Videogames: Violent or Beneficial? This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

May 12, 2017

Let’s face it; video games have been a staple in the American culture for decades. Each and every videogame is diverse, which is what gives them the ability to be enjoyed by many. They can be 2D or 3D, simple or strategic. And let’s not forget that while video games can be light and colorful, others are chock-full of violence. From the original Nintendo gamecubes, to the Xboxes and Playstations of today, the chances of an adolescent playing a malicious video game are higher than ever. With these odds, many argue that those who play violent video games will be antisocial and aggressive in their everyday lives. The problem is that this statement is based on assumptions rather than actual research, and the truth lies in the fact that videogames are completely harmless and even beneficial to the growth and mental health of those who play.

Opponents of video games say that there is a correlation between aggressive behavior and violent video games. This presumption is made by many, including the American Psychological Association who have executed studies to prove their theory. “The American Psychological Association observed in an August 2015 policy statement that research demonstrated a link ‘between violent video game use and both increases in aggressive behavior ... and decreases in prosocial behavior, empathy, and moral engagement’” (“Do video games lead to violence?,” 2016, p.1). It may be simpler to believe the words of such a prestige association, but the fact is that through further examination it can be inferred that video games have a positive effect on those who play. Violent video games are exactly that, a game. According to Olsen (2011), a study was conducted at Harvard in which a teen stated that with video games you know it’s fake. Those who play are well aware that what they do is not real and in no way pertains to reality. Similarly, video games are no worse than TV violence.

But despite parent’s worst fears, violence in video games may be less harmful than violence in movies or on the evening news. It does seem reasonable that virtually acting out a murder is worse than watching one. But there is no research supporting this, and one could just as easily argue that interactivity makes games less harmful: the player controls the action, and can stop playing if he feels overwhelmed or upset, and there is much better evidence to support psychological harm from exposure to violence on TV news. (Olsen, 2011, p. 1)

The statement shown clearly states that violence on the five o’clock news is worse than committing a murder in a video game. In contrast, video games are a way for children to learn how to manage fear. With all the zombie games and first-person shooter games, kids are better able to handle nightmares and stress. The information given corresponds with the claim that the community should allow video games to remain games.Some of these effects are improved cognitive thinking, motor skills, decision making, and memory. Video games are also said to have the ability to reduce stress.

Many accuse violent video games of having a bad influence on children, but these are the people who don’t play. Those who don’t take part in playing are apt to see video games as the problem, and because of their beliefs the rest of the community is forced to choose a side. The public is expected to side against video games just because of the people who decide to voice their opinion without even attempting to understand the other side of the story. As a result, video games often get a bad wrap. Rumors spread like wildfire and are twisted into ridiculous accusations on how video games have a negative impact on today’s youth. The community doesn’t know enough to make such judgements, and data shows that teen violence has been decreasing in recent years. “Teenage boys may be more interested in the chain saws, but there's no evidence that this leads to violent behavior in real life. F.B.I. data shows that youth violence continues to decline; it is now at its lowest rate in years, while bullying appears to be stable or decreasing” (Olsen, 2011, p. 1). This statement is evidence that since teen violence is decreasing, there is no possibility of video games being the root cause. In contrast, video games are said to be a healthy way for teens to express themselves. They are an outlet for adolescents to try out different identities in the safety of an unbiased, fantasy world.

Video games are, and always will be, a way for people to be themselves. Not only do video games allow teens to try on new identities, they also have many benefits. Aside from the numerous potential benefits, many still enjoy pinning the blame of aggressive behavior on video games. Although a link between violent video games and antisocial traits is said to be made, the public should consider the fact that there is no real evidence of this, and that video games should be left to remain an enjoyable way to release built-up tension. Besides, no two people perceive a video game in the same way. How each person decides to respond depends more on how they were raised than what the video game shows.

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