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The Violence in Video Games Debate

A recent review of the 70 top-selling video games shows that 88% of the games contained some kind of violence. In 41% of the games, violence was necessary for the player to achieve their goals.  43% of violent scenes in games involve humor directed toward the violence, and 75% of violent scenes on television show no immediate punishment or remorse by the criminal after being caught in the act of violence.

While researching the subject of video games creating violent children, those were the ones I found most interesting.  I’m just the average person, not a gamer.  The last time I played a video game, Mario was hitching a ride on to Yoshi’s back, and the most violent act they committed was jumping on top of an enemy to “kill” it. So, while I am no video game connoisseur, the subject still interests me.

During my research, word “desensitization” continuously popped into my mind.  The word means the elimination of a natural or acquired reactivity or sensitivity to an external stimulus.  Let me explain why this word was coming to my mind.  I’m going to use the example of a child, let’s say nine, maybe ten years old.  He’s playing a game, the latest and greatest video game with the graphics that are so “realistic”.  (And for the record, yes, I’ve researched the games themselves, and I don’t think they could get much more realistic unless they’ve used real actors and sets.)  The game calls for shooting at people, realistic characters, not made up fairytale creatures, but people like you and me.  Sometimes, you can even purchase a pretty realistic looking gun to plug into the console.  Let’s say that little boy comes across a gun in his near future… he doesn’t know any better, so what’s his first instinct?  To point, and shoot.  Sure, these circumstances are extrenuating, however, it does happen, and kids may be old enough to play these video games, but may not be old enough to fully understand that what they’re seeing isn’t the real world.  To put it into perspective a little better, and to elaborate on my desensitization theory, I’d say that a child witnessing an act of violence may not feel so emotionally sorry for the victim had he been an avid video game player.  A person who does not come in contact with blood, shooting, and violence often will be a person who will see such things and feel sorry for the person being attacked.  A child who does not play video games will sympathize with the prey, while a child who plays the video games will sympathize with the predator.

All in all, while I’m aware that these games are only able to be purchased by certain age groups, they’re created for adults, and blah blah blah, the fact of the matter is that children still get their hands on these games.  The video game most certainly isn’t always the deciding factor of a child’s violence, but I definitely think it plays a role in it, and a big role at that.