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The Informer

December 14, 2010

Video games being linked to violence is a long debated argument, but do video games do more harm than good? To explore this we
will look at two of the most violent and controversial video games of the modern era, Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty.
Certainly there are a wide variety court cases and crimes that are linked to these games such as the case of Noah Crooks who
attempted to rape and then shot his own mother when she took away his Call of Duty game in 2013, the thought of not being able
to play his beloved game drove him to murder, and there are other instances too such as the Connecticut shooting when Adam
Lanza killed 27 people in a school shooting, he was reported playing the shooting for hours on end surrounded by posters of
military weapon posters.
Does direct exposure to these games encourage you to be violent? An audience theory called the hypodermic needle could
suggest this, it states that media has a direct and immediate impact on the viewer which suggest why WWII propaganda was so
effective, from this it could be said that the criminals, after being exposed to violence within these games were then driven to
commit these atrocities as they were directly influenced by the game. Furthermore psychological research was conducted by Prof
Craig Anderson, they aimed to see whether or not playing violent video game desensitises people to the violence, they took a
group of volunteers half of the played violent games for a couple of hours whilst the other played a simple ball moving game, after
this they watched footage of people being shot by police being stabbed and other acts of extreme violence, the people who played
the simple game reacted as you would expect they were shocked and In some cases driven to tears, whereas the participants
playing the aggressive games seemed to be unaffected and some even enjoyed it. Grand Theft Auto is one of the most
controversial video games of the modern age due to its rewarding of the player for committing crimes such as rape, this has
caused a backlash with the game being censored in Australia due to a public petition, this petition was combatted by gamers
stating "This game may allow you to kill, hurt, bash and shoot anyone not just females and this game should be on the shelves all
over the country. It's made for adults not children, we have the right to buy games despite their content,". But is it the content of
the game that makes you violent or by simply playing video games at all, another study conducted by Dr Jibilski Wanted to find
out. They took a group of volunteers and split them into two, half played normal Tetris the soothing iconic arcade game whilst
others played a version called Bastet which is designed to frustrate and annoy the player by giving them the piece they least need,
what was interesting was that before they played they had to submerge their hands in ice cold water and after the experiment
they were asked what the temperature of the water should be for the next participant, the people who played Bastet wanted the
water to be even colder for the next participant, the frustration caused by the game made them want to punish a human being.
However there is another side to the coin. Can video games actually be used for good? Can a video game in fact be beneficial for
Some people believe that video games are not the sole cause of aggression, but can be used to educate and help in later life. An
example of this is the game cavern developed by keyhole surgeons in order to train new surgeons, it uses a modification of the
popular wii game controller in order to give surgeons a feel for what it would be like to operate by asking them to focus on
completing the job with minimum collateral damage to the cave they were working in, all will under time limits and trying to avoid
hazards. this use of video games in education is promotes learning important life saving skills and it is believed that surgeons who
played this game in training may become better surgeons in the line of duty.
as we get older we may become diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer's disease, although there is not an effective treatment
available yet studies have shown that playing video games (but not necessarily violent ones) can help keep the parts effected by
these illness’s functional. A study group of people living in care (the experiment was conducted by Adam Gazzaley) played a non
violent racing video game for an hour a day for a month and after this month their brain was tested, it was found that the people
who played video games had more active navigational and problem solving parts of their brains. Their working memory had
improved. From this it can be viewed that by playing video games for a short while every so often can help keep your brain
healthily exercised and stave off mental illness later in life. following on from this an experiment performed by Simone Koon which
studied the brain of gamers to look at the impact of game on various areas of the brain and found similar results to the one
performed on the elderly people, they could intake a lot more visual information at any given moment than non gamers and had a
highly developed navigational,problem solving and processing part of the brain, by playing video games they had taught
themselves faster reflexes and a different way of solving problems. Many people would also argue that play is a natural thing for
humans to do regardless of the violence in video games and how games like mine craft encourage creativity more than they
negatively impact the player.
there will forever be speculation about whether video games promote violence or improve your mind. We will likely never know for
sure wether by playing Call of duty or GTA will turn you into a savage killer or have no effect at all, the debate will rage on however
it is always important to read both sides of the story before jumping to conclusions.