Violence in terms of pain or murder is often present in video games. Experts are concerned about the psychological state of children addicted to computer games with elements of violence. The plot of many video games seems to be taken from real-life events of a tragic character. The games involve children and adolescents in a virtual shooting, gore, and blood, which may cause violent behavior. Many experts see the connection between real-life violence and video games violence. The game activities often encourage the players to act similarly with people in real life. Violent video games create deviant behavior and teach the players to kill people like military programs do. Violent video games ruin children’s psyche and their future relationships with each other. The current study aims to confirm that the virtual world violence is correlated with the dangerous behavior in reality.
The Historical Overview of Video Games
Video games did not have violent character in the beginning. However, they have become containing aggression and violence that affected child’s psyche. Video games were invented in the early 1950s as a part of computer science research (Gimpel 21). First games were rather simple; thus, they did not reach their popularity until the 1970s when they became popular among the general public (Gimpel 22). They were introduced to the society in the form of home computer games and gaming consoles. Video games have become a profitable business with considerable sales. In 2011, their sales have reached $16.5 billion, and 99 percent of boys and 94 percent of girls used to play them daily (Hollingdale and Greitemeyer n.p.). Many children found video games to be the most attractive entertainment. The community does not realize the negative effects on children psychological development. The fact worries many people because they believe that playing violent video games makes individuals less kind toward others. Moreover, the games increase violent crime statistics. The public has criticized video games for their violent character, which has become a controversial issue. When children are happy to play the games, their parents, social groups and political leaders continue to sound the alarm about the gaming content.
Throughout the history of computer games, violence in their content has been always justified. For example, a player fights against some monsters, which seems to be a good aspect. However, in the same game, there can be a multiplayer who must be killed. Proponents argue that demonstration of violence can teach people not to do it. There is the development of technologies that make picture on the screen more realistic, which also includes the scenes of violence. The war was a part of human nature since time immemorial. Moreover, violence is a fundamental part of human nature, especially among the young men. It is impossible to change the human nature because it is either constant or very slowly being transformed in the process of evolution. However, it is possible to change society by directing violence for social purposes, for example, to protect and not to destroy. A promotional game America’s Army gracefully addressed the issue: the two teams fighting on the side of the US Army see each other in the form of terrorists (Gimpel 32).
Violence and Its Effects on Children’s Development
The developing video games usually have a violent character that ruins children’s psychological health. The issue of violence and children psyche has become an urgent concern for healthcare professionals. Many players face violence in their families, communities, schools, and the media. Bushman (29) asserts that homicide rate among young people in the United States has doubled since 1950, and it is twenty-eight times higher than in Germany or France, fifteen times higher than in Australia, and ten times higher than in Canada. Children’s exposure to violence is determined by different factors. Some kids grow up in poor living conditions; they experience community violence, face crime, drug use, abuse, etc. Moreover, some of them share violent conduct with their peers. It happens because children often become familiar with crimes on the street, at home, on TV, or in the media.
Children do not have a stable psyche; thus, they cannot perceive violent games adequately. Computer games contribute to the development of violent thoughts and behavior of children. Their worldview and perception are under the influence of video games. Many young children perceive the events in video games as reality, which affects them in the everyday settings. Bushman (30) reported that violent video games destroy the children’s psyche. Parents began to notice that kids, who were playing violent computer games, were more likely to use the words' kill me ',' I have killed’, etc. because murder is the main action of the bulk of computer games. Violence stemming from the computer games is common for all socioeconomic groups, regardless of cultural boundaries. The research findings reveal that exposure to violence is threatening children’s psychological development that can affect their future intimate relationships (Steinberg 54).
The Influence of the Computer Gaming Industry on Children’s Psyche
Children face uncommon behaviors while playing computer games: the characters shoot, fall and die, like real men. The viewing of murder hurts the children psyche. Today, computer games industry is moving forward, games are becoming more realistic, and the murder in the game is convincing. Developers know that games affect children’s psyche and there is a list of limitations in the industry. The creators introduce various kinds of restrictions, such as not showing blood in the murder; however, it makes little difference. Moreover, many countries repeatedly held hearings on the prohibition of some computer games, such as Counter Strike, where terrorists are howling with the police. However, the bans have not stopped the developers, and every year new problems appear.
Many video games proponents can argue that the previous generations of children were playing the ‘war games’ in reality. However, the modern virtual reality is becoming more realistic every year, which seriously affects children’s psyche. The descriptions of modern computer games present the parameters of realism, improved graphics, and sound that promise to be more realistic than simple games. Developers consider every aspect of the environment, including sound, physics, and graphics to immerse the person in a virtual reality. The incidents of teenager shooting in schools have proven the fact that modern kids can perceive a killing as more psychologically acceptable. Some computer programs for the military aim to teach how to kill the enemy. Steinberg (56) assumes that techniques used for training the military to kill are freely replicated in the games for the children's audience.
Negative Effects of Violent Computer Games on Children
Psychologists have noticed that the increased number of problems encountered by the child in the reality of life causes the likelihood to immerse in virtual reality, especially for boys (Kutner and Olson 123). Also, individuals with vulnerable psyche are more likely to enjoy the virtual reality. Children may have problems with their friends, teachers, etc. in the real life, and at home, they turn on their computers with the favorite game. Thus, they are immersed in a virtual world, where they have control by moving the mouth and pressing the button. The children get used to the fact that in the game they have to pass a few lives and everything comes easily. However, in real life, in order to achieve something, they have to overcome many challenges. The computer game is filled with primitive activities. The primitiveness is getting more and more severe with time, and children unlearn to read books through playing computer games full of violence.
Doctors have noted that part of the light flashing makes a negative impact on the rhythms of the brain (Hollingdale and Greitemeyer n. p.). Pleasure is achieved by a simple excitation of corresponding structures in the brain that has a relaxing effect on the person and acts like a drug. The children, who play video games, usually become not interested in anything else. Computer games with shooting or action lead to the result that the child begins to think technologically, but not creatively. Numerous tests with children playing long violent computer games were carried out by psychologists. The outcomes have shown that computer games block positive personal development, making the child immoral, callous, cruel, and selfish (Gimpel 78).
Steinber (61) asserts that a computer game does not have to be aggressive or violent in order to provoke a person to have any negative outbursts of emotion or action. However, parents should not give preference to allowing their children to play video games. It is more reasonable to play the positive games that help an individual develop his specific skills and abilities. Moreover, violence is present in almost every game and the player is an interactive environment that allows him to take a direct part in the process. Thus, a player can kill people in the streets in the game, and then take the gun and do the same thing in real life.
Cruelty in Computer Games - a Step towards Violence in Real Life
In the contemporary world, the computer games are becoming more popular among the young people. The aggressive games, where fans experience strong emotions, receive special recognition. According to Kutner and Olson (131), “real unfolding on the screen captures the gamers’ ears and eyes with blood splash, dismembered body parts fly in all directions, and the groans of the dying victims”. Therefore, children play with pleasure because the games make the player feel strong emotions and adrenaline hits in the most exciting game moments. The elements of violence, including shooting, fighting, and dismemberment of people in a virtual world are present in most bloody computer games. In addition, the violent games allow the activities, which are forbidden in real life. Thus, the games let a player break the law, social norms, and the rules of good conduct. The learning of violent behavior can be hazardous to human consciousness.
Violent video games have a negative impact on the psyche and the health of the players because they increase the likelihood of aggression and decreases compassion (Bushman 32). Avid players are more likely to commit acts that are not accepted in society and are less likely to help others. Furthermore, computer games are a factor influencing the unformed minds of the younger generation. The bloody computer games promote violence, aggression, fighting, murder, destruction of property, and other types of deviant behavior. The video games usually do not account for social norms and do not conform to the prevailing social, moral, ethical, and legal standards. Thus, adolescents may experience more problems at school as a result of frequent game playing. They face conflicts with teachers, decreased performance, and worse communication with people around them.
Many cases of deviant behavior happened in different countries in the recent years, which confirm the judgment mentioned above. For example, in 2009, a German seventeen-year-old Tim Kretschmer shot fifteen people with his father’s gun, and then committed suicide (Bushman 32). A popular team game Counter-Strike was found on his personal computer during the investigation. The teenager spent most of the time playing the game. However, it is hard to admit unequivocally that the computer games correspond to cruelty in real life. Specialists and psychologists warn against dramatizing the impact of violent action games upon the teenager mind (Steinber 62). However, the reaction depends on the person and his perception. Steinber (65) assumes that individuals, who are in conflict with the law and apply violence to others, initially have a type of personality that contributes to a lack of contact with others, anxiety, mental disorders, and inability to express their feelings.
Addiction to Computer Video Games
Child psychiatrists raise the alarm about violent games’ influence on kids. In fact, computer games lead to constant stimulation of brain areas responsible for pleasure. As a result, the child wants to be satisfied as long as possible, and the effect can be compared even to drugs. Experiments, during which the brain of rats was implanted with electrode responsible for pleasure, have shown that frequent pressing of a button leads to supply of electrical discharges into the brain and the rapid depletion of the rat. Eventually, they have forgotten about the need to eat and drink (Steinber 87). As a result, the rats simply died.
Child’s psyche usually cannot differentiate between real and virtual events. The plot of the computer games is based on the ability to survive, destroy their opponents, etc. The achievement of the goals is possible only through violence, aggression, and the use of weapons. Contrary to adults, children can perceive the activities seriously. There have been repeated cases of children shooting their classmates and people in the street. Another case occurred with a 4-year-old child, who took out his father’s gun cabinet and shot his nanny (Bushman 31). The assumption is that a child did not make a conscious decision to fire a gun, but rather saw a story on television or computer.
The greatest danger of computer games for mental health is abuse. Video game addiction of a person presents a serious threat, since the events in the video games are not repeated and occur dynamically. Moreover, the game is continuous. In some cases, before the end of any quest, there are some logical steps that rigidly interconnected, which makes the subject concentrated to perceive the passage of the game from start to finish as a single process. The role-playing computer games are dangerous to children, as they have potential for addictive realization and escape from reality.
Violent computer games affect children’s psyche, encouraging them to look at the real events with aggressive and ill perception. Some players may even stop to notice the reality. Suicides and murders are not a rare occasion among young people, who are addicted to violent computer games. Due to their direct interaction with the person on the other side of the screen, video games are a more destructive tool for children’s brain than movies, books, and radio. The games block the process of positive personal development, making the child immoral, callous, cruel, and selfish. The community cannot disregard the psychological burden of violent computer games. The quests ruin children’s psyche and their future relationships through changing their view of the world. Moreover, violent computer games breed aggression in children, which seriously affects their lives. Therefore, the more a teenager kills and fights in the virtual world, the more dangerous he behaves in reality.