Since the 1999 merciless shooting of students in Colorado High School by their fellow students, a lot of questions have arisen on the effect of violent video games on people’s overall behavior. This is because, as per investigations, the two used to play numerous violent games such as Wolfenstein 3D and Mortal combat. The recent shooting of students at Sandy Hook made this scenario worse because, according to the preliminary report of the team that was formulated to investigate the matter, the shooter was acting out of a video game fantasy. Therefore, although video games are very enjoyable and some of them can help somebody to learn some important life concepts, the violence in some video games has made many to question their overall effect on people’s behavior. As compared to a few years ago, nowadays it is very rare to find a child without a video game or who is not actively involved in playing some form of the video game.
This is because, nowadays, even if you do not own a game console, one can play most of the video games online, as long as one has access to the internet or a local network. As of 2001, research studies showed that over 79% of American teens actively played video games.
This has made many to question how such exposure may translate to peoples’ behavioral change. When looking at this subject, the first assumption one gets, especially when the question is posed in its entirety, is that a violent game should naturally attract violent tendencies from the one playing the game, as this assumption is supported by the ever-increasing cases of violent and antisocial behavior of the majority of those who play these video games (Anderson and Bushman 353-359). This paper is going to explore how exposure to video games can cause behavioral changes in individuals.
Why Watching Violent Video Games can Cause Change of Behavior
Research has mostly concluded that there is indeed a strong correlation between watching video games and change of behavior. Although in most cases, the method that is mostly used is the meta-analysis statistical methods, interesting enough, also non-experimental studies have proved that there is a strong relationship between the watching of violent video games and exhibiting aggressive behavior.
For example, in a research study that was conducted by Adachi, Willoughby, and Good to ascertain the relationship between violent video game play and aggression among adolescents, the obtained results showed a great correlation between these two variables, as more violent video play showed an increased level of aggression over time. The same research findings showed that even after such learners had been subjected to methods of suppressing such behaviors after being involved in active gameplay for a while, they still exhibited the same behavior (Adachi, Good, and Willoughby 1044-1057).
Although research studies show a clear correlation between the playing of violent games and change of behavior, up to date video game makers are in constant denial of the effects of playing violent games. As much as to some level, the stand of video game makers may be true, logically thinking, this can be said to be a way of protecting their organizations from countless lawsuits that can culminate from them accepting liability of the games inducing the killer instinct. This is very ironic because even numerous psychological studies have shown that human behavior is normally shaped by the environment, which video games are part of (Anderson 1).
As research studies show, violent tendencies that people possess mostly arise from a process of seeing, believing, and then trying it out in real life. It is here that gamers tend to unionize the game and real-life situation, and this is called perceptual schemata, which is a kind of aggressive behavior indicator. In this scenario, a person becomes paranoid as to the actual course of an event. A good example of this is when one is involved in an accident; he might think that it was actually intentional, which is an absurd notion that should never be harbored in someone’s mind when such situations occur.
Long-term effects of violent games also tend to affect gamers negatively in their perception about society, in terms of how they feel the world views them and what they feel it expects from them. With the increased violence being observed daily in some gamers, it will not be illogical to conclude that most of them tend to have a poor opinion about how to live with other people since all they see and want to do is what they see in games. In most cases, although sometimes some gamers leave the confines of their games and interact with others, they tend to shy away from them since their reality seems to have been replaced with the game content. This is due to the fact that they tend to think what is happening in the game is real, and this is where problem culminates to application in real life (Anderson and Carnagey 882-889).
In addition to the numerous researches, the shootings that have taken place in the United States over the years have sparked debate on the true effect of these violent video games. As per the initial investigation, “the game of doom” is said to be the culprit that induced the two boys, Eric Dylan of Columbine High school, into killing thirteen people and wounding twenty-three in the process. According to evidence, it is noted that Harris reinvented the game to suit a real-life situation of his school; whereby, he even went a step further and factored in the enemy (the students) who were not able to fight back. Although many have refuted the idea that video games played a central part in influencing their behavior, it is hard to clearly ascertain whether it was premeditated murder or not since they took their own lives in the end (Anderson 1).
From the above examples, it is not wrong for one to conclude that, if the parents of the two students had taken interest and controlled the kind of games that their children watched, there are high chances that such a massacre could have been prevented. When critically analyzing the events that preceded the shooting and how the whole shooting was executed, it is not wrong to conclude that watching the video games was a rehearsal of the killing, which they finally achieved.
As most researchers argue, their killing strategy was perfected when they played the game, and the more they played, the more the situation got out of hand because it made their fantasy of achieving their ultimate goal stronger (Anderson et al. 199-249, and Irwin and Gross 337-350). Therefore, from evidence, video games are completely corrupting the minds of people; hence, the need for enactment of proper legislation to control their production and selling.
As a result of the influences that are associated with games, considering that people’s behaviors are shaped by their environment, there is a clear connection between watching violent video games and change of behavior. Violent video games posses a great threat to humanity because unless something is done to regulate their productions, the chances of the world seeing more violent cases of people shooting others in an endeavor to fulfill their gaming fantasies are high.
Whether the world likes it or not, being exposed to great violence continuously affects one’s conscious and subconscious mind into thinking that an alternative lifestyle exists. Although the process is slow, continuous exposure to such games can eventually brainwash one’s perception of reality. On the other hand, although many argue that we have some violent video games that are educative, I do not believe we shall never see any violent video game that is good, even if it boasts some form of educational creativity.
The fact that it contains violent graphics; images that stick in people’s minds and cause irreversible damage, it is very hard to say that such videos can be educational. Therefore, it is up to the governments to stand up for its people and force game makers to stop the production of such games through the enactment of strict rules and policies for managing this. In addition to this, parents must also exercise their control over their children in terms of the games that they play.
Adachi, Paul, Good, Marie and Willoughby, Teena. “A longitudinal study of the association between violent video game play and aggression among adolescents.” Developmental Psychology 48.4 (2012): 1044-1057. Print.
Anderson, Craig. Violent video games increase aggression and violence. 2000. Web.
Anderson, Craig et al. “Violent video games: Specific effects of violent content on aggressive thoughts and behavior. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology 36 (2004): 199-249. Print.
Anderson, Craig and Bushman, Brad. “Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and prosocial behavior: A meta-analytic review of the scientific literature.” Psychological Science 12.5 (2001): 353-359. Print.
Anderson, Craig and Carnagey, Nicholas. “The effects of reward and punishment in violent video games on aggressive affect, cognition, and behavior.” Psychological Science 16.11 (2005): 882-889. Print.
Irwin, Roland and Gross, Alan.” Cognitive tempo, violent video games, and aggressive behavior in young boys.” Journal of Family Violence 10.3 (1995): 337-350. Print.