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Josh Hadfield

English 1010
Professor Strickland

Violence and Gaming

Does violent entertainment have an effect on the youth of America? For those of
us who grew up in the generation of playing Sonic the Hedge Hog, Donkey Kong, and
Mario Kart, we did not get the exposure of violence that kids do today. Popular games
such as Halo, Call of Duty, and Left 4 Dead, show much more gore and violence than
that of a Disney game in the Ninetys. Many people believe that violent entertainment
causes aggression. Is this true?
I decided to research this because I have seen the negative effect of violent
video games in my own home. I have two younger siblings that spend most of their free
time playing what I would consider violent video games. It has a huge effect on the way
they interact with others at home and in the outside world. Whenever there is a
disagreement, fists start to fly. It seems that being exposed to this violence has caused
this behavior of violent retaliation.
Research shows that games are played by more than 90% of American children
and violent games are among the most popular entertainment products for teens and
adolescents, especially boys. (Ron Tamborini) The majority of youth in America who
play video games are males. Those who prefer violent games are likely to be above
average in aggression, more delinquent, and have poor school performance. Maybe


aggressive children are drawn to violent video games, and the video games dont make
them aggressive. Hyperactivity, need for arousal, or low educational attainment, could
be a cause for aggressive behavior and the desire for violent entertainment. Its
possible that youth are attracted to video games to gain a status they arent able to do
in other aspects, such as school performance.
A study done in 2008 tested adolescents in the United States and Japan, to find
out whether high exposure to violent video games increased aggression over time.
They did it in both countries to see if there was a difference between high (United
States,) and low violence places (Japan.) They started the experiment at the beginning
of the school year and watched for changes towards the end of the school year after
playing violent video games. The participants video game habits and physical
aggressive behavior tendencies were tested at two different times, separated by 3 to 6
months. Three samples were taken. 1) 181 Japanese students, ages 12-15. 2) 1050
Japanese students, ages 13-18. 3) 364 from the United States, ages 9-12.
In every sample, habitual play of violent video games early in the school year,
predicted later aggression. These people who played many violent video games
became more physically aggressive. Results were alike for students in the United
States and Japan for similar aged students. Results for Japanese students ages 13-18
were smaller, but still significant. These longitudinal results confirm earlier
experimental and cross-sectional studies that had suggested that playing violent video
games is a significant risk factor for later physically aggressive behavior and that this
violent video game effect on youth generalizes across very different cultures. As a


whole, the research strongly suggests reducing the exposure of youth to this risk factor.
(Anderson)
Studies of the most popular electronic games indicate that violence and
physical aggression are contained in more than 70% of these games. The amount of
violence varies by game genre and the rating. A great deal of violence is aimed at
young audiences. Research has estimated that games rated E contained more than
one violent interaction per minute on average, whereas games rated T and M contained
more than four. (Ron Tamborini) Preteen and teenage boys say that it is not hard for
them to buy Mature Rated games, and their parents dont check the ratings of the
games they are playing. If these teens are playing more than 7 hours a week, with four
violent interactions per minute, they are exposed to hundreds of violent actions per
week. Research done by Rene Weber, using modern brain imaging technology, shows
that electronic game violence evokes brain activity patterns similar to those found with
actual aggressive behavior.
Electronic games usually depict human characters using weapons to perpetrate
violence that results in the bloodshed of victims. Violent acts in these games are
usually rewarded, and almost never punished. Parental involvement of selection and
monitoring of their childrens video games would be most beneficial. Experts in this
area recommend that parents become wiser consumers who avoid the purchase of
potentially harmful electronic games, restrict their children's access to violent games,
and limit the time spent playing video games overall. Just as important is the need for
parents to communicate with children and explain why violent games are harmful. (Ron
Tamborini) Children will also make better decisions when parental guidance is absent.


Playing a violent video game can increase aggression, and when the player
keeps thinking about the game, aggression can last up to 24 hours. A study was done
where the researchers randomly assigned male college students to play one of six
different games, half violent and half non-violent, for 20 minutes. To see if pondering on
the game would cause extended effects, half of the players were told, Over the next 24
hours, think about your play of the game, and try to identify ways your game play could
improve when you play again."
For men who didnt think about the game, the violent video game players
aggression was no more than the non-violent video game players. The violent video
game playing men, who thought about the game, were more aggressive than the other
groups. These men only played for 20 minutes, when most game players play for much
longer periods of time. Thinking about violent video games and how you could have
played better, can cause extended amounts of aggression. (B. J. Bushman)
A Swedish study has been done to research the effects of violent video games
and heart rate. A group of boys ages 12-15 were asked to play both a violent and non-
violent video game, before they went to bed for the night. Their heart rates were
monitored during game play and throughout their sleep. Heart rates went up more
when the boys played the violent video game, than the non-violent video game. The
boys did not feel like they had a bad nights sleep, but their heart rates continued to be
higher. The research showed that effects of gaming dont stop when the game console
is turned off; they have continued physiological effects without you even being aware of
it. It is too early to draw conclusions about what the long-term significance of this sort
of influence might be. What is important about this study is that the researchers have


found a way, on the one hand, to study what happens physiologically when you play
video or computer games and, on the other hand, to discern the effects of various types
of games. (Butler)
Children who play violent video games tend to blur the line about what is fantasy
and what is acceptable in reality when it comes to violence. Some children are not able
to understand the difference between what is on the screen and what is reality.
(Cultrona) Students who were involved with the Columbine Massacre had played many
hours of a violent video game, Doom. Two high school seniors from a suburban town
Littleton, Colorado, planned an assault on Columbine High School during the middle of
a school day. Their plan was to kill hundreds of their peers. They walked the hallways
and killed schoolmates with guns, bombs, and knives. At the end of the day, twelve
students, two teachers, and both of the murders were dead. No one can say for sure
why Klebold and Harris committed such a horrific crime. Many people have come up
with theories including being picked on in school, violent video games (Doom), violent
movies (Natural Born Killers), music, racism, Goth, problematic parents, depression,
and more. (Rosenberg)
Studies have been done that say violent video games do not cause aggression,
and can actually be helpful to adolescents. Some people say there is no way to test
aggression and the studies that have been done, have design flaws. Video game
advocates contend that a majority of the research on the topic is deeply flawed and that
no causal relationship has been found between video games and social violence. They
argue that violent video games may reduce violence by serving as a substitute for rough


and tumble play and by providing a safe outlet for aggressive and angry feelings.
(Fitzmaurice)
Although we know, the attraction of adolescent males to violent content is well
established, (Ron Tamborini) the violent content still makes them aggressive. This
topic can be argued either way, but by my research, I believe playing violent video
games contributes to the aggression in adolescents. Critics argue that these games
desensitize players to violence, reward players for simulating violence, and teach
children that violence is an acceptable way to resolve conflicts. (Fitzmaurice) I have
seen the impact of violent video games on family and friends. We should limit the time
playing violent video games, to further reduce these types of problems.
However playing violent games does not take away the ability of a person to
make their own decisions. We still have the choice to be violent or stay calm. So at what
point do these games begin to influence us more to where we are greatly effected by
them. I would argue that most of what surrounds us in the media is violent, not just
video games but I dont consider myself a violent person. The fact is based on research
violent games have a great impact on the behavior of adolescents and young adults.
Now the question, should the government be allowed to step in and control video game
programming restrictions for games such as Grand Theft Auto etc?




Works Cited
Anderson, Craig A. "Longitudinal Effects of Violent Video Games on Aggression in Japan and the United
States." American Academy of Pediatrics 122.5 (2008): e1067-e1072.
B. J. Bushman, B. Gibson. "Violent Video Games Increase Aggression Long After the Game Is Turned Off,
Study Finds." ScienceDaily (2010).
Butler, Harry. Bit-Tech. 17 November 2008. 3 April 2011 <http://www.bit-
tech.net/news/gaming/2008/11/17/study-finds-video-games-increase-heart-rate/1>.
Cultrona, R.L. "Negative Effects of Video Gaming." 2010. eHow. 3 April 2011
<http://www.ehow.com/about_5370023_negative-effects-video-gaming.html>.
Fitzmaurice, Deanne. "Video Games." 29 March 2011. ProCon.org. 16 April 2011
<http://videogames.procon.org/#Background>.
Ron Tamborini, Rene Weber. "Electronic Games and Aggression." Encyclopedia of Children, Adolescents,
and the Media 2006.
Rosenberg, Jennifer. "Columbine Massacre." 11 April 2003. about.com. 3 April 2011
<http://history1900s.about.com/od/famouscrimesscandals/a/columbine_4.htm>.