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Impact of Violent Video Games

Impact of Violent Video Games

Discuss in the use of violence in video games and its impact on young people.

The topic of video game violence either increasing or causing the levels of aggression and violence in young people has been widespread across multiple news outlets and organisations. This essay will explain the findings of multiple different sources and will summarise the overall opinion of these studies, ensuring to evaluate the accuracy and potential skewed results in the process. This essay will present multiple studies and their findings in an unbiased and analytical way, ensuring to involve studies from both pro video game violence, and anti-video game violence.

Gentile D, Lynch P, Linder J, Walsh D. (2004) conducted a study involving Six hundred and seven 8th-grade and 9th grade students. The data were collected between the dates “4th April and 2nd May” 2000 and participants were told “any games on a computer, video game consoles (such as Nintendo), on hand-held devices (such as GameBoy) or in video arcades” counted towards the study. The results were that “exposure to violent video game content and amount of video game play were both positively associated with adolescent’s trait hostility.” This suggests that in 2000, the amount of violence in video games was negatively impacting adolescents by causing them to have increased hostility and making them more prone to violent actions.

Ferguson C (2010) conducted a study that suggests the opposite of Gentile D, Lynch P, Linder J, Walsh D. (2004)’s study. Mostly Hispanic youth was tested during research. The individuals were chosen for the study by using the Snowball sampling method, where a small group is initially chosen to nominate more participants, growing like a snowball rolling down a hill. This ensures a fair selection of participants and allows for possible inclusions of “hidden groups” as Ferguson suggested adolescents that play violent video games may be. Any children were asked about media and listed a small collection of their favourite media titles. This was to estimate the frequency of media use in the participants. The results suggested a lack of any real evidence for the case of violent video games increasing hostility and violence in young people. Ferguson commented “It appears reasonable to conclude that, in the current sample, little evidence supported a significant predictive relationship between violent video game exposure and serious user aggression.” He uses the pre-modifying adjective “serious” to suggest that any user aggression generated from playing violent video games is small enough to be considered a non-problem.

Decamp W 2016 suggests that environmental factors affectyouth violence on a far greater scale than that of video games. He hypothesises that because of the wide range of societal and environmental factors that can skew the results of large studies, a smaller study group was needed. Decamp also proposes that people who choose to play violent video games already have a higher tendency towards violence and therefore skew the results even further, suggesting that any previous evidence for the positive correlation between violent video games and youth violence could be showing inconclusive results due to the increasing variety in the consumers that use them. Decamp asks the questions “Does time spent playing violent video games have a positive correlation with violent behaviour?”, “Does the strength of that relationship decrease substantially with the introduction of violent media propensity as a control?” and “Do other social and environmental factors more strongly predict violent behaviour. In his study, a range of different ethnicities were studied, and equal male and female participants were included. The questionnaire was sufficiently sized at 203 questions and was designed to evaluate many different aspects of a student’s life, not just their interaction with violent video games. This allowed for a much more reliable set of results to be made as many different factors were studied and more detailed groups of participants were shown. The results suggested that violent video games do play a role in the increase violent tendencies in young people. This answers the first question (“Does time spent playing violent video games have a positive correlation with violent behaviour?”) and if further analysis had not been conducted, the results of this study would have suggested that violence in video games is a negative thing for the youth groups of today. However, upon further analysis it was shown that due to the large number of groups that violent video games have no effect on, the overall results suggest that video game violence has very little effect on violence in youth groups.

DeLisi M, Vaughn M, Gentile D. Anderson C, Shook J (2012) did a study on a sample of “Institutionalised juvenile Delinquents”. This allows us to analyse the effect of violent video games on those who are already prone to crime and aggression. We can now further explore the idea that those who are violent play violent video games, rather than suggesting that the video games cause an increase in violence in every youth. The study took place in “two residential placement facilities for Juvenile offenders in Western Pennsylvania” in 2009. One facility had male offenders, the other had female ones. The female group was smaller than the male group and therefore this must be accounted for in the results. The groups were “Assessed using the Self-Report of Delinquency”. The results suggested that “Frequency of violent video game play and an attitudinal measure of how much the youth likes to play video games with violence in them were significantly associated with total delinquency.” This means that the enjoyment received, and the amount of time spent playing the games was a large factor in a juvenile’s delinquency, suggesting a strong connection between how they spend their free time and their measure of delinquency.

C Ferguson, C Miguel, A Garza, J Jerabeck (2011) did a study on 165 Hispanic youth where after 3 years, the participants were analysed again. “Results indicated that exposure to video game violence was not related to any of the negative outcomes.” Ferguson also stated that “Depression, antisocial personality traits, exposure to family violence and peer influences were the best predictors of aggression-related outcomes”. This aligns with Decamp’s study that suggests other factors are a much larger indication of a participant’s tendency towards violence and that these other factors skew the results of many other study’s on the topic of video game violence.

J Funk (2004) said “It is believed that repeated exposure to real-life and to entertainment violence may alter cognitive, affective, and behavioural processes, possibly leading to desensitization.” He used 150 primary school students that had religious backgrounds in a study. He states that the economic wealth of the families that had children participating in the study would be higher than the average in the “mid-sized, Midwestern city”. He used the KID-SAVE questionnaire which assesses the real-life violence factor of a child using 34 questions. After analysing the results, Funk concluded that “As anticipated, exposure to video game violence was associated with lower empathy and stronger proviolence attitudes”. This means that children who view violent media and play violent video games are less empathetic and are therefore less likely to understand the true impacts of violence on another being. This could cause less restraint than those with higher empathy and therefore there is more chance of a tendency towards violence in those that engage with violent media.

C Ferguson, A Garza (2010) did another study on 873 teenagers. Ferguson says that teens who where technologically savvy engaged in more civic behaviours. Participants who played violent/action video games where more prosocial online although there was no link between these prosocial actions being positive or negative. There was “little support for the belief that exposure to violence in video games decreases prosocial behaviour”. The results actually suggested a small inscrease in the amount of prosocial behaviour exhibited by the participants. Ferguson speculates that this is “possibly due to the team-oriented multiplayer options in many of these games”.


Gentile D, Lynch P, Linder J, Walsh D. (2004)

The effects of violent video game habits on adolescent hostility, aggressive behaviours and school performance.

Ferguson C (2010)

Video games and Youth Violence: A Prospective Analysis in Adolescents (2010)

Decamp W 2016

The Impact of Degree of Exposure to Violent Video Games, Family Background, and Other Factors on Youth Violence

DeLisi M, Vaughn M, Gentile D. Anderson C, Shook J (2012)

Violent Video Games, Delinquency, and Youth Violence: New Evidence

C Ferguson, C Miguel, A Garza, J Jerabeck (2011)

A longitudinal test of video game violence influences on dating and aggression:
A 3-year longitudinal study of adolescents

J Funk, H Baldacci, T Pasold, J Baumgardner (2004)

Violence exposure in real-life, video games, television, movies,
and the internet: is there desensitization?

C Ferguson, A Garza (2010)

Call of (civic) duty: Action games and civic behaviour in a large sample of youth

Y Hasan, L Bègue, M Scharkow, B Bushman

The more you play, the more aggressive you become: A long-term experimental study of cumulative violent video game effects on hostile expectations and aggressive behavior

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