Plan for the Day
- Review Technology Project and Presentation
- Video Game articles
Violence in Video Games and Real-World Violence
The articles I asked you to read are only part of the story on attempts to establish (and point out flaws in such attempts) a link between exposure to violent video games and aggressive behavior. I don’t expect the sample to end the discussion on this topic; instead, I expect the discussion that comes from the articles to help guide us in asking questions. We’ve talked quite a bit about peer-review and scientific/expert opinions this semester. In this topic, there are clearly authorities at odds with one another, thus, limiting any chance at concluding based on simply going with the authority on the matter.
As you reflect on these articles, consider what you’ve been told about violent video games (or violent media in general) and the effects they supposedly have on viewers—adults and children. I wonder what even motivates these studies. After all, if researchers can never control for the influence they have on the subjects they observe, how might a hypothesis, such as, “Violent video game exposure likely leads to real-world aggression,” bias the study?
The first two articles try to establish a causal link between violent video game play and real-world aggression. The first is a peer-reviewed article and the second filters discussions of “what the experts say.” Refer to the reading and your own observations and think critically based on your reasoned perceptions of how technology mediates behavior. What might our cultural studies lens bring to this discussion? Additionally, consider the audience and purpose of the different texts. Could assumed audience have an effect on how or what information is presented? Obviously, the answer is “yes,” but what is the effect(s)?
By the way, this webpage has an example of a study using a “noise blast test.”
- Violent media: “depict characters intentionally harming other characters who presumably wish to avoid being harmed” (p. 1068, para 2)
- Aggression: “behavior that is intended to harm another person who is motivated to avoid that harm….it is not an emotion, thought, or intention” (p. 1068, para 2)
- Violence: “the most extreme form of physical aggression, specifically physical aggression that is likely to cause serious physical injury” (p. 1068, para 2)
Anderson, Craig A. et. al. “Longitudinal Effects of Violent Video Games on Aggression…”
Obviously, Anderson believes there’s a link between habitual video game violence exposure (HVGV) and proclivity to be aggressive in the real world. As we discuss, be able to point to places in the reading when you make comments or ask questions about Anderson’s (and the other two articles’) conclusions or steps to those conclusions. Maybe we’re all just avatars in a huge video game…
- P. 1067, para 5: “Habitual violent video game play early in the school year predicted later aggression…”
- Define habitual. Why would habitual practices be more worrisome to researchers than casual practices?
- P. 1067, para 6: “As a whole, the research strongly suggests reducing the exposure of youth to this risk factor.”
- Is this conclusion arguable?
- What other types of exposure do authorities (of all kinds) try to limit when it comes to children?
- P. 1068, para 1: “If playing violent video games has harmful effects on some portion of players, then the vast majority of American youth are highly exposed to an unnecessary risk factor.”
- P. 1068, para 3: Studies show “playing a violent video game causes an immediate increase in aggressive behavior, aggressive thoughts, and aggressive emotions”
- P. 1068, para 3: Studies also show “clearly link violent video game play to high levels of aggression and violence in real world contexts”
- What would it take to convince you that something has proven its link “clearly”?
- P. 1068, para 5: interactive nature of video games a concern for researchers
- P. 1070, para 5: Boys more likely to play violent video games than girls
- What’s the significance in this gender observation?
- P. 1070, para 5: “previous research that shows that the best predictor of future aggression is history of past aggression”
- P. 1070, para 5: The idea that children are naturally aggressive is wrong
- P. 1070, para 6: “That both cultures yielded significant longitudinal effects of approximately the same magnitude illustrates the power of violent video games to affect children’s developmental trajectories in a harmful way”
- Why is this conclusion significant for a journal named Pediatrics?
- P. 1071, para 4: “Youth violence is a public health issue in the United States, because it accounts for so many deaths”
- P. 1071, para 5: “such extreme violence is relatively rare in the age groups we studied (relative to milder forms of physical aggression)”
- P. 1071, para 5: goal is to reduce violence in modern society
- Juxtapose ideas to force a connection.
Harvard Health Publications. “Violent Video Games and Young People”
This article is an attempt to explain the debate surrounding the link between playing violent video games and real world violence. The first sentence, which is a summary of the articles, claims experts are divided but insists that children can be protected if parents are vigilant. Although you have read it, without even reading the rest of it, what is the goal of the article, and what do you think motivates the author (someone or group affiliated with Harvard Medical School)?
- “One View” para. 1: “The AAP policy describes violent video games as one of many influences on behavior, noting that many children’s television shows and movies also contain violent scenes”
- Of course, video games are seen as more harmful…why?
- “One View” para. 2: Who could argue with the observation “that children observing, mimicking, and adopting behaviors”
- “One View” para. 3: “some casual observers go further, assuming that tragic school shootings prove a link between such games and real-world aggression”
- Pause on that statement. What/who is a casual observer, and why would the author include such a statement?
- Remember, you’re not just reading for content but to follow the argument and reflect on what could be motivating the authors and the rhetoric of the article.
- What’s going on with the table from PEW Internet & American Life Project (Sept. 2008)?
- Is it parallel? It’s part of a larger survey, but they chose those three statistics to show.
- In case you want to read the whole study (it’s long, so don’t do it now), check out “Teens, Video Games and Civics”
- “A more nuanced View,” para. 2: “many studies on the issue of media violence rely on measures to assess aggression that don’t correlate with real-world violence…many are observational approaches that don’t prove cause and effect”
- “A more nuanced View,” para. 3: “violent video game use and school shootings…most of the young perpetrators had personality traits, such as anger, psychosis, and aggression, that were apparent before the shootings and predisposed them to violence”
- “A more nuanced View,” para. 5: It depends on the individual’s personality whether or not he or she is likely to be more aggressive after playing violent video games, specifically neuroticism, disagreeableness, and low levels of conscientiousness.
- By the way, wikipedia is a good place to start research, but don’t end your research their.
- “What parents can do,” para. 1: “Parents can protect their children from potential harm from video games by following a few commonsense strategies…”
- “What parents can do,” para. 2: “Parents can best protect their children by remaining engaged with them and providing limits and guidance as necessary”
What’s the actual goal of this article and how do the outside sources help accomplish this goal? This article isn’t peer reviewed, but it is authoritative and cites peer-reviewed research.
Violence in Video Games and Real-World Violence
These next two articles call into question the link between violent video game exposure and real-world violence. In fact, they really conclude that there’s no evidence playing violent video games leads to real-world aggression. Although they don’t offer too many alternative explanations, these articles seem to conclude that there are too many other factors leading to violent behavior (e.g., familial situations) to isolate any one, single cause—video games included.
If we were in a face-to-face class, I’d ask what does a cultural studies lens bring to this topic? How might we read these articles to find a different perspective on the topic of violent video games?
Ferguson, Christopher J. “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly”
- p. 309: “reframe the violent video game debate in reference to potential costs and benefits of this medium”
- p. 310: “It is not hard to ‘‘link’’ video game playing with violent acts if one wishes to do so, as one video game playing prevalence study indicated that 98.7% of adolescents play video games to some degree…. can an almost universal behavior truly predict a rare behavior”
- p. 310: “most studies do not consider violent crime specifically”
- p. 310: “any correlational relationship between violent video games and violent criminal activity may simply be a byproduct of family violence”
- p. 311: aggressive thoughts vs. aggressive behaviors
- p. 315: “Although violent games are not likely a cause of violent behavior in such individuals [at risk for being violent], it may be possible that violent games may moderate existing violence predilections”
Wrap up on Violent Video Games
We’ve only read 4 articles (2 peer-reviewed ones and 2 popular ones) on video games and violence, so we haven’t really delved deeply enough into the conversation to claim we have a well-researched view of ALL the literature out there. For a thorough examination, read Chapter 2 of Video Games and American Culture: How Ideology Influences Virtual Worlds. That pretty much ends all discussion on video games and violence. However, our goal was to start to think critically about this topic.
What do you think? What might be a preliminary reason to you that the technology of video games is seen as an indicator for aggressive and violent behavior?
I don’t know the exact answer (assuming an EXACT answer can be found), but the anti-violent video game researchers appear to have an agenda, and it isn’t necessarily a bad agenda. These psychologists, criminologists, and related professionals are trying to find ways to reduce violence in society.
That’s it for reading this semester. Remember, the final exam is slightly cumulative and will cover readings from the entire semester, but most questions will come from the second half of the semester. You have two discussion posts due by Friday, 4/17, so get those done. Also, you’ll have only one discussion post next week.