Everyday after school, I play video games when I get home. Video games give me a place to play games I enjoy where I would normally have nothing else going on. I have long-time friends with relationships built within our virtual world together awaiting me the moment I log on. The more we play, the more I feel I have reliable friends that I can depend on to well, be friends. We prefer games where we can work as a team to fight other teams, most notably in games that are M rated, or mature.
Video games have always received flak for their effects on people, especially with children involved, but these M rated games are targeted even more as a source for problems. These games tend to not only be a large part of video games, but tend to be preferred in large video game oriented events, like esport. No matter your thought on video games, especially if M rated, video games are becoming more and more popular, and just like anything that goes mainstream, controversy within that subject comes into existence.
The controversies for video games are not very far and few, especially in times were game companies pull sneaky business practices, people fear for children’s addiction to video games, and a possible addiction to in game loot crate, who many have cited have the effects of slot machines. Considerably the largest controversy spewed out mainly by parents is that violence in video games directly cause violence in the real world, with aggression brought about by the actions of fictional characters. I hear this from many of my friends’ parents, and it even comes on the news time to time. These video games that are deemed violent are often heard as reasons people commit terrible atrocities. After hearing this so much it begs the question; Do video games influence children and young adults enough to generate aggression in the real world?
First I decided to go to EBSCOhost in order to seek any initial findings, where I was drawn in to an article from its title, “Violent Video Games Exposed: A Blow by Blow Account of Senseless Violence in Games.” The article mainly by Andrew Krantz details with an introduction which boils down to the fact that violent video games have been repeatedly found to manifest desensitization to violence, decreased empathy and positive social behavior, among other negative effects. Krantz then goes on to express although these studies have been widely publicized, violent video games are not only the most played type of video game but also represents a multi-billion dollar industry.
The last part not touched on yet has Krantz expressing concern that there is not a rating system in place to categorize the level of violence a game contains. That last part really puzzled me as there has been a system in place to categorize games by mature content level since 1994. It makes me feel as if the author doesn’t actually know much about video games, which is especially bad considering 86% of all parents know of the ESRB rating system existing. (taken directly from their own website from a 2018 study). Because Krantz making it seem so apparent that there is a major connection, it does cause concern that there weren’t any shown statistics or any evidence other than the notion that someone else has proven his statement. Overall, this article gave me a warning about the violence in video games but failed to deliver any hard statistics I could view.
On the hunt for more answers I next took a look at the “Meta Analysis of the relationship between violent video game play and physical aggression over time,” by leading author Anna Prescott. The arrangement starts off with the already passed knowledge that there is indeed a current controversy between the correlations and that they have real world implications, but in a recent Supreme Court case, the notions were dismissed and Prescott felt as if they had, “…liken to a harmless “pastime”.” Prescott then tells of to what she describes as the most forceful case proving that video games increase aggressive behavior. She tells of a group of authors taking a comprehensive meta analysis looking for effects within the following: arousal, overt aggressive behavior, cognition, desensitization to violence, overt prosocial behavior among other subjects. They analysed effects with 130 research papers with a source of over 130,000 people.
The next majority of the compilation describes the process of how they selected and defined nearly every possible factor, with them cautiously picking out only studies with the exact scientific models they wanted. After a large description of the results on the study, the next part of the paper labeled “discussion,” talked soley about how they tried to make sure naysayers couldn’t have any fallacies to call out. Finally we receive the ending with the, “Too Long, Didn’t Read,” ending where it points that their effect size was 0.11, which in their own words was “fairly modest.” I felt throughout the dreadnaught of a paper that they made sure to include to opposing side, but made connotations toward the minority of researchers that seemed to try and sway the reader into believing the minority was and shall remain a minority, where their opinion should lie unheard in the large testament of researchers stating that video games are indeed increase these negative effects.
They did however consistently bring up a person with the name Ferguson, who seemed to be the main head of their opposing side, who Prescott admitted herself that he proved that two of three studies he analysed included preferred covariates that indeed increased the effect size, exaggerating the effects. Considering that such a comprehensive and in depth meta analysis made sure to include such data, especially ones disproving their hypothesis within other studies, I felt compelled to make sure that I as well made sure to keep level headed, especially considering all the glaring statistics I now had glaring at me. After the farwell and hopes that their research will be of assistance to those also trying to find the absolute answer, I look once again for more information in light of my findings.
Next, I stumbled into Greg Toppo’s article by the title, “Do Video Games Inspire Violent Behavior?” The article immediately proceeds with a story about the investigation of Adam Lanza, 8 months after he shot his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed twenty-six people. Michael Mudry was an investigator for the Connecticut State Police, who had received a GPS from police who found the device in Lanza’s home. The GPS, which told Mudry that Lanza had been to the same spot, nine time, for hours on end within April to June of 2012, put Mudry out 14 miles west of Lanza’s home, in a shopping center. Upon showing theater workers a photo of Lanza, they immediately recognized him and informed Mudry that Lanza had been there multiple times but not once to see any movies. He only arrived to play an arcade game, one that he would play there for up to 10 hours a night, occasionally causing the manager to unplug the game, to get Lanza to leave.
Meanwhile, some of the things found within Lanza’s home included, photos of the Columbine Killers on his computer’s hard drive, a couple of violent movies, a list of ingredients of TNT, and a few games, including Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto. But these weren’t the things Lanza was possessed by in the theater arcade, and what might it have been? Dance Dance Revolution. This discovery surprised the officers and it also was put up against the notion that violent video games is what turned Lanza into a killer. The article then turns to say, “The truth is that decades of research have turned up no reliable causal link between playing violent video games and perpetrating actual violence.
This is not to say that games have no effect. They’re built to have an effect. It’s just not necessarily the one that most people think.” The article then goes to tell of the history between violence in any media to translation or real world aggression, citing the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson disapproving of violent books while Nathaniel Hawthorne and even Emily Dickinson enjoyed these kinds of tales. Possibly one of the best examples is, “Catholic scholar John K. Ryan laid out what he called the “mental food of American children,” as seen through the media they consumed. It was a long menu, one that included “sadism, cannibalism, bestiality. Crude eroticism. Torturing, killing, kidnapping.” He was talking about daily newspaper comic strips.”
The article translates this into our time starting with Albert Bandura, whose experiments with children “acquiring” the actions of those seen on television or cartoons in her later repeat experiment. Toppo say next that the idea of mixing children’s media with play is misleading. He then quotes an author who states that is no evidence that punching inflatable dummies translates into real life. Another example of these experiments going awry is an often cited 1976 study from Brian Coates found that children watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which is known for its mild content, led children to become three times as aggressive.
It’s suggested that due to the nature of being told to sit in a strange room and watch something on cue may have caused anxiety or anger. The thing that got people in a tizzy of video games however, was the 1999 Columbine High School Shooting, which many people attempted to afterward sue multiple game companies, and their cases were dismissed, which prompted intense research into finding the answer I am looking for as well. The extent of the article afterwards details how picking data that counts as aggressive, such as choosing not to help pick up pencils or choosing a hygienic product after playing Grand Theft Auto for the first time can’t exactly translate into real world aggression.
Just as the article closes out with some mighty closing words and food for thought, I gather my thoughts. I come to the closure that this isn’t a recent problem, but has been a problem between new concepts and old worries, and not just a person out to regulate the things i enjoy. I also see that this article while seemingly biased in the opposite favor, more fairly gives the opposing side a more equal voice, and along with it, a incredible start to the article, going through the first time reading it, I was incredibly impressed at the twist Toppo put in. Although I have received more information regarding the past to this current day battle, I still wish to find more answers to my newly presented questions.
Next into my research is Romeo Vitelli’s, “Can Video Games Cause Violence?” Vitelli brings back the Supreme Court ruling in 2011 from earlier with more detail, inciting the reason the case was dismissed was partly due to the inconsistencies of the research put into linking violent video games to violence, along with the content of video games being protected within the first amendment. Other than this new information the article reviews many things for a while that we have already been over, including this tradition of worry, inconsistencies in research and the aftermath of Columbine.
The article does provide insight to the creation of the ESRB system which in 1994 was put in place a american system to disclose the content of video games, but many’s dismay, this did not settle any controversy. Later in the article we are told of a man who, with the help of his comprehensive review, aided in the Supreme Court’s ruling. The man in question, Christopher J. Ferguson, pointed out some of the main flaws with these researchers’ experiments. Some of the points Ferguson has touched up on consisted of: lack or real agreement, problems over how aggression is measured, publication bias, and the problem of small effect sizes. The debate overall has heated up to the point where it was about politics just as much a research findings.
Ferguson advised also to not use inflammatory by professional groups that misrepresent research, which was exemplified by a American Academy of Pediatrics’ 2009 statement that entailed “playing violent video games has been found to account for a 13% to 22% increase in adolescents’ violent behavior; by comparison, smoking tobacco accounts for 14% of the increase in lung cancer.” Its is then pointed out to the reader that these figures were not only exaggerated but also attempted to close the discussion as passing video game and violence off as tobacco to lung cancer. The article continues with a few more paragraphs talking about the possible credibility issues and the general problem of promoting fear which in turn causes anyone to object the fear discredibility.