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Grady Des Jardins

Jackie Burr, Instructor

English 2010, Section 3

12 April 2019

Video Games: The Consequences of Playing Violent Content

Video games, a longstanding source of fun and entertainment for children and adults

alike, are popular everywhere. According to Gaimin, a company that utilizes people’s gaming

equipment to generate cryptocurrency through blockchain mining, there were an estimated 2.2

billion video game players worldwide as of July 2018 out of the 7.6 billion people living on

Earth. That is nearly 30 percent of the population involved in some genre of video game playing;

the number of gamers is greater than the population of North America, South America, and

Europe combined. With how vastly widespread video games are, it is obvious there are violent

games that many people enjoy playing, or at least some degree of violence in the games. The

question is, what are the consequences of being exposed to the violent content in video games?

There have been a plethora of research studies and surveys conducted that have pointed out that

playing violent video games leads to aggressive and violent behavior in people, and just as many

arguing that they do not relay such effects. Whatever the case may be, playing violent video

games does have consequences that have mental and, in some cases, physical repercussions.
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Gamers come from all over. They vary from toddlers to elderly, from rich to poor,

skilled to unskilled; gamers are one of the most widespread demographics in existence which can

be noted in the infographic above. But the main demographics featured in recent times have

been youth, gamers up to age 18. The age group has been taken over by the overarching gaming

industry which spreads video games like a plague from player to player. Violent video games

are some of the most transmitted throughout player bases, and it seems as though there are

significant health impacts upon playing them.

One of the main impacts derived from violent video games is how they influence hostile

behavior in youth. However, it was reported in a study that researchers found no correlation

between violent video game play and hostility. In this case, hostility means wanting to cause

harm or be destructive in a physical manner. The researcher’s study concluded that test subject

hostility levels had not risen or fallen after being subjected to violent gaming. There have been

many studies on research sites such as PubMed and EBSCO linking violent video game play to

increased hostility in the youth of society, but many other sources have claimed that it is not the
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case. The controversy has led to many debates regarding the topic in order to more clearly

understand the effects (Ferguson et al.).

Furthermore, a research study found on NCBI (National Centre for Biotechnology

Information) related aggressive behavior to violent video games. Aggression has been

concerned with outbursts in explosive anger or frustration without physical violent actions. To

collect data on the subject, researchers took information from 648 Chinese middle school

students by having them fill out a questionnaire that was reported reliable and valid in other

research articles. The questionnaire was meant to reflect the possible aggressive tendencies the

participants had after playing violent video games. A summary of normative feelings about

aggression were compared to the results from the surveys taken by the middle school students.

According to the results of the study, there was a positive correlation between violent video

games and aggressive behavior amongst the students involved. That means a majority of

students experience aggressive tendencies following sessions of violent gameplay which means

that there was a link between the two. The study touched further on the roles that family life had

on aggression. Those participants who claimed to have more structured and wholesome family

lives reported less aggressive feelings, but producing some regardless of family ties. Students

who reported having less connected families exhibited higher rates of aggressive behavior.

Ultimately, the study does conclude that violent video games impact youth, influencing

aggressive behavior, but those levels are somewhat controlled by familial connectivity in the

home (Shao and Yungqiang).

In addition, according to another NCBI research article, violent video games are

associated with blatant physical aggression over longer periods of time. This study reviewed 24

different sources compiled from the following: PubMed, PsycInfo, Web of Science, and ERIC.
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All of the studies that were looked into associated video game violence with physical aggression

over time. The studies were from multiple countries and numerous ethnicities were tested. The

results were based on longitudinal effects, both of fixed and random nature, so many variables

were taken into account with the analyses. Following the analysis of data from the collection of

sources, multiple conclusions were reached. The demographics involved were a point of focus.

It was exemplified that whites had the greatest response in physical aggression after playing

violent video games. Asians were shown to have had the least prominent impact, while

Hispanics had sporadic results which were a beyond a point of a clear conclusion. These

findings support the theory that violent video games put a large impact on expresses of physical

aggression because of the responses recorded from the test subjects (Prescott et al.).

A comparison of the number of studies on Techaddiction linked to violent video games

was analysed. A large number of those that showed violence influences aggression, and a decent

number that rebuffed that belief. The sheer number of researches are a support that video games

are positively linked to aggression, but none of the ones studied showed signs of physical

aggression over long periods, yet there were many cases where aggression levels did increase

(Conrad).

An article published by the New York Times reported on the issue of violence caused by

video games in the real world. The author addressed the shootings that occurred at Columbine

high school and at the movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado. An item both cases had in common

was the fact that both shooters were gamers. It has been suggested that they acted on impulses

conveyed to them from violent video games. Nevertheless, a conclusion cannot be reached

where violent video games attribute to such levels of heinous violence. Violent games are only

causative of minor aggression when placed in the same category as shooting related violence.
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Aggressive behavior is a consequence of violent behavior, but nothing that would need to be

addressed as critically as a shooting (Carey).

Many scientific and research sources do point out that violent video games cause

aggression, but in a Psychology Today paper the author identifies that is not always the case. A

possibly harmful mental state, aggression, is slightly shut down. Numerous research studies

have concluded that violent video games cause aggression as well as reducing social behavior

and sensitivity to violence. Those links can be true in many cases, but it does not mean that it is

accurate all of the time. The links between video games and aggressive behavior are certainly

there, but it is not the same for every gamer out there. There are many factors that contribute to

how aggressive video games make a person; for example, personality has an impact because

some people are naturally more aggressive than others. A male would typically be more

aggressive than a female. There are many other factors that can determine aggression, but

personality is one of the most determinant (Kennedy-Moore).

On a different note, “For Video Games, Bad News Is Good News: News Reporting of

Violent Video Game Studies” makes a point about how violent video games are portrayed in the

media. The authors of the article explained how news and other examples of media utilizing

only negative critiques of violent video games. The media does not procure the side of the

argument where video games are not all harmful. Yes violent video games do lead to increases

in aggression, but news sources are exaggerating the data, making violent games seem more

dangerous than they are (Copenhaver et al).

To return to the effects of violent video games, school psychologist Casey Pehrson at

Herriman High School shared her insight on the impacts that violent video games can have. She

stated that video games exposing people to violence can lead to desensitization to violence to a
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point where they are unable to see real world consequences of violent actions. Exposing children

to violent content can be harmful to their brains in their thought process, leading to aggressive

behavior. Longer periods of exposure lead to an increased sense of aggression and social

disconnection to the impacts of violence. The propensity toward aggression is greater when

anyone is exposed to violent content, so it is important to be aware of the impacts video games

can have on a person’s mental state. However, every person is wired differently, so levels of

aggression are bound to be different which is something that was discussed with Pehrson. There

are obvious links between video games and aggression while taking that idea into account

(Personal Interview).

There can be many speculations regarding the impacts of violent video games, but it

cannot be argued that they make players more aggressive, even if it is over short periods. It is

important to be aware of the consequences of engaging in violent video games so that one can

protect themselves so they do not lose control. Another important note is that players perceive

information differently, so levels of aggression will vary between cases. Players should also be

aware of how desensitized to violence they become because it is another consequence that can

have negative impacts on the “real world” such as school, work, or home life. These

controversies should not inhibit gameplay or the fun that video games exude, although it should

be kept in mind that those consequences are ever present and can have negative outcomes when

one is not aware of the dangers.


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Works Cited

Carey, Benedict. “Shooting in the Dark.” The New York Times. News: Science,

11 February 2013. www.nytimes.com/2013/02/12/science/studying-the-effects-of-

playing-violent-video-games.html

Conrad, Brent. “Effects of Violent Video Games on Children.” Techaddiction.

Information Centre. http://www.techaddiction.ca/effects_of_violent_video_games.html


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Copenhaver, Allen, Oana Mitrofan, Christopher J. Ferguson. “For Video Games, Bad

News Is Good News: News Reporting of Violent Video Game Studies.” EBSCO.

CyberPsychology, 2017.

web.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=3&sid=1ec1ca75-fe20-4a60-a8f5-

36c98f93bbd4%40sdc-v-sessmgr04

Ferguson, Christopher J. et al. “Violent Video Games Don’t Increase Hostility in Teens, but

They Do Stress Girls Out.” EBSCO. Psychiatr Q, 21 April 2015.

web.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=3&sid=4120e3d8-1d1b-4829-a0ac-

f65c1c65d205%40sdc-v-sessmgr05

Gaimin. “How Many Gamers Are There?” Gaimin, 20 July 2018. gaimin.io/how-many-gamers-

are-there/

Kennedy-Moore, Eileen. “The Truth About Violent Video Games and Kids, Part 1.” Psychology

Today. Psychology Today, 14 September 2015.

www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/growing-friendships/201509/the-truth-about-violent-

video-games-and-kids-part-1-3

Pehrson, Casey. Personal Interview. 4 April 2019.

Prescott, Anna T., James D. Sargent, Jay G. Hull. “Metaanalysis of the relationship between

violent video game play and physical aggression over time.” NCBI. PNAS, 1 October

2018. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6176643/

Shao, Rong, Yungqiang Wang. “The Relation of Violent Video Games to Adolescent

Aggression: An Examination of Moderated Mediation Effect.” NCBI. frontiers in

Psychology, 21 February 2019. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6394371/