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Violent Video Games: Harmless, or Nothing to Worry About?

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Violent Video Games: Harmless, or Nothing to Worry About?

”Common sense tells you that if these kids are playing video games, where they’re on a mass killing spree in a video game, it’s glamorized on the big screen, it’s become part of the fiber of our society.”, says Dr. Phil Mcgraw on CNN’s Larry King Live the day after the Virginia Tech shooting. Dr. Phil went on to blame violent video games for the massacre itself. It was later found out that the shooter was not one who played video games, eliminating them from the situation, but they still seem to come up every time an adolescent performs an act of violence (Ferguson 25).

I remember when I was in grade school. Around fourth grade or so my friends and I got introduced with a game called Grand Theft Auto III. This game opened up a whole new world for us. We spent days upon days playing it. It featured realistic graphics, explosions, guns, explicit language, and violence. The best thing of all, the player was in control. It was glorious to any male kid who grew up sheltered to these types of things.

We did not care about the story or the missions. We would roam the virtual city causing as much chaos and havoc as we could. The game had a star system. Every time you committed a felony you would get one star. The cops would be after you and you had to lose them to lose the star. Continuing to commit felonies would not give you another star. You had to increase the severity of the crime to get another star, and so on. There was a maximum possibility of five stars that seemed almost impossible to accomplish without dying. As children we would take turns killing cops, civilians, blowing up cars and building, and stealing cars to produce as many stars as we could before dying. After we died we would hand it off to each other and try to get more stars. We would do this for hours each and every day.

How long can kids play a single video game? After a while we would get tired of them and then the play would cease. We would stop just in time for the new Grand Theft Auto, and then it would start all over again with newer more violent acts and more realistic graphics. We played these games for years. Out of all honesty my friends and I are anxiously awaiting the release of the new Grand Theft Auto scheduled to come out next summer.

The issue of the possibility of violent video games causing aggression hits close to home. I, myself have played them my entire life. The thing is, I am a relatively calm person. Besides wrestling my brother I’ve never been in a fight, I have never killed anyone, and I’ve never blown up a building. My friends do not seem abnormally violent either for the most part. Some are pretty aggressive but what is not to say they are not aggressive by nature? It’s hard to say, but even though violent video games have not affected my life in a negative way, I am fully open and non-biased towards this issue. My group of friends and I are just a miniscule sample in the world of adolescents who grew up playing these games.

This issue is a widely argued topic for mothers, children, and more importantly state politics. It should not go ignored. If indeed violent video games cause violence and aggression many lives are at danger and risk every single day. What we will gain by exploring this issue is an answer. If these games are harmless or of little risk, then there is no problem and the issue can calmly die down. We will never know until the issue is explored and brought back into the public eye. Even though thousands of experiments have tested this issue, no true answer has been revealed.

Although some believe violent video games cause aggression and violence, they do not; but instead they make violence seem acceptable and catalyze pre-existing aggression. After hours of research and analyzing I have produced that statement and I stand strong by it. The readers of this paper should expect valid information and points on both sides of the issue from very credible sources. This will be presented a review of the researched information, reasons why violent video games cause violence and aggression, reasons why violent video games do not cause violence and aggression, my conclusion, and also a works cited.

In “The School Shooting/Violent Video Game Link: Casual Relationship or Moral Panic?” by Christopher J. Ferguson from the Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, information about the history of these violent video games are presented. Though it was not a video game, Dungeons and Dragons was a violent, fictional role playing game where players could act out the violence and become the one who was causing it. It became a widely debated controversy in the nineteen-eighties. As popular as Dungeons and Dragons was, it never reached the popularity and following as the current day violent video games did (Ferguson 30). You could say it was the start of violence based fictional gaming.

Ferguson also states that in June of 2008 a crime wave by six teenagers took place. The perpetrators claimed to have been influenced by Grand Theft Auto IV. Some of the teenagers had previous records. Police on the scene reported the teenagers making references to the game (Ferguson 34).

In “This is your brain on violent video games: Neural desensitization to violence predicts increased aggression following violent video game exposure” from the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology by Christopher R. Engelhardt et al, the authors state, “Desensitization theory proposes that repeated exposure to violence results in the habituation of the initially negative cognitive, emotional, and psychological responses people experience when they see blood and gore.” Many experiments have produced evidence that claims that violent video games cause violence to become more acceptable in the eyes of the player, there for desensitizing them. The authors believe that these violent video games that show customizable characters acting out with violence and aggression will desensitize the players of the game (Engelhardt 1033).

While reading “Video Games make People Violent- Well, Maybe Not That Game: Effects of Content and Person Abstraction on Perceptions of Violent Video Games’ Effects and Support of Censorship” by James D. Ivory and Sriram Kalyanaraman from the scholarly journal Communication Reports, one will found quite a bit of background information on the issue. Many big name politicians and celebrities have publically expressed and even acted on their opinions on these violent games. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft has openly criticized violent video games. Former First Lady Hillary Clinton has in fact proposed a bill in previous years trying to ban such games from even being produced and released. Specific game titles like Manhunt 2 have been condemned from release



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