COLUMN: Violence caused by more than video games
Video games often have been blamed for the violent acts comitted by American youth. From school shootings to carjackings, blame is often cast on violence in video games.
I, however, beg to differ.
According to new research discovered by Develop magazine, video games may make people feel more relaxed.
The study surveyed 290 “World of Warcraft” players between ages 18 and 23. Players tended to be more relaxed after playing the popular online game, according to the study.
According to Jane Barnett, head of the study, if a gamer was an aggressive person before playing a game, then he or she will still be one afterwards. Video games do not have the power to magically turn people into violent offenders.
As interesting as this research is, I was surprised it received little mainstream attention. I actually had to dig quite a bit on the Internet to find this study. Even then, the article I read gave little detailed information about the study.
I honestly think this is because the media likes to use violent video games as a scapegoat for the violence of youth in America. They have tried blaming the parents. They have tried blaming rock music and violent movies. None of these tactics have proven successful,so, the media has moved on to the next available target: video games. Moreover, it seems violent video games are not only easy targets, but ones that seem to remain relatively silent about defending themselves.
In these attacks, the media and others tend to ignore the possible therapeutic benefits of violent video games, as this study implies. Some people deal with stress by exercising. Some people mess around on the Internet, make movies, write or create art to deal with their stress. How is playing video games that much different?
Just the other day, a friend of mine was so stressed about school and life, he suffered a migraine. After class was over, he told me he was going to be home and kill Nazis online in “Battlefield.” I IM’d him later that evening, and he told me his migraine was subsiding now that he had killed a few virtual Nazis.
Although I am not very interested in killing Nazis, I have experienced similar situations and results in my own life. I tend to play not violent “Final Fantasy” when I need to blow off some steam, and have been known to take out my aggression on any unsuspecting “Soul Calibur” player.
Even though I rarely dip into the more violent category of games, I still understand the basic principles behind them. These games allow people to release their aggression in healthier ways than actual physical violence.
It is possible that people who are aggressive before playing violent video games are attracted to these games because of their violent nature. The games themselves do not change the person’s nature. It simply allows people to indulge in simulated violent acts. Violent acts committed by kids correlate with kids’ tendency to play violent games — they are not a result of them.
Many critics of video games tend to ignore this possibility. They often cite seemingly frequent quotes by violent youth offenders that reference video games. Yet, no one knows how often this actually occurs. It seems these quotes are always exaggerated by the media. These entities, however, tend to ignore the vast amount of violent youth offenders who never make video game references, and who were probably never exposed to violent video games.
Frankly, I think the critics who claim that video games make youths violent are making general statements about something they know too little about. There simply has not been enough research done — or there is too much conflicting research — to fully support either side of the argument.
Regardless of what the media might say, I will not change my video gaming habits.
Amanda Theaker is a professional writing junior. Her column appears every other Thursday.