The Misconception of Violence in Video Games
by Avxy on April 20, 2017 - 7:46pm
Ever since this era of continuously improving technology, the number of video games in the market has been steadily increasing. Many of these new games are increasingly realistic and detailed. A big part of the most famous and most played video games contain violence in them. Some of these top games include Counter-Strike and Call of Duty. Grand Theft Auto is a popular series of game that will be further discussed about in this article. Many links have been made between murderous events and violent video games. Is violence in games really a bad influence to our teenagers? It seems more like society is simply trying to find someone to blame.
Countless times has this aspect of video games been called out for being the cause of terrible criminal actions. One famous case is the Columbine high school shooting in 1999. Apparently, the attackers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were big fans of violent video games. That is what many people believed to be the fuel to their actions. Also, in 2008, a teen in Thailand killed a taxi driver because he wanted to know if stealing a cab was as easy as it seemed to be in Grand Theft Auto IV. Another case is the Munich shopping center shooting, where people linked the shooter’s actions to his “obsession” with the game Counter-Strike: Source. In many cases, actions have been taken by the population against these video games, in the worry that more incidents will happen. GTA IV was removed from stores in Thailand following the attack, and a popular Counter-Strike: Global Offensive broadcast was removed from a television network after the shooting. Can these video games really be blamed for the teenagers’ terrible actions? Is there a legitimate reason to be worried about the players and feel the need to ban the games? The media seems to unjustly put too much emphasis on what was meant to be just a hobby. From a utilitarian point of view, which promotes the greatest good for the greatest number, video games with or without violence is a good thing to have. The biggest video games which are in majority violent bring happiness to a lot more people than it harms. The player base is incredibly large and the number of viewers for certain popular streamers can go up to a few dozens of thousand people. Teleology could argue that clearly, violent games led the killers to commit their crimes, so it is wrong; however, that is only a hypothesis and nothing more. If violent video games really made people violent, there would be a lot more crimes committed than there is right now. It is not because people more prone to using violence enjoys violent video games, that those video games changed the people and made them more prone to using violence. A very pacifist person can still enjoy some violent video game from time to time. There is a chance that violence in video games can lead an already aggressive person to get more ideas, as mentioned by Jia-Kun Zheng and Qian Zhang: “after playing violent computer games, children with high trait aggressiveness will show stronger aggression than will those with moderate and low trait aggressiveness” (1749), but the game is not to blame, as it is not specifically targeted for anyone and everyone reacts differently to their environment. Furthermore, day to day violence and discrimination are bigger issues and risk to influence young children more than video games that are not even intended for them.
Let’s take a look at Grand Theft Auto. It is a very detailed and realistic game and it is well-known and complimented for these aspects. Your actions modify the path of the game and crimes come with consequences, just like in real life. Does that mean that the players will become more violent in their daily lives because they played the game? It might have an effect on the players, but it is more of an effect like developing their creativity. Years of research have failed to prove that people will become more violent because of a violent video game. The players are not young oblivious kids, they have morals and can differentiate between what is a game and what is reality; this seems like a hard-to-grasp idea for many. A study showed that “older Americans (≥65 years) were almost five and a half times more likely to believe that gaming influenced real world aggression” (Przybylski 231). Since older adults are usually not interested in video games, it makes sense that they would think this way. Even looked at from virtue ethics’ perspective, violence in video games is not wrong. The players intend no harm, since the game is just a game. The action of killing is full of vice, but they are not killing or harming anyone if it is in a game, especially if they are playing against non-player characters, which are characters controlled by the computer. Even in multiplayer games, people expect that they can “die” at any moment and no one will actually be offended or harmed from dying in game. Also, many of these popular violent games promote communication and teamwork, including GTA. These are two virtues that can help anyone in social situations. These characteristics of the games affect people more than the violent aspect of it. Nevertheless, players have fun playing the game which is what matters the most. GTA contains a large storyline; violence is just one of the decorations that make the game appealing to many. Furthermore, as mentioned by John Morris from The Guardian and many others, violence in video games can be compared to violence in movies. The only difference is that people see the violent movies as art and not video games, which is questionable since making a well-developed game like GTA V takes just as much or possibly even more time and effort than making a good movie. The game developers also possess virtues such as kindness, patience and perseverance as they put in a lot of effort with the intention of giving a fun and enjoyable game to the population.
Some criminals indeed were fans of violent video games, but so are some straight A students, and so are some social butterflies. Video games are for all kinds of different people and violent or not, their choice of game does not define them. An individual does not become a killer because of what they played on their computer last weekend. Perhaps we should sit back and enjoy some quality gaming time as well.
Biery, Thomas. “TV network pulls Counter-Strike: GO championship following shooting in Munich.” Polygon. 28 Jul. 2016. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.
Griffiths, Mark. “Video Game Bans: the Debate About Guns, GTA, and Real-Life Violence.” Independent. 20 Feb. 2015. Web. 20 Apr. 2017
Morris, John. “Anyone claiming Grand Theft Auto 5 is just violence for violence's sake hasn't played it.” The Guardian. 31 Dec. 2013. Web. 20 Apr. 2017
Przybylski, Andrew K. “Who Believes Electronic Games Cause Real World Aggression?” Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. Vol. 7(4), 2014. 228-234. PDF
Reporter. “Grand Theft Auto pulled from sale after Bangkok teen murders taxi driver 'to see if it was as easy as in the game'.” Mail Online, Daily Mail. 4 Aug. 2008. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.
Tamburro, Paul. “Counter-Strike Blamed for the Munich Shooting.” Crave. 25 Jul. 2016. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.
Zhang, Qian & Zheng, Jia-Kun. “Priming Effect of Computer Game Violence on Children’s Aggression Levels.” Social Behavior and Personality. Vol. 44(10), 2016. 1747-1760. PDF