Why Video Games Are Violent Essay Example
Why Video Games Are Violent Essay Example

Why Video Games Are Violent Essay Example

Available Only on StudyHippo
  • Pages: 8 (2123 words)
  • Published: July 28, 2021
View Entire Sample
Text preview

President Trump, in February 2018, connected the school shooting in Parkland, Florida to the influence of violent video games on young individuals. This idea has been raised by others before and appears to hold some truth. Jimmy Kimmel humorously supported this hypothesis by advising parents to switch off their children's televisions while they were playing the immensely popular shooter game Fortnite and capture what happened. As expected, numerous children reacted with anger, some resorting to offensive language, and a handful even resorting to physical aggression against their parents.

Decades of research also support this analysis. There are three common methods that researchers use to measure levels of aggression in a laboratory setting: the "hot sauce paradigm," the "Competitive interval test," and word or story completion tasks. In the hot sauce parad


igm, participants are taught to prepare a cup of sauce for a taste tester. They are told that the taste tester must consume all of the sauce in the cup and that the taste tester dislikes spicy food.

The participants' level of "aggressiveness" is said to increase with the amount of sauce they pour into the cup. During the Competitive Interval Test, participants are paired up with someone in a neighboring room. They receive instructions to swiftly press a button upon seeing a light flash. The individual who presses the button first gains the ability to "punish" their opponent by emitting a loud noise.

Participants are allowed to display the quantity as loudly and for as long as needed. In reality, there is no person in the neighboring room; the test aims for individuals to win half of the games. The researchers are assessing how much participants manipulat

View entire sample
Join StudyHippo to see entire essay

the dial and how long they maintain control. Theoretically, individuals who penalize their opponents more severely tend to be more aggressive. In a word or story completion task, participants receive a word with missing letters or an incomplete story.

Participants are asked to predict the word or the next event in a story. When participants choose "aggressive" words (such as assuming that "M nine nine nine E R" is "murder" instead of "mother") or assume that characters will harm each other, they are considered more aggressive. These tests are used to examine if violent games increase aggression. Several representative studies are summarized below. In each study, participants assigned to play a violent game showed a greater tendency to act or think aggressively than those who played a non-violent game for the same amount of time. 2000: University science students played a game for 30 minutes and took the Competitive Interval Test.

People who played Wolfenstein 3D, a violent game, spent more time turning the "punishment" dial compared to those who played Myst, a non-violent game. In 2002, participants played a game for 20 minutes and completed a story task. Players who played Carmageddon, Duke Nukem, Mortal Kombat, or Future Cop (violent games) were more likely to predict that the characters in an ambiguous story would react aggressively to conflict compared to those who had played Sailplane Professional, 3D Pinball, Austin Powers, or Characin Fish Madness (non-violent games). In 2004, participants played a game for 20 minutes and completed a word-completion task.

According to a study, individuals who played violent games like Dark Forces, Marathon 2, speeder, Street Fighter, and Wolfenstein 3D were more likely to associate word fragments

with aggressive words rather than non-aggressive words. This was in contrast to those who played non-violent games such as 3D extremist pinball game, Glider Pro, Indy automotive II, Jewel Box, and Myst.

In 2004, participants took part in a game for 20 minutes and then underwent the Competitive interval test. Results showed that individuals who played the violent game Marathon 2 set the "noise punishment" dial at higher levels compared to those who played sailplane professional (a non-violent game).

In 2014, participants played a game for thirty minutes and then underwent the new sauce test. The study found that players of Call of Duty: trendy Warfare (a violent game) poured more sauce into the cup compared to players of LittleBigPlanet 2 (a non-violent game).

Based on these research findings it can be concluded that playing violent video games increases aggression levels in individuals.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) Task Force on Violent Media conducted a review in 2015, examining 31 studies published since 2009. The task force concluded that "violent game use impacts aggressive behavior, cognition, and affect." However, those familiar with these studies may identify a significant flaw in their design. This flaw lies in the fact that violence is not the sole determinant when comparing games like Wolfenstein 3D, Call of Duty, and Duke Nukem to less violent games such as Myst, LittleBigPlanet 2, and Glider Pro. For instance, Wolfenstein 3D offers fast-paced and exhilarating shooting gameplay while Myst provides a slow-paced strategic exploration and puzzle experience.

To illustrate this point, a video has been provided showcasing individuals playing Wolfenstein and Myst. If we analyze these two games assuming that differences in aggression levels are solely due to

varying degrees of violence, we would be ignoring other factors. So if it's not the violence causing the differences, then what else could it be? Recently, some researchers have acknowledged this criticism and started exploring alternative explanations for the observed variations.

One hypothesis suggests that the chosen violent games were also more challenging to master, resulting in aggressive thoughts out of frustration. When conducting more detailed studies to investigate these alternative hypotheses, it was found that the presence of violence in the games was not the determining factor. For instance, a set of clever studies examined whether players acted out because certain games hindered their competence.

The initial study revealed notable disparities in difficulty level required to master two previously used games: Glide Pro 4 only requires two buttons while Marathon 2 requires a mouse and twenty different buttons. This additional variable identified makes it inappropriate to compare these two games and draw a scientifically credible conclusion.

The researchers developed two first-person shooter games of varying violence levels. In the violent game, characters would experience gruesome, bloody deaths when shot, while in the other game, characters would simply disappear upon being shot as in a paintball game. Apart from this difference, the two games were identical. However, when analyzing the levels of aggression after testing, no differences were observed between the groups.

Two separate studies were conducted by these researchers to examine the impact of manipulating the game Tetris on participants' aggression levels. One group of participants had the game controls made difficult, while the other group was given grid items that wouldn't fit easily. Those who played the more challenging and frustrating versions of the game displayed higher

levels of aggression afterwards. However, it was found that the difficulty level of the game, rather than the presence of violence, predicted aggressive thoughts and actions later on. Interestingly, when the games were more evenly matched, violence did not appear to affect aggression during gameplay. In conclusion, these researchers determined that games can provoke anger in individuals simply by being difficult to win.

A clear illustration of how frustration alone can lead to aggression in a non-violent game can be found on YouTube, specifically on popular streamer Markiplier's first attempt to conquer "Getting Over It". The game itself is peculiar, as players must navigate a shirtless man in a pot up a mountain using only a hammer. It is intentionally merciless, with one small mistake capable of undoing hours of progress. Watch this video of Markiplier angrily throwing a chair after slipping down the mountain. Some argue that the level of competition found in numerous games is what cultivates aggressive thinking and behavior.

The reasons for anger and frustration in video games are often easy to understand. Many people have experienced getting angry at friends or flipping the board after a tense game of Monopoly. A game designer once humorously questioned which would make someone angrier: dying to violent aliens in Gears of War, or losing to their teasing brother in the non-violent Mario Kart? I have personally witnessed these scenarios with my clients as well. They frequently describe acting aggressively while playing video games, such as breaking controllers or yelling at parents or other players. When asked about the reasons behind this behavior, they usually mention feeling frustrated due to unfair gameplay, opponents using unfair tactics,

losing, or having to stop playing at an inconvenient time. These outbursts occur regardless of whether the games are violent or not. This raises the question: could violence be what triggers this behavior? To fully comprehend experimental findings, it is crucial to differentiate between "statistical significance" and "clinical significance." Statistical significance serves as a method for determining if study results were a result of a genuine difference between groups or if they could have occurred by chance.

The text highlights the concept of clinical significance, which refers to the importance of results for individuals or the entire population. In a 2000 study, it was found that players of Wolfenstein 3D turned the "punishment" dial for a longer duration compared to those who played Myst, demonstrating statistical significance. However, the actual difference between the two groups was only 0.16 seconds (6.81 seconds for Wolfenstein 3D players and 6.65 seconds for Myst players). To put this in context, blinking typically takes between 0.1 and 0.4 seconds.

Therefore, both subjects who played violent and non-violent games chose to penalize an imaginary opponent for approximately seven seconds.

The duration of time that teams spend controlling the dial is insignificant, similar to a brief moment. In a laboratory setting, the length of time someone holds a dial is not a cause for concern. Moreover, research suggests that any increase in aggression diminishes rapidly within ten minutes. However, despite this information, the introductory paragraph of the paper connects violent video games to the school shooting at Flower High School. The Society for Media Science and Technology of the APA firmly asserts that this comparison is inappropriate and misleading to the public. They emphasize that

there is a lack of scientific evidence supporting this association. Similar to discovering that a young criminal also happened to play violent video games does not provide meaningful insight; it is akin to finding out they wore sneakers or watched Sesame Street. According to a report by the Secret Service studying school shooters, only 14% of them enjoyed violent video games compared to 70% of their peers.

The General Aggression Model (GAM) is utilized by researchers to examine the long-term effects of aggression. Developed by the investigator who established a connection between aggression and violent video games in multiple papers, the GAM offers a comprehensive explanation. According to this theory, factors such as abuse, exposure to unpleasant noises, and ambient temperature can temporarily increase aggression levels. Moreover, the GAM proposes that consistently acting on aggressive impulses can result in permanent increases in aggressiveness. For instance, an individual who typically remains calm may exhibit aggression following experiences of abuse.

Research and common belief suggest that individuals who frequently exhibit aggressive behavior are more prone to future violent actions. Studies indicate that even a small escalation, such as 2%, in aggression can result in long-term tendencies towards violence. However, a recent study involving over 1,000 British teenagers aged 14-15 found no evidence connecting their gaming habits, the level of violence depicted in the games they played, and any reported incidents of aggressive behavior within the past month.

There is no significant difference in aggressive behavior between teenagers who play violent games for multiple hours each week and those who play non-violent games or no games at all. The issue of whether children should engage in violent gaming is a topic

of debate. I am not suggesting that it is appropriate for young children to participate in violent gaming. Just as I would not recommend young children watching "Saving Private Ryan" until they are emotionally mature enough to grasp its content, I also discourage them from playing "Call of Duty" for the same reason. Although exposure to violent media is unlikely to transform peaceful individuals into aggressors, such content can still be frightening and challenging to comprehend, especially for young children.

Parents should ensure that their children are playing age-appropriate games, just as they monitor the movies they watch. Some parents opt to play video games with their children, have them play in the same area, or supervise their gameplay to provide context and support. These approaches present valuable opportunities for parents to educate their children about distinguishing between game violence and reality, discuss character actions, and comfort scared kids. Additionally, it enables parents to grasp their children's gaming experiences and assist them in handling frustration. Being familiar with their children's video games helps parents determine if they are suitable for their age group, understand why they enjoy playing them, assess how these games affect them, and establish boundaries.

Get an explanation on any task
Get unstuck with the help of our AI assistant in seconds