Violence And Video Games

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Violence and Video Games
Trina Heyrman
April Rivers
June 14, 2014

Violence and Video Games When discussing all of the violent crimes that have happened in the United States over the past few years, there are several topics that keep getting thrown into the ring of discussion. One of the main topics, is the idea that playing violent video games will lead to children and adults being violent themselves, and make them more likely to commit acts of violence against themselves and others. There are many reasons violent video games do not themselves cause violent actions. As far back as the Columbine High School massacre, and even farther back, anti-video game proponents have blamed violent games for influencing people to commit violent crimes. In the case of Columbine, the perpetrators, Eric Harris, and Dylan Klebold, were fans of the popular video games, Doom, and Wolfenstein 3D. Both games are violent, shooter style games, where the player navigates mazes, shooting monsters and people who try to stop them from completing predetermined missions and beating the game. A psychologist who has spoken about this crime, Jerald Block, believed that the perpetrators’ immersion in video games caused them to feel most gratified while playing in a virtual world. (2007) Dr. Block takes the stance that “rather than being incited to violence by the violent gaming content they had a predilection for, killers Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris actually used their admittedly obsessional Doom fandom as a sanctuary from the real world and a way to funnel their real-life rage.” (Destructoid, 2007)

In the Aurora, Colorado theater killings, which happened during a screening of the film The Dark Knight Rises in 2012, games like Skyrim, and World of Warcraft were mentioned as games that James Holmes, the shooter, frequently played. This linked video games, in the minds of the masses, as a scapegoat, an easy culprit to blame and a reason for such horrible things to happen. When yet another massacre happened, this time in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, video games were blamed once again. The killer, Adam Lanza, played games like Call of Duty, and Starcraft. It was at this point that Senator Jay Rockefeller introduced a bill that called for a study on how video game violence affects children. “Recent court decisions demonstrate that some people still do not get it. They believe that violent video games are no more dangerous to young minds than classic literature or Saturday morning cartoons. Parents, pediatricians and psychologists know better. These court decisions show we need to do more and explore ways Congress can lay additional groundwork on this issue. This report will be a critical resource in this process.” (Jay Rockefeller, 2012)

There are other crimes blamed on video games, such as parents of a severely depressed teenager banning him from playing Halo 3, and locking his game up in their gun cabinet. The teen, Danny Petric, retaliated by gaining access to the gun cabinet, getting his game back, and shooting both of his parents. In all of these cases, while a common theme does happen to be that the perpetrators have played violent video games, another, more important theme is the fact that all of them were having mental problems. In studies done by several authorities, it has been shown that since 1996, while the number of video games that are sold has gone up more and more, violent crime offences have gone down significantly. An example of one such study is shown in this graph: (Theirer, 2009) This shows that as the sales of video games have gone up, the instances of violent crimes has gone down for the most part. Another study, this one done by Economist, shows that the total violent crime offences has gone down, again as the computer and video game sales have gone up, as is seen in this graph: (Economist, 2005)

The aforementioned Dr. Jerald Block stated this

“I think they [video games] can be helpful, in