Violent Media and Its Effects

I tend to be a pretty avid consumer of media. I love video games, music, TV shows and a variety of movies. It is worth noting however, that most of the media I consume is linked by a unifying factor: violence and death. Violence and death are very present in my choices of music. For instance, most Viking metal songs are either about dieing, or brutally slaughtering your enemies. TV shows and movies such as Game of Thrones, the Punisher, Gladiator, and Kill Bill showcase extremely brutal violence. My taste in video games also involves gratuitous violence. Call of Duty and Dark Souls II are two examples of those types of games. There are many studies that show a variety of negative and positive data regarding violent media. However, whether or not these studies are inclusive enough is debatable.

Out of these topics, of most concern to parents and the older generations are the video games that allow you to commit acts of violence.The games most commonly condemned are often “first person shooter” games that are based in military warfare. Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Battlefield, and Doom are all examples of games that have a great deal of violence in them. One study showed that violent video games caused violence. However, this study was found to not be inclusive enough. Another study found that over a long period of time, people who had not played video games had the same level of aggression as those who had.

Another study has shown some interesting facts. Apparently, “first person shooter” games increase the players reliance on their reaction time. Our reaction time is controlled by a part of the brain called the caudate nucleus. Those games that do not possess the fast paced warfare “first person shooters” are known for, such as Super Mario 64, cause the player to be more aware of the space they are in. Spacial awareness is controlled by the hippocampus. Here in lies the problem. Relying on one’s reactions increases the size of caudate nucleus while reducing the size of the hippocampus. In the past, higher risks of  PTSD, Alzheimer’s, depression, and schizophrenia have been linked to a shrunken hippocampus.

Apparently violent music can raise one’s levels of aggression. According to studies done by the American Psychology Association, if you listen to violent music, you are more likely to see “ambiguous words” as violent and or aggressive. An example of this would be thinking of bashing someone’s head in when someone says rock. Listening to violent music also causes one to be more likely to create violent or aggressive words out of partial words that one hears. It is hypothesized that music has a large impact on the amount of violence that people commit. This is a fascinating study, whose meaningful assessment is supposed to make the world a better place. Regardless, I am still going to sit in a corner and blast death metal.

According to yet another study, violent movies do inspire more aggression in people, but only in those who have a bent to aggression. The people who are made more violent by the gratuitous violence in movies usually have factors from their childhood that have caused them to acquire their aggressive tendencies. Overall, violent movies only affect the ones who already have violent tendencies.

Despite the concerning effects that violent music, movies, and video games can have, I do not plan on changing my habits at all. This world is cruel, harsh, animalistic, and violent. The music I listen to and the games I play should reflect this broken, dirty shard of realism. It is important for each of us to acknowledge the potential for terrible violence that each one of us possesses. As long as one properly manages the violence they see, it should not affect them. Overall, however, as with most things in life, it is important to strike a balance between the grim and the good.