Video Games and Violence: the Truth Behind the Craze Sweeping Up the Youth

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Vince D’Agostino
8 November 2010
ENG 101: Cosby (1-1:50)
Video Games and Violence: The Truth Behind the Craze Sweeping Up the Youth Video games are wondrous. They allow the user to experience a life they may never be able to experience in reality. Becoming a racecar driver, professional football player, or the king of all middle earth is as easy as popping in a disc. Video games are not a new form of entertainment, although the video games being played today are nothing like the Atari games that once used to dominate. They have become more realistic and violent than many believe they should have, mainly because they are falling into the laps of the youth. Hot topics of discussion range from whether or not video games have led to an increase in youth violence, which was brought together by researcher and writer Henry Jenkins, as well as an opposing view by the MSNBC writer Kristin Kalning. Secondly, whether or not they are marketed towards children was strongly argued by researcher Regina Holtman conducting experiments by having minors purchase mature games. Third, arguing whether or not the games are socially isolating, and Fourth, how gender is portrayed in the games which were both heavily argued by a team of researchers and other writers, some of which are political writers. Although there are strong reasons why there should be no violence in video games, there are many opinions on the subject as well as ways to deal with these problems. One of the biggest issues with the gaming world today is that many feel that violent video games have led to an epidemic of youth violence. In his article “Reality Bytes: Eight Myths About Video Games Debunked,” Henry Jenkins explains how the current perception of the use of violent video games by our children is that they are corrupting the minds of the youth and causing them to commit violent crimes. He states that this is not the case, writing “The rate of juvenile violent crime in the United States is at a 30-year low. Researchers find that the people serving time for violent crimes typically consume less media before committing their crimes than the average person in the general population” (par 2). Jenkins is basically saying that violent video games have almost no connection to the ones behind bars, but others have something else in mind. Jenkins’ research backed opinion is interestingly cut down by MSNBC writer Kristin Kalning in her article “Does Game Violence Make Teens Aggressive?” Kalning explains how violent video games do in fact make teens more aggressive. In a recent study done by the Indiana University School of Medicine, they found that a group of 44 adolescents were split into two groups. One group played a more violent game, and the other played a non-violent racing game. She writes “The scans showed a negative effect on the brains of the teens that played ‘Medal of Honor’ for 30 minutes. That same effect was not present in the kids who played ‘Need for Speed’” says Kalning (par 9). The study found that there was more activity in the area of the brain that contains the Amygdala, which is responsible for emotional arousal, but not necessarily anger. The study also does not explain whether or not the heightened emotional arousal state carries into the adolescent’s daily lives. In agreement with Kalning is Guy Cumberbatch. In his article “Only a Game?” Cumberbatch talks about the effect that violent video games have on children. Cumberbatch says that violent video games do in fact increase aggression in children and that they are more harmful than other forms of media like television programs or movies because of a recent study done by Craig Anderson of Iowa State University and Karen Dill of Lenoir-Rhyne College in North Carolina. The researchers concluded that video games did increase aggression in children because they are much more interactive and engrossing and require the player to identify themselves with the aggressor and/or be the aggressor (Cumberbatch par...
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