Does Gaming Really Causes Aggression?

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Its been heavily debated what was the first ever video game, but most sources say that the first commercially available video game was pong released by Atari in 1972. It was a table tennis themed game, having simple two-dimensional graphics.

Annual sales of video games recently have been higher than that of movie ticket sales.


From early 1970's to mid of 1980's, the Atari dominated the market as their console was the best there is. The violence in the Atari games were low because the early graphics were just too simple. Also, the Atari management had an internal rule to minimize the violence against human factor. Basically, they were saying that you can blow up a saucer or a tank but not a human.

From the mid 1980's to mid 1990's, good graphics were seen in video games. This graphic factor introduces more violence in the games. Even the kid's games were introduced to violence. Honorable mentions; Mario brothers throwing fire. Nintendo dominated this era with their Nintendo console.

As the computing power evolves, so does the number of users of video games. Hand held console became a new trend. As the violent games became popular, the game developers introduced more and more violence in the games.

Games like Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, and Wolfenstein 3D, Mortal Kombat have very high level of violence. Killing opponent was must in Mortal Kombat to pass level. Extra rewards were given to those who uses extreme violence like decapitating or ripping opponent's spine.

Third person games also got popular in this era. To attract more female players, character selection was also made possible. Player can now choose who they want to be from male and female characters.

First player games were also developed during this time, players can now see through the character's eyes, can see the weapons they are holding. In these games, violence was at highest,

From 1995 to onwards PlayStation mostly dominated the market with their ever-enhanced graphics. In 2001 alone video games saw 43% increase in sales worldwide with American sales make up of $9.4 billion.

Online video games were popular in this era and mostly first-person games, the player can fight with or against other players. Console games are being played on computers.

Now, demo games can be downloaded from the internet that contains same level of violence as the full version.


In a recent case study, it was determined that 32% of gamers like to download demo games. Analysis shows that 89% of games have violence. Children with small ages like to play violence games.

Federal Trade Commission report revealed that 70% M-rated games were marketed to children under 17. The game making companies disagree with parents on violence, and claims mild animated violence is appropriate for all ages.

The average time for game usage increased from 1980's to 1990's from 4 hours to 7 hours. At the end of 1999, in both young and older children this average grows to 20 hours per week. In some case studies it was reported that 90% to times, paternal supervision was absent and so does the checking of game rating. It was found out that only 1% of time parents prevents their children from playing violent games.

Countless studies show that violent games do increase the aggressive behavior both in lab and in real life experiments. Contrary to that the media shows that violent media does not cause aggression.

As the video games are somewhat new medium of entertainment compared to the television which has been examined for long times. There are some similarities in television violence and game violence. Due to realism in television violence, the game violence is not yet very capable of competing with televisions violence.

In television if the attention diverts it does not affect the outcome. However, undivided attention and enhanced sense of violence is also required for video games that may result in high frequency violence.




Most games are first person shooting game, player is seeing what the game character is seeing, this in turn increases the response time. If something happens to character, it gives the feeling that the player is hurt not the character. Some games may charge for health if something happens to the main character.

The incentive policy and appreciation on violence is another issue. When the player does violence, the game says phrases like impressive, good job etc. This in turn encourages player to do more violence. In television also when the hero is beating its rivals it gives and odd satisfaction and encourages the watcher to do the same.

Even in violent movies the violence is not constant. It may have some comic touch and some romance. But in the games the player must be ready to response quick and be ready for a deadly and bloody outcome.

As violent games are rather new, more research is needed on them. But the researches that are done have reached on one conclusion, violent games do increases aggression. Researches have shown that those who play violent games are more likely to involved in robbery, physical fights and arguments.

Those who play violent games are likely to misfit in the social life. Moreover, it has been observed that violent games increase response time to read the aggressive related words. Aggressive thoughts also increased after playing violent games. Anxiety and frustration level also observed to have increased.

It was seen that in adults release of dopamine was increased when playing violent games. The increase in blood pressure and heart rate was also observed to be high when playing violent games.


Despite all these claims the criticism is also there.

First of all is that most researches revolve around small sample size. Small sample size does not make legitimate statement and their result may be inconsistent. More meta analytic strategies should be done and sample size should be increased to make proper result. This is because sometimes reports are made that best suit one's opinion and that make best headlines.

Another thing is that some researches have been criticized to define a significant difference between violent and a nonviolent game. This improper definition can change results.

The subject's participation is also a main problem, means some researches have been done when 50% of test subjects play game and other 50% watches. Some studies have been done on nonviolent games that make a person frustrate naturally. Long-term studies needed to be done not short-term studies that are some minutes long.

Another thing is that people say the research on this topic is in very small number. However, meta-analysis studies have reached the conclusion that violent games do increase aggression and reduce helping behavior.

Some says that there is no relation between violent games and aggression which is not true. This is also not true that only violent games make a person aggressive, nonviolence games also play part but in low quantity.

There is no truth in that the violent games affect small number of populations. No one is immune to it countless studies show that those who were considered at low risk bow to its effects.




Although the research area is still small compared to the effects of violence in television and movies. But there is still sufficient evidence that states playing violent video games can cause aggression. It has been proven both in laboratory and in real life.

Different governments should play important role in making policies about violence media. Legislation should be done when minor wants to play, rent or buy violent video games, parental permission should be required.

Parents should take their time to see what games their children are playing and what king of media they are consuming. They should not be too harsh on the younglings as this can cause children to seek out media that is too old for them. Parents should also see the rating before letting kids play games.

Some parents suggest that it is impossible to stop their children from playing what they want to play but that does not mean that they should give up on them. The frequency of exposure of violent games is related to the long-term negative effects on health.

Steps like restricting access to violent games, checking the platform used to play game and placing the gaming medium in a place where parents can monitor the children can be helpful. Contacting the parents of their child's friend and convincing them to monitor their children can also be helpful. Because sometimes if the child sees a strict environment, they go to a less strict environment mostly their friend's house.

Teaching child about the negativity about these violent games and telling about the restrictions can help greatly. Nowadays, people do not have time to have outdoor activities, they should look at the bigger picture and encourage their children to have some outdoor activity. In this way they can see the reality of life and can enhance their social skills.

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