Position Paper Video Violence

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Position Paper Video Violence

-- Anonymous, June 02, 1999


Video Game Violence: What Does the Research Say? by David A Walsh, Ph.D.

Video games were first introduced in the 1970s. By the end of that decade, they had become a preferred childhood leisure activity. The games have gone from bouncing a little white ball from side to side on a screen to games of virtual reality in which one is a character in the game itself. Newly emerging on-line games enable a person to play and compete with many others in cyber-space. The majority of the games on the market are appropriate for children as well as engaging and entertaining. The concern, however, is about a substantial core group of games that feature ultra-violence. Many of these games require the use of violence, often increasing in intensity, to advance through the various levels, thus using violence as a problem solving technique. (Walsh 1998)

While the studies on video games and aggressive behavior must be considered preliminary, it may be reasonably inferred from the reports and studies on television violence that video game violence may also contribute to aggressive behavior and desensitization to violence. Furthermore, the interactive nature of video games may increase the learning of game-playing behaviors, including aggression, especially considering the move toward real-life action and actors in the newer generation of video games. This increasing realism might encourage greater identification with characters and more imitation of the behaviors of video game models(Walsh 1998).

A 1996 study, surveyed nine hundred fourth through eighth graders on video game habits. They found that almost 50% of the favorite games chosen were of the fantasy violence or human violence type. Girls more often chose games with fantasy violence; boys preferred games with human violence(Buchman, 1996). A 1998 study, examined thirty-three popular video games and found that almost 80% of the video games kids preferred had violence or aggression as part of the play. Almost half of the violence was directed toward other characters. Twenty-one percent of the games depicted violence towards women(Dietz,1998). The impact of this video game violence on children, at the present time, has not been studied enough to support a causal link. However, there are trends that mirror much of the work done in the area of television violence and its impact on children.

Perhaps the most significant report to date comes from Lt. Col. David Grossman, author of On Killing. Before retiring from the military, Grossman spent over twenty-five years learning and studying how to enable soldiers to kill. Because killing does not come naturally, the armed forces have developed specific programs to train soldiers how to kill. The biggest barrier to killing is the psychological resistance, not technical skills involved in firing a weapon accurately. Psychological conditioning techniques are systematically applied to successfully eliminate that resistance.

As an acknowledged expert on killology, Grossmans insights are particularly valuable. In recent writings and interviews Grossman has been very clear. The techniques used by the army to enable soldiers to kill are the very same techniques used in todays violent electronic games. Children dont naturally kill; they learn it from violence in the home and, most pervasively, from violence as entertainment in television, movies, and interactive video games(Grossman 1998).


Buchman, D. and Funk, J. (1996). Childrens time commitment and game preference. Children Today. p.24.

Dietz, T. (1998). An examination of violence and gender role portrayals in video games. Sex Roles, pp. 425-442.

Grossman, D. (1996) . On Killing. New York : Little Brown and Company.

Walsh, David A. (1998). Video Game Violence: What Does the Research Say? [Online]. Available: http://mediafamily.org/1998vgtc2.html [March 25,1998].

-- Anonymous, June 02, 1999

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