Kim LoelPersuasiveWritingArgumentativeEssay VideoGames: Scapegoat or Cause? Foryears, the issue of video gaming violence has been a hot topic. Parents allover the country are up in arms about the supposed negative effect these gamesmay have on their children. It’s worth an argument, I suppose. Afterall, children can be easily manipulated, and the availability of violent videogames might only exacerbate the issue. However, I’m willing to argue that theproblem herein lies not within the games themselves, but within the players.
Neverhas it ever been definitively proven that video games cause violent behavior inadolescents. Complaintsaimed at the video gaming industry are usually made by people who’ve eithernever played the games they’re complaining about or by people who are simply lookingfor something to blame anytime a teenager commits a violent act. Just as musicalartists like Marilyn Manson and rapper Eminem were blamed for the Columbineshootings in the late nineties, video games such as Grand Theft Auto and Call ofDuty have also been scapegoated. Whilethey are right to be concerned about the mental welfare of their children, whatsome parents don’t know is that video games have actually been proven to bequite therapeutic and even an essential tool in helping children in ways thatmost aren’t even aware of. Videogames can strengthen problem solving skills, encourage social interaction andimprove hand-eye coordination. Understandably, these aspects might not beenough to convince a parent of much and this is likely due to the fact thattheir biggest assumption is that video games cause aggression. First-personshooter (or FPS) video games like Call ofDuty and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Sixhave been accused of being mass shooter simulators because gamers are allowedto pretty much shoot whomever they want with high powered rifles and machineguns. Other games such as Grand TheftAuto has been accused of promoting violence against women and glamorizing crime.
These are some very hyperbolic assumptions based from little to no evidence. Thesimplest definition of the word glamorizeis to “look upon or depict as glamorous i.e. romanticize (Merriam Webster).”Thus, this definition makes the previous argument a tad bit problematic.Nowhere in either of the games GrandTheft Auto, Call of Duty or Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six is the violencebeing depicted as appropriate or okay.
Infact, in the video game Grand Theft Auto,gamers are immediately punished if they even attempt to commit crimes and thepolice are quite aggressive in this game. There are times when gamers are relentlesslychased, arrested and even shot at by cops who’d witnessed them committing anoffense. Crimes in Grand Theft Autoare treated just as they are in the real world. The game itself neverencourages players to engage in illegal activity. Sure, this type of activityis allowed, but it is also punishable. So, the argument of violence beingromanticized in video games is completely false.
Asidefrom some cognitive aspects, video games are also the tool of socialinteractions. Friendships can develop through playing video gaming by utilizingthe online multiplayer option. This option also allows for implementation ofglobalization in which children can meet other people from around the worldfrom other cultures.
This in turn can open the door to culturalism.Unfortunately,some people, although they know some of the positive aspects of video games,still believe that their negative aspects outweigh the positive ones. Thearticle “Don’t Shoot: Why Video Games Really Are Linked to Violence” by AmandaSchaffer from Slate.com stated “Theconnection between violent games and real violence is also fairly intuitive. Inplaying the games, kids are likely to become desensitized to gory images, whichcould make them less disturbing and perhaps easier to deal with in real life.
(Schaffer)”Thismight seem to prove that video games cause violence, but this really presents littleevidence of anything. There is also another thing to consider. Although violentvideo games might expose children to violence, the amount of violence is not nearlyas great as the content in movies and television. Nightly news as well as theinternational news channels such as CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC, are always filledwith stories about death and murder. Nearly every movie contains some form ofviolence.
Comparingthese two mediums is very important. Because CNN news stories involve real people,unlike video games that are nothing but computer-generated characters. This isan important thing to consider—violence committed against video game charactersdoes not compare to the heavy weightof committing violent offenses against real people. Asmentioned by Dr. Kipling D. Williams Ph.
D. at one of the social psychologicalscience faculties in Purdue University, “children’s violent tendencies can bediverted towards violent video games rather than actually doing it in the reallife. (Williams)”Dr.Williams also points out that, besides playing violent games that genetics, environmentalaspects and self-control must also be considered as some of the other factorsthat contribute to the increase in aggressiveness. Genetics play the biggestroles in the personality of a person. Someone might have a tendency to be morerebellious and aggressive due to their familial background. Furthermore,easier access to firearms in several countries also plays a role in a person’slikelihood to commit a violent act. “Guns can act as a stimulus because itreminds the person of aggressive behaviors seen on television or maybe in reallife.
If the person does not have a solid self-control, it can lead him to aviolent behavior. (Williams)” Prof.Williams also believes that there is no single cause that can lead to anincrease in aggressive behavior in children, consistent with Dr.
Craig A.Anderson, Ph. D statement during an interview with MSNBC when he states that, “videogame violence is only one risk factor for aggressive behavior in the realworld. There are also dozen or so known risk factors.
It is not the smallestrisk factor, but it is an important one (Anderson).” Nonetheless,regardless of this protest to censor and regulate video games, I don’t believethat these alternative measurements will prevent children from playing thegames they want to. They’ll still get their hands on those games, whether froma parent, sibling, or older friend. Making violent video games illegal might riskincreasing children’s curiosity and make them want to play it more. Thus, Ithink that the responsibility lies within the parent, not the government.However,in some states, it is already illegal for adolescents under the age of eighteento purchase violent video games. In Illinois, Governor Rod Blagojevich wants tooutlaw the sale of excessively violent video games to people under the age of18, and he also states that the state of Illinois has a compelling interest inhelping parents raise their children appropriately (Whitehead 1). To me, this isunnecessary and a result of lazy parenting.
The parent should reserve the sole responsibilityof vetting the things their children are exposed to. Becauseof this, parents should be more careful when allowing their children access tothese games pay closer attention to the ratings on these games. Just as moviesand music have ratings to protect children, video games also carry this samesystem. These ratings are decided by the Entertainment Software Rating Board(ESRB), which is an organization that places different ratings on games inorder to serve as a guideline of who should play the game and who should not.When adolescent brains become more developed, only then should they be allowedto play more violent video games.MattPeckham supports the theory that games do not cause bad behavior.
In his articleon Time.com, he wields a sarcastictone but also provides the reader with a study performed by Stetson University.In it, he states, “In my recent research we found that for some teens with apre-existing mental health issue, playing violent video games seemed to beassociated with less bullying” (Peckham 2). Otherscan argue that the ability of a game to cause conflict with people’spersonality is more of a conflict with their mind and body. Robbins states that”video games can only cause bad behavior when allowed to by the human brain, sobasically, the games are not for the weak-minded.” Robbins also asks thequestion “Would you blame sports?” if someone decided to kill an entirefootball team and then he states “I’m not contending that there is noconnection between violent games and violent people, but it’s correlativeinstead of causative. Individuals with personalities that lead to homicide arelikely more drawn than others to media that feed their fantasies (Robbins 1).” Inother words, people with a pre-existing desire for violence are more likely todisplay violent behavior after playing these video games.
By his logic, aviolent video game isn’t the cause of a violent offense, but rather thansomething that exacerbates the violent tendencies of someone who was alreadymentally ill long before they ever even played the game. “Examples may besocioeconomic status and home life, which can only feed bad behavior due toviolent games, and this can sometimes cause children to do the ‘unthinkable'(Robbins1). AsZimmerman explains, “These factors involve neighborhoods, families, peers, andindividual traits and behaviors. Researchers, for example, have found thatliving in a violent neighborhood and experiencing violence as a victim orwitness is associated with an increased risk for violent behavior among youth (Zimmerman1).” Ifparents are going to allow their children play violent video games, they needto be surrounded by a positive environment, which can counteract the violenceportrayed by the game. The neighborhood that children live in could also be afactor in whether the game could cause bad behavior or not.
If the child livesin a bad environment, it may cause the behavior in the game to feel real, and whether children believeit or not, friends have a great impression on their life. After all, the term “peerpressure” is where and how this ideal was developed. “Badfriends could only increase this bad behavior (Cooper and Zimmerman 1).” TheGovernor of Illinois firmly believes that parents solely hold theresponsibility for teaching their children right from wrong, and they shouldalso be responsible for supplying them with violent video games (Whitehead 2).
Peoplewho claim that video games cause bad behavior base their opinions only on statisticsand these are mostly true. The rate of violence has, in fact, increased whilethe number of children playing violent video games has also increased. Naturally,there might be some correlation, butblaming these violent acts on just one thing is silly and counterproductivebecause to takes the attention away from the actual issues. Thenumber of parents who simply just don’t care anymore has also increased. Whatparents forget is that they have allthe power here. They control theirchildren’s environment.
They controlwhat their children are exposed. They also play a major role in the healthydevelopment of their child’s personality. If you want your children learncertain things and to have certain values, it’s up to you to ensure that thesecore values are instilled within your child. “Children in a positive, wealthysociety would be less likely to become violent later in life than poor childrenwith less positive influence from their parents (ProCon 1).”Afterall, anytime there is a high-profile shooting, the first thing others tend toblame is the shooter’s home life or upbringing. Society assumes that theshooter played violent video games in the past, but this isn’t always true. “Inthe 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the first thing to bequestioned was the shooter’s mental health, but this also led to questionsabout whether he played video games or not.
Even sports such as football andhockey have been known to cause violence in teens, but there are hardly anyparents today that are trying to ban these sports for such reasons (Robbins 1).”Theclinical psychologist Kutner and health researcher Olson for the Media Centerat Harvard Medical Center performed a study on 1,254 twelve to fourteen-year-oldchildren and 500 parents. All of the children play games, and at least half ofthem said that they played “M” rated games, which is only meant to be played byindividuals seventeen years of age and older. Thetwo researchers stress the word “relax”, and this is mainly because the fear oftheir children becoming violent is no different than the public’s uproar aboutinappropriate movies, vulgar books and magazines, and comic books.
Liebermandoes offer some sensible device by stating that guns in the house should belocked away and unloaded, which is an obvious observation to any gun owner(Lieberman 1).Societyis very opinionated, and most people have no problem expressing their opinions.Some believe that games may cause harm, but at the same time, most believe itis the parents’ responsibility to regulate the playing of such games.
BryantOliver approaches a different view by stating “I’m going to keep it plain andsimple: Why ban kids from buying violent video games when all that’s going todo is make kids want to find other ways of getting them? Just monitor them whenthey play the games (Oliver 1).” Thiswould also help in the children’s behavior. Treating video games like they arevarious other items intended for adults would restrict the ability of childrento obtain such a game, but then people claim that the children will only getsomebody else to buy the game for them.
This also leads back to good parentingbecause if most parents were close to their children and cared enough for them,they would always know what their children are doing, and the children wouldnot be hiding such things behind their parents’ back. They would have respectfor each other, thus creating a more peaceful correlation between games andchildren.Peoplewho play games, often called gamers, offer a first-hand view to this highlydebated topic. After all, they play the violent games every day, and theyexperience what these games may cause. The advice they offer can help provide adifferent view to the topic. Jarmon is a gamer, and he has a good opinion onthe subject. “As a gamer, I think violent video games should not be sold tochildren who are under a game’s age limit… We would not be having the discussionright now if more parents stepped up earlier, rather than after Billy or Suzyripped the head off the pixel ninja” (Jarmon 2).Videogames have always been a widely debated topic.
Some individuals claim that thegames cause brain damage, and others claim that the games cause bad behavior.Games can only cause bad behavior when the people allow the game to affectthem, which is different with every other person. Some people are strongmentally and stay true to their personality, while others are weak and caneasily let a game change their personality. Inconclusion, bad behavior due to video games is solely reliant upon the parentand their socioeconomic status. If parents don’t want their children to beaffected by these games, then they shouldn’t provide their children access tothem. In the end, no matter what law is enacted to prevent the sale of thesegames to minors, children will still find ways to acquire them, which is justlike minors finding ways to acquire alcohol and tobacco.
Ifthe children grew up in a violent environment, they’re more likely to displaybad behavior with or without video games. If parents would take all theseopinions into consideration, there would be less people that believe videogames cause bad behavior, and it might even decrease the amount of violence. WorksCited Schaffer, Amanda. “Don’t Shoot Why Video Games Reallyare Linked to Violence.” Slate.
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