The short and long term effects of video games

Studies, statistics, personal experience, proof? The fact remains that video games affect the human mind and every day life. From violent tendencies to personal experiences, let’s explore the subject that has attempted to take down the video game industry.

Columbine High School, Aurora movie theater shooting, Newtown School shooting, Washington Navy Yard shooting. All major acts of violence, all through the last 15 years and all the while video game sales are booming, including the popularity of games such as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto.

Unfortunately the Columbine High School and the Aurora movie theater shooting was in my own backyard and as the time passed, the more information became available, the more I became perturbed of the very investigations into the cause.

In the case of the Columbine High School shooting, the video game Doom was a major factor in the opinion of the cause in the investigators mind, stating that the shooters had modified the game to include two shooters and unlimited ammo and recreated scenes from the game.

In the case of the Aurora movie theater shooting, upon investigation of the shooters apartment, they found video games such as Skyrim and Oblivion suspect. Video games that ultimately had nothing to do with the investigation however are admittedly violent in their own right.

Furthermore, the Newtown School shooter was said to own “thousands of dollars” worth of violent video games and bond with his mother only at the times that they were at the gun range. The Washington Navy Yard shooter was said to own several violent video games, including the ones of the Newtown shooter specifically pointed at Call of Duty. Both have mental illnesses.

What was mentioned in all situations albeit less than the affect of video games on these people were bullying, mental illnesses and addictions. None of which had addressed the relationship with the suspects and their families, including their parents and the relationships between them, or more importantly previous patterns of abuse or neglect in the family that can cause said issues.

As most gamers pay close attention, there have been many studies conducted including some that were ordered by the President of the United States himself.

Between 2005-2008, Mark R. Ward (Economist at University of Texas) and A. Scott Cunningham (Baylor University) conducted a study that included the short to medium effects of violent video games based on the top 50 retail video games sold in correlation with violent criminal offenses from the Nation Indecent Based Reporting System (NIBRS). Using game characteristics, sales, quality, and time on the market, Mr. Ward estimated that while a one percent increase in violent games is associated with up to a 0.03% decrease in violent crime. Non-violent games appear to have no effect on crime rates. Mark Ward’s study concludes that there is a short term effect with humans, more specifically children, that can cause violent tendencies, even though the statistics given in the study don’t support overall violent crimes.

Christopher J. Ferguson on the other hand has always been an advocate of the gaming community, backing up the community with studies of his own. The psychologist at Texas A&M has conducted several studies including parental influence on children, if mass violence and video games is a casual relationship or moral panic (in which he uses the same numbers of others opposed to his conclusions against them), gender, video game playing habits and visual memory tasks.

With the exclusion of some of Mr. Ferguson’s work or others I have not mentioned, there is not a lot of studies or even chatter of the random effects video games can have on a human beings and whether or not it is at a time of importance. Some have personal experiences that create commonality and personality changes. I myself had a connection with a popular video game.

Alternate history is a very popular subject in this era. I have always loved world history in general though I maintain that we may be living an alternate history ourselves to some extent. That being said a history lover mixed with a video game junkie naturally would birth a love for Assassin’s Creed.

Over the course of the franchise, I went through the best and worst times in my life. The game became attached to me rather than me attached to it. I may sound crazy in relating a highly violent alternate history video game to every day life, but I recently went back and played all AC’s over the last month. As I was playing, it brought the memory of joy and sorrow I felt during the franchises run in my personal life. Sort of like a smell can bring you to a time in your life you had once forgotten.

Whether you think video games can change humans into violent creatures or back video games unconditionally remember one thing, its not about the information you take in, it is about how you perceive it and how it is applied in your life.

Please comment below on your thoughts regarding the effect of video games in your life or general opinion.