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Are Violence And Games Linked?

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By Merc19-02-2013

This is a question that has been asked ever since Mortal Kombat burst onto the gaming scene back in the 90s. Since then there have been many reasons that gaming has been researched, mostly it had to do with school shootings, especially with the Columbine High School massacre. Video games were in the spotlight then because it was alleged that the two shooters played violent video games. However, the other issues that the two boys faced in their lives was not mentioned. It is easy to use video games as a scapegoat; music and movies were talked about in a similar way. Human behavior and society have fascinated me, I guess that is why I became a Social Worker. I do not pretend to know all the answers about this, or any subject (no one does), but as a gamer this subject has certainly become interesting.

When in doubt - blame video games.

When in doubt - blame video games.

With the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook, video games are one of the things glowing in the spotlight again. I believe that it is just another excuse to not look at the real issues that we face in our society and the modern world. Violence is part of human nature, even if people do not like to admit it. Look back into history - man has always been violent towards each other. Can video games cause people to walk into a school and murder dozens of people? It does not look like that is the case, video games are as harmless as anything else, but there are some caveats to this concept. Video games can be addictive, possibly cause increased aggression, and create a solitary lifestyle that is not really healthy. That is hardly the same as causing violent mass killings though. If everything in this world that could cause addiction was outlawed, there would not be many activities for people to do. Here is a list of some “daily” addictions: exercising, shopping, eating, television, and the list can go on. Anything that can cause pleasure has the possibility of being addicting.

So why are video games targeted as being the cause of violence? Is there any proof of this concept? Not really, in fact some studies have shown benefits to gaming. Researchers even found that playing a game that was on a battlefield helped people with a rare eye disease to see better over time. The same study found that people who play cooperative games are less aggressive than people playing competitive games. The question should be then, is aggression a bad thing and is it linked to horrific acts of violence? “Probably not” is the logical answer because aggression is used and encouraged in a variety of other things. Sports for example is all about aggression and in fact is highly rewarded for that behavior. When someone who plays sports commits a horrific crime no one questions if playing a particular sport had anything to do with it. If someone snaps and kills a group of people, that person should be blamed not anything else.

Just as dangerous as a weapon.

Just as dangerous as a weapon.

I am certainly biased because I love gaming, it is what i spend most of my time doing. Even my girlfriend will say that she can hear me yelling when playing a competitive game, but I would be the same in any other activity that is competitive. Many men are that way, just watch a group of guys watch football. This talk about video games and violence seems to be a smokescreen for the real issues that society is facing. If we need to ban video games, then movies, music, and books should be banned as well. I remember back when Terminator 2 was released in theaters this same type of discussion was going on, in fact it made me want it more! Children should not be playing violent games but many games are not violent. Many politicians do not talk about that aspect of gaming culture, its not all about violence. Maybe the nature of parenting should be called into question? Parents have the responsibility to know what their kids are consuming and video games are are appropriately labeled. It is as simple as searching for game ratings and you can clearly see what is what.

Video games are just another outlet for people to enjoy their lives, it is not all about violence. Actually video games can be extremely creative and in fact can take some serious skill for competitive games. We as gamers need to educate ourselves on the rights we have and that some people want to take our favorite thing away from us. Some seriously insane allegations have been thrown at gaming; including video games are electronic child molesters, but it takes the spotlight from the real issues. Mental health should be the real topic of discussion because if a game can cause someone to murder children in their school they already had issues that were undealt with. In fact America’s mental health system is a failure in many ways. That is another discussion entirely but you can check out this article for more information.

Play video games, become a terrorist.

Play video games, become a terrorist.

It is time for us as a society to grow up in many ways and stop blaming our shortcomings on various forms of entertainment or competition. Gaming has grown up while continuing to evolve way past its early days of Mario and Mortal Kombat. Storytelling is amazing in games today and is only getting better. Competition is getting larger than ever, just look at League of Legends. Gaming should be fun, rewarding, exciting, and engaging. So let us accept the fact that games are still the scapegoat for the moment. Someday this will pass and people will find something else to blame. For now, enjoy the games you have and keep on gaming.


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Posts: 593

People always want to put the blame where it doesn't belong, why? because it's easier. The real problems that they should be looking into are so hard to solve they'd rather just ignore them and hope for them to vanish: Increasing number of bad parents, more children doing crime in Europe and America... etc... But no, obviously video games is the cause of it all...