Violent Video Games: Do They Lead to Aggressive and Addictive Behavior?

Ellie ZarrabianNews & Events

Video games for children, teens and young adults is a $10 billion a year business in the United States. Certainly some of the games offer harmless entertainment and maybe even some educational value. But the games that seem to be the most eagerly anticipated, the games that major retailer Zany Brainy says “the industry is focusing on,” and the games that fly off the shelves as soon as they’re released are those rated “M” for mature and “AO” for adults only.

To garner an “M” rating, the content is intended for people aged 17 and older, and may contain sexual themes and intense violence or language. An “AO”-rated game is suitable only for adults 18 and over, and may include graphic depictions of sex and/or violence.

The popularity of the games is astounding. According to a report by the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center, a 2001 review found that 49 percent of the 70 top-selling video games contained serious violence. Out of all games, 41 percent required violence for the protagonists to achieve their goals, and in 17 percent of the games, violence was the primary focus of the game itself.

Yes, Violent Video Games Are Addictive

Video games are infused with high graphics and offer a virtually realistic environment to players. This triggers the hormone dopamine or the “feel good hormone” in the brain which is the primary cause for addiction. With appealing visuals and realistic game play, young brains take it as a mode of relaxed pastime which gradually develops into an addiction. It is found that 73% of the youth who are infused with playing video games gradually develop a longing for it and apply similar behavior of the game play in real life.

Are the Game Ratings Enough?

Just as controversial as the violence issue is whether or not the game ratings go far enough. While some contend that it’s up to parents to monitor the game ratings and their children’s exposure to them, a study found that many parents, though aware of the ratings and of their meanings, do not take them seriously.

“Most parents think their child is mature enough so that these games will not influence them,” said Jurgen Freund, chief executive with the Swiss research firm Modulum.

According to the study of over 1,000 UK adults, parents were more concerned with the number of hours their children were playing video games than with what game they were playing. The debate is likely to continue on a large scale in years to come.

What today’s world Needs

Technology is meant to make people’s life easier and it is doing so no doubt. But indirectly we are also compounding the issue of violence and addictions in the youth through these violent video games.  Gaming studios can still make money but what we need is for them to become more constructive contributors to society. By creating more games like “The Sims” or “Business Tycoon” which are life simulator games, they allow players to face the challenges of real life situations while figuring out how to overcome them through exciting play and emotional engagement.

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