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Are Violent Video Games to Blame for Violence in Real Life?

The accused El Paso Walmart shooter, who killed 20 people and wounded 24 others in 2019, briefly referenced soldiers in a video game.   

History Of Video Games – Normal and Violent

  

First, let’s take a look at the history of video games: It goes back to 1972 when Atari released its first game, Pong. The game was simple and addictive—players had to move a square paddle left and right across the screen to hit a ball back at their opponent. It had one button that made your paddle move faster.  

The game was so popular that an industry was born: the video game industry.  

In 1982, Nintendo released something called “Donkey Kong,” which featured an ape named Donkey Kong who kidnapped Mario’s girlfriend Pauline and threw barrels at him until he died to get her back. In 1984, “Karateka” came out for computers with graphics so poor that it looked like two stick figures fighting.  

But it wasn’t until 1987 that things started getting really violent: That year saw the release of “Mortal Kombat,” which featured graphic violence from start to finish—and was rated “M” for mature audiences only (that is, those aged 17 or older).  

In 1991 came “Wolfenstein 3D,” which made history as the ancestor of all first-person shooters and was also embraced by the FBI and US military as a rock-paper-scissors simulator and training module for soldiers.  

Is There a Link Between Aggression and Violent Video Games?   

Video games are a huge part of our culture. They’ve been around for decades, and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. With the rise of online gaming, multiplayer console games, and social media gaming, we’re more connected to these digital worlds than ever before.  

But do violent video games make people aggressive? Many studies have been done on this topic, but many of them are inaccurate or inconclusive. Let’s take a look, shall we?  

Several studies have attempted to prove the link between violent video games and aggressive behaviour, but these studies are often inaccurate and misleading.  

For example, one study purported to show a link between playing violent games and participating in real-life acts of violence. However, this study was later discredited because it did not account for the fact that many of the participants were convicted criminals who shared similar characteristics with one another—they were all arrested for violent crimes or drug crimes.  

Another study showed a link between playing violent video games and feeling more aggressive after playing those same games. However, this study was also flawed because it did not consider other factors that could affect someone’s emotions: how hungry they were or what kind of mood they were in before they played the game.  

A more recent study showed no correlation between playing violent video games and being more likely to commit acts of violence outside of the game itself. (i.e., in real life).  

A study from Ohio State University found that violent video games increase aggression in players, but the study is based on a flawed methodology that can’t be trusted.  

The main issue with the Ohio State University study is its sample size: only 22 participants were involved in the experiment, and only 13 of them played violent video games. This means that it’s hard to conclude how video games affect people based on such a small sample size.  

In fact, many studies have found no correlation between violent video games and increased aggression—even when looking at large populations of gamers. For example, a survey by Pew Research Center found that almost half of Americans play video games and don’t feel any more aggressive after playing than they did before they started playing.  

A study done by the University of Padova in Italy found that playing violent video games reduced aggression in players after 20 minutes. The study involved a group of teens who played Grand Theft Auto IV for 20 minutes and then took tests measuring their aggressiveness towards other people. The results showed that those who played GTA IV were less aggressive than those who had played the nonviolent game Portal 2.   

Another study done by Drexel University showed similar results: playing violent video games like Call of Duty for just 15 minutes had a significant calming effect on participants’ moods and made them less anxious than when they weren’t gaming at all!  

However, there does seem to be a sort of dissociation in individuals who play violent video games. Research from the University of New South Wales in 2018 showed that people who played graphically explicit video games were more desensitized to violence in other contexts.  

Final Thoughts 

So, what does this mean for parents? It means that you can feel safe letting your children play Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty without worrying about them becoming more aggressive or violent themselves due to playing these kinds of games regularly over time (which would be unlikely anyway).  

Let us know your thoughts on letting children play violent games?

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