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 nbcnews.com. 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.