Violence in the media is a very complex subject; extracting what actually causes aggression and what is just arbitrary circumstance can be a very sticky process. For instance, as a recreational player of video games, I play what might be considered violent games (mostly an online 'shoot 'em up' game called Counter-Strike) in the eyes of someone who perceives what I am doing as 'killing' or as violent, but there in lies the problem: I make no association with the death, killing or violence. Yes, I realize that on the screen there are guns and that to someone unfamiliar with the game it might look like mindless killing, but for me, it is truly just a challenge, a very engrossing and difficult one at that (due to the nature of the game I play, online, I am playing other people with real minds trying just as hard as I am to 'come out on top'). The object isn't killing, the object is winning, competition and honing your skill, which takes practice, like anything else. Now, admittedly this is a bit tangent al, but the point I am making is that it is not the actual video games that are causing these deviant behaviors, but rather outside stimuli cause the ills we are experiencing as a culture. Now, having said that, if the conditions are right, I definitely believe that video games and other types of media violence can at least influence an unstable target, but banning video games or censoring everything is not the correct approach, not given my experience, not based on the friends I have as models (given their video game history) or those whom which I have interacted with in gaming community at large (we " ve been under attack for some time now from these crusading Christian bible thump ers!
). Video games are an part of a large percentage of males in my generation's lives and to have this outlet reduced to the whim of outsiders who have never enjoyed beating a level or vanquishing an opponent, who see these games as purely degenerative and wasteful, to me is just ridiculous. Look at parenting, look at T.V., look at the politics, look at social unrest, look at economic pressures, hell even look at video games if you really want, but to resign to the notion that some game actually causes these real life tragedies is a simply ludicrous and short-sighted in scope (90% percent of the time). Unfortunately for the quiet throngs of video game practitioners world / nation wide, the select few psychos who are the ones showing up on T.V., giving the video game in dusty and its tenets a bad name, while simultaneously grafting a problem rooted in deep societal problems onto, what is for most guys in my generation, a simple, effective way to relax, escape the pressures of the bustling world and indulge in some fantasy, not go kill someone. It seems to me that ignorant grown ups want a red herring to scapegoat as the problem instead of maybe focusing on some of the more imp active reasons as to why people are angry or violent (like maybe capitalism, 40 hour week, racism, sexism, bad family values or upbringing, economic inequalities, a compromised standard of life, political unrest, apathy, drugs, abuse, childhood psychology, biological / psychological factors, misinformation etc). Now, this is definitely tilted towards my bias, a bias of first-hand experience mind you, and I am open to alternative perspectives; in fact I do believe that for people with undeveloped (children and young adolescents) the effects of, what to me are completely fictitious 'games,' might be more influential, in that if they don't have the tools to rationalize the material they are presented with, but I think that the vast majority define video games as exactly what they are, games.
It is the parents job to be explain to their children the difference between fantasy and reality, a bunch of latch key kids who don't have any role models are highly more susceptible to being impacted by the material they view on a monitor. Violence in the media has evolved into a chief concern in the American social climate; in the arena of video games the key focal point has to do with what about watching / playing a program that contains violent images can actually lead to, or predispose people to violence outside of its fantastical reaches. Separating the causes and effects can be difficult and very subjective depending on your prior attitudes towards, and personal experience with video games. Nonetheless, there have been proven correlations between so called 'latch key' children's (who are left at home without parental or adult supervision for extended periods of time) lack of parental stimulus and their increased dependence on T.V., movies and video games as a primary socializing agent. When this happens, the child doesn't learn to correctly individuate between the themes / actions acceptable in reality versus those produced in a video game construct. That being said, there has been increased persecution of the video game industry, especially as the intense and graphic content continues to push the envelope, and while it is my personal opinion that video games are a perfectly acceptable form of entertainment (critical thinking is required, as opposed to passive activities like watching t. vs. or movies), especially for the new generation of boys (mostly) raised on video games, whose tenets completely differentiate between the harsh realities of the material world and the mediums we immerse ourselves into during our free time.
Having experienced not having any video games or T.V. in my household for the majority of my early childhood, I am thankful I was able to acclimate without those influences, but I have also experienced the awe of video games, the precision and skill involved and the gratification of winning in an extremely competitive, yet physically safe environment (I am referring mostly to online video games, where you play other humans instead of Artificial Intelligence / the computer... but the same can be true for what are called console games that you play on your T.V. ). In contrast with the increased alertness towards graphic violence in video games in recent years, I thought I would conclude by citing a piece I heard on NPR Radio that reported a study done at University of Rochester, in the magazine Nature (web); the study showed considerably heightened visual attention skills amongst 'hardcore gamers' (who played what are called 'fps' or 'first person shooters' in which you carry the first person perspective and can only see your gun / weapon and it's crosshair) and were even able to increase the original control group's (those that hadn't previously played video games) perceptual awareness dramatically in 10 short hours of involved training (leaving to play video games). The question that concluded the piece, was one that posited whether non-violent video games could produce the same positive effects without some of the known ills of violent video games. Finally, the question of media violence, and distinguishing between what is harmless entertainment and what the possible negative effects are can include a lot of grey area, but it's important to know the facts and decide for yourself what place video games / media entertainment has in our lives..