Video Games and Agression


Violent video games are often put forward as one of the causes of aggressive behaviour. The effects that these games have on real-world behaviour have long been a hotly debated topic. For example, in testimony before the U.S. Senate, Dr. Craig Anderson argued that “high exposure to media violence is a major contributing cause of the high rate of violence in modern U.S. society”. But is this really true?

According to a recent study published in the Psychology of Popular Media Culture, there is no evidence to support the notion that video games lead to increases in real-world violent crimes. This research found some interesting results: “homicides tended to decrease in the months following the release of popular M-rated violent video games”, apparently criminals were too busy having fun playing their favourite video games. The researches of the study note that “finding that a young man who committed a violent crime also played a popular video game, such as Call of Duty, Halo, or Grand Theft Auto, is as pointless as pointing out that the criminal also wore socks.”

Another study conducted last year, that was funded by the US government, also found the opposite effect: children with ADD or depression actually appeared to be less aggressive after playing violent games such as GTA, Halo or Mortal Kombat. It’s a fascinating finding, children prone to aggression appear to be less-aggressive after playing violent video games.

Despite these findings from academic articles pointing out the insanity of blaming video games for violent behaviour in modern society, governments in Western countries such as Australia and Germany keep banning and censoring video games. Germany’s censorship law specifically prevents material that “glorifies violence” and therefore adults are not allowed to buy the violent video games they like. Recently the new South Park video game called ‘Stick of Truth’ was even censored in Europe as a whole, as several cut scenes were deleted from the game. What do you think? Should governments be able to censor these video games?

References

Burgess, M. (2014) Censored: Australian videogame ratings versus the world, http://www.gameplanet.com.au/features/g51d5115802299/Censored-Australian-videogame-ratings-versus-the-world/, retrieved October 4, 2014.

Ferguson C.J. & Olson C. (2013) ‘Video game violence among ‘vulnerable’ populations: the impact of violent games on delinquency and bullying among children with clinically elevated depression or attention deficit symptoms’, Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

Makuch, E. (2014) Violent Video Games Don’t Lead to Increases In Violent Crimes, Study Finds , http://www.gamespot.com/articles/violent-video-games-dont-lead-to-increases-in-viol/1100-6422421/, retrieved October 4, 2014.

Moses, T. (2014) Why has the South Park: Stick of Truth game been censored in Europe?, http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/mar/05/south-park-stick-of-truth-game-censored-europe, retrieved October 5, 2014.

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4 responses to “Video Games and Agression”

  1. 419424ss says :

    In my opinion, the results of the mentioned researches are not opposite. Contrary, for me the results are actually identical. I result to this conclusion because I make the following assumption. The aggression that can lead to higher levels of criminality, stems from the deprivation of any kind of a game, as long as someone was formerly addicted to it. Therefore, criminality is connected with deprivation more than the content of the game that led to it. The assumption is strongly based on my experience, as I have seen children to react violently when they face videogame prohibition of games that looked more like Super Mario than like Grand Theft Auto. Therefore, people who are prone to this kind of violence do not commit a crime as long as they feed their videogame addiction.

    The research of Villanova and Rutgers University that you mention in your article, reveals that the criminality levels fall during summer. This is the release period of the majority of new videogames (violent or not), and the reason is obvious: videogame companies want to take advantage of the free time of the students. But what happens, when the liabilities of the students increase again after September? Deprivation comes along with crime in young ages.

    Thus, in my opinion, the explanation of the results should be based on deprivation, than on the content of the videogames, because, as I mentioned, in summer there are not only violent game releases.

  2. ling122120216 says :

    for me, i would say it depends, it is true that criminals do not have time playing that violent games, however, it cannot be denied that it enlighten people to do the violent action based on the games since some game is adapted by the real story.
    on the other hand, for some people, it is a good way to release the pressure since they are so stressful in real time that they need to find a way to express it.
    on my opinion is it cannot say that violent game is totally bad and government should forbid it but it really depends on how people treat on it. is it just a game for playing and express stress or is it a game to learn the violence.

  3. dedierstolk says :

    I would argue that videogames do not lead to increases in real world violent crimes more than any other form of media (TV shows for example). Here is why:

    This week I read a news article about a 17-year old boy from the United Kingdom who killed his girlfriend after he was inspired by the hitseries Dexter, in which a serial killer sometimes brutally murders his victims.

    I think that videogames are somewhat similar to tv shows/series, and that the government might want to focus even more on tv shows than videogames. I also think that people playing a videogame know that they are ‘just playing a game’, whereas people watching a movie or tv show can really identify themselves with the characters.

    I don’t think that censoring the videogames will help avoid agressive behaviour. If the government really wants to do something about this behaviour, they have to be stricter with the required age for a videogame. The South Park game mentioned in the article is for people that are 18 years or older. The same should probably apply for the South Park tv series. The real problem is that the tv series are broadcasted during daytime, so people younger that 18 years old could easily watch this show.

    Sources:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2777794/Teenager-obsessed-Dexter-TV-series-stabbed-17-year-old-girlfriend-death-dismembering-bedroom.html

    http://nos.nl/op3/artikel/705924-levenslang-voor-jongen-die-dexter-nadeed.html

  4. 345088ma says :

    The previous comments raise an important point: banning video games will stop (or will not stop) aggressive behavior. What we need to understand is how video games are made and what can be done in the games itself. For example, take Call of Duty series. In this game it is possible to fight certain wars as a combatant. However, in the game certain behavior is not tolerated such as friendly fire. If you kill your own, your session will restart because it is just not a behavior that is allowed in the game. Even if we look at Grand Theft Auto series, in this game certain behavior is not tolerated. If you as the main character go on a rampage and kill lots of people, the police will come and get you. In the end, they always win. You have to start from the nearby hospital and lose in most cases all your guns and ammunition and an amount of money.

    The whole point is that certain behavior is not tolerated and will bring you nowhere. While it might seem interesting to kill people out of the blue after awhile you move on and focus on the storyline itself. Because there is just no point in restarting your session from the hospital over and over. For example a study conducted in 2014 by Richard M Ryan, from the University of Rochester shows that the mainstream ‘aggressive’ video game do not lead to any of this behavior in real life.There are however, other types of niche games that actually lead to aggression. But even in this case, people do not go on a mad streak and start killing people out of the blue. However, I am not denying that this is not the case in real life, but most of the instances have a totally different underlying cause. Most of the people that kill people out of the blue, such as at colleges are people with certain profound illnesses in the brain. However, caution is needed when a new game is released because while research actually proofs the contrary, it might be that games in the future might lead to aggression. This could be due to a change in the nature of games.

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