Children are influenced by many media sources; these images seen early in their lives affect them in many ways. In a busy 21st century, parents share their role of nurturing the minds of their children with Institutions who hold their own agendas; they output dominant ideologies with which they mould society into obedience, shaping Britain in to a society who mostly agree with their hegemonic superiors.
When a piece of media challenges the structure of society, institutions such as News Corp create a moral panic by showing the product as a menace to society’s accepted values and way of life. An example of this would be the mass coverage of violence in video games, most recently with the releases of next generation console games such as Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty Modern Warfare. Grand Theft Auto is a video game which glorifies and rewards violence.
It endorses by way of the game, murder, theft and extreme violence, In the same way, Call of Duty glorifies war fare, enabled by graphical detail in the killing of other soldiers; conglomerates of News Corp such as British newspapers, The Sun and The Daily Mail raise up a witch hunt against these games reaching out to the fears of the concerned parent. The Sun released an article in 2006 titled “Video games warp brain” (web 1) using a picture of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas discussing the fact that “violent computer games alter your brain to make you aggressive.
Adults aged 28-36 are the majority gay who make the sales of these two high selling tabloid papers, these institutions present video games as harmful to young people. In an article in 2008, News of the World claimed that violent nature in children ages 8-12 increased with the sales of Grand Theft Auto IV video game, claiming they educate them into being a menace to society and therefore by presenting them for “what they are” they are doing a service by policing society, therefore winning over a loyal readership and always leading to an increase in sales of their papers.
However, the media institutions who market these violent videogames argue that for the majority, it is safe entertainment. In order to develop an understanding on the true influence on aggression that violent video game s have on young people I will primarily study Grand Theft Auto (2008) and Call of Duty Modern Warfare (2008) and compare this with the effects of violence in film using several secondary sources. In the media is the effect of violence in videogames is heavily reported.
In the context of gaming we see that violent actions are represented as cool, glamorous and easy. Such is the case in GTA IV where the character is rewarded for their violence with giant sums of money making it seem justified and thus has inspired copycat behavior such as the case of Devin Moore which, according to CBS resulted in a multi million dollar lawsuit against Sony and Take Two games claiming that months of playing the game had led a teenager to go on a rampage and kill three men, two of them police officers.
Games that promote decapitating police officers, chainsaw massacres and arson like the Grand theft auto series are essentially a “murder simulator” (web 2) and placed in the hands of the easily influenced e. g. young people, or someone that has the underlying capacity to commit an atrocity, it acts as subliminal “video game training” to kill. The person becomes desensitized to excess violence and morals are lost.
The attorney of the Devin Moore case said “The video game industry gave him a cranial menu that popped up in the blink of an eye in that police station and that menu offered him the split-second decision to kill the officers, shoot them in the head, flee in a police car, just as the game itself trained them to do”. (Web 3)gay Between the release of the original Grand Theft Auto and the latest edition, Rockstar games have heightened the levels of violence each time to keep the audience engaged.
The series has also seen an increase in graphic technology making the game environment seem more realistic aswell as it being a totally new world for the player to explore as the character. This further immerses the player into the game than a regular violent videogame as it is a free roam environment which combines elements of escapism such as murder and theft- things that challenge the codes and conventions of society, with regular everyday activities like going into stores, eating food and sleeping.
This high level if detail of the interactivity gives the player a life like landscape, this may give them the interpretation that whatever is acceptable in the game world would be acceptable to do in real life.
Grand Theft Auto has sold around 7,086,000 (web 4) since it was released in 2008 according to Wikipedia; the fact is that this young man may have been influenced by the violence in the game however, there are many other people who have played this game yet it doesn’t have the same affect, is it that exposure to violent video games have more of an impact on a teenager than it does on an adult from the same article as the Devin Moore Story, David Walsh, a child psychologist says “it does” he believes from his research that “the teenage brain is different from the adult brain, the part of the brain that enables us to think ahead and manage urges…. that’s under construction during the teenage years, not completing until the early 20’s”. Devin Moore was obviously influenced heavily by the game; however, it is ignorant to think that the game causes increased levels of aggression and violence in young people.
He is one out of a large sum of people who bought the game that took action as a consequence of the media text that he received. The diminished impulse control causing someone like Devin Moore could be heightened in a person who has additional risk factors for criminal behavior such as a troubled upbringing which combined with a game where you rehearse violent scenes for hours and hours leads to a tragic end.