Under the Influence of Video Games
Sponsored by Missouri Western State University Sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation DUE-97-51113
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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
ONEAL, D. A. (2007). Under the Influence of Video Games. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 10. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved April 25, 2017 .

Under the Influence of Video Games

Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (cronk@missouriwestern.edu)
Understanding the impact that video games have on individualís behaviors and thoughts is a debatable topic. The debate is over the correlation of playing video games and the behaviors of desensitization that this form of entertainment may cause. Some studies support that playing video games may stimulate positive development, while others support negative implications of video game playing. The relationships between game playing over years and current continuous video game playing have a negative reaction on behaviors, such as violent thoughts and behaviors. In addition, the personís choice of first person player character is considered another indicator to violent thoughts and behaviors. In this study, it is assumed that more men than women would perform more acts of violence.

Video games have become a great source of entertainment. There continues to be a large debate on whether or not video games are educational or detrimental to the development of children and adults. The video game industry is consistently being has become more criticized for violent video games. Over the past twenty years video media and video games have been conceptualized as to increasing aggressive behaviors and increasing violent behaviors (Gentile & Anderson,2003). Doom is a game designed as a bloody shooting game intended to train soldiers to kill. Doom was the favorite game for the Columbineís murderers, Harris and Klebold. Violent video games have been considered one of the contributing factors (Anderson, & Dill, 2000) in the Columbine High School murders. The entertainment media and video games have effects on individual lives. Behaviors from the media are often times considered appropriate behaviors by adults and children. Those behaviors are then interpreted into every day life. It only stands to theoretical reason that violent video games would have a similar impact into lives as one would identify with the characters in video games, (Anderson, & Dill, 2000). People who scored high on measures of aggressive personality have highly accessible knowledge of structures of aggression related information. They think aggressive thoughts more frequently than those who score low on aggressive personality measures, and have social perception schemas that lead to hostile perception, expectations and attributional biases (Anderson & Dill 2000). Various input variables influence a personís behaviors such as aggression related feelings of anger or hostility. Playing a frustrating video game is more likely to increase anger. Intense engagement is a potential reason for violence in video games because such engagement may increase the probability that game behavior will generalize outside the same situation (Funk, Baldacci, Pasold, Baumgarder, 2004) In the mid 1980ís children average about four hours a week playing video games, including time at home and at an arcade (Gentile & Anderson 2003). By 1990 more games were developed and more time was spent in the home playing video games. In 1990 game-playing time had increased to 7.1 hours per week. In six years over 600 eight and ninth graders were surveyed and it was determined that girls had increase playing time to 9 hours while boys were playing an average of 13 hours (Gentile & Anderson, 2003). Studies continue to support the more hours of exposure to violent game playing increases more aggressive and violent behaviors. Video games were meant to bring entertainment and educational purposes for children and adults (Gentile & Anderson, 2003). Eighty nine percent of the games contain violent content. One question that remains to be answered is why the consumers choose games of violent material. Do the consumers prefer a violent video game for the challenge or do they prefer the violent material to identify with the characters of the game and the opportunity to role-play or act out in violent behaviors?Researchers have defined violence (Gentile & Anderson 2003) as any content that causes harm to other characters. Violent content has led the industry to give game ratings based on the type of violence. In the games where killing occurs at a high rate is at the hype of researcherís awareness. In a survey of children and their parents (Gentile & Anderson 2003) about two-thirds of the children could name their favorite violent games.The preference for violent games has been linked with hostile attribution biases, increased arguments with teacher, lower self-perceptions of behavioral conduct and increased physical fights. There are six reasons why we should expect (Gentile & Anderson, 2003) video games to have an even greater impact than violent television.1. Identification with an aggressor increases limitation of the aggressor, 2. Active participation increases learning, 3. Practicing an entire behavioral sequence is more effective than practicing only a part, 4. Violence is continuous. 5. Repetition increases learning. 6. Rewards increase imitation.Research will continue to investigate the effects that video games have in increasing aggressive and violent behaviors. As researchers continue to look for more answers as to the increase in aggressive behaviors and violence a more in depth look will into the exposure of violent video games and violent media.


Thirty six 36 general Psychology students at a north Missouri University were given two surveys to determine their general interest in video games. Participants were given the opportunity to signup through an online scheduling process and received extra credit for their participant.Apparatus and MaterialsA gateway laptop, which had four video game trailers were used. The four video game trailers were Stalker, Bullet Witch, NBA Home Court and Icon DefJam. The four video game trailers were played in random order for the participants. The questionnaires can be found in Appendix A. ProcedureParticipants were given a short questionnaire upon entering the experimental room. The first part of a two-part questionnaire and it was placed on the table in front of the laptop. The first questionnaire contained seven questions and the second questionnaire contained twelve questions. The participants were randomly showed four video game trailers. After viewing the video game trailers a second questionnaire was handed to the participants

It was hypothesized that people who would consider acting out with violent behaviors would prefer violent video games to non violent video games. There were not not indicate significant results; chi square (1) = 1.636,p>.05. It was also hypothesized that people who consider acting out violent behaviors would prefer first person game playing games to those that were not first person game players, the results were not significant; chi square (1)=1.636,p>.05. There were significant results for men who would admit to consideration of acting out in violence, chi square (1) =4.09, p<. 05. There was a non- significant trend between those who had committed an act of violence and those who preferred first person game playing; chi square (1)=2.90,p=.08 with (61%) preferring first person games playing. Significant results appear in correlation of subjects who admittedly committed and act of violence to preferring violent video game to non-violent video games with these results; chi square (1) = 5.69, p>.05The chi square test comparing the gender and those who had committed act violence indicated significant results; (x2 (1) =7.25,p >.05.

Discussion It was expected that those who prefer violent video games would have an increase levels of violent thoughts. It was predicted that those who preferred first person video games would be expected to have committed some type of violent act or thoughts of violence. There appear to be significant data that supports this hypothesis. It was also anticipated that those who had extensive game playing time would have more thoughts of violent behaviors. There was not sufficient information to support this hypothesis. Previous research has shown that playing video games increases aggressive behaviors and decrease helping others (Bartholew & Bushman & Sestir, 2006). A possible explanation of these effect is that people become desensitized to violence after prolonged exposure, leading to reduction of normal inhibitions against aggression and making individual less responsive to pain and suffering experienced by victims of violence (Bartholew & Bushman & Sestir, 2006). Those that do not have prolonged usage of game playing will have less aggressive or violent thinking. The hypothesis was not supported by the data collected. In this study it was discovered that men were more willing to admit their act of violence.

Anderson, C.A. & Dill, K.E. (2000) Video games and aggressive thoughts, feelings and behavior in the laboratory and in life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78 772-790.Bartholow, B.D. & Bushman, B.J & Sestir, M.A. (2006) Chronic violent video game exposure and desensitization to violence: Behavioral and event-related brain potential data, Journal of Experimental and Social Psychology, 42,532-539 Funk, J.B, & Baldacci, H.B.& Pasold, T. & Baumgardner, J.(2004) Violence exposure in real-life, video games, television, movies, and the internet; is there desensitization? Journal of Adolescence 27, 23-39Gentile, D.A. & Anderson, C.A.(2003) Violent video games: the newest media violence hazard. Media Violence and Children, 7,131-152Kirsh,S.J.& Olczak, P.V. & Mounts, J.R.(2005) Violent videogames induce and affect processing bias, Media Psychology 7,239-250

This is a sample of the first questionnaire given to the participants upon entering the room.Please circle the answer that applies or fill in the blank in the questions.1.Age group: 18- 21 22-25 25- 28 28- and higher2.Male or Female 3.How many years have you played video games? 0 1-2 3-4 5-6 7-8 9 and greater 4. How would you rate your anxiety level at this time? None Low Medium High 5.How many hours per day do you play video games? 6. Do you prefer to play violent video games more than non-violent video games? Yes or No7. What is your favorite game to play?This is a sample of the questions contained on the second questionnaire.1. What type of games do you purchase?2. Do you prefer to play games where you can portray or pretend to be the 1st person character role of the video game?3.How many hours on average do you play per week?4. What violence did you observe in the video game trailers?5. How would you rate your anxiety at this time? None Low Medium High6. Do you consider yourself a good citizen? Yes or No7. Where do you play games most often? Home Arcade Friendís House8. Would you consider acting out any act of violence? Yes or No9. Do you consider yourself of high morals? Yes or No10. Have you ever committed any act of violence? Yes or No11. If yes to number 10 please describe what type of violence?12. If there is anything else you would like to comment about video games?

Submitted 4/24/2007 2:22:41 PM
Last Edited 4/24/2007 2:31:10 PM
Converted to New Site 03/09/2009

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