American Democracy, Chapter 3 — Reginaldo De Philwop

Since people learned to communicate with each other, there have been conflicts between them. Differences in ideals and beliefs about government action are omnipresent issues in our country. This is a given fact when it comes to human nature and interaction.

 

Sometimes, the magnitude of the repercussions of a simple, petty conflict can be devastating. Even if dissension starts out as a trivial argument, flaring emotions can escalate the situation so that it results in the loss of life, or the loss of several lives. And as time progresses, the ways people can attack each other are becoming more advanced. Now hostility can be directed through telecommunication as well as face-to-face interaction. There is virtually no escape.

 

As tragedy continues to dominate the national news, people become more determined to find an answer to the question: what drives people to hurt each other? Could it be their nature? Their upbringing? Could it be because as a child, they were exposed to too much on-screen television violence? Maybe it’s because they play too many video games that promote the player’s use of violence to overcome obstacles. The reason or reasons could be something completely different from any of these theories, but people can’t accept that. One needs something definite, something clear and present, something that can be antagonized. So, one turns to the obvious choice. Video games. It’s a medium that directly exposes people to a violent, albeit virtual, world that they’d otherwise never experience. But if videogame violence is responsible for real-life acts of violence, then it would only make sense for crimes to be infinitely rising, and this is not the case.

 

A stigma has been created against the entertainment culture of video games, but this is a misplaced concern; video games do not cause the violence in people that drive them to commit murder, theft, or massacre. Rather, the mind already afflicted with illness is drawn to violent games in order to indulge wicked fantasies. When the public hears of the gruesome act this sick person has done, that correlation between violent people and their affinity for violent outlets, such as first-person shooter games, is focused on and blown far out of proportion.

 

In our country, game violence has been an issue for heated debate for several decades. People worry that the ability to cause harm to characters in games gives young, easily influenced children with still-developing minds the idea that it’s acceptable to do the same in real life. This argument makes sense, because a person’s brain doesn’t fully mature until they’re well into their twenties.

 

Though the argument is reasonable, this is not the case. If a twenty year old man plays a violent game, something like Grand Theft Auto V, Rockstar Games’ latest installment in the over-ten-year-old Grand Theft Auto series,  a game with a reputation of being one of the (if not the) most violent games on the market, this man will have the ability to use guns, explosives and other weapons to kill people in-game. If a pedestrian is shot once, they may have the ability to run away and survive. The game does not force the player to finish the job, or to even shoot a random passerby in the first place. Still, the option is there for anyone who chooses to do that. The person holding the controller chooses their next course of action in this situation. The game itself does not choose for them.

 

If a player has an innate sense of violence and lust for blood, of course they will buy a violent game to act out whatever bloody fantasy they have. The person whose morality and ability to control violent impulses is in question seeks out the game, seeks the outlet. The game itself does not seek out “perfectly sane” people and turn them into violent murderers. There has to be some serious mental issue burdening the player, in which case they really should not be playing a game so graphic anyway, or any violence-encouraging game for that matter. Looking at murder and massacre stories in the past, such as the infamous Sandy Hook massacre carried out by Adam Lanza, should make it clear that anyone who is suspected to have a mental disorder should be helped professionally and discouraged from exposing themselves to anything that may have a negative impact on their emotional capacity.

 

Over the last 18 years, video game profits across America have more than quadrupled. In that same almost-two-decade period, reports of juvenile crime in the country have dropped more than 45%. This statistic alone should be enough to disprove the theory that video games cause violent tendencies in people, but in times of mourning and desperation, sometimes people think irrationally and ignore facts and statistics.

 

It has been psychologically proven that violent games have the opposite effect on a young person’s mind, if any (most violent video games have a rating that prohibits people below the appropriate age from playing them, but the majority of children will still have access to those games). Doctors Christopher Ferguson and Cheryl Olson conducted a study that showed playing popular games that feature graphic violence as a main component to the story did not cause increased hostility in young adults. Separate studies by psychological professionals showed that these games actually had a calming effect on the mind. The ability to let out anger and frustration virtually instead of physically improved overall well-being.

 

Though there will always be political controversy surrounding this subject, scientific proof continues to show that video games do not cause violence in people. People with psychological illnesses that give them the ability to commit violent acts look to videogames as an outlet.  An outlet that works until it can no longer satisfy their thirst and the person goes for the real thing. Correlation does not imply causation. The real focus should be on the mental and emotional health of the person, and whether they should be allowed to indulge in violent gameplay, not the game itself.

Sources Cited:

Nauert, Rick. “In New Study, Video Games Not Tied to Violence in High-Risk Youth | Psych Central News.” Psych Central.com. PsychCentral, 27 Aug. 2013. Web. 08 Nov. 2013.

http://psychcentral.com/news/2013/08/27/in-new-study-video-games-not-tied-to-violence-in-high-risk-youth/58934.html

http://www.governing.com/topics/politics/gov-2014-legislative-issues-to-watch.html

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