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My Initial Thoughts on Violent Video Games


Over the course of the next couple months, I will be researching various aspects relating to violent video games and public policy relating to video games. To be honest, I had wanted to explore this topic since my junior year of college. Instead, when it came down to choose a topic for a research project, I wrote about the triangular relationship between Okinawa, Japan and the United States and military base policy in Japan. So, I have already done some preliminary research into this topic, and have an (outdated) listed of sources to go through and review. The title of the series will be Controlling the Joystick, and updates will come out whenever they are ready.

Controlling the Joystick is another one of my grandiose ideas. The way that I see it, there are a lot of topics that relate to violent videos and violent video legislation. I would have research to review the possible effects of violent video games on people, cover historical events, review policy and conduct interviews with authorities on the subject. Lastly, I can also compare events, history and policies in an attempt to explain everything. It’s also semi-related to video game addiction and escapism. There’s a lot here to explore, and I’d like to invite the Source Gaming community to come on this journey with me. I’m not sure what my conclusions will be, and that’s pretty exciting. I look forward to creating a healthy discussion on the topic, and I hope you guys will join me. Commenting on articles, or even reaching out to me on Twitter is always welcomed!

As a precursor to the series, I wanted to quickly jot down my own experiences with violent videos games and my own thoughts on them. That way, when this project is finished I can reflect on what we have discovered and how I’ve grown.

As of right now, I do not believe there is an inherent link to playing violent video games and aggressiveness in people. I do think sometimes over-engaging in violent video games can be a symptom of a larger mental issue.I do not currently have any scientific evidence to back this claim up. This is my bias going into the project. I will work hard to remain objective during my study and make sure I’m not just ‘trying to prove my preconceptions.


Right in the childhood.

I, myself have an extensive history of playing violent video games…which probably explains my bias. My parents for the most part ignored ERSB ratings, and let me play Mortal Kombat on the Sega Genesis as a young child. I had Grand Thef Auto 3 on the PC when it was released too (I was 14 years old). I was a regular on NewGrounds growing up and I saw the site evolve many times. In general, I was on the unfiltered Internet at a young age. Violent media doesn’t really bother me. The only movie that I can remember to have ever ‘bothered’ me was Clockwork Orange, with the rape scene. Despite engaging in a plenty of violent media throughout my childhood…I don’t think I’m very aggressive person, nor that violent media has influenced me to become more violent.

For the first real article in this series, I will read and review perhaps the most influential piece of literature on the subject, On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by Dave Grossman. Dave Grossman has argued that violent video games train people to kill, and his influential book is perhaps the most cited piece on that subject.Of course, I will also look at sources that argue that violent video games can have a positive effect, or have no effect on a person’s psyche. Grossman’s influential book seemed like the natural starting point.

That’s it for today. I hope you guys will join me on this journey. Please let me know your experiences with violent video games in the comments below.

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  1. Interesting idea for a series. As for my experiences with violent games, I’ve never owned a lot of violent games outside of standard FPSes (never actually played Mortal Kombat myself), which is furthered by my collection being largely made up of games for Nintendo systems, where violent games are less common. My parents weren’t too strict on the kind of games I could play, so I’ve played more violent and graphic games with friends, but rarely owned them myself due to relatively low interest. My parents paid attention to the ESRB ratings, but were loose with them, so I could buy T-rated games before I was 13 just fine, and could get M-rated games before 17 as long as I asked and they were alright with the content after briefly looking into it. I believe that violent games making people more aggressive is a myth, as the only effect I can see happening to someone is becoming more desensitized to particular forms of violence.

    Nintendrone on September 17 |
  2. Well. In UK, The rating system was rather weird… But more on that later.

    Most of the games my parents got me pre-dated PEGI and most likey ELSPA and ESRB too. My parents usually got PC games which was usually very safe and usually vetted them before hand, such as Sim City 2000, Lemmings and a few Star Trek Tie ins. I was already in my teens when I got played Doom for a significant about of time, and then it was the Shareware demo, not the full games I only got in my Mid 20s. Most Cover disks that we got didn’t even have questionable content in their games.

    The PEGI rating that came in after FFX and Smash Melee, and happened to around the same time I starting to get in to Gaming, and at that time I was almost old enough to buy the games Rated 18. (PEGI and BBFC uses age Ratings)

    Alot the games I saw as a Kid so reflects on the types of games available as I was growing up, a large amount of them where indeed safe for Kids, but then it was SNES Era.

    I was old enough to remember that I there was some thing about Mortal Kombat during the SNES/Megadrive days but then I didn’t have access to a console and the PC at the time barely could even play it. I totally Missed Conker’s Bad Fur day around release, party I was more invested in the PS1, PS2 and DreamCast.

    The UK rating system for games used to use one of two rating systems. Most games where rated with the PEGI System like most of Europe. Until recently some games also got rated via the BBFC, the British Movie board. These usually are the Violent games, or in the case of Playboy for other things. So many M Rated games got a BBFC 18 rating on it, almost every GTA games but GTAV, and Bayonetta for 360 and PS3 just to name a few.. Bayonetta 1 Wii U got didn’t get a BBFC rating, just a PEGI one. ELSPA was PEGI’s predecessor and their stickers are on my FFX and Melee box.

    It doesn’t help most movies I’ve seen are shown on the TV, and are usually slightly Sanitized.. “See what Happens when you find a Stranger in the Alps.” (The Big Lebrowski)

    Personally, I think It’s more down to the controls or the situation the player character is in than the actual game content. I’m just thinking of the Angry german kid video in which he goes crazy just as a game loads..

    mikesharpewriter on September 17 |
  3. I remember hearing about some research being done on as to whether or not violence in video games increases aggressiveness. Instead, they found that it was competitive video games rather than violent video games that causes aggressiveness. To prove this they had players play four different types of video games (violent, competitive, both and neither) and have found that regardless on as to whether or not there was violence in the video game it was always the competitive video games that made the players more aggressive. I’m not sure if their research is accurate nor do I know what link to the article that claims this study is, but it does make sense since competition does tend to make people more aggressive.

    Bob on September 18 |
  4. I’ll be interested to see where this goes. I wrote an essay on this in high school and gave a speech on it for my public speaking class in college, so I’m pretty familiar with the arguments for and against the matter. I’m also on the side that violent video games don’t necessarily cause violence, so I’ll be paying close attention to the reasons people say otherwise. It’s only fair to see both sides of an argument before reaching a conclusion.

    Spiral on October 6 |