Tag Archives: GTA4

Do Video Games Influence Real Life Violence?


Debates into whether video games affect behaviour and violence in society have been around for a while.  There appears to be more than just games affecting people’s attitudes but it is implied that games do have a lot to do with it.  Cultivation theory states that when an audience spends a lot of time immersed in a media product they begin to believe that it is a true reflection on the world.  When the first episode of the popular US series ‘Friends’ was broadcast many woman began to copy Jennifer Aniston’s hairstyle.  This copycat behaviour could also be applied to violent games, copying the action seen onscreen.  The game promotes violence by rewarding the player when they murder in the game by advancing them to the next level.  This is then seen as a good thing and being able to do it in a ‘cool’ way then may attract them to do it in real life and the real life consequences are never shown in the game and the reality of right and wrong have become clouded based on cultivation theory.  Some however argue that games are used a stress relief, as a means to do the things we never would or could in real life.


Studies have shown that after playing shooter games players become desensitised to violence and killing removing the emotional impact of brutal acts making violence more like a game to be achieved.  This fuels the mind and urges people to test their gamer skills on a bigger level, in real life.  The nature of the game also effects how people react with others, Call of Duty is a game based around war but more than that patriotism, serving and protecting your country.  GTA4 is about a foreigner coming to America and murdering people and stealing cars so way people interpret the games will also vary.  Games act like an experience so you can live out another life without actually doing those things.  Some argue that they teach teenagers about violence so they can see that it is a horrible thing when done in real life and can discourage people from doing it as they know the results of their actions.


Fifia is a game that allows the player to play as a professional footballer; those that play the game have an active interest in the sport and some play the game in reality.  This can be related to shooter/fighting games where players enjoy it so much they want to experience it in real life.  Being a creative outlet or stress reliever appears to be the common counter argument to these statements but still on either side of the argument video games alone don’t seem to affect people behaviour there must be another variable or even a few at work beyond the blame of games.

Do Video Games Influence Real Life Violence?

Dr. Patrick Markey is an associate professor at Villanova University in America studying psychology.  He has been asked to report on shootings to give an in depth focus as to why the individual did what they did.  Confirmation bias is when people take note and favour information that backs up their theory and put aside evidence that does not.  In the argument to whether video games influence violent behaviour different people have their own bias opinions.  Audiences don’t just passively take in media they watch on television, they will take it in differently questioning how the information being displayed affects them.  When watching the news relaying a story of a bomb attack in America some may react to the terrible loss of life meaninglessly others may see it as a message that those behind it with extremist views can strike anywhere.  This is one story being told to the audience but depending on the individual’s point of view they will take different thoughts away from it.  Media isn’t necessarily objective but subjective based on the individual.  Confirmation bias works in a similar way, when a violent shooting takes place the news may report that the individual played violent war games and so that must mean that violent games do encourage real life harm as there is now an example.  That individual believing this may then ignore the statistics that 1 in every 4 gamers play violent war games but there are not a quarter of all gamers out on a murderous rampage.


Dr. Patrick Markey looked at the way research was done to suggest video games do promote violence.  One group will play violent games for 15 minutes and the other group non-violent games.  They individuals would then fill out a questionnaire to do with the length of hypothetical jail sentences and pranks on people.  The argument states that these hypothetical questions don’t prove if people actions towards others would bring them to violence plus the fact that the questions weren’t directly about the individual being violent.  To counter this if the majority of results from the violent video game group involved being nastier with pranks etc. than the non violent games group then there would be a noticeable difference in the psychological thought process about actions towards others.


Studies cannot directly measure the correlation between violent video games and violent people; there are many other factors that come into making someone violent towards others.  The family environment, social attitudes, income, availability and easiness of violence are just a few factors that link into this debate.  Some argue that violence is not encouraged from video games, although it may only be true that games are not solely responsible.  The environment around the individual can influence their decisions but videogames could be a considerable factor, the virtual experience of anarchy and violence may only assure them that violent behaviour is the answer.  Many people play violent videogames and when that is mixed with other situations can result in violent behaviour but then even this can’t be accurately proved.  It’s like saying that eating cereal predict violent behaviour as that morning it’s likely the individual eat cereal for breakfast however this doesn’t prove cereal is a catalyst for violent behaviour in a similar way that videogames don’t.


Violence in the Media – Does it Create Violence in Society

Violence in the Media – Does it Create Violence in Society

Some can argue violence amongst people can originate anywhere; I’m interested in how media can have an affect on people’s behavior and the theories behind this.


Uses and gratification theory aims to understand why people choose to surround themselves with specific media products to satisfy their desires.  There are many reasons why you watch what you do or play the games you enjoy, it could be for several reasons, relaxation, escape, diversion, social interaction or companionship.  It relieves you into the elements you enjoy.


GTA4 is a popular game in which the user controls the main character completing violent missions involving bombs, guns and fighting.  It diverts the user away from their usual life to indulge in behavior they wouldn’t normally do, it feeds the violent side of the player without them actually causing harm.  The series ‘Misfits’ (S2E4) based an episode around the idea that violence in video games would be extremely dangerous if it were real.  This plays into the copycat theory, that people will be influenced and copy what they see.  Debates about people surrounding themselves with violent games and television programmes have risen.  Media exposure of violence is increasing and has reduced its ‘shock’ factor; the news broadcasts dangerous situations, which grab our attention, as instinctively we want to be aware of the dangers surrounding us.


The news shows bomb attacks when they take place and they send a strong message around the world.  This sends messages to the passive audience taking in the information that violence can achieve a result.  The television show ‘24’ features agents (the good guys) torturing terrorists for information, this once again is stating a message that violence gets results.  The show has the heroes performing these horrible acts which also says it must be an ok thing to do for a good cause.  The audience passively takes the message in; the next step is violent video games like GTA4, which encourage violence to further the characters story.  The player will be consciously choosing to cause this fantasy violence. Active consumption of media is when the message donates a response from the audience.  With the news broadcasting terror events copycat criminals have followed most recently with the Boston Bombings.  It was reported that the two brothers involved had been following extremist groups online, viewing the videos they post.  Even the execution of the terror threat was something similar to a Bond film, dropping the bag and disappearing into the crowd.  Being undetected and achieving their end result is what is then broadcast.  Fear that this attack could be copied in the UK, security was heightened for the marathon.  This feeling of being unstoppable is similar to the latest Iron Man film with the terrorists sending a message “you’ll never see me coming”.  This also relates to video games as you can restart or add cheat codes to be invincible and some say this is giving a very negative thought process not only to those the game is aimed at, but youngsters growing up surrounded by violence achieving results.  This can promote unhealthy ways for children to be brought up, being influenced on social situations by violent media.  That being said many teenagers play and watch fantasy violence and it serves well as a talking subject bringing social groups together with similar interests.


The hypodermic needle model suggests that media messages are being directly injected into the passive audience, which incidentally will be influenced by it.  When surrounding yourself with images, sounds and colours that represent success your more likely to be successful, seeing these positive things will subconsciously put you in a better mood.  Some say this is similar with violent media, seeing it all the time will put you in a subconscious state of mind that this is the way to act in certain situations.  How people interpret actions seen within media products can also affect the desired outcome.  GTA4, some could say that it allows players to act in ways they would never want to in reality, feeding the need for excitement in the game.  Other say it is setting an example for people to follow about the way the world works, thinking that violence will always get you the desired results.  Reception theory expands on this discussing how people evaluate what they see and read.  Basing a film or text on your social surroundings and environment different people will interpret things differently.  The original message therefore can have mixed interpretations as to what it means, in depth readings into the type of language used and others taking it at face value.  Poetry often has this type of effect where the poem may mean one thing at face value but another when broken down and analysed.  The poem ‘Nothings Changed’ by Tatamkhulu Afrika.  Cultivation theory examines the effects of watching television over a long period of time and becoming immersed in the fictional world.  People model their clothing and hair cuts on those they admire on screen and so copying elements from the shows incorporating it into their own lives.  GTA4 covers many different types of criminal activities within the game but shows them in a positive light which copycats may be inclined to repeat.


An online poll showed that 20% of people believe media is to blame for violence in society and 80% say it’s not. (http://www.debate.org/opinions/does-the-media-cause-violence)


In the 1960sProfessor Leonard Eron began a study following 856 third-grade children in America.  This study lasted for 22 years and concluded that males brought up watching violence on the television were more likely to commit crimes as teenagers or adults.  An American news paper also reported on the subject on the topic of video games, discussing how they promote killing and violent behavior as that is the task required to reach the next stage – rewarding the player for that behavior.  Films and television shows show off violent behavior as the necessary action however many have reported about the fact the consequences for brutal actions are rarely shown.  These media products remove the reality from violent actions and brutal behavior making them less significant to the individual in the real world.


On the other hand it’s argued that media is blamed for violence in society, television news simply report on the actions that will generate viewers and that can’t be blamed for encouraging others.  Media products simply reflect or report on violence and not influence the original act.  This is not to say that media as a whole has no influence over audiences, advertisements tend to generate more business for a company hence the continuing growth in the industry.  Purchasing a different drink at lunchtime is only a minor alteration however violence is caused from a change in emotion and attitude, which media alone can’t create.


Some say that games, films and books take the user away from reality to experience a world different to our own.  We all live to experience, or we are just surviving.  These media aspects provide this different experience and admittedly people have used similar methods seen or followed extremist videos as inspiration however these were not necessarily the influence but could be seen as a provoker.