January 18, 2006

How Hurtful Is It?

Violence in Videogames
To start off, I have mixed feelings on this topic. I think that violence in videogames can both help and hurt society especially children, but it all depends on the individual.

For example, Madness Combat 2 Redeemer, is very violent but the characters playing the game do not resemeble human beings and do not speak throughout the whole video, which could be used as an argument stating that the creators can not possibly be held responsible because they did not make the game something that children can relate to in reality. The charcater being portrayed is a "person" that has supernatural powers( killing more than one "person" at the same time, having knives appear out of nowhere, having unlimited survival skills and strategies).

On the otherhand, although the characters do not resemble human beings, the game implies that the charcters are human beings especially because at the end of the game the main character performing the killings actually sheds a tear once he knows that he was caught. Also, the ending message states: Moral: Don't try to shoot the sheriff. Body Count: 80

As we can see there is this crazy videogame that shows one charcter performing multiple killings and unrealisticlly outliving almost everyone. To me Madness Combat 2: Redeemer is a totally outrageous game in which it entertains and soley that. I can not see a child viewing this game and it influencing the child so strongly that he has an urge to go out and shoot hundreds of people. But as I have been researching there are people who live in reality and believe that it is totally unacceptable that we allow videogames of this content to be available to children on-line with just one click of a button.

Violence in Videogames will always be a controversial subject, but to people who oppose it I say: "You don't allow children to play violent videogames, but you allow them to watch the news, where there almost nothing but crime being viewed and talked about?" Atleast in videogames children realize that they can escape reality, but in "reality" there is no escaping the hard, cold truth of the world we live in.


Posted by GinaBurgese at January 18, 2006 10:20 PM | TrackBack

Nice work Gina. Violence in video games is an issue that has been discussed since the emergence of games like Mortal Kombat and the elusive Street Fighter (both which were made into more violent movies). It is one of those issues that can go either way. If the kids aren't already seeing this stuff in movies, they might as well get a taste of it in video games. We are a culture and society that enjoys watching this sort of thing. I mean, you [people in general]can't tell me that when you are watching Resident Evil I (the movie) and that guy gets diced into cubes by the lasers that you didn't watch? The reaction from the audience may have been 'holy cow' or the converse which is 'omg that was cool.'

Something that comes to my mind specifically is violence depending on the genre of the game. There is not an authorized game to my knowledge that is called Serial Killer. I guess the better question is to ask whether killing in a game in order to advance is wrong? Does it depend on how you kill the enemy? It is part of the games rules. In Super Mario III (NES) you have to kill the ninjas and turtles in order to advance, but you are not stabbing them and watching oodles of blood pour out onto the screen, you simply bop them on the heads like little bunny foo-foo. Is this still violence? Can it be argued as animal cruelty?

You have to remember that these are games, and things that happen in the context of games are not always true to real life. If the rules of the game say you've got to kill someone, well I mean then I guess you have to do it in order to win. Which is more important to you as a player, winning or holding a game to the same moral standards as you hold people in real life? Sometimes critics over analyze things like violence in games.

Posted by: Leslie Rodriguez at January 19, 2006 09:07 AM

The argument that videogames harm children is a complex one to make, since you have to specify what age children, and it's difficult to control for such features as whether violent video games cause players to be violent in the real world, or whether children who are already predisposed to violence in the real world are also attracted to video games.

But while research hasn't conclusively proven a causal link, overwhelming evidence points to a correlation.

Here's an interesting page that breaks down various videogames rated "Teen," and lists what percentage of gameplay involves the most violent actions.


Here's an interesting quotation from the American Psychological Association website, which takes some steps towards specifying why, exactly, video games differ from television.

"First, the active role required by video games is a double-edged sword. It helps educational video games be excellent teaching tools for motivational and learning process reasons. But, it also may make violent video games even more hazardous than violent television or cinema. Second, the arrival of a new generation of ultraviolent video games beginning in the early 1990s and continuing unabated to the present resulted in large numbers of children and youths actively participating in entertainment violence that went way beyond anything available to them on television or in movies." http://www.apa.org/science/psa/sb-anderson.html

Good job raising an important set of issues, Gina. Remember what Joshua said in WarGames. "A strange game. The only winning move is not to play."

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at January 19, 2006 11:23 AM

Note that the author recognized that there were gaps in the literature. There have been little longitudal studies on the effects of violent games. Meaning, we don't know what effect these have over time.

To me, this article was more subjective than informative. It notes that poor methodology in video game studies is a myth (meaning it's not necessarily true, not that it's completely false). I am left questioning because they only tell you broad generalizations, but don't actually show the methodology for you to evaluate yourself and judge its relevance.

Conclusion: this was more of a PR article by the APA than a conclusive review of the literature (more for average people who don't get psychology to get a better picture of the standings of the debate).

Check out Bandura's research. Just viewing violent behavior is enough for children to replicate it (Bandura's Social Learning Theory). I can't imagine what effect viewing and replicating it at the same time has.

Posted by: Evan at January 19, 2006 11:44 AM

Hmmm... I seem to have lost a comment I wrote. Drat.

Here is a link arguing that TV reports of violence in video games frame computers as more dangerous as they really are because the more video games people play, the less TV they watch.

The author of "Eight Popular Myths about Video Games" addresses violence in the first two points.


And here's an interesting blogged discussion in which gamers argue that the prevalence of violence in video games is actually hurting the development of the video game as a genre.


While these items aren't themselves peer-reviewed academic journals, they do point out interesting ways of thinking, that could help you narrow your focus as you work on your final paper.

Here's a blog entry I wrote introducing a collection of articles on adolescent psychology, all of which had negative conclusions about video games.


Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at January 19, 2006 12:10 PM

Violence in cinema, television, and video games desensitize the populace to violence. Desensitization might not be as horrific as actual violence, but when real violence is on the news and children shrug it off, new loses its social function of reporting reality, and blurs into a fictional reality.

Madness Combat Redeemer is a clip someone made from an actual game. The game is a mess of blood and killing that mortal combat could never attain in 100 hours of play. I think the choice the programers made to not give the characters detailed bodies is another example of desensitization. Nothing like shooting a mock-human with no regret since they dont look like your mother.

Posted by: Stephan Puff at January 19, 2006 03:20 PM

Nice job Gina. Violence in video games is a very touchy subject because basically parents are battling their kids about this matter. I do agree with you that it is wrong to not allow violent video games in the home but watch it on tv. Honestly it doesn't make much sence. On this subject I feel that a certain level of violence in video games is okay, but there is definitely a limit. Games that show heads being blown off, or graphic scenes of throats being cut shouldn't even be on the market, but unfortuntly they are and the only thing to do is to not let your children play those extremely graphic games.

Posted by: Kayla Lukacs at January 20, 2006 12:12 AM

Gina, and Leslie, if I may offer another example and my own two sense.

Castlevania for example, in and of itself, is a pretty violent game series. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to DESTROY Dracula. You have to whip vampires, zombies, werewolves, ghosts, etc. In the new, 3-D models, it gets pretty blood. Yet, according to the game rules, and old world tradiitons--this type of violence was and still is, in some remote parts of say Transylvania, perfectly acceptable.

Smackdown vs Raw 2006 is a bloody and violent game, but just like it's "real" counterpart, it's fiction--but does that make it any more acceptable?

I, personally think so, if you remember that the games, just like books or TV shows, are pure fiction.

I think violence in video games is more a cultural thing than an age thing. For example, in my lifetime I have seen two "wars" in Iraq for no reason, two "police actions" in Bosnia and then Kosovo, a president go to impeachment, etc. I also saw the collapse of the Berlin Wall when I was roughly 7-8 years old. As an American (and Scottish, Irish, British, German, and Middle Eastern) person, violence for the sake of violence is perfectly normal. Heck even violence in the name of "God" is perfectly acceptable.

But if you go to Japan, China, or any other Asian country, where the religion promotes peace, or the government promotes cooperation with neighboring countries--you'll find that violence for the sake of violence is not acceptable.
Leslie's statement on her blog, "if the kids aren't already seeing this stuff in movies, they might as well get a taste of it in video games" is true. At the same time though, and I am sure Dr. Jerz will attest to this for his childhood--books were pretty darn vioence--especially the Trekkie books and westerns.

Bram Stokers Dracula--which was written in 1897 (when violence and sex was a taboo subject)--was pretty sexual and violent.

I think, to wrap up my point that, if children don't read, their gonna see the violence on the 5 o clock or 11 o clock news or in their favorite cartoon (anime is my favorite!) or even in a sporting event (such as the AFC Championship game or your soccer matches with the tackling).

If they don't see it there, then they see it on the big screen in moves (Underworld, Peter Pan, even Bambi). If they don't see it there, they see it in their games (Crash Bandicoot, Mario Brothers for us old heads and even Tetris--because in the "colored" versions, and even some parodies and what not, the bars exploded.) Violence is aceept, like you said if you remember it's only a game, it's only a piece of fiction.

Thank you and see you all on Monday!

Posted by: Lou Gagliardi at January 21, 2006 02:09 AM

i think that video games are cool and fun and they do not create violent people!!!!!!!!!!! so play away!!!!!!!!!!! xoxoxoxoxo

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