Do violent video games cause bad behavior?

Does playing violent video games pose a threat to the human child mind? Who can forget the little virtual plumber, “Super Mario”, who squashed Goombas (mushroom shape deviants) and the Koopa Troopas (turtles with running shoes), hurled over Bullet Bills (missile- like creatures), avoided and or sometimes burned the Piranha Plants (who hid in plumbing tubes) with special fire ball powers (that were acquired from a special plant that he consumed), this act of courage and valor was shown through various stages of the game, all in order to save the lovely Princess Peach (ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom) from the ferocious, fire breathing, evil commander of the “Koopa Troopas” Bowser. “Super Mario Bros” was one of the games that revolutionized the gaming industry, back in the early 80’s. The game was sort of a comedic genre; it also had action, adventure and a story line behind it, which is what kept the player(s) entertained. Video games such as “Super Mario Bros”, a game that started it all, set the bar high for all future video games. The games of today are very; graphical, intense, exhilarating, and violent, but also at often times they can seem very realistic. Most of these games tend to allow the player to pretend or portray the type of character they would like such as; good or bad, human or monster, etc. For example games such as “Grand Theft Auto” is a game in which the player(s) can go around kill other characters, steal things, do drugs, pick up prostitutes off the streets and engage in ‘certain activities’.

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Although these contemporary games offer a sense of excitement and also a sense of adrenaline, the disparity between where video games started out offering and what is picked up today is startling. In a world that is so dependent and reliable on technology, society often tends to get too involved and addicted, that they cannot deter fantasy and real life. Craig Anderson Professor of Iowa State University and author of “Violent Video Games and Other Media Violence” argues that young children and teenagers should be deterred from violent video games, as they pose a great threat to their psychological state of mind. On the other hand, Henry Jenkins, an MIT Professor and author of “Reality Bytes: Eight Myths about Video Games Debunk” states that violent video games are not to blame, for the behavior of children. In “Reality Bytes: Eight Myths about Video Games Debunk” by Henry Jenkins, Henry argues that violence in general within our youth group, is at it’s all time low, meaning it has decreased over the years tremendously “According to federal crime statistics, the rate of juvenile violent crime in the United States is at a 30 year low.

Researchers find that people serving time for violent crimes typically consume less media before committing their crimes than the average person in the general population” (445). While on the other hand, Anderson’s research claims that, “Early aggression researchers were interested in discovering how youth learn to be aggressive. Once they discovered observational learning takes place not only when youth see how people behave in the real world but also when they see characters in films and on television.” (445). What Anderson claims here is that children’s behavior development is affected by many factors such as; what they observe other people doing, the environment they live in and the media content they are exposed to on a day-to-day basis. Both writers make excellent claims and show great support of their texts. In actuality, Craig Anderson has had some hands on experience in some of the research done to determine what effects violent video games have on a person, boosting his credibility to the subject.

Jenkins goes on to argue, “no research has found that video games are a primary factor or that violent video game play could turn an otherwise normal person into a killer.” (449-450). Jenkins debunks the idea that violent video games have an effect on a stable person’s mental health. However, Anderson suggests, “In any field of science, some studies will produce effects that differ from what most studies of that type find. If this weren’t true, then one would need to perform only one study on a particular issue and we would have the “true” answer. Unfortunately, science is not that simple.” In this statement, Anderson explains that although some research studies have disregarded the effect of violent video games on an audience, it is difficult to determine exactly what the outcome of violent video games may be. Jenkins makes a comment where “Play allows Kids to express their feelings and impulses” (452). He believes that kids play these types of video games to express their feelings and blow off some steam. “Exposing children and adolescents (or “youth”) to violent visual media increase the likelihood that they will engage in physical aggression against another person” (445).

Here Anderson is saying that violent video games have an effect on the audience behavior and would more likely engage in a violent manner towards another person. Once again both writers have good values in their arguments. While they are both providing good support from actual research that was conducted, for the purpose of seeing how children react to such materials, Jenkins statement quickly dismisses any effect of violent videogames to children. On the other hand, Andersons claim is that there is a negative effect with the exposure of such content, which is proven through various studies. In conclusion Craig Anderson and Henry Jenkins both have great arguments when it comes to whether or not violent video games may or may not cause children to act aggressive to another person. However, the fact of the matter is that all children are different from one another and therefore, you cannot categorize and generalize based on a study that is being conducted on all children the same exact way and therefore the question of “Does playing violent videogames pose a threat to the human mind?” still remains.

Work Cited:
Anderson, Craig. “Violent Video Games and Other Media Violence.” Writing Arguments: A Rhetoric with Readings, Ninth Edition. By John D. Rampage, John C. Bean, and June Johnson. New York: Pearson Longman, 2012. 445-48. Print Jenkins, Henry. “Reality Bytes: Eight Myths about Video Games Debunked.” Writing Arguments: A Rhetoric with Readings, Ninth Edition. By John D. Rampage, John C. Bean, and June Johnson. New York: Pearson Longman, 2012. 449-52. Print

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