The popularity of “violent” video games are raising many questions of what effect it has on people who play them. Many people believe that violent games are responsible for causing violent tendencies among young children and even adults. Some acts of violence have been highly publicized in relation to beliefs that the suspect who committed the crime has had a history of playing violent video games. However, people overlook other possibilities and just blame everything on violent games. Are violent video games entirely to blame?
Emerging research has shown that it isn’t the violent nature of the game, but the competitiveness that drives people to become aggressive when playing games. In Adachi’s et al., study, they concluded that violent games does predict aggressive behaviour over time among adolescents, but that is only because most violent games “happen” to be competitive. The same could be said about sports games which are equally competitive, yet they don’t receive the same backlash as violent games.
Typical violence depicted in video games are extremely far-fetched and unrealistic. In shooting games for example, characters often soak up bullets like sponges and have the ability to regenerate health just by staying out of combat for a couple seconds. If an individual who plays these games are not able to make this disconnect from reality, then that person may be suffering from extremely serious underlying mental issues. Based on the selection hypothesis, I strongly believe that these people choose to play these types of games and it is not the game that causes them to commit heinous acts in real life.
However, there is no doubt that violent games can have an impression on young kids as they are easily influenced. That is why there is a rating system on every game, similar to movies. Despite the rating systems, age restrictions and ID checking are not regularly enforced within gaming stores and parents usually fail to do any sort of prior research before buying their children violent video games.
I believe that the overarching issue is that gaming is a relatively new medium that the older generation is unfamiliar with. As malwedy mentioned, this generation is exposed to extremely fast-developing technology. Laws and regulations are not able to keep up with the pace of how fast games are evolving and usually rush out ill thought out solutions that violate freedom of speech. For example, Australia has gone as far as outright banning any extremely graphic and violent video games, or completely censoring them to the point where they don’t even resemble the original product.
Since the gaming industry as a whole is still in it’s infancy, it’s just so easy for people to blame the newest and latest trend. Violent movies never receive the same backlash yet the most violent movies easily rivals the most violent games in terms of explicitness. More research needs to be conducted in this field before the general consensus stops using violent games as a scapegoat.