1000 Word Essay| Should Violent Games be Banned ?

Video games have become a ubiquitous form of entertainment across the globe, but their content has been a topic of debate, particularly with respect to violent video games. While proponents of such games argue that they are merely a form of entertainment and do not have a direct causal link to violent behavior, critics argue that exposure to violent video games can lead to aggression and desensitization to violence. This essay aims to examine the debate around the banning of violent video games, considering both the arguments for and against such a ban. Ultimately, while empirical research has yielded mixed results, it is essential for parents and game developers to take responsibility for the content children are exposed to, address the underlying causes of violent behavior, and create games that promote positive values and teach valuable life skills.

Critics of violent video games have argued that exposure to violent content can lead to aggression and desensitization to violence. They argue that violent video games are different from other forms of media, such as television or movies, in that they are interactive. Players actively engage with the content, making choices and actions that can involve violent behavior. This, they argue, can lead to a reinforcement of violent behavior and desensitization to the consequences of violent actions.

The American Psychological Association (APA) has conducted extensive research on the effects of violent media on youth. Their research has found that exposure to violent media can increase aggression, desensitize children to violence, and decrease empathy for victims (APA, 2017). This can lead to a range of negative outcomes, including increased aggression, reduced prosocial behavior, and increased desensitization to violence.

One of the most well-known cases involving violent video games is the 1999 Columbine High School shooting. In the aftermath of the shooting, many experts pointed to the shooters’ fascination with violent video games as a possible factor in their violent behavior. While it is impossible to know the exact role that video games played in this tragedy, it is clear that exposure to violent content can have a negative impact on vulnerable individuals.

Moreover, supporters of violent video games argue that there is no direct causal link between playing these games and violent behavior. They argue that the vast majority of players are able to distinguish between fantasy and reality and that video games are simply a form of entertainment. Furthermore, many studies have failed to find a causal link between playing violent video games and aggression.

For example, a 2011 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that playing violent video games was not associated with increased aggressive behavior (Ferguson, San Miguel & Garza, 2011). Another study published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence found that playing violent video games was not associated with delinquent behavior or reduced prosocial behavior (Przybylski, Ryan & Rigby, 2009). These studies suggest that the link between violent video games and violent behavior is not as clear-cut as critics suggest.

Additionally, supporters argue that banning violent video games would be a violation of the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has ruled that video games are protected under the First Amendment, just like books and movies (Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, 2011). Banning violent video games would be an infringement on the right to free speech.

There are also practical concerns about banning violent video games. The video game industry is a multibillion-dollar industry, and banning violent video games would have a significant economic impact. It would also be difficult to enforce a ban, as many violent video games are readily available online or in other countries.

It is important to note that the debate over whether violent video games should be banned is complex and multifaceted. Empirical research has yielded mixed results, with some studies finding a link between playing violent video games and negative outcomes and others failing to find such a link. However, it is clear that exposure to violent content can have a negative impact on vulnerable individuals.

As such, it is important for parents and guardians to carefully monitor the media their children are exposed to, including video games. It is also important for game developers to take responsibility for the content they create and ensure that it is appropriate for the intended audience. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) provides a rating system for video games that indicates the appropriate age range for the content. Parents and guardians should use this system to make informed decisions about the games their children are allowed to play.

In addition to monitoring children’s media exposure, it is also important to address the underlying causes of violent behavior. While exposure to violent media can be a contributing factor, it is not the only factor. Other factors, such as mental health issues and access to firearms, also play a role in violent behavior. Addressing these underlying factors is essential to reducing the incidence of violent behavior in society.

Furthermore, game developers should strive to create games that are not overly violent or glorify violent behavior. While there is a market for violent video games, there is also a demand for games that promote positive values and teach valuable life skills. By creating these types of games, game developers can provide entertainment that is both enjoyable and beneficial.

In conclusion, the debate over whether violent video games should be banned is a complex one with no clear answer. While exposure to violent content can have a negative impact on vulnerable individuals, there is no direct causal link between playing violent video games and violent behavior. Banning these games would also be a violation of the First Amendment and have practical concerns. Instead of focusing solely on banning violent video games, it is important to address the underlying causes of violent behavior and monitor children’s media exposure. Game developers should also strive to create games that promote positive values and teach valuable life skills. By taking a comprehensive approach, we can reduce the incidence of violent behavior in society while still allowing for the enjoyment of video games as a form of entertainment.

References 

American Psychological Association. (2017). Violent video games and young people. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/about/policy/violent-video-games

Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, 564 U.S. 786 (2011).

Ferguson, C. J., San Miguel, C., & Garza, A. (2011). The effects of violent video game habits on adolescent hostility, aggressive behaviors, and school performance. Journal of Adolescent Health, 49(4), 385-391.

Przybylski, A. K., Ryan, R. M., & Rigby, C. S. (2009). The motivating role of violence in video games. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 38(3), 377-388.

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