On Monday we spent a good portion of the lecture discussing whether violent video games promote a culture of violence within our society. Games like "Call of Duty," "Grand Theft Auto" and "Halo" all center around one's ability to kill the enemy by any means necessary, and now that technology has improved, those video games have the ability to portray shootings and other acts of violence with a chilling likeness to real events. This leads many to believe that children who spend prolonged periods of time playing violent video games to become desensitized to violence and even more likely to commit violent acts.
While I do believe that things people witness on television -- i.e. violence in the news, TV shows or in movies -- can affect a person's views on violence, I do not believe that video games have the same affect.
The main argument the Professor Nicholas gave us during lecture was that violent video games are engrossing, interactive and encourage identification with the video game's shooter or aggressor. And "first-person shooter games" reflect some of those beliefs. In a "first-person shooter game," the game runs from the prospective of the player and it makes it seem like the player literally is shooting people. And people argue that the ability to press a button to kill a video game character lets the person choose to kill in the game, so that separates games from other mediums.
My main problem with those arguments are two-fold. I believe that in video games, there is detachment involved from the creation of fantasy-type atmospheres that prevents a person from truly identifying with the game. And I think that while graphics have improved, there still lacks a true real-world feeling to games. Seeing a person explode in a video game isn't nearly as uncomfortable as in a movie or on the news. When I was a kid -- and sometimes now -- I had to cover my eyes in violent movie scenes, I've never had that problem with a video game.
Studies have also shown that it's hard to connect video game usage to violent acts. In a 2005 study Williams and Skoric found no difference in aggression between violent game players and a control group. And there recently was an AP story about a California appeals court striking down a California law that sought to ban the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.
"None of the research establishes or suggests a causal link between minors playing violent video games and actual psychological or neurological harm, and inferences to that effect would not be reasonable," the court said in the ruling.
So my question for everyone is very simple? What do you think? Do you agree that video games are not sophisticated enough of a medium to promote violence? Do you feel that the fantasy situations in video games diminishes the reality of violent actions? Or do you disagree? Do you feel that video games leave children with a higher propensity to violence?