Rhetorical Analysis of Video Game Violence Essay

In my most recent essay I wrote of the violence attributed to video games in light of various shootings and other tragedies that occurred in the past year or so. In this essay I argued that despite their violent content, video games are not completely to blame for acts of violence committed by children. Throughout this essay I tried to convince the reader by, first, establishing my own credibility with video games, then sharing my own experiences with violent games, and providing both empirical data and valuable insight from trusted sources.

In identifying my target audience, the reader must first ignore the fact that this was written for my English professor, and imply that it was meant to be written for a blog on the internet so that its location could be accessed by all groups equally, and so that everything inferred about the essay comes from what the essay gives. Considering that the writer is a teenage male, who plays video games and believes that video games are not the cause of violence in children, we could say that I’m writing to arm fellow teenagers regarding the issue. I feel that my target audience should have been parents and other concerned adults who could use this information when buying their kids video games, or voting for something that had anything to do with censoring or banning video games. Although adults and parents should have been my target audience I feel that the essay may not have influenced their opinion regarding video games due to my sarcastic tone when asking rhetorical questions, my absurd comparisons with regard to any opinions that were contrary to my own, and my inability to yield any credit to evidence that disagreed with my position. I may have alienated possible converts to my side of the argument by arguing in a childish manner. So the target audience may have been the adults but, based on my style of writing, the only affected parties may be the teenagers who already agreed with my position.

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I opened my essay with an exert from the opening of one of my favorite game, Fallout 3. I included this quote for multiple reasons, the first being that it talks about human nature, to me it helped show that humans have always been prone to violence, even before video games people have found reasons to
kill each other. I thought this quote would also show that violent video games can have an artistic aspect to them. I hoped to show that video games were a little more than just mindless entertainment. I attempted to help the reader see that video games could be a form of art which may help readers change their opinion on violent video games. I also thought the quote was a good introduction to my opening paragraph.

In my first paragraph I mention that in the past rock and roll, radio, television, and jazz had, at one point, been blamed for past acts of violence or for corrupting the youth. I hoped to ally myself with older generations whom may have liked rock or jazz when it was considered taboo in hopes that they might make a connection between the two forms of media and be more inclined to listen to my side of the argument. I also wanted to associate the plight of video games with that of now accepted forms of media and associate its critics with those that in the past believed that rock and roll was the devil. I thought that by associating critics of violent video games with entertainment critics of the past that the reader would be more ready to disregard the arguments of the opposition and prepare them to take my arguments seriously. I finish the first paragraph by saying “video games are not these violence spewing hate machines” I used the harshest, most extreme, and absurd opinion of video games I could think of in order to make the other side of the argument seem emotional and unreliable. So, in putting these ridiculous opinions into the mouths of the opposition it makes the reader start to not trust their opinions, and makes my arguments seem more logical, agreeable and rational.

My next paragraph I tried to establish myself as a reliable source of information about video games by basically giving my life story in a paragraph. This paragraph was too long, it started thoughts and didn’t finish them, and it was full of the irrelevant rambles of a desperate student trying to take up space in his 5 page essay. In the beginning of this paragraph I start by explaining that I played video games because my single mother was too busy working to properly entertain me. I did this to gain the readers sympathy so that they might lower their defenses allowing me to gain credibility, thus making them more likely to concede to my future arguments. I do that all throughout the paragraph, like when I mention escaping the reality of my moms’ office, and again I mention that I had trouble making friends in school. Then I mentioned getting specific games and consoles which may have lead nowhere argument wise, but I thought it might make me seem more knowledgeable about video games, when it may have actually confused the reader. I tried to recover the reader’s attention by bringing up the invention of the first person shooter. I brought this up to help give the reader a better perspective and history of video games so they could more clearly see why I choose the side I did. The first time the reader sees the term, first person shooter, it was in bold print.

The bold print was there to grab the reader attention and help them see that this was an important term. Then I made the mistake of linking this back to me, which wasn’t necessary and only prolongs this already long and confusing paragraph. In the middle of this long explanation of me playing a game I interrupt my sentence mid thought, to introduce my opinion of the ESRB. I thought introducing this new idea into this sentence via parentheses would possibly show that this essay only scratched the surface of problems with the way video games are viewed by the public. Over all I feel that this sentence left the reader with the feeling that I wasn’t quite organized and that I wasn’t sure where I was going. I close this paragraph by telling the reader that I had played video games all my life and I’ve never been in a fight. I hoped to show that if these violent video games did cause violent tendencies in youth , then it hadn’t happened to me. If this tactic worked then the readers may start to doubt the other side before I even gave factual evidence.

The next paragraph in the essay is the first of three paragraphs in which I walk the reader through my thesis and support my opinions with evidence. At the beginning of paragraph three I give my opposition’s argument to the audience first in order to cloak my opinions as calm counter arguments so the reader doesn’t think I was on the offensive. I then answer the oppositions concerns with a quote from Steven Malliet. I gave the reader the quote from his article I not only countered to opposing argument but I continued with numerical evidence from the FBI regarding crime rates compared to video game sales. By following these two pieces of evidence one after another I tried to almost overload the reader with information so that they wouldn’t have time to question the credibility of the first quote before they saw the letters of FBI. I repeated the numbers, and put the word “ALL” and “CRIME” in all capital letters to reinforce my point to the reader. I follow up those numbers with a rhetorical question, “hmmm, what could possibly be keeping these kids off the street?” because I wanted to make sure that the reader got the point, and to make sure of that I then answered my own question with another quote from another article. This article is also backed up with numerical figurers. I choose these articles with a lot of numerical data so that the audience had actual numbers to work with, I felt it added more credibility to my argument and thus made the reader more inclined to agree with me.

The next paragraph starts with a “dramatized” version of a hypothetical question from an imaginary person who doesn’t agree with me. When I wrote this I wanted to make the reader associate the opposition with this not so bright character. But in doing this I may have alienated anyone who liked Fox News or may have also had that question, making them less likely to agree with me. Following the hypothetical question I make a comparison between all of the school shooters playing video games and drinking water. Now while the opposition had a legitimate point in connecting video games to all the killers I tried to make that point lose face by saying that all the shooters also drank water. By using this bit of absurbism I de-value the other sides argument and keep the readers on my side. I then used a personal anecdote to rationalize my outburst in the sentence before. The anecdote also served to make the point personal so that the reader, that I assume now trust me as a source of information, knows that this issue is not just numbers and statistics but also my personal experience. I used the anecdote to great effect in the fifth paragraph. My concluding paragraph tries to meet my opposition in the middle but fails in that it makes me seem hypocritical.

I explain that regardless of how many people play video games, or how video games are made, the games do not matter in the grand scheme of things, which contradicts my arguments in second paragraph that stated video games where super important to my childhood. In doing this I make my reader question my organization and flow of thought. Over all I think that my essay influenced the reader’s opinion of role of video games in violent youth thanks to my personal experience, reliable sources and numerical facts, despite my sarcastic tone and absurd comparisons.

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