Violent Video Games Don’t Equal Violence

Matthew Lewis, Special to the Headlight

Have you ever played video games to relax, spend time with friends, or just have fun? Did any of those games involve violence? The Illinois General Assembly defines “violent video games” as online games that are “encouraged to perpetuate human-on-human violence in which the player kills or otherwise causes serious physical or psychological harm to another human or animal.” Throughout the years, the question whether violent video games cause violence has been a controversial topic. Violent video games do not cause violence in real life because of my personal experience playing video games, and numerous studies on the topic.

In June 2011, the Supreme Court ruled on the topic. The Court reviewed a California law that would ban the selling of violent video games to children and concluded that there was no conclusive evidence that violent video games are harmful to children. I have played, and know many others who have played, violent video games such as Call of Duty, where players use weapons to harm other players in order to achieve a certain goal. No one I know has exhibited the type of violence presented in any violent game. I never act violently or have violent thoughts in reaction to playing a violent video game.

Many studies have been conducted to further research this controversial topic. Researchers from New Zealand’s Massey University reviewed 28 studies that connected aggressive behavior and video games. The researchers concluded that “the studies showed a statistically significant but minuscule positive correlation between gaming and aggression, below the threshold required to count as even a ‘small effect.’” They reported that current research is “unable to support” the claim that violent video games lead to violent behavior. Another study, published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, focused on boys between the ages of 8-18. The study found there to be no evidence of increased violence or destructiveness in the participants.

Some may argue that violent video games promote violent behavior in real life despite the evidence pointing in the opposite direction. The researchers from Massey University were able to conclude that the “long-term impacts of violent games on youth aggression are near zero.”

Numerous studies have explored this topic and concluded that violent video games do not lead to an increase in violence or aggressive behavior. Playing violent video games is as relaxing as lying on a beach during the summer. We have all watched a movie or a show, or read a book, that has depicted some sort of violence. What is so different about video games?

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