|Video games the possible cause of gun violence|
|Written by Davonte Longmire, Vidette Staff Writer|
|Wednesday, 30 January 2013 14:45|
Recently there have been a lot of spikes in violence in the media — a shooting in Newtown, Conn., at an elementary school resulting in the death of children, a movie theater shooting in Colorado and just over the weekend, five were left dead in Chicago shootings.
The movie theater massacre perpetrator’s orange locks of mangled hair and his resemblance to the Joker in “The Dark Knight” illustrated the suspect’s commitment to the franchise. The video games based on the movie franchise raises the question: are video games to blame? All acts of violence have an underlying motif, but are video games actually the cause of it?
There has been a wide variety of psychological studies on the topic, yet there has not been any evidence that shows a direct link between violent video games and real-life violence.
Although Albert Bandura’s classic bobo doll experiment proved there is a link between observational learning and action on the part of the observer, it is hard to determine in what media form the observer saw and then chose to execute the actions — similar to those video games.
In most states it is illegal to sell certain video games to minors. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) mandates that all video games, no matter the audience, have a rating visible on the cover.
According to ESRB.org, “serious violations of ESRB content disclosure guidelines can result in the assignment of points, fines — up to $1 million — and mandated corrective actions are effective disincentives for noncompliance.”
The ESRB has different age parameters based on the content in the video game.
“There are several hundred video games,” says Christopher Baker, GameStop employee, “that have content rated above teen.”
Teen, as described by the ESRB, is mild violence and suitable for consumers 13 years old and up.
Despite the ESRB’s rating system, it is still possible for minors to obtain these video games through other means. If ignored, exposure to content, which should not be viewed by a certain age group, will be consumed.
In Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, a first person shooter follows a character through an unnamed country in the Middle East. There are many challenges presented through each mission, including suicidal dogs with explosives attached to their necks, and the only way to get rid of them is by either gunning them down or snapping their necks. But what is the effect of these images on individuals?
“Violent content can desensitize young people to violence. They may develop a distorted belief that violence is more prevalent in society than is really the case,” Sara Harris, psychopathology professor, said.
“They may also find violent media more arousing than nonviolent media. In a recent study, researchers found that adolescent males who were heavy consumers of sexualized content were more likely to hold sexist attitudes toward women and to have distorted views about sexuality,” she added.
Chris Ferguson, a professor at Texas A&M International, found that people who actually play video games are more prone to depression and antisocial personality traits.
Dr. Harris agrees, but also suggests “other factors must be considered, such as consumption. How much time does the teenager spend playing these games? Is the family environment dysfunctional? Does the individual have other mental health problems, such as depression?”