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Violent Video Games

Essay by   •  August 6, 2011  •  Case Study  •  1,405 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,858 Views

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Video games are made to entertain people and first came about in the 1970's. Since then, they have turned into a popular childhood activity. The first video game was Pong on Atari, a game with two rectangle blocks with a ball played like ping pong on screen. At that time, many parents questioned the possible effects these games and television could have on children and were certain they would have negative effects. Today's video games range from various gaming systems that can be hooked up to a television such as Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Xbox, and Sony Playstation, to handheld units such as Nintendo Game Boy and Sony PSP. These games are also becoming more and more available on smart phones via the Internet. Video games are popular with adults and children alike because advanced technology is constantly evolving and the content of games is becoming more visually violent and extremely graphic. Due to popularity, video games are now a 20 billion-dollar industry (Quart, 2001, p. 52). Authors of four articles--"Are Video Games Really So Bad?" by Quittner, Joshua, et al, "We Are Training Our Kids To Kill" by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, "Violent Video Games Recruit American Youth" by William Lugo, and "Child's Play" by Alissa Quart--all agree that video games bring some or serious aggression in child's behavior. This aggression may have serious consequences in children's development. To keep children from additional violent environment, the sale of violent video games should be restricted person under the age of 18.

First, in the article "Are Video Games Really So Bad?" by Joshua Quittner, et al, the authors bring up the issue of potential problems video games create on children. The authors admit that they like to play video games for hours. One of the authors, Quittner, has three daughters with various game consoles with unlimited game and thinks it is normal to engage in video games and that to some level, games can make players smarter. His opinion that games improve intelligence is supported by Patricia Greenfield, a psychology professor at UCLA. She found a positive correlation between video games and intelligence. Playing games increases worldwide "nonverbal IQ", spatial skills, the use of icons for problem solving, and the ability to understand things from multiple viewpoints (Quittner, 1999, p1). Despite this positive correlation, Quittner's view on violent video games changed on April 20, 1999, the day of the Columbine High School massacre when two high school seniors open fire killing 12 students and one teacher in Jefferson County, Colorado. He began to wonder if the graphic violence gives children pleasure in other's suffering, if it takes time away from homework and activities like sports, what society should do about video games, or if video games should be banned for sale to minors (Quittner, 1999, p2).

Figure 1: Children playing video games.

Parents have been concerned about their children's well-being ever since the introduction of television and video games. Quittner cites two main sides of the debate addressed by David Grossman, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and Doug Lowenstein, a former professor of psychology at West Point. In "Violent video games", Grossman argues that violent video games prepare kids to kill and even teach them to enjoy the experience. Of course, not everybody who plays these games will become a murderer. Grossman also says that not everybody who smokes gets cancer but they will all get sickened (Quittner, 1999, p2). Quittner says Grossman believes that federal legislation should treat video games like guns, tobacco, alcohol, and ban the sale of violent games to anyone under 18, but Lowenstein disagrees with Grossman. Lowenstein argues video games are some form of art like movies which is protected under the First Amendment and says the problem is with the retailers and the parents. That parent should be responsible to make informed choices on what children can have or not have (Quittner, 1999, p3).

As Quittner finds David Grossman's arguments notable, Grossman conveys his argument in detail in his article "We are training our kids to kill." Grossman writes, "Simply put, there is no constitutional right for a child to play an interactive video game that teaches him weapons-handling skills or that simulates destruction of God's creatures. (Grossman, 1999, p80) According to Grossman, when a picture of a teenager killer appears on TV, the effect is the same as a kid's emulating their role model. "Somewhere there is a potentially violent boy who says to himself,



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