A Link to the Violence

I know I have been gone for awhile, basically I had a baby and it has been crazy but I’m back and in Berkeley now ready to break into the bay area video game scene. Without further adieu, here is a formally written article about violence and video games. A new {{STAND BY FOR ASSIMILATION}} will be posted shortly. Glad to be back!


            Over the last two decades violent video games have become a cultural phenomenon fueling an $11.7 billion domestic video game industry. These games have been labeled as desensitizing players to real-life violence and rewarding players for simulating violent acts. Independent studies show that 97% of teenagers 12-17 years old in the US played video games in 2008, and the percentage is increasing exponentially (1). Critics argue violent video games are to blame for school shootings, increases in bullying, and violence towards women. Opposing studies believe a majority of the research on the topic is incorrect and that no relationship has been found between video games and social violence. Additionally video game advocates claim playing these games provides a safe outlet for aggressive and angry feelings and helps with relaxation. Sales of video games have more than quadrupled from 1995-2008, while arrest rate for juvenile murders fell 71.9% and the arrest rate for all juvenile violent crimes also declined 49.3% in this same period (1). In an extensive analysis of crime rates and media coverage in Hawaii, Perrone and Chesney-Lind (1998) demonstrated that media coverage of juvenile crime increased as juvenile crime rates declined (2). Video games do not deserve blame for the ills of society.

Research has failed to show a casual link between video games and real-world violence, but several games have garnered significant main stream media attention, including: Call of Duty Modern Warfare, Grand Theft Auto, Super Columbine Massacre RPG and Mortal Kombat. Defenders of video games would argue that these games allow players to escape reality briefly to enjoy and learn from interactive fictional fantasies. “In game design, half the players want to escape and be someone they could never be, and the other half wants someone they can identify with” Porcher Darrel of Harlem Game Wizards (3). Porcher is referencing an element of game design that correlates with movies and books. Much like in all entertainment mediums, consumers of entertainment look for inherent qualities of identifying similarities and suspension of belief. This line of thinking assumes that those who have an interest in violence will actively look for violent forms of entertainment. However this does not mean that gamers with interests in violence are openly violent or dangerous people. Consumers choose what interests them in the market and the video game industry is driven by what sells. So as long as violence is culturally acceptable in America, violent video games will continue to be created for the masses. Many great non-violent video game options exist and are loved by gamers, but most are nowhere near as financially or critically successful as violent video game titles. What the argument in entertainment comes down to is the affects of violent exposure to the developing minds of children.

The minds of children are very fragile to what is real or fiction. That is why the argument over educational development for children has been so heavily debated. Professor Jeanne Funk hosted a study in 2004 that found children exposed to violent video games had linked to lower empathy than those who did not play violent games (1). Empathy is the ability to understand and enter into another’s feelings; this attribute plays an important role in the process of moral evaluation and is believed to inhibit aggressive behavior. This study notes that violent video games may affect the form of violence and desensitization, but does not directly cause the violence to occur. Others argue violent games allow adolescent kids to express aggression and establish status in peer groups without causing physical harm. Video games may in fact suppress criminally aggressive violence by giving safe outlets for kids, which could explain the decreased violent crime and murder rate. A short-term increase in arousal and aggression does not mean a child is going to leave his or her house and commit a violent act.

Worldwide sales of video games are predicted to reach 73.5 billion by 2013(1). As games get more sophisticated and realistic, the debate over whether or not children should be exposed to violent video games continues. As the newest generation of children become more accepting of video games and media violence. Video game developers understand that their role as culture creators is an important one. Video games contain ratings just like movies, so parents are responsible with knowing what their child is playing or watching. The internet gives people virtual access to summaries of every single game ever created, so the only reason for not knowing about what your child is doing is ignorance or laziness. Video games have been the scapegoat for many political and social arguments over the last several decades but times are changing. Sean Vitka of slate.com said: “we need additional perspective, both for a more honest robust debate, but also because the stand for free speech”(4). We are now beginning to live in a cultural where video games are normal and not chastised like in the past. Only the future will show what innovations and social changes will come from video games.

Works Cited

Video Games pro/con

“Do violent video games contribute to youth violence?” videogames.procon.org 15 Oct 2013



Craig Freeman, Robert Goidel and Steven Procopio

“The impact of television viewing on perceptions of juvenile crime.” Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media.  50.1 Mar 2006


Porcher Darrell

“Break into the Game Industry.” How to get a job making video games 2003


Sean Vitka

“Video game lovers need a new tactic in the debate about violence.” slate.com. 21 Sep 2013




About jedionston

Gavin "Dirk" Jedionston the "N" in "In N Out"

Posted on November 18, 2013, in LATEST ARTICLES. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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