Across the globe, the use of video games has been on the rise since they first hit the market. These video games are designed on various platforms thereby targeting their usage amongst children, teenagers as well as young adults. Playing video games occupies a big part of the way they spend their free time and some have even ended up being addicted to playing video games. This has raised an alarm especially considering the influence they might have on the young minds.
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Video games that involve violence and combat have elicited reactions from different circles like the regulatory bodies and experts on mental issues who argue that they should be restricted since they might have a negative influence on the kids prompting them to engage in violent crimes.
Upon this concern being raised, various studies have been conducted seeking to show a relationship between video games that involve violence and existence of violent behavior amongst the young people.
Video games hit the market in 1970’s but the graphics were very simple and were not as combative. Games such as Pacman were built on a simple platform that would not be termed as excessively violent.
The video gaming field was later to be revolutionized in the 1990’s as technology advancements allowed for more descriptive and detailed graphical images most notable being the ability to view blood as fluid and making killing look as it happens in the real world. This marked the entrance of video games such as ‘Mortal Kombat’ which allowed the video game player to enter a killing mission.
The alarming nature of the violent video games elicited reactions from the law makers prompting the U.S congress to issue a regulation seeking to have the game developers come up with a way to rate them in the basis of age limit. This did little to halt the developers’ efforts to come up with advanced video games with the next innovation being more interactive 3-dimensional violent scenes where the user was able to be placed in the middle of the battle as the ‘first person shooter’.
The trend has since continued with more and more combative video games being invented and used by the young people and the situation has further been fueled by the rise in the usage of internet.
Studies conducted on this field in the past resulted in arguments with some showing that there is a relationship in playing violent video games and aggressive behavior while other studies showed mixed outcomes. Most of the research however showed that violent video games brought about aggressive personalities.
These studies were backed by recent cases of violent cases in schools e.g. the 1993 case of Columbine High School where two students (Eric and Dylan) went on a killing spree and in the end shot 12 students and a teacher. The two were said to be addicts of ‘Doom’, a violent video game.
Further evidence to link the two was seen in the video they had recorded just before they went on the killing rampage where they mentioned the “Doom’ video game. Several other cases of young people going on shooting rampages have been reported and substantial evidence given to prove the link between the murders and playing violent video games (Ferguson 30).
To try and explain the relationship between violent video games and aggression amongst the users, experimental, correlation and longitudinal methods have been used. Experimental research studies have only so far shown that playing violent video games only arouses a temporary short lived arousal of aggressive behavior. In correlation studies where the participants are required to fill in forms, the aim is to investigate the effect violent video games may have on personality and behavior.
Correlation studies are said to be influenced by one recalling past influences but all in all the final results have indicated that violent video games result in hostility and aggressiveness. Young people who are regular users of violent video games are likely to engage in more physical confrontations. Longitudinal studies involve the study population being observed in their natural living patterns.
These have shown mixed results concerning the relationship between playing violent video games and aggressive behavior. The immediate point to note is that such studies are open to a lot of influences with the biggest being that the subjects being studied are also exposed to other violent influences like Film and Television making it hard to point out the video games influence alone (Kooijmans 3).
Results from the various study methods have indicated a considerable amount of correlation between playing violent video games and aggression behavior leading to an increase in the criminal episodes reported amongst the users. Due to lack of a clear cut link on the influence of violent video games alone, calls have been made for a theoretical framework to be designed that will best explain the correlation.
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The recent greatest contribution in this area is the development of the general aggression model (GAM) by Anderson and Bushman in 2002. The model explains a person’s resultant internal state e.g. aggression by looking at the how the differences in personalities and situations come into play when considering the effect playing violent video games might have (Shin 6).
The model explains that aggressive behavior is the resultant decision made by a person after thoughts, feelings and arousals interact. GAM model explains that playing violent video games produces effects that are both short lived and long-term effects. Playing violent video games in short term leads to aggressive thoughts, aggressive feelings and a feeling of violent arousal.
These only contribute to aggressive behavior temporarily. In long term, playing violent video games leads to steady development of violent beliefs and formation of aggressive attitudes. This leads to formation of aggressive behavioral thinking which eventually becomes a normal way of thinking causing the young person to be insensitive to aggression which makes them view it as a normal way of life. Most young people undergoing puberty have a lot of biological changes that go on in them.
As a result, as they grow mentally owing to environmental influences, the effects of violent video games may be incorporated as their minds go through the GAM model processes resulting in an aggressive lot. Violent video games have therefore been linked to the rise in cases of school shooters who go killing sprees as well as bullying in schools (Anderson and Gentile 2008).
Video games are in this age being developed with focus on appealing to the target population which is the children, adolescents and the youths who are in their early adulthood. This has been inspired by the recognition that more and more young people have been taking to playing video games during their free time and the facts are proven by the massive increase in video games sales by the owner companies.
According to Anderson, Gentile, and Buckley, as competition between companies in selling video games intensifies, they have resulted in innovative ways of designing the video games which has ended in a lot of arguably undesirable content in the video games (123).
When violent video games hit the market in the 1970’s, the violence content was very minimal and the effects further suppressed by the fact that the graphics were not as developed.
As time went on and technology advanced, it became possible to create simulations of the real life images making it possible to show killing as real. Nowadays the video games have been associated with certain characteristics which make them more appealing. They have become more interactive and hence addictive, and the environment in the gaming world is mediated for an appeal to the users.
Most violent games nowadays have sessions where the game player exchanges messages with the game making it possible to include violent language use. The narratives in most violent games explain to the gamer the variety weaponry available for use while further explaining how to use them. This has increased the young people’s awareness of assault riffles and other weapons that can be used in violent scenes while further instructing them on how to use them (Porter and Starcevic 4).
As the game developers struggle to stay ahead of the competition, more and more content has been added in the video games with the most notable one that have elicited mixed reactions being; graphic violence, sex acts, revealed nudity, blood filled violent scenes, and making taking criminal roles seem like a heroic act. Thanks to technological advancements, now graphic representations in the video games are now close to real life and so is the representation of violence.
With clear graphics, now the young people are exposed to a lot of complicated violent moves that are executable in real life. Playing Grand Theft Auto series presents one with simulations of real life violent acts where the gamer can steal cars, knock down pedestrians, take an assault riffle and shoot down a whole city population by killing anyone in sight.
Scenes in the gaming world filled with blood which increases the violent feel of the games. Some games have very elaborate manner of killing but exaggerated blood spills where to mark a victim who’s been hit and died, blood splashes. The recently introduced Suda51’s No More heroes on the once considered non violent gaming world Nintendo, is made up of scenes where the gamer crashes the targets limbs and includes a lot of blood splattering (Pramath 2010).
In quite a number of video games today, scenes of people exposing their partial or fully nude bodies have become very common. This corrupts the young people’s minds. The line was however crossed when games surfaced involving pure sexual acts. A certain gaming company took the idea further and incorporated use of violence in the game.
RapeLay, a game that hit the stores in 2006 sees the gamer take the role of a rapist and goes on a mission to violently undress and forcefully get sexual favors from unwilling victims in a crowded train. A certain level requires the gamer to take the role of the rapist and rape a woman and then two of her young daughters.
Such a video game clearly soils the mind of the young people and makes rape look like a fun activity. In most of the violent video games today, the user takes up the role of a criminal. The mission is committing a series of criminal acts while earning points for each successful act.
In Hitman Contracts, the game player takes the role of a hired killer who is sent on a mission to kill a certain high profile individual. You must in the process kill the soldiers among other crimes in order to earn maximum points. The heroic deeds praised in most violent video games give the young people’s minds an impression that one should commit crime to feel heroic (Pramath 2010).
Some violent games have been made with the ideas based on current points of conflict amongst states. After the September 11 attacks of the U.S by the Alqaeda terrorists, numerous games were developed with their story line revolving around terrorism.
Most of them however sees the gamer take up the role of a terrorist and sends them on a mission armed with heavy weapons which enable them to bomb cities and buildings. Breeding a young lot that sees terrorism as a heroic deed really serves little to fight the act itself. Other games have story lines that elevate current conflicts.
Postal 2 has scenes that seek to display the fall out of the nuclear bans between the U.S and North Korea while other games show the heroic deeds of using nuclear bombs. Some violent video games have caused a stir due to their abusive nature of a respected concept such as racial differences and respect for religious belief of honoring our dead. Left 4 Dead 2 came under much criticism for its story that revolves around killing zombies.
These zombies are African-Americans which makes it clear that the issue of racial discrimination may be supported in this game. Religious beliefs also dictate on the respect of the dead who are represented as Zombies in this game. This does much harm for the young minds and can shoot down the efforts to raise religious kids (Pramath 2010).
Despite the continued cries to restrict a number of violent video games and issue regulatory measures, more and more video games keeps on coming up and which seek to bring in new concepts. Some games have been totally banned in some countries owing to their nature to possibly corrupt minds including the young people and touching on sensitive issues that touch on a particular country. However their sales still continue in other countries prompting for production of more games.
Companies that develop these video games are in business at competition increases as more companies come up but the population keeps demanding for more and better ones. This pushes the companies to come up with new video games that bring in new concepts or are fiercer than their competitions. This way the flow of the violent video games continues as more are put in the market Cooper and Mackie (730),
Owing to the established influence of the violent video games on the children, parents are faced with the burden of bringing up kids whose minds have been spoilt by aggressive tendencies picked from the video games. As parents embark on the all important role of parenting their kids, they should be aware of the influences shaping the child’s behavior and take direct action to control it.
Several discussions in the recent past have been directed on the influence violent media content has on the kids and experts have pointed out violent video games in particular as having the most influence. Anderson and Bushman attributed this to the fact that playing video games creates an interactive atmosphere as well as requiring the gamer to play the major role in the violent scenes as opposed to a passive role in watching violent films.
Parents therefore should know this and be in a position to control the content in the video games their kids play. As a parent it is also very important to be always aware of what stage your child is in development phase. This way you will be better positioned in deciding the information they take in and the effect it will have on them.
This is because young people are in a stage where their form of learning is mainly experiential and their behavior is shaped by observing, imitating and adapting to the prevailing environment. Exposure to such experiences as playing violent video games can lead the young people in mimicking the roles taken in the games thereby resulting in aggressive behavior (6).
The understanding of the issues raised concerning the effects of violent video games, numerous studies have conducted on the subject with several models being developed to explain the effects. Most results have indicated a negative influence of playing violent video games arguing that they contribute to elevate aggressiveness.
It is however evident from other findings that there have been reported some positive correlation between playing violent video games and children’s behavior. Skoric, Teo, and Neo, stated that violent video games arguably act as an avenue for the young people to relieve their aggressive behavior thereby resulting in calm non-rebellious kids. Playing video games also act as a social activity where the child can interact with peers as they play the games.
Other positive results reported from playing video games include improved hand-eye coordination and ability not to be distracted and attention to details. A combination of these factors has been said to better academic performance for kids who play violent video games. This justifies why playing violent video games is still a very valid option for raise a better kid (6).
In taking active roles to regulate their child’s learning experiences and filter the contents of the video games, parents can make several efforts. It is important to check the video game for the rating which establishes whether it is appropriate for the kid’s age. This has been made possible by establishment of regulation seeking to have all video game developers provide rating for each game which restricts usage according to age limit.
Let the video playing sessions be within an area where you can monitor the kids as they play and if possible make attempts to play with them so as to understand the game content. Limit the amount of time spent playing video games to reduce attachment and negative influence. Encourage the kids to interact with their peers by participating in other extra curricular activities other than playing video games online (Sisson 5).
In conclusion, although there has not been established clear evidence as to whether violent video games cause aggressive behavior, many studies have pointed out toward a possible link between the two. Everyone is however in agreement that the violent video games are in compromise of morals and expose the young kids to in appropriate content. Further studies will however need to be done to support the issue of negative effects since some studies have shown that it is beneficial to the young minds.
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Anderson, Craig, and Brad Bushman. “Effects of violent Video Games on Aggressive Behavior, Aggressive Cognition, Aggressive Effect, Physiological Arousal, and Prosocial Behavior: A Meta-analytic Review of Scientific Literature.” Psychological Science, 2001. Print
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Sisson, John. “Violent Video Games and Young People.” Harvard Mental Health Letter, 2010. Print.
Skoric, Marko, Linda Teo, Rachel Neo. “Children and Video Games: Addiction, Engagement, and Scholastic Achievement.” Cyber Psychology and Behavior, 2005. Print.