Violent video games have been extremely popular in our society since the first wave of them were released throughout the 90's. In fact, in 2008 the Pew Research Center estimated that 97% of teens played some sort of video game, and two-thirds of them included violence. Along with these findings, a slew of studies have been released suggesting that these same video games may be correlated to violence among our youth. As subjective as these studies and opinions can be, I don't think it's appropriate to immediately reject their claims. As the graphic designers that are involved with the visual design of these games are able to make them more and more realistic, we shouldn't deny that video games may influence a persons behavior in the real world. The question remains though, are video games having a positive effect, or a negative one?
For better or for worse, video games are continuing to become more realistic in their design, and less realistic in their subject matter. As video games become more popular, an increasing number of individuals are becoming involved with the creative process of making the game. The imagination and skill behind the environment and details in the latest games is truly impressive. Architects, storytellers and artists can now use the latest video game technology as a medium for their work. As a result, video games are becoming a very important avenue for creativity in our society.
As I stated before, with the increasing number of mass shootings in this country many have suggested that video games could be contributing to these sort of actions. Assuming that acting out extreme violence in a video game world could encourage or even empower an individual to commit crime in the real world is a very logical conclusion to reach, especially when we factor in how realistic some of these games are becoming. If someone can perform any crime they can imagine in a game over and over again, it's more than fair to consider that the game could be bolstering someone's confidence in their own ability to commit that crime. However, when we analyze some of the facts and details of these sort of claims, we see a different situation.
According to Harvard Health Publications, many of the studies done linking video games to real world violence and crime, "rely on measures to assess aggression that don’t correlate with real-world violence." Additionally, many of these same studies "are observational and don't prove cause and effect," so we are seeing that many of these claims are not necessarily backed by legitimate examination. Moreover, it seems that the same demographic of people playing video games are not becoming more violent or motivated to commit crime. Serious violent crime among youths have been decreasing for the last several decades, while video game sales have obviously been increasing.
The facts tell us that there has been no link found between violent video games and someone's willingness to commit serious crime in the real world, which is reassuring. However, I'd like to explore the possibility that they could promote violence some time in the future as games become even more realistic and relevant. When considering this hypothetical, I think it's important to take into account the artistic value of video games. It's an interesting situation, because you have this excellent medium for creativity and expression, but you also have a potential for real life violence. Of course other works of art and forms of expression have this same ability to promote violence, this has always been the case. I would say you would really have to consider if there is a difference between these computerized games and other art forms. The only difference that immediately comes to mind is that video games are a simulation while most other art forms are not. Whether or not this difference is enough to separate them in terms of what they can include and what they can not, well that's something for you to consider. In my opinion, if video games are to be recognized as an art form, I don't think there can be any game that is too violent.