As the debate over gun violence in the country intensifies, members of the Obama Administration turned to the video game industry for possible solutions and Keene State College has its own views to add to that debate.
Faculty at the KSC Counseling Center added perspective to the gun violence debate. Counseling Center Assistant Director Mona Anderson emphasized that the issue on gun violence is very complex.
“When we’re talking about violence in the culture, we need to be careful to not make it about one thing. There are multiple factors and multiple ways of addressing this issue,” Anderson said.
In regards to violent video games being a contributing factor, Anderson said that these games do affect people’s behaviors. “Research has shown that there is an increase in aggressive behavior, thoughts, and feelings,” Anderson commented.
However, Anderson explained that playing these video games is not the sole reason why people become violent. “People who exhibit violent behaviors often have different biological, psychological, and social factors,” Anderson added. Several KSC students who play video games also have strong opinions on this issue. Sophomore Eric Jedd who plays video games 10 to 14 hours a week said that people play for different reasons. “I play video games for fun while others play them as a means to escape their normal lives,” Jedd stated.
Jedd added that the reason why violent video games are being attacked now is because they are becoming more mainstream. “When movies were becoming more mainstream, people said that violent movies were causing people to act in violent ways. The same can be said for all types of media.” Jedd commented that games such as the Grand Theft Auto series are particularly more violent than other games. He explained that because Grand Theft Auto is violent in a realistic sense, gamers are more likely to resonate with those real-life situations. He concluded, saying, “There is no direct correlation between someone playing violent video games and someone acting in violent ways.”
Senior Chelsea Rouff said playing video games is a fun recreational activity. Rouff estimates she plays up to an hour every day. “I don’t think that violent video games have an impact on people’s behaviors. People in general are smart enough to determine what is real and what is not. Even though one might play violent video games doesn’t mean that they are going to act upon those behaviors,” Rouff said.
According to CNN, Vice President Joe Biden met with leaders of the video game industry in early January. Biden is overseeing a White House task force to stop gun violence across the country. Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius were also present for the meeting. The talks started in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. and other similar incidents across the country. Before the meeting Biden stated, “We know there is no single answer and, quite frankly, we don’t even know whether some of the things people think impact on this [gun violence] actually impact on it or not.”
The task force set up by President Obama is not only meeting with representatives from the video game industry. Talks are also underway with the National Rifle Association and other gun advocate groups according to CNN.
Vice President Biden has pushed for universal background checks for all gun sales including other recommendations that he has sent to the president.
Meanwhile individual states are creating their own measures to combat gun violence. According to CNN, Massachusetts has removed all arcade games with guns or shooting components from public rest stops. In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal proposed legislation to join 17 other states and make mental health records part of the screening criteria for federal background checks to buy firearms.
According to a study conducted by the psychology department at Brock University in Ontario, Canada, there is a positive correlation between violent video game play and aggression. The study indicates that the high level of competition and the fast pace of action often found in violent video games may increase physiological arousal, and this arousal might result in aggressive behavior. However, the study also indicates that there is less evidence to support a long-term relation between these behaviors. After the meeting with Biden, Chairmen of The International Game Developers Association Daniel Greenberg released this statement to msnbc.com: “While scientific study has shown that imaginary violence in video games does not cause real world violence, the game developer community recognizes that we have responsibilities along with our rights.” In regards to other forms of media, Vice President Biden met with representatives from the Motion Picture Association of America in early January as well.
Matt Schwartz can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org