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Saturday, October 5, 2013

Debunking the Myth of Violent Video Games

There's this common misconception that violent video games cause violent behaviors among people. This is as true as it is with movies. Violent movies have been around since, well, since the beginning of movies yet not too many people make this same assumption about movies and violence as they do with video games. In their defense, I think it stems from simulation and control within games versus a controlled simulation with movies.

Nevertheless, I want to help in the research that would clear up the confusion.

A guy on YouTube that I follow, named MinnesotaBurns, tackles the very same points that I have been making in the video below.

For anyone familiar with my blog, you know that I enjoy playing lots of different video games both violent and non-violent games. Yes, it is true that a majority of the ones that I enjoy are probably violent, but I still enjoy a few that aren't as or have no violence at all such as racing games, Minecraft-like games, Lego games, and more.

With each release of Grand Theft Auto, there are always people in the media who will attack it for what it is. There are people who will commit crimes, like during GTA IV's launch, and then blame their actions on the game and its publisher, Rockstar. Then there are people who blame the games for violent behavior in their children.

First off, let me say this. In the first 3 days of GTA V's release, Rockstar reportedly made over a $1 billion dollars in sales off of that title alone. Each game costs around $60 so divide 60 into 1 billion and you come up with a 16,666,666.66666667. The game has been out over two weeks now. Have 16,666,666 violent crimes been committed since its release? Not hardly.

What I will say is, is that I do believe there was an increase in violent crime during this time. Why? Well I do believe that it has an impact on young, developing minds, and those who do not have fully developed minds that can understand everything that occurs within the games.

As a younger child, I did play some of the earlier GTA titles. In my adult years, I played those same games again with little to no changes in the games except things like a graphic improve or a different console, etc. When I played those games now, I was surprised at what I saw. I didn't remember the same discussions and scenarios as when I was younger. This is because I didn't understand what all of the lingo such as what a blowjob was or what wacking someone was.

It is possible for children to pick up on these meanings if they are exposed to the media for long periods of time. I didn't. I played these games in secret because my parents didn't want me playing them so I didn't spend hours upon hours on them. For children that do, parents should be cautious as it can encourage some behaviors in their developing personality. It is every parent's job to monitor their own children. It is not the responsibility of GameStop, Rockstar, the government, ESRB, or anyone else but you as the parent. It is your responsibility to sit and watch what your kids play. If you agree with it, fine, that's your right to do so. If you don't, it is your right to remove that game from your child's life and no one should have a say in either situation.

With that said, I do believe that GTA deserves the mature rating that it is given to warn parents that this is not a game suitable for most children.

I work with developmentally disabled adults and many of them know that I enjoy playing video games. I sometimes even bring my PlayStation Vita or Nintendo 3DS to work and play on my breaks. A few of the people I work with came to me and talked to me about the new Call of Duty game coming this year as well as Grand Theft Auto V. I was careful about what I said as many of these people have violent behaviors as it is. Introducing them to a game like GTA may make things worse as they wouldn't understand that many of these behaviors exhibited in GTA are not acceptable behaviors to display in public.

With that said, I think that many of their parents, care-providers, and others they live with ought to be aware of what they play and watch. Most are. I know of one person in particular who isn't allowed to watch anything with action in it because then he gets under the impression that he too is an action star.

But should games and movies be banned for everyone just because a select few can't differentiate between reality and fiction? I don't think so. The majority of those 166 million understand the difference between reality and fiction. They know that stealing, killing, and other acts are not socially accepted in the real world. They understand the consequences that come with their actions. They understand that there are huge differences between the game and reality such as not being able to respawn after death.

Throughout time, there has always been death, violence, and an inconsiderate behavior for others and there always will be regardless what we ban and what we don't ban. Countries like Australia provide a great example. The country has banned many games yet violence still occurs.

There are other factors to also consider. The rise in crime around the time of a GTA release may be for different reasons. In Psychology, we are taught that correlation does not always imply causation. The crime surrounding GTA's release could be crimes involving people fighting over actual GTA copies or fighting in lines. It could be the season in which GTA was released. Maybe Fall is a season where crime occurs more because of the weather. Maybe something happened that upset people so they riot. It could be lots of different things and we will never know for sure what the real reasons are for a rise in crime, if one exists, surrounding the release of a game.

Rockstar, GTA's publisher, actually doesn't care what people think. In the early years of Grand Theft Auto, Rockstar actually paid people to protest the game to gain negative publicity.

The more you complain about the game, the more people will be ought to buy it. If you don't like it, don't play it. And if you don't want others to play it, don't talk about it.

I think MinnesotaBurns made a good point too. These games probably decrease violence and crime too. How can anyone of us actually commit crimes when we're too busy being glued to the television for hours upon hours?

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