News / USA

Are Violent Games Linked to Violent Crimes?

Are Violent Games Linked to Violent Crimes?i
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December 27, 2012
Analysts estimate people spent about $70 billion worldwide on video games and components in 2012. Gaming is on the rise in India, Brazil, Russia and Southeast Asia, while North America, Western Europe and East Asia remain key markets. As video-game images become increasingly realistic and graphic, VOA's Suzanne Presto in Washington explores whether there is a link between the violence depicted in those games and violence in real life.

Are Violent Games Linked to Violent Crimes?

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Suzanne Presto
As video game images become increasingly more realistic and graphic, policy makers are debating if there is a link between the violence depicted in those games and violence in real life.   

A 20-year-old gunman's shooting spree at a school in the northeastern United States this month has reinvigorated discussions about violence, prompting lawmakers to call for greater examination of brutality in video games.

But evidence does not suggest violence in games causes violence in life, says Virginia Tech's James Ivory, a professor in the university's department of communication who researches the effects of video games.

"The agreement is pretty well universal among social scientists that there is not a clearly established link between actual violent crime and violent media usage," says Ivory.  

He adds that it is possible, though debated, that exposure to violent video games could make a person think or respond more aggressively in the short term, or, in Ivory's words, "might even make you potentially more of a jerk to somebody."  But, he emphasizes, temporary aggression and violent crime are worlds apart.

Graphic games are popular.  Eight of the 20 best-selling video games in 2011 contained intense violence, language or sexual content deemed suitable only for players 17 and older.

Criminal defense attorney Rene Sandler says she has represented clients who played violent shooter games, gaining points with each kill.   
    
"Violent video games are an enormous problem in this country, and violent video games have been at the core of violent behaviors after watching these video games or cumulatively playing games," Sandler says.

Video games differ from movies or other media because game players are active participants, not passive viewers.

"People have argued that violent video games should influence you more because you're taking on the role of someone violent," explains Ivory.  "Conceptually that all makes sense, but empirically, there's not a lot of evidence for stronger effects of games than television."

Players don't confuse games with reality, a high school student and gamer told VOA.

"I'm not saying it's right, but it's just virtual people," he said.  "It's not real people.  It doesn't have any intentions of killing anyone in the real world."

Wayne LaPierre, head of the National Rifle Association, disagrees.
 
"There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and sows violence against its own people, through vicious, violent video games," LaPierre told reporters this month.

He named the popular game 'Grand Theft Auto' as an example.

One of the creators of 'Grand Theft Auto,' Navid Khonsari, says he grew up playing video games in Iran, Canada and the U.S., where video games were enjoyed by people of all ages.

The discerning factor among the countries, says Khonsari, "is that while video games have been readily available, what has been limited is the accessibility to weapons."  

The focus on virtual violence might be limiting substantive discussions about firearm regulations and mental health treatment.

"When we talk about violent video games and actual violent crime, we're chasing something that hasn't really been observed and we're not talking about other things that have been observed," says Ivory.

Despite the renewed focus on video game violence, investigators of the most recent U.S. school shooting have not said whether the young gunman was a player of violent video games.    

Interest in video games continues to grow around the globe.  Analysts estimate people spent about $70 billion worldwide on video games and components in 2012.  North America, Western Europe and East Asia remain key markets, while gaming is on the rise in India, Brazil, Russia and Southeast Asia.

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Comments
     
by: alejandro from: calombia
December 28, 2012 1:11 PM
I think so because at that moment the virtual fighters are children´s heros, as a result they would like to behave like them, as we did when we just watched bruce and jackie chan´s movies. when the movie finished I used to kick almost everything that surrounded to me.


by: James from: Nebraska
December 28, 2012 5:52 AM
That's because the NRA wants you to believe anything kills but guns. The phrase "guns don't kill people" is one of the most inane ever devised, yet ingenious. It has you believe that the killers in homicides, deaths by accidents, or suicides would be have been equally committed if the person instead used a kitchen blender or a video game console.

On the other hand, EA has removed the direct links to gun sellers and manufacturers from its game "Call to Duty," though they left all the manufacturer logos and names in the games and still has its "gun partners" games and weapons descriptions. They removed the direct links because it thought them "inappropriate."

In Response

by: Kablooy from: US
December 28, 2012 12:29 PM
Seriously? You liberals are still blathering on about the NRA causing all evil in the world?
I guess blaming Bush for everything got old and you guys needed a replacement to blame stuff on.
How about you place blame on the people that commit the crimes....call me crazy but it just sounds like common sense to me.
Some crazy lady in a Ford almost ran me off the road last summer but I don't blame Ford or AAA "The evil auto owners lobby".
Get a clue and try using logic. It's not just for Vulcans.


by: Ali Hunzai from: Islamabad~Pakistan
December 27, 2012 11:53 PM
I believe violence based video games stimulate the minds of young children towards practical situation. My son who is 8 years old fan of John Cena. One day as his sister was lying in the bed he jumped over her and made her upset. When I asked, why did he do so? He simply told me, pa pa I wanted to be John Cena, its clear his young mind was stimulated by the actions of John Cena.

As parents and as society we should try our best to give our children nature based healthy activities and closely monitor, mentor our children during the activities, until and unless our children cannot take the responsibility for the actions towards themselves and the society.


by: ARChalupa from: Nebraska
December 27, 2012 3:15 PM
Even if violence doesn't breed violence, it definately breeds an acceptance of violence. People become immune/numb to the violence -- accepting it rather than being offended by it.
If these sorts of games must be on the market, then they should be limited to a play time of no more than 1 or 2 hours in every 24-hour time period. That would at least force players to take a bathroom break or something. Perhaps the game boxes themselves could have the time limit - then gamers couldn't just go from one game to another.
First-hand interaction with people brings about a realization that life (real life) doesn't get multiple lives, isn't a war/battle, shouldn't be cut-throat, and comes with caring and love.
This would also cut down on obesity in children who sit in front of media almost all day.


by: Lu from: PRC
December 27, 2012 2:15 PM
shooting games as well as firearms are kinds of tools, which are manipulated by soul. Therefore if you open a gate to introduce the bad ideology in by any kind of ways, you definitely will make mistake. For instance, the second scene of game "call of duty modern ops 2" asks player to massacre citizen in airport, I am woundering how this game had been passed through examination, who should take the response, why the game company still has not been asked to recall the products.


by: Steve from: Florida
December 27, 2012 8:57 AM
I do believe that violent games (and violent movies too), when watched repeatedly, have a desensitizing effect. However, this does not explain why only a tiny number of the players or viewers actually engage in real world violence. Obviously there must be some other cause.


by: Sam from: Chicago
December 27, 2012 5:37 AM
It is worth noting that out of the top ten counties that consume the most video games, the United States is far and away the one with the highest levels of gun violence and there is a correlation that the higher the video game consumption, the lower the violence. (no causational link has yet been established but definitely worth noting)


by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
December 27, 2012 4:42 AM
If someone claims there is no relation between violent videogames and violent crimes on the basis that there is no evidence between them, they should also notice that someone could claim there may be some relations between them because there is no evience that shows they have no relations.   

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