The Video Game Dilemma

The Video Game Dilemma

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In the video Game over: Gender, Race, and Violence in Video Games, produced by Sut Jhally, there is a debate between whether or not video games have an effect on the society. The cause for this debate is because the media such as TV, magazines, and advertisements provide an escape from reality to video game players. With the technology that is out in the world today, video games have gone a far way. It can create realistic images, shattering blood onto the screen, real life shooting stimulations, or exposing women as sexual figures. There are excellent graphic games such as “Sim City” that can provide a more educational standpoint. However violent video games such as “Grand Theft Auto” or “Call of Duty” are some of the causes for school shootings. Craig Anderson, a researcher from the University of Iowa, says that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, two Columbine High School students who murdered thirteen people and injured about twenty three others in 1999 did it because of a violent video game they both enjoyed playing called “Doom” negatively affected them. This caused great concerns about violent video games towards children and brought the attention to the US senate (Anderson). Inappropriate videos games can be addictive and provide a negative influence on the society which causes players to lose a sense in reality.
The main objective of women characters playing a role in video games is to serve as sexual figures. These figures are expressed as hookers, prostitutes, and strippers to pleasure the male players typically. When male players are given the opportunity to take advantage of strippers in games, it provides them with a sense of power. When gamers play such video games with these kinds of characters in it, they are in another virtual world where they are in control of everything. This manipulates their reality. In an article by Karen Dill, a researcher at the School of Social and Behavior Sciences at Lenoir-Rhyne College, it even states that a survey was taken confirmed that stereotypes of male character in games are to be aggressive, while female characters are classified as a “sexually objectified physical specimen” . When video games were first originated, female characters did not exist. Even voices of female characters were male (Dill). As time slowly progresses, an actual female princess would be included in the Super Mario game.

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In present day video games, female characters are more frequently used. For example, in the game “Tomb Raider”; Lara Croft stars as the main figure of the game. All of her duties were very similar to a male character’s duties. However, the body parts of Lara would still resemble a female’s body, but overly larger. The reason for this is because gender roles in games primary targets male players and the ability of controlling a female makes male players feel strong and masculine. This is a bad impact to have on little boys who play games because they may think that it is alright to treat and control real women like how they treat the ones in the video games.
Another reason we did not see frequent female characters in video games before is due to the lack of females who create video games. In the article written by Amy Bruckman, titled “Race and Gender in Play Practices: Young African American Males,” she writes about how majority of game creators ideas are coming from a man’s prospective. Bruckman also wrote, “there has also been research on encouraging females to contribute to making and playing games, to increase their interest in games, study their gaming preferences, and to create a desire among girls to pursue interests in computing and technology” (Bruckman). When players are playing the game, they do not intentionally think gender has a role in video game but it is all the small things that have a symbolic meaning to it.
Another small issue that many might not realize is the fact that racism plays a role in video games and society. In the media, black men are either represented as a sport figure or the negative stereotypical violent and aggressive character. In games such as “Grand Theft Auto”, black men are affiliated with gangsters in a poverty city. Images like these provide game players with the wrong mind set especially towards children playing the game. A young Caucasian person playing the game can turn out being racist when he grows up due to the fact that he may think that all black people are gangsters because that is what the game portrayed them as. Games like this can really have a negative influence on young children because they are vulnerable and believe what they see.
Furthermore, the other main cause that Jhally says it is a bad influence on society is because of the violence inside the video games itself. In games such as “Call of Duty”, there is a massive amount of violence because it is based on World War II and stimulates the actual infantry and combined armed warfare used during the war. In this game, the player goes around looking for the “bad guys” and shoots them, like he’s in the genuine war. The outcome would usually be considered gruesome to most people due to all of the blood and killing shown, but one study shows that it arouses players. An article written by Kristen Kalning called “Does Game Violence Make Teens Aggressive”, talks about the work of researchers of the Indiana University School of Medicine. Brain scans of kids who played a violent video game showed an increase in emotional arousal- and a corresponding decrease of activity in the brain areas involved in self-control, inhibition, and attention (Kalning). The study showed 44 adolescents split into two groups playing two different games. One was “Need for Speed” which is a game about car racing, while the other one “Medal of Honor” was based on violence. After 30 minutes, MRIs were taken of the adolescents and the scans showed that the ones who played “Medal of Honor” had a negative effect on the brain, while the others did not. This was a research study that proved that violence in video games has a negative impact on the brain of the gamers.
Ultimately, it can be determined that video games do have a negative influence on the youth. Although many games can be fun, some of them are filled with an artificial society that degrades gender, race, and violence. Influences on areas such as these are a huge deal to young adults because it can help shape the person they grow up to be. Video games are supporting the right to control women, stereotype race, and promoting violence sublimely, which are all unacceptable to the society today. Jhally shows the media debating whether video games are impacting more young people negatively every day. Billions of dollars are profited annually from gaming industries, while the consumers are lured into playing games that will negatively influence their ideas of reality.






Works Cited

Anderson, Craig A. "Effects of Violent Video Games on Aggressive Behavior, Aggressive Cognition, Aggressive Affect, Physiological Arousal, and Prosocial Behavior: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Scientific Literature."JSTOR. JSTOR, 5 Sept. 2001. Web. 21 Feb. 2011. Bruckman, Amy. "Race and Gender in Play Practices: Young African American Males." Georgia Institute of Technology School of Interactive Computing, 2010. Web. 22 Feb. 2011. .
Dill, Karen E. "Video Game Characters and the Socialization of Gender Roles: Young People’s Perceptions Mirror Sexist Media Depictions." Springer Science, 17 Oct. 2007. Web. 22 Feb. 2011. .
Kalning, Kristin. "Does Game Violence Make Teens Aggressive? - Technology & Science - Games - On the Level - Msnbc.com." Breaking News, Weather, Business, Health, Entertainment, Sports, Politics, Travel, Science, Technology, Local, US & World News - Msnbc.com. 8 Dec. 2008. Web. 21 Feb. 2011. .

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