There is no doubt that video games can have a positive influence with your reaction times, and studies have shown that they can improve your ability to make accurate critical decisions. Now, we are learning that video games are providing people who are prone to violence a way to release those tendencies in a controlled manner, a new study finds. The study was conducted by European Economic Research in Mannheim, the Baylor University, and the University of Texas at Arlington. They released their findings in the article, “Understanding the Effects of Violent Video Games on Violent Crime.” To quote:
Our results indicate two opposing effects. They suggest the behavioral effects in line with the psychological studies. If not for the incapacitation effect, violent video games would be associated with more violent crimes. However, the results also support a voluntary incapacitation effect in which playing either violent or non-violent games decrease crimes. Sales of either violent or non-violent games are associated with decreased violent and non-violent crime. The incapacitation effect dominates the behavioral effect such that, overall, violent video games lead to decreases in violent crime.
Video games have gotten a lot of negative press from the media over the years. With events like the Oslo Terrorist using Modern Warfare 2 as a training simulationearlier this year, Jack Thompson blaming it for several forms of negative influences on our children, experts blaming Virginia Tech shootings on FPS games in 2007, and the Supreme Court striking down a controversial California video game bill in 2010.
Analysis: We have seen video games be used as a recruiting tool for the US Army for years, and now possibly the Air Force will use it as a means to recruit future drone pilots. Video games have also been linked to helping Military members with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), helping help Alzheimer patients with their mental acuity, helping young cancer patients fight their cancer, or even helping people manage their chronic pain. Therefore, there’s no doubt in my mind that video games can be and are used as a positive tool to influence our young people, but the general media loves to attack the few bad apples in the orchard because they don’t understand it and because conflict generates better ratings than positive ones.
My argument is this. When rock ‘n’ roll came around in the 50’s and 60’s, was it all negative? Were the Beatles or Elvis telling you to go out to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or disobey your parents? No, they didn’t. The problem was that the majority of adults at that time did not understand what rock ‘n’ roll was and thus lashed out at it. Now, the same thing is happening with video games because the medium is widely misunderstood; many attack it because they don’t get it. People like Jack Thompson are saying what they do because they’re preying on your fears, making you see devils that are not there. Anything can be misused and twisted to fit an agenda for someone who is mentally unstable. Video games are just the newest scape goat.
There is a saying that comes to mind for me with this story: “Why is it that everyone remembers what I do wrong, but never what I do right?” This can be applied to many subjects but fits the context of my message beautifully. The only things the general media remembers is the negative impacts that video games have had, never the positive ones—or at least you don’t hear about it as much as the negative ones. Video games are a positive force for us as a society. We just need to recognize and promote those qualities more often.