Video Games and Desensitization
Video Games and Desensitization
Video Game is an electronic game played by means of images on a video screen and often emphasizing fast action (Merriam-Webster, n.d.). Video games and the associated industry and bloomed and blossomed over the last few decades due to advent in technology and proportional increase in their demand particularly among the young, both males and females. According to the latest stats by Entertainment Software Rating Board, almost 67 percent of US households play video games and the average games spends around eight hours a week playing video games (2010). Moreover, the industry made a staggering and astounding economics too. In 2009, video game industry sold 273 million units leading to an earth shattering revenue collection of $ 10.5 Billion. But off late, there have been growing concerns about the bad or ill effects of video games, especially the violent ones, and their effects on aggression and violence in real life.
The article starts with highlighting the most important concerns associated to violent video games and media on individuals. It talks about the high number of violent video games, poor censorship and subsequently the long-term negative effects they have on youth and young people. Exposure to video games and medias with excessive violent content has been branded a bigger threat that some serious issues like low IQ, abusive parents or broken home, and antisocial peers. This shows the gravity of the problem at hand and the article indeed tries to discuss many important points in the starting. According to a recent research done by a research team at Brock University in Canada violent games could reinforce the notion that aggression is an effective and appropriate way to deal with conflict and anger (dailymail 2012). And hence, the article discusses a critical issue, to say the least. But eventually and most importantly, the article probes, researches and discusses a rather neglected issue of desensitization effects due to video games. It not only talks about the general desensitization effects but also substantiates and verifies all the popular and widespread beliefs by an in-depth experiment.
Desensitization is a brad term and can be inferred and deciphered in numerous ways and hence is very confusing. It the respect of studying the desensitization effects due to violent video games, it is defined as a reduction in emotion-related physiological reactivity to real violence. Desensitization has been used beneficially in many fields and treatments. It is used to treat people suffering from different types of phobias by desensitizing them and has also been used by US military for training missions and desensitizing soldiers to violence. But, desensitization of children and civilians is detrimental and harmful both at the individual level and for the society in broader perspective. According to one of the recent studies concentrated on the subject, people with more past exposure to violent video games have brainwaves that indicate desensitization to violence (Brockmyer 2006).
The article then goes on to explain the relationship between Media violence and physiological desensitization. GSR has been used as an indicator to measure the desensitization effect of violent media over the years. The GSR levels of individuals while watching a violent media for the first time were found to be much higher than the GSR levels of individuals who had previously watched or viewed it, according to a recent research. Though there have been various studies conducted to establish relationship between media violence and desensitization, they fail to address the main issue since real world physiological responsiveness is not as critical as responsiveness to real world experience, which these studies fail to talk about or discuss. The aggressiveness attributes can be influenced or increased after playing violent games for as little as 20 minutes (Munger 2008), and hence the study of responsiveness or reactions to real world due to influence by violent media or video games holds importance.
The experiment consisted of 257 college students who participated voluntarily. The procedure was indeed extensive and complex to understand and come up with the results between the lines too. Initially for 5 min baseline HR and GSR measurements of all the participants were taken. During this period participants faced some questions regarding their habits per se video games. After these 5 min, participants played a randomly assigned violent or nonviolent video game for 20 min. This was done to achieve comparison between those who played violent games and those who didn’t. Another set of 5 min HR and GSR measurements were taken after the game play and next the participants were exposed to a real life violent video of 10 min duration while their HR and GSR levels were continuously measured during these 10 min. All previous studies revealed that exposure to violent video games increases aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, physiological arousal and aggressive behaviors, and decreases helpful behaviors (Nauret 2006). This experiment, hence, dwelled into a completely new space.
The results of the experiment were rather shocking and worrisome. While the experiment did reinforce some old claims, it also ripped through some previously held unsubstianted ones. Various physical differences were observed between those who played violent games and those who played non-violent games. While viewing real violence, participants who were made to play a violent game demonstrated significantly lower skin response measurements than those who had played non-violent games. Moreover, the heart rates of the group that played violent games were below the group, which played non-violent games while watching the video.
These results clearly demonstrate and prove that playing a violent video game for as little as 20 min can cause people to be much less responsive to real violence and hence causing desensitization. The study hence concludes that individuals who play violent filled video games habituate to all the violence. The study also uses the GAM model and integrates it well with systematic desensitization processes effectively to draw and come up with some very vital and important conclusions.
In the recent years, not only has the video game industry and its economic value prospered, but so have the problems due to the over exposure to the video games which indeed is a cause of concern. In 1999 two students named Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris opened fire in their school killing 13 (Layton 2013). Later on media revealed that both these students played a lot of violent video games and hence were prompted to undertake this action. This and many such related incidents forced the world and governments to wake up and take notice of the growing influence of video games on youth. Video games are indeed immersive and help a person escape reality by transforming him/her into something else (Glendale 2012). This is where the basic problem lies and this article does fairly well in analyzing the core issue related to violent laden video games.
Merriam-Webster, (n.d.). Merriam-webster.com, Retrieved March 26, 2013, from
ESRB (2010). How Much Do You Know About Video Games?.
Entertainment Software Rating Board, Retrieved March 26, 2013, from
Dailymail (2012). Violent video games ‘make teenagers more aggressive towards other people’
(and girls are affected as much as boys). Mail online,
Retrieved March 26, 2013, from
Brockmyer, Jeanne H (2006). Violent Video Games and Desensitization.
Education.com, Retrieved March 26, 2013, from
Layton, Julia (2013). Do violent video games lead to real violence?
Howstuffworks.com, Retrieved March 26, 2013, from
Munger, Dave (2008). Violent Video Games and Desensitization.
Scienceblogs.com, Retrieved March 26, 2013, from
Nauret, Rick (2006). Violent Games Desensitize to Real Violence.
Psychcentral.com, Retrieved March 26, 2013, from
Glendale, AndrewM. (2012). How do violent video games influence people?.
Teenink.com, Retrieved March 26, 2013, from