Thursday, October 23, 2014

Is There a Link? Video Games and Violence?



Sean Dreilinger
Video games, as a new type of entertainment, have grown quickly in the past 10 years. About 20 years ago, there were a few games, mostly black and white, such as Tetris, wizorb and puzzle games, that came out and were popular among children. Many families could not afford to buy a device for those games. Nowadays, compared to the past, games have different colors and contents. Almost every family has different kinds of devices at home, and they create more opportunities for their children to play games. Undoubtedly, video games are fun. The fact is, playing Video games has become so common now, 59% American play video games, especially those that have violent content. The growth of video games creates a controversy —— “Do video games that include violent behaviors make children behave badly?” My answer is no, because I can not see many links between them.

Scientists have already begun doing some research and they found that video games make changes in players' brains. According to this article, it is unknown whether or not violent video games promote aggression in teens. A professor in Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis led a study that shows the activation in the left inferior frontal lobe and the anterior cingulate cortex was low in brain of young men who seldom play violent video games after exposed to violent games for 2 weeks. This part of brain is important to control emotions. However, a professor in Hunter College says it can not prove violent video games can increase aggression among teens because we do not know what those changes mean.

So, what if the decrease of activation makes brain function more efficient? There’s another article ‘Bad’ video game behavior increases players’ moral sensitivity shows a study from the University at Buffalo Department of Communication. Firstly, the study points out performing bad behavior in video games elicits feeling of guilt in players by letting people play both bad characters and good characters in a video game. The player performing as a terrorist considers his behavior more immoral than the player who perform as a peacekeeper doing the same action. They also found that people performing bad actions in video games feel the guilt rather than other people recalled their own bad behavior. This study makes me believe the changes in brain are positive.

The debate has been discussed for many years. Many studies show no link between video games and aggressive behavior, as well as some show the opposite. The study led by Anderson shows children who play longer hours per week video game are more likely to have aggressive thoughts than children who play fewer video games in the period of 2 years exposure to violent video games. Anderson admitted there are some deficiencies in his study, such as asking children to report their own behavior was not reliable. If video games indeed make children do more aggressive actions, we will see the obvious link between video games sales and crimes. Nevertheless, the charts of video games sales compare to youth crimes reveal the youth crimes are decreased consistently while video game sales increase rapidly. However, other research studies analyzed by Patrick M. Markey, found there is decrease in violent crimes after the most violent games got released.

 Wikimedia Commons
Someone might say, there are many news stories such as a DC gunman obsessed with violent video games and columbine high school shooting that suggest some youth crimes are the result of the video games they play. I disagree. Research often fails to put other factors into account such as family violence, mental health issues or even gender. Those youth crimes are not because of video games, but immaturity——a result of the environment teens grow up in.

I used to play different kinds of video games, and some are violent games, but I never wanted to strike someone or take other violent actions.. I know many friends play video games and they are very mature, both in their behavior and mind. They get along with others very well and also do good teamwork, especially with the children they play video games with.

The statement “video games make you bad” seems ridiculous to me. Video games develop our intelligence, reaction speed and memory. As long as we enjoy this good entertainment in a good way, such as control the time we play, they will be a very helpful part in our life.

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Conclusion   updated  Nov. 6. 2014

I've learned a lot from doing my post and I enjoyed it very much. When I first considered  a theme for the post which relates to digital citizenship, video games came into my mind because I was interested in different kinds of debates related to them. In many crimes, video games are considered as one of the causes. In my post, I suggest that youth crimes are not because of video games, but immaturity and I think, as digital citizens, we should help the society understand the advantages different media tools bring us and remove some wrong statements. At first, I questioned some statements, such as video games make people bad or even video games will kill you. After I chose my standpoint——video games do not promote violence, I started to look for some sources. However, some gave me helpful data or research, while others were opposite to my standpoint. At that time, I hesitated for a few days. I tried to find some more sources that supported me and also some that argued those opposite experiments. Fortunately, I succeeded in linking those sources together. One of the sources I found talks about the decrease in activation of a brain part's function when people play video games. This source would be useless if I did not link it with the other source which says video games make people feel guilty. From this, I learned how to link sources together. Anytime we encounter some problems when doing research, this very important way can help us out of dilemma.


I'm glad that I got some impressive comments. They are all in agreement with me. Two of them provided me with  research about the point I suggest in the last paragraph——video games develop capability. That is very helpful. They also gave me their observations on video games and they supported my thesis in a way I didn't think about. For example, one says that in most violent video games, violent action is for a positive cause and gamers are glad to choose the good "path" in game. It's a very helpful point on my theme and I agree with it totally.


It's fun to do this post although it took me so many days and nights to find sources or write drafts. Thanks for all comments!     

13 comments:

  1. Great perspective on a controversial topic, Olivia! There has been much recent news about "Gamergate" described in this New York Times article about the increasingly hostile (and personally threatening) online attacks against video game critics who challenge overt racism, sexism and homophobia in games. I wonder if it isn't the violence in games that may make people more prone to violence, but the number of potentially violent and uncivil people who choose to play games online and who take advantage of their anonymity to attack those who disagree with them. This is not to say this behavior is characteristic of all or even most gamers, but it does seem to have a very chilling effect on the positive social interactions in the gaming community. Thank you for posting on this topic! --Ms. Riches

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    1. Hi Ms. Riches! It's true that bullying in online video games is very common. This negative phenomenon is a reason why I don't want to look at people's chat in video games. I find that the good way to avoid getting angry is to ignore these people and their statements because playing video games is to release pressure so we don't need to see them as important.
      Just have fun! :)

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  2. I was fascinated by this post, Olivia. You did a great job incorporating evidence into your writing to make a strong point. As a person that plays video games regularly, I am often told that I should stay away from violent games. While I feel very strongly that puzzle and strategy games are great for increasing intellectual capability, I do not see the negative effect that violent video games have. In the games that I play, there are often choices in which you get to decide whether you want to be evil or good. Taking the evil path is always hard because everyone is against you. It feels much better to take the good path because you earn the gratitude of all the people in the game. It is plain to see the negative consequences of being evil. In almost every violent videogame, the violence is for a cause. It's always a positive cause, that is part of an underlying message that tells people to always take the good path.

    Here's the URL for the website where I read about violent videogames:
    http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/5067/20131125/video-games-even-violent-ones-arent-bad.htm

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    1. Thank you, Hayden! I observe the same thing that gamers like to perform as a good character because they can get heroic feeling in this way. It's a good point because it can help me prove my opinion. I agree with the article you share. It says that playing video games enhance capability and make teenagers gain knowledge. Despite the advantages video games give us, the important thing we should pay more attention is to control the time we play.

      Hope you enjoy playing video games! Thank you.

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  3. This article was interesting to read. I happened to agree with your position that you took on this. Video game violence is always something I was curious about. I have heard about how it "affects the brain in a negative way" however I had never even thought of how it might. I love that you said where video games affect the brain but I have no idea where those places really are. This really opened my eyes more to show that its not always video games it is also family drama and other things people don't think of.

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    1. Thank you Olivia Powell! Those parts in brain are the essential places for controlling emotions.

      Hope you enjoy playing video games! Thank you.

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  4. I was very interested in your post Olivia, because I was able to relate it to myself. Your evidence and your opinion on the topic made your blog very strong. I know myself when playing video games I sometimes will become very mad and frustrated and I become a little violent. What type of video games cause violence is it just violent games? I find it very interesting how there are so many types of research that correlate to video games. I was intrigued by the fact about how violent games cause less violence from the player. I think that is because the player is giving out violent energy playing those game. I do not believe violent games create violent people though. You did a wonderful job of finding facts that truly gets information that helps your topic.
    Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thank you, Saffari!! Sometimes I feel very frustrated too, especially when I try more than ten or twenty times but still can not achieve. So I can get a little mad when playing different kinds of video games, not only those have violent contents. However, I agree you say that we give out violent energy playing video games. So I think it's natural to show a little bit violent when playing video games. Then we will calm down and go into daily life.

      Thank you! Hope you enjoy video games and have fun!

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  5. Great job writing this blog, Olivia! I often play video games myself, sometimes violent ones. I totally agree with you on the fact that saying playing violent video games makes you bad is absurd. I think that you can learn from violent games the same way you can from playing puzzling games such as candy crush or tetris. Thank you for sharing this with me, because I didn't realize that even playing video games effected the brain, much less where in the brain it effects me. Here is a URL for an article I found on why video games aren't necessarily bad for you:
    http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/5067/20131125/video-games-even-violent-ones-arent-bad.htm

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    1. Bert!! Thank you! I agree with you. We can gain a lot of knowledge when playing different kinds of games. Meanwhile, they develop our capability and many skills, just as the article you share with me says.

      Have fun with video games, Bert! Thank you!!!

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  6. Such an interesting topic, Olivia! It's been fun to read your work and the responses from readers. Last spring, in fact, this debate about whether or not violent video games cause violence was put to the test in a study out of Oxford University. Researchers discovered that aggressive behavior was linked to frustration and feelings of failure, not violent content. So, games like Tetris actually caused more aggression in players than games like Grand Theft Auto. Can you believe that? It's an interesting thing to consider how our frustrations lead to aggressive feelings and behaviors. Thanks for sharing your research. You have done a really nice job of presenting multiple perspectives here, and you have supported your thesis very well.

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    1. Thank you Ms. Gerla. That research sounds interesting. I believe it is true if it's based on enough data. Frustration sometimes can lead to aggressive feeling because frustration make people feel under pressure. I think people need to keep a positive spirit when they play a challenging game. Another point that come to my mind is that we should choose reasonable game to play in order not to make ourselves feel very fail or angry. Games are fun, but we should also consider these matters.

      Thanks again! Ms. Gerla!

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