Doubt the Obvious

In 2005, Republican Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, helped pass a law that restricted sale or rental of violent video games to minors, in the state of California. This is ironic coming from the former actor who made tens of millions of dollars as the violent antagonist in the Terminator Series, among other violent, yet popular, movies (Totenberg). The idea that violent video games should be kept out of the hands of minors has been studied recently because of the increased notion that violent video games cause real world violence.  In fact, Hollingdale and Greitemeyer found that violent video games, whether offline or online, increase aggression, compared to playing offline or online neutral games (Hollingdale & Greitemeyer).  This data is not all that surprising because of the widely accepted theory that people learn from one another, by observing, modeling, and emulating (Bandura).  These behaviors and attitudes demonstrated by others, which includes the media, extends to video games.

Among the most targeted video games, is the genre of FPS type games.  In many of these games, designers are able to depict real-life missions of contemporary war.  For example, “Episode 107 was released for the FPS Kuma/War (KumaRealityGames, 2004), allowing players to recreate the killing of Osama bin Laden, by US Navy Seals (Hitchens, Patrickson, & Young).”

 

Kuma/War Episode 107: Killing Osama bin Laden Scene (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObNdJvlbGoA).

Despite the obvious possibility of causation between violent games and violent real-world behavior, it is inconsistent at best.  To examine an entire genre of video games and state that these games cause an increase in violent behavior is not only reaching, but fails to take into account other factors, like poverty, social status, and mental health.  In fact, Freedman states that research could be interpreted as finding that there is actually no causal effect of video game and violence at all. (Freedman). Freedman also determines that despite the increase in the number of violent video games (and shows and films), there has been a decrease in the number of violent crimes (Freedman).

The violent video game equals violence or aggression is an emotional argument that also fails to take into contemporary politics. Emotions play a large role in behavior, but FPS video games, like Call of Duty: WWII (CoD: WWII) do not.  A game on killing ISIS members might spark an unwarranted real-life attack on a Muslim, by an ignorant citizen, because emotions are currently high about ISIS.  To add fuel to the fire, people are on edge about the final outcome of whether ISIS will be destroyed or not and this merely adds to emotions. Games like Holy Defense, elicit these emotions, while games about older conflicts, like CoD: WWII do not (O’Connor).  Because WWII was around 70+ years ago, it is internationally known that the Nazis were evil, and the conflict has long been settled, people are no longer worried about the outcome, and no one is worried about Hitler and concentration camps returning, regardless of the Nazi Zombies mode available in the game (Although with the rise in Neo-Nazis, in America, this could change soon).

Call of Duty WWII: Zombie Mode

Therefore, I fail to agree with the notion that violent video games, especially CoD: WWII, cause increase violence and/or aggression in the real-world.

 

 

 

Sources:

Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. New York, NY: General Learning Press.

Hitchens M, Patrickson B, Young S (2013). Reality and Terror, the First-Person Shooter in Current Day Settings. Games and Culture. Vol 9, Issue 1, pp. 3 – 29. https://doi.org/10.1177/1555412013496459

Hollingdale J, Greitemeyer T (2014) The Effect of Online Violent Video Games on Levels of Aggression. PLOS ONE 9(11): e111790.https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0111790

O’Connor, Tom. “This New Video Game Lets You Kill ISIS While Fighting as Hezbollah in Syria and Lebanon.” Newsweek, Newsweek, 28 Feb. 2018, www.newsweek.com/new-video-game-lets-you-kill-isis-hezbollah-fighting-syria-lebanon-816978.

Totenberg, Nina. “Calif. Pushes To Uphold Ban On Violent Video Games.” NPR, NPR, 2 Nov. 2010, www.npr.org/2010/11/02/130979773/calif-pushes-to-uphold-ban-on-violent-video-games.

 

Source: Doubt the Obvious