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Stop Blaming Video Games!
The video games phenomenon is somewhat new in this modern society. Although they often to be entertaining, the contents have become more violent and disturbing as computing technology has become much more advanced. These days, the popularity of violent video games has caused an increase in controversy. Parents and experts feel that some games are just too violent and they demand the government to regulate the sales of these games. However, I strongly believe violent video games do not cause an increase in aggression in adolescents and the forceful plan by the government is caused by an exaggeration of the effects of violent video games and this plan are indeed pointless.
Besides the violent contents, video games have several positive aspects. Based on my experience, video games can push children's competence to the limit by forcing them to master certain ability to overcome the obstacles in the level. For example, "Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six" series have become one of the games that require a solid teamwork. The player acts as the leader of an elite anti-terrorist squad consist of 3-4 members. At the beginning of the game, players can choose how to infiltrate the terrorist compound, either by planting an explosive on the door, using a fast rope from the rooftop or simply breaching into several doors to create a surprise assault. These options will ignite the sense of logical thinking and strategy formations in which formal education does not offer.
Aside from the cognitive aspects, video games are also the tool of social interactions. Friendships can sometimes be developed through playing video games and ultimately keeping them away from drug usage and violent activities. Most of the video games today have either multiplayer or online capabilities or even both. For example, I made friends with several Japanese and lots of Americans from playing "Call of Duty 4" online. The game focuses on eliminating the other team hence teamwork has a major role in succeeding the game. With a headset (a combination of a headphone and a microphone), my team members and I discuss and plan a strategy effectively and sometimes talk about our backgrounds. Personally, meeting lots of people online develop my English ability (since English is not my first language) and social skills because for some people, starting a conversation with a stranger can be really tough. In general, video game is an astonishing tool to keep children entertained during leisure time.
On the other hand, some people, although they already know some of the positive aspects of video games, still believe that the negative will overcome the positive ones. The article "Don't Shoot: Why Video Games Really Are Linked to Violence"by Amanda Schafferfrom Slate.com stated "The connection between violent games and real violence is also fairly intuitive. In playing the games, kids are likely to become desensitized to gory images, which could make them less disturbing and perhaps easier to deal with in real life.When video games aren't about violence, their capacity to teach can be a good thing. For patients suffering from arachnophobia, fear of flying, or post-traumatic stress disorder, therapists are beginning to use virtual realities as a desensitization tool."(Schaffer) Though thispresents an evidence that violent games do in fact increaseviolent thoughts, this data still cannot serve as an evidence because the test is conducted in a controlled environment, without considering other aspects that might result inthe change in behavior. Additionally, although violent video games might expose children to violent behavior, the amount of violenceare not as great as the ones in movies and television. Thenews is filled with stories of war and murder, and nearly every movie contains some forms of violence. Plus, these two media are different from games in a very important way because they involve realpeople, not computer-generated characters. As mentioned by Dr. Kipling D. Williams Ph. D, one of the social psychological science faculties in Purdue University, children's violent tendencies can be diverted towards violent video games rather than actually doing it in the real life. (Williams)
Prof. Williams also pointed out that, besides playing violent games, genetics and environmental aspects and self-control must be considered as some of the factors that contribute to the increase in aggressiveness. Genetics tend to play a huge role in personality of a person. Some person might have a tendency to be more rebellious and aggressive. Moreover, easier access to firearms in several countries can lead to violent thoughts and behaviors. "Guns can act as a stimulus because it reminds the person of aggressive behaviors seen on television or maybe in real life. If the person does not have a solid self-control, it can lead him to a violent behavior." (Williams) Self-control is one of the main aspects because no matter how many violent stimuli in the environment are, self-control can suppress one's violent and aggressive thoughts.
Prof. Williams strongly believes that there is no single cause that can lead to an increase in aggressive behavior in children, consistent with Dr. Craig A. Anderson, Ph. D statement during an interview with MSNBC, "Video game violence is only one risk factor for aggressive behavior in the real world. There are also dozen or so known risk factors. It is not the smallest risk factor, but it is an important one." (Anderson)
Finally, I believe that regulations will not prevent children from playing the games they want to. They will still get their hands on those games, whether from a parent, sibling, or older friend. Making violent video games illegal might increase children's curiosity and make the child want to play it more so that heor she can see form himself what all the controversy is about. I think that the responsibility lies within the parent, not the government.
Schaffer, Amanda. "Don't Shoot Why Video Games Really are Linked to Violence." Slate. 27 April 2007. 18 Apr. 2008.
"Violent Video Game." MSNBC TV. 19 Sept. 2006. 18 Feb. 2008.
Williams, Kipling D. Personal interview. 24 Mar. 2008.