Video game controversies are societal and there are scientific arguments about whether or not the content of video games can change the behaviour and attitudes of a player, Ayodele Adenaiye examines the issue.
A video game is an electronic game that involves human interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a video device. The electronic systems used to play video games are known as platforms; examples of these are personal computers and video game consoles. These platforms range from large mainframe computers to small hand held devices.
The input device primarily used to manipulate video games is called a game controller, and varies across platforms. For example, a controller might consist of only a button and a joystick, while another may feature a dozen buttons and one or more joysticks. Early personal games often needed a keyboard for game play or more commonly, required the user to buy a separate joystick with at least button. Many modern computer games allow or require the player to use a keyboard and a mouse simultaneously. A few of the most common game controllers are gamepads, mousses, keyboards, and joysticks.
In recent years, additional methods of input have emerged such as camera-based player observation for video game consoles and touch sensitive screens on mobile devices.
Games can have both positive and negative consequences on us. Video games are a great and important medium. Like related forms of media, computer and video games has been the subject of frequent controversy and censorship due to the depiction of graphic violence, sexual theme, and aggressiveness.
For most people, computer use and video game play is integrated into their lives in a balanced manner. For others, time spent on the computer or video game is out of balance, and has displaced work, school, friends and even family. Video games have proven to lead to a type of addiction among some users.
However, since the early 1980s, advocates of video games have emphasized their use as an expressive medium, arguing for their protection under the laws governing freedom of speech and also as an educational tool. Detractors argue that video games are harmful and therefore should be subject to legislative oversight and restrictions. The positive and negative characteristics and effects of video games are the subject of scientific study. Results of investigations into links between video games and addiction, aggression, violence, social development, and a variety of stereotyping and sexual morality issues are debated.
The Entertainment Software Association reports 17% of video game players are boys under the age of 18 and 36% are women over the age of 18, with 48% of all gamers being women of all ages. They also report that the average age of gamers is 31. A survey of 1,102 children between 12 and 17 years of age found that 97 percent are video game players who have played in the last day and 75 percent of parents checked the censor’s rating on a video game before allowing their child to purchase it. Of these children, 14 percent of girls and 50 percent of boys favoured games with an “M” (mature) or “AO” (adult-only) rating. 32 percent of American adults play video games and to 2007, the number was increasing.
Moreover, the principles that lead to gaming addictions are not very different from other types of addictions such as gambling. Playing video games maybe highly sustained, both in frequency and duration, due to the way that the games are programmed and experienced.
Similar to gambling, electronic gamers may find themselves continually playing until they get to that next reward which may or may not come. Most of the bad effects of video games are blamed on the violence they contain. Children who play more violent video games are more likely to have increased aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, and decreased pro-social helping.
Joy Rabiu a student in the department Mass Communication, University of Maiduguri says she always feel discouraged when she is defeated while playing video game with her friends and this sometimes makes her to develop hatred towards them. In her own words ‘‘I love playing video games and I always love to win my opponent, but I hate being defeated, because it makes me sad’’ she said.
Scholars posit it that ‘playing video game could be compared to smoking cigarettes. A single cigarette won’t cause lung cancer, but smoking over weeks or months or years greatly increases the risk. In the same way, repeated exposure to violent video games may have a cumulative effect on aggression’.
The effect of video game violence in kids is worsened by the gamers’ interactive nature. In many games, kids are rewarded for being more violent. The act of violence is done repeatedly. The child is in control of the violence and experiences the violence in his own eyes (killings, kicking. Stabbing and shooting). This active participation, repetition and reward are effective tools for learning behaviour.
For instance, when students play for longer than one hour per day or, on the average, 7-10 hours per week, they may be sacrificing needed homework and study time which could negatively impact academic performance.
Most scholars believe that the more we are exposed to violence the more we are apt to behave violently in the real world. Therefore, we must limit or prevent high levels of exposure to violence across all media including television, movies, and video games.