Are Video Games Really the Cause of Violence?
When someone commits a crime, it is very easy for the government or parents to blame video games, because they are not associated with them. The fact of the matter is, violent video games are only one out of many sources of increased aggression, and it is not even a particular one that is directly correlated with criminal activity. If people would dig deeper, they would find that the video games and other media, are not the blame for mass murders and other crimes. An individual’s environment, upbringing, and social class create aggression and contribute to criminal activity. The true reason video games are blamed is, because they are used as a scapegoat for others who are more responsible for inciting violent behavior in people.
Despite what others may say, not every United States citizen has equal opportunities. Some people have disadvantages against them based on their race, ethnicity, gender, etc. With this in mind, consider an experiment performed by Tobias Greitemeyer and Christian Sagioglou which proves that people of a lower socioeconomic status are more likely to be aggressive than those of a higher status. The United States government promises equal opportunity, and yet many people have it harder than others. If these same people are forced into a lower class, find increased aggression from their status, and then commit a crime, then it does not paint a very pretty picture of the government which allows such things to occur and blames video games for its own failures.
Furthermore, Jennifer Welsh wrote about a study by Michael Lorber, which discovered that an aggressive personality can be formed due to negative parenting when a child is still an infant. Since a baby is very impressionable, a parent’s negative treatment towards the child and around the child can assist in building a violent mind that could later commit crimes. The point is, violent video games are a proven cause of aggressive behavior in people, but it is not the only factor. There are other reasons for increasing aggressive behavior; some of which are not flattering for various groups of people. If attention was put on society or parenting, as a cause for increased aggression, it might make the government or parents very concerned for their own image. In contrast, people put all of the attention on interactive media.
The biggest argument against video games being a scapegoat is that they actually do lead to violent behavior. Violent video games causing violent behavior in gamers seems like a reasonable thing to conclude. The evidence for such a conclusion is also seemingly concrete. Such evidence includes studies showing that aggression does increase when playing violent video games, as well as testimonies from culprits. However, I have found that the evidence supporting violent video games as a catalyst for criminal activity is taken for granted and interpreted incorrectly to favor that stance.
Aggressive behavior does not necessarily mean violence. For decades, politicians and parents have been blaming violent video games as the catalyst for violent behavior in those who play them. A year ago, the American Psychological Association released a study indicating that video games do increase aggression and decrease empathy and sensitivity. At face value, one might think that this proves the claims correct, and that video games do incite violence out of its audience. However, this study does not quite prove that. The study says, violent video games increase aggressive behavior, but there is still no correlation between this changed behavior and outright violence.
To better understand what I mean, one must better understand what aggressive behavior entails. According to the University of North Carolina, aggressive behavior is a persistent pattern of behavior that causes or threatens harm to people. Aggression is seen in many forms. There are verbal forms such as taunts and threats. Physical forms such as tantrums, throwing, and fights. Covert forms such as lying, stealing and drug use. Besides, these there are many other types. The fact of the matter is that some forms of aggression are less severe than others. Without a doubt, any form of physical aggression can easily lead to violence, but other forms such as lying or taunting are less clear. With such a broad spectrum of what is considered aggression, suggesting violent video games causes aggressive activities is a weak argument in blaming them for violent crimes.
To elaborate, someone who plays violent video games might end up being more prone to taunt others. They may even lie or steal more often. There is even the potential that these games could lead to a violent crime, but each form of aggression listed above is very different. Whether it be verbal or physical, noticeable or subtle. There is nothing that truly links one form of aggression to another, besides them just being a form of aggression. Violent video games may only increase one form of aggressive behavior, or it could increase all of them. Despite the research done, there is not enough to pinpoint violent behavior as an effect of increased aggression. In turn, this also means there is not enough to indicate violent behavior as an effect of video games.
A critical point is that some criminals admit to video games playing a part in their crime. ABC News reported in 2003 that William and Joshua Buckner shot at passing cars on the Tennessee highway, killing a man and injuring a woman. After being apprehended, they claimed that they were inspired to do the crime after playing a game called Grand Theft Auto. There seems to be very obvious scapegoating in this situation. James Fleck explains in his essay Why We Blame Others, that people will blame another person or source for an action out of habit. When someone is under heat for their actions, it is a natural reaction to attempt to bring attention off of one’s self and onto another source. This instance is no different. Whether or not someone is trying to lessen their prison sentence or some other underlying goal, criminals will typically bring other people or another factor into their crime so that they do not get the full wrath of their apprehension.
In conclusion, the evidence that supports the argument of violent video games causing violent behavior is often misinterpreted. Just because games can cause aggression, does not mean it results in criminal activity, especially when violent crimes are decreasing as video games are becoming more and more popular. Even testimonies from criminals cannot be taken at face value since a criminal will say almost anything to lessen the consequences of their actions. In reality, for a perpetrator to blame video games only adds to the idea that violent video games are used as a scapegoat. Taking in the fact that other groups such as the government and parents would want to blame video games to subvert attention from themselves, and the case against violent video games leading to crimes becomes less and less concrete. Where video games as a cause of violent behavior is less clear, bad parents and a terrible class system created by the government is seemingly more definitive.
“APA Review Confirms Link Between Playing Violent Video Games and Aggression.” American Psychological Association. N.p., 13 Aug. 2015. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.
Fraser, Mark W., James K. Nash, Maeda J. Galinsky, and Kathleen M. Darwin. “The Making Choices Program: Social Problem- Solving Skills …” University of North Carolina. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.
Greitemeyer, Tobias, and Christina Sagioglou. “Subjective Socioeconomic Status Causes Aggression: A Test Of The Theory Of Social Deprivation.” Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology 111.2 (2016): 178-194. PsycARTICLES. Web. 6 Nov. 2016.
Welsh, Jennifer. “‘Negative Parenting’ Starts Aggressive Personalities Early.” Live Science. N.p., 26 Oct. 2011. Web. 6 Nov. 2016.
News, ABC. “Did Video Game Drive Teens to Shootings?” ABC News. ABC News Network, 06 Sept. 2003. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.
Fleck, J. R. (2011). Why we blame others: An examination of scapegoating (Order No. 1492807). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (862344967).