This archived article was written by: Stuart Lake
A lot of questions are asked these days about video games and if they are getting to violent for the audience that they are introduced to. More and more games feature adult content and violent themes.
Many people are worried that the violence that are in video games will leak out of virtual reality and into our reality. These fears are unwarranted and without any evidence to back them up.
If you picked up a copy of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, then you were in for a treat. This top-selling game is a continuation of a popular series. In this series you as the main character are a criminal, and have the freedom to steal any vehicle and kill anyone you want. If you want to mow down that old lady or old man with your shotgun, then you are free to.
The same is true if you picked up a copy of the best selling game Halo 2, In this game, you are a futuristic marine and are the Earth’s only chance to not be taken over by an alien race. This game is a tribute to graphics that are realistic and bloody, but it is alien blood, so it is okay, right?
Many other games could be mentioned that have graphics that are real, lots of blood and gore along with language that you might hear in a prison. These kinds of video games have been blamed in part for such tragedies as Columbine High School and other acts of violence by young adults.
Parents are wishing for the days of Pong, and the Atari 2600 console where you could see a little pixel of a character from all of the other pixels that were on the screen and no one was threatened by Pac Man, or even the evil princess snatching Donkey Kong.
The truth is that there is no major evidence to show that violent video games have been linked to antisocial and aggressive behavior in children, and adolescents, but this is greatly overshadowed by other factors that cause the same things such as family disruption and abuse or neglect by parents.
Video games have been an easy target to blame for violent behavior because it can be, not because it does anything to kids. The real problems could stem from bad parenting and lack of family support, but parents do not want to admit that they are a problem, so they will blame anything else.
There are many studies that show that the rates of adolescent violence, homicide, weapon-carrying, and other markers of antisocial behavior dropped during the period when violent video games became more and more graphic and bloody.
This shows that video games are acting as a vent for children, and not teaching kids to be violent. Kids know the difference between reality and video games.
There is no reason to blame video games for violent behavior if there are acts of violence that are hard to understand. We need to look deeper and find the real problems and not just go for the easy answer. There is no reason to think there will be a quick fix to violent adolescent behavior by blaming video games, when the real problems might lie in dysfunctional families.