Consuming Critical Content: the theme of cooperation and competition in media

            In Adachi and Willoughby’s article titled, “Demolishing the Competition: The Longitudinal Link Between Competitive Video Games, Competitive Gambling and Aggression,” they discuss how violent video games, competitive video games, and competitive activities, such as, gambling can possibly contribute to increasing the levels of aggression in individuals because they’re constantly participating in these types of games. Their findings state that competitive gaming and gambling contributes much more to increasing the levels of aggression people may have, rather than non-competitive gaming and gambling. Likewise, they find it’s not merely the violence in video games that leads to aggression, it’s actually more likely the competitive factor to be the cause of increased aggression.

      Nevertheless, I agree with @ericlee that video games aren’t entirely to blame and are being used as a scapegoat in Adachi and Willoughby’s article. There are many forms of other competitive and violent content. For instance, Adachi and Willoughby could have focused  their research relating to other factors that contribute to levels of aggression in individuals, such as, movies, books, war time and military footage, aggressive households or school environments.   

    Furthermore, in my opinion, video games should focus more on cooperation rather than competition in order to reduce the levels of aggression people. This same concept doesn’t only apply to video games but can also be applied to all types of media, for example, graphic websites, movies, books, television shows. It’s common for video games and films to focus on competition. A majority of video games have a theme of winning and achieving certain goals, but in order to gain success you must overcome beating and/or destroying other characters to win, instead of working together with others to achieve a goal together. This is a harmful theme to be surrounded by constantly, especially for impressionable children, it’s never an ethical concept to want to harm others to obtain your own success. Conversely, if video games and films were to shift over to more teamwork related themes rather than just competing, that would potentially lead to less aggressive and competitive behaviour in individuals because they are based on working together with others as a team, instead of competing against them aggressively with selfish motives. 

    My argument, it’s more beneficial for video games to be focused on cooperative styles of gaming rather than the competitive approach because competitiveness can easily increase the amount of aggression a person experiences, relates to Bateson’s viewpoint on competition. Bateson believed “humans will only survive by thinking systematically at acting together, not as competitive organisms but as parts of independent systems.” I agree with Bateson’s points because they also stated competition is not something that is not natural, it is something that is learned and that usually competitiveness is not helpful when it comes to solving any social problems. Bateson believed “independence training” should be replaced with “raising human beings who see themselves as part of the biosphere and independent, not simply exploiting or dominating or ruling.” Bateson’s arguments should be represented when content creators are putting out media because teamwork and cooperativeness is a more important theme in media than competition and would benefit society in reducing levels of aggression among players. 

   An example of competitive themes,  in video games, affecting players engaged is the behaviour changes that occur to individual players. For instance, when I’m watching my brothers play competitive games, even if it’s just sports and nothing related to violence, I’ve noticed they become super competitive with each other and who they’re playing against. They want to win so badly, and even sometimes place bets on who will win. This competitive nature easily leads to more aggression in their behaviour because they are only focused on what they have to do for themselves to win and their competitor to lose. A big difference is shown when my brothers’ are playing non-competitive games, such as games that involve working together as a team. My brothers are less aggressive and more calm because they’re strategically working together online trying to finish a task. I believe, therefore, cooperation to be more beneficial for game players because cooperative styles of gaming will lead to less aggression in individuals and more collaborating; more depending on one another which is more beneficial to solving problems in society, just like Bateson stated. 

Additionally, Hutcheon’s idea of competition is important to keep in mind when it comes to the topics discussed in Adachi and Willoughby’s article. Hutcheon states that “an over-emphasis on competition and ‘winning’ the argument can be counter-productive and hinder the generation of new knowledge.” I support this perspective since today’s media is heavily influenced by violence which involves competition and the concept of cooperation is not talked about enough.Additionally, I agree with @spidermmman that humans are self-harming with creating a human-made competitive environment in several forms of competitive media beingreleased. Thus, this could hinder generations in understanding cooperation and being more comfortable with competition and violence and prevent them in collaborating for a better tomorrow. 

With media, endorsing competition and violence, it’s causing higher levels of aggression within those consuming media which is vast majority of the global population. To decrease the level of aggression, the media should focus more attention on releasing content that endorses learning how to work with a team and cooperate because it’s much more beneficial than constantly being consumed with content of competing against one another. 

Picture Credit: Happy children – girl and boy playing a video game. (Shutterstock)

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