How have you seen violent video games affect your friends or family?

Most teenagers play some sort of video games, and some of the most popular games feature violent content. Today’s Question: How have you seen violent video games affect your friends or family?

  • Nope, but I have seen bad parenting affect the way kids think and behave. Blaming an inanimate object for societal problems is easy but won’t fix anything.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Violent video games may affect other people’s kids, but certainly not mine! And when anyone tries to criticize our good, clean family fun, I get really angry and start to feel like I want to blow away some REAL people for a change.

  • Craig

    I believe the police use what are essentially gaming environments to train officers in the correct use/restraint of deadly force. Hence, the police must believe gaming can shape real world decisions, or they would not bother.

  • Wade

    I don’t think games or music affect anybody who is well adjusted. If you can’t make a distinction between games and reality. Well, you’ve got bigger problems than we are addressing here.

  • Dana

    When I was pregnant I stopped watching shows like Law and Order and CSI because I couldn’t handle watching people get hurt. We have since gotten rid of our television. I have been amazed at the subtle changes in my life. Violent shows normalize behavior that is not normal. Most shows, even non-violent ones, model interpersonal relationships that are emotionally violent or angry. I did not even realize how this affected me until I was no longer exposed to them. I am also amazed at the influence that advertising had on me, especially since I thought I was a critical and savvy consumer of such media. I am so happy that my son will grow up with very little exposure to such things (I realize that he will see TV at friends and family’s houses.).

  • Sue de Nim

    In generations past, the army had a big problem. When ordered to fire, many soldiers, aware of the humanity of their enemy, would deliberately miss. That’s not a problem any more. Realistic point-and-shoot video games effectively desensitize young recruits to the moral ambiguity of killing another human being.

  • Barbara North

    I think the road block is the attitude that

    it is NORMAL for children to bully etc.

    Maybe we need to change our attitude

    IT IS NOT NORMAL it is accepted as normal

  • David Hanson

    Violent video games have affected my friends and me the same way violent movies and rap music have; not at all. The biggest factor in my ability to see through the violence and recognize the game as just a game would be the parental guidance I received growing up. My parents were even able to make video games a reward for doing my homework and thereby instilling a high regard for education in me at an early age. I feel parental supervision is 100 times more influential than violent games, movies or music.

  • kevin

    I can’t believe we are even discussing the legitimacy of violence as entertainment. It’s absolutely wrong and we need to stop it in all forms immediately.

  • Lawrence

    As a general rule, I don’t play video games and my son plays sports games (which in some ways is a source of some violence).

    I’m not a big fan of video games for youth and kids because I think these games stunt their creativity. When I was a kid, we did a lot of imaginery play with plastic toys, inanimate objects, and various porches, bushes, trees, and hideouts. To me, imagination stimulates the brain to problem solve, to invent new things, and to understand the flexibility of rule making and rule application. A video game is just hand-eye coordination, something a child can learn by playing baseball, tennis, weaving, and basketball.

  • Lawrence

    I don’t let my 17 year old son play violent video games, but in general I’m not a big fan of video games any way. I think video games stunts young children’s creative processes. When I was a young child, imaginative play was everything: forts, toys, hide outs, jobs, etc. There wasn’t a neighbor’s porch, or a stick, or a bush, or a tree, that didn’t become something important to our imagination. And as kids, we established rules for our play time too. Video games don’t do much but improve hand eye coordination, a task that quite frankly kids can improve upon by taking up basket weaving, baseball, and a number of other important sports and skilled crafts.

  • kennedy

    I have played online “shooter” video games with many of my friends. They are just games and do not make any of us violent in the real world. Many, in fact, favor gun control.

    Through these games I have learned which of my friends has quick reflexes. I have also learned who is more trustworthy in watching my back. The latter actually correlates pretty well with who I would trust in the real world.

  • Comments texted to MPR:

    People used to blame movies and music for social violence amongst teens, now it is video games. It is the individual not what they watch, listen to, or play. I love horror movies, violent games and Marylin Manson and I am a sane, loving stepmother to a 6-year-old. Stop blaming entertainment and start blaming the media! -Jessica, Minneapolis

    I know many that have been playing “mature” games for years. It’s just entertainment and hasn’t hurt any if us. They’re just games and we know that. -Ryan, St. Paul

    The effects of violent video games might be debatable, but one thing is for sure: spending You get fat. -Rachel, Minneapolis

    I blame junk like Cosmo magazine, and lots of television. But mostly Cosmo, I mean, they even have Teen Cosmo, and deliver the same message. -Tim, Duluth

  • Some of the kindest, most thoughtful people I know have spent hundreds of hours playing graphic, violent video games.

    What I find very interesting about the comments above is that they seem to be from two groups: those who themselves or their kids actually play video games, and those who don’t. One group has the direct experience, the other seems to be making a lot of assumptions and fear-based conclusions. Those who play understand that there really isn’t a blurring between the fantasy of a video game and the reality of life on earth, regardless of the subject or how graphic the violence is. That’s been my experience. I don’t turn off my Xbox and still think that I’m some sort of Jedi, car thief, or WWII tank commander.

    If you don’t play video games, there’s something you probably don’t realize. Most video games are simply stories, just like a movie. Only in a video game, you get to be one of the characters. Sometimes your character jumps up and down on top of turtles and mushrooms in order to save the princess like in Super Mario. Other times your character is a survivor of nuclear war trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic society like in Fallout 3.

    The bottom line is that a video game is a story, and stories are sometimes violent because life can be violent. Has anyone read Shakespeare? How about the book of Judges in the Bible? Violence, as terrible as it is, is a consistent part of our human narrative. That’s why it shows up in our art and our stories. Even many of the early cave paintings were of hunting big game — a very visceral and violent activity. Do high school students reading Hamlet start stabbing each other with poison tipped swords? What about the actors who would perform the play? Are they somehow more violent when they leave the stage? Of course not!

    It’s a bizarre thing to say, but I’ve killed thousands of “people” in video games. I’ve also held real guns in my hands and been shooting at the range. The two experiences could not be more different. No amount of video game violence undoes the gravity of what it feels like to use a real firearm, nor does it erase the horror of even the thought of actually using it on another human being.

    Our society may indeed be far too comfortable with violence, but laying the blame for that on video games is baseless. Video games don’t start wars or make people abuse their children. They don’t make bullies of children or keep us from feeling pain. Those are deeper ills in our society, and simply censoring what kinds of stories we tell, or by what media we tell them (video games) will not address them.

  • Khatti

    Do the sort of people who listen to MPR, and participate in the web sites of MPR, have paternalistic, autocratic impulses they mask from themselves as: “An abiding concern for the social order.”

  • Philip

    Many of my soldiers have played violent, military-style video games, particularly when we were in Iraq. It puts one in the right frame of mind, I guess.

  • Zathras

    Studies have consistently shown a LACK of a connection between violent video games and violent behavior. Some studies have actually shown a reduction in violent behavior, but it seems that MPR is not immune from the media hype machine’s ability to turn to an easy scape goat.

  • Julie

    Not at all! Like anything else, it depends on the person and how their interest in video games developed. I didn’t play much as a kid, but my husband played video games with his friends as a kid. We have an xbox and play games together, and some of them are pretty violent, and it doesn’t affect us at all. Lots of our friends do, too. It doesn’t take over anybody’s lives (we spend far more time outdoors and around town). Like any other form of media or potential influence, the key is being able to recognize the difference between reality and fantasy. To me, gaming is just another aspect of our media diet. We take it with for what its worth. Honestly I love playing games on our xbox with my husband, we work together as a team pretty well!

  • jessica Sundheim

    If my friends play video games, I am not aware of it – I don’t think that they have time. However, my daughters’ friends that play are the heavier kids. They are the kids who come over and are hungry ever 25 minutes, sigh heavily when I suggest they go play outside, and look at our 5 game collection and tell me how they have bookshelves at home filled with games. To put it nicely, they are over weight and uninterested in life outside of technology. I do not think that violence is the big deal. My own children are so cranky after they sit in front of the tv or computer for a half hour that I limit their use. They don’t want to eat dinner, or do their chores, or be interrupted. They are so annoyed by anything outside of the game. I have seen positive games lead to fights, and very aggressive, smart mouthy behavior. Whereas, when we gather on Friday night and play our favorite board games, everyone interacts, has fun, and is enjoyable (except when the 3 year old eats the pieces).

  • James

    It is not the Games, guns or gangs…. it is the parenting. A good family base is the foundation to a healthy society. Single “Octo” mom types are the problem. Fix that and 99% of the problems will be corrected.


  • Eli Cizewski-Robinson

    My friends and I have been playing violent video games for years and have had no ill effects because of them. I always find these discussions somewhat insulting as they imply that we cannot separate fiction from reality. If there is someone who is incapable of doing that their problem is well beyond just video games.

  • Chris V

    Like any well adjusted person, when I turn off the computer I don’t think that I am still in the middle of a battle and need to kill people who are not on my team.

    Video games are just a scape goat to blame for violence without actually solving the societal problems that cause violence in the first place. Gangs, mental illness, and violent “political” groups are what need to be addressed to reduce violence.

  • Sarah

    All I know is that I am a woman in my early 20s and I will not date anyone who plays violent video games. I find anyone who is entertained by violent games extremely unattractive.

  • Jason

    I am a 27 year old male and love to play video games. However, it’s not the violence that has effected my friends or I, it is the immersion and the inability to let go of the game that has the most damaging effect. I used to be addicted to World of Warcraft a couple years ago but have since been WoW free. I still have friends who play more WoW per week than they work – 40+ hours. This is a huge issue for many many people, perhaps bigger than the violence question.

  • Christine

    I have seen people transfer their frustration over losing/ ending the game into how they behave and treat other people in the real world (throwing joysticks, yelling). It’s not the content of the game so much as the effect winning or losing or simply ‘time’s up’ has on the person’s psyche. Some people feed on the feeling of accomplishment or approval from winning the game or beating other players online instead of through real hard work and real personal accomplishment. I realize this is all the person’s issue, not the game, but as face to face social interaction wanes, how are people learning to relate to others, control this sort of bad behavior, and gain true self-esteem?

  • Jeff – in Eagan

    Since we are going head long into a nanny socialist/communist state,, what the heck — ban all video games that portray any violence.

    We can’t eat food that is “bad” for us (or pay the fat tax)….

    We should just make a big list of Nanny state things that are “bad” for you.

    That would make me feel so much better.

    What ever happened to common sense and personal responsibility?

  • Personally, as a person who has seen violent media in general in (almost) every format, if the parents feel that their government should take a role in acting as the parental advisory board, then clearly they are not parents.

    If you do not have the time to sit down and talk with your kids about what they just listened to or played or watched, then do not bring up that need of governing bans to help cover up mediocre parenting.

  • I hate the world it is a very mean place i like to get into a ball and cry myself to sleep i relive my stress by sgueesing medicine balls