Blackops, Grand Theft Auto, and Mortal Kombat- young people, especially boys, are playing grislier realistic video games. Critics argue that these games desensitize players to violence, reward players for being aggressive, and teach children that violence is an acceptable way to resolve conflicts. Violent video games have also been blamed for school shootings. Could these games be the reason why people are becoming more aggressive? Is it time to put down the controllers?
Video games often reward their players for simulating violence, which influences the learning of brutal behaviors. Studies have shown that when violence is being rewarded, players display more aggressive behavior compared to the players that are punished for violence. Experts say that playing violent games can and does uproar unfriendly urges and mildly aggressive behavior in the short term. In addition, young people who develop a gaming habit can become slightly more aggressive.
In 2008, a study of the Grand Theft Childhood reported that about 60% of the middle school boys that played at least one or more mature-rated game had hit or injured someone. Seeing violence can give kids ideas that they may not have otherwise. Also, witnessing violence in a game can prevent kids from understanding how dangerous it could be in reality.
One of the most recent studies, done in 2006 at the Indiana University School of Medicine, went right to the source. The researchers scanned the brains of 44 kids instantly right after they played video games. The study had two components: a session where kids played “Need for Speed: Underground,” an action racing game that contains no violence. There was another session where kids played “Medal of Honor: Frontline,” an action game that includes violent first-person shooter activity. The brain scans revealed that the kids who played “Medal of Honor” showed an increase activity in the amygdala, which stimulates emotions. There was a decrease of activity in the prefrontal lobe. The prefrontal lobe regulates inhibition, self-control and concentration. These activities showed no difference on the kids who played “Need for Speed.”
In 1997, a 16 year old boy named Evan Ramsey pulled out a 12 gauge shotgun and murdered two people at a school in Bethel, Alaska. A decade after the tragic incident, Evan describes how playing video games had corrupted his sense of reality. “I did not understand that if I…pull out a gun and shoot you, there’s a good chance you’re not getting back up. You shoot a guy in ‘Doom’ and he gets back up. You have got to shoot the things…