The topic on whether video games instigate violence among adolescents and adults is a contentious debate. Moreover, with the advent of more games incorporating violence and offensive language in them, and with an increasing number of school and mass shootings, researchers and analysts have sought to find the relationship between the two. Video games content has recently become an issue of concern for teachers, doctors, and parents. Some parents and educators associate excessive obscene words and expressions used by children with the exposure to violent video games and commonplace of such language use in online platforms. In accordance with general beliefs, overly playing of violent video games poses a potential threat of increased anger, aggressiveness and aggressive thoughts, physiological arousal, and decreased helpful thoughts. Violent video games harm relationships by promoting violence and creating feelings of aggression, loneliness, narcissism, and false perception of reality along with enticing social commentary and new technologies.
Carnagey, Anderson, and Bushman (2007) in their article propose that violent video games destroy relationships by promoting aggression. Pro-gamers claim that video games do not encourage violence and that those who commit acts of violence do so because they have a character of violence as their individual feature. On the other hand, critics claim that children who played violent video games tended to mimic that violence at home or school. In some cases where an individual played a game involving fighting matches, that person was tempted to try out some of the ‘moves’ performed in the game on or with their friends. Such persons showcased signs of aggression and violent behaviors against their siblings, teachers, and parents (Carnagey et al., 2007).
Scholars have further proposed the idea that violence in video games has had numerous roles to play in the increased number of violent behaviors witnessed at schools and public gatherings. Due to the exposure to violence and offensive language, participants of such games are not hesitant to utter a curse word in a confrontation, or make the first strike at their opponents. Medical practitioners caution that aggressive behaviors based on violent video games exposure further contribute to cases of bullying at school and home. Some of the pro-players of such games may wish to display their dominance in real life situations; and therefore, bully their siblings and schoolmates. Additionally, team rivalry may escalate from online platform to real-world occurrences where sabotage can occur through beatings, intimidation, and torture. Medical practitioners herein caution parents and teachers to take necessary measures and counter such aggressive behaviors at home before they escalate.
What is more, scholars argue that violent video games promote angry feelings and in hand distort one’s relations with other people. In 2011, 46-year-old Mark Bradford stalked a 13-year-old teenager at his house and throttled the young boy after he killed him several times in the online game “Call of Duty: Black Ops.” The young boy is also said to have made fun of Bradford prompting him to develop his feelings of anger (Krakowiak, Hartmann, & Tsay-Vogel, 2014). Video games may contribute to development of the feelings of frustration and anger, especially if one feels they are not making as much progress as needed or as much as they would want to. Furthermore, constant ridicule and cursing from opponents may contribute to such frustrations and anger, explaining Bradford’s behavior towards the young teenager. Luckily, the boy’s mother was present during the situation and stopped the ordeal before it escalated any further.
Persons who play violent video games are also seen at times to display loneliness that negatively affects their relationships. This is due to the excessive amount of time such gamers spend on their own and away from the public. Ferguson, Hall and Day (2011) in their article highlight that some of the traits of gamers, who spent excessive amount of time locked up, is mental disorientation and loneliness. Such disorientation, though not medically severe, includes traits of anti-socialism and distancing. Gamers in violent sequels, who at time tend to do so in the comfort of their rooms, find themselves with limited human interaction and are, therefore, unable to maintain meaningful relationships. They are further challenged with finding the spouses that further contributes to their loneliness.
Bartholow, Sestir, and Davis (2005) in their research provide a suggestion that violent gamers tend to lose their sense of reality that results in the violent behavior they tend to display as a consequence. The authors in their article assume that such individuals lose empathy towards other humans. They are convinced that whatever happens in the virtual reality landscape of the game is the reality and not that of the world they live in. To gamers, what they see on the media screen matters more than what is actually happening in the outside world. Persons who lack empathy display strong signs of aggression and hostile reality, according to the scholars, display little attachment to real-life events and in hand are said to have their sense of connection with reality. Such individuals may reciprocate killings, tortures, and aggressive behaviors witnessed in the video games in real life situations as to them that is their reality.
Moreover, violent video games contribute to violence and distort relationships by enhancing one’s narcissistic nature. Dillio (2014) argues that increased feelings of narcissism may affect one’s composure to handle meaningful relationships and care towards fellow human beings. Such individuals perceive that their opinions, lives, and thoughts matter more than those of anyone else, and would do anything to ensure that the situation remains soothe same. If confronted by a duel or a quarrel, these persons are hesitant to reason and may react violently in order to protect their interests. Moreover, Dillio (2014) suggests that gamers, who are exposed to violent video games, tend to be over-protective of their positions and ranks. In video games, one is portrayed to play the role of a hero. Such themes encourage narcissistic behavior as a player presumes that he or she has the control over everything that surrounds them, including real life situations.