The Video Game Debate: Violent or Beneficial?

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Image courtesy of Bethesda Softworks. DOOM a violent video game.

It’s been an ongoing debate since the conception of the first video game – do they make players violent?

Many video games are centered around action and adventure plot-lines, often resulting in game-play that is mostly concerned with guns, weapons or fist-fighting.

Simulated violence has become a normality in a majority of video games which has raised concerns within the news media and even within political parties. 

The debate has repeatedly popped up in the media over the past two decades, particularly in regard to youth and violent behaviors, and has recently re-surfaced after the Florida school shooting in America.

American President Donald Trump has publicly suggested that video game violence is to blame for violent youth behavior.

“I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence in video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts,” Trump told Florida’s attorney general in Time magazine.

Despite concerns in the news media over the effect of video games, the 2018 Digital Australia Report, conducted by Bond University and the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association, found video games provide a host of positive services for players.

Research was conducted in 1234 Australian households and on 3135 individuals of all ages  and found that “games readily satisfy other needs such as reducing stress levels, feeling excitement, being challenged, doing things that are otherwise impossible in real life and engaging with others socially”.

The report noted that video games are used to ‘de-stress’ players, provide social interaction and also allow participation in creative communities.

For parents “almost half said they play games with children simply as a way to spend time with them”, while others said video games brought enjoyment to their families.

Sourced from 2018 Digital Australia Report

Editor-and-chief of Australian video gaming publication Doublejump, Jake Colosimo, told Dscribe “video games are a wonderful way for people of all ages to learn and exercise plenty of skills”.

Mr Colosimo said he didn’t believe there was a direct correlation between violent video games and violent behavior.

“I’m a firm believer that no violent crime occurs without violent tendencies and ideations preceding it,” he said. “Nobody goes from a peaceful angel to a violent criminal overnight, and certainly not because they just went on a crime spree on GTA V.”

He said it was up to “family and friends to catch these tendencies before they manifest into behaviours; if this means having a chat to someone about the games they’re playing, the films and TV they’re watching or the music they’re listening to, then it’s a conversation that needs to be had”.

Similar to the findings of the 2018 Digital Australia Report, Mr Colosimo said video games were a beneficial hobby in his life.  

“I am a better leader because of the alliances, guilds and teams I’ve led through video games. My time management is better because I balanced gaming with my studies. I have a basic understanding of numerous real-life concepts due to their applications in video games’, he said.

Mr Colosimo said gaming had helped him build friendships. “I’ve been able to work on my once-crippling social anxiety through the time I’ve spent gaming with friends, whom I’ve made more through games,” he said.

Image courtesy of OakleyOriginals. Sourced through Flickr.

The current video game debate is “another indicator that politicians and the media are afraid of anything that they don’t fully understand, and that they would be better off spending their time and energy on more pressing issues”, according to Mr Colosimo. “The number of people who play violent video games and don’t get involved in violent behavior is testament to that,” he said.

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