The influence of violent video games

By Dylan Matney

Video games have always sparked argument when it comes to their impact on the mental health of the consumer. With the mass shooting numbers rising well above other countries the United States has put a lot of blame on video games for the rising violence.

The United States isn’t the only country with a huge market for violent video games but they are the country with the most deaths by shooting by a large number.

There has been a rise in shootings but also a rise in people playing video games. According to procon.org from 2018 to 2020 video game consumption has increased by 9.3%. Does the rise in playing video games and rise in shootings have a correlation?

There are various studies on violent video games looking into their effect on mental health. The world’s largest association of phycologists the American Phycological Association (APA) did their own study on violent video games. The APA had 210 college students split into two groups. One group played a violent video game and the other played a non-violent video game. After playing they had each group punish an opponent with a loud uncomfortable noise. The study found that those who played the violent game made the opponent listen to the noise for a longer period of time.

From a professional stand point video game related careers also been growing at a rapid rate. One of the most viewed platforms on the internet for entertainment is Twitch. Twitch is a live streaming platform made for streaming video games specifically. Viewers are able to watch their favorite creators stream the games they enjoy playing and chat with them live. Twitch has become one of the most popular streaming sites on the planet reporting 140 million active users as of 2022.

Twitch is categorized based on the video game title and the most popular titles on the platform tend to be the online multiplayer shooter games. As of November 2022 the top 5 most streamed games on Twitch are all violent multiplayer video games.

Twitch isnt the only platform that has a huge audience for gaming, in fact there are many sites and apps that have a huge gaming content audience. Alongside Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, and more all have a large amount of creators and viewers on the platforms for gaming related content. YouTube being the most known place to find video content on the internet as of 2018 has 31% of its viewers on the platform watching gaming content. Gaming being at 31% puts it just shy of being the most watched category on YouTube with People and Blogs being at 32%.

Gaming content on YouTube making up for 31% means there are lot of content creators on the platform producing gaming related content. We interviewed some of these YouTube gaming content creators to get their insight and opinion on video games causing violent or aggressive behavior.

Are video games really just used as a scapegoat for the shootings? We asked a designer who has worked on one of the most popular violent video games of all time Call of Duty as well as a student and aspiring creator their thoughts.

We’ve heard the opinions of gaming professionals on the subject now lets look at some facts behind the topic.

In a study showcased by Phycology Today shows just over 300 teens between the ages 10-13 were watched as they played violent video games for ten years. The studies results found that the group of teens that slowly played less overtime actually showed the move aggressive behavior. The study also mentioned that none of the groups tested showed signs of anxiety, depression, or willingness to help others being effected by the violent video games.

Violent video games have become an entertainment staple much like certain movie franchises such as Fast and Furious or Marvel. In the last five years the most purchased video games were almost all violent video games.

Phycology Today also showcased a study consisting of 3000 teens who were looked at for two years to see if any mental health effects were developed from violent video games. This study stayed consistent with the ten year study, anxiety and depression was not effected. When it comes aggressive behavior when looking at both the studies according to Phycology Today,

“There is also an implication that any potential effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior would tend to show up when use is prolonged—though the research did not show that gaming itself necessarily causes the aggressive behavior”. It was not proven that any aggressive behavior shown by the teens was due to the violent video games.

Video games have been put in the spotlight due to the mass shooting numbers rising in the United States but from a professional and entertainment sense the popularity of video games continues to grow. Professionals in the gaming industry believe video games are being used as a scapegoat. Others look to studies in an attempt to make sure that video games are safe and do not effect the mental health of the players. Video games continue to be a back and fourth subject when it comes mental health effects.

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