Violence in Computer Games

Since the book has been with us, parents and “concerned individuals” have raised “causes” against certain publications. Video games are now their latest target after their efforts in the film industry failed.

There is some evidence that suggests violent computer games influence pre-teens. This is said to lead to more aggressive behavior. It’s been linked to attacks that have led to severe injuries and, unfortunately, deaths. I do not argue with this and agree that those under 18 should not play violent games. You’ll never stop them, though!

Computer Games

When I was (a lot!) younger, it was not hard for my friends to lay their hands on a copy of the latest 18-rated film offering. Banned films were rarely a problem, too. I’m sure it’s the same for many my age and current pre-teens. I can safely say I was never inclined to reproduce any of those acts shown! I did know kids who went around with knives, mainly to show off. However, they were the ones who didn’t play video games!

Because of the complexity of this subject, I decided to do some research, like all good writers. And like all good writers, I wanted evidence to support what I thought I knew! None of my newfound sources could agree on this issue, and I found lots of conflicting evidence. For example, an interesting book was written called “Grand Theft Childhood.” This describes a study of over a thousand children and their games. They concluded that there is indeed a link between violent computer games and aggressive behavior towards others. On the other hand, they also say that not playing these games can increase a child’s level of aggression!

What’s going on here? Surely it’s one way or the other?

When considering this, I wondered if it was just a lack of violent games or a lack of playing games altogether. After all, everyone needs to de-stress. Perhaps killing virtual coppers and pedestrians is more stress-busting than a few hours of Zuma for some people? Again, calling upon my experience, I was only allowed a certain amount of time on games when I was younger. Perhaps it’s the parents’ fault for their lack of game time monitoring? I’m not sure that fits, though, since you’d only have to briefly see that kind of on-screen action to become desensitized to it.


So, is the answer to stopping making these games? Are RockStar and other game studios to blame? Surely, eliminating violence from games will reduce the level of violent crime in the pre-teen demographic? Does anyone seriously believe that?

There will always be violence; as a species, we’re violent, greedy, and mean. That will not change overnight nor with the removal of such games. And unless you’re going to shut down the BBC, hide all the newspapers, and throw out your television, you’ve got no chance of removing violent and disturbing images from a child’s upbringing!

Maybe we should look into the root of violence. Again, like any good researcher on the project, I typed “causes of violence” into Wikipedia. I found an interesting section about a US organization called the “US National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence.” There was a fascinating quotation they made in 1969 (40 years ago!) which went like this:

“Children are inclined to learn from television because it is never too busy to talk to them, and it never has to brush them aside while it does household chores.”

The organization was set up in 1968, so it took them one year to conclude. So, should we look again at the parents? Have you seen the movie “Cable Guy” starring Jim Carrey? He plays a cable repair technician who severely lacks social awareness due to watching too much television as a child. Because of this, he doesn’t quite know how to interact with people. Does this mean that parents are sitting their kids down in front of the television rather than teaching them life lessons personally? Are they violent in response to a lack of parental concern? I’m afraid I must disagree in good conscience, however much I’d like to. You could quite easily argue that it’s the violent messages on television that encourage violent behavior.

There may be some truth there, too. Maybe kids can pick up behavioral traits from a video game; I know my friends, and I do so from films. I’m not talking about violent features specifically here. But then, when parents see them acting out skits from these films, do they panic? Do they question where they’ve learned these bad words or strange phrases? However, the distinction between virtual and reality normally prevents these traits from “spilling over” into daily life. This is where I feel the major problems start. Why some people have trouble with this distinction is not my area of expertise. However, we’ve all heard on the news of someone re-enacting a film or game, and it goes wrong. This is normally because one of the participants has taken it far too seriously. In these situations, I cannot help but believe that the individual in question is just plain mental!

On that note, is it the individual who has a problem? Has the issue had nothing to do with violent games but rather that some kids have psychological conditions? I’m sure this is certainly true in some extreme cases. But taking all things psychological and putting games/films aside, what other conditions spark violence?

It’s widely believed that disagreements are usually the precursor to violent behavior. It’s quite rare that someone thumps someone for no reason. So, the disagreement escalates and reaches a point where dialogue no longer serves a purpose. Sometimes, the reasons for the disagreement can be quite tenuous, and it appears widely considered that Video games are often used as an excuse in these cases. After all, who wants to appear in court and say they killed someone because of “what he said about my football team”?

That brings us back to the main issue. Can PC and video games be used as an excuse for this behavior? Are they the influence that has caused person A to harm person B? Would they have attempted to resolve their differences calmly if person A had not played Video Game C? There doesn’t appear to be any proof that video games had any influence other than the individual or parents using it as an excuse. There have been studies, of course, but they appear largely non-conclusive.

You cannot blame violent behavior on video games alone. They could contribute to some degree in some cases. But then, so can TV, newspapers, and even books. However, the vigor with which some individuals blame video games is unwarranted. Having been with us for so long, violent behavior is a product of all influences and the environment. There is no single answer.

Not so much as a speeding ticket here. I’ve played many violent games, and they’ve not affected me. Therefore, I believe anyone blaming games for their behavior is using them as an excuse. Either that or they don’t understand how they’ve been influenced by other factors such as friends, environment, or parents.


Alcohol scholar. Bacon fan. Internetaholic. Beer geek. Thinker. Coffee advocate. Reader. Have a strong interest in consulting about teddy bears in Nigeria. Spent 2001-2004 promoting glue in Pensacola, FL. My current pet project is testing the market for salsa in Las Vegas, NV. In 2008 I was getting to know birdhouses worldwide. Spent 2002-2008 buying and selling easy-bake-ovens in Bethesda, MD. Spent 2002-2009 marketing country music in the financial sector.