Personal tools
 
Views

Debate: Violent video games ban

From Debatepedia

(Redirected from Debate: Violent video games)
Jump to: navigation, search
[Digg]
[reddit]
[Delicious]
[Facebook]

Should society ban or restrict the sale and use of violent video games?

Background and context

The debate about violent video games such as Mortal Kombat, Wolfenstein 3D and Doom has received a lot of attention since 1999 when two students of Columbine High School, Colorado, shot and killed 13 fellow pupils and finally themselves. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold enjoyed the bloody video game Doom and, according to many, were inspired by it. The debate over the destructive influence of video games even arrived at the US senate in 2000, when several researchers showed concern about the effect of violent video games on young people. While we can learn much from existing research on other media types, research focusing on violent video games is very limited. Two studies by the psychologists Craig Anderson and Karen Dill, dealing with the effects of violent video games both in the laboratory and in real life are considered extremely important in the field. Rating systems, adopted globally by the video game industry in 1994, established the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), a comprehensive labelling system that rates over 1,000 games per year and has now rated more than 8,000 games in total. Less than 1 per cent of all games released in the UK have been rated as suitable only for people 18 years or over. Laws banning or restricting the sale of violent video games and enforcing rating upon them have been introduced by several US states (Washington and Indiana among them). An estimated 145 million Americans are video game users and $6.9 billion has been invested in sales in 2002. In Europe, Germany has also moved towards a ban on violent video games after 16 people were killed in an Erfurt School in 2002.

Contents

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]

Causing aggression and crime? - Do violent and crime-oriented video games lead to increased aggression, violence, and criminal acts among their players?

[Add New]

Yes

Studies concluding that violent behavior and crime are motivated and increased by violent video games:

  • A summary of the main classes of studies that link violent video games to actual violence: Amanda Schaffer, "Don't Shoot - Why video games really are linked to violence." 4/27/07 - "Three kinds of research link violent video games to increased aggression."
    • Studies that look for correlations between violent gameplay and aggression and violence: "This work suggests that kids who are more immersed in violent video games may be more likely to get into physical fights, argue with teachers, or display anger and hostility."[1]
    • Longitudinal research "These studies attempt to measure behavior over time, assessing gaming habits and belligerence in a group of children."[2]
      • "A study of 430 third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders, published this year by psychologists Craig Anderson, Douglas Gentile, and Katherine Buckley, found that the kids who played more violent video games 'changed over the school year to become more verbally aggressive, more physically aggressive,' and less helpful to others."[3]
    • Experimental studies randomly assign subjects to play a violent or a nonviolent game, and then compare their levels of aggression.
      • Anderson and Dill, in their 2000 study, "randomly assigned 210 undergraduates to play Wolfenstein 3-D, a first-person-shooter game, or Myst, an adventure game in which players explore mazes and puzzles. Anderson and Dill found that when the students went on to play a second game, the Wolfenstein 3-D players were more likely to behave aggressively toward losing opponents. Given the chance to punish with blasts of noise, they chose to inflict significantly louder and longer blasts than the Myst kids did."[4]
      • Michigan State January 2006 Study:[5] The study, which involved brain scans of multiple active subjects during their game play, concluded that "there is a causal link between playing the first-person shooting game in our experiment and brain-activity pattern that are considered as characteristic for aggressive cognitions and effects...There is a neurological link, and there is a short-term causal relationship." - Rene Weber, assistant professor of communication and telecommunication at MSU.

The entire report of the research will appear in the January 2006 edition of Media Psychology.

  • Chapman, J. (2000, April 5). Computer guru says violence no game. Courier Mail, p. 5.[6]
  • Turner, M. (1993, November 22). Games children play. Courier Mail, p. 13.[7]
  • Durkin, K. (1995). "Computer games: their effects on young people - a review." Sydney: Office of Film and Literature Classification.[8]
  • Durkin, K., & Aisbett, K. (1999). Computer games and Australians today. Sydney: Office of Film and Literature Classification.[9]
  • Hayes, S. (2001, June 5). "Games vendors start censorship campaign"
  • Pottinger, P. (1999, December 4-5). I was a virtual child. The Australian Magazine, pp. 46-48.[10]
  • Anderson and Bushman (2001) [11]
  • Kraig Anderson (University of Missouri) and Karen Dill (Lenoir-Rhyne College), "Video Games and Aggressive Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviour in the Laboratory and in Life.", American Psychological Association, 2000.
  • The General Affective Aggression Model predicts that exposure to violent video games will increase aggressive behavior in both the short term (e.g., laboratory aggression) and the long term (e.g., delinquency). (Anderson, Anderson, Dauser [1996])[12]

Violent video games may desensitize gamers to violence, making it more emotionally conceivable to perform violence: By playing violent games, gamers may become desensitized to gory images, which could make them less upsetting and possibly easier to deal with in real life.

Violent video games may enable gamers to rehearse aggressive solutions to confict: Games may encourage kids (and adults) to rehearse aggressive solutions to conflict. As a result, this thought processes may become more available to them when real-life conflicts arise.

Gamers may imitate violent maneuvers practised in a violent video game:

  • Researchers from Saint Leo University, in Florida, told the American Psychological Association’s 2005 annual conference that young people who played violent video games — even for a short period — showed an increase in aggressive behaviour afterwards.[13] They said that players of violent video games "tend to imitate the moves that they just acted out in the game they played". They found that children who play violent karate games on screen may then use the same behaviour when playing with friends.

Claim that the intensity of the above influences of video games on the player are likely only going to grow, as video games become increasingly realistic: The mixing of video-games and reality appears to be something that leads to many of the above problems. This leads to the conclusion that the increases in video game realism could lead to an intensification of the above problems.

Claim that the effects of violence and crime-based video games are even worse than similar films and TV because of the interactive element that exists in video games. The propensity of a gamer to project themselves into the roles that they are being played out in video games is enhanced by the interaction of the gamer with the game. The point of most video games is to place the gamer in the position of "role-playing" in which they "become" the video game action figure. This is disctint from TV or Movies in which the expressed purpose of the program or movie is usually not to create a "role-playing" environment for the viewer. As such, players in violent video games engage in a unique process of creatively excercising and controlling what are often criminal or violent acts within a video game. As such, there is the unique potential that gamers begin to identify and become comfortable with the notion of commiting such violent or criminal acts in video games and possibly reality as well.

  • Solo game-play may lack social filtration: Most video games are played alone, whereas cinema and television are usually a social experience, allowing social pressures to filter the experience of violence upon the viewer.

Counter-argument to..."Myth 11. If violent video games cause increases in aggression, violent crime rates in the U.S. would be increasing instead of decreasing. Facts: Three assumptions must all be true for this myth to be valid: (a) exposure to violent media (including video games) is increasing; (b) youth violent crime rates are decreasing; (c) video game violence is the only (or the primary) factor contributing to societal violence. The first assumption is probably true. The second is not true, as reported by the 2001 Report of the Surgeon General on Youth Violence (Figure 2-7, p. 25). The third is clearly untrue. Media violence is only one of many factors that contribute to societal violence and is certainly not the most important one. Media violence researchers have repeatedly noted this." - Craig Anderson, "Violent Video Games: Myths, Facts, and Unanswered Questions", 2003.

[Add New]

No

Many researchers conclude that there is no causal link between violent video games and aggressive behavior:

  • Ask, 1999
  • Funk, 1993, 1995
  • Provenzo, 1991.
  • Williams (U of Illinois) and Marko Skoric (University in Singapore), "Internet Fantasy Violence: A Test of Aggression in an Online Game”, Communication Monographs, 2005. - "the new study found that players' 'robust exposure' to a highly violent online game did not cause any substantial real-world aggression. After an average playtime of 56 hours over the course of a month with 'Asheron’s Call 2,' a popular MMORPG, or 'massively multi-layer online role-playing game,' researchers found 'no strong effects associated with aggression caused by this violent game,' said Dmitri Williams, the lead author of the study. Players were not statistically different from the non-playing control group in their beliefs on aggression after playing the game than they were before playing, Williams said."[14]

Even if video games might create violent thoughts, there is no reason for these thoughts to display themselves in action more than the aggressive thoughts caused by frustration in non-violent video games.

Violent films may be just as likely to induce violent crimes:

"those who like violent video games tend to be more aggressive than those who do not like them."[15] If there is a correlation between those that play violent video games, and their propensity to act aggressively, it is not necessarily the case that the causal relationship is clearly in the direction that violent video games cause aggressive behavior. "...there are other plausible explanations, such as that people with a more aggressive personality like violent video games and also engage in more aggressive behavior."[16]

"Actually, violent games act more as a type of catharsis, allowing people with aggressive feelings to vent them in the game rather than in real life."[17]

Claim that testimonies of criminals that place blame on video games should not be relied upon as the criminals may simply be looking for a deflective excuse: "Don't Censor Video Games" 4/07 - "The strongest evidence linking violent video games to violent crime is the testimony of criminals who say the games made them do it. They only do this because they are looking for a cop out, similar to rapists blaming porn; they’d rather place blame on something else than accept the fact that they are responsible for their actions. It is not the game’s fault that they committed a crime; they did it out of their own free will."

Argument that during the period in which violent gameplay among youth has increased, youth crime rates have fallen, weakening the causal link between violent game play and violence: Blake Snow, web consultant, "Counterpoint: Games don't cause violence" 3/2/07 - "According to sociologist Karen Sternheimer from the University of Southern California, homicide arrests among teens are down 77% since 1993. That's the year Doom was introduced: gamers fell in love with the new and aggressively named 'first-person shooter' genre, and parents feared it and similar games would teach kids how to kill. Depending on how accurate Sternheimers figures are, that clearly didn't happen."

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Psychological disturbances - Do violent video games cause psychological disturbances, particularly among the young children that play them (this is referring to disturbances that may be disconnected from considerations of violence)

[Add New]

Yes

Claim that violent video games can disturb individuals, particularly youth, psychologically: Multiple groups contend that "the interactive nature of computer games considerably blurs the line that separates fantasy from reality. As a result, game players are likely to become psychologically disturbed by the violence contained within these products."[18] It is conceivable that many young gamers will view the new age of video games as fair depictions or representations of reality, real-world themes, real-world personalities, real-world violence. Because violent video games frequently develop and an exaggerated level of violence and destructiveness, many groups argue that they may arouse a belief that in a "scary world"[19]. If this is true, a greater level of fear and paranoia can be expected from such gamers in the real world than is justified. This may have the potential to lead to many adverse social effects from these gamers, such as social disengagement.

[Add New]

No

Experiments show visual, tracking benefits from video games, particularly shoot-em-ups: US scientists Shawn Green and Daphne Bavelier, were commissioned to perform a study in 2003 by the National Institute of Health. According to the BBC, "they found that regular players of shoot-em-ups, such as Half-Life and Medal of Honour, have much better visual skills than most of the population. The researchers have shown that gamers were particularly good at spotting details in busy, confusing scenes..." (See coverage on the BBC of this study's full results [20])

Experimental tests show positive focus effects of video games: US scientists Green and Bavelier found focus benefits from shoot-em-up games, even to the extent that they could be used as a beneficial tool to treat Attention Deficit Disorder.[21]

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Societal effects - Are violent video games more generally a bad influence on society?

[Add New]

Yes

Desensitizing violence: Violent video games do not only affect individuals but also society as a whole. The sole purpose of a player in these games is to be an aggressor. The heartlessness in these games and joy of killing innocent people create a desensitization and disinhibition to violence that can ultimately lead to a more violent society. They are also a very selfish, lonely form of entertainment which undermines the structure of an ordered, interdependent society.

"Art need not reflect real life. Real life is often too grim and distressing for many people, especially innocent and impressionable children. Such people need brighter and gentler themes in their entertainment. This argument is particularly favoured by Young Media Australia."[22]

[Add New]

No

The value of violent video-games to society is determined by the high demand: The demand for violent video games in societies across the world is very high. This demand is also fairly widely shared internationally. In a market economy, the demand for a product provides the assignment of its value. As such, it becomes clear that the market has embraced violent video games as a valuable product. The wide geographic spread of the international consumption of video games may also add credence to the notion that this assigned value is fairly universally held. As such, it is not possible to argue that the value of violent video games can be isolated to particular cultures.

Positive family role of video games, even violent ones: "Video Games: Promises and Perils", Robert Needlman, M.D., 2001 - "many parents love video games because they keep their children occupied--a real godsend on long car trips and during the hours before dinner when everyone is tired and cranky. And some parents play video games with their children--a fun way to enjoy time together."

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Social value - Do video games have a negative impact on the social engagement of gamers?

[Add New]

Yes

Some argue that gamers retract from social engagements, usually playing video games alone:

[Add New]

No

Video games are often played with friends, and may be socially beneficial as such: Some groups contend that video games are increasingly social in their interactivity. Gamers might invite a group of friends over to their home to play a multi-player video game. This might include competing against the computer as a group or competing against one-another. There is also an increasingly prominent phenomenon of playing video games together with friends over the Internet.

  • Video games may be an important source of popularity among youth today: "Video Games: Promises and Perils", Robert Needlman, M.D., 2001 - "Video games also can be important in children's social lives. Being the owner of a 'cool' video game can be a ticket to popularity and group acceptance, usually more so for boys than for girls. Kids who don't have the latest game, or at least know about it, are in danger of being left out."

Anti-social behavior may not be a causal result of video games: A child may be antisocial simply as a matter of their own behavior and disposition. This may be inborn or it could be a result of poor parental engagement in ensuring that a child has sufficient social opportunities. Therefore - on the causal relationship - a child may choose to play a video game alone because they are already anti-social, instead of them becoming anti-social because they are playing video games alone. In addition, the opportunity to make video-gaming social, as described above, may mean that gamers that play isolating games are making such a choice due to pre-existing anti-social behavior.

"Lack of cooperative behavior" and "aggressiveness" may be both necessary and useful traits in a capitalistic society: This claim is made by Herz, Joystick Nation, 1997.[23]

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Academic value? - Do violent video game hinder academic achievement?

[Add New]

Yes

Studies that draw the conclusion that exposure to violent video games results in poor academic achievement:

[Add New]

No

  • Highly intelligent people play video games. Some of the smartest people play video games. It all depends on one's personality

No. Any type of study habits doesn't effect you just by playing a violent video game.


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Government intervention - Would a government be justified to intervene in censoring violent video games?

[Add New]

Yes

The primary role of a government is to protect its citizens from damaging themselves and society as a whole, which may include the function of video game censorship: There is accordingly a great deal of precedent for a law restricting the use of violent video games. It is considered acceptable for governments to restrict the sale of dangerous things such as alcohol and tobacco to minors or even to enforce movie ratings or the use of seatbelts.

[Add New]

No

Contention that it is wrong for the government to take censorship-like steps against violent video games:

Argument that it would be impossible to effectively enforce the censorship of violent video games: Violent video games will still be available on the internet and, in fact, by restricting the sale of violent video games the government will push would-be users to illegal downloading programmes (through file-sharing systems such as Kazaa) and therefore to an increasingly prevalent black market.

Parents, not government, should play this filtration role: In a modern world, the role of protecting young people should lie with responsible parents who know their kids best and take an active interest in their leisure time, discouraging or barring them from unsuitable activities. In this case, there may be insufficient justification for governments to intervene in people's leisure time.

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Artistic value - Do violent video games lack "artistic" value?

[Add New]

Yes

"Art need not reflect real life. Real life is often too grim and distressing for many people, especially innocent and impressionable children. Such people need brighter and gentler themes in their entertainment. This argument is particularly favoured by Young Media Australia."[24]

[Add New]

No

Art reflects life, violent video games often reflect real life violence, thus they can be viewed as an artistic expression that adds a positive dynamic to society:

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Parental consent - Is parental consent insufficient for the purpose of filtering violent games from their children? Can increased censorship be justified on this basis?

[Add New]

Yes

Contention that parents are unaware of how violent the video games are, can't be relied upon as filters, making censorship important: Parents often use video games as a way to keep their children entertained while they are busy minding their own business. This means that there is no real parental supervision on the games.

[Add New]

No

Most games are bought by parents or with their consent. According to industry statistics, 9 out of every 10 video games are sold to adults. Moreover, there is little evidence to say that parents don’t know what they are buying because a very descriptive labelling system exists for violent video games since the establishment of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) in 1994.

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section up]

Argument #5

[Add New]

Yes

Modern video games cannot be fairly compared to traditional childhood play. Computer gaming is a largely solo experience, with none of the team play involved in games of war, cowboys, etc. Playing alone also makes it easier for the boundaries between fantasy and reality to become blurred, especially with the highly realistic graphics possible with modern technology. In any case, civilisation is about taming our base instincts, not celebrating the worst parts of human nature.

[Add New]

No

Video games are a useful outlet for childhood aggression. Play violence has always been a natural part of growing up, especially for boys. In the past it was considered normal for young people to act out violent fantasies in harmless way, for example with toy guns in games of cops and robbers, cowboys and indians, war, pirates, etc. These games were often inspired by films, television or comic books and magazines, just as computer games commonly are today. Now that these traditional activities are frowned upon and "enlightened" parents prevent children from having toy guns, aggressive play has simply moved indoors, on to the computer screen instead. Suppressing these natural instincts is not only pointless, it is probably more dangerous to remove yet another harmless outlet for aggression from the young.

See also

External links and resources

Books


Problem with the site? 

Tweet a bug on bugtwits
.