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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Senior David Arico responds to critique on video game violence

16 Dec 2016

By David Arico

Since the birth of society, violence has been glorified in one form or another. Early tribes would take the heads of rivals and showcase them as if they were prizes from a game. Early art glamorized war by depicting jubilant victory scenes, thereby giving the notion that war is where men go to prove themselves. Art pieces such as the Standard of Ur, dating back to 4,500 BCE, was used as propaganda that portrayed war as heroic and persuaded soldiers to fight and die.  Even today,  movies and T.V. shows that feature violent and gruesome acts have wildly popular and are consumed by millions. Video games are often viewed as corrupting because many draw a link from players’ actions in game to players’ actions outside of the game, adding a layer of interaction with violent crimes. Video games are art and affect the human psyche no more than any other artistic medium. Humans are inherently violent creatures, and art is just a manifestation of that deep-rooted destructiveness. Depiction of violence in art is nothing new and won’t be fading in the foreseeable future. Even in the midst of all this chaotic struggling, the United States in a whole has become a more peaceful place.

It’s important to note that while sales of violent video games have increased over the years, violent crimes committed by juveniles have actually decreased. According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, violent crimes committed by juveniles have decreased by 37 percent, and murders have decreased by 76 percent. Murders committed by juveniles have been decreasing since 1980 and reached an all time low in 2014 while, according to the Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association, sales of violent video games have increased by 204 percent since 1994. The Journal of Communications reported that the number of high school students that have been in at least one physical fight has decreased from 43 percent in 1991 to 25 percent in 2013. The overall trend in America is that adolescent violence is on the decrease while violent video game sales have skyrocketed. Many would argue that violent video games give many an outlet to carry out their most beastial urges in a simulated environment rather than in the real world.

It is also important to look at the positive effect that video games have on our society. Video games have been an unifying force that connect people that would otherwise never meet. The most notable example of this would be guilds in the popular game World of Warcraft. In World of Warcraft, players can form guilds to organize raids on dungeons, sieges of towns owned by the opposite faction and groups to fight in player versus player arenas. Many have described these guilds as a second family who have helped them through the toughest and lowest times in life. Communities such as these exist everywhere online, and they serve as a place where like-minded individuals can gather to discuss about the games they love, swap ideas and form strategies giving many a sense of belonging that they do not get outside of the game.

The biggest impact these games have had on the world are through charity. Events such as Awesome Games Done Quick, Extra Life and Tip of the Hats have raised millions of dollars for charities over the years. These events are most commonly a live stream of a game or games being played with many incentives for people to donate. Millions of people tune into these streams to donate and watch prominent figures in the world of video games play and compete, only being possible due to online communities that formed because of video games.

Video games should not be viewed as a social ill, but rather as a powerful force that has the potential to bring people together and do some serious good for the world. Violent art has always been around, and it is not going away in the foreseeable future. Video games are not the cause for so much turmoil and strife, but the root of these problems lie with the people, not the games they play.

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