Video Games are always being criticized for causing people to become lazier and in some cases become more violent. Politicians also have a tendency to use them as scapegoats whenever some kind of shooting happens and they need to take the pressure off. Why is that? Is it true that video games make people more violent or just a myth? Should parents take actions or has the argument been so screwed that people don’t know about the positives. Should video games should actually be encouraged because of the many benefits it provides, such as improved keyboard typing, increased reaction speed, and stress alleviation. In addition video games a medium to spread artistic works, increase social engagement, and even speak positive morals to a mass of people, as they by nature are connected to the internet.
Video Games have been around for decades, starting back since the nineteen fifties. “In October 1958, Physicist William Higinbotham created what is thought to be the first video game. It was a very simple tennis game, similar to the classic 1970s video game Pong, and it was quite a hit at a Brookhaven National Laboratory open house.” (Chodos) Though this game was basic is was the start of what would be multibillion dollar industry. “In 1964 Sanders Associates received the first patent for a video game. Magnavox bought the patent and produced video game systems beginning in the early 1970s.”(Chodos) The patient was when video games really started to take off, as people realised money could be made off of it.
For years there has been debates over violent video games and their effects on if they make people more aggressive. Studies have recently come out with a proving that they do. “An international study looking at more than 17,000 adolescents, ages nine to 19, from 2010 to 2017, found playing violent video games led to increased physical aggression over time.”(Snider). The study concluded that kids playing certain games containing physical violence were more likely to show increased behavioral problems. “The analysis of 24 studies from countries including the U.S., Canada, Germany and Japan found those who played violent games such as ‘Grand Theft Auto,’ ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Manhunt’ were more likely to exhibit behavior such as being sent to the principal’s office for fighting or hitting a non-family member.” (Snider). Many influential figures even have weighed in on the topic. Trump said, ‘I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts.’
Many people think that school shootings have a strong correlations with violent video games. “Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick last week said that violence in video games have desensitized children to violence in the real world. Patrick was speaking just days after a teenager killed 10, eight students and two teachers, at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas.”(Aupperlee) Many groups have done studies on video game violence and aggressive behavior with many saying there is a link between the two, but no hard evidence has been found. “The American Psychological Association in 2015 stated that violent video games are linked to aggression but that there wasn’t enough evidence to suggest violence in video games causes criminal behavior.”(Aupperlee) Though there are correlations, due to the fact that everyone responds differently to them, it is very hard to come up with a concrete cause and effect.
Parents should be more informed about the types of games their children play. Many people never read the fine print when making a purchase, leaving them unaware of what strings are attached. “Most people never take the time to read the fine print, but knowing what you are agreeing to when you put a check in the acknowledgment box is actually pretty important. These terms outline the services’ rights and responsibilities, as well as your rights and responsibilities when using the site.” (webroot). This could easily transfer over to videogames as many parents are unaware of what people hide in the fine print. “In short, the company has the right to use anything you place on their site; in any way they choose – including the right to identify you by name and through photos and video.” That is why we should have parents sign contracts on any video game, as you are much more likely to read something that has your signature on it.
Video Games helps develop social skills. For example ‘Jones further argues that the online communities that have developed around Internet gaming provide a form of social interaction for many who have poor social skills and feel isolated within their communities.'(Zamani) This allows people who are more shy than other to interact without seeing them face to face, and in some cases reduce social anxiety.
Another fact is that games help with typing skills, “Check out Typing of the Dead: Overkill, a twisted gem of a game that trades light guns for keyboards. Instead of shooting at zombies with bullets, you’ll need to type out the on-screen prompts as quickly and accurately as you can. With randomized word selection and multiple difficulties, Typing of the Dead will put even the most adept keyboardist through the grinder (Robert)”This is helpful in school, work, or life, such as when you have to type an essay on a Chromebook about the benefits of video games. Overall Video Games provide several overall benefits that help you in everyday life.
Video Games also have health benefits. “Playing can actually produce an analgesic (pain-killing) response in our higher cortical systems. (Video game play may provide learning, health, social benefits, review finds)” Video Games can help with stress and pain. Another fact is, “ In one study, players who were immersed in fast-paced games were 25 percent faster in reacting to questions about an image they had just seen compared to non-players. (Mental Floss)” Gamers have a faster reflex time, allowing them to see things a little bit faster. Video Game benefits also improve your health, in more ways than most people know.
Certain video games cause violence, “Violent video games have been blamed for school shootings, increases in bullying, and violence towards women. Critics argue that these games desensitize players to violence, reward players for simulating violence, and teach children that violence is an acceptable way to resolve conflicts.” For example “60% of middle school boys and 40% of middle school girls who played at least one Mature-rated (M-rated) game hit or beat up someone, compared with 39% of boys and 14% of girls who did not play M-rated games. A 2014 peer-reviewed study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that habitual violent video game playing had a causal link with increased, long-term, aggressive behavior.(procon)” Studies have also shown that violence is not caused by video games. As a result, video games have more positive effects than negative.
Many people claim that the ESRB rating is just fine, and that it effectively does its job. Research shows that many parents know about the rating system as studies have shown(See image 1). “Conducted by Hart Research Associates, ESRB commissions surveys to regularly assess parents’ awareness and use of the ESRB rating system. The latest study, conducted in July of 2018, includes the following results: 86% of parents are aware of the ESRB rating system,74% regularly check a game’s rating before making a purchase, 66% are aware of content descriptors, 85% of whom check them regularly.”(ESRB) Also video game store have also been very good at preventing underage purchases shows another study. “The FTC also periodically conducts nationwide undercover audits, or ‘mystery shops,’ of movie theaters and DVD, music, and video game retailers. Their most recent survey found that 87% of individuals under the age of 17 were turned away when trying to purchase or rent Mature-rated games.” (ESRB) Companies did a very good job at enforcing their policies.
My solution is still better, because it does not take much convincing to get a M-rated game or to have a friend buy it for you. “In all states, the age requirement to sign a contract is 18 years of age. A child under the age of 18 is considered a minor and is unable to sign a contract unless it is for essential items.”(FreeAdvice) If a child tried to go behind your back, only a legal guardian could allow them to get the game. “If your minor child has signed a contract for a non-essential item without your approval, the contract is not valid.” (Free Advice) This makes it near impossible for minors to get anything without your knowing, making it so adults know what their kids are getting and what they contain.
At the end of the day it is the parent who is responsible for their child’s actions. Signing a contract forces you to pay attention to what your kid is doing in their free time. By limiting what they have access to or being well informed about a product, will allow parents to take steps to prevent toxic behaviors to occur. (Image 1)
- Aupperlee, Aaron. “Are Video Games to Blame for School Shootings?” TribLIVE.com, 1 June 2018, triblive.com/usworld/world/13686252-74/are-video-games-to-blame-for-school-shootings.
- Chodos, Alan. “October 1958: Physicist Invents First Video Game.” American Physical Society,
- “Consumer Research.” Consumer Research about ESRB Ratings Awareness and Use, www.esrb.org/about/awareness.aspx.
- “Is a Contract Signed by a Minor Valid?” FreeAdvice, law.freeadvice.com/general_practice/contract_law/contract_valid.htm.
- Roberts, David. “10 Useful Skills You Can Learn by Playing Video Games.” Gamesradar, GamesRadar+ The Games, Movies and TV You Love, 13 Aug. 2017, www.gamesradar.com/10-useful-skills-you-can-learn-playing-video-games/.
- Snider, Mike. “Study Confirms Link between Violent Video Games and Physical Aggression.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 2 Oct. 2018, www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2018/10/01/violent-video-games-tie-physical-aggression-confirmed-study/1486188002/.
- “Violent Video Games – ProCon.org.” Do Violent Video Games Contribute to Youth Violence?, videogames.procon.org/.
- “Why Read the Fine Print?” Webroot, www.webroot.com/us/en/resources/tips-articles/why-read-the-fine-print.
- Zamani, Eshrat, et al. Addiction & Health, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3905509/.
- “15 Surprising Benefits of Playing Video Games.” Mental Floss, 12 Sept. 2017, mentalfloss.com/article/65008/15-surprising-benefits-playing-video-games.