wounding 23 before turning the guns on themselves. Although nothing is for certain as to why these boys did what they did, we do know that Harris and Klebold both enjoyed playing the bloody, shoot-'em-up video game Doom, a game licensed by the U.S. military to train soldiers to effectively kill. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, which tracks Internet hate groups, found in its archives a copy of Harris' web site with a version of Doom. He had customized it so that there were two shooters, each with extra weapons and unlimited ammunition, and the other people in the game could not fight back. For a class project, Harris and Klebold made a videotape that was similar to their customized version of Doom. In the video, Harris and Klebold were dressed in trench coats, carried guns, and killed school athletes. They acted out their videotaped performance in real life less than a year later... (3)
Everyone deals with stress and frustrations differently. However when action is taken upon the frustration and stress, and the action is taken out in anger and aggression, the results may be very harmful to both the aggressor and the person being aggressed against, mentally, emotionally, and even physically. Aggression is action, i.e. attacking someone or a group with an intent to harm someone. It can be a verbal attack--insults, threats, sarcasm, or attributing nasty motives to them--or a physical punishment or restriction. Direct behavioral signs include being overly critical, fault finding, name-calling, accusing someone of having immoral or despicable traits or motives, nagging, whining, sarcasm, prejudice, and/or flashes of temper. (4) The crime and abuse rate in the United States has soared in the past decade. More and more children suffer from and are being treated for anger management than ever before. Now, one can't help but to wonder if these violent video games are even playing a slight part in the current statistics. I believe they do.
Calvert and Tan (5) compared the effects of playing versus observing violent video games on young adults' arousal levels, hostile feelings, and aggressive thoughts. Results indicated that college students who had played a violent virtual reality game had a higher heart rate, reported more dizziness and nausea, and exhibited more aggressive thoughts in a posttest than those who had played a nonviolent game do. A study by Irwin and Gross (6) sought to identify effects of playing an "aggressive" versus "nonaggressive" video game on second-grade boys identified as impulsive or reflective. Boys who had played the aggressive game, compared to those who had played the nonaggressive game, displayed more verbal and physical aggression to inanimate objects and playmates during a subsequent free play session. Moreover, these differences were not related to the boys' impulsive or reflective traits. Thirdly, Kirsh (7) also investigated the effects of playing a violent versus a nonviolent video game. After playing these games, third- and fourth-graders were asked questions about a hypothetical story. On three of six questions, the children who had played the violent game responded more negatively about the harmful actions of a story character than did the other children. These results suggest that playing violent video games may make children more likely to attribute hostile intentions to others.
In another study by Karen E. Dill, Ph.D. & Craig A. Anderson,
Ph.D., violent video games were considered to be more harmful in
increasing aggression than violent movies or television shows due to
their interactive and engrossing nature. (8)
The two studies showed that aggressive young men were especially
vulnerable to violent games and that even brief exposure to violent
games can temporarily increase aggressive behavior in all types of
The first study was conducted with 227 college students with aggressive behavior records in the past and who completed a measure of trait aggressiveness. They were also reported to have habits of playing video games. It was found that students, who reported playing more violent video games in junior and high school, engaged in more aggressive behavior. In addition, the time spent playing video games in the past were associated with lower academic grades in college, which is a source of frustration for many students, a potential cause for anger and aggression as discussed in the previous paragraph.
In the second study, 210 college students were allowed to play Wolfenstein 3D, an extremely violent game, or Myst, a nonviolent game. After a short time, it was found that the students who played the violent game punished an opponent for a longer period of time compared to the students who played the non violent game. Dr. Anderson concluded by saying, "Violent video games provide a forum for learning and practicing aggressive solutions to conflict situations. It the short run, playing a violent video game appears to affect aggression by priming aggressive thoughts." Despite the fact that this study was for a short term effect, longer term effects are likely to be possible as the player learns and practices new aggression-related scripts that can become more and more accessible for the real-life conflict that may arise. (9)
The U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop once claimed that arcade and home video games are among the top three causes of family. Although there have been studies that have found video game violence to have little negative effects on their players, there are also many studies that have found a positive correlation between negative behavior, such as aggression, and video and computer game violence. Thus, in order to totally assess the effects of game violence on its users, the limiting conditions under which there are effects must be taken into account, which include age, gender, and class/level of education. (10) However, violent games do affect children, as the studies show, especially early teens, and I feel that there needs to be a stricter regulation regarding the availability of these games to young children.
2) Game Research Website, covering the art, the business, and the science of computer games.
3) American Psychological Association, Article on the main study discussed in this paper.
4) Mental Help Net, Psychological Self-Help. This site has a lot of interesting links to mental illnesses and just understanding personalities.
5) Calvert, Sandra L., & Tan, Siu-Lan. (1994). Impact of virtual reality on young adults' physiological arousal and aggressive thoughts: Interaction versus observation. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 15(1), 125-139. PS 527 971.
6) Irwin, A. Roland, & Gross, Alan M. (1995). Cognitive tempo, violent video games, and aggressive behavior in young boys. Journal of Family Violence, 10(3), 337-350.
7) Kirsh, Steven J. (1997, April). Seeing the world through "Mortal Kombat" colored glasses: Violent video games and hostile attribution bias. Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Washington, DC.
8) SelfhelpMagazine. Article under teen help. It is a great library of various mental disorders and personal growth topics!
10) Internet Impact This paper is a collaborative essay consisting of research and policy recommendations on the impact of the Internet in society.
(to contribute your own observations/thoughts, post in the Video Game Experiences Forum on Serendip)
06/21/2005, from a Reader on the Web
According to an article in the New York Daily News http://www.nydailynews.com/06-20-2005/city_life/tech/story/320762p-274211c.html), the latest controversial video game, “25 To Life,” is the most outrageous promotion of violence the game developers have pushed onto the market yet. It’s almost like a training simulator, preparing gamers to join gangs, murder policemen and use innocent civilians as human shields. Let the good times roll, eh? Shockingly enough, I’m a 22-year-old male who considers himself a casual gamer, which probably places me in most game developers’ targeted demographic. Still, I believe this sort of “entertainment” should be banned completely, not just from children. Why should anyone of any age delight in simulating gang activity, murder, theft and the like? Unfortunately Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) stands as the only politician attempting to block “25 To Life” from hitting store shelves. If the Patriot Act brands people terrorists just for checking out certain books at the library, why are people who develop, purchase and play these types of games given a free pass? As a gamer, I know how serious games can become to certain individuals - especially young ones – and I believe allowing material such as “25 To Life” onto the market corrupts not only our children, but our society as a whole. Michael Ford Editor-in-Chief The Voice - http://www.uamont.edu/Organizations/TheVoice/
Ignarants is that in which you make of it don't blame Columbine on video games that is stupid they did it because the dudes girl friend broke up with him. Don't read the news they lie. The cop next door knew he was making pipe bombs and did nothing. you might as well blame 9/11 on video games to. come on people play the games if it makes you viloent your right if it doesn't the rest of the world told you so.......
I was reading your article entitled Video Games: A cause of Violence and Agression, I'm doing a research project of my own for a personal Essay but upon reading your article I noticed somthing. In paragraph four you state "THe crime and abuse rate in the United States has soared in the past decade." Well, I'm sorry to say this information is faulty. The case of Violent Crime Rates has dropped significantly. According to the U.S Department of Justice, Bureau of statistics, the crime rate has dropped by more then half from 1995 to 2004. You can see all this for youself at: www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/viort.htm . I'm a gamer myself, and a bit tired of seeing these "Video games make you a killer" stories. This isn't a threat against you or yours, it's merely a response asking people to do some research from all angles before stating that something is a certain way. Sincerely,
In the article titled "Video Games: A Cause of Violence and Aggression," the study that was sited left me feeling a little confused. The players that played "Wolfenstein 3D" were said to have "punished an opponent for a longer period of time compared to the students who played the non violent game." What exactly is meant by that? In "Myst" there are no opponents, and it is not a competitive game. Competitive events, in any form, have a tendency to cause a bit of agression between people, as that is the nature of competetion.
This article is very wrong in alot of places. First off, I would like to say that I am an avid "gamer," devoting a sizeable amount of my life to playing them. But, more importantly, I will be getting into the video game industry, hopefully starting my own company eventually, and succeeding in this million-dollar industry. But more than I play games, I edit them. The sequel to Half-Life (in which all humans retain their body parts), Half-Life 2, comes with a program called "Source SDK," which allows gamers like me to open up and edit the engine that they slaved over for moths to bring us, allowing us to make maps (or levels), characters, objects, even editing the game itself. I spend easily three times the time I play the actual game editing it and making things happen, which is the beauty of it. On your statement about how crime and violence has soared in numbers in the U.S. as of late, this is not a true statement, be it purposefully or a fault of poor research. Violent crimes, carjackings, and others have drastically DROPPED since 1975. I suggest you read the letter Steven Johnston sent to Sen. Hilary Clinton about her attack on violent games. But, as I doubt you will read it, I'll tell you the main points: First off, isn't it possible that kids that would normally be out commiting violent crimes or joyriding are getting their fill from argueably the most violent and inappropriate game of our time, the Grand Theft Auto series? Recent studies have shown that games work as a stress-reliever, allowing you to let out your anger or stress in a realistic but harmless way. Second, when people say that our generation of people (I'm 16 years old) is being raised to be unintelligent, violent, untrusting people, they need to look up on the recent statistics: SAT scores have never been higher, especially now. I'm not saying that there aren't a handful of kids out there who take a little too much from violent games and other forms of entertainment (my brother happens to have an anger disorder), but I am saying that if you even think that your kid may take the game a little too seriously, start smaller and work your way up. Taking violent games off the market completely is not the answer. After all, why should the sane, intelligent, or sound kids have to pay for a parent not saying "No" in the first place?
Dear Grace Shin, As a result of reading over my previous e-mail, i'd like to appologize for my use of unnecesary comments. But that doesnt mean that my original views have changed. The original response that was written, was done so in the heat of reading a "finger pointing" article such as the one you wrote. The most blatantly offensive comment that you made, was the tie between the video game 'Doom' and the Columbine trajedy. It is comments like these that are extremely offensive to anyone who is a fan of gaming in general. I am a teenager, who attends a public high school. I enjoy playing video games, and i must admit that most of them are violent. I play these games on a weekly basis, but to this day i haven't commited a single act of violence in a school building. The same holds true with my friends, and many people like my friends across the country. This means that the children who have commited acts of violence and blamed their actions on video games, have other mental illnesses that stir these thoughts. Depression, anger issues and a myriad of other problems would be enough to distort a child's view of the difference between reality and video games. A popular arguement used to counter the arguement i just made, is the scanning of the brain during game play. In tests conducted by various medical institutes across the nation, brain scan images have been captured during game-play. The images are conclusive, and show red blips in the frontal lobes of the brain (areas that control emotions, such as anger). These results shouldnt be shocking, but very obvious. Video games are stimulating. Their purpose and intent is to involve you. If a person is involved in a game, he/she will begin to react to events inside the game, as if they were real life events. Fairly simple, but not enough to prove that video games cause children to become more violent. The way to answer this question would be to observe children's behavior after playing games. The results would aslo be conclusive. Video games DO NOT cause children to commit acts of violence. Columbines' dont happen every day, and thank god they don't. They are rare occurances in our country, despite all of the media hype over the situations. If video games had a negatice affect on children, horrible examples of school-yard violence would appear on our television screens every night, considering that msot youth in america play video games. As a final note, if you search any major database sites, looking for information on this same subject, chances are that you will find line graphs that have been compiled by different government associasions, fcc, etc. etc. The information shows a very steady and gradual dive in violence across the nation, even after the release of video games such as Grand Theft Auto.
You cannot generalize the few finds you have to "empirical facts". First of all, video games are not all violent. Second, there are researches that prove otherwise. Third, there are so many fallacies, I do not even bother to list them (appeal to authority, emotion, etc.) Overall argument is incoherent. Fails to even mention the possibility of being wrong.
I think its ridiculous that so many people are going around and pointing the finger at things that are violent and negative towards kids. Its only a way of having fun. Only those few individuals take it to far and commite acts of violence toward people, and society, and they ruin it for the rest of us. Not everyone that plays video games is a violent person they merely enjoy those types of games like my self for example. I personally am not a voilent person and take offense to the fact that if u play video games you are labeled violent. Sincerly, RB
As a gamer I know that certain people take there video games too seriously. However, video games themselves are not to blame for violence. The highest population of gamers is younger people, and younger people are usually living at home. This is where parenting comes in. A parent should watch there children, monitor there game play, and note any variances in there childrens actions. Some people cannot decipher fantasy from reality, and these should people not play games that involve violence. I have played video games for many, many years. I have not yet comitted a violent crime, nor have I attacked anyone. Why? Simply because I know that these things are wrong in real life. My parents monitored me, and did not let me play overly-violent games at a young age. Good parenting is the key.
I was reading your article and I'm sorry, but I disagree with you on some things. I'm 17 years old and a gamer myself. I own some gory games like the Silent Hill games, Metal Gear 3: Snake Eater, God of War, HALO, HALO 2, and so on. I'm currently writing a paper myself about teens and violent games and I firmmly believe it isn't the video game that triggers teen violence, it depends on the individual. I've played these violent games since I was 11 or 12 years old and I'm not affected by them. I have a strong sense between fantasy and reality and some other teens do too. Don't judge us all because a portion of us have minds like sponges and suck everything they see. Not only video games, MTV and the media along with rap songs also corrupt our young generation. Look at those too, because they're the ones that cause the most damage. By encouraging pre-marital sex, abortion, drug use, and corruption in a person's being by being "cool". But no, not a lot of people look at those. It is true that games can be addicting but not every single teenager has the same brain. Study those who aren't affected, then you'll see it too. Adults can stop teen violence other ways like better parenting. Because this corrupted society needs it.
I am writing a paper concerning violence in video games and how easy kids are able to get there hands on them. It is unbelievable what games that kids at the age of tweleve can get there hands on. once when i was babing sitting the kids had a friend over and there friend had Grand theft Auto: San Andras with him. i was shocked for the first part that his parents would allow him to play such game. he had saved game file on which he had played for many 20 hours. That was kid that was under 10. I thought why in the world would you allow your kids to play a such game. one problem with it is that game like GTA and others never really so some of the peprecuctions of murdering someone of killing them. If look that most gamers that are over the age of 18. under 50% of them play games that are rated M. That says that most of people playing games that are rated M are below age 18 not even legal to buy them. The government need to come out with laws simlar to laws they have with Alcohol or Cigerettes. The giving to minors is illegal.
Interesting analysis on the societal impact of violent games. I do, however, take issue with the statement regarding the military using Doom to train soldiers how to "effectively kill". According to the official MCMSMO document 1500.55, the use of Marine Doom and other first-person shooter video games is to "implement military thinking and decision making excercises throughout the marine corps." The assertion that the military uses a video game to train soldiers how to kill is misleading in that it may lead readers to believe that these games are so real that the best fighting force on the planet is using it to train. You don't learn how to kill from a keyboard and mouse. You either are someone who has the ability to kill, or you're not. Lack of parenting and a lack of understading of what is right and wrong is to blame, not video games.
Your idealalidgy on the violence in video games affeting people is flawed. I am a violent video game player and yet my family has told me themselves that have noticed a change in my temper or personality. I've played violent video game for half my life. And the Columbine shootings I belive that they were provoced to do to extrem bullying.
i'm a more than average gamer.. i probably play about 10+ hours a day. and about 100% of the games i play are violent, and i used to live in an area that was really rough and there were fights and arguments all the time. except i never shot anyone or drove my truck over people. cause violent cideo games dont make people into pyscho's... people 'choose' to hurt other people... videogames dont force people to pull the trigger. and since i was raised by a single parent, tv and games helped raise me.
actually i think video games kept me outta trouble... if i didnt have a video-game to play i'd probably be getting stoned or smoking crack right now.. or in jail. i think the government needs to crack down on illegal drugs and on finding cure's for diseases... why the hell would you spend 90 million dollars to start research on the effect of media on children ... Reader on the web, 14 March 2006
i believe that although you present a good argument about how games MIGHT affect a child's brain and personality, but, you must realize this. if you TRULY believe that video games cause violence, then how would you be able to explain Hitler? how about Napoleaon? Or even the terrorists that many of our youth's games depict today? i highly doubt that any of the insurgents are playing any violent games right now. nor, i doubt, even the Children of iraq and afghanistan, yet studies show that 1 out of 3 children in those countries know how to shoot and kill U.S soldiers. thank you for your time and please take this to heart before writing any thing that might be untrue ... Reader on the web, 20 April 2006
I play violent video games and my family has yet to say I am more aggresive in personality. But you still have a point since i'm me and the people who are influenced to kill by video games are them. The point is that all you have to do is to not become obsessed with games that have lots of gore ... Decoy, 20 August 2006
I love playing video games on my game console, and spend plenty of hours perched in front of the tv. Yet even i have to acknowledge that games can, and do cause violence. When you have games that are so graphic, that had they been put in a movie sequence their rating would be "x", then i think that you have gone to far. Life like graphics are cool, and i myself love to play "life like" games were the enemies and characters could almost be standing beside you. However, when you go around in a game killing these life like people, you enevitably desensitize yourself. There is a mark where you have gone too far, and i believe that we are crossing it over and over again ... Rae, 18 December 2006
Well. I ccame here looking for statistics but instead found a lot of interesting comments.
Playing video games doesn't make you violent. Human nature and suceptibility does. Violence is a "learned" behavior not substantialy (as of yet but to be determined) an inherent behavior.
If thats not in the report or whatever up there, then it needs to be acknoledged. The point a LOT of people gloss over is that its not a matter of \"being\" violent so much as being impressionable. Although gaming related violence research HAS shown there to be a strong coorelation between agressive behaviour and post-gaming violent behavior, there is a distinct lack of longitudinal research.
Also there are two main aspects to clinical study Arousel, and then the actual comission of the act. Arousel has been shown to have almost no bearing on the actual act due to the fact that observe violent behavior has not occured directly after the moment of arousel.
In other words, just because you enjoy the violent activity of a game, doesn't mean you ARE violent at all OR because of the game. What is being studied is that statistical occurance of agressive behavior in people with prolonged exposure to violent games.
If you've played video games you know that 1. Some games are violent. 2. Some aren't.
I noticed some of you have acknowledged the "competative" nature of video games. This learned sense of competition is fine but is not to be associated with "agressive behavior" there is a distinct line between number of goals and number of frags. The issue is the Violence, not the the rules.
In summary I say to all who worry about being accused of being "violent": Don't sweat it and don't get your hackles raised. The debate is over the usual badd apples, or kids who didn't and thus still do't, have the right behavioral reinforcement. Ideal preventive measures start from birth, but practicly are documented to be administered from age 8 and continue through adolescence.
To put it in a lay manner: Its because of the tools, that our favorite games are being attacked. And as an afterthought. The group who were studied playing the game "Myst"(if that was the case) was most likely a control group or a "backlight" group to help identify the differences between violent games and games in general, OR violence free games ... W. Caudill, 16 February 2007
I, for one, am one of the many teens that play violent video games. And, i do beleive that cause aggrivation to sprout betweent to people versing each other. Also that MMORPG's cause people to have a sense of connection to their character, making them rather play, for instance, World of Warcraft than doing academic work. Plus when parents are trying to get their teen children off a game they tend to be rather aggresive torwards the parents and are moody for ahwile. Thus i do beleive that video games are a cause of violence but it's not entirely the kids fault, the parents are the one that beleive there kids are able to handle it and don't think there "Little Angels" can handle it. Well i have news for those parents, " Watch the violence in the games you get your children and i can gaurentee you will change you mind about letting them play rated M games!" ... Reader on the Web, 18 March 2007
First of all I believe that your study is incredibly flawed, and the only conclusion that can be made from it (Myst has less opponents than Wolfenstein)has NOTHING to do with the original arguement. The arguments concerning the "Doom used as a training tool" and Wolfstein vs. Myst are completely misleading and efected in all ways by your bias opinion. Also, your connection with the shootings to videogames is only a coincedence, in that it may have nothing to do with the shootings ... Joey, 1 May 2007
On Your paper Video Games: A Cause of Violence and Aggression, i have to say this. I'm an avid gamer myself, and, though I cannot speak for everyone,I,nor anyone I play with has any problems with agression. sure games can be addicting, as well as extremely violent but in many cases I feel much less agressive after playing games like HALO and DOOM. As for Cases like Cho and the colombine shooters, if you know that you or someone close to you could be a sociopath or homicidal, they shouldn't be near games like these anyway. However, Ms. Shin, i do agree that some games are too violent. games like the GTA series and 25 to Life strongly suggest that killing innocent people and Authority figures are perfectly ok. This is completely and totally wrong, and needs more backing. My final coment to everyone, game-manufacturers especially, WATCH WHAT IS IN THESE GAMES, if we con tinue this way, our worst fears may be realized ... Tyler Hale, 3 December 2007
You Fail! Some video games are violent by nature. If you were to tell the story of World War II without violence and death, it becomes totally uninteresting. Much of the violence in games comes from the story, like Halo puts the player into the shoes of a soldier in the Marines! Also, the armed forces of the United States developed their own training game. It was then repackaged and TONED DOWN for the public, but does that train people to kill? NO. Why does propaganda seem to always be excluded? ... Greg, 4 December 2007