Who is to blame? First the blame was put on music, then soon after television was given the blame, and now in our time today it seems the violence in video games are taking the blame for encouraging violent behavior. But before we start passing the baton to violence in video games for the cause of violent behavior, ask yourself, is violence in video games really the cause of violent behavior, or are we just passing the blame like it if where a game a tag?
Violence in video games should not be blamed for violent behavior because video games act as stress reliever, there are other forms of media which have their share of violence, parents who fail at raising their children and even despite these reasons, and studies have been proven to show there is no link between violence and video games.
People play video games for a variety of reasons, some play video games for the sheer of fun their game has to offer, others play for the competition in their games whether it be a local game tournament or online against others, to some it is a pastime or hobby, and one of the most common reasons found among gamers is that it is a good stress reliever. In fact, I myself as a gamer benefit from stress relief from video games. Especially now as I finish another school term is ending and I being bomb barbed by papers and finals.
In order to ensure I don’t crash and burn from such stressful events, I load up my favorite zombie killing game Resident Evil 5 on my PlayStation 3 and play for a good hour to calm my nerves. Of course, some might argue that I’m just one person and that my personal experience is not enough to prove such a ridiculous claim. However, various researches have been done to prove video games, especially violent ones, do relieve stress. One study in particular would be, “The Hitman Study” by Dr. Christopher J. Ferguson of Texas A&M International University. “The Hitman Study” was conducted by Dr. Christopher J.
Ferguson an assistant professor of clinical and forensic psychology at Texas A&M International University. The purpose of the study as stated in the abstract by Ferguson was to, “explores commonly discussed theories of violent video game effects: the social learning, mood management, and catharsis hypotheses. ” The aspect of whether violent video games act as stress reliever was tested under the concept of the catharsis theory. The catharsis theory as stated by Ferguson in the article is that, “aggression is a biological drive which requires release… Organisms may displace aggression from one source to another.
For instance, a human may release aggression by engaging in aggressive sports rather than harming another person. ” In the case of the study, the violent video games Hitman: Blood Money and Call of Duty 2 were used to test the theory. In addition to these games, a non-violent games was also used, Madden: 2007. As to why according to Ferguson, “This allowed us to include a game with action, yet which was nonviolent. ” In the study as stated by Ferguson in the abstract, “103 young adults were given a frustration task and then randomized to play no game, a nonviolent game, a violent game with good versus evil theme (i. . , playing as a good character taking on evil), or a violent game in which they played as a bad guy. ” The purpose having the subjects play different games was to see, “If violent video games are employed as a stress coping technique by some individuals we would expect stress-related sequelae including hostile feelings and depression to be reduced in game players. ” As for the task for frustration given the subjects, they were given a PASAT, “paced auditory serial addition task,” which involved, “involves adding an accelerating sequence of simple numbers, each number to the number before it. Upon doing so, the subjects were then given one wither the task of playing a violent or non-violent game, or none. The conclusion which was drawn from the study was that, “Violent games, by providing both a means of aggressively demonstrating dominance and clear goal-directed behavior, may provide a particularly good medium by which the impact of real-life frustrations on depressed mood and hostile feelings may be reduced” Meaning that violent video games can act as stress reliever for some individuals.
However, because of the word “may”, many might argue that violent video games do still cause violent behavior. But before we start attacking video games once more, let us examine other forms of media that have been accused of encouraging violent behavior. Even before violent video games, there were others forms of media that were being blamed for causing violent behavior. In fact if we were to look closely, as new media was being developed over time, it seems that the blame for causing violent behavior was constantly being shifted from one media to the next as if it were a game of tag.
As a matter of fact, prior to the shift of blame to violent video games causing violent behavior, two most notably types of media that have their share of blame for causing violent behavior are music and television. Music, possibly one of the oldest forms of media, has been branded with the blame of causing violent behavior. In the journal article “’I’d Sell You Suicide’: Pop Music and Moral Panic in the Age of Marilyn Manson” by Robert Wright, he goes into detail of some of the most infamous events caused by music.
An example of one of these events is the case of Ozzy Osbourne and his song Suicide Solution. Stated by Wright in the article, “In 1985 British heavy metal artist Ozzy Osbourne and his label, CBS Records, made their first of many appearances in court on charges that the song ‘Suicide Solution’, from Osbourne’s 1981 Blizzard of Oz album, had caused nineteen-year-old John McCullom to attempt suicide. ” According to Wright as stated in the article, the song was written on behalf of, “the death of AC/DC’s Bon Scott and that, therefore, it carried a socially positive ‘anti-suicide’ message. When the case was taken to court, it was dismissed because of, “the grounds that song lyrics are protected speech under the First Amendment. ” Due to such an event, around the late 1980’s as stated by Wright in the article, “late 1980s, under pressure from Tipper Gore and the PMRC, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) acceded to the demand that albums with ‘explicit’ lyrics be stickered with ‘parental advisory’ warning labels. As we can interpret such events, music way before video games have been blamed for causing violent behavior, or in the case of Ozzy’s song Suicide Solution, suicide among adolescents. In turn, the event gave birth to the old classic, “Parental Advisory, Explicit Content” labeled which was pushed on by enraged parents and adults like Tipper Gore. But after such events, eventually the blame was passed along to a different media, television. Just like with violence in video games, television has also been passed with the blame of causing violent behavior.
If we were to look closely at the types of television programs being aired, we would see how violent television can be. In fact as proof, in the journal article, “Television Violence and Violent Behavior,” by Timothy F. Hartnagel of the University of Alberta, he states that, “commercial television entertainment programs revealed that violence is pervasive, occurring in about 80 percent of all prime time plays (programs neither cartoon nor movie) and the frequency of violence episodes was five per play and eight per hour. ”