The Sociology of Video Games do Video Games Provoke more Aggression
How do you feel about video games?
Video games have been argued about broadly for decades. Ever since I was young, I have been around video games through my older brother being very into them, and my father collecting older type of consoles throughout different eras. I’ve noticed from all my years of playing and spectating that video games can range from competitive to violent, to social, and to even educational. Although my mother always believed that they made me less social, and more violent, I have always disagreed with her in many aspects. I believe the discrepancies about video games are due to differences in how our generations grew up, being my generation grew up with video games and more technology overall, compared to my mother growing up with little to no technology. Video games are a great way to relieve stress and connect with your friends. Anything in life can be beneficial for you but too much of anything can be bad for you. How often do you play video games? How do you feel afterwards? If you play an hour a day and afterwards you feel that you’ve blown off some steam then it’s a very healthy habit however, if you play for countless hours a day and it starts to become a problem most likely.
After analyzing the countless studies done on video games and aggression, there is plenty of evidence to support that video games do not cause aggression in individuals without preexisting anger issues. It is easy, and far more logically accurate to take the corollary position and say that people with propensities for violent behavior are drawn to violent video-games, more so than to say that violent video-games cause violent behavior. In fact, many studies show that the positive of video games, including growth in social skills, mental quickness and problem solving skills, outweigh any negatives that video games may or may not cause, depending on the individual. It is imperative to explore the positives and negatives of video games, and look at how video games as a whole effect the individual.
Some studies have shown a correlation between playing violent video games and violent behavior. However, a correlation while showing the relationship between the two, does not show the relationship exactly. Furthermore, violent video games may be more harmful than violent television and movies because they are interactive, very engrossing and require the player to identify with the aggressor, say the researchers (Williams, 2005). Video games are developed to be played a certain way, and if your video game is telling you to kill a certain person you have to kill them in order to progress. The type of game play employed today is one that utilizes a reward system- meaning, the player will receive incentives such as better loot, virtual money, and virtual status if they complete these kill motivated tasks. One of today’s most popular video games, and arguably the most popular video game of our generation, Fortnite, revolves around this reward-based gameplay (Tate, 2018). Players are enticed to kill of other virtual players for status and rewards such as gameplay weapons and apparel to set them apart from other players.
These incentives are what drive the killing, not necessarily the need of the child to take out their aggression and violent tendencies on either MPCs, game made players, or real life players in a multiplayer game. Many parents fear the concept and believe it will directly affect how the kid thinks and their perception of life, affecting their empathy and remorse skills. Parents are also worried that this reward-based gaming style will cause addiction problems, leading children to depend on these games for that satisfied feeling these games provide them. This addiction causes the children to become distant from family life and real life interaction and responsibilities, especially after the develop an addiction to the game.
The biggest issue with video games is the amount of time some people put into their consoles. Video game addiction is extremely consuming and damaging to everyone involved. When gaming takes precedence over other activities much that a person often stops doing other tasks, a person continues gaming even when it causes issues in their life or they feel that they can’t stop, and gaming causes significant isolation in a person’s relationships with others, as well as their work or school life will be in shambles if they can’t put the game down when it comes time to focus on other things (Williams, 2005). Video game developers rely on such and target human psychology through an addictive reward system, enticing players to keep upgrading and advancing their player. violent games are the in depth level of graphics shown in combat. Not only do they show the violent acts of murder, but they also show the blood spat, expressions and lifeless bodies that come afterwards. And in some games, they even give backstories to the characters being killed including family life, socioeconomic status, and things the NPC cannot control, yet the player will still choose to murder them. This is when violent tendencies and fears of aggression come into play.
When children continuously play aggressive video games, they may develop a lack of empathy and out of touch sense of how interactions between individual’s work. In these violent video games, there is rarely another path to take that involves wither sparing a life or finding another way out of conflict, except for killing the other player. Very few video games, like the games Fallout and Skyrim, give players the chance to show empathy and remorse towards other characters. These games employ an honor system, rewarding players for making moral choices by giving them a higher rank or respect from the players in the game. They also employ a police type system, which makes the players wanted if they kill one another. Though these games promote empathy, many more popular video games do not.
Call of Duty, Modern Warfare, and Grand theft auto are all games that revolve around breaking laws and killing random players and civilians for no reason other than to revolt back to the killing reward system, which shapes individuals to have less empathy (Lemmens, 2006). Players tend to be far more aggressive on these murder games and become toxic towards others, swearing, bullying, and they can potentially carry out discrepancies outside of the game. This is not good for the aggressor or the victim who could just be trying to relax and blow off steam with friends, especially for the younger audience. Players will tend to use fighting words and target other players who they are against, unknowingly how it will affect the other person and it could potentially scar the other.
There are ever little to no consequences for harassing players verbally over the mic because services cannot listen to what you said over the mic, thus leads to a whole range of gamers targeting each other saying stuff that would never be said in person. Many services can only tap into your chat logs and temporarily ban the offender if you harass another player and get reported for it. This is a standard protocol for all gaming services and can’t filter out all the hate being cycled. This creates an unstable dangerous environment for a younger audience of children who want to socialize, and parents need to keep a close eye on the games they are playing as well as the people they chat with online (Watkins, 2009).
A generational gap is what is causing deep, widespread concerns over video games. Yes, there is a potential for bullying and aggression to occur, but it does not happen as often as the older generation thinks. Because the older generation does not play video games and involve themselves in technology nearly as much as the millennials do, their only knowledge is coming from the news, meaning only worst case scenarios. Millennials deal with technology day to day, and very rarely does something horrible occur from it; when talking specially about video game related scenarios, not social media ones. Every time there is a mass shooting, in high schools in particular, parents like to point fingers at violent video games for the cause. These events make video games seem like a catalyst for violent behavior, which makes this older generation apply that fear to everyone, even their own children. Research shows that this overbearing assumption is not true, and that violent video games, if they do have any effect on the player, will only impact individuals with preexisting issues (Markey, 2009). While this is good reason for concern, it does not mean the older generation should condemn video games in their entirety and try to come up with false reasoning as to why video games are so bad to mitigate their own fears.
On the other hand, video games can be quite beneficial, when used in moderation. Video games, when used in moderation, can help to promote socialization, communication and leadership skills when playing multiplayer video games. According to Isabela Granic in the journal American Psychologist, “”[i]n these virtual social communities, decisions need to be made on the fly about whom to trust, whom to reject, and how to most effectively lead a group.””, which allows gamers to rapidly increase their social and learning skills (Wilber, 2018). Video games work similarly to brain puzzles and teasers in that you have to follow a specific sequence of events to get the end goal. When working in any group situation, you need to have good communication and socialization skills in order to successfully complete a task. Video games help to enrich these skills by putting players in situations where success cannot occur until these skills are utilized (Ferguson et al, 2007). A common misconception about video games is that these individuals lack social skills which promotes them to play video games online rather than to interact with others in real life. This is untrue; by them playing multiplayer video games they are actually rapidly advancing their social skills (Pinola, 2015).
I personally believe video games are a form of media that is often associated with negative health consequences. However, when games are played in moderation and with mindfulness, they are a viable source of stress relief as well as a catalyst for mental health improvement and development of social skills. I am without a doubt biased towards video games since I grew up on them, but video games themselves are a relatively modern form of entertainment. They are engaging and immersive on a level different from that of traditional board games and other forms of entertainment. The player actively contributes to the level of satisfaction he/she attains from this game and is often more invested and willing to engage in the elements of the video game. The amount of play time is also an important factor in the effects of gaming. Although excessive playtime can have negative consequence, which can interfere with relationships as well as work, but gaming in moderation can be healthy, fun, and educational.
My mother always comments on how often I play video games, mocking me for having less of a social life, and often comments about how my generation has gone downhill due to technology. I owe this to the divide in our generations. She has never played video games,
so she does not understand that the virtual community is very similar to a real one, where bonding, leadership, and friend making takes place. I believe if more adults in the generation above me were to give video games a chance, they would get less of a bad rep, and that people would stop blaming them for how individuals, normal individuals, act in real life. Though they can be problematic for those with preexisting conditions and psychological issues, for the typical player, like myself, playing video games does no harm, and brings me closer to my real life friends, who are away at college, and family members.