Some people might say that you “are what you eat.” When it comes to the influences that impact your personality, it would be more accurate to say that you “are what you think.” In 2010, California banned the sale of violent video games to minors, which was a case that went all the way up to the Supreme Court of the United States. It is more than an issue of free speech.
Violent video games may play an impact on the health of those who play them and the people that the gamers encounter throughout each day. Positive play is good for children because it encourages social develop, creates imaginative opportunities, and encourages competence. We live in a complex culture, and children need to experience is in a face-to-face way.
Others, such as James Paul Gee, would suggest that it is possible to learn the scientific method in non-traditional ways because of you must meet goals within a video game environment. By following the trial-and-error method, you create a frustrating learning experience that causes you to repeatedly try to solve problems.
Demetri Martin once joked, “I like video games, but they’re really violent. I’d like to play a video game where you help the people who were shot in all of the other games. It’d be called Really Busy Hospital.”
List of the Advantages of Violent Video Games
1. Violent video games help an individual become more aware of their environment.
Because there is a need in violent video games to complete specific tasks as part of their goals, games receive a significant amount of practice locating items that may be in the background, hidden in a map, or on a cluttered screen. Their ability to find items that are challenging is about 30% higher than it is for someone who does not play games regularly. The accuracy rate is also 50 percentage points higher for someone who is a regular gamer (defined as being active 30 hours per week or more) compared to one who is not.
This trait makes it possible for individuals to locate potential threats in real-life environments with greater speed and accuracy when compared to someone who doesn’t play video games.
2. There is a reduction of pain for people who play video games regularly.
When an individual plays video games for an extended period, then the complete mental focus that becomes necessary to achieve outcomes creates a reduction in perceived pain for that gamer. Whether the video game they choose to play is violent or not does not matter. When burn patients were given the opportunity to engage with video games during their recovery by researchers at the University of Washington, they reported improvements of up to 50% in their pain levels.
This advantage could extend to all forms of chronic pain. People who are recovering from injuries report similar results when they play games compared to when they do not.
3. The level of violence in society is going down while violent video game title numbers rise.
Although there are some direct ties to video game violence when law enforcement officers question some criminals about their motives for a crime, the average person does not have their choices influenced by this action. The juvenile arrest rate for all offenses in the United States has declined by 70% since 1996 when it reached a peak of more than 7,500 arrests per 100,000 in population for teens and adolescents.
Even schools are less violent today than they were in the 1990s, despite the higher number of school shootings that occur. There are fewer fights and problems with bullying in public schools now than there were 20+ years ago.
4. There may be no links between gamers who play violent games and real-life conduct.
Although there are some studies that suggest a link between violent content and aggressive real-life conduct, psychologists Netta Weinstein and Andrew Przybylski would disagree. They studied over 1,000 teens in the United Kingdom between the ages of 14-15 and included their parents or guardians. Almost two-thirds of the 1,600 titles the kids played were deemed to be violent.
Weinstein and Przybylski looked for two potential links: a direct relationship and a tipping point. They found no evidence for either. Przybylski even went on to say that the evidence which people use to show that games make teens and adolescents more violent is low-quality data.
5. The influences on society are not present if violent video games were the cause of conduct.
Even though children are more susceptible to morality issues than adults when playing violent video games, the statistics from criminal conduct in almost every community do not support the idea that this content adversely impacts society in significant ways. Adults represent 70% of the market for video games in the United States even though up to 90% of teens say that they are gamers.
There are more women above the age of 18 playing video games than teen boys who are gamers that are active on PC, consoles, or other forms of access. More people are playing violent video games now than at any other point in history, yet the rate of crime is going down or is much lower than it was in the 1990s.
6. Most video games are not actually violent.
Video game producers create content based on what their customers want. When you look at the scope of the gaming market in the average year, 56% of the titles are rated E10 or younger. One in three games that are sold each year in the United States are rated “E for Everyone.” The number of games that are rated as a Mature title represent about 10% of the overall marketplace.
7. Playing video games increases an individual’s concentration and focus.
People who play video games, including violent content, for at least 3 hours per week have more concentration and focus during their real-life activities compared to those who do not play games at all. This advantage includes a 40% improvement in the overall quality of the work being performed, along with a 30% boost in the speed of productivity. All professions and careers benefit from this result, including laparoscopic surgeons according to data published by Iowa State University.
8. This content could be helpful in the treatment of dyslexia.
Young adults who struggle with their dyslexia can experience improvements in this learning condition by playing video games. Their reading speed starts to improve after just 12 hours of playing games that may include violence. This advantage includes better word recognition capabilities, improved mobile mental reception, and skills for information extraction from written text.
The reason for this advantage is due in part to the written and audio instructions that many games provide as part of their instructions. By focusing on the information provided, the mechanisms that can sometimes prevent learning are overwritten by the desire to be successful in the game.
9. You can make some serious money playing violent video games.
Instead of teaching young people that they need to become criminals in order to make a quick buck, the esports industry is showing the next generation of gamers that you can take your skills to a professional level to earn a reasonable salary. If you can be recruited to an Overwatch League team, then you’ll earn at least $50,000 and meaningful benefits for the year. Prize pools in other sports are in the millions of dollars as well.
Although you can earn money playing professionally in other games without violence, such as Farming Simulator, it is much easier to focus on esports from this perspective than from a lower ESRB rating.
10. It can desensitize people from their fear of societal violence.
One of the most significant fears that critics of violent video games have about this genre is that it can teach people to become numb to aggression. What some may not realize is that the ability to immerse yourself in an imaginary world can help people to overcome their fears of real-life mass shootings, criminal acts performed against them, and other safety hazards that might exist.
11. Playing violent video games can teach crucial communication skills.
Although there is a slight increase in risk for ongoing aggression is some young adult demographics that researchers consistently find, most of today’s games that fit into the violent category involve significant levels of team-based play. You must communicate with others in successful ways to create positive outcomes and rewards for everyone playing. This advantage may not translate into face-to-face social skills, but it can improve the online interactions that people have with one another.
List of the Disadvantages of Violent Video Games
1. Violence in video games is more influential than it is in the movies or television.
Playing a violent video games provides the user with a very different experience compared to a constructive, positive game. The influence of violence exposure presents a risk in all forms, including when it is on TV or in the movies. When gamers have access to this content through a game-like environment, they are learning that the interactive violence can associate with personal pleasure.
If you watch a violent show on TV, then you are watching other people being “hurt.” It is a different experience than a gamer who is actively trying to cause harm with their character in a game to achieve specific goals.
2. Violent video games may undermine moral sensitivity.
A human being has wiring that seeks to avoid violence and feel emotionally rewarded when they help others. Some people may have this aspect of their emotional intelligence stronger than others, but moral sensitivity exists in almost everyone. When gamers play violent video games regularly, then they can create an intuition that seeks the opposite result.
On June 26, 2008, a group of teens went on a crime spree to experience what Grand Theft Auto IV was like in real life. They mugged someone in a parking lot of a grocery store. Then they went through New Hyde Park to steal cigarettes from another stranger, and then they smashed up a van using a baseball bat.
3. All video games have addictive qualities to them.
The need to play video games can create a habit-forming experience in even young children. Youth are more susceptible to the negative behaviors that occur when you don’t get a “fix” from the gaming experience each day. It is an adverse outcome that can last well into a person’s 20s, depending on their levels of exposure. That is one of several reasons why experts believe that the average age of a video game player in the United States is above 35.
The addictive nature of video games can carry out real-life violence as well. Nathon Brooks, who was 14 years old in 2013, was grounded at home because he received detention at school in Moses Lake, WA. Part of his consequence was a prohibition from video games. That night, he grabbed the family’s revolved and shot his parents while they slept. Both of them survived, and then he eventually received a 15-year prison sentence.
4. Violent video games require the same violent actions to be done repetitively.
Children (and adults) must practice the same violent actions over and over again to create positive results in their game. That means gamers are simulating hundreds, even thousands, of repetitions of the same conduct within the game environment to finish a mission or a goal. Because these games allow – and even encourage – virtual harm to others, it can create results that desensitize people to the needs of others in the real world.
Anders Breivik took the lives of 69 people in Norway on July 22, 2011. He also killed another eight people by bombing a government building. He wrote in his manifesto that the use of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was a training simulator for his goals, even using a holographic device to make it feel like 3-D gameplay.
5. There are increases in physical aggression in children over time.
Researchers at Dartmouth conducted a study on violent video games with children from 2010-2017 with over 17,000 participants. Gamers in this research were between the ages of 9-19, and the purpose of the study was to examine how the content in the game impacted real-world physical aggression over time. Although the project was based on self-reports by peers, teachers, and parents, their findings show that the gameplay in these titles can lead to an increased risk of aggression toward others over time.
6. 31% of video game titles are rated T for Teen.
Although mature titles with glorified violence and sexual content make up about 1 in 10 titles that are sold in the U.S. market, 31% of the games that teens play are rated for them to purchase and still contain violence. According the Entertainment Software Rating Board, Overwatch fits into this category even though it is a first-person shooter where players use a variety of firearms. There are even cries of pain, blood, and realistic gunfire.
Destiny 2, Call of Duty: World at War, and the Nintendo version of Call of Duty: Black Ops all fit into this ranking as well – along with dozens of other titles.
7. Most violent video games are first-person or third-person shooters.
When you combine the titles that have a T or M rating from the ESRB for teens or mature content (and M for Mature is 17+), then over 40% of the video game industry includes titles that may be inappropriate for young children. The majority of games in this category are either first-person or third-person shooters. About 1 in 4 violent video games fit into this category in some way.
Many of the best-selling games of the year are also violent, such as Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. Although there can be an adverse reaction to some games that aren’t violent, including titles like Pac-Man, it is the games which require players to shoot others that typically receive the most attention in sales.
8. There are some areas of society where criminal conduct is rising.
Although the rate of crime is going down in society overall, there have been multiple record years in mass shootings since 2000 when violent video games began to become more popular in the marketplace. Teachers are reporting more physical attacks from their students in the classroom. School administrators are dealing with children who use terms like “rape” when discussing how they can get revenge on someone.
Violent video games do create a “need” for revenge in some players. Consistent exposure to the violence in the content can diminish the brain’s response to it in real life. When people are given an option to take revenge on an unknown opponent for actions in a game, they are more likely to take it than non-gamers. Even actions like “swatting” increase when there are video games involved in the relationship.
9. Kids and adults don’t get enough sleep when they play violent video games.
Gamers who play content at night can experience a delay of 40 minutes or more when they try to go to sleep afterward. Even if you follow a regular bedtime routine, playing up to 3 hours of violent video games can disrupt your REM sleep habits, reduce the amount of restorative rest in each cycle, and cause additional issues when blue-light exposure is present.
Kids don’t need a lot of time in front of video games to experience this disadvantage either. It only takes 30 minutes of playing to disrupt their sleep cycle.
10. Violent video games can lead to injuries and isolation.
Repetitive game play is necessary to achieve mission goals and objectives when playing violent video games. This disadvantage is leading more teens and adolescents to develop tendonitis in their wrists and fingers, arthritis issues in the hand, and even carpal tunnel syndrome. Prolonged gaming comes with an increased risk for obesity. Then there are the emotional health issues that come with this entertainment option too.
People who classify themselves as a full-time gamer (at least 30 hours per week) face a higher risk of social isolation because of their gaming habits. Some players choose to isolate from the real-world or set aside personal responsibilities so they can continue to play. About 1 in 10 gamers face the struggles of addiction every day because of their need to get back into their preferred gaming world.
Society should have a say abo
Verdict on the Advantages and Disadvantages of Violent Video Games
ut whether violent video games should have a prominent role in the development of children, adults, and families. Some might say that it is unfair to force parents to constantly police the entertainment options for their kids when there are so many other toxic elements at work which try to influence them every day. There can even be conflicting information that makes it a challenge to know what to do.
The most important element of this debate is to remain focused on the facts and not the opinions of others. Just because someone does not like a video game doesn’t mean that all titles are bad or adversely influential. There are millions of people who played DOOM and never tried to harm someone in real life. That may be one of the reasons why the Justices on the Supreme Court ruled that the free speech protections of violent video games took precedent over the content of each title in 2011 to strike down the California law.
The advantages and disadvantages of violent video games must really be applied to each gamer for an accurate result. Some people are more influenced by this content than others, which is why we must work together to avoid the moral panic that can occur when an individual decides to be violent in real life.
Keith Miller has over 25 years experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entreprenuer, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.