Video games are elaborate computer programs that require user interaction through equipment such as a joypads, thus visual feedback is generated onto a video device. Like most other phenomena, video games have not been devoid of controversies in various circles, particularly owing to the notion that content in video games have the potential to impact negatively on players’ behaviour and attitude. The question that lingers among video game critics therefore, is do video games make people commit violent crimes? Political arenas in various countries have not been left out of this debate, as the questions raised by video game critics have necessitated the initiation of studies geared towards determining whether video games possess any links to violence, addiction, aggression, as well as sexual morality, in a bid to further determine whether it is necessary to subject such video games to legislative restrictions and oversight.
The answer to this question however is not conclusive, since researchers on the issue have arrived at different conclusions. Some would even put forward the idea that video games aid in reducing incidences of violent crimes, as they keep potential criminal offenders preoccupied on their computers and video games. Researchers who agitate for the fact that video games make people commit crimes postulate that exposure to violence from childhood increases the likelihood to develop and exhibit aggressive tendencies in adulthood. This is because the repeated exposure to violent acts makes a child less sensitive to violence in general. For this reason a child might end up thinking that violent acts are both desirable and acceptable within society. If, for instance, the video game is such that violent acts are rewarded whereas non-violent ones are not, it conditions the child into replicating this ideology and behaviour in real life.
The theory therefore is that violent and criminal acts are committed by individuals with a prolonged exposure to video games that depict violence, owing to the fact that such individuals are incapable of distinguishing between that which is real and that which they experience in the video game. Reported incidences of violent behaviour linked to video games include the murder committed by a 17-year old of his mother following an incidence where his video game was taken away from him. In another incidence, two kids wounded 23 individuals and murdered 13 others before killing themselves whilst reportedly acting out their own version of the video game ‘Doom’.
What has been established with certainty is the potential for video games to stir hostility and aggressiveness in the short term. What is yet to be established however, is whether after longer periods the habit to indulge in playing video games increases the likelihood of an individual to commit a crime. Would that person still have committed their crime had they never had any exposure to violent video games? Does correlation really prove causation? In conclusion, there is no doubt that video games provoke an array of emotional responses such as elation and sadness. However, the same can be said about other media such as music, movies and novels. Thus while game exposure might not be the sole cause of crimes and violent acts, it is a risk factor that is in need of more detailed study.