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Tuesday April 23rd 2019

A deeper look into violent video games

As E3 quickly approaches, a slew of video games, specifically mature ones, will be appearing on shelves across the country. On top of that, news of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and Halo 4 are bound to bring up an argument that is shoved through the masses every year:

Violent video games are ruining our children.

With a law being pushed in Congress to put a cigarette-style warning label on most games stating “WARNING: Exposure to violent video games has been linked to aggressive behavior,” the issue is clearly not left the minds of many citizens.

What we haven’t looked for is to see if this statement is even true.

What makes the violence in video games different from the violence when Power Rangers was first introduced to American children, or the change of entertainment mediums of choice from television and movies to video games?

How does it compare to some of the gruesome imagery that has been given from books for centuries? After all–at it’s core, all of these mediums are narratives. They are different ways to provide a story to an audience.

Two individuals from Brock University in Canada, Paul Adachi and Teena Willoughby, decided to test out these claims. In their research, titled The Effect of Video Game Competition and Violence on Aggressive Behavior: Which Characteristic Has the Greatest Influence, they found a completely different result than the claims of parent advocacy groups and politicians.

It is not the violence. It is the competition.

Single-player games, such as Mario and Pac-Man, and multiplayer games, such as Call of Duty and Madden, spur competition. Either you are competing with yourself and the computer to get the best high score you possibly can or you are competing with individuals in your living room or around the world.

These events lead to an aggression that comes with wanting to win, with wanting to be the best.

So the same aggression that comes from encouraged activities, such as sports, comes in electronic entertainment also.

Competition can be healthy or reckless. It’s up to the individual competing. However, in the case of video game content, it is the responsibility of the family to ensure the child knows that shooting someone can have its consequences.

The Adachi/Willoughby research can be read in its entirety here.


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