PCP: Violent video games lead to aggression in impressionable minds

Paul Heckert

Abbi Pittman

The following article is part of a Point / Counter-point. Read the point here.

Paul Heckert

Violent video games are not the sole cause of shootings or heinous crimes that occur in the world today. Playing violent games is not necessarily going to turn the player into a violent person. 

They do, however, contribute to acts of violence, and a large problem arises when children and the mentally ill witness the glorified version of war these games portray.

According to a school-based Harvard study called “Grand Theft Childhood,”  boys between the ages of 12 and 14 who frequently play mature-rated games had double the chance of developing issues of aggressive behavior in the past year. 

These behaviors included vandalism, physical fighting and stealing. There is a clear connection between these games and aggression, and the possibility of harmful behavior developing went up with the amount of these games played.

In a 2006 study by the Indiana University School of Medicine, brain scans were taken of children playing violent video games. Scans showed increased activity in the amygdala, the part of the brain that stimulates emotion, and decreased activity in the prefrontal lobe, which is in charge of inhibition and self-control. Though the effects of direct play may be short term, the basic principle of how video games work is repetition and reward-factors of classical conditioning. Place these and the violent images games portray into the head of a mentally unstable person such as Adam Lanza, who the Daily Mail reports played hours of “Call of Duty,” and you have a ticking time bomb. 

Causation is logical. When images of violent acts are being placed in impressionable minds and being rewarded with  “trophies” and “achievements,” problems are created. 

Anders Breivik was responsible for the death of 77 people in Norway when he opened fire at a youth camp for a Norwegian political party and bombed government buildings. Breivik admitted to using “Call of Duty” to prepare for his attacks.

“It consists of many hundreds of different tasks and some of these tasks can be compared with an attack, for real,” said Breivik in an article in the Gaurdian. “That’s why it’s used by many armies throughout the world. It’s very good for acquiring experience related to sights systems.” 

The FBI consistently reports that shooters have a “fascination with violence filled entertainment.” The realistic violence portrayed in video games has the potential to push a mentally ill person over the edge. 

A ban on violent video games is not an answer; there is no answer to these problems. The fact is we have become a violent society, and violent video games and their dehumanizing glorifications of war are a major contributing factor.


Heckert, a sophomore business management major from Cullowhee, is the photo editor.