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Should Violent Games Be Reviewed and More Closely Regulated?

In the wake of the shootings in Connecticut, many are calling for stricter gun control and smaller ammunition magazines, but the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre claims it isn’t all about the guns. He's asking us to look to video games

Is it possible that desensitization due to over-exposure to violence can be a factor in mass murders such as the one perpetrated in Connecticut? That’s one possible theory.

But Rowell Huesmann and Eric Dubow of the Aggression Research Program at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan feel it is more than that — games may provide a script that makes these murderers more confident in their actions. And while most teens reject the “script” as flat-out wrong or fictional, there are those who are psychologically damaged who do not reject this common script.  

“We must strive to find ways, without trampling on the right of free artistic expression, to reduce youth exposure to violence in life and in the mass media," Huesmann and Dubow said in a press release Dec. 17. "Violence is a contagious disease, particularly for youth. The more they are exposed to it, the more likely they are to catch it.”  

Does it require legislation?

According to politico.com, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller has already introduced a bill that would have the National Academy of Sciences examine possible links between violent video games and media, and violent acts by children.

“Recent court decisions demonstrate that some people still do not get it,” Rockefeller said in a statement. “They believe that violent video games are no more dangerous to young minds than classic literature or Saturday morning cartoons. Parents, pediatricians and psychologists know better. These court decisions show we need to do more and explore ways Congress can lay additional groundwork on this issue. This report will be a critical resource in this process. I call on my colleagues to join me in passing this important legislation quickly.”

Gamers say, "NO!"

But the New York Daily News reports gamers are calling for a ban on guns as a solution, not games. Citing a statement from Jim Welling, the manager of Video Games New York, “it's dumb blaming everything on video games. I don't see any of our customers going out and trying to kill someone just because of a video game.” 

We do love our video games and it would seem that "gamers" truly enjoy virtual war, rather than dancing. Three of Amazon.com's lists of the four top-selling games this year include Halo 4, Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Assassin's Creed IIIJust Dance 4 came in at number two.  

What do you think? Tighter controls on violent games or should it be the responsibility of parents to monitor the games their children are playing? Is this a multifaceted problem that is going to take more than a quick congressional fix on either guns and/or games?

Amy December 28, 2012 at 10:15 PM
I had to do an argumentative paper on this very topic. I would like to think I am uniquely qualified to speak on this. The research shows that kids were equally aggressive after watching 'wrassling' or violent movies and TV shows. The aggression wasn't enough to cause mass murders, and girls were less aggressive than boys. Like you said Tammy, it all comes down to parental Supervision.
Tammy Osier December 28, 2012 at 10:48 PM
Amy, I'm contemplating going back to school and my papers will be on the subject of social services and abnormal psychology so my mindset is towards finding stuff like this. It's interesting that the aggression didn't last in the testers, but for some reason, builds up in some. That would be an interesting study, to find out why. Try some of these subjects for study. Do some research on "temperaments" in childhood and personalities (also, personality disorders vs psychosis). Do some research on the differences and correlations to environment vs heredity. There, you'll find that the same two people can play the same game the same amount of time etc... and react differently. You'll find a lot of good stuff. I'd be interested in the numbers when you have them. Good luck! Also, I read something about being able to autopsy and study the brains of mass murders and those that commit thes e types of atrocities. I wonder what's different in their make-up that might help science look for similarities in potential at risk people? It's a thought, for sure.
bobby black December 28, 2012 at 11:02 PM
No doubt the games cause some of the agressive behaviour but has anyone ever paid attention to the TV that they are watching? I believe that TV is the biggest problem.
Tammy Osier December 28, 2012 at 11:40 PM
Bb- you have a point. I've been saying for years that the generation raised on television is a different breed. Think about it. Before tV, what did kids do? They played outside. They interacted with real people and had to solve real conflicts. Even when we did watch violent westerns with shooting and killing, and went to scary movies (I was raised in the 60's and even then they were bloody), we released the effects of our fears in play the next day. We worked it out, so to speak. Today, add tv, movies and violent video games where a kid sits for hours and has no outlet to process what they take in (without the proper amount of play), and wala! They internalize it, and it can come out in a myriad of manifestations. Couple that with lack of discipline and a permissive society and you have a different kid from yesteryear.
Karsten Torch December 29, 2012 at 01:17 PM
So..let's assume that we all agree parenting needs to get better and more involved for most folks.... Still leaves us with the question of "Should the government be involved?" To which I answer emphatically "No!" Still not the government's job. Plus, if we want to properly mess something up, let the government get involved. That'll show us just how NOT to do something....

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