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Mixed findings on gaming, violence

Popular teen pastime is again a target of political scrutiny.

Shlok Gore, Staff Writer

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In the wake of the numerous mass shootings that have taken place across the country, people look towards the possible causes for the sudden spike in violence amongst the youth.  After the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, President Donald Trump held a conference with the media and several government officials to discuss where violent video games belong in the future of America’s children.

The overall sentiment of the meeting was that violent video games encourage aggression and the tendency to be violent amongst those who play.   Even though there are many strong feelings for this topic, the link between violent media and violent behavior is weak. Whitney DeCamp, an associate professor of sociology at Western Michigan University, says the evidence points to an “insignificant” link between playing video games and violent behavior.  In fact, according to the Entertainment Software Association, which represents the U.S. video game industry, youth violence has declined to a 40-year low even though violent video game sales have skyrocketed.

Sophomores Siddharth Singh and Abhinav Das are both frequent players of M-rated video games, such as “Call of Duty” and “Battlefield”.  These games encourage the player to pursue missions similar to those in real military combat. Tasks that players need to complete in order to progress frequently require firing guns on an enemy army, or bloody insurgencies into unknown territory. One can understand why violent video games are a popular scapegoat for tragedies such as Marjory Stoneman Douglas and Sandy Hook, for they encourage users to commit acts of killing and bloodshed.

These games also happen to be the favorites of Das and Singh. The two are well aware of the potential effects of these games can have on them when it comes to violence, but they have yet to see these effects on themselves.  

“I don’t think these games necessarily have an effect on me in terms of aggression,” says Singh. “I wouldn’t feel the need to pick up a gun and do whatever they do in ‘Battlefield’”.

After violent effects, desensitization is another issue that has been brought up by both critics and parents alike. When exposing individuals to bloodshed onscreen in the form of a video game, it is suggested that playing these games softens users to the idea of taking lives, therefore making these horrific acts less and less of a conscious impact.  

Das agrees that these games lead to the desensitization of the youth. “I think that because the main point of these games is to kill, kids who play grow more accustomed to guns and there could be a little bit of desensitization that goes on due to that.¨

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Mixed findings on gaming, violence