Video games and violence, it's the controversial subject that's been spinning arguments aimlessly through the media for decades. It's long been a subject of heated debate that's often fueled by a circus of assumptions and mere speculation, rather than logical facts and educated opinions. While there's no question that video games today often do portray violent story lines and depict the unthinkable, many have failed to realize it's purely fantasy those games depict, and not the reality we actually live in our everyday lives.
So the question still remains, can video games really make people violent? Can they really turn harmless souls into cold blooded killers? While there are a billion opinions surrounding this subject, I would like to point out a few good facts for which you can judge for yourselves.
Violence, Human Nature, and Video Games:
While it may be true that there have been a number of factual reports in which individuals have admitted to resulting to violence after playing games like Slender, this doesn't support the idea that video games actually make someone violent. The fact is nothing makes anyone do anything, as people make decisions on their own free will, regardless of the world of influence that surrounds them. It's basic psychology really, and its common sense. Regardless of what or who you interact with, all decisions you make are still of your own doing, and of no one else's.
So common sense and psychology itself throws the whole idea of video games making people violent right out with the trash. But this doesn't necessarily mean that video games have no negative influence on those who play them. While no one can make anyone do anything, what we interact with as humans in this world can definitely have an influence on us. As humans we are truly a product of our environment, at least to some degree.
Either way, there's a huge difference between the statements "Making", and "Influence." Anything can have the power to influence our behavior, but not the power to make our decisions in life; and anyone who says differently is a total fool.
So, if games can't make us violent, then how can they influence us negatively to become violent? The fact is, some people are easily influenced by anything, and some humans are truly short wired, mentally deranged, have little self control, and are naturally violent to begin with. As far as these types of individuals go, yes, it would be likely they could become violent and enraged after playing a game; then again, they're probably just as likely to become violent and enraged after watching a rerun of the Smurfs or eating a bowl of Cheerios. There's truly no rhyme or reason to violence, accept for the fact that those who commit such atrocities all share one thing in common, a lack of self control and self awareness.
I've played more violent games in my days than I could ever count, but I'm the last person you'll ever see get violent. My friends play violent games too, does this make them violent as well?
What about studies surrounding the subject? In one study encompassing the exposure of children to video games as noted in this article on Time: Violent Video Games Make us More Aggressive, Jama Pediatrics claimed that children who spent more time playing games were more likely to exhibit violent tendencies, vs. those who were subjected to less time playing. The trick keyword here is "Likely", which means absolutely jack when it comes to real science. The word likely is about as factual as the word maybe, and neither leads to an end result that's truly logical.
The problem with this study is that, it doesn't take into account other factors that can both negatively or positively influence an adolescent's behavior, such as the ethical and moral support of a child's family, their environment, and the influence of their peers. Simply creating a study that claims children with more exposure to video games have a higher tendency for violence obviously doesn't take into account the factors mentioned above, or bother to take into consideration at all how these children are affected by the circumstances that influence their lives.
The fact is, humans have resorted to violence since the beginning of mankind, and for most of our human existence there truly was no such thing as a video game. Adolf Hitler had no access to video games, yet he was clearly a sociopath and had a tendency for being extremely violent.
Likewise, children who live in poverty appear to have a higher tendency for being violent than those children who live financially secure lives, and not without cause. The children who live in impoverished neighborhoods often come from families where the parents themselves are demoralized by their past and present state of financial decay. We're all only human, and when humans are subjected to extreme amounts of stress, it's been shown throughout history that those who live under the extremes of stress can quickly lose sight of their moral and ethical standards, and behavior.
The breakdown of moral and ethical reasoning could be a good explanation as to why impoverished neighborhoods in the U.S tend to have much higher rates of crime and violence, but this doesn't mean that a poor child's exposure to video games will make them an instant killer.
That being said, it's more likely that violence is the end result of a demoralized society than the result of our use of video games.
Some countries, such as Australia have gone as far as to outright ban violent games from the market place altogether. In one case, the popular console title Left4Dead was banned in Australia due to its violent nature. Eventually law makers let the game slide thru, but not until developers changed the color of blood from red to green.
All being said video games don't force people to pretend they're Slender Man, or lash out at those around them after a long heated game of bashing zombies in Left4Dead 2. Again, people make decisions on their own free will, regardless of any external influences of any kind. While big media would like to point fingers at the gaming industry as the purveyors of a violent society, their lack of common sense speaks louder than words. In the end, anything can have an influence on you positively or negatively, but every choice you make is ultimately your own, regardless of who you are.