Violence and Video Games
CIS 324: Computer Ethics
July 24, 2012
Professor Rebecca Stephens
This paper will discuss the different theories of links between violence and video games. Those who try to censor video games or make them illegal point to the theories and studies that show a tenuous link. Those in the video game industry and activists for free speech and artistic freedom out right refute or offer other reasons for the supposed link.
Violence and Video Games
There is no solid evidence that a link between violence and video games exit. Video games have been blamed for school shootings, violence toward women, excessive bulling, and ...view middle of the document...
After successfully running down a screaming “gremlin” a tombstone would appear. The controversy exploded because the way the game represented the “gremlins” resembled stick figure humans. To the people this represented the condoning the massacre of people with an automobile. The controversy was made worse by the working title for the game Pedestrian. Protesters to the violent video game were even reported as having drug the offending arcade machines out of the arcades and burned them. With continuing waves of protest the production of Death Race was canceled. The potential effects of violent video games were not a major issue again until the 1990s where critics attributed it to many forms of aggressive behavior (Ferguson, et al., 2008).
Critics say that bullying can be attributed to the popularity of violent video games. In a 2010 survey of over 40,000 teenagers asked teens about their experiences with bullying. Half (50%) of the teenagers surveyed admitted to participating in bullying in some form or another. While just under half (47%) said that they were the victims of bulling (Hicks, 2011). A book in published in 2008 called Grand Theft Childhood, says that 60% of boys who played a mature-rated game hit or acted violently towards someone, compared to the 39% of the boys who did not play a mature-rated game (Kutner & Olsen, 2008).
Advocates for video games have said that bullying was around long before even television was created. Violence in movies and on television have not been blamed for bullying so why video games? Even the authors of the book Grand Theft Childhood , with a third author, wrote in a scientific journal that playing violent video games lets young boys express aggression and achieve peer group status without physical harm. Playing violent video games lowers the amount of violent behavior in young boys by acting as a substitute for rough play (Olson, Kutner, & Warner, 2008).
Most violent video games reward the player for violence of some kind. Critics say that this enhances the learning of violent behaviors. A study published in 1998 shows that players exhibit increased aggressive behavior when games reward violent behavior. Players that do not play violent video games, or are punished for violent behavior, show little to no increase in aggressive behavior (Dietz, 1998).
Many studies are designed poorly and measure violence and aggression unreliably. Many of the tests that they use to measure violence and aggression confuse the thought of aggression with aggressive behavior. And to further complicate matters there have been no long term studies that follow children over a long period of time. In fact the study Internet Fantasy Violence: A Test of Aggression in an Online Game shows that there is no causal link between violent video games and violent behavior, but the critics charge on and point to other studies that support them (Williams & Skoric, 2005).
It is common in video games for the character in...