The Types Of Violence In Video Games Media

Essay add: 12-02-2016, 19:24   /   Views: 180

Without a doubt, violence practiced through video games remains a controversial, debated and vexing issue that anguishes the public today. Policymakers, educators and parents have largely criticized the "blood and gore" that is demonstrated graphically to them in these games. They fear that when it comes to solving social problems, users turn into desensitized brutes, exhibiting aggressive behavior towards others, all resulting from engaging themselves in hours of games like Mortal Combat and Counter Strike, just to name a few. This essay attempts to develop a broader understanding of the well-trod, cyber-ego territory of video games that pervades and inhibits moral development.

Moral Anxiety: The video violence controversy

The contributing link concerning video game violence, which is observably fictionalized, and actual "real" physical violence, has been publicized over and over again to be non-existing or vague at best (Freedman, 2002). The question of desensitization has the same false link applied to it equally. Even The Economist, a conservative magazine, entered a headline in 2005 stating "There's no solid evidence that video games are bad for people, and they may be positively good" (p 9).

Video games are said to generally have an immense potential for education, as claimed by Henry Jenkins, who is a MIT media educator, as well as James Paul Gee, the Curriculum and Instruction professor at the University of Wisconsin (2004). Along with support from other promoters of launching new technological advances in schools, they believe "edutainment" to be the new succeeding idea to "save" education (jagodzinski, 2004, p 233-235). Rather than considering the possible cause of the commandeering of the youthful imagination, it is clear that an increase in profits and gains of capitalists are the main concerns. The video gaming industry is stubborn with its stand that violent video games are just innocent fun; hence support all the "learning" developments. The ideology is constantly rubbed into the faces of anxious parents and politicians, and backed up by the Bureau of Justice statistics that show a declining relationship between the advances of vicious video games and the United States violent juvenile crime rate. Presently, there has been a 30-year low rate of juvenile violent crime, so in what way is it possible to criticize and directly associate violence to video games?

There are now two contrasting assessments: the moral anxiety view denies the impossible contributing link that occurs amongst actual and simulated violence, for the sake of "protecting" children, the young ones in particular, from becoming corrupted plus psychologically damaged. The "edutainment" advocates, who are financed by research grants and obviously business interests, are confident that video games (with or without the violence) will make children very much brainier, allow them to look for new ways out of a problem, encounter challenges of technology, etc. This group believes in the "pattern recognition" of the mind, which basically means that the mind keeps linked "images" of definite experiences, and then resolves problems by locating patterns in that incident. To additionally advertise their goal, the "edutainment" leader claims that kids have to deal with violence by the use of fantasy life, a point supported by Bruno Bettelheim (1976) in the past.

Since violence and antagonism are simply related to the essences that characterize our humanness, the value of video games is marketed as ethical testing fields, similarly to classic fairy tales. The Sims, by Will Wright, is one of the many popular games to support this argument. Wright contends that games like his are the only means that allow a player to come in contact with feelings of guilt over their created avatars' actions. In the game, the main value that decides on the conditions of pleasure and integration into society, are the economic means of the avatar. By defying that "good path", it results with the individual's exclusion to society. Is that the type of means to have children qualifying to?

Psychotic Consequences

Unquestionably, the implication of video games in school shootings is the main dramatic aspect to consider. Students, Harris and Klebold, who were detained responsible for their shooting spree at the Columbine High School, were passionate players of Doom, an "ego-shooter" game where the question of interactivity is on full demonstration. The avatar does the entire shooting for the player and the player indirectly subsists the commotion on the screen. The tactics that Harris and Klebold had constantly exercised from the game, allowed them to perfect their aim, as shown by the seminars offered by former US Lt Col. David Grossman (2004) to concerned parents and educators.

When VR collapses into RL, it results in psychotic breakdowns of the imaginational frame just like with Harris and Klebold. As they begin to exist in the real, the player loses control and the avatar "takes over", at times essentially directing the game player to "get even" with the representational order that appears to cruelly take over the player's everyday life. Evil deeds are performatively demanded to be carried out by the avatar, a commentary to psychotics who are have a tendency to hear voices in the head. Lawful desire is ignored for drives to be won out. Contradiction to the law has become amplified as there is an increasing demand for enjoyment. In the psychoanalytic literature, a desperate roar for recognition, for not being subjectivized with society is what interprets such mass killing sprees (Salecl, 1993). Both of the Columbine boys had been depressed at school and consequently, the familiar cyber-ego voice allowed them to get even. The Klebold and Harris case demonstrates how interactivity collapses with interpassivity. The interpassive avatars have dominated as a projection of their alter ego, transformed into an aggressive sadistic superego eager to cleanse the symbolic order. Real life avatars are what they have become. Under "normal circumstances", the anxiety of what we can't keep under control is controlled by the ability of the fantasy frame, which suspends the player amid the Real and Virtual for a brief time. However, these anxieties of aggression lead to non-sublimated death drives. At most extremes, these bodily drives lead to an overwhelming act of mass murder, just like with Harris and Klebold.

The Existence of Stereotypes

There are various social stereotypes that are found in video games. These include racial as well as gender stereotyping in the majority of games.

Racial Discrimination

It can easily be recognized that characters from a minor ethnic region, for instance Hispanics and Blacks, not only appear less frequently in video games but are also under-represented and stereotypically portrayed as a minority.

The characters that predominate in most video games are white males. Leading roles characters and hero roles were also carried out by mostly white males. The only exception where a Black was a leading character was in sports games.

Gender Discrimination

With females, there is almost none, or hardly any popular video game that has them in a leading role or as a heroine. Female characters do seem to be increasing, but only in stereotypical roles. Usually they are positioned as the leading male character's assistant, or as a character that needs to be rescued. The message that women are weaker, powerless and in need of male assistance is what these weak supporting roles insist into the mind of the player. This may be the cause why girls have an aversion to playing video games compared to boys (Hartmann & Klimmt, 2006). The opposing characters (or villains), are never portrayed by a female. Moreover, the body figure and attire worn by females are shown to be a very slim and voluptuous with revealing outfits as well as males represented by very masculine figures. It is obvious that gender is portrayed in an unethical approach.

The portrayals and representations mentioned above of females and minorities impact players significantly. Adolescents in particular, who are still in the developing phase of forming their self-identity, gender role perception, self-image, plus their attitude and approach with respect to other racial groups and genders. Consequently, adolescents use the identification of role models to explore and develop their own identity (Erikson, 1968).

An Ethical Approach to Violent Video Games

Using a utilitarian approach, in order to defend the claim that playing these games is morally unacceptable, a utilitarian would demonstrate that the outcome of a high risk of pain from playing these games, are greater than the benefits resulting from playing. The first thing to consider is the addiction involved with video games. Users are compulsively and habitually drawn into them. Even though video game addiction isn't one of the American Medical Association's lists of recognizable diagnosable disorders, increasing evidence proves that people of all ages, are dealing with actual severe consequences all due to their compulsiveness.

Another point to consider is the social implications to the user. Some may argue that video games give an alternative for children to diverge themselves from their boring everyday life. However, doing so will only result in alienation from society. Video games definitely isolate the user and result with awful antisocial behavior as well as a lack of consideration for others.

Other unhappiness factors that are caused by video games include the desensitization and the boost of violent cogitations (as mentioned earlier), the waste of money, depression, distraction from higher priorities, aggression, wrong values that are passed to children e.g. the portrayal of women to be weaker characters and sexually provocative, health issues including obesity, seizures, muscular and skeletal disorders etc.

When assessing the pleasures that video games provide, the main positive outcomes are the enjoyment experienced throughout the game as well as the economical benefits it provides for the producers.

Hence, a utilitarian would conclude that the benefits outweigh the harms and that the effects of video games are immoral to the users.


It can be agreed that there are countless ethical issues to consider with video games. The cyber world has magnetized users into an unsafe life that's difficult to be pulled away from. The emotional involvement with video games is far more than just empathy and compassion. Even though one may be brought up with the finest ethics and morals, it all seems to be drained away as the virtual world takes over the user's morals, ethics, values and culture. Their perception of the world and who they are completely changes as they become desensitized by the avatars that sooner or later, control them. There is no doubt that users develop a very close bond with their avatars and consequently have themselves invested in those creations.

Also, the game industries including its designers need to willfully consider the inequalities that are currently being represented to decrease the space between race and gender portrayal. It can clearly be seen that right now, video games are definitely pervading the moral development of its users and cannot be considered as ethical.

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