Does Gaming Cause Violence?

 

In this blog I will be exploring the world of gaming and if it can influence people in terms of causing them to be violent or abusive.

Video games have been around since the early 1950’s when computer scientists began designing simple games as part of their research. However, video gaming did not become mainstream until the 1970’s when consoles such as the Atari were introduced to us along with joysticks, buttons and other types of controllers. This is also when we started to see graphics on computer screens for a better experience of gaming. Gaming has been ever popular since this time and is getting bigger and bigger by the day.

Gaming has developed hugely over the years with the graphics getting better by the years and as consoles develop also. The gaming market is also very competitive as there are now many different consoles as well as PC’s and laptops made especially for gaming. The biggest current consoles include X-Box One & the Play Station 4 with other consoles such as the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Wii etc. As stated the market is very competitive and certain games now are only being released on certain consoles to try & tempt more people into buying for example, the Play Station 4 over the X-Box One as ‘The Last of Us 2’ (which was a very popular game) will only be released on Play Station.

Research has also suggested that gamer’s discipline themselves: by aiming to stop playing their game at least an hour before planning to go to sleep. This greatly helps the brain to tune out of the game and begin the process of relaxation.

In terms of gaming causing violence there are many games that do include violence, gore and X-rated scenes. These games are specifically made for aged 16/18+ depending on the level of violence etc. Games like this include Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, Mortal Kombat, Man Hunt & many more. It is well known that some parents or carers do let children under the age of 18 play these games still & this could well influence them at such a young age. A lot of the names do portray that the game will be violent, for example a game called Kill Thrill.

There have been incidents over the years such as murders, attacks etc that have been linked to the guilty party playing a lot of video games such as the ones mentioned above. Below are some cases that have happened in recent years related to video games;

Devin Moore – Grand Theft Auto Vice City

Devin Moore is an American murderer who is said to have been inspired by Grand Theft Auto Vice City. In July 2003 Moore was brought into an Alabama police station on suspicion of car theft. At the time, Moore had no criminal record, and he cooperated with the police. After being booked by officer Arnold Strickland, Moore jumped him, grabbing his gun and firing three shots, one hitting Strickland in the head. Officer James Crump heard the shots and responded. Moore, however, fired three shots at Crump, hitting him in the head, like officer Strickland. Finally, Moore ventured down the hallway and encountered 911 operator Ace Mealer and shot him in the head like his other victims. Moore then proceeded to steal a police car and flee the station, only to be apprehended four hours later in Mississippi. At the trial, Moore’s lawyers argued that he was led to commit murder due to a life full of physical and mental abuse as well as his affinity for violent video games. Moore was a fan of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. In this game, players can steal cars, murder police officers, and commit acts of torture against fellow criminals. After his arrest, Moore made statements such as, “Life is a video game. You’ve gotta die sometime.” On October 9, 2005, Moore was sentenced to death by lethal injection.[4] He is currently on Alabama’s death row.

Evan Ramsey – DOOM

Evan Ramsey’s childhood reads like a “How to Make a Killer” manual. When he was seven years old, his father was imprisoned after an armed standoff with police inside a local newspaper office. As a result, his mother became an alcoholic, and Evan and his siblings were sent to various foster homes. Evan was sexually abused in at least one. He was also heavily bullied in school due to lack of intelligence and was often called names such as “spaz,” “braindead,” and “retard.” Two weeks after his father was paroled, Evan committed his own crime. According to police reports, 20 people knew of his plan, and two helped Evan by teaching him how to use a shotgun and by telling him about how famous he would become. On February 19, 1997, he went to his high school armed with a shotgun. Ramsey killed the school principal and a student before wounding two others. He then attempted to kill himself by a shotgun blast to the head. He was unable to pull the trigger and surrendered to police when they arrived. It has been largely believed that Ramsey had been imitating the video game DOOM when he committed the murders. He was a known player of DOOM, and his weapon, a 12-gauge shotgun, is one frequently used in the game. Evan’s father, Don, told the media that he believed that his son was mimicking the game at the time of the shooting. Finally, in an in-prison interview, Evan stated that he blamed DOOM for the shooting. At the trial, Ramsey was charged as an adult and sentenced to roughly 200 years in prison with a chance of parole in 2066.

Anders Breivik – Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2

Anders Breivik is the deadliest mass shooter in human history, claiming the lives of 69 young adults at a youth political camp in Norway on July 22, 2011, after killing another eight by bombing a government building, making the total death toll 77. Breivik was politically motivated by what he believed to be the “Islamization” of Norway at the hands of the Norwegian Labor Party. This rage is what led him to attack their youth camp, believing that the next generation of the Labor Party had to be eliminated.  According to his Manifesto, Breivik was an avid player of the games World of Warcraft and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Breivik wrote that he played World of Warcraft for relaxation, while he used Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 as a training simulator, having played the game using a hologram device in order to make the gameplay appear three-dimensional. This version of Call of Duty had previously fallen under controversy due to its level “No Russian,” in which players commit a terrorist attack at an airport against innocent civilians. Breivik was sentenced to containment, which is a minimum of ten years in jail and a maximum of 21 years but can be extended indefinitely based on the offender’s danger to the public. This is the maximum sentence available under Norwegian law.

They are just a few examples of the many cases that are linked to violence in video games causing a person to behave in the same way. I want to bring your attention to the game Manhunt. This is labelled as one of the most brutal and graphic video games created. There is still a lot of controversy about this game still to this day. The game was deemed so violent it was banned in certain countries. An example of this is that in New Zealand the game was banned in December 11th 2003 with the possession of the game deemed an offence. Australia also refused classification for the game. The controversy around the game stems from the graphic manor in which the play executes his victims whether it be by suffocation, gun fire or stabbing.

The controversy then hit its peak in July 2004 as the game was linked to the murder of 14-year-old Stefan Pakeerah by his 17-year-old friend Warren Leblanc in Leicestershire. They found a copy of the game in Leblanc’s room which was seized as evidence. The victims mother was also quoted saying “I think that I heard some of Warren’s friends say he was obsessed by this game. To quote from the website that promotes it, it calls it a psychological experience, not a game, and it encourages brutal killing. If he was obsessed by it, it could well be that the boundaries for him became quite hazy.” Leblanc was later sentenced to life in prison for murder.

Three years later, in the build-up to the release of Manhunt 2, the controversy re-ignited. Two days after announcing the game, which was set for release in July, Take-Two Interactive (Rockstar’s parent company) issued a statement which read, in part: “We are aware that in direct contradiction to all available evidence, certain individuals continue to link the original Manhunt title to the Warren Leblanc case in 2004. The transcript of the court case makes it quite clear what really happened. At sentencing the Judge, defence, prosecution and Leicester police all emphasized that Manhunt played no part in the case.” Later that day, however, Patrick and Giselle Pakeerah condemned the decision to release a sequel, and insisted that Manhunt was a factor in their son’s murder. Upon the announcement of the sequel, Patrick stated “I’m very disappointed. This is rubbing salt into the wounds in the month we will be marking the anniversary of Stefan’s death. I’m very surprised they are doing this after all that has happened and all the publicity.” Giselle added “It is an insult to my son’s memory that they have announced this game in the month we will be marking this anniversary. These game moguls are making a lot of money out of games which are morally indecent. Why do they have to pump more violence into society?” Leicester East MP Keith Vaz supported the Pakeerahs, claiming he was “astonished” that Rockstar were making a sequel; “It is contempt for those who are trying very hard to ensure something is done to control the violent nature of these games.”

Several weeks later, Jack Thompson – American activist and disbarred attorney, vowed to have Manhunt 2 banned, claiming that the police were incorrect in asserting the game had belonged to Pakeerah, and that Take-Two were lying about the incident:

“I have been asked by individuals in the United Kingdom to help stop the distribution of Take-Two/Rockstar’s hyperviolent video game Manhunt 2 in that country due out this summer. The game will feature stealth murder and torture. The last version allowed suffocation of victims with plastic bags. The original Manhunt was responsible for the bludgeoning death of a British youth by his friend who obsessively played the game. The killer used a hammer just as in the game he played. Take-Two/Rockstar, anticipating the firestorm of criticism with the release of the murder simulator sequel, is lying to the public on both sides of the pond in stating this week that the game had nothing to do with the murder.” His efforts to have Manhunt 2 banned were unsuccessful and it was released in the UK in October 2008.

My Experience of Video Game Violence

I myself have always been a big gamer and have had some sort of console since I can remember. I first started with the Sega Mega Drive playing games such as Sonic and Streets of Rage. As newer consoles came out I wanted them also. I have always preferred Play Station to X-Box & had consoles such as the Nintendo Wii and Gameboys also. I have played a lot of the games mentioned above which are linked to crimes including Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt. I thoroughly enjoyed both games if I’m honest and although they could be seen very violent to parents of younger children, they are made for 18+ year olds so they potentially could take more care in watching what their child is playing or what games they buy for them.

I haven’t ever been ‘inspired’ by the games to cause violence or any other crimes. I think it can be linked to mental health issues within the individual who has caused the crime. I believe that parents should limit the amount of time that children spend on consoles and get them into a sports team or something similar that takes place outside in the fresh air or away from a screen. I do love to game but also have other hobbies such as playing football, so I limit myself to how much I play my Play Station.

The only reason I get angry at games is when I lose. I really hate losing whether it be playing games, football or even a competition between friends at bowling. I’m a very competitive person and like to win whenever possible. I think I get the trait from my dad because he is equally a bad loser!

I read an article not long back talking about a new free game called Fortnite. This is a game based on building forts and shooting against other player whilst running from a storm which closes in and makes the map smaller as time goes on. It is a fight down to the last man standing and only 1 person out of 100 wins. The article was by a parent who was worried their child was ‘obsessed’ with the game. They did not sleep when they had school wanting to play and as well as spending all their free time on it too. For me that unhealthy and links back into setting boundaries so they get into a routine and only play it when they i.e. have done homework etc.

So, to wrap it up, I think the above cases although it was never ‘proved’ could well of had an influence on the guilty parties and had an effect in where they acted in a similar way to the characters in their games. I think that age restrictions should be taken very seriously as games are now becoming so realistic in terms of graphics they will be more graphic and gory depending on the situation i.e. killing, physical harm etc to the point it is like watching a film or television programme. Although there billions of gamer’s and little incidents compared this still has to be taken seriously as it will ruin lives for both the victims, guilty parties, their family and friends.

If you or somebody you know is ‘addicted’ to gaming or a specific game or you feel they are acting our of character due to a certain game, please contact The AoC who can provide professional counselling/therapy to support in easing the addiction and helping with their mental state which the game could be effecting. We offer hour long sessions at a affordable price for all whether employed or unemployed. You can call us on 01384 211 168, send an email to support@theaoc.org.uk or pop into our offices to chat – The AoC, St James House, Trinity Road, Dudley, West Midlands, DY1 1JB.

Thank you for reading.

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