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May 20, 2013 | by  | in Arts Games | [ssba]

Video-Game Violence

I hate video-game violence.

Now, I know that seems to be a pretty blanket statement, and also a slightly stupid one to come from an article about video games. Give me a second to explain before sending us an email in disgust.

I’m not talking about the face-stabby, guy-shooty, puppy-kicky day-to-day violence within video games. Rather, I’m talking about ‘video-game violence’ as a topic thrown around by media, or American politicians looking to appeal to overly concerned voters, usually directly following whatever shooting, bombing or other heart-wrenchingly catastrophic event has happened most recently.

It seems to me that ‘video games’ as a whole get a whole lot of flak for being violent, and that this mainly comes from people who have either never played a video game or seem to think shooters are the only type ever made. Sure, a lot of games do include violence—conflict is a pretty normal expression in any medium—but for almost every Call of Duty-esque shooter there’s a sports game or an Angry Birds.

These soap-boxers lack any real evidence to back up a relationship between violent games and violent activity, besides the fact that the latest teenage shooter happened to own Doom or Counter-Strike. Coincidentally, millions of other people who don’t turn up to class with weapons also own these games. Correlation is not causation, whichever way you look at it.

There are a range of studies that suggest playing video games leads to increased short-term aggression. 2011 Brock University and 2012 Texas A&M studies show that, among other things, competitive play increases aggression and cooperative play increases cooperation. These same results are gained from activities other than video games, such as physical sports. Video games are simply not the sole cause of outbreaks of excessive violence.

Violence is part of our wider society, and video games reflect that—they don’t create it. Movies, TV shows, comics, even music all reflect the fascination our society has with fighting and violence. However, I haven’t heard anyone yet suggest that watching Die Hard will turn our teenagers into unbalanced individuals.


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