With gore in video games becoming more enticing to consumers, the demand for it is growing. This, like any new trend, makes people wonder: what effect does this have on our youth?
According to Psychiatric Times, violence in the media has been increasing and is reaching dangerous proportions. The article states that reality is distorted for gamers because the fictional world becomes their reality.
Their research includes a report by the United States Secret Service and the United States Department of Education made in 2002, which looked at 37 incidents of targeted school shootings and school attacks from 1974 to 2000 in America. The results reveal that over half of the attackers demonstrated some interest in violence through movies, video games and books.
Sophomore Adam Rowell believes that one of the reasons attributing to this is that gore in video games often makes the players feel that gore is ordinary in real life.
Sophomore Ashlyn Laubacher feels that video games can be fun, but should be played in moderation and with caution.
In addition to an increase of aggression, video games can also have a harmful effect on a person’s everyday life.
According to sophomore Esteban Teran, who is an avid gamer, gaming can impact your socializing skills, sleep schedule, and even your performance in school.
When asked about the use of gore in the games, Teran stated that he doesn’t believe gore enhances the games at all.
“It’s just the creators trying to make the games more realistic,” he said.
Brad J. Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at the Ohio State University, who studies the causes of human aggression, stated that within one of his experiments involving 130,000 participants, a correlation was discovered between playing violent video games and developing aggressive thoughts.
Separate research has also shown that video game addiction can cause carpal tunnel, headaches and backaches. In addition, video games containing violence may desensitize the user from actual violence.
On the other hand, Bushman believes that video games are great educators, but adds that they do not necessarily need to be violent.
“People learn better when they are actively involved. Suppose you want them to fly an airplane. What would be the best method to use: read a book, watch a TV program, or use a video game flight simulator?” he said in an email to the Dragon Press.
Christopher Ferguson, an associate professor and co-chair of psychology at Stetson University, believes that a direct link between violent video games and issues such as youth violence, anti-social behavior and bullying cannot be found.
His fascination in the effects of violent video games began when he was studying violent criminals.
“Particularly in the years after the 1999 Columbine Massacre I heard a lot of people making some pretty extreme claims about video game violence and mass shootings,” he said. “That got me interested in investigating the issue. It also got me interested in ‘moral panics’, [and] how social narratives and even social science can become distorted by fear and politics.”
When asked about the benefits of video games, Ferguson stated that one of the principle positive outcomes is stress relief.
“Reducing stress has a lot to do with matching the person to activities that interest them. For some people, video games, even violent shooter games, is what does the trick,” he said in an email to the Dragon Press.
According to a study conducted by Ferguson in 2010, both men and women who played video games were able to handle stress better and become less depressed and hostile.
Ferguson believes that the consistent links people see between violent video games and aggression is due to the focus on one particular result, instead of the outcome as a whole.
“The idea [of links between aggression and video games] is largely oversold,” he said. “I think the problem was, during a period of moral panic, people only paid attention to the studies that supported the panic and ignored those that didn’t. This created a false impression of more consistency than there actually was.”
Ferguson believes gaming is best done in moderation, just like with everything else.
Sophomore Giovani Recino thinks video games help him express who he is, let his creativity run wild, and enable him to engage in activities he wouldn’t be able to do in real life.
When asked about the use of gore in video games he stated that the “gore can enhance the game in some ways.” Despite this, he believes that there should be a limit to the amount of gore.
“I honestly don’t think gaming affects school too much. I’m an active gamer and I still make sure to get everything done. People blame video games, but if someone is distracted from movies or music, why don’t they call those out too?” Recino said.