Computer Game Violence and Individual Aggression
Since the inception of computer and video gaming into popular culture, research has been conducted to the end of illustrating this to be a generally negative trend with a host of potentially damaging effects on those most prone to habitual usage. One of the most heavily brandished claims is that there is a direct correlation between the experience of violence in computer gaming and the tendency toward either violence or other negative behavioral and psychological indicators. Moreover, most research which supports this claim also posits the argument that this is a causal relationship.
There is an overarching claim to this end, which denotes that “about 90% of U.S. kids ages 8 to 16 play video games, and they spend about 13 hours a week doing so (more if you’re a boy). Now a new study suggests virtual violence in these games may make kids more aggressive in real life.” (Harding, 1) Naturally, the impact and ethical issues relating to specific video games will vary based on the type of game in question. Role playing games are often linked to immersion in a world of fantasy which can be nonviolent but which when demonstrative of violence may blur the lines between the real-world implications of such interaction and those manifested on the computer screen. This is especially true where simulation games are concerned. Particularly those which are first-person shooting games, in which the experience of weaponry usage and direct combat attempts to mimic in the realest possible capacity the experience of killing. Such games vary in terms of their ethical implications, with some premised on engagement in ‘just war’ and others, such as the ultra-violent Grand Theft Auto indulging in and even rewarding immoral and brutal violence.
Sports games and Educational games alike will often contextualize activities ina goal oriented manner which can have positive effects in terms of comprehending rule structures and garnering new information. However, for producers of video-games, there is a far greater economic potential in games that glorify violence. Quite to the point, television, film, pop music and video games share in common a proclivity to promote that which yields prosperity. Thus, there is little regard from the computer gaming industry for indications that “a meta-analytic review of the video-game research literature reveals that violent video games increase aggressive behavior in children and young adults.” (Anderson & Bushman, 353)
In spite of this, revenue for video game produces revolves on role-playing titles such as World of Warcraft, which promotes fantasy world combat, simulation games such as Grand Theft Auto, which glorifies violence and antisocial behavior, Halo, the simulated first-person shooter game, and Madden Football, which portrays in detail the often brutal sport of football.
Connecting absorption of such media with the commitment of violent crimes remains a challenge however. Famously, the two minors responsible for the massacre at the Columbine High School in 1999 were noted for playing such ultra-violent computer games as Doom, in which players uses various high powered weapons in order to hunt down various creatures in the corridors of the game’s levels. When the two boys acted out many aspects of the game on their schoolmates before turning weapons on themselves, this case the relationship between video games and crimes in a glaring light. That notwithstanding, metropolitan statistics drawing a meaningful, empirical or causative relationship between violent video games and crime is difficult if not impossible to establish. Nonetheless, most clinically intensive research does reveal that individual aggression and the probable tendencies toward crime thereby produced are inspired by video game violence.
Anderson, C.A. & Bushman, B.J. (2002). Effects of Violent Video Games on Aggressive Behavior, Aggressive Cognition, Aggressive Affect, Physiological Arousal, and Prosocial Behavior: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Scientific Literature. Psychological Science, 12(5), 353-359.
Harding, a. (2009). Violent Video Games Linked to Child Aggression. CNNHealth. Online at http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/family/11/03/healthmag.violent.video.kids/index.html
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