In recent events the young men who opened fire at the movie theatre in Aurora and at Columbine High School, as well as other similar events, were video gamers who claimed to be acting out a dark and digital fantasy. The question is, is consistent exposure to computerized violence to blame?
Murderous violence has been with us since the dawn of time. Its’ presence is even in the bible.
Through the ages, few things have defined us as much as our capability to inflict horrific cruelty upon our fellows. The term “mass murder” is nothing short of a new phenomenon. And it’s sad to say that the Jewish have an intimate knowledge of the horror and sadness that comes with the experience of the brutal slaughter of innocents in a short period of time. Perhaps if technology had been consistent over the span of history, its greatest fidelity would have been creating more efficient and quicker methods of killing.
For years on end, psychologists and social scientists have studied and debated the correlations between media and violence and its effects on behavior, in particular video games.
And as technology rapidly grows, the issue becomes more and more relevant. The games are darker, bloodier and with astonishingly realistic graphics.
As the research has developed, it has begun to clarify what can and can’t be said about the effects of violent gaming, and it has said in the short term, it can stir hostile urges and mildly aggressive behavior. This is dependent on the gaming habit of the youngster though, logically thinking, the extent of their exposure; the bigger the habit the more aggressive. However, it is not at all clear whether the consistent exposure and factors like habit can increase the probability that a person will commit a vicious crime, like assault, murder or rape, let alone a Newtown-like massacre.
From a scientific and psychological perspective, it is increasingly difficult to determine whether accumulative exposure leads to real-world aggression over long period of time. Many studies in schools have found over time that our digital warriors have been getting into an increasingly number of fights with their peers, whether it is at school or in the park. Craig A. Anderson, a psychologist at Iowa State University stated,” None of these extreme acts, like a school shooting, occurs because of only one risk factor; there are many factors, including feeling socially isolated, being bullied, and so on,”
America in particular is recognized as a country of persistent gun violence. With many claiming games like ‘Call of Duty’ almost give kids a stimulating education about guns. I didn’t know the extent of knowledge about guns and weaponry as I did before I played it and I still struggle to decide whether it is a corrupt thing that I gain enjoyment from playing, but that doesn’t immediately give me the capability to conduct a mass murder. As for the “mechanism of slaughter”, apologists and lobbyists for guns and those who vocally defend gun rights will automatically refer to the Second Amendment or a trivial sentimentality that “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people” to concede critique. They become dismissive of the liberal complaints and will also correctly point out that the vast majority of gun owners do not commit horrific crimes or, indeed, any crime at all, however, what these supporters miss is a simple truth; that no other civilized country in the world has so many guns, or the freedom for its citizens to own and use guns without a direct association to a formal, military involvement, with no other civilized country in the world experiencing horrific gun violence. My opinion though is even if first-person shooter games such as “Halo” and “Call of Duty” contain violent action, they are not “the video game industry.” That specific genre is centred on gun and weapon combat through a first-person perspective, and is usually rated M, for mature players. The fact being, that only 9 percent of all games in 2012 were rated M. The dominant category, as in the past, were titles rated E for everyone, at 45 percent.
The video-game industry is much more complex and deep than the gun lobby and some politicians would have us believe. In fact, playing video games has been proved to offer numerous benefits, including improved dexterity, eyesight, education, physiotherapy, stress relief, improved multitasking abilities, increased IQ and faster response or reaction times.
As with everything in life, moderation is the key, and video game addiction is very common amongst young people. Games have become a quick fix to social issues: a tool to escape the reality of life. We live in a world where you are judged from the day you are born, and young children and adolescents are extremely susceptible to this. It’s easy to blame the gaming industry, but the fact is, video games are not real. Just like the movie industry, you wouldn’t jump off a cliff because “Brad Pitt in that film told me to do it’.