Since their inception in 1947, video games have developed and advanced in various forms today. More people have also taken up video games to the modern times, with their primary appeal to young adults and children. The gaming community is appreciated mostly by young adolescents between the ages of 10 and 18. It has become one of the most integral parts of the city life of today as many people have embraced it as their leisure activity (Cumberbatch, 2004).
In the modern day video games continue to draw in more numbers as it is even made more convenient by having applications of these video games. Not only has video games advanced in convenience and the number of people who play, but it has also diversified in forms that tend to raise eyebrows in the society. This is because many video games today have extraordinarily sexual and violent graphics making most parents concern over their childrens psychological and mental wellbeing (Ferguson, 2009).
One of the most debated concerns of the society is the linkage of video games to violent behavior. A majority of the people are of the notion that video games are an acute cause of violent behavior witnessed in young adolescents and children. However, this is not the case. Video games are entirely different from real violence. Violent behavior cannot be traced to video games. Video games have been blamed for violent behavior in kids but fact is that this could be a lie all together. A video game by itself cannot cause someone to indulge in high practice; there are underlying factors that are the real contributors to violent behavior.
I. Technology and media
Technology has had a significant impact on the development of media and entertainment where even children can access graphic content loaded with violence at their fingertips. Not only has technology enabled to children access to be more convenient but also the creators of such content have found a platform in which they can bring more developments and improvements to it. In every sense technology has been a perfect platform for developers to design their games and even place them ready for clients to make purchases and download them. Video games are also sold in different media such as TVs, Internet, we also going to look at exposure of children to video games and the laws governing the game development industry.
A. Video games and other media
Typically, both video games and other media like television and the internet are perpetrators in unleashing graphic with violent content, but society is more inclined to blaming video games to a greater extent than the rest, which begs the question: why? Why is the finger pointing directed at video games way more than television or the internet?
According to psychologists, children learn by observing, mimicking, and adopting behaviors that they learn. However, video games go a step further to engage and interact with the child physically and so basically becoming one with the child. Video games that incorporate live chats and virtual reality for instance Call of Duty and Deep Space. This poses more of a threat in the picking up of behavior other than just observation, it becomes a threat because kids tend to learn a lot at a younger age in comparison to adults who can sieve what they deem is fit for them or not. Another aspect to it, is that kids may not really differentiate the actions in the games from what is real. This interactive nature is frowned upon because it is the most difficult to unlearn. From the societys standpoint, a child hardly forgets the violent content because this interactive environment is also coupled with observation (Jarrett, 2005).
Exposure in this context refers to the time and age when a child is pre-disposed to video games. Recent research shows that in the society today, many young people between the ages of 8 and 18 spend an average of seven and a half hours a day on entertaining themselves, mostly through video games. Not all video games have violent acts but the ones that do, may have an effect of repeatedly exposing the children on a series of violent acts that may desensitize them from humane activities. Their perception of the world may be altered but could the effect be as detrimental as having this kind of exposure that leads them to participate in violent behavior? (Funk, 2004).
Age is also very crucial in terms of the exposure by video games. As aforementioned, children learn by mimicking, observing and adopting behaviors. It is not right that at a tender age that their perception is mapped in violence. Violence should not be the social blueprint for them. This beats the purposes of bringing up wholesome children who are eventually meant to create and promote a peaceful society.
In 1983, the U.S. surgeon general claimed that video games were potentially harmful and could contribute to family violence. At the time the games that were too graphic were Death Race where players ran over gremlins and Custers Revenge where Custer was naked and whose mission was to avoid arrow jabs which could lead to have sex with a Native American (Anderson, 2007).
The acts in the games were pointed out as too intense for children which led to a system which rates the video games by the intensity of violent behavior in their appropriate age categories. This method is known as the Educational Software Rating System. However, most people felt that the rating system was not nearly up to their expectation (Anderson, 2007).
II. Psychological factors
These are factors that relate to the mental aspect of a human being that either help or prevent them sustaining a stable mental state. This is inclusive of personality, boredom, motivation, arousal and performance outcome. In this context of violence propelled by video games, attention is given to the significant issues appraised by both scientists and the society. Under this section I am going to analyze the effects of video games on aggression and depression in young children and adolescents.
A. Video games and aggression
The violent content in video games has been closely linked to aggression. The violent nature brings about an irritable character in children who have aggressive behaviors which makes them more likely to take part in violent acts. In this context, video games provide a trigger to violent behaviors. This is because a child with an irritable personality linked to aggression is more likely to indulge in violent behavior which applies to both who are exposed to video games and the ones who are not. This is because the extreme content desensitizes and numbs the child leading to a reduction in empathy in the child.
On an experimental research conducted on effects of video games on children. The number of children with aggressive tendencies were divided into two groups: one where the children were exposed to violent video games while the rest did not play the video games. After the game, the researcher dropped a packet of pencils and only the children who did not play the video games showed eagerness in helping the researcher pick up the pens. This indicated that the children were less humane after exposure to the games, the children who never watched the games were definitely more humane.
B. Children with trouble at home
A child living with a crisis at home where domestic violence, financial problems, and neglect are part of everyday life, the children tend to portray anti-social behavior. They tend to keep to themselves mostly because they are ashamed of what goes on in their lives. It is only reasonable to conclude that the child is emotionally unstable (Cumberbatch, 2004).
This emotional standpoint can influence how they perceive and are affected by violent video games. Trouble at home is already a risk factor that contributes to violent behavior on its own, and video games just act as a catalyst to the promotion of violent behavior. According to researchers, there are no single risk factors that would push anyone to violent behavior. However, the accumulation of these risk factors, and in this case, the different types of trouble at home coupled with a continuous use of violent video games, is what leads to violent behavior, not just violent video games (Ferguson, 2009).
C. Video games and depression
The article The opposite of play does not work; it is depression written by Brian Sutton Smith in the 2015 delves on research of how play influences brain activity in children. On an interview with Dr. Stuart Brown, a psychologist who takes a keen interest in play. Dr. Stuart observed that people tend to increase in self-confidence and have boosts in curiosity, positive emotions, and physical energy when they play. It is hence difficult to relate depression and video games as the games tend to increase cognitive activity levels in children. Depression is commonly known for causing pessimism and reduced motivation to undertake activities. We going to look into how video games tend to push children towards depression.
MRI scans of a gamers brain have indicated that video games be they violent or not have an effect of activating the parts of the brain. Specifically the reward pathways and the hippocampus are usually activated during playing. Depressive or exhilarating trends can be noted when a child is exposed to video games hence either of the moods can be expected.
This makes perfect sense because when people play games, whether it includes solving a puzzle, reach the finish line or score more our reward pathways peak as we anticipate success. One of the chief signature pleasures in video games is that the levels keep on getting harder and this actively engages our hippocampus and reward pathways. These two sections of the brain are the same ones that shrink when an individual is clinically depressed.
However, some patients with clinical depression tend to self-medicate with video games. They experience relief from their symptoms when they play video games. The danger associated with this is that they play with and escapist mindset where they more they get depressed, the more they play, and this leads to them not confronting their real-life issues which worsens the situation. This creates a vicious cycle with detrimental effects on anxiety and social isolation.
III. A gamers perspective
Most of the research done concerning violent video games is done from a point where the researcher objectively concludes his or her study. The general public that doesnt play violent video games have opinions that are heavily biased. Very few consult the people who play the violent video games. Instead, they treat them as a separate group altogether (Funk, 2004).
This beats the logic because frequently when an individual has an inquiry into an issue, the first person they would turn to was someone who has experience in that field. Therefore, relating to the heated debate about whether or not violent video games promote violent behavior, research would be incomplete if the people who played the violent video games were also not consulted.
One of the video games that brought a lot of controversies was hatred back in 2015 after its launch. Hatred involves a sociopath with mass killing tendencies who start of a genocide crusade to kill all human beings. Some of the human beings in this video game beg for mercy from the villain but are still not spared from his wrath and executed eventually. It contains graphic content heavy with violence (Anderson, 2007).
When consulted, the developers of this game claimed that the game was a form of art that fostered political correctness. Looking beyond the majoritys opinion and the developers of the game, the gamers themselves said that play and not violence is their main draw to the game. Their sense of completing missions and improving scores was their primary mot...
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