Do Video Games Make You Violent?

College of Southern Nevada

Group of M-Rated games

By Chris Moxon

Video games are the reason why children and teens are aggressive. Is this true or is this a case of misconception?

When a child or teenager demonstrates aggressive behavior, the notion that video games are the problem isn’t too far behind. Is this a legitimate argument, or is this an idea conjured up by those who don’t understand the culture of video games? This really depends on who you talk to.

Craig Anderson, professor at Iowa State University, did research on exposure to violent video games and how that can make people more aggressive and less caring, regardless of their age, sex or culture. Anderson also stated that exposure to these games leads to a decrease in social behavior.

In contrast to Anderson’s research, socialization has been a focal point for many video game companies that strive to create communities amongst the players, as they interact in the games. Xbox has over 35 million Xbox Live subscribers. Within those subscribers comes a slew of software that is meant to connect players through the games. Call of Duty: Black Ops, a game where playing online with 16 players at once is the main feature, is very popular.  Being social is a part of playing the games.

Patrick Markey, a psychologist at Villanova University, has a different take. He found, it’s not the game but the child’s disposition. According to a “USA Today” article written by Sharon Jaysun, Markey found a small increase in aggression for people with a certain personality trait called neuroticism.

“Psychology of Violence” an online journal written by Paul Adachi links the aggressive behavior to competitive games. “It appears that competition in games is what may influence aggression, not the violent content.”

Several students at CSN view video games’ impacts differently. George Brascia, a game enthusiast, said, “I think it depends on the person, like if the kid has more of a tendency to break out, like flip out when he’s playing a game, then maybe he shouldn’t be playing those types of games.” When asked if video games have made him violent he replied, “Personally I find Call of Duty and these games as a stress reliever … after a hard day of work or school I go home and I want to kill some zombies.”

Robert Bergeron shares the same sentiments. “It’s not going to make me stressed, it’s reducing my stress.” However not every student agrees. Amanda Kee, student at CSN, said, “I think that kids who play it (video games) non-stop, they could possibly become violent.”

When asked if the Entertainment Software Rating Board, an organization that officially rates the games people play, was effective Kee said, “I think a lot of people know (ESRB), but a lot of parents really don’t care and they’ll let their kids play whatever, and I don’t think that’s a good thing.”

So what’s the definitive answer? Obviously there isn’t one, but action has been taken. The ESRB has worked to inform parents and retailers about the rating systems. It’s up to the consumer now to decide if videogames make them violent.

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