There may be a link between the children’s exposure to violence and their concept of violence as an acceptable behavior and an effective conflict-solving strategy. The more exposed the child is to violence, the more that the child thinks violence is okay, even helpful. Therein lie the issue of whether violent video games are constructive or destructive, especially to the young people who get the most exposure.
List of Pros of Violent Video Games
1. Avenue for Expression
They enable gamers to express or vent out their frustrations and anger in a relatively safe and controlled environment.
2. No Direct Relation
Amid the increasing popularity of violent video games, youth violence was in its lowest levels in 32 years, according to federal crime statistics. From 1995-2008, video games sales more than quadrupled, but juvenile violent crimes fell 49.3%.
3. Develop Various Skills
Violent video games improve activity of the right side of the brain, helping the person enhance his strategic thinking, memory, creativity and problem solving skill.
Since violent scenarios induce pumping of adrenaline and quick decision-making, exposure to violent video games may delay the ageing process.
5. Teach Action-Consequence
The games teach the players about adhering to the rules and the learning the consequences of each action, particularly violence begets violence.
List of Cons of Violent Video Games
1. Violence is Fun
Violent video games make hurting and killing people entertaining. This notion that violence is fun can cause gamers to imitate the game just for fun.
2. Decentralizing Effect
The games have decentralizing and desensitizing effect to players, inhibiting the ability to differentiate between fantasy and reality.
3. Cause Addiction
Violent video games tend to be very addictive, eating up much of the time and attention of gamers, and causing unhealthy lifestyles.
4. Makes Violence Acceptable
The games impart that violence is an effective strategy for solving conflicts and for attaining one’s goals. A 2009 research found that those who play violent video games believe in violent strategies more than those who play nonviolent video games.
5. Immersion into Violent Character
Advance game controllers and peripherals require players to engage more physically with the game, a form of immersion into the violent characters in the video game.
Interesting Facts on Violent Video Games
Debate over the impact of violent video games started in 1976, during the release of Death Race, initially called Pedestrians, wherein gamers must run over screaming gremlins with a car. Critics claimed the gremlins seemed like stick human figures. Game production halted after the massive burning of Death Race machines by protesters.
Following the release of Mortal Kombat and Night Trap in 1993, there was public demand for regulating video games. During the Congress hearings, California Attorney General Dan Lungren said that violent video games have a desensitizing impact on the youth. This prompted video game industry to establish the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) on September 1, 1994.
The massacre at Columbine High School in Jefferson County, CO on April 20, 1999 refueled the debate over violent video games after it was revealed that the two young shooters were avid players of Wolfenstein 3D and Doom.
Various medical and psychiatric associations in American have issued a joint statement on July 26, 2000, saying, “Viewing violence may lead to real life violence”. Nevertheless, the associations acknowledge the limited research done on the impact of violent interactive entertainment, including violent video games, on young people.
Children and young adults are generally video gamers (90% of boys and 40% of girls). Yet despite the sheer number of gamers under 40, they have not so far driven the world into anarchism.
After the Virginia Tech shooting on April 16, 2007, attorney Jack Thompson told Fox News that Counter-Strike was to be blamed for the tragedy. However, it was later disclosed that the shooter was not a video game fan.
In 2008, 97% of 12 to 17 year olds in America played video games, stimulating the US video game industry to reach $11.7 billion. In the same year, 10 of the 20 best-selling video games in America had violent themes.
In 2008, Pew Research Center found that 50% of boys and 14% of girls aged 12-17 have named video games rated “Mature” or “Adults Only” as one of their favorite.
There were speculations that the shooter in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre on December 14, 2012, was motivated by violent video games.
Video Games Worldwide Revenues Rising
The following data was obtained from The Statistica Portal, displaying actual data for 2012 and forecast data for 2013 to 2015.
In 2012, worldwide revenues totaled $78.88 billion ($17.76 billion handheld video games, $9.28 billion mobile games, $14.44 billion PC games, and $37.40 billion video game console).
In 2013, worldwide revenues totaled $93.28 billion ($18.06 billion handheld video games, $13.21 billion mobile games, $17.72 billion PC games, and $44.29 billion video game console).
In 2014, worldwide revenues totaled $102.53 billion ($15.08 billion handheld video games, $17.15 billion mobile games, $20.92 billion PC games, and $49.38 billion video game console).
In 2015, worldwide revenues totaled $115.06 billion ($16.40 billion handheld video games, $22.01 billion mobile games, $21.60 billion PC games, and $55.05 billion video game console).
US Juvenile Crime Statistics
All data based on the publication by Research and Evaluation Center on October 4, 2013.
In contrast with the trends since 1980, violent youth crimes were consistently decreasing from 2009 to 2012. The level at 2012 hit an all time low since 1980.
The FBI measures youth crimes as a collective sum of four offenses committed by youth under 18 years old. The four offenses are murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
What Can We Do?
After knowing the major pros and cons of violent video games, it might be difficult to establish a strong link between the games and juvenile delinquency (or crime).
However, we can establish three things: (1) video games will continue to gain popularity each year, (2) it is a grave social dilemma to find young people becoming criminals, (3) playing violent video games may not create young criminal minds, but playing video games is obviously not the priority of the youth.
We really need to do something about young people getting addicted to video games, specifically those publicly categorized as having mature or offensive content.
1. Setting Limit – Parents, more than anyone or anything, should be the source of discipline for the youth. They should set the number of hours or days when the children may play video games. Gaming is best done in the weekends or holidays.
2. Establishing Requisites – Before the kids can play, they should have done their chores and home works. No ifs and buts. This is non-negotiable.
3. Proper Placement – All video gaming gadgets should be kept at the family room, or any public place in the house, and not inside private quarters.
4. Getting Educated – Parents should get involved in knowing the various video games their children are playing, especially the content, theme, and rating.
5. Being Mindful – Parents and older siblings should be able to actively monitor the video gaming habits of the young ones, getting cues when the child is strangely becoming less social and more active in gaming as this may indicate addiction.
Whether or not violent video games make the children more aggressive and violent, parents should discipline their kids. Setting up rules over gaming lifestyle is one way of preventing the children from developing bad habits and becoming social liabilities.
Natalie Regoli, Esq. is the author of this post and the editor-in-chief of our blog. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington and her Masters in Law from The University of Texas School of Law. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Natalie has almost two decades of experience as a lawyer and banker. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.