Notes on Video Game Violence

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In December 2001, Surgeon General of the United States David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D., led a study on violence in youth and determined that while the impact of video games on violent behavior has yet to be determined, "findings suggest that media violence has a relatively small impact on violence." The report stated: The overwhelming majority of kids who play do NOT commit antisocial acts. According to a 2001 U.S. Surgeon General's report, the strongest risk factors for school shootings centered on mental stability and the quality of home life, not media exposure. But no research has found that video games are a primary factor or that violent video game play could turn an otherwise normal person into a killer. James Gee describes game players as active problem solvers who do not see mistakes as errors, but as opportunities for improvement. Players search for newer, better solutions to problems and challenges, he says. And they are encouraged to constantly form and test hypotheses. This research points to a fundamentally different model of how and what players learn from games. According to federal crime statistics, the rate of juvenile violent crime in the United States is at a 30-year low. Much video game play is social. Almost 60 percent of frequent gamers play with friends. Thirty-three percent play with siblings and 25 percent play with spouses or parents. Even games designed for single players are often played socially, with one person giving advice to another holding a joystick. A growing number of games are designed for multiple players — for either cooperative play in the same space or online play with distributed players. Sociologist Talmadge Wright has logged many hours observing online communities interact with and react to violent video games, concluding that meta-gaming (conversation about game content) provides a context for thinking about...
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