Some of the most popular video games contain high levels of violence – Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption – to name a few. In Issue 4 “What can we learn from video games?”, we asked our students to consider whether the content of video games should be more strictly regulated.
Here are our winning responses:
Aryaman (Greenford High School)
Personally, I am against the banning of violent video games as the evidence for are flawed. Most studies I searched up failed to control other factors which can sprout violence in young children and teens. Some factors include mental health, how they are treated or witness within their family/school/friend groups, poverty, neglect and even substance abuse. Furthermore, they fail to emulate the same conditions when playing video games at home. Such experiments in a laboratory have kids playing games for around 10 minutes which is nothing compared to the average 9 hours a week. Nearly all young men play video games, so the fact that some people who commit violent acts also played games should not be surprising, nor does it imply a causal relationship.
Also, there is virtually no link between the sales of violent video games and juvenile crime rates, in fact from 1994 to 2014 sales of video game hardware grew by a massive 204% while, during the same time period, violent crimes decreased by 37% and juvenile-committed murders dropped by a massive 78%. Further facts to support my argument depict how he number of high school students who had been in at least one physical fight decreased from 43% in 1991 to 25% in 2013. This unequivocally presents there to be no link between video game sales and violent behaviour among teenagers. Also revealing how more people are being exposed to these types of games and serious/deadly assaults have not risen. Nearly all young men play video games, so the fact that some people who commit violent acts also played games should not be surprising, nor does it imply a causal relationship.
To back up my last argument, violent video games may be a factor in the decrease of all these crimes among juveniles. Fisher-Price toy company stated: “Pretending is more than play: it’s a major part of a child’s development. Fantasy not only develops creative thinking, it’s also a way for children to deal with situations and problems that concern them.” Exposure to fantasy is important for kids. These games allow people to simulate things they normally cannot do in real life. They may also relieve stress among adults, a cause for possible violent behaviour. Players also experience more prosocial behaviour due to some team-oriented actions in such games (one example are heists in GTA V where team mates are required to communicate and plan moves in order to pass setup missions and the final heist, your wrong actions alone can jeopardise your whole squad).
Violent video game players know the difference between virtual violence in the context of a game and appropriate behaviour in the real world. By age seven, children can distinguish fantasy from reality, and can tell the difference between video game violence and real-world violence. Video game players understand they are playing a game. Kids see fantasy violence all the time, from Harry Potter and the Minions Ben 10 to and Tom and Jerry. Their ability to distinguish between fantasy and reality prevents them from emulating video game violence in real life. Parents should trust their children enough to know whether their child is smart enough not to mirror the actions they commit in a virtual world. As more people stay indoors to play games, they experience the ‘Incapacitation Effect’, which is when people are too occupied with playing that they spend more time off the road and, therefore, less time committing crimes.
And plus, video games are a bunch of fun…
Milo (Dorothy Stringer School)
The video games industry has an estimated worth of $134.9 billion. It consists of many different games on a variety of platforms, such as mobile phones, personal computers and consoles. It is a rapidly growing industry and with that, games are becoming more diverse, covering a vaster range of topics. However, recently there has been a lot of controversy over whether certain themes are suitable, for example, war. Should the content of video games be more strictly regulated?
One key argument is that video games about conflicts can cause the player to become much more violent in everyday life. This issue was outlined in 2015, when the American Psychological Association released a report stating that, although ‘there was no single risk factor’ to blame for aggression, violent video games did contribute. As well as increasing the likelihood of rough behaviour and ‘aggressive cognitions’, violent themes were said to be an influence in motivating crime. Furthermore, these games are believed to be partly responsible for horrific youth attacks, like the USA school shootings that are forever in the news.
Conversely, numerous academics dispute this report. They question its validity because they believe the research was not conducted correctly and they challenge the credibility of the material reviewed in the report. They claim that much of the information sourced did not undergo peer review (the evaluation of scientific, academic or professional work by others working in the same field).
Another argument involves the current age restrictions in place. For instance, the violent game, Call of Duty, has a rating of 18+, supposedly protecting younger children from being exposed to the potentially harmful material.
However, many believe there are certain themes which are not appropriate for anyone at any age. A widely used example is the game Battlefield 1, set in World War One. This ‘war to end all wars’ claimed the lives of around thirty-seven million people and was the scene of harrowing weapons such as poison gas. Should sickening wars like this be the setting for our entertainment?
In conclusion, although the link between violent games and violent behaviour has not been fully proven, I believe this subject matter should not be available to younger generations. There may already be age restrictions in place, but they are often ignored. I think stricter regulations should be introduced to protect children who could unwittingly come across such unhealthy themes. I also agree with the call for certain settings to be banned. We should not be using events where millions lost their lives as sources of our own amusement.
https://sjcinspire.com/2018/06/21/battle-strategy-throughout-history/ – Dr Philippa Byrne
https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/peer_review - Oxford Dictionaries
Gursimran (Dormers Wells High School)
In response to whether video games should be banned or not, I believe it should not be banned. I believe this because even though the number of violent acts in the world against people is increasing, we should not further encourage this by making violence a prohibited subject. This can further encourage actions not the prevention of violent media, distancing people from this concept; people who recognise individually that they have an issue with violence may start self harming or other mental health issues. Instead we should teach the future generation how to control violence and aggression, which is a common and natural trait in males due to evolution, using video games as a form of media to channel it through.
Furthermore, a violent historical video game will help students to better understand feelings and concepts that cannot be taught in a confined classroom. It will also encourage students to take further initiative of their subject and deepen their interest outside of school, whilst not feeling guilty of putting time to waste. It will stimulate many parts of the blame as the violence would release a surge of adrenaline, perhaps strengthening neutrons as well and improving reflexes overall
Moreover, with the amount of resources and gaming communities online, it will be extremely difficult to regulate violence more strictly in video games. Young people will almost always find an alternative way. And instead of focusing on the banning violent games for both violent and non-violent people, it becomes unethical and unfair for the majority to suffer due to the minority. In addition, the government should regulate the causes of violence such as gangs, and strictly regulate the acquiring of dangerous weapons in the first place.
Yusra (Dormers Wells High School)
I have made a pros and cons list regarding this week’s question based on violence in video games
- By inhabiting violent characters in video games, children are more likely to imitate the behaviors of those characters and have difficulty distinguishing reality from fantasy.
- Stimulating violence such as shooting guns and hand-to-hand combat in video games can cause real-life violent behavior
- Playing violent video games cause more aggression, bullying and fighting
- Sales of violent video games have significantly increased while violent juvenile crime rates have significantly decreased.
- Violent video games allow players to release their stress and anger (catharsis) in the game, leading to less real world aggression.
- Older generations often unfairly disparage new things that youth like, such as video games
Ashley (Hazelwick School)
My three points against banning violent video games:
The violence and gore do ,somewhat , differentiate games from real life. If a game was entirely peaceful then the level of enjoyment would be significantly reduced. But this is subjective as some people find the violence disturbing and others exhilarating.
Also we are now so used to violent video games(Nearly all new games these days involve killing something)that banning them would upset a large audience of gamers.
Finally violent video games are a way for someone to experience something they never would be able to in real life (this point is linked to my first). This allows us to experience life from a completely different perspective which can be quite enjoyable. The Grand theft auto series is a key example, you would never do the things in the game but it is still enjoyable as we can do anything we want without any real re-precautions.
Santhosh D (Greenford High School)
I believe video games should be banned as:
- certain games stimulate the brain causing many disorders.
- many people become addicted towards game mentally and physically.
- playing video games may cause obesity and reduces the chance of any exercise or sport being played.
Ishwinder (Greenford High School)
- for – banning video games will prevent present, younger and future generations from learning acts of cruelty and violence. This could help to avert these generations from the grotesque acts like real life shooting.
- for – any person currently playing first-person shooter games will find the concept to be entertaining which could perhaps evoke them into carrying this act on a real life-based situation
- against – the probability of the above happening is very unlikely as people who play video games play them for enjoyment and entertainment. It is a way to relive stress and pass time in a fun way
Well done to everyone who participated. Everyone whose response features on this page will receive a prize!