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Psychological Effects of Video Game Violence on Children

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    Video games will turn 34 years old in 2006. The industry that started with Pong is now a multi-billion dollar worldwide industry. Over the last decade, video games have become an integral part of American culture where violence is a common factor in many of these games.

    An increasing number of people are becoming concerned with this violence, and its possible effects and influences among gamers. As we enter an age made of computers and filled with virtual realities, knowing the effects of violence in video games is becoming increasingly important. Video games, in all forms, lead to aggressive behavior in young children.When electronic video games were introduced in the late 1970s, they were basic, animated interactive games such as Atari’s Pong, a simplistic version of Ping-Pong, which accounted for 0% video game violence.

    Early popularity of video games was somewhat sporadic until the late 1980s. When the Nintendo system with its more sophisticated graphics was introduced a surge in video game interest resulted. “Constantly improving technologies (e. g.

    , laser applications, virtual reality), varied platforms (e. g. , handhelds, CD-ROMs, cartridge consoles, Internet, etc. , and increasingly realistic and complex game scenarios have resulted in growing popularity and increased profits ever since” (Game Zero 1).

    Therefore, the industry is continually expanding at a rapid pace as graphics attract more gamers to spend money to fulfill their needs of violence. Unfortunately, greater sophistication and realism found in today’s video games are associated with increasingly violent themes. One of the first “violent” video games was Pac-Man. However, in today’s games, children can battle realistic looking characters and witness the resultant blood, gore, and mutilation.

    The intense, active nature of children’s play when presented with violence further emphasizes these concerns. Or else, the children would be confused between what is right and what is wrong, such as things to do in front of others. For instance, if John takes his child to a social event, and the child is in his little formal outfit. To his surprise, he finds the child running around and acting out James Bond, using his “finger gun” and making gun noises to kill the “enemy.

    ” Growth of electronic games has not been without controversy.However the subset of games, which features violence, gore, and antisocial behavior, has raised concern among parents, educators, child advocates, medical professionals, and policy makers. As a person becomes increasingly aggressive, the social environment responds. The types of people who are willing to interact with them, the types of interactions that are held, and the types of situations made available to the person all change.

    Even the social interactions with teachers, parents, and non-aggressive peers are likely to degenerate, whereas interactions with other “deviant” peers may well increase (Anderson 2).Therefore, people would react differently accordingly to the environment they are in and the people they associate with. Games such as Unreal Tournament have fostered this principle. The purpose for this game is to assemble in clans, groups of gaming individuals, to “battle” other clans as these gamers are immersed in the violence, and also finding friendship with other gamers they meet online.

    This leads to great psychological impacts, due to their violence associated with these types and other types of games.The implication of games in high profile school shootings has led to congressional hearings, government investigations, and legislative proposals. The intense concern about video and computer games is based on the belief that the ultra violent games are inappropriate and harmful (Walsh 3). Thus making parents concerned and reevaluating whether their child is safe anywhere anymore from violence in society.

    The pioneer in modern gaming violence, Doom, which has become a landmark in today’s video games, thus surpassing every game that preceeded it.Realistic gaming play and detailed graphics have made this video game the foundation for games, but “with glory comes great consequences. ” Numerous parents have tried to attack Doom as a bloodthirsty game that breaks all morals and self-values. Parents from across the nation have restricted their children from ever playing this horrific game.

    However it has not prevented children of young age to imitate violence scenes in the real life. It will distort the child’s imagination and thus creating a world of their own, a society without peace and harmony.Popular computer games such as Counter-Strike, which is developed in the 21st century, has drastically changed the entire meaning of game play and raising the bar in video game violence. This game was first to develop a multi-shooter arena.

    Where it allows the player to connect to other players via internet and play with them. Thus they are able to play with anyone around the world from the comfort of their own home. With this feature, gaming violence has stepped into a new territory. The feel, the look, and also the atmosphere places the player into the “drivers” seat because it’s a first person shooting game right?Counter-Strike is not just any shooting game, but a game that makes the players feel that they are standing right there.

    With such intense game play, in a couple of minutes their entire body reacts with the character, and their body will feel fatigued as if they where in the game. With this much tension going on throughout your body, you would constantly be tired and have no interest in daily life because daily life does not give that much suspense and adrenaline as violent video games does. Violent video games often require the player to take the point of view of the shooter.Doom, Counter-Strike, and other games contains violence such as shooting and weapon smashing that causes blood and gore, specifically aimed at humans (Walsh 2).

    Since that is the most effective way to grasp the players into the game and continue wanting more. In 1994 a seven-year-old child was killed by a police officer because the officer thought the child was pointing a gun at him, but was later found out that the child was reenacting his favorite game, Half-Life, a version of Counter-Strike, in which he was holding a water gun (Game Zero 2).It is apparent that major psychological impacts of such games may lead to the reenactment of the game in our daily lives even without the person realizing it (Loftus 1). Instead of making the world a better place, violence in video games are creating a corrupted society especially starting the players at a young age and introducing them to violence.

    From statistics, graphic violence portrayed by video games has also increased greatly in recent years.According to the National Coalition on Television Violence, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing gratuitous violence on television, sales of games rated extremely violent have skyrocketed from 53% of all sales in 1985 to 82% in three years. Analysis of the 33 most popular games in Sega and Nintendo in 1995 showed that nearly 80% featured either aggressiveness or violence. Of that 21% were directed toward women, and nearly 50% were directed towards other characters in the game.

    New research demonstrates that playing violent video games will increase a person’s aggressive thoughts (About’s 1).In 1998, $7 billion spent on games, with 181 million computer games sold in 1998, and each home on average has two video games. Especially when video games can be played at home on a computer or TV. With this large industry, it would be equivalent to 30% of the toy market (Anderson 2).

    So if you take a look closely at the numbers, we can see how rapidly the video game industry is profiting from consumers like us. The better the graphics, the more gamers it will attract. As the society moves on, virtual reality in video games begin to bloom among the children and consumer. In 1999, 215 million games sold, all together $8.

    billion dollars were spent in the arcade and video games (Game Zero 2). This is an increase of about $1. 8 billion dollars from the previous year.Children see video game play as socially desirable showing us that they need video games to “fit” into society.

    If they did not have the game that their friends were playing, they might not be considered “cool” nor could they stir up a conversation when the friends are talking about the game. Neither gender is immune to the lure of violence. With children of both genders preferring video games that contain violent content, it is not entirely hard to develop games for one to enjoy.One study reported that of 357 seventh and eighth grade students, approximately 32% selected games that involved fantasy violence, 17% selected games that involved human violence, and another 30% selected sports games, many of which have violent sub-themes.

    On average, children will play games for an hour and a half a day (Game Zero 1). With the increase in video game violence, children of all ages are being influenced by these images. The advent of such games leads to gradual acceptance of violence as children matures.The body can only sustain stimulation for a limited amount of time, but when exposed to violent video games, this is given at a non-stop rate.

    As we grow more accustomed to the violence, our bodies began to accept the violence, where it begins to “mellow out. ” We are no longer energized with such themes and will begin to relax. As opposed to a faster heart rate due to a character pointing a gun at you (Anderson 1). So a normal person would “freak” but a gamer will still be relaxed when given a scenario.

    Many parents and politicians alike have stated their arguments toward violence saying that it is not learned from video games.But instead, they say there is no scientific proof that some of the restricted activities do indeed cause harm to the minor. “Scientific certainty,” the idea that science’s assurances have never been a standard in limiting minors’ access to material that may be harmful (Walsh 3). Children of all ages are able to differentiate the difference between video game violence (scripted violence) and reality.

    As discussed in the first section of this paper, the scientific evidence showing the potential harm of violent video games to children is much stronger than it is for many other restricted activities (Walsh 3).The authors note that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, two teenagers, enjoyed playing violent video games, and they speculate that these games played a role in their violent behavior at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado in April of 1999. Eric Harris had actually modified a version of the game Doom and placed it on his Website. In his version there are two players, extra weapons, and the other characters in the game could not shoot back.

    He and Klebold essentially acted out their version of Doom on innocent classmates (Holmes 2). This shows the impact of video game violence.A potentially harmful game escalated into a school shooting that will never be forgotten. Violence, at this point in time, is definitely an intrinsic part of video games.

    The children of today are now being psychologically impacted with violence associated with such games, resulting in endless mayhem. After researching this topic I have learned that games are no longer innocent, but inadvertently alter our pure natures into violent and aggressive fiends. As violence will eternally expand, so will the concern of parents whose children will more readily recognize Duke Nukem rather than Mickey Mouse.

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