Monday, March 12, 2018

What Do Violent Video Games Have on Teenagers?

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What Do Violent Video Games Have on Teenagers?
What Do Violent Video Games Have on Teenagers?

Since the release of Mortal Kombat and the subsequent need to have games rated according to particular criteria, it seems like everything has changed in the world of video gaming.

People started becoming more aware of their contents, as well as the way it affected anyone who was in contact with it. This isn’t because it is the first time they appeared, but more due to the fact that everyone became more aware of the underlying meaning of the video game mission. Since then, numerous researches have been conducted with the sole purpose of identifying the correlation of violent video game contents with real-life aggression, specifically emphasizing the recent number one global concern of school shootings.

According to an article from the Center for Educational Neuroscience in London, an institution that identifies and analyzes all kinds of cognitive data, patterns and corresponding behavior, correlation must be distinguished from cause. Their claim is that correlation is found between children and youngsters’ proneness to violence with their affinity to violent video games. In turn, it is just as possible that these games can provoke a more direct and destruction-oriented social behavior.

Statistical data in the US shows that over 90% of children indulge in violent video games, with a rise in percentage when narrowing the age ground to five years, 12-17. Yet, this information does not lead to arguments allowing anyone to direct their blows at the video gaming industry. In fact, it goes to show the exact opposite of what most people are so firmly convinced in – a violent first-person shooter game does not turn children into “mass murderers”. After all, if all 97 teenagers out of a group of 100 were to play the same violent video game, there is no guarantee that they – or any one of them – would be even slightly affected by the contents.

Short-term effects could still provoke some kind of an angry outburst, as video game players are estimated to maintain the same aggression in their mind for as much as 4 minutes after the end of the game. What is more, they are expected to continue in this line of thought for up to ten minutes, as shown in a study by Christopher Barlett among others.

As for the matter of long-term effects, one of which is presumed to be the instant urge to kill and demolish, has been claimed to result in the rise of students opening fire on their school and classmates. In order to even come close to turning this into a factual statement, it is necessary that we are aware of all aspects, and one crucial involves the drive to play such games rather than the aftermath of the activity.

After all, if someone has the need to kill another living being – animal or human – it is very unlikely they would stop and play a game or two instead of following such a primal instinct. Hence, the drive to engage in violent video games is much more similar to that of a daring ride at the theme park or extreme sporting like bungee jumping.

Now that we have touched upon the concept of a death threat in video games, there is only one conclusive argument left to be laid out. Namely, according to the American Psychological Association (APA)’s research done a couple of years ago, video game violence affects the player’s mind in a unique manner. Aside from its arousal in a way, there is one effect that may remain present in the player’s perception for much longer periods of time – desensitization.

This is a technique often employed in psychological treatment, particularly related to overcoming traumatic experiences or phobias in general. The subject is directly exposed to the source of the problem, under controlled circumstances, in order to allow them to become comfortable around it and become less sensitive to its presence.

In the same manner, violent video games have been identified as a powerful desensitization catalyst. They expose children and youngsters to all kinds of violence, animal abuse, race and gender discrimination, and criminal intentions. Moreover, now that technology has advanced significantly, graphics and sound effects making it all too similar to everyday life, video game players are practically used to seeing blood splattered across their desktop screen. This sets the grounds for accusations directed at the violence in video games as a primary cause of making a whole generation less sensitive, agreeable and emphatic.

In the case of ‘young teenage first-person shooters’, people are more than ready and willing to find a link between the youngster’s affinity towards this video game genre and their actions. Considering the statistical data mentioned above, there is no scarcity of this tendency, making it all too easy to identify the motif behind the murder.

“I grew up playing video games ... first-person shooter games, and I would never, ever dream of taking the lives of any of my peers.” This statement by Chris Grady, a survivor from the most recent shootings in Florida, was quoted in a CNN article as a counter-argument to the president of the USA, Donald Trump. What was being countered was his claim in the large accessibility of violent video games which have promoted and spread their content into other media forms, most often movies.

While there is some truth in the lack of more stringent regulations when it comes to sharing violent video game content, this first-hand survivor paints a different picture to the whole idea. This isn’t to say that one isolated case is likely to resolve a mountain of problematic case scenarios, but it does offer some insight into the ways psychology is adapting and accepting them.

All in all, mass rise in school shootings is a rather pressing issue, demanding proper reaction rather than theoretical stipulations. With so many holes and inconsistencies in this one, people are left wondering who next to blame for the loss of their young ones.


"The Truth About Violent Video Games and Kids", Eileen Kennedy-Moore Ph.D.,

"Do video games lead to violence?", Susan Scutti,


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