1)”Jury Convicts Video Game Defense Killer”, CNN.com Thursday, 8/11/05
2)”No Strong Link Seen Between Violent Video Games and Aggression”, News Bureau, U of Illionois at Urbana 8/9/05
Last November, I interrupted two teenage boys from their game of “Slime Soccer”, a simple two-player, relatively non-violent computer game, an evolved cousin of “Pong”. In fact, I had interrupted, forced quit, and remotely shut down many computer games over the past three years. It was one of the requirements of working in the computer lab at a high school where game play is prohibited. Sometimes, upon finding student game play, I would look the other way. The school was an academic pressure cooker and I sympathized with how desperately students desired to fill their 5 minutes between classes with something fun and alternative. However, on this particular morning, the two students were becoming aggressive. The boys, who had previously shown themselves to be “super nice” kids, were rising up in their seats and pushing each other. I rushed to their console and told them to stop playing. When they failed to cease their keystrokes, I reached for the monitor button, but was intercepted by a pubescent hand with a death grip. The student grabbed me so hard that my arm turned red where his fingers had just dug into me. I was shocked. So was he. He looked down in horror, in disbelief over what he had just done. Later he said that he was so revved up by the game that he felt like he had lost control. He said he saw his arm going in to reach for me, but didn’t think that it was his own.
This experience proved to me that video games, even simple seemingly non-violent ones, could aggravate a violent tendency in some individuals. However, games making a person kill? That’s pushing it. The two articles “Jury convicts video game defense killer” and “No Strong Link Seen Between Violent Video Games and Aggression” highlight extreme examples on opposite ends of the spectrum. I think that “Grand Theft Auto” may have had an influence Devin Moore, but the defect was not as much in the “Rockstar” brand game as in Devin Moore’s propensity to be influenced by it. If Grand Theft Auto had the type of effect that Moore’s Lawyers are claiming, we would have all been dead before Grand Theft Auto 2 ever came out! In general, the lawsuit goes along with the trend of blaming society’s ills on non-parental, oftentimes corporate influences. Perhaps it was the combination of his childhood abuse and the game. But then, doesn’t the fault lay with his guardians (or whoever abused him) who made him susceptible to this type of stimulus in the first place? When I had the incident with the student, the parents stepped in, the child was counseled, and evaluated. I’m sure that Devin Moore’s killings were not the first exhibit of his violence. I’m certain if he had been evaluated properly, some action would have been taken so that these killings would have been prevented. The case begs the question, should companies have to pay for the mental defects of a few? It’s a stark contrast against big tobacco where the proferrered product kills or injures the majority of people who uses it. But when a single individual is at risk, is it fair to apply blanket policy? My opinion is that it is not.
On the other hand, while the second article “No Strong Link Seen Between Violent Video Games and Aggression” initially seems to champion a studies findings that no link has been seen, it ultimately only shows that more research needs to be conducted on this topic. One study is never enough. The scientists only tested one type of game, didn’t concentrate on a single age group and stated, “because of the study’s design, only moderate or large effects…were detected”. The results don’t convince me of anything. I have seen the violence first hand, and while it was not extreme, it was present.
While I thought the study was inadequate I thought the last statement the scientist made was brilliant and truthful and thus worth repeating here. “Games are about solving problems, and it should tell us something that kids race home from school where they are often bored to get on games and solve problems. Clearly we need to capture that lightning in a bottle.”