Oct 17 2013

When Video Games Do Induce Violent Behavior

Published by at 12:00 pm under Editorials,Video Games

violent

Alright, so this is just a goofy little comic via Pleated Jeans, and not something I’d normally go out of my way to feature, but I actually think it touches on a larger point that I’ve been saying for years.

Video games have the capacity to make you violent. Or at least exhibit violent and aggressive behavior, more specifically.

But why? Because the blood-soaked nature of M-rated gaming is just seeping into our consciousness and making us all serial killers? No, that’s not what I’m talking about.

Rather, I’ve become extremely aggressive after playing games. Games I’ve just lost. It doesn’t matter if the screen is covered in blood after I’ve been defeated in an FPS, or if I lost that last Need for Speed race by a tenth of a second. It has nothing to do with the type of game being played, violent or otherwise, and everything to do with the concept of losing. 

stuntman

Stuntman: I have never yelled at a game more.

Video games are intense. The hardest among them require A) a large time commitment and B) a great deal of focus. To me, the more time and focus a game takes, the more explosive the reaction is going to be from a player when they lose.

This is where you get into players being “toxic.” You know, people flaming in chat, people yelling in your headset, things like that. Obvious a lot of the susceptibility to this relies on your personality, but I think anyone is vulnerable to being turned into a rage monster based on the games they play and in what context they lose.

This depends on different games and different people. Usually, I’m a pretty laid back, mellow guy, and it takes a lot for a game to truly piss me off and have me storming around the house afterward. Like, I can play an eight minute match of Call of Duty, get my ass handed to me, and simply laugh it off. This isn’t true for others, as let’s say, they lose six games in a row and are constantly getting spawn-camped every game, they might be the one screaming in your headset.

francis

Francis is angry.

But then take a game like League of Legends, which really frays my nerves. On average, games are probably 35 to 45 minutes long, and unlike many other multiplayer games, you HAVE to work as a team to succeed. Getting five strangers to work effectively together is a nightmare, and gameplay is such that a single person’s bad play or mistake can cost the entire game for his team. It’s a powderkeg, and one that explodes practically every other game. It’s rated Teen, and features probably a test tube worth of total blood in its cartoony animation, but that doesn’t matter.

When you’re on the losing side, there’s never any grace in defeat. Either it’s your team’s fault (and odds are, one of the other players will be worse than you) and you feel powerless to win a game which you, personally, did very well. Or sometimes you ARE that guy, and everyone gangs up on you, telling you to kill yourself and uninstall the game (probably not in that order, though) and you turn into a rage monster to defend yourself and lash out at everyone else.

I’ve ended League of Legends games physically shaking with rage, and it’s affected the rest of my day, putting me in a severely bad mood indefinitely. And you’ve all probably seen the videos online of people raging and destroying controllers and computers after losing matches. This is certainly “violent behavior” even if it’s not directly harming others. This can happen with any game, violent or not, and persistently getting yourself in this mindset cannot be good for your overall mental health. I’ve ended many post-game rage sessions thinking “Why did I even do that to myself? Why did I derail my whole day?”

So no, I’m not saying that losing video games will make you go out and murder people, but I think there is a very real behavioral component here that shouldn’t be completely ignored by game activists. I’m the first one to stand up and say it’s bullshit to blame video games for massacres, but that said, if your kid is spending four hours a night screaming obscenities into his headset because he’s losing his COD matches, there should probably be some sort of intervention. Video games can create a kind of rage that most other leisure activities don’t, and it can indeed influence your real life in negative ways. So be careful.





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5 responses so far

  • Carmelo

    Video-games are unique among the popular forms of entertainment due to their interactive component. That interactivity is a vital key that can ‘trick’ the mind into responding to virtual stimuli with real world emotions and behaviors. As opposed to passive entertainment (Movies, TV, Music etc.) which the mind response to with more emotional disconnection.

    So it is no surprise that video games might make SOME PEOPLE more susceptible to acting out.

    But just because some people react to video-games unfavorably doesn’t mean the rest of society should be kept away from these games. After all, we don’t ban beer because of alcoholics.

  • Jake

    I get this way when playing Assassin’s Creed when you have to do the timed challenges and the POV suddenly switches from follow to fixed. The problem is that the controller input changes with it so whichever direction I was in the middle of trying to jump to suddenly changes and I’d jump in a completely different direction than I intended. I usually spend the rest of the game cursing at the screen and proclaiming my hate for the entire franchise.

    My wife doesn’t understand it though, “if you hate the game that much then why do you keep playing it?” Because I want to beat the POS so I can rub it in its face!!!!

  • Nick Verboon

    If anybody ever brings up gamer rage as a talking point, I just point
    out typical sports behavior to them. Parents brawling at childrens’
    games, entire stadiums devolving into murderous riots, and fans burning
    their own cities down. And that’s when they WIN.

  • JEFLynn

    My current League fix is in ARAM. it’s much closer to a “team deathmatch” than the classic mode. There’s still an objective sure, but it’s one lane, so less strategy, and one person can make a difference. Sure, teamwork can destroy, but it’s less of a requirement. I’ve much more fun lately after I started playing that mode.

  • cypher20

    That is exactly why I primarily play bot matches on LoL and limit how often I play PvP. Maybe you’re better at the game then I am (okay, you almost certainly are) but I find the intermediate bots pretty challenging.

    Anyway, as usual, you bring up a good and valid point. I think some kind of “intervention” would be necessary if the individual doesn’t take care of the issue themselves. I’m finally mature enough that if a game is just making me rage rather then enjoy it, I will simply move on. That might mean “never play the game again” or it might mean “come back later”, but, especially with my limited time these days, I really just constantly asking myself, “Am I having fun?”. If then answer is “no”, time to play something else.

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