video games and violence

Video Games and Violence: Is there really some connection?

by Umair Ahmad Khan

The controversy about a connection between video games and violence has been a hugely debated subject since the inception of video games. To tell the truth, general violence is not just connected to video games, but films and television have been the target for this critique long before video games.

In current modern world, it is quite impossible to completely stay away from video games. So, one must look at it with a skeptical eye and ask that does the connection between video games and violence really exists?

Well, we checked out what psychologists say about this, and verified that is this true or just a myth.

History of Video Games and Violence – The ESRB

1976’s Death Race was one of the first video game to be criticized for inciting violent behavior. However, it was still not considered a big deal back in the day.

However, the first video game to take the issue to congressional level of United States was Mortal Kombat released in 1992, because of it had too much blood and gore and you know fatalaties. So, the issue went up to the congress and two congressional hearings took place between 1993 and 1994.

Gaming publishers like Nintendo and Sega were criticized for not having a rating system that restricts a game to be played by gamers of certain ages. Some politicians threatened to create a government controlled rating system.

However, in second hearing Nintendo and Sega proposed to create their own rating system, which rated whether a game is suited to certain ages or not, before release. That rating system is now known as ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board). This rating system now rates all video games before the release.

Other notable games that have been subject to lawsuits concerning inciting violence in real worlds are:

  • Grand Theft Auto series.
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2’s No Russian Level.

Psychologists’ Verdict

American Psychology Association (APA) has done many researches on whether video games and violence is a real thing.

APA generally believes that there is no connection between video games and violence and video games have been subject to this labeling because they are an easy target.

APA advises government officials not to put the blame on video games for real world violence because:

  1. There has been no statistical data between video games and violence. Never a sale of a violent video game has contributed to a spike in violent acts. Researchers believe if there really is some link, the data should show it.
  2. APA also concluded via an analysis that blame in media outlets towards video games is mostly because of biasing the conclusion for more publications in media. As, according to them, an analysis that concludes that video games do lead to real world violence, are more likely be published in comparison to those that say the connection does not exits.

So overall, psychologists don’t believe that video games do lead to real world violence.

APA also conducted several researches and concluded that video games affect different people differently.

How differently it affects each people? That depends on their social uprear, their family behavior and more. If a person has been subject to abuse in his/her childhood, then it is possible that video games bring back memories and incite the person to commit horrific deeds, but that is not video games’ fault.

Actual Evidence/Incidents

The evidence linking video games to real world violent behaviors is not adequate. But still there have been some incidents, where a person’s horrific deeds can be connected to video games.

One such case is of Nikolas Cruz, a 19 year old who was accused of gunning down 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Cruz was reportedly known to play video games for 15 hours a day.

But according to many researchers, this does not guarantee that video games were the reason for this horrific deed committed by Cruz.

So, the researchers believe that the data is not adequate.

Conclusion:

So, what does it mean?

Psychologists generally don’t believe that there is any link.

However, cases like Nikolas Cruz, kind of suggest otherwise, probably.

So, what is the take-home message here?

Well, the message is simple. As shown by research, video games affect people differently. So, the social upbringing needs to be improved for children.

Moreover, ESRB rates every single video game, whether it is on PC, Playstation, Smartphone or any other device. Video Game sellers and parents need to ensure that children are not able to get their hands on video games like Grand Theft Auto and Witcher 3 – The Wild Hunt that are rated as R (Restricted) and M (Mature).

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