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Line of Inquiry Essay on Violence in Video Games

Gabriela M. Leija-Hernandez

James Madison University Student



The purpose of this essay was to analyze and evaluate three sources in order to understand the

importance of the claim. The violent video game claim falls under two different spectrums:

Violence in video games promote aggressive behaviors or violence in video games have no

major impact on a player. Observational reports, quotes, and experiments are run to validate or

dismiss numerous aspects of the claim. While gender differences are statistically not proven

among the sources, differences on the precise contribution to an increase in aggression after a

play ends a violent video game is complex. I chose this topic because as the entertainment

business continues to expand, it is crucial to understand why violence in video games allows

some individuals to show an increase in aggressive behavior and not for others.

Line of Inquiry Essay on Violence in Video Games

Video games are widely enjoyed all over the globe as a source of entertainment and are

viewed as highly enjoyable to the public. The colorful and vivid images from the game can

appear on a television screen, specific game console, or computer; however, every time an

individual selects to play a game that virtually engages the player to move towards a goal

where graphics are evident of murder and mass blood, far more is occurring than simply killing

the bad guy to complete a stage in order to continue. Or is it? Each article on violence in video

games either directly or indirectly mention how the topic is a commonly debated item of

agenda. Many parents and experts find themselves looking at information and research on both

sides of the spectrum that conclude that either violent video games are beneficial or they

promote aggressive behaviors. Figuring out which side of the spectrum is discovered to be most

correct is crucial if a behavioral shift occurs, then both experts and parents are able to

understand if playing violent video games is safe for the child or the childs peers around him or


Summaries of the Three Sources

In his article, Violent Video Games Can Desensitize Players and Increase Aggression

(2015), George Drinka claims that the man whom shot students at Sandy Hook Elementary

could contribute excessive video game play to his motive for accomplishing his disastrous goal.

Using aspects of the shooter, Adam Lanzas, life among with observational accounts from those

around him, Drinka states, Lanza was similarly working to desensitize himself for other more

sinister purposes. . . he set out to diminish his own sense of empathy for a time when he would

later be pulling the trigger of a real gun in the classroom at Sandy Hook. Here the author is

alluding that, as this man routinely engaged himself with the source of entertainment, he

allowed himself to grow reclusive and isolative thus having the ability to surround himself with

content that logically contributes to aggressive behavior; Drinka also believes that the reason

Lanza destroyed his computer was to hide secretive details that led to the chaos. He concludes

that, while Lanzas case was rather extreme, it is still vital to understand that children who are

constantly virtually engaged will grow behavioral patterns, such as desiring to be alone

frequently, obvious aggressive attitudes, and imitation of what was shown on the screen.

In the scientific journal The (Not So) Evil Within? Agency in Video Game Choice and the

Impact of Violent Content, the authors (Ferguson, Colon-Matas, Esser, Lanie, Purvis &

Williams, 2017) argue that if individuals in an experiment testing video game genre on behavior

were allowed to select their preference and be randomized then the results would be

complete. Ferguson et al. claim that every individual who is virtually engaged obtain agency

within both the genre they chose and their actions after they end the game. They reason that

Most video game experiments randomly assign players to play specific games, games they

might not otherwise choose to play, (p. 330-331) and continue throughout their findings by

elaborating how the statistically insignificant results prove that other environmental factors

contribute to the small percentage of individuals who experience an increase in aggressive

behavior after playing a video game with enhanced violence.

In the final source, Violent Video Games Stress People Out and Make Them More

Aggressive (2013), Hasan, Bgue, and Bushman report of experiments that were completed in

order to further discover why violence in video games is often linked to aggression of the

individual. Bushman discusses that cardio coherence was tested from a series of experiments to

statistically demonstrate that stress creates anger; They conclude that in video games that

portray violence it will remain clearly evident that the player will maintain stressed because of

the tasks and obstacles within each stage of the video game. (p. 64)

Comparisons Among Sources

Works written by Hasan et al. and Ferguson et. Al both address that the experimental

claim about violent video games have not been statistically significant in a similar area both

pieces chose to write about. In both of the sources experiments were conducted and revealed

that a gender difference among violent video games could not be statistically proven within the

claim each article spoke about. In first the piece (The (Not So) Evil Within? Agency in Video

Game and the Impact of Violent Content) the authors identified that, female participants

were as likely to select violent video games as males and were no more stressed by such

games. (p. 334) In the second piece, Hasan et al. also discovered that gender did not create a

trend as the experiments conducted tested cardio coherence. (p. 65)

Hasan et al. work also obtained similarities among Drinkas article by discussing that

other factors could contribute to aggression received by an individual who plays violent video

games. Both sources do agree there is an increase in aggression following a players violent

video game session. Hasan et. al provided detailed figures and results taken from an

experiment completed among young adults while Drinkas included a observational study about

Adam Lanza through spoken accounts about his reclusive lifestyles. Both methods of study

mentioned that it is crucial to understand other factors could influence an individuals increase

in aggressive behavior after they finish a video game with violence. Hasan et al. explains that if

a player is compelled to complete a task within violent video games then they are being

exposed to stress in order for completion. The stress imbedded within the game is to blame and

not the violence within the game itself. Drinkas article specified on speaking about the Sandy

Hook shooter who was caught playing video games excessively. He states, Lanza was similarly

working to desensitize himself for other, more sinister purposes. Lanza was reported as an

introverted individual at a young age and many believe that led him to his terrifying motive in

2012. Both of the authors remarks leave the audience desiring further information upon other

contributions to the claim.

Contrasts Among Sources

The several authors from the piece address violence in video games on a different

argument opposed to the other two pieces whom affirm the claim that violence in video games

are impactful on behavior. The difference between Ferguson et. al and Drinkas ideas are what

can affect violent behaviors. Adam Lanza chose to inflict hurt on Sandy Hook elementary

because he was one of many to have violence in video games affect his behavior. However, the

other source states that if an individual does grow aggressive it has less to do with the genre of

video game and more to do with the environment the individual lives in (2017) or other

similar factors.

The same source that disagrees with the affirmation of the claim also differs among

Hasan et al.s article because while they both believe their results provide the potential to

cause aggressive behavior or not, the methods widely contradict. The negative source

(Ferguson et. al, 2015) heavily relies on experiments and statistically evidence that disproves

that those who are engaged in video games with violence will have an overwhelming increase

in aggression. (p. 333) The authors (2017) speculate that agency in deciding what game to pay

has been experimentally proven not to obtain the power to influence aggressive behavior. The

affirmative source deduces that children who routinely decide to play video games with

violence are reported from their parents (and those around them) to be more reclusive and

isolate compared to their peers and will grow fuming with rage the more excessive they play.

Also, each different method arrived at different conclusions.


As I provided three sources from three different years, it became clear that many are

confused on whether violence in video games appear in a players behavior because new

evidence and statistics appear all the time. There are different ways to prove or disprove

aspects of the video game claim according to the several authors works. An important concept

I learned is important to understand that there are always other factors that could contribute to

violence behaviors in children who play these violent video games so the experiments published

confirming the claim could lack truth and completeness. My present stand on the issue is that

while violence in video games can cause a child to be less prone to pain, it does not necessarily

mean the children is putting himself or another group in danger all the time. The Lanza case

was a very extreme and rare case. All the research reviewed were effective differently among

the three sources. Drinkas article used quotes and observations to demonstrate how excessive

game play allowed anger to increase until chaos had broken out. Ferguson et al. persuaded me

with validated experiments that having the autonomy to select a game does not prove an

increase in violence because of other factors involved. Usage of experiments from the piece

from Hasan et al. caused me to understand the process of having increased aggression and

why it occurs. Once again, discovering what side of the spectrum is most correct is important

because then the public, are able to comprehend more surrounding the form of entertainment

that is enjoyed all over the world.



Drinka, G. (2015). Violent Video Games Can Desensitize Players and Increase Aggression. In R.
Espejo (Ed.), At Issue. Violent Video Games. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press. (Reprinted
from Psychology Today, 2013, March 7) Retrieved
from http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/EJ3010926203/OVIC?u=viva_jmu&xid=7c1d02e3

Ferguson,C. J., Colon-Motas, K., Esser, C., Lanie, C., Purvis, S., &Williams, M. (2016). The (Not

So) Evil Within? Agency in Video Game Choice and the Impact of Violent Content. Simulation &

Gaming, 48(3), 329-337.

Hasan, Y., Bgue, L., Bushman, J. B. (2013) Violent Video Games Stress People Out and Make

Them More Aggressive. Aggressive Bheavior, 39(2), 60-74