Do Violent Video Games Make Violent People?

The answer is no, but here are the three reasons why.

shutterstock_84146653Shutterstock

Ever since Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter graced the arcades, the age-old parental accusation has prevailed: “violent video games make violent people”. And with violent video games gaining increased traction and popularity in our modern era with competitive esports video games like the military shooter Call of Duty, fantasy arena fighter League of Legends, and futuristic run-and-gun Overwatch, answering the question “do violent video games make violent people” is more important than ever. After raking the internet for scientific data, I can confidently conclude that violent video games don’t create violent children, teenagers, or adults. Here’s why.

3 Reasons Why:

          1. Falsely Associated with Violence
          2. Gun Violence Scapegoat
          3. Improved Cognitive Skills

shutterstock_772791193Shutterstock

1. Falsely Associated with Violence

As I’m sure you know, the media, politicians, and moms alike blame violent video games for violent behavior in society. With 73% of youth from age two and up playing video games and 85% of games contain some form of violence, it’s not hard to see why. While those accusations come from a place of love and a concern for safety, I think we have our sights set on the wrong target.

shutterstock_770316925Shutterstock

Inaccurate Claims

Most commonly, violent video games have been associated with aggression in one form or another. According to a study on undergraduate students at the University of Queensland in Australia, through both violent video games or non-violent video games, the study “failed to find any effect of playing a violent video game” on societal behaviors. Instead, the participates were more likely to “engage in spontaneous, unrequested helping behavior”.

In a recent Guardian article, numerous violent video game studies ranging all the way back from 2008 to the present were reanalyzed to concretely state that the relation of violent video games leading to youth aggression is “extremely small, … near zero”. Through numerous studies, video games don't make people more aggressive, but actually make them more friendly. Perpendicular to popular belief, violent video games have been scientifically proven to be dissociated with aggression.Looking to find your video gaming community? Join Coastline's Esports Club!

shutterstock_1826653799Shutterstock

Crime Rates vs. Video Game Numbers

Violent people are often associated with crime. From a frequent violent video game researcher Christopher J. Ferguson’s studies, he has concluded that “as video games have become more widespread over the past few decades, the incidence rate of criminal youth violence has declined sharply”, which ultimately displays “a mismatch between public fears of violent video games and actual trends in youth violence”. If violent video games are to blame for socially aggressive acts, then why hasn’t worldwide crimes skyrocketed with the growing video game market?

In fact, Newzoo, a gaming analytics company, points out that Japan and South Korea consume more video games per capita than America, and yet both of those nations experience far less crime and homicide than America. As acts of aggression and violence grow in America, violent video games can be checked off the list of potential culprits as the search for the ever elusive answer to the question “who’s fault is it” progresses towards the correct conclusion.

shutterstock_1469890079Shutterstock

2. Gun Violence Scapegoat

A major concern, especially in America, is gun violence. With the direct visual comparison of real life gun violence to video game gun violence, it is easy to draw hasty lines in the sand. But, if violent video games aren’t the problem, which has been proven true based on various scientific studies’ results, then the masked evildoer behind aggressive social behaviors and gun violence still roams free while violent video games rot behind bars for a crime they didn’t commit.

shutterstock_464535515Shutterstock

Easy Target

One of the reasons why video games are pinned to gun violence is because they are an easy target. Patrick Markey, a research psychologist and author at Villanova University, informs that “if you're going to go after … a boogeyman, it makes sense to go after a boogeyman that doesn't have a lot of political power behind it. So if you're a politician and you want to look like you're doing something, … it's easier to go against video games because, again, they don't have that political backing … like the NRA that might be much more difficult to take on”. Because there isn’t a coalition of gamers to fight back against political allegations, violent video games become the believable bad guy for society at large.

Comically, since just last week a Chicago Lawmaker was trying to pass a bill to ban violent video games because of an increase in local car jackings, Katherine Kealty, a violent video game researcher, after finding that video games actually decrease aggressive behavior, snidely announces breaking news that ““new research may prove that playing Grand Theft Auto V for hours will not turn players into car-jacking drug dealers”. If violent video games were directly correlated to violent acts, the world would be ablaze with adolescent teenagers stealing cars and getting into shoot outs, which, by the way, is not the case.

shutterstock_704742145Shutterstock

Increased Morality

After disproving that violent video games create aggressive people, and in most cases decrease violent behavior, violent video games have been found to increase morality. According to Matthew Grizzard and other media psychologists from the University at Buffalo, their studies proved that “rather than leading players to become less moral, (our) research suggests that violent video-game play may actually lead to increased moral sensitivity. This may, as it does in real life, provoke players to engage in voluntary behavior that benefits others” as was discussed before in this blog with the findings from the study at the University of Queensland.

When I was visiting my mom, her boyfriend’s nephews were watching and playing Fortnite and Predator: Hunting Grounds, which are both reasonably violent games. Out of curiosity, I asked both of them “does killing these people in these games make you want to kill people in real life?” Both of them immediately reacted horrified, responding that they would never even think about killing anybody in real life. With the exposure to violence that modern day television, movies, and video games all display, it is safe to say that such exposure doesn’t create violent killing machines, but instead helps clearly define the difference between right and wrong.Join an excellent community of gaming at Coastline's Esports Club!

shutterstock_719796733Shutterstock

3. Improved Cognitive Skills

With the violent video games creating violent people debate out of the way, the next step is how do video games benefit us? Along with an increase in morality, video games improve and expand our cognitive skills.

More Intelligent & Better Students

Studies have found people who play video games to be more intelligent and better students. From a study called the School Children Mental Health Europe project, “3000 young children across six European countries (with) high video game usage (playing video games more than 5 hours per week) (were) significantly associated with higher intellectual functioning, increased academic achievement, a lower prevalence of peer relationship problems and a lower prevalence of mental health difficulties”.

Along with that, healthygamer.gg sites dozens of scientific studies resulting in different positive cognitive skills, like attention, memory, learning, problem solving, spatial awareness, and decision making. Students who have a healthy outlet like being a member of an esports club or finding time to escape into a video game for a while do better academically and socially. While an excess of anything can lead to ruin, I think it is time to retire the old mantra of “video games will rot your brain”.

shutterstock_757605628Shutterstock

Brain Exercise

Speaking of brains, video games, in my opinion, are the best brain exercise because they are ingeniously cloaked in fun objectives and luscious worlds. Based on a study from six South Korean researchers, years of past data is analyzed as new information shows that video games enhance cognitive functions “better than conventional methods of learning by conveying information in a different way than traditional media”. Since tv and movies don’t engage the viewer to actively progress the story through their own physically engaged self-discovery, video games teach the brain in diverse ways that most media cannot.

Another huge motivation behind video games is the allurement of a mental break. Based on research from thirteen video game studies, casual video games in particular “may have promise for treating anxiety, depression, stress, and low mood”. Video games should not replace needed medical attention, but they can provide your brain a simultaneously relaxing and engaging experience.

shutterstock_1140153338Shutterstock

Although violent video games have been proven to be disconnected to aggression and gun violence while promoting healthy brain stimulation and cognitive improvement, video games are still addictive since the World Health Organization in 2019 recognized “gaming disorder” as a registered disease. With a commitment to take breaks by stepping outside, taking walks, going on hikes, reading books, playing a sport, or any other hobby that provides much needed fresh air away from screens, video games whether violent or not are a great form of entertainment.Love video games? Join Coastline's Esports Club!

Read On