An insight into the question ‘do video games cause violence?’

As I have an assignment due in tomorrow, I almost did not post this week. However, there will be no post on Wednesday as I have a 24-hour exam that day, so I felt like you guys deserved at least one post. Plus, you know, I’m all for putting off doing actual work in favour of talking about gaming.

That being said, this will be rather short and not too detailed as I do have very little time, but I do still want to give you guys something to think about. I am determined to do a much longer post about this in the future, so think of this as a little insight rather than an actual post.

So, for those who do not know me personally – which is actually a lot of you at this point – I live in the UK, and for my GCSE’s, I took sociology. That subject was actually my favourite and it partly led me to be as passionate about needing to change society as I am currently (but let’s be real for a second, that was mainly Persona 5). But it was in this lesson that the idea that video games could potentially cause violence came into my field of vision. To be honest, I have the same views as I did back then… only now, I have a few real life case studies in the form of my partner and myself. When I get round to doing the much, much larger post, I will include a bunch of case studies but for now, let’s get personal.

So, on an even more personal note and purely because I know she is okay with me talking about it, me and my mother went through domestic abuse a while ago. I bring this up because after that relationship ended, my mother (got ill but then…) got a lot of support in terms of being put into support groups and so on. My mother is also the type of person to believe anything that she reads on Facebook, bless her. So, when GTA V came out, there was a lot of stuff going around about it ‘promoting’ domestic violence. Now, both my sister and my partner have played this game. My partner in particular – who is very aware of all forms of abuse because I am traumatised (also please don’t worry, I use humour as a coping mechanism, I’m aware it comes off as strange, but I’m just trying to get certain points across and therefore have to talk like this), and he’s used to having to look after me, recognise what is triggering me and so on. So what I am trying to say is that he knows his stuff. He can recognise abuse from a mile off. And he states that there is no domestic violence in the game. As for myself… I’m ridiculously bad at driving cars (not just in video games, it is a talent I possess in real life too!) so I haven’t actually got past the opening. But regardless, there is another point I want to add about this and it’s sort of about GTA V in general.

Usually, GTA games are there to prevent people from doing violent acts in real life. There’s actually a torture scene in the game, where afterwards, the person who did the torture goes on a rant about how you should not do torture. The point of this is that this guy is a clear bad guy. If he does not agree with torture, you know it’s seriously messed up (even more than he is, which is real bad).

As for myself, I don’t tend to play a lot of “violent” video games. I think the closest I really get is like, The Witcher 3. But if I did not have video games, things would be a whole lot different. As you guys know if you’ve been following me for a while, I have a lot of mental health issues. Video games and narrative help me focus my attention on something positive rather than negative things going on. I used to not have the best coping mechanisms, and video games are a way of distracting me from that. Although I would never be violent against other people because, y’know, abuse, I would often be violent against myself. I really don’t want to make this post about my mental health or anything. Still, it is important to bring up because my mental health as a whole has significantly improved since I’ve been invested in gaming, and I have developed much more healthy coping mechanisms… if you count playing Persona 5 instead of sleeping as healthy, which I do! Video games allow me to remove myself from my own situation and calm me down so that I do not become violent with myself.

Similarly, my partner primarily plays games as an attempt to control his anger. He’s not an angry person, but he’s the type of person who doesn’t particularly like many people at all and has trouble understanding people. As a result, he gets frustrated. That frustration could easily turn into anger and aggression, but over the years he has taught himself to direct that negativity into video games. For him (from my perspective), video games are something positive that helps him handle a negative situation by providing him with an outlet where he can be angry if he wants but where no one gets hurt. Video games are a way for people to let out the anger that they are feeling towards the world in a safe environment in which no one gets hurt by them doing so.

I wonder if people who think video games cause violence have any idea as to what would happen if these people did not have video games? If they had no outlet for their negative emotions? It’s just a thought because surely any outlet is better than no outlet- especially when that outlet means that no one is getting hurt.

And that’s all for this post guys! Like I said, it’s just a little insight for a future post because I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately and I feel like it is such an important, highly debated topic in our community.

2 thoughts on “An insight into the question ‘do video games cause violence?’

  1. This is an interesting subject to take on. I think this idea of video games acting as a sort of safety valve for people to let off steam that might otherwise build up and explode makes sense. I remember all the controversy around each GTA game that came out starting with III — I don’t remember if every one of them carried the same amount, but it had that reputation of promoting violence for a while. Yet it’s very clear that the world of GTA is a total fantasy one where someone can cause total mayhem and get out of it by paying a hundred dollar bribe to the police. No one could mistake that sort of world for our own, so how could it be instructing players on how to act in the real world? Some argued that it was instead causing a more general kind of desensitization to violence, but the same arguments have been made with regard to movies and music for a while and no proof that I know of has been produced for it.

    Those are my thoughts, anyway. The climate in the UK might be a bit different from ours here in the States. Right at the moment, nobody here is taking about video games causing violence, at least. Though there definitely are some demands for justice out there that you could link to the Phantom Thieves if you really wanted to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading my post and commenting! I agree that many people who “fear” that video games cause violence do not realise how the games are clearly fantasy! Despite games trying to be realistic these days, there’s still a clear fiction divide! I remember in my sociology class, my teacher went on and on about how games desensitised children, without failing to mention all the murder and violence that is on the news daily. People are desensitised to violence because of the world we live in, not because of video games! But I’m going to do a much more researched and put together post in the future, hopefully to educate some people (such as parents who have children that would benefit from letting emotions out in games).

      I’m actually planning on doing a post about the Phantom Thieves and race after my exam. Things are so much different in the U.K., but regardless it’s a worldwide issue and we must stand together on it! I just needed to take some time to educate myself as I’m the kind of person who’s never understood why people aren’t considered equal because it’s just common sense to me. I need to be able to handle the post well and since I have a lot of uni work, I didn’t want to feel rushed. It’s so important that I get it right as I don’t want to upset anyone or come across as ignorant.

      Liked by 1 person

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