Effects of Video Games on Players

The video game industry has grown into a multi-billion venture over the years. New games are produced by video game companies constantly. These games are in a variety of genres, ranging from violence to educational games. In recent years, there have been increased arguments about the impact of video games.

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These arguments arise as a result of the realization that the mass media has an impact on the audience. The effects of video games on players is a controversial issue because I simply believe that two to three opposing perspectives are making this issue difficult to resolve: video games have a positive effect on the players or no effect at all on them, while the third view supports that video games have a negative impact on the players.

I am writing about this issue because it has grown into a relevant subject that needs a thorough analysis. I am also a parent who really cares about what my children watch or play like video games. As a parent, I only want the well being of my children as they grow from toddlers to their teenage years.

Besides, I definitely do not want my house to be a place where violent kids are raised. The issue is relevant because it has been observed that more games have become bloody and realistic, leading to increased violent activities within society.

Violent games are also popular in comparison to other game genres. There have also been cases where adolescents and young individuals have depicted violent behavior, for example, the case of a shooting incident that occurred at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado, in the U.S. (Carter 12).

This portrays that video game players are negatively affected by violent video games. The effects are said to lead to increased violence within society easily. My position is that video games have a negative impact on the player because they lead to increased violent behavior.

Interest in the impact of video games can trace its origins to the 1970s when video games first appeared. They began as interactive 2D games, but they have evolved into appealing 3D games. Video games have become the favorite pastime for many people, especially children, over the decades and can affect their behavior and interactions.

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Research by Sparks (18) on the impact of video games provides further proof of this using experimentation to determine the impact of video games. This research entailed analysis of the content in question, conducting a survey of the users, and finally experimenting to determine the effect on each user.

Early studies conducted on possible effects were inconclusive (Ferguson, Adolescents, Crime 60). However, with the development of better gamers, players were seen to be affected physically and emotionally by video games.

A high number of video games that are developed currently are violent in nature. Research findings by Sparks (25) during the content analysis of media has shown that a high number of players prefer video games that depict violence. This has encouraged more manufacturers to develop violent games. Many of the manufacturers also ensure that violence is closer to reality as possible.

The same trend is also seen with the increasing development of horror and zombie games (Saleem, Anderson, and Gentile 283). It is observed that players easily try to ape what they see in video games. Manufacturers ensure that their games are addictive and enjoyable for the players. This easily attracts the players to ape what they see in video games.

The realistic nature of the games can also be seen in the kind of weapons used in games. This has led to the development of new problems. Carter mentions that, “… gun manufacturers have developed video games to promote their brands” (56). Thus, video games have been turned into an advertising agency that encourages the acquisition of weapons.

Video games can also affect how a child develops and their behavior towards others in the future. Individuals tend to begin playing video games at a young age. During a child’s upbringing, the occurrences around the child play a significant role in socializing the child.

Any child or adolescent who is exposed to violent video games can easily be influenced to practice what they see in video games. Young people are easily attracted to video games, and they are what they experience from the video games (Ferguson, “Violent Video Games” 11). Researchers like Sparks are of the opinion that a child who has been influenced by video games cannot judge what is right or wrong.

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Children can reason that the violence depicted in video games is a societal expectation. For instance, Wolf states, “Children lack the reason to differentiate between good and bad when exposed to video games” (416).

The child will consider the entertainment aspect of the game, thereby becoming easily influenced by how they behave in real life.

Some scholars opposing this view believe that video games cannot be blamed for violent behavior among children because violence already exists in society, and it is depicted within other forms of mass media like television (Layton par. 4). This is not true as the interactive nature of video games influences the player more in comparison to other forms of mass media.

Cases of young men and children committing acts of violence in public have been attributed to their exposure to video games. An example is a shooting that occurred at a high school in the U.S., where the shooters had a history of playing video games.

Their actions were attributed to experience with computerized violence (Vorderer and Bryant 328). Video games, although virtual, create an urge to practice what is seen in video games. Carter mentions that, “… repeated exposure to violent video games results in increases in violence” (48).

It leads to the desensitization of players on the negative impact of violence. A research study conducted on 3000 children using a longitudinal study for three years found that many video game players develop cognitive schemas that guide how they act and view the real world (Dill, 451).

Video games increase the risks of violent behavior in society. It has been known that soldiers use video games to practice before they go out on missions. For instance, the U.S. army uses Doom II, a shooter game, during training missions (Carter 54).

An individual can use such a game for mischievous purposes. Thus, violent video games can give tactics to a criminal about gun control and how to take control of a violent situation with ease. Sparks provides further proof by mentioning that, “… modern technology is now so efficient that thousands of assaults that would have ended up as murders years ago never make it to today’s murder statistics” (101).

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For instance, over 65% of all homicides are attributed to guns in the U.S., raising the alarm about the negative consequences that can arise from gun violence within video games. Arguments have arisen that an individual will not be socially impacted by the violence depicted in games.

An individual who is naturally non-violent will not be influenced to become violent once they are exposed to violent video games (Ferguson and Ivory 62). For such a person, they are able to understand that video games are only for entertainment purposes. This argument is refutable as the emotional attraction a video game establishes amongst its players can easily influence their behavior.

The effects of violent games are usually short-term in nature if the player does not play the games constantly. I believe that the user will be characterized by aggressive behavior for a short while and behave normally if they do not play the video game again.

In comparison, a game addict can easily be influenced to become violent (Hasan, Bègue, Scharkow, and Bushman 225). Research conducted on high school students showed that a high number of individuals who played violent video games were characterized by behavior that was considered aggressive right after playing violent video games in comparison to the group that played non-violent video games (Hasan, Bègue, Scharkow, and Bushman 226).

Violent behavior also arises from video games due to the award mechanisms used in video games. In many games, a player is awarded for their achievements and punished if they lose the game. Achievements include advancement in the level of the game and gaining power-ups within games (LeJacq par. 2).

This encourages the player to become more violent to beat a specific level. Moreover, the games contain different levels of difficulty. An individual who can easily accomplish the highest difficulty level can easily be violent in real life. Therefore, it becomes important to control the use of violent video games.

Various mechanisms have been used to control access to various types of video games. Manufacturers ensure that their games have passed an ESRB rating to determine the target audience of their games. Many games that are considered as violent are rated as +18.

Despite this, younger players are not deterred from purchasing such games. Most young people can easily have access to violent games due to their high availability. Vorderer and Bryant describe that “game addicts will want to play the latest games at all costs while ignoring the ratings” (47).

Video games are also seen as detrimental to the cognitive development of an individual. Many video games are said to be addictive in nature. Thus, a player will spend most of the time playing games at the expense of other duties. Dill mentions that “Pathological gamers, (…) skip other activities to play video games” (404). Many games developed over the past years have targeted youngsters, who are school-going children and adolescents.

Thus, the players spend more time on games than studies, thereby affecting their educational development. Video games can also result in problems with a child when the child is required to utilize specific cognitive skills. Gunter observes that “Video games might interfere with the academic performance by offering a more attractive option than doing homework” (70).

Video games also distract the player from real-life situations. The player is unable to differentiate reality from the virtual world because of constant exposure to video games. It becomes harder for the player to interact with people in real life.

Even though video games provide safer conditions to engage in activities that rarely occur in real life, the player loses focus on the reality and becomes influenced by the experiences in the video games (Hasan, Bègue, Scharkow, and Bushman 225).

A player who constantly plays video games will find it harder to adapt to society. Playing video games involves taking up hours of gameplay in front of a gaming console. Thus, such an individual becomes less interested in social interactions and may lack proper social skills (Hasan, Bègue, Scharkow, and Bushman 225). For the player, playing video games provides an escape from society.

In conclusion, my argument seeks to prove that video games have a harmful effect on the player and the society as a whole. The effects of video games are wide and varied. In many cases, violent video games have been attributed to increased aggression among young players.

Of course, we are all aware of the violence in the mass media, especially from the television, but should that be an excuse to tolerate more platforms for violence in our society? Definitely not! In many video games, players are influenced to behave in a violent manner because of the recurring violence depicted within the video games.

It has, therefore, become important to analyze the impact of violent video games on players through research. This will make it easier to avoid the problems that will arise as a result of exposing children and young individuals to violent video games.

Works Cited

Carter, Gregg Lee. Guns in American Society: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics, Culture, and the Law. 2nd edn. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2012. Print.

Dill, Karen E. The Oxford Handbook of Media Psychology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2013. Print.

Ferguson, Christopher J. “Violent Video Games and the Supreme Court: Lessons for the Scientific Community in the Wake of Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association.” American Psychologist 68.2 (2013): 57-74. Print.

Ferguson, Christopher J. Adolescents, Crime, and the Media: A Critical Analysis. New York, NY: Springer, 2013. Print.

Ferguson, Christopher J. and James D. Ivory. “A Futile Game: On the Prevalence and Causes of Misguided Speculation about the Role of Violent Video Games in Mass School Shootings.” In Glenn W. Muschert, Johanna Sumiala (ed.) School Shootings: Mediatized Violence in a Global Age (Studies in Media and Communications, Volume 7), London: Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2012: pp. 47-67. Print.

Hasan, Youssef, Laurent Bègue, Michael Scharkow, and Brad J. Bushman. “The More You Play, the More Aggressive You Become: a Long-Term Experimental Study of Cumulative Violent Video Game Effects on Hostile Expectations and Aggressive Behavior.” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 49.2 (2013): 224-227. Print.

Layton, Julia. Do Violent Video Games Lead to Real Violence? n.d.

LeJacq, Yannick. “After Sandy Hook, Should Violent Video Games Call a Cease-Fire?The Wall Street Journal, 2012.

Saleem, Muniba, Craig A. Anderson, and Douglas A. Gentile. “Effects of Prosocial, Neutral, and Violent Video Games on Children’s Helpful and Hurtful Behaviors.” Aggressive Behavior 38.4 (2012): 281-287. Print.

Sparks, Glenn Grayson. Media Effects Research : A Basic Overview. 4th edn. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2013. Print.

Vorderer, Peter, and Jennings Bryant. Playing Video Games: Motives, Responses, and Consequences. New York, NY: Routledge, 2012. Print.

Wolf, Mark J P. Encyclopedia of Video Games: The Culture, Technology, and Art of Gaming. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood Press, 2012. Print.

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