Video games have been a rapidly expanding industry since their inception in the 1970s. Along with their growth have come concerns about violent video games and their effects on aggression and violence in young people. The many school shootings have pushed this issue to the forefront, since the two shooters were avid players of video games. These events brought about the question: do violent video games induce aggression in youth? That’s the question I set out to answer by looking at research. The research shows that there is a link between playing video games and increases in aggression in adolescents. What implications does this fact have ethically? It means that video game producers and distributors need to be held responsible for their releases and the way they end up in the hands of kids.
Video games are a rapidly growing industry. There are nearly two games sold for every household in America each year (Anders 271). The vast majority of these are sold to adults, but there is no national law that prohibits minors from buying violent video games. A few states have legislation pending that will prevent this, but the fact is that minors do have access to violent video games. There is a voluntary rating system implemented by the ESRB, where games are rated based on their content. The games that are rated Mature are not supposed to be sold to anyone under seventeen and Adults Only titles, but “some retailers do not impose such limitations” (Anders 271). The bottom line is that minors do have access to these violent games.
One article points out that video games have a big impact on children’s lives and that many of the games played are violent. Researchers have found that “nearly all children spend time playing video games” and studies have found that “8th graders spent an average of 17 hours per week playing video games” (Tamborini 336). Moreover, 68% of the most popular video games contain violence (Tamborini 336). So it is clear that many children have access to violent video games and they have a big impact on their lives simply because of the amount of time spent playing them.
The shooters at Columbine high school, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold frequently played violent video games such as Doom, and Harris even created a modification for the game. The modification allowed two shooters to use a large arsenal weapons to shoot unarmed civilians (Anderson 353). Is seems eerily close to the actual events that took place. But just because individuals who were involved in school shootings frequently played violent video games, it does not mean that video games increase aggression in people. We have to look to research to see if a link between the two exists.
Unlike television and motion pictures, violent video games are a relatively new invention and studies on their impact are not as numerous. There has been a lot of such research on the effects of movies and television. Over five decades, research has shown that “even...