Now I’m sure those of you reading this are probably sick to DEATH of the parallels being drawn between video games and violent tragedies that occur in our society. With this being typed up just after the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, and my heart and thoughts go out to all the families affected by the events, I want to empress upon you that this has been something that has been raging inside my heart for many years and something that I just need to address (while the rest of the writing community have done many times before).
The main argument is such: Video Games and the Violence within them will inevitably lead to you becoming overly violent in our reality.
Now with this is something that has been spanning gaming’s history, from Mortal Kombat and its over the top violence and the arguments made in Congress over it and games like it which lead to the founding of the ESRB rating system, to Grand Theft Auto and Jack Thompson who went on spectacular tirades that will go down in history. Too many events come to mind to highlight just how badly people cling to the argument to explain why people do the evil things they do. Sure, I can understand that human beings, as a whole, need someone or something in this case, to hold accountable for the evil in the world, but Video Games, hell Media as a whole, is used far too often as the scapegoat.
Many times over, people point the finger at games like the Grand Theft Auto series, Saints Row, Call Of Duty, Halo, the list can go on and on, yet how many times have people actually sat down to look at these games nor test their real effects on gamers as a whole. The question that comes to my mind then is, would those who protest the games existence even WANT to sit down and analyze the true effects?
If this was years ago, I’d have much more faith in people to say yes, some would, but as I have aged I have come to understand people who are so adamant to point the blame will not be bent from their current opinions, especially when it comes even using the word understanding as a whole. So are when then left to just say we all agree to disagree?
I would love to say no. I would love to say that somehow people can be educated, which would be fantastic, but as it has been seen, many people aren’t pliable. Enough of my rant about lack of hope for humanity, back to facts.
“The point is that the way you act in the real world very quickly overrides anything that is going on in the video games,” says David Ewoldsen, co-author of the studies and professor of communication at Ohio State University in the US. This was a quote taken from a study recently done, no date was found but listed as 2012. The study was on the effects of co-op play while playing Halo II and another group playing Unreal Tournament III, both playing co-op in one group, playing against each other in another. The study found that “college students who teamed up to play violent video games later showed more cooperative behavior and were less aggressive than students who played the games competitively.” Yes, this is a specific group,
but think about this, they are the same games you would play by yourself, while the industry is leading towards more co-op play. This is saying something, the way the industry is turning, the games are now being said in this mindset, it is pushing towards something that creates cooperative functions in gamers.
Isn’t this what society has been asking from us all along?
This is only one example.
Here I am posting a link to a website that has facts and figures, not overly recent (2008 ish) it shows the trends of violence and bulling. http://videogames.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=003627
Now sure, bullying went up as games became a bit violent, but the youth violence tally continues to go down while the video game media violence goes up becoming even more graphic. I may not be a mathematician, but when it comes to correlation I can understand how the arguments seem to start coming apart as we hear facts like these.
While I read plenty of reports that studies show that games do make people more violent, looking into it I find flaws in many of their studies as they pick and choose subjects who are more prone to violence, or they are not technically studies and more of surveys in high schools. However, I am NOT saying all studies that find links between more aggressive behaviors because of gaming are flawed, some are done very well even though I disagree with there being any correlation between the two subjects.
While I can’t outright prove the link doesn’t exist, I can however agree with David Ewoldsen when he said “Clearly, research has established there are links between playing violent video games and aggression, but that’s an incomplete picture,” There is so much more to consider in these studies as there are too many factors that come into play.
Are there some people who become more physically aggressive due to the way violence is carelessly thrown around in games?
I would say sure, if there was already an underlying history of violence. Do I think violence could be toned down/tweaked inside games?
Yes, sure I love a shooter as much as the next gamer, but making it the center point or promoting you be as violent as possible within the game could be shadowed a bit more. With the younger audiences tuning in with access to this M rated titles, it should be a bit shaved off at the edges. That’s not me saying we lose the excitement of games like No More Heroes or Halo 4 because a young child gets their hands on it, I just think down playing the focus would shine a more favorable light on this situation.
However, I do believe that the whole young audience thing is more on the fault of parents mistakenly giving their kids games that our rating system says they should not have to begin with. That is another rant for another day.
The point is this: Video Game violence is something that is played up a lot, and sure I’ll admit I have had my fun moments in Saints Row and GTA, but I do not feel that it leads to violence in youth. While studies state there are connections, there are plenty of studies that say their isn’t and that it seems to build better group and social skills. While the debate is still up in the air, you are free to take the information given (and opinions) and do with it what you will.
I would also like to apologize to Mass Effect/BioWare for people openly blaming you for the recent tragedy in our world. I see no more parallel than what the brother of the shooter liked for games. On behalf of all the gaming community, I apologize for idiocy.
We’re all sorry you got blamed for something you never did.
This is Prodigious J, and this rant would have been sooo much better as a video.