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Violent Video Games: A Hazard to Society

By Matthieu Ricard on October 14, 2013

The new version of one of the world's best selling video games, Grand Theft Auto V has just been released. This game contains unprecedented violence. The player may, for example, drive on the sidewalk and run over pedestrians whose blood smears the bumper and the windshield of the four by four which he has taken possession of by force.

Video games have become a favorite pastime for children and adolescents. In the United States, 99 % of boys and 94 % of girls have played video games, and the time they spend on them is increasing.

A meta-analysis conducted by Craig Anderson and his colleagues(1) synthetizing 136 studies measuring 130,000 people for the effects of practicing violent video games revealed that these games undoubtedly promote aggressive thoughts and aggressive behavior, while decreasing pro-social behavior. These effects are powerful and have been demonstrated both in children and adults, male and female. Douglas Gentile and his colleagues at the University of Iowa, for example, found that the more adolescents are exposed to violent video games, the more they become hostile to others, fight with their teachers, and are frequently involved in fights. It also affects their academic performances. (2)

The analysis of video games shows that 89 % of them contain violence and 50 % contain acts of extreme violence against characters in the game. The more the play is realistic and the more blood is seen, the more the aggressiveness of the player is accentuated (3).

Two hundred million euros were spent to produce Grand Theft Auto V. Interviewed by the researcher Elly Konijn from the University of Amsterdam, a young school boy commented on the earlier version of the game, ‟I really like Grand Theft Auto because you can shoot people and run over them at full speed in cars. When I'm older, I can do that too.” (4)

A business based on incitement to violence is clearly a form of institutionalized selfishness. Those who make and sell violent video games are harming young people in order to make money. This is totally unacceptable.

1- Anderson, C. A., Shibuya, A., Ihori, et al. (2010). "Violent video game effects on aggression, empathy, and pro-social behavior in eastern and western countries: a meta-analytic review." Psychological Bulletin, 136 (2), 151.
2- Gentile, D. A., Lynch, P. J., Linder, J. R., & Walsh, D. A. (2004). "The effects of violent video game habits on adolescent hostility, aggressive behaviors, and school performance." Journal of Adolescence, 27 (1), 5 — 22.
3- Barlett, C. P., Harris, R. J., & Bruey, C. (2008). "The effect of the amount of blood in a violent video game on aggression, hostility, and arousal." Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44 (3), 539 — 546.
4- Konijn, E. A., Nije Bijvank, M., & Bushman, B. J. (2007). "I wish I were a warrior: the role of wishful identification in the effects of violent video games on aggression in adolescent boys." Developmental Psychology, 43 (4), 1038.