You open your eyes to a narrow hallway with various passages opening to the left and right. The walls seem to be made of some pseudo-stucco material. You ignore the passages as you head forward to the opening at the end of the hallway. A spacious chamber opens up before you, with three passageways that open to the left, forward, and right respectively. After a few steps forward, you turn around and see another floor above the original hallway you came in, about twenty feet up. There are ramps from the left and right heading up towards it. At the foot of one of the ramps is a small white box with a red cross on it. As you walk closer to inspect it, footsteps are heard coming from behind you. You spin around to face a man of generic description toting a sinister looking modified chain gun. Before you can say anything, he opens fire, unloading three or four rounds into you.
Time to take evasive action. You backpedal to the right, arriving at the white box. You feel instantly healed. Turning, you sprint back into the hallway you came in from, dodging left and right to avoid flying bullets. The second right takes you into a small windowless room with nothing but a low-powered handgun and some loose clips littered about the floor. It will serve its purpose. The gun seems heavier than it should be as you slam a clip home and take an ambush position to the right of the door. The man barges in and misses seeing you. You take careful aim and unload eight rounds into the back of his skull. As he falls to the ground in his final death throes, the words ‘Falco_Lombardi fragged NeoNess101 with a handgun’ appear at the top of your vision. You smile to yourself and pick up his chain-gun, ready now for anything.
This is the type of rush most gamers get playing an online multiplayer first-person shooter such as Quake III, Unreal Tournament, Half-Life, or classic DOOM. But can these games be destructive to mental health? Can they actually desensitize people to the point where they cannot tell the difference between reality and virtual reality? The evidence will be presented for it, the evidence against it, and then I’ll show my own personal experience. You can draw your own results.
First of all, the evidence that video games promote violence. There actually is no conclusive evidence, either way, that video games cause violent behavior. But the games are violent, and in some cases do promote aggression, primarily in men rather than women. Games such as DOOM and Duke Nukem 3D are most often blamed. Almost all first-person shooters are graphic and involve killing with high-powered weapons; gratuitous blood and guts spewing around are commonplace. One game’s claim to fame, Soldier of Fortune, is almost 200 different violent and bloody reactions to being shot, depending on where you shoot and the power of the gun. While these games are violent, there is still no conclusive evidence that they could influence a person to acting it out in real life. It still remains: games don’t kill people, people kill people.
Now, the completely unbiased view of how video games do not promote violence. First of all, the games most oft blamed, DOOM and Duke Nukem 3D, do not involve killing people at all. Aliens are brutally slaughtered, but the graphics quality is so low that the “guts” lying on the ground look more like a deranged hot dog stand from up close. Some people did create “mods,” game modifiers, to make it look like people, but then the games are not to blame, the people are. Most video games sold in the USA are generally of a bloodless nature. The games that top the charts are always Mario, Zelda, or Tomb Raider rather than games like Medal of Honor or DOOM 2. A lot of people have played violent video games, and there is almost a cultist following of Unreal Tourney and Quake III, but none of those people ever decided to kill someone in real life, so once again, the game cannot be blamed. So what is to be blamed, you might ask? Maybe upbringing or lack thereof may be the greatest influence in the harboring of violent thoughts. That or mental illness.
And now, my own personal experience. Ever since I decided to do my essay on this topic, I have been playing extremely violent video games to see their effect on me. So far I have started and finished the Half-Life demo, the Duke Nukem 3D demo, the Quake demo, and the Quake II demo. So far, all this has done is sucked away hours of my life. I have been a little edgier lately, but that just as well could be from lack of sleep. I have not had any particularly violent thoughts towards anyone non-digital (except for Phillip Larson, but I won’t get into that) and it is difficult for me even to imagine murdering someone. Maybe I’m not desensitized enough yet. I’ll have to play Perfect Dark even more.
My belief is still firmly pro video games, even disgustingly violent ones. Millions of people play, have played, and will play a number of violent video games in their lifetime. Video games are not to be blamed. Saying video games are to be blamed for recent violence is like saying throwing a match into a condemned building is what originally blew it up, not the twenty pounds of C4 planted on the foundation. Also, ratings are made for games, and minors no longer purchase violent games. So check the rating and everyone loves each other again.