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Analysis of Two Articles about Violent Video Games

Updated October 6, 2021
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Analysis of Two Articles about Violent Video Games essay

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Article One: “Shooting in the Dark”

The author in this article explains the possible connection between adolescents playing violent video games and an outcome of short term aggressive behavior. The author begins by stating that the young men who were involved in the Columbine shooting and the Aurora, Colorado movie theater had something in common: they both seemed to be acting out what they had seen in their video games. It is then explained that there has been many studies conducted and debates as to if the theory that violent video games can in fact cause violent behavior in youth.

The author states that “Playing the games can and does stir hostile urges and mildly aggressive behavior in the short term. Moreover, youngsters who develop a gaming habit can become slightly more aggressive — as measured by clashes with peers, for instance — at least over a period of a year or two”. It is not clear however, if this habit causes these individuals to commit violent crimes. It is stated that the research falls into one of three categories: short-term laboratory experiments, longer-term studies, and correlation studies. The author provides an example of the short-term laboratory experiment through an experiment conducted by Christopher Barlett, a psychologist at Iowa State University.

There were 47 undergraduates who played “Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance” for 15 minutes and then underwent a serious of arousal test, both physical and psychological. The tests resulted in proving that the students who played the violent game were more aggressive compared to students that played a nonviolent video game. It is harder to gain results from longer-term studies but it has been done in schools. Some school studies have found that high school students that spent longer periods of time playing violent video games are more likely to be involved in and increasing number of small scrapes with their peers. Some researchers do not believe in the idea that the video games played by the youth increases their chances of getting into a fight in school.

Some researchers believe it is the children who are generally aggressive on their own accord who are drawn to playing violent video games and choose to get involved in violence in school. It is unclear if this is really the case due to outside factors such as family life and emotional capacity. The correlation studies involve violent video game sales and the increase or decrease in violence due to these sales. The author points out that, in a study done by Dr. Ward and two colleagues, A. Scott Cunningham and Benjamin Engelstatter, it if found that “higher rate of violent video game sales related to a decrease in crimes, and especially violent crimes”.

These results offer the idea that by playing the violent video games, the individual who would be subject to commit a crime would find the game as an outlet, which contradicts what many researchers believe to be true. The author pointed out that these examples of evidence would be used when mentioning that the research done to prove the claim falls under the three categories. The author also used works of different researchers to explain what the category was, and how it coincides with the argument that violent video games cause violent acts among youth. The author does seem to be swayed in the direction that the games legitimately causes violence but, also give a quote at the end that from Dr. Anderson that offers a logical view on the topic, “At the very least, parents should be aware of what’s in the games their kids are playing, and think of it from a socialization point of view: what kind of values, behavioral skills, and social scripts is the child learning?’

Article Two: “Focusing on the How of Violence”

In this article, the author begins by stating that the “shooting, maiming and torturing” in video games from 2013 were “boring”. The author explains that, after going through a large number of the first-person shooter game, BioShock Infinite, he is left wondering if he has become desensitized to the violence in video games and if there may have been something else that was causing this. The author states how most games, such as BioShock Infinite, offer dehumanized enemies, therefore providing no since of gain, transformation, or power. There are games, such as The Last of Us, that gave a personal touch to the gaming experience with the mention of names for the characters and their stories within the game. It is explained that, “game developers seem hesitant to use gaming’s greatest strength — interactivity — to their advantage.”

The game Grand Theft Auto V, allowed the player to participate in the torture of a man, which the developers gave the player light into the “real-world counterterrorism operations of the United States”. Another game that provided a personal experience in the author’s opinion is a game called Consensual Torture Simulator, a text-only game that is resolutely human and emotionally honest. The author states that the BioShock game had a less personal touch but then mentioned that specifically, there is point of time in the game that he was “pumping rockets into the screaming, magically levitating ghost” of the sidekick’s mother. Though that is small, this is a point made that there is a personal effect being presented in the game. The author also states that many of the games that let the player “cleave through hordes of bandits and aliens” were unsatisfying.

While Bioshock Infinite provided “fleets of replicant bad guys” for the player to continuously kill, The Last of Us, provided purpose by simulating “bandits and reanimated corpses” to be killed. The author is stating that the games provide the same things. Merritt Kopas, a game designer, is quoted stating, “The most dangerous thing about games is not that they provide us ultrarealistic depictions of violence, but that they lie to us about what violence is”. The author then goes on to state that violence comes in all shapes and sizes, it can be deeply personal or not. The author ended with, for all of the games that were not at the top of his list, there were games that he felt gave a real meaning and that he felt this was progress in the video gaming world.

Reference

  1. Carey, B. (2013). Shooting in the dark: [Science desk]. New York Times, D.1. Retrieved from ProQuest database.
  2. Hamilton, K. (2014). Focusing on the how of violence: [The arts/ cultural desk]. New York Times, C.5. Retrieved from ProQuest database.
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