Video Games Encourage Violent Behavior

Task 1: Annotated Bibliography

Thesis Statement: Research suggests violent video games encourage violent behavior through desensitization, because children become immune to the graphic violence and imitate the violence they see. The following is an annotated bibliography that supports this position.

Ferguson, C J. (2009) Violent Video Games: Dogma, Fear, and Pseudoscience. Retrieved May 9, 2012 from

Ferguson in his research work centers on the school violence amongst the youth. It is evident from his article that human behavior can be controlled and effectively managed. He relates fear, dogma and pseudoscience amongst students as issues propagated through the violence seen in video games. The media through violent video games has been highlighted as the main cause of violence in children as they grow. Children want to satisfy their ego through violent activities, as they are portrayed in video games (Ferguson, 2009). Research in this source drawn from various authors further augments the connection between violent video games and children’s violent behavior.  The research here is drawn from quite diverse backgrounds and settings, producing extremely closely related data and information about the fear of violent games nationwide. The credibility of this source is mainly founded in works of research, taking into account a wide scope of factors for purposes of generalization on the topic of research.

Jeanne B. Funk, Heidi Bechtoldt Baldacci, Tracie Pasold, Jennifer Baumgardner, (2004);

Violence exposure in real-life, video games, television, movies, and the internet: is

there desensitization? Department of Psychology, The University of Toledo, 2801 West Bancroft, Toledo, OH, USA; Journal of Adolescence 23–39 Retrieved on May 29, 2012 from

It is credible that constant experience to real life and to aggressive entertainment may change affective, cognitive, and behavioral systems, probably resulting to desensitization. The objective of the study was to find out whether there were correlations between exposure to media violence and real life, as outlined in comparable characteristics. The authors expresses that 150 fourth and fifth graders completed gauges of real life aggressive exposure, empathy, exposure to media violence, and attitudes regarding violence. Indications of regression analysis reflect that exposure to video game aggression is the only one that is affiliated with (lower) empathy. The study also indicates that exposure to movie and video game violence is strongly associated with robust pro-violence attitudes. The dynamic nature of participating in video games, extreme involvement, and the propensity to be interpreted into a fantasy play may elucidate negative effects without the inclusion of causality into the investigation (Jean et al, 2005). The comparative low exposure to violence in real life might have restricted the recognition of relationships. The paper claimss that further study is required in order to quantify desensitization of violence, as well as examining causal relationships and individual variations.  

Brandon, J. (2011) Is Bulletstorm the Worst Video Game in the World? Retrieved from Fox News May 9, 2012 from

The author in this article highlights concerns about violence and vulgarity as seen and heard in the Bulletstorm video game. The main issue is the idea that young children could be affected largely, due to their curiosity and addiction to the game. Brandon draws ideas from clinical psychologists like Dr. Jerry Weichman from Hoag Neurosciences Institute in Southern California. Violence in the video games caused much worry to parents, who needed to safeguard their children (Brandon, 2011). Generally, the article highlights an essential subject that has initiated a debate among psychologists and other scholars on its effects to children. John Brandon writes the Tech Trends column in each and every issue of Inc. magazine as he is a contributing editor. The information contained in the article is, thus, authentic and applicable to any work of research before a final conclusion can be reached on the topic. It is an excellent material for a further study.

Children Now, (2001). Fair Play: Violence, Gender and Race in Video Games. Retrieved May 9, 2012 from

Research conducted by children shows that adults are often forgetting how intriguing it was while playing video games. They have, thus, failed to exercise control over their children’s involvement in video games. More than 280 million video game units were sold in 2000. Video games characterize over 60% of the American population (Children Now, 2001). Messages send to children have, however, been extremely detrimental to their development. ‘Children Now’ (2001) seeks to create a balance between benefits and dangers of playing video games. While video games can improve attention skills among other things, the violence in video games is feared to cause the aggression amongst them. “Children Now” is leading a multi-issue research that is nonpartisan and engaged in all levels of policy development, as well as the advocacy organization that is dedicated to promoting health and education of children in California, while at the same time creating national media policies that enhance the child development. The information contained here is, thus, comprehensive and of high quality.

Hartney, E. (2010). What Is Video Game Addiction? Gaming Addiction Basics. Retrieved May 9, 2012 from

Hartney ideally tackles on the subject of video game addiction and its harmful effects on the gamers. She gives the empirical evidence from studies in the past that video games can cause aggression and addiction to it, producing harmful effects. All the same, she asserts that effects depend on an individual and may come into play based more on many other factors than merely the time spent while playing games. Between 10-15% of all video gamers can be said to be addicted to them (Hartney, 2010). The background and research in this article is thorough and comprehensive. It produces enough evidence that prompts more research on the topic. Elizabeth Hartney holds a PhD in psychology. As a psychologist, she has carried out extensive research with a lot of experience in practice and teaching, mainly in the area of addictions, and such issues as concurrent disorders. Her contributions to the topic are, thus, well-informed through intensive research.  

SPCS, (2007). Dr. Craig Anderson: Violent Video Games and Aggression. Retrieved May 9, 2012 from

This article gives reviews on Dr. Craig Anderson’s specialty in video game violence. Dr. Craig from the University of Iowa happens to be cited frequently in this field, and, thus, the information contained herein is quite useful in developing the effective study. Aggression in children and juvenile delinquency has been closely related to violent video games (SPCS, 2007). While the male gender has been found to be main victims, their female counterparts have registered comparable results of the aggression. The perspective from which SPCS tackles this topic is quite instrumental and significant in providing a strong ground of analysis. The information in this website provides direction and sheds more light on all factors affecting the study on video games and their effects. This is a remarkable academic source that explores quite essential aspects of violent behavior as propagated through video games amongst children.

Warren, M. (2010). The Importance of Video and Computer Games. Retrieved May 9, 2012 from

Warren (2010) looks into the history of video games, their usefulness and how they have developed to be instrumental to the gamer in developing essential life skills. The article presents video games as quite useful in the life of the person playing it. The importance of video games has been tackled from diverse views. These include economic value in meeting the ever increasing market and personal development on life matters. However, all these benefits as highlighted in the article have not gone without a caution sounded on gamers on grounds of addiction. It is vital to realize how these video games need to be controlled and managed, especially by young children who may find it difficult to exercise the self-withdrawal to do other things. While the source is taking a positive stand on video games, the author agrees that positive elements are fully realized on some conditions owing to the nature of harm, if not well-managed.

Brad Bushman, Rowell Huesmann, (2006). Short-term and long-term effects of violent

media on Aggression in children and adults free. Retrieved May 29, 2012 from

Brad and Rowell attempted to test whether the findings of accumulated research studies on relationship between aggressive behaviors and media violence are consistent with evolved theory on the effects. They tested for both short and long term effect of media violence on aggressive behaviors. They also tested hypothesis driven by theories that media violence long term effect is greater for children and short term effects on adult. They used children under 18 years and a sample of adults. Using meta-analysis, they exposed the participants to violent media including violent video games and movies (Brad & Rowel, 2006). As pre-assumed the result indicated that long term effect of media violence are greater in children, while short term effects are greater in adults. The result also showed significant effect of exposure to media violence on aggressive thoughts, behaviors, and angry feelings. Their conclusion indicates that their results are consistent with accumulated research theories and study on effect of media violence both short term and long term.

Julie Dark, Judy Ungerer, Jeanna Sutton, Ann Sanson, and Carl Scuder, (2000). Media

presentations and Responsibilities ; Psychological Perspectives; An Australian Psychological Society Position Paper ABN 23000 543 788, prepared by Working Group of the Directorate of Social Issues comprising Retrieved May 29, 2012 from

This paper responds to the concern of the community involving the effect that the media causes on individuals and society. It demonstrates figuratively that presentations of the media aren’t merely society’s mirror but rather that they are greatly constructed and selective portrayals. While admitting that there are numerous positive roles played by the media, the research outline that portrayals of crime and depiction of violence in children through the media that have raised concern.

The document reflects the desensitization impact of video content on behaviors and attitudes- and specifically the impacts of televised aggression and violence- a supplementary hypothetical approach has drawn concentration to the prospective role of emotion. The desensitization proposition agrees that persistent viewing of violence scenes through video games results to a decrease in emotional responsiveness towards violent scenes on the screen as well as an intensified recognition of violent behavior in real life (Julie et al, 2000). For example, even though young children may primarily demonstrate intense fear and fright reactions towards the content of violent video scenes. The paper cites that according to Cantor, (1994) the children may become intensively accustomed to aggression demonstrated in videos and may intensively desire violent content as they turn out to be desensitized or habituated. The hypothetical outline of the document reflects that prolonged watching of violent video games by both young people and adults may result to reduced emotional responsiveness to actual world of violence, to an intensified acceptance of aggression in daily life, and the development of insensitive thoughts toward the victims of aggression. 

Douglas A., Muniba Saleem, Craig A. Anderson (2007), Public Policy and the Effects of

Media Violence on Children; Social Issues and Policy Review, in press; Department of Psychology, Iowa State University; b Center for the Study of Violence, Iowa State University; c National Institute on Media and the Family. Retrieved 29 May, 2012 from

In their study the authors indicate that there has been concern from the public and policy makers about the impact of media violence on young people for decades. They depict a scientific psychological study as a vital source of information for policy, particularly in distinction between facts and opinions. The authors review on the exposure of children to media violence and descriptive violence that can be applied in explanation of the impacts of media violence, and also summarizes the study on the impacts of exposure to media violence as well as giving a description of a number of moderators that can mitigate or enhance those impacts (Douglas, 2007). The findings of this scientific study provide important data for public policy. However, there authors indicate that there are many obstacles to their application, such as misinterpretation of how causality is resolved in public and scientific health circles and the extent of the impacts. Finally, the authors depict the significance of video games and the approaches to reduce the negative impacts on the behavior of the viewers.

Task 2: Article Synthesis

Ferguson, C J. (2009) Violent Video Games: Dogma, Fear, and Pseudoscience. Retrieved May 9, 2012 from

Violent video games are thought to be a major contributor to violence amongst young people particularly teenagers and young adults. The vice has shockingly risen to alarming levels in previous years. In his article “Violent Video Games: Dogma, Fear, and Pseudoscience”, Ferguson sheds light on the matter of video games relation to violent behavior expressing that it causes moral panic. The author in his attitude and tone, issues a sound position that violent video games are the major cause to violent behavior in kids. While children can be violent, more violence is linked to the violent nature present and seen video games. As school (mostly on high schools and universities or colleges) shootouts and killings shoot upwards, one is left to wonder what really causes such violent behavior. It is always thought that perpetrators of such crimes are young, emotionally disturbed, most likely disturbed, socially isolated and full of hate young men. However, social science has found that although the above characteristics play a major role in the portray of violence, a good number of kids just pick up vices from video games that have violent themes like murder, rape scenes, gang wars and organized crimes.

Current and prior research on the issue shows some inconsistencies in data and at some points contradictory findings and data. This leaves a question as to what really causes the violent behaviors if not the influence from violent video games as a section of social scientists put forward. One thing is clear though, violent video games are a contributor of violent vices or behavior even though it is not necessarily the root cause. A huge gap is in existence between the social scientist suggestions and the real picture on the ground. Panic has risen over media content with some people suggesting a ban on certain items like the Harry Potter series, rock and roll and rap music among others, citing that the youthful individuals are not I a position to distinguish between the real and the fictious. In his article, Ferguson believes that the case is obvious that the violent shooting and aggression in school children is much more ignited through violent video games. The matter is that of correlation and does not require a divine intervention to conclude (Ferguson, 2009). Human behavior is highly predictable, based on observable facts. In Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine documentary, Columbine shooters were presented as keen bowlers. The excellence in shooting would be related to video gaming just as the tendency for bowling as a hobby could easily be linked to aggression.

This explanation however is only seen to serve the public demand for a culprit. Generation after generation, in an effort to maintain dominance, people are seen to be in constant fight with the youth culture whenever it comes up (Ferguson, 2009). This can be seen as the reason why people fight the current trend of video games instead of their old pastime activities. Therefore, it is easier to blame current trends to change of behavior as most parents would wish their kids to do the things they like. Although the thought of violent video games driving kids into violent maybe true, scientists are expected to give more empirical evidence. Males are more aggressive in nature and a correlation between this and violent games are expected. However, more evidence, scientific skepticism and careful inquiry to prove this notion is required otherwise these statements will only be taken as speculations (Ferguson, 2009). According to the article, video games and violence may be related in the smallest of ways since it is much of a male thing to play video games and be aggressive (Ferguson, 2009).


It is definitely rifght that most of school shooters (although not all) used to play violent video games. The same do most other young men and boys. Arriving at a conclusion that a school shooter evidently used to play violent video games may sometimes seem prescient, though it is not always true. It is almost as predictive as a suggestion that they probably wore sneakers at some point of time in their life, are able to have testicles, grow facial hair or anything else that is fairly commom among males. Michael Moore, in his famous documentary Bowling for Columbine, noted that the Columbine shooters were avid bowlers. Perhaps a propensity for bowling as a hobby is correlated with aggression? As such, playing video games is an illusory correlation as far as aggression is concerned and explains nothing. This was highlighted best during the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting. Soon after the shooting, pundits such as Jack Thompson and Phillip McGraw (“Dr. Phil”) speculated that the shooter must have been a frequent violent gamer (McGraw 2007; Thompson 2007). This was an easy guess given that most young males play violent games, however the official investigation revealed quite the opposite: the shooter, Seung Hui Cho, did not play violent games at all.

Without doubt it can be concluded that a good number of school shooters are involved in violent video games whether through playing or watching as others play. This is the same case with most males (boys and other young male adults). Most individuals view the conclusion that, any school shooter chosen at random most probably played violent video games as a stereotype but it is not. The assumption is almost 100% accurate same as assuming any other obvious occurrence in the life of a man like growth of facial hair, wearing sneakers or any other common activity. In the article Bowling for Columbine, Michael Moore notes that all Columbine shooters were enthusiastic bowlers. It is therefore debatable that aggression may be related to tendency for bowling as leisure or a pastime activity. Therefore, involvement in video games is a deceptive relationship with regards to aggression and helps to clarify nothing. At the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, analysts Jack Thompson and Philip McGraw predicted that the shooters must have been deeply involved in violent video games thereby highlighting the relationship. It was a random guess which later revealed the opposite. Although most males play video games, the shooter Seung Hui Cho was not a violent video game player and therefore the relationship between aggression and video games is not quite certain as many may conclude (Ferguson, 2009).

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