Many video games include an element of aggression and this is thought by some to have a detrimental effect on adolescences (Koop, 1982; Zimbardo, 1982).Furthermore, several experimental studies found at least some support for the hypothesis that violent video game can cause adolescences to become aggressive (Cooper and Macker, 1986).This observation was a free play of nine to 10 year old children in the toy room after playing and watching aggressive video games. They reported that the girl’s aggressive activity significantly increased although boys remained unaffected. Similarly, (Irwin and Gross, 1995; 1987) found that, those who played the aggressive games exhibited significantly more,(Anderson and Dill, 2000) also showed students who reported spending more time playing video games were reported more aggressive, also in a laboratory setting, those playing the violent video game displayed more aggressive behaviour towards peers(Harding, 2017).These studies which were all carried out on children and college students; do suggest that playing violent video games has the effect of increasing aggressive and delinquent behaviour – at least in the short term.
On the other hand, these studies may not be seen as a sign of aggression as they could have just been signs of excitement, difficulty or enjoyment that created the observed increase in aggression. Why does violent video game had to have been the cause in this observation? Why could it not have been they were excited to be taken out of class to play a game with their class mates? The violent game itself may have not caused the children observed to become aggressive, but being incapable of playing or not understanding the game could have played a factor. For instance when I play a game I want to understand how to play, know the instructions and I want to win against my competitor as I am a competitive person. This does not necessarily mean that the violent video game caused me to show signs of aggressiveness .This may have been the case with these students, they may have traits such as competiveness that allowed them to act such a way. Also, Millennials in comparison to baby boomers are perfectionists and are driven by unrealistically high expectations (New York Post, 2018 -Millennials are total perfectionists, scientists say) and they feel pressure to ‘measure up’ to their peers which could have played a factor, wanting to be perfect.
Furthermore, (Graybill, Strawniak, Hunter and O’Leary, 1987) used a behavioural measure involving apparatus in which children could push buttons to hurt or help another child and interestingly found no difference in an increase aggressive of children who played a violent versus non violent video game. In addition, Albert Bandura’s Bobo doll experiments (1965), a social learning theory imitation are not studies of aggression as the external validity of the study was weak: dolls are designed to be hit (Ferguson, 2010) .This was a poor observation/ experiment as the children clearly were motivated to imitate the adult and believed their behaviour was an instruction. Children observe the behaviour of their parents and an adult so they tend to copy what is being shown to them which were the case in this observation. If the adult did not hit the Bobo doll the circumstances would have changed, for instance if the adult had hugged the Bobo Doll the child would have imitated and hugged the doll too. In sum, there is little experimental evidence that the violent content of video games can increase aggressive behaviour.
Non observations of violent video games
Although, observed violent video games have shown little experimental evidence that violent content of videos can increase aggressive behaviour non observations have proven to show that they do increase aggressive behaviour in several ways through fatal attacks and school shooting massacres.
Virginia Tech massacre that occurred in April 2007, in which Seung- Hu Cho killed 33 students and professors, a total of 15 others were wounded and later on killed himself (1).Related to the Virginia Tech shooting, pundits such as the lawyer and anti-game activist Jack Thompson and Dr Phil McGraw (‘Dr Phil’) appeared in national US media outlets stating that violent games were a significant causal factor (McGraw, 2007; Thompson)(2)
Thompson also states ”This is not rocket science. When a kid who has never killed anyone is his life goes on a rampage and looks like a terminator, he is a video gamer.”(4). In agreement with this statement to an extent it is proven that violent video games do cause students to have a more aggressive and deliquent behaviour towards their peers, in a labortary setting.( Anderson and Dill 2000).In the US there are many violent video games that have caused vicious attacks,massacres, so why would this masacare be any different(16).However, Cho was a univesity student who was silent and kept to himself, and in one of his classes he had writen a compelling letter about his fascination on the columbine shooting in which his teachers were concerned about and took It upon themselves to get his parents invloved.(Reference)Could this aggressive behaviour really be all down to violent video games?There is also no evidence that video games cause violence and any alarmist that claims they do are based on minimal data(Christopher J.Ferguson).Yes, there is evidence of violent video games and aggression showed a small effect of video game play on aggression in the 2001 meta analysis( Sherry cited in Sullivan, 2013:47).But
I have played Call of Duty,the game includes a lot of graphical shooting/killings to try and complete the duty assigned but the game has not resorted into me acting aggressive towards others neither has it led me to cause a shooting.I do not agree that video games played a casual factor.So many shootings occur in this world and the only possible outcome that Thompson undoubdtly belives it is is video games. Thompson only states the obvious explanation; Cho is a ‘game addict’. Why has Thompson only considered video games and not other factors? Why could it not have been the exposure of other media outlets? Such as violent movies/films, television, comic books and music. (5) Personality disorder? Parental neglect? Low self-esteem? Below I will be discussing the possible factors of Cho’s outrage that Thompson failed to point out.
Violent video game ‘Mortal Kombat’ evidently contributed to two teenagers causing fatality and they were witnessed imitating the moves from the game.(7)Also, A 2001 meta-analysis of research data from 30 independent investigations on video games and aggression showed a ‘small effect of video game play on aggression’ (Sherry cited in Sullivan, 2013: 47).This study shows that a small playing violent video games such as Mortal Kombat, Doom and Wolfenstein 3D can increase a person’s behaviour both laboratory settings and in actual life.
Additionally, the threat of video games increasing aggressive behaviour has become a reality with cases such as the 1999 shooting at Columbine, attributed in part to the students playing DOOM, and Norway’s shooter Anders Behring Breivik in 2011, who claimed that he “trained” on games such as World of Warcraft and Modern Warfare 2 (Moore & Manville, 2009; Peckham, 2012). Both these cases have proven to show that the popularity of video games in society and these real-life incidents, it is imperative for parents, professors and teachers to know the potential effects of video games on individuals. Of course, the relevant question here is whether the same conclusions can be made about violent television, music and films/movies.