There is no doubt of the fact that video games are becoming more realistic and violent, nor that they are becoming much more beautiful and engaging in the way they look. What many people doubt, though, is whether they have a profound effect on a person’s character or not. Aggression as a result of video games seems to be a nebulous issue among much of the public. The research is there, but it is fragmented and covers many different issues that could (and are) problematic as far as video games go.
This paper will provide a survey and balanced evaluation of current research and thinking by experts on the short and long term effects of video games, specifically violent actions and themes, on individuals as well as society as a whole. Specific attention will be paid to the 1st person shooter and how the participant is looking through the eyes of “the killer” or taking on a detached role that could potentially desensitize an individual.
This is significant because of the long-term effects that these games and other entertainment forms could possibly have on at-risk individuals and modern culture and society. Short term studies have been done but we can’t quite fathom the long-term effects that will be felt in the future.
Since the first child picked up a stick to use it as a sword, violence has become more and more prevalent in culture. As children grew up, make-believe violence of the kind that they practiced grew up as well. Eventually toy guns were the new violent toy, and so on. In the last few 20 years, however, a new form of violence in “play” is becoming a more popular pastime than ever before.
In the early 1970’s the first games like Pong, Computer Space, and Galaxy Game were released to the public. While these games definitely were not violent, they absolutely set a new precedent for competitive virtual play for its day. Competitive video games progressed and eventually became violent. A game called Death Race, which was released in 1976, was the first widely released violent (to the standards of that time period) video game. The point of the game was to run over gremlins with your car. There was public outcry and the game was taken off shelves across the nation. By standards of most people living today, gameplay in this form would not evoke anywhere close to such a reaction.
As time progressed, the game was again released and accepted as other games began to raise levels of violence. More games were released and societal reactions were different depending on how new or shocking the concepts of the game were. In 1984 an even different kind of violent video game was released by Nintendo for the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System). It was called Duck Hunt. Players used a proprietary “gun” to shoot the ducks on screen. This was the first time the actual physical shooting mechanic was introduced to video games. As video games became even more violent, blood became an accepted element in new games like Wolfenstein and...