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Video Games and Violence


I'm pretty sure you've all heard about the theory that video games can cause children to be violent. That issue has been around a long time, and I have heard many arguments and experiments that claim that it is true. What you probably haven't heard about are all the studies that point to the fact that video games actually don't seem to be a factor in making kids more violent.

Recently I've been reading a book about using video game concepts for business called "Changing the Game", by David Edery and Ethan Mollick (Pearson Education, 2009), and in it is a section about this controversy. Edery and Mollick describe the various organizations and studies that show that video games don't necessarily equate to violence. Here are some of them:

1. "The American Sociological Association (ASA) noted that in the ten years following the release of games such as Doom and Mortal Kombat, homicide arrest rates among juveniles fell by 77%."

2. "The ASA found that much of the research employed against video games had decontextualized violence." What that means is, factors like poverty, neighborhood instability, unemployment, family violence, as well as mental illness were overlooked!

3. The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) found that video games are actually "less emotionally involving than film or television." In other words, if video games made people violent, then movies and TV can have a much stronger impact on a person to become violent.

4. The Columbine school massacre is a common example used by critics of video games because of the fact that the killers played violent video games. What they failed to realize was that "the vast majority of U.S. males age 14 to 34" have played those very same video games. "If the mere act of playing a game is to be considered statistically significant proof of a casual relationship, then games could be linked to just about anything - including acne, adolescent flirting, and the rising cost of gasoline."

5. The U.S. Secret Service "examined each of the 37 non-gang and non-drug-related "targeted" U.S. school shootings and stabbings that took place from 1974 through 2000, including infamous incidents such as the Columbine massacre." In this study they found that there is no "profile" of a school shooter. That means there were no major similarities (such as playing violent video games) that could identify if a person would become a school shooter. Also, "only 1 out of 8 of the perpetrators studied by the Secret Service showed any interest in violent video games, and only 1 in 4 liked movies."

Interesting, don't you think?

Finally, there was also mention of criticisms about an old series of books called the Hardy Boys (heard of them? I have. And yes, I know I'm old). Apparently, many years ago, these books were described as being "equivalent to underage drinking, and likely to "blow out the brains" of innocent boys who read them!" Perhaps as the years go by, criticisms against video games will be as ridiculous as it is to criticize the Hardy Boys.

EDIT: I completely forgot to give credit to Flickr user TastyPaints.com for his excellent Mario fatality artwork. You can view his other 8-bit fatalities here.
Video Games and Violence Reviewed by JM Taylor on 4/14/2010 02:48:00 PM Rating: 5

7 comments:

  1. I remembered my teacher in High School telling us not to play Mortal Kombat 3. Masyado daw madugo

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  3. My mom was totally against buying Contra for the Famicom simply because it involved shooting guns. Haha. But seriously, some games really are not meant for kids. That's why we have ratings (E for Everyone, T for Teen, M for Mature, etc.). It's the same thing with movies. The problem is that this is not effectively conveyed to parents. A parent knows not to buy a Playboy video for their 13 year old son, but will that same parent know not to buy God of War III? The media needs to do a better job of informing the general public that playing video games is OK as long as you buy the right games for your kids. But instead, they focuses on all the "video games are totally bad for your children" viewpoint simply because it generates more interest (and interest generates money).

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  4. I used to play video games pero hindi naman ako naging bayolenteng tao :)

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  5. Unfortunately, those ratings are not being followed here. I've been seeing kids as young as 6 years old playing Mortal Kombat. :(

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  6. Nagiging bayolente din ang mga bata kung hindi sila makapag laro :D example sa magkapatid pag hindi nag bigayan mag sasalpukan na yun ^______^

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