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Videogames, Violence, and Vulgarity

In the world today there are hundreds, if not thousands, of issues being debated in various places across the globe. One such issue is the debate about whether video games are corrupting our society and our children. I am a firm believer when I say that video games are not corrupting our society, and this can be proven by analyzing the reasons video games are an issue to begin with. Many people believe that video games contain obscene content, cause mental and physical health problems, and lead to violence.

The first reason video games are an issue is that many video games made today possess content that many people would consider to be obscene. The term obscene covers violence, profanity, and sexual images (obviously). Such videogames are usually branded with the M (mature audiences only) rating on the front of the videogame cover. This means that only players seventeen or older should be playing such games. However, many children around the ages of twelve and under are acquiring these video games as gifts or are purchasing the games themselves. Therefore, it can be assumed that the parents are purchasing M-rated games for their children, and that stores are willingly selling these young children M-rated games. As Paul Keegan says, parents are not following these ratings and stores are not enforcing them, thus allowing young children to view content that is considered obscene (6). Thus, if parents understand and follow the various video game rating labels, and if stores enforce the videogame rating system, then young children will not be as easily able to view mature material.

The second reason video games are an issue is that videogames have been linked to a variety of mental and physical ailments. The most common physical health problems tend to be arthritis from barely moving the fingers while using a keyboard or game controller, and a variety of eye problems due to constantly staring at the game screen. The most frequently occurring mental problems range from delusions to schizophrenia and becoming desensitized to violence. Keegan says that "repeated exposure to violent images can make people less sensitive to the effects of violence" (1). All of these ailments, both mental and physical, can and will occur in many people, but this statement only holds true if the player spends much of his or her free time playing video games. The essay “Violence and the Media: A Psychological Analysis,” shows how the number of hours spent watching a television program may be more influential than the nature of the program itself (Javier 4). While this statement refers to television, the same concept can be applied to the videogame medium. If a person plays video games for about fourteen to eighteen hours a day, then, yes, that person will develop both mental and physical health problems very rapidly. One example is my friend Bill. Bill has been playing video games ever since he was ten years old, and he used to play these games by sitting roughly three inches away from the television screen. He also used to play videogames for maybe six to seven hours a day. Since he played videogames in this manner, he developed a severe astigmatism in both of his eyes. He now has to wear the thickest glasses I have ever seen just so he can walk around without bumping into everything. Another example is a Mr. Dan Hammans, who is mentioned in Paul Keegan's essay. Hammans is an avid player of the Quake games, and he told Keegan how one day he'd “been walking around in a grocery store and swore [he] heard grenades bouncing around” (4-7). Since Hammans has been playing the Quake games for so long now, he's starting to hear things that aren't really there.

There has also been the argument that videogames, especially violent ones, have caused people to become more aggressive in society. Whether or not this statement is actually true is debatable. In the essay “Introduction to Video Games: At Issue,” it is mentioned that a variety of studies show that people who play violent video games become much more aggressive when dealing with other people (Espejo 2). On the other hand, Derek Scott mentions in his essay how a variety of studies have proven that some aggressive games seem to have a calming effect and actually inhibit aggression in people who play violent video games (2). Greg Costikyan would agree with this statement; he writes “violent computer games don't spur violence; violent computer games channel antisocial impulses in societally acceptable ways” (6). Derek Scott also writes that children who are exposed to the least violence may be the most aroused and most likely to act aggressively (9). In any case, in order to prevent health problems of the mental and physical persuasion, one must spend more time doing other activities than just playing videogames all day. One should go outside and socialize with other people.

The third and main reason many think videogames are an issue is the belief that all videogames promote and lead to violence. Such a concept is for the most part untrue. As mentioned earlier, many studies have concluded that violent videogames cause people to become more violent, yet many other studies have concluded that violent video games act as more of a stress reliever. Also, most of the people who committed atrocities and were influenced by videogames were also influenced by other factors. The other factor tend to be drugs, alcohol, and/or temporary insanity. The essay “Introduction to Video Games: At Issue” mentions the Littleton Massacre, which is a great example for this case. Two high school seniors, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, entered Columbine High School with firearms, murdered twelve students and a teacher, and also wounded about twenty-three other people before they committed suicide (Espejo 2). It cannot be denied that both Harris and Klebold were indeed influenced by video games (specifically Doom); however, both men were also influenced by an intense hatred that drove them to madness. Harris and Klebold were driven by “their desires to hurt those who hurt them (Espejo 3). I could also be used as an example. Throughout my gaming career, I have played some of the most violent video games ever released. Most of them would be games like Doom, Quake, Duke Nukem, Diablo, and Onimusha. These games are considered to be extremely violent, and I have never once felt compelled to go to my high school and brutally murder five or six people with a shotgun. I never did this because I have never done drugs, I have never been drunk, and I have never been considered criminally insane.

In conclusion, video games should not be blamed for the corruption of our children and our society. The things that are truly corrupting our society and our children are ignorance, recklessness, and foolishness. Parents allow themselves to be ignorant of the video games their children are playing. Players allow themselves to act recklessly when they believe that playing video games for ten, twenty, or even thirty hours on end won't have an adverse effect on their mental and physical health. People allow themselves to act foolishly by blaming video games for much of the violence in the world when in truth they should be blaming themselves.

Works Cited

Costikyan, Greg. “The Problem of Video Game Violence is Exaggerated.” Video Games.
 Detroit: Greenhaven,                     2003. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Web. 5 Nov. 2005.

Espejo, Roman Ed. “Introduction to Video Games: At Issue.” Detroit: Greenhaven, 2003.

     Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Web. 5 Nov. 2005.

Javier, Rafael Art., William G. Herron, and Louis Primavera. “Violence and the Media: A Psychological

     Analysis.” International Journal of Instructional Media 25.4 (1998): 339. Opposing Viewpoints

     Resource Center. Web. 5 Nov. 2005.

Keegan, Paul. “Violence in Video Games and Other Media Can Cause School Shootings.” School

     Shootings. Detroit: Greenhaven, 2002. Opposing View Points Resource Center. Web. 5 Nov. 2005.

Scott, Derek. “The Effect of Video Games on Feelings of Aggression.” The Journal of Psychology 129.2

     (1995): 121-132. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Web. 5 Nov. 2005.

Jared Lovins



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