The Great Debate: Not Politics or Religion But... Videogames?

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I was sitting in my English class, listening to my peers present speeches on research topics of their own choice. Some chose to talk about social issues such as racism or homophobia, some chose to speak about our education system and others chose to inform us on topics such as the psychology of self-esteem and peer pressure. However, towards the end of the class period, I realized that the one topic that led to the most heated debate was about video games and whether or not they affect violent behavior. Surprising, huh? It led me to wonder why people choose to specifically blame video games for some people's aggressiveness. This article titled Violent Video Games Reduce Brain Response to Violence and Increase Aggressive Behavior, Study Suggests implies that the increase in violent behavior is due to the fact that overexposure to video games desensitizes the brain to aggression. However, what this article fails to do is provide explanation for a confounding variable in the research. Maybe it is not simply the video games that are leading participants to become more aggressive, but the sense of competition in the games. I have hardly read or heard about any articles researching the correlation between violence and, let's say, watching horror flicks or action movies. It is because these things are not as likely to affect a person's aggression as much as video games, as studies indicate. Therefore, these studies gain more attention. However, if watching a violent movie and playing a violent video game do not have the same effects, than there must be another variable besides the desensitization to violence that changes the levels of aggression in people. This could be competition, and if we were to test for the link between competition and aggressive behavior, we would have a lot more than video games to blame for people's actions.videogame-violence.jpg

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This blog post brings up a very good possibility as to why agressive behavior rates in children has increased - competition. While competition can bring out the more invasive side to children, I believe that the actions and intent behind a violent video game is what increases aggression rates. In a video game, illustrated by the picture above, children are the ones doing the shooting. Going through the brain pattern of finding a target (usually another person), aiming, and pulling the trigger to end that digital person's life is what promotes aggression. It is almost as if the brain simulates that thought process of shooting a real gun.

You brought up a very interesting perspective to the ongoing debate about video games and whether or not they encourage violent behavior. Competition, which results from video games could very well be the culprit that leads to the correlation between video games and violent behavior. I have many family members and friends who love to play these games and it is obvious how into the game they get. If you distract them for even second or two they can sometimes blow up at you about it. To them, "it is not just a game" and the world will end if they don't move onto the next level or obtain a maximum score. However, even if competition does contribute to aggressive behavior, I don't believe it is the only reason. For example, those types of games often have very violent situations and plot lines that some kids perhaps wouldn't have heard of otherwise. Some gamers may try to recreate these scenarios in the real world.

You brought up a very interesting perspective to the ongoing debate about video games and whether or not they encourage violent behavior. Competition, which results from video games could very well be the culprit that leads to the correlation between video games and violent behavior. I have many family members and friends who love to play these games and it is obvious how into the game they get. If you distract them for even second or two they can sometimes blow up at you about it. To them, "it is not just a game" and the world will end if they don't move onto the next level or obtain a maximum score. However, even if competition does contribute to aggressive behavior, I don't believe it is the only reason. For example, those types of games often have very violent situations and plot lines that some kids perhaps wouldn't have heard of otherwise. Some gamers may try to recreate these scenarios in the real world.

Very interesting to bring up competition rather than the video game(s) itself to bring out aggressiveness in people. But how to test this is certainly an obstacle to overcome. And perhaps, people may even want to test if this affects males or females more or if they are similar. Since usually it is the majority of the male population playing these video games, could this perhaps be the reason as to why males are incredibly competitive in sports, school, etc.? Nevertheless females also have their own sense of competitiveness as well but it is probably less due to the fact of playing violent video games.

I agree with the above comments that you bring up a very interesting point. Most people consider competition as a natural thing in society and is basically hardwired in our brains. We all strive to be the best we can be and the best among others. Why researchers haven't considered this to be a possible cause of agression makes no sense to me. I definitely think it is a possible cause of the aggression we see in kids today. I don't aim to disprove any of the evidence supporting video games and their impact on aggression, but I do think that there is more to it than a few violent games. I agree that movies and television contribute to the issue as well but the aspect of a life filled with competition - from football to the spelling be - can attribute to agression as well and should be looked into. Because it is a confounding variable it doesn't receive nearly as much attention as it should and testing such a variable would be very difficult but it should definitely be kept in mind.

From reading the comments above, a different idea comes to my mine. It seems possible that competitive behavior leads to aggressive behavior, however, competitive behavior doesn't sound like the real root of aggression. I would challenge the author of this to take it back a step further and ask, what causes competitive behavior? This, of course, brings us to the nature vs. nurture debate. Another possibility is that competitive behavior is just correlated with aggression and not necessarily the cause. Children could be, for example, simply imitating aggressive behavior they see at home.

I found this blog post very interesting, especially because I've grown up playing video games my entire life and I would be no more aggressive whether I did so or not. I completely agree that competition has a lot more to do with the correlated research then the actual violence from video games. If you look to where the most fights and aggressive behavior stems from it would be sports and the competition in them. Look to the huge soccer riots for advice or simply look at two brothers getting into a fight just because one of them beat the other in a backyard basketball game. Of course anecdotal evidence can't be relied on too heavily but if people were too really dive into this concept I think we would find results proving the above writers hypothesis.

I agree with many of your points in your blog. Your blog made me think, are they really just trying to find something to blame aggression on? I remember my dad telling me a story about when he was a kid and he would play Cowboys and Indians. They would running around pretend shooting each other and committing other acts of pretend violence. It seems to me that aggression has been part of kids' lives for a long time and video games are just another way to bring the already implanted characteristic out.

I agree with you that there is probably a third variable that is present. Although I know people who play video games, most of those people tend to play less violent games and are also less aggressive individuals. This could be contributed to the lack of violent video games, but they also aren't interested in those games. Competitiveness of an individual could definitely be that third variable. I've heard about studies also examining aggressiveness being correlated to sports as well, and sports are very competitive.

This is definitly a controversial topic as anyone can see by the amount of debate it has sparked. I propose that while agression could be correlated with competition as many have pointed out, that the causal relationship could be reversed. It could be possible that, instead of video games being the reason why kids become agressive, agressive kids find more enjoyment in video games involving shooting which means their personality is the cause of their frequent use of violent video games. This is an example of the correlation vs causation debate. Its hard to tell which causes which or whether there is a third variable out there which is why this can be such a heated subject.

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This page contains a single entry by xhung001 published on February 5, 2012 4:30 PM.

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