Do video games make people violent in real life?

By James Pettus
February 12, 2020

The debate on whether violence in video games causes people to be violent in real life has been going on ever since violent video games were popularized. In my opinion, it isn’t a yes or no question.

People have different reactions to different things. The stimulation that video games give you is different from person to person. I know for a fact that most people get angry when playing competitive games. It’s just like losing in sports. You want to win and you hate to lose. I also know people who can play without their emotions getting the better of them. It just all depends on how they react to these situations.

Call of Duty has been under pressure for the past 10 years for their violent game.
Photo by James Pettus

The debate is still going both ways. According to Science Daily, researchers at the University of York have found no evidence to support the theory that video games make people more violent. The university looked at more than 3,000 participants. They found that these video games do not promote violent behavior.

The word they used was that the participants were not “primed,” which means that the player is exposed to the concept of the game and if the concept that is taught is easier to bring into the real world the player will be “primed.”

One example of a study that was performed was that participants had to play a game where they had to either be a car avoiding collisions or be a mouse trying to not get caught by a cat. Following the completion of the games, participants were shown images of a bus and a dog and were asked to label each picture whether it was an animal or a vehicle.

The goal of this experiment was to see if players were primed in the concept of the game and that they would be able to categorize the dogs and vehicles faster. The conclusion was that they found no difference from people who played the games and people who didn’t.  They found that in some cases the participants who played this car game were actually significantly slower.

Xbox One where many violent games can be bought and played.
Photo by James Pettus

One debate I’ve seen is whenever a mass shooting happens, people tend to see if the shooter played violent video games and if that is the case, that is the reason for the shooting. According to Vox, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy blamed video games for the mass shooting in El Paso on Aug. 3, 2019. He went on to say that video games “teach young kids to kill.”

Many people think that violent video games should be regulated but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that that would be unconstitutional to do so.  Several psychologists believe that the violence seen in video games is one of the causes of violent outbreaks and when the ruling from the Supreme Court came out, many were disappointed.

It’s just so hard to prove whether it is a cause or not due to the fact that people react differently to things. As an avid video game player, I can say that I’ve gotten very angry at games before but a game would never make me so angry to cause someone physical harm. This also works with violent video games. I may do violent things in the game but that doesn’t mean I’m going to try and replicate it in the real world but this is just my point of view.

There are some troubled people out there and if they get their hands on violent video games, it could open a door for them that could cause others harm. It all comes down to whose playing these games.

James Pettus

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