As a boy who grew up in the mid-2000s, I have and continue to play a lot of video games, many of which are violent in nature. They help me relieve stress, are a fun way to spend free time, and have overall been a great part of my childhood and beyond. However, some critics, such as disbarred attorney Jack Thompson and former presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, say that violent video games are to blame for many of society’s problems. Mr. Thompson has gone so far as to call violent video games, such as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto, “murder simulators”. While almost everyone can agree that this is an extreme exaggeration, many do believe that there is at least a minor link between playing video game and violent personality traits. So what’s the truth?
An article from the New York Times gathered together several different experiments that test the effects of violent video games. One study from Iowa State University gathered two groups of students, had one group play 15 minutes of Mortal Kombat and the other do nothing, then asked them to put hot sauce on food for students who did not like spicy food. The consensus was that the students who had played the game had given significantly more hot sauce than the students who had not. Another study found that high school aged boys who played violent games were involved in a higher number of schoolyard fights than those who didn’t. While both of these studies seem to point to video games causing more aggression in adolescents, the real answer is not so clear cut. According to government statistics cited by the Times, violent youth crimes have fallen dramatically during the span in which violent games have risen to prominence. So why do the studies suggest the opposite? The results of those studies could be due to chance or the file drawer problem.
In summary, it cannot be known for sure whether violent video games are causing the youth of today to be more aggressive and predisposed to crime. Many studies have been done and many more will likely be done in the future, but the true answer is anyone’s guess. In my opinion, video games are fine in moderation and when used by people of the appropriate age.