Violence in Video Games Creates Violent Individuals

by Winterfate

This article will talk about a common misconception that people have regarding violence and video games. Read on to see if violence in video games truly creates violent individuals

This article is going to talk about a common misconception that many people seem to have regarding violent video games. Basically, there is a non-trivial group of people that like to claim that violence in video games will create violent individuals. I am here to talk about why this is not the case, and deconstruct why so many people rely on this faulty cause and effect relationship.

Video Games are Interactive

One reason people like to claim that violent video games will create violent individuals is that video games are interactive. Unlike other forms of entertainment such as movies and books, a video game lets the user (aka. the player) interact with the game world. So, for example, if you watch a violent movie, you are not doing anything but watching. However, when you pull the trigger on your rifle in a game such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, you are interacting with the game and are taking an active role in the violence.

The problem I have with this viewpoint is that violent video games have been around for nearly as long as the video game industry has existed. I've played Doom, Quake, Halo 2, the first Diablo (which was more gory than its sequel, go figure), and countless other violent games. I don't even get the urge to get a gun and shoot someone just because I've played violent games.

Violent Video Games Are An Easy Scapegoat

A sizable portion of the violent video game naysayers are parents, and with valid reason. No one wants their child exposed to negative influences, and violence is pretty negative. However, look at it this way: It is only a video game. It is just like any other form of entertainment. If you don't want your child exposed to such things, then don't allow him or her to play such video games. If you're a parent with a child, that's part of your job as a parent.

However, some of those parents go into a faulty tangent of how their children are rebellious and won't listen to them because they play Call of Duty (feel free to insert your favorite violent game of choice instead of Call of Duty). In other words, they attempt to lay the blame on video games for their own parenting. It is not a video game's fault that your child won't listen to you. You have to impose discipline on your children, or they'll walk all over you. Of course, I am not a parent, but a parent should know that children will look for every possible opportunity to go against your established house rules. That's tangential to this discussion though, so let's move on.

That's not even the worst part of the demographic. At least parents have the excuse that they worry for their children (even if some of them could use a parenting class or two). Certain organizations, on the other hand, seem to have an aversion for anything related to video games out of principle. Violent video games are just a convenient hook from which they can spew their anti-video game vitriol. In the last decade, I've seen every major violent video game be blacklisted as "that one game that will turn children into mass murderers". Seriously, is it that easy? If that were the case, then let's make non-violent video games and no one will ever kill anyone else...

What's that you say? People killed other people before video games existed? Who would've thought? Could it be that there are other problems within our society that have nothing to do with our forms of entertainment that cause violence to spawn?

Summary: Video games are a convenient scapegoat for people unwilling to analyze their surroundings and look deeper into the rabbit hole, as it were.

The Faulty Cause and Effect Relationship

Premise: Violent video games are being played by more children every day.

Premise: There is more violence on the streets every day.

Conclusion: Violent video games are causing more violence on the streets every day.

You may see a problem with the above logic statement. You may not. I'm in the former group. While the premises, on their own, are sound, they mean nothing in of themselves. If you attempt to correlate them, you're not going to get much good out of it. Yet, that's exactly what lots of people do. You could take any dozen other premises and replace that premise about violent video games and probably reach the same conclusion. If you actually want to engage in such an exercise, read the sidebox to the right of this section.

Studies have been done that support the case that violent video games spawn violent individuals, but even they fall into the same trap. See, you can spin that argument that way, or you can spin it the following way:

Cause: John Doe is a violent person.

Effect: John Doe will prefer violent video games.

(Which, mind you, isn't always true either.)

What I'm trying to say is that you can't claim that violent video games will create violent individuals because it doesn't work. Every person's mind is a world onto itself. Who is anyone to say why anyone does anything, let alone become a serial killer?

(If you could figure out, with even 90% reliability, who's going to be a killer and who's not based on singular details such as gaming habits, you'd probably be a millionaire by now.)

Switching Premises

Here's a small list of other premises that you could switch out for Premise #1 and still reach the same conclusion:

  • World poverty is increasing every day.
  • Overpopulation is a problem that is worsening every day.
  • Individual intolerance to other people, situations and other miscellanea are decreasing every day.

That's just three different premises. I could list more, but here's the general idea of what I'm trying to say: You can spin anything in a certain way to support or counter a point.

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Conclusion

Well, that's about it for this article. However, I'd like to close with a few final words.

I sincerely hope that this article has forced you to think a bit about how we view the world in general. See, while this article is about violent video games, the way people view a lot of things in life tends to align with the viewpoints I described in this article. it's human nature not to accept responsibility and to blame things/situations that cannot defend themselves (video games being inanimate and all that) to attain a measure of validation.

So, feel free to post in the comments section and vote in the poll below this final section.

Until the next time, take care and have fun! ;)

-Winterfate

Do Violent Video Games Create Violent Individuals?

Updated: 07/22/2012, Winterfate
 
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Ralpapajan on 08/21/2012

Well thought out and reasoned article. Like any subject one can make a case for anything.

My one thought is that with the advent of the Drones bombing people remotely the effect on the operator is similar to the affect one can see with, for example, my grand-daughter. It is remote and unreal. I was Air Force and the only time I saw emotion in a pilot who had dropped bombs on humans from a height collapsed when he had to destroy some elephants that had walked into a mine field.

The humans were remote ~ the elephants were up close and personal. Drones and, I believe, War Games being used for training the operators, have made the killing and maiming even more remote.

I have the same reservations about Paint Ball games, not just War Games. Having seen the effects of firearms on human bodies, the killing urge exhibited by Paint Ball enthusiasts sickens me.

Winterfate on 07/26/2012

Your daughter sounds like an awesome human being. :)
(I'd love to marry a gamer some day, but female gamers seem to be so rare. :( ).

Moving on though, I consider myself highly anti-social. Your neighbor's son sounds like an extreme case, seeing as he can't seem to separate fantasy from reality. I agree on restricting his access to such games in that case, as it's probably for his own good in the end.

Thank you for the comment katiem2! :)

katiem2 on 07/25/2012

Firstly, I love gaming, my daughter is a gamer, an honor student, very active in her community and social life. She's a brilliant dynamic young lady who enjoy's gaming just as most her friends do. Gaming is a great social conduit for them. They are in no way affected by violence in video games.

Secondly, I feel it can have an impact on an antisocial child. I know of a person in our neighborhood who's son is anti-social (guessing) as they keep him out of social settings and in the house all the time. Sad really, his mother says he's difficult and she keeps him calm by allowing him to play video games. He's permitted to play the killing games, ones in which you can kill others. I don't feel this is appropriate. Once in a while he makes his way outside, he's approached me a time or two while out in my yard. He has zero social skills and is very odd, he talks in a very grandiose manner about killing people. I ask him where he gets such ideas and he says, he does it all the time at home playing his video games. Soon his mother is running frantically down the side walk yelling for him. She quickly grabs his arm and says lets go home, apologizing for his behavior, telling me to over look him. Sad very sad indeed.

Some people shouldn't play these games as they cannot separate fantasy from reality. Parents with children with social challenges and or other issues should not be introduced to any game including violent games. It really is up to the parents. I know it must be hard keeping such a child occupied but video games is not the answer.

Great topic for discussion!

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