by George Heymann

Should simulated violence in video games be a cause for concern?

by George Heymann

This debate has been ongoing since the dawn of video games, with several study results in direct contradiction of one another’s findings.

Personally, being a consumer of various video games — some of which are violent —  I believe this issue is a symptom of our societal tendency to shirk personal responsibility in favor of blaming media for anti-social behavior.

  I recently read an MSNBC story by Kristin Kalning quoting an Indiana University School of Medicine study employing state-of-the-art brain-scanning technology. The researchers determined that “the brain scan of kids who played violent video games showed an increase in emotional arousal and a corresponding decrease of activity in the brain areas involved in self-control, inhibition and attention.”
These same arguments can and have been made for other types of media, music, TV shows, and movies. John P. Murray, a psychology professor at Kansas State University, conducted a similar study about the effects of violent TV shows and movies using the same technology, with similar results, according to Kalning.
Video games were once again thrust into the forefront of this debate after a new Android game called “Dog Wars” was introduced by Kage Games, LLC . The premise of this game is to feed, water train and fight your virtual dog against those of other players.
The virtual dogfighting game was first brought to my attention by an Android blog — Android Central — and the story was picked up by the Wall Street Journal, the Huffington Post and the Washington Post.
Wayne Pacelle, Humane Society president and CEO stated, “Android should drop ‘Dog Wars’ from its online market and join the national movement to save dogs from this violent practice. Because ‘Dog Wars’ actually instructs players on how to condition a dog using methods that are standard in organized dogfighting, this game may be a virtual training ground for would-be dogfighters. Its timing and message are all wrong.”

Michael Vick, who was convicted of felony dog fighting charges, also weighed in on the issue. “I’ve come to learn the hard way that dogfighting is a dead-end street. Now, I am on the right side of this issue, and I think it’s important to send the smart message to kids, and not glorify this form of animal cruelty, even in an Android app,” according to the Android Central report.

Being an animal lover, I understand the strong emotional response this video game has elicited but question if there hasn’t been a overreaction to this app in particular and video game violence in general?
I think measuring emotional arousal through brain scans is a false premise, as it doesn’t address whether there is any long term effect or changes in the brain only the immediate results can be measured directly after being exposed to the stimuli.
As abhorrent as the premise of some of these videogames are, I believe we need to draw a sharp distinction between fantasy violence presented in TV shows, movies, music and videogames and criminal acts committed in real life.
I do believe and support the ratings system that is in place to help parents determine what content is age appropriate for children.
Where do you stand on this issue? Do you feel that violent video games, music, TV shows and movies lead to an increase in violent crime?


Filed under: Android, General technology, Media, Software, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Responses

  1. Divina Yoon says:

    Hello i have to say thanks, i really enjoyed this.

  2. Enrique Spiess says:

    You covered good points there.

  3. Stanley Singeltary says:

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  4. Adella Fial says:

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  5. TB USA says:

    Regarding the dogfighting Kage Games

    To say that these games do not condone violence toward animals or humans, and that the sellers are confident in humankind’s ability to distinguish between a rudimentary game and the consequences of real life, is an insult to the intelligence of all people who have any intelligence whatsoever. Also, dog fighting is a criminal activity which is usually accompanied by drugs and other unsuitable activities.

    There is no way that this “game” could ever be of any benefit to dogs, and it an insult and a total distortion of reality to make such a statement. It doesn’t matter IF it has been in the operating agreement that a portion of the proceeds go to animal rescue organizations, even if I believed that it would. I consider that to be just a seedy attempt to cover up the vile indecency of the games. That pretense cannot justify the fact that this game is outrageous, and that it supports and encourages that which is A FELONY, DOG FIGHTING. In my view only a very sick and deranged mind would devise such a game, knowing that people go to prison for participating in dog fighting, and knowing the cruel and barbaric treatment of dogs by the mindless participants in dog fighting.

    It is despicable that anyone would market such a game that will corrupt the mind of young people who need to be directed toward moral values and ethics.

    In my state dog fighting is a felony conviction for the dog fighters and for the spectators. It is also a federal conviction.

    If you want my opinion, I think the persons selling this dog fighting game should be prosecuted, indicted and convicted for encouraging the participation of dog fighting, which is an abomination and an atrocity, which kills and destroys helpless animals, and which send the perpetrators and the participants to prison.

    You solicited opinions. This is my opinion, and also the opinion of many citizens of this country. To market and to sell this game is beyond contempt.


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