Does playing violent video games make people violent?


Since around the age of three I’ve always enjoyed playing video games and I definitely still enjoy them today. Something I find interesting is that around the same time I began playing video games, the American media first started reporting a potential correlation between kids playing violent video games and subsequently displaying overtly violent behavior. As time has gone on the link between violence in games and violence in the real world has only become a more prominent topic in the United States… and it’s something I have never quite understood. Yes, I do recognize that there have been a few instances in the past where individuals who committed violent acts also happened to frequent the use of violent games (most notably the school shooters from 1999’s Columbine High School massacre). With this being said, I’ve always felt like violent video games and real life violence were related by pure chance more than anything else. Why do I feel this way? From my experience playing video games, I’ve noticed that the violent, “shooter” style games are simply the most popular and well-liked games regardless of a player’s age or interests. Frankly, almost everyone enjoys playing games of this genre. I’ve personally been immersed in video games that involve guns, shooting, weapons, and violence for probably 15 years, yet I’ve never once acted with aggression because of the influence of a game, nor have I ever felt compelled to commit an act of violence. In my opinion, the sheer amount of people playing these games is the reason for their perceived connection to violence; when millions of people are playing a violent game, or doing any activity for that matter, there are bound to be one or two “bad seeds”. For every one person that commits an act of violence as a result of exposer to a violent game, there are thousands of people who don’t act violently. It’s for these reasons that my null hypothesis supports violent video games having no relation to violent behavior, while the alternative hypothesis would be that playing violent video games does make people act violently.

In a study conducted by researchers from Texas A&M University and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, participants were given the choice to play either a violent or non-violent video game. Neither the male nor female participant’s exposer to video game violence prompted any sort of aggressive or violent behavior. In a second study conducted by the same researchers, the team examined possible links between aggression, family violence, video game violence, and criminal acts. The results of this second study suggested that both trait aggression and family violence have a higher likelihood of prompting criminal acts than expose to video game violence does. I feel that the results of these two studies provide enough information to support the idea that other factors (family violence, trait aggression) play a more influential role in prompting violent behavior than exposure to violent video games does.

As further support for more my null hypothesis, I’d like to reference this article from The article proposes that perhaps some people lack certain cognitive abilities needed to keep their aggression and emotions in check. Should an individual with this lack of mental fortitude react aggressively when exposed to virtual violence, it’s increasingly unlikely that they’d be able to calm themselves, rather, they would continue to act with aggression. Like the other traits mentioned in the paragraph above, I believe that a lack of brain function is significantly more likely to prompt violent behavior than the exposer to video game violence would.

Based on the research studies and news article discussed above in addition to the knowledge and experience I’ve gained through playing video games for many years, I believe that factors other than violence in video games are the source of aggression and violent behavior in individuals perceived to be acting violently because of the video games they play. It is for these reasons that I confidently support my null hypothesis and would be hard pressed to believe that the alternative hypothesis could be correct.

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4 thoughts on “Does playing violent video games make people violent?

  1. Jeffrey Sherman

    The misconception that video games brings out violence in individuals has always bothered me, as video games are more popular than ever and it is statistically the safest time to live on the planet so there does not appear to be a causal link. Here is a long term study reaffirming my belief that video games and violence are not interconnected. In fact, the study even claims that as the popularity of violent video games increases, youth violence rates drop.

  2. Brian Cunningham

    This is a very well formatted post. I like how you started with your view on it and why it would make sense to you that they don’t make kids more violent (all good points, by the way). You then went in to show studies and statistics to further support the idea. Well done.

    I would say think about what could be causing this aside from just confounding variables. Could this perhaps be due to REVERSE CAUSATION? Think about it. Kids who want to act violently and need someplace to channel it would naturally go to violent video games, right? So maybe it’s not that violent video games make kids violent, or even just that we’re looking at the “bad seeds”, but instead, the reason we see them at all in this instance is because this is the instance where they need to be.

  3. Anthony Mitchell

    This is actually a really good job done with the blog and topic presentation. I think that video games doesn’t actually make some more violent than they already are; it isn’t a “black and white” situation. There are a myriad of other factors that play into the manifestation of violence, and playing violent video games can only account for a small portion of this. I might offer something to the discussion and take it in a bit of a different direction. Maybe people who play violent video games are doing so to escape something or assess a need for autonomy in their own lives as shown in this article:

  4. Jovian Ebony Osborne-pantlitz

    This post is conducted very well, you hit all of your points and explained them with reason. Its ironic because yesterday in my Comm180 telecommunications course my professor asked us (the class) the same thing. “Does video games have an impact on children?” as a clicker participation point and surprisingly 85% of the class said no. I was apart of the 15% who said yes. People fail to realize the impact media has on society, whether its positive or negative. I found this link supporting your hypothesis, just in case someone still isn’t sold on your topic. Great Job!

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