For the past decades, interactive video games have emerged as one of the most popular forms of entertainment among the youth of today. They are now an integral part of the educational, social and cultural experience of childhood. Also, children are now spending a huge amount of time and money entertaining themselves with video games - the majority of which contain a lot of violence based on the study conducted by J.B. Funk in the 1990's. They may be the blatant fighting games, such as the well-known Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, or King of Fighters. They could also be the 4-CD long strategy and role playing games (RPGs) like Final Fantasy, Rainbow Six, Baldur's Gate, and Star Craft, but they all boil down to one goal - the annihilation of an opponent. Despite the significant increase of production and usage of violent video games that are even marked with age restrictions, children are all the more encouraged to play and purchase them.
To some extent, they may be a good source of recreation and release for stress and anxiety from school, home or work. However, beyond the knowledge of perhaps most people are the aggressive and domineering behavior, especially in young boys and adolescents, which result from excessive exposure to these violent video games. Parents have raised their concern time and again, because of the surprising mean, disrespectful, and sometimes uncivilized manner that their children conduct themselves after playing their favorite video games. It is important though to look into the most common reasons why despite the complaints, violent video games have remained very popular among the youth. The main reasons why a lot of people, children most especially, enjoy playing violent video games have to do with the interrelated societal and mental problems they are currently undergoing. A more specific reason is what Sigmund Freud defined as Displacement, wherein children would divert their attention from their problems elsewhere so as to cope with the not-too-good things happening to them.
The stress, pressure, and anxiety in their lives make them seek out a sanctuary, a release. Some find it in music. Others find it in sports. Some find them in parties, while others find them in violent video games. They believe that playing these games would actually bring some level of comfort or peace to their lives.
By letting out their pent-up emotions, anger, and frustrations towards relationships, school, work, and the like, they decide to use violent video games to avoid aggressive behavior. Instead of punching someone in the nose for fowling up during a group presentation, they would rather bring it to the screen. After they have beaten someone up in a game and even won, then they would feel that anger, or frustration they felt earlier dwindle into oblivion. Another reason for the reigning popularity of violent games is a child's longing for a model. During the formative years of a child, their means of learning is primarily through imitation. It is only later on in life that they develop a sense of morality and ethics that helps them decide how to behave.
However during the earlier stages of life, they follow what they are able to observe from a person of authority. If a child had a problem with his siblings and parents, for instance, this would immediately take away a great part of his learning and growth as a person, because of the lack of a model he would be able to imitate and who would be able to guide him. As a result, this makes the child search for a different source of learning. Some children are able to find their own models, "heroes" in video games, just as how the respondents of J.B. Funk's study called them. Just by playing and controlling their "heroes" in the game, they are able to witness how they behave and naturally being their primary source of learning at that time, they would imitate what they would do.
This develops both their motor, cognitive, and speech skills all at once. It is not surprising why a lot of children we see going around can say "Haduken!" and match it with the appropriate movements their "heroes" make. These are just two of the reasons why children still play violent video games despite the complaints of parents and the seeming fear that it only influences and encourages a child to become very aggressive and domineering. Both showcases the child's endeavor to directly cope with his problems and at the same time, to indirectly push him onwards to self-actualization as social psychologist Abraham Maslow defines it.
In this light, video games have the ability to influence the formation of the identity of an individual, making him strong to handle whatever experiences, good or bad, that come his way; and enabling him to learn and explore by imitation and observation. Given this, there seems to be no harm in playing with violent video games. In the first place, violence is not something you can hide from a growing child. Sooner or later he will find that out for himself. There is always the news and the petty crimes that go around in schools too. The only danger is the excessive exposure to violent video games, and there is no one to guide him.
Getting too absorbed in a fantasy world, as was mentioned earlier, can serve as enough breathing space to a certain extent, but going overboard can destroy lives. It is just a matter of striking the balance..