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Video Games Effect on Behavior

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Video Games Effect on Behavior With games like Assassin’s Creed 3 and Halo 4 recently released, video game sales have been sky-rocketing. Children, teenagers, and adults alike have all been rushing to Game Stop to have the chance to slash victims with a hidden blade or shoot down enemies with AK-47s. This type of game rewards murders. In fact, the National Television Violence Study (1996) found that about 73 percent of violent video games reward violence as an acceptable way to handle conflict (Norcia). This is true for a variety of games ranging from Poke’mon to Mortal Kombat. Due to consumer’s demand, most of the video games sold are violent. Gamers learn to identify with the characters they are controlling. “This identification with characters in video games increases a player's ability to learn and retain aggressive thoughts and behaviors they see portrayed in violent games (Norcia).” Aggression is defined as an action
It can be a verbal attack--insults, threats, sarcasm, or attributing nasty motives to them--or a physical punishment or restriction. Direct behavioral signs include being overly critical, fault finding, name-calling, accusing someone of having immoral or despicable traits or motives, nagging, whining, sarcasm, prejudice, and/or flashes of temper (Shin). Research on the subject has suggested that violent video games cause aggressive thoughts and actions. Assassin’s Creed 3, mentioned in the paragraph above, is an example of a classic violent video game. These types of games focus on ruthless killing and the destruction of public property. Apparently, aggression in young gamers is so pronounced that some of the states are trying to pass laws to make it illegal to sell video games with certain ratings to people who are under the game-rating age limit (Video Games). This would mean that popular M-rated games like Skyrim, Dishonored, and Fallout: New Vegas would not be available to purchase for a large demographic of gamers: high school students. However, there are many different types of video games available. Any behavioral changes of children cannot be pinned on any one type of game. Puzzle games, like Professor Layton that challenge the mind of players, are available for purchase. Another genre of non-violent video games is racing games. In this type of game, gamers compete with either computer-generated players or friends to the finish line. Sports games like Madden NFL are also very popular yet non-violent. Music and audio games have come out recently which encourage the players to get exercise while still being able to play games. Some people believe that non-violent games are boring, and they do not provide enough action for the gamer. If game companies could create a positive yet action-filled game, the negative behavioral effects on children may not be as prevalent. The effects of video games are not limited to children though. Statistics actually point out that the average gamer is thirty-five years old and has been playing for twelve years. Forty percent of this demographic is women. Usually gaming is perceived as a heavily male dominated hobby, but over one-third of gamers are female. It is also shown that one out of every four gamers is over the age of fifty. “Video games are a mass medium form of entertainment that are enjoyed today in a majority of homes by players of all ages” (Gallagher). Adults are not as susceptible to the effects for gaming as children. Children observe and learn from their environment more readily than adults. Kids and early teens are easily influenced by the media, so their intake of information is a lot broader than adults suspect. Children are like a sponge that soaks in its surroundings then learns and behaves in the way it was shown. The Columbine shooting was one of the most tragic events in American history, and some people believe that this can be blamed on violent video games. The students accused of the murder, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, murdered thirteen people and wounded twenty-three. They both enjoyed playing the bloody video game Doom (Shin). Doom is a science-fiction and horror first-person shooter game that was created in 1993. The player’s mission is to slaughter an entire onslaught of demonic aliens in order to keep them from attacking Earth. Whether this video game is connected to the Columbine shooting or not, the odd connection that links them together is irrefutable. Another example of violent behavior is the case of a thirteen year old boy who committed suicide by jumping from the 24th floor after play Warcraft III for 36 hours straight (Forster). The advanced graphics and animation software today allows producers to create a more realistic experience for gamers. Critics and parents blame the violent behavior of the youth on these new game designs. Researchers claim that young gamers cannot distinguish the difference between the virtual world and reality, and this causes them to behave violently. The internet is full of varied case studies and experiments based on the effects of video games on behavior. Patrick Markey and Gary Giumetti at Villanova University in Pennsylvania conducted an experiment including about 167 university undergraduates. The students were divided into two groups and were directed to play either violent or non-violent video games.
After playing these games:
Then they were presented with three story stems presenting a brief scenario that involved a negative outcome for the main character, like getting into a car accident. After reading a story stem participants were asked to write down 20 unique things they thought the main character might do, think, or feel. These stories had been used before in successful studies measuring aggression-levels at different temperatures. (Campbell)
Overall, the students who played the violent games gave more aggressive responses than the students who played non-violent games. The level of aggression displayed depends mostly on the individuals’ personality, though. Markey says:
Their personality made a big difference. People who are extremely angry tend to be much more affected by violent video games than people who are not angry, and of course the opposite is true that people who are not angry are virtually unaffected by violent video games. So it’s both the person and, in essence, the situation. Moreover, researchers proved that boys who do not learn as well as others should not play violent games often. These boys feel inferior to others, so they are more attracted to aggression than boys with a higher ability of education (Do Violent Video Games Cause Behavioral Problems?). The boys who initially have a hard time distinguishing right from wrong are more likely to view violence as an acceptable way to solve conflicts. Violent video games can encourage this behavior in young boys. The cause of violent behavior is determined by five factors: neighborhoods, families, peers, individual traits, and behaviors. For example, some researchers have discovered that living in violent crime-filled neighborhoods increases the chances that children from that area will become aggressive. Also, a child’s familiarity with domestic violence, like spousal abuse and child abuse, increases the risk of violent behavior but does not necessarily cause it. “Constant exposure to violence from multiple sources, including first person violent video games, in the absence of positive factors that help to buffer these negative exposures is likely to increase the probability that youth will engage in violent behavior” (Cooper and Zimmerman). In addition, the American Psychological Association found that violent behavior is learned during early childhood. Ultimately, children’s behavior is shaped by the media. According to some researchers, the cause of violence is dependent on flawed brain chemistry, brain damage, genetic defects, or an unhealthy psychological environment. Violent behavior is linked to the neurotransmitter, serotonin. People with normal or elevated serotonin levels show more restraint and think things out. Those with low serotonin levels are impulsive and temperamental, which means that they are more prone to exhibit aggressive behavior (Bernstein). There have been many opposing opinions on the cause of violent behaviors. One of the most argued is nature versus nurture. Are we genetically predisposed to a violent nature? The debate between nurture and nature is one of the oldest issues in psychology. It was debated between the earliest of philosophers. Nature is centered on the contributions of genetics and environment to behavioral dispositions. All genetic predispositions are inborn and innate. Contrarily according to the nurture idea, all the knowledge we gain is determined by experience. Children learn by imitating their surroundings and environment. This can be proven by the way young children learn to speak. They listen to the words spoken around them and can gradually pick up speech patterns or verbal ticks. For the violent video game argument to be valid, one would have to believe that we learn from our experiences. Medical researchers question if violence in video games have any negative effects on behavior and have done studies. Without a doubt, video games change the brain. “Games have many consequences in the brain, and most are not obvious—they happen at a level that overt behaviors do not immediately reflect” (Gentile). It is up to the parents to decide whether it is for the better or worse for their child. Dr. Vincent Matthews conducted an experiment involving 28 college students at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The students were split into two groups and played either violent or non-violent video games. Before the study, researchers used a functional MRI to scan the brain activity in the participants while they completed lab-based tasks involving either emotional or non-emotional content. The researchers found that those who played the violent video games did not show as much activity in the areas that involved emotions, attention and inhibition of our impulses. “Behavioral studies have shown an increase in aggressive behavior after violent video games, and what we show is the physiological explanation for what the behavioral studies are showing,” says Matthews. “We’re showing that there are changes in brain function that are likely related to that behavior” (Park). A week later, the participants who played violent games were brought back to study any after-effects. Their brain activity had reverted back to normal, but their brain functions were not quite the same as they were before playing video games. The brain changes don’t appear to be permanent, but documenting that the brain does change in response to playing a violent game — even just for two hours a day for a week — is a significant advance in understanding how young players may be affected by these games (Park). Some medical studies contradict the fact that gaming ruins the minds of young children. Positive effects on divided-attention performance, developmental issues, and spatial and coordination skills also have been suggested. According to Hotz, a growing body of university research suggests that gaming improves creativity, decision-making and perception. It can also improve hand-eye coordination and boost vision changes that allow late-night driving. People who play action-based games are able to make decisions 25% faster than a non-gamer. Gamers who adapt to situations easily can make choices and act on them up to six times a second, which is four times faster than people who do not play video games. In fact, advanced gamers can pay attention to six things at once without getting confused. Females especially benefit from playing video games. They are able to better mentally manipulate three dimensional objects, which is an ability that men are usually more adept. Medically speaking, “the combination of concentration and rewarding surges of neurotransmitters like dopamine strengthen neural circuits in much the same the way that exercise builds muscles (Hotz).” Without intense involvement in games, the neural circuits of the brain will not change, so game producers are trying to create a puzzle game with the same benefits as action games. One of the many psychological mantras is “Correlation does not prove causation.” This remains true for any perceived relationship between video games and violent behavior. Just because two things are related does not mean that one thing causes the other. According to the FBI, youth violence has declined in recent years as computer and video game popularity soared. In addition, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declared: “The state has not produced substantial evidence that … violent video games cause psychological or neurological harm to minors (Gallagher).” Studies on the effects of gaming have been done, but some people have argued that laboratory and field experiments are irrelevant. According to Anderson, this is a fact. Experiments are trivial because there are so many factors that can skew the recorded effects of laboratory measures of aggression. For example, behaviors like biting, pinching, and pulling hair were not modeled in games but existed after the experiment. Most of the research on the effects of violent video games relies on measures to assess aggression that do not compare with violent behavior in reality. Some studies are observational and do not prove cause and effect (“Violent Video Games and Young People”). Until recently, most researchers studied the effects of gaming on a small group of willing participants, who learned to play under laboratory conditions. Some scientists now are turning the marketable games themselves into laboratories of learning (Hotz). If video games are proven to be helpful, the gaming market will flourish. As an avid gamer myself, I have the right to be skeptical about any sort of research that has been released. I have been playing video games for approximately eleven years ago, when the Super Nintendo was still socially acceptable to have. I played a lot of Donkey Kong, where the point of the game was to kill your enemies by jumping on them and eat as many bananas as virtually possible. Recently, I have sat down for hours at a time and played the Role-Playing Game (RPG) franchise Final Fantasy. While Final Fantasy is not as gory as other games is the RPG genre, the main theme is to kill your enemies and save the world. Apparently, killing anyone who stands in the way is justified by fighting for the safety of the world. My gaming addiction has gotten progressively worse, and now I play games like Assassins Creed and Modern Warfare. Video games, whether violent or non-violent, have surrounded me for most of my life, and I might possibly be the most docile person in the entire world. Video games may be a way for me to release my aggression virtually. If this is true, it would attribute to the fact that I am so level-headed in real life. Many people believe that video games are a safe outlet for the release of negative feelings. “Fantasy characters and situations appeal to young imaginations and provide an escape from everyday routine and the stresses presented by parents, friends, and school” (Video Games). In addition, games are able to give control to people’s lives. Things that gamers normally cannot regulate in real life seem to be back within their grasp. Gaming helps others like me feel the pressures of life slip away. Shigeru Minamoto is quoted to have said, “Video games are bad for you? That’s what they said about Rock-n-Roll.” The debate on the effects of video games is still raging, and it will continue to do so until a decisive study is proven. It is possible that gaming is positive and helpful, but the majority consensus is that video games cause violent and aggressive behavior. Many studies have shown that violent video games affect the brain negatively. There is a plethora of evidence that shows a link between acts of violence, anti-social behavior, and violent video games.

Works Cited
Anderson, Craig A. “Violent Video Games: Myths, Facts, and Unanswered Questions.” APA. American Psychological Association. October 2003. Web. 10 November 2012.
Bernstein, Michael. “Latest Research on Possible Causes of Violent Behavior Explored in C&EN Article.” Eurekalert. 2 June 2003. Web. 27 November 2012.
Campbell, Collin. “Games Do Cause Violent Behavior (But Not Much).” Businessweek. 25 April 2007. Web. 10 November 2012.
Cooper, Roanna, and Zimmerman, Mark. “Do Video Games Influence Violent Behavior?” Yvpc.sph.emich. 24 August 2011. Web. 10 November 2012. “Do Violent Video Games Cause Behavior Problems?” Lang-8. 8 June 2011. Web. 10 November 2012.
Forster, Janice Antoinette. “Do Video Games Make People Violent?” Lifetickler. 10 April 2012. Web. 10 November 2012.
Gallagher, Michael D. “Video Games Don’t Cause Children to Be Violent.” US News. US News, 10 May 2010. Web. 10 November 2012.
Gentile, Douglas A. “Video Games Affect the Brain- for Better and Worse.” Dana. 23 July 2009. Web. 25 November 2012.
Hotz, Robert Lee. “When Gaming is Good for You.” Wsj. 5 March 2012. Web. 26 November 2012.
Norcia, Andrea. “Violent Video Games and Aggressive Behaviors.” Pamf. N.d. Web. 10 November 2012.
Park, Alice. “Violent Video Games Lead to Harmful Brain Changes.” Time. Time, 2 December 2011. Web. 10 November 2012.
Shin, Grace. “Video Games: A Cause Violence and Aggression.” Serendip. 4 January 2008. Web. 10 November 2012.
“Video Games.” Healthofchildren. N.d. Web. 27 November 2012. “Violent Video Games and Young People.” Harvard. October 2010. Web. 10 November 2012.…...

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Negative Effect of Video Games

...THE NEGATIVE EFFECT OF VIDEO GAMES ON CHILDREN Marcos V. Jimenez Comp 172 July 17,2012 Monte Gast THE NEGATIVE EFFECT OF VIDEO GAMES ON CHILDREN The introduction and advancement of technology has provided us with many valuable tools and resources; however, it also has the capability of negatively influencing our younger generations. It is our responsibility as parents to provide them with guidance and direction in choosing the correct technological learning tools, and managing the amount of time spent in front of video games. Although video games offer a broad array of opportunities for teaching and learning, there are equally as many games focused on violence and inappropriate behaviors. Children are easily influenced in today's society through what they see and hear, making video games a prime resource for how they are influenced. VIOLENCE Many of today's video games, especially suitable for young boys, focus their attention on violent acts, and whether it be through weapons, verbal abuse, or fighting. Young minds are easily molded through the violence in these games, leading them to believe that weapons and fighting are standard in today's society. In order to instill the most positive values in these young boys, parental guidance is necessary in controlling the video games to which children are exposed. Helping them to distinguish between reality and video games is a key responsibility of parents and guardians. INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR Most often going hand......

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