Very few things in the world can be simply classified as black or white. Most realities have shades of gray. Video games are no exception. While video games in general have always induced conflicting opinions and perceptions, violent video games have been the subject of never ending debates. Parents, teachers, psychologists, scientists and obviously the avid fans of violent video games which transcend demographics; all have their views. There is massive polarization of opinions and thus it is necessary to objectively study the pros and cons of violent video games.
Let us begin with a few stats. According to several reports published annually, popularity of video games has been on a substantial rise. 2012 recorded $78.88 billion in sales, 2013 witnessed $93.28 billion, 2014 recorded $102.53 billion and 2015 has already clocked $115.06 billion. These revenues include handheld video games, mobile games, PC games and video game consoles. Of these, violent video games form a substantial chunk.
Pros of Violent Video Games
1. Violent video games offer a medium for gamers to express their anger or to vent out any kind of resentment, frustration or disappointment they may have developed.
Any kind of sport or game does involve manifestation of some emotion. Even physically demanding sports are not an exception. Violent video games are engaging, they keep people away from actual harm or potential trouble, which is out there and one gets to feel accomplished and thus satiated in the virtual world, which doesn’t have any physical or real impact in anyone’s life.
2. A primary criticism of violent video games is the assumption that they can make a child violent or may teach a child ways to inflict harm on others.
Statistics have proven that it is not necessarily the case. If you were to consider a period when video games have become more violent and kids have been exposed to more brutal action and all the blood or gore then the rate of violent crimes during those years has actually gone down. Since kids are the primary target audience of violent video games, let us focus on juvenile crimes. Circa mid nineties through to 2010, violent video games have undergone a sea change and they have become universally popular. In that same period of a decade and a half, youth violence has gone down and was at its lowest in more than three decades, when there were no video game consoles like the PlayStation or Xbox. Rate of juvenile violent crimes during the same period has fallen by 49.3%.
3. Violent video games are challenging.
They require some serious nerve wracking and brainstorming. While the gamers ransack their minds and try to succeed on the missions, they develop their strategic thinking, creativity, memory and problem solving skills. In a nutshell, an avid gamer will have strong cognitive skills. Simple games that are for fun and don’t challenge a person don’t have any intellectual or honing impact.
4. Violent video games are thrilling.
It is debatable but one can have just as much fun playing an exciting violent video game as one would while skydiving or kayaking. The adrenaline rush is certainly satiating. This makes people feel younger. That is a reason why even adults love violent video games, whether it is a first person shooter game or just plain old but technology enabled boxing.
5. Teaches destruction.
One of the merits of violent video games that critics choose to forget is how every major or popular game which involves action, killing, arms, destructions and basically violence, teaches the gamers that an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. Hence, it is unfounded to even presume or suggest that violent video games promote or propagate violence.
Cons of Violent Video Games
1. Teach gamers the act of violence.
One of the oft cited criticisms of violent video games is that they try and also succeed to entertain the gamers through the act of violence. What gamers get to learn or feel is that violence is fun. Harming or killing, bloodshed or any such act of violence is never fun, neither should it be desirable nor would it be satiating in the end. In other words, trying to derive fun and entertainment from something that is violent is basically immoral and unwise.
2. Can create a fantasy world.
Violent video games may make gamers feel inclined to believe in the fantasy and thus one may get disassociated with reality. There have been cases where gamers have gotten so engrossed in the story, the virtual world, the violence and all the missions that one has become substantially insensitive in the real world. However, this is not something that happens to everyone or even on a noteworthy scale.
3. Become easily addictive.
One of the criticisms that has almost unanimous acceptance is that violent video games are addictive and they can make a gamer lose track of time, forget what is important, set wrong priorities and one may even stay away from life and all that it has to offer. Violent video games tend to mesmerize gamers and they spend hours playing nonstop. This can lead to unhealthy lifestyles, cause obesity and can also cause more serious health conditions in the long run.
4. Make others believe conflict is the only resolution.
Violent video games may make people believe that conflict is the only resolution to impending problems. Dialogue or nonviolent means become irrelevant or perceived to be ineffective. This is a perception that people playing nonviolent video games don’t share. The research highlighting such a psychological impact needs more backing and more studies need to be conducted to truly substantiate that the impact can be as universal as the popularity of the games.
5. Come in a myriad of forms.
Courtesy technology, some games today require more physical involvement. Guns and triggers have been around for a while, now there are actions or live action concepts emulating the player onscreen, there are different kinds of motions that one can engage in and also many peripherals or controllers which demand specific types of physical action. Such technologies can make a person imbibe that violent character in reality, which should strictly be within the confinements of the fantasy being played in the virtual world.
6. Lives in constant debate.
Violent video games are a favorite of kids and not many parents manage to keep their children away from gaming. What one must do is exercise a sense of control and observe the behavior of the kids. Those who show signs of violent behavior or even thoughts should be monitored closely. Parents should also ensure that any kind of video game should not replace all exercising or physical gaming requirements.
7. An addictive lifestyle.
The bigger risk of violent video games is the addiction and the lifestyle that can cause obesity than the games making criminals out of perfectly desirable kids. It must also be noted that long hours of video gaming can cause problems with eyesight and can also interfere with the quality of sleep. Academic ambitions may take a backseat and a child may even avoid socializing. These are the more relevant concerns that parents and even kids should be aware of. If these aren’t happening then chances of a kid becoming violent or indulging in a crime due to his or her fascination with violent video games are almost negligible.