Dear father, supervising teacher, and the rest of the dinosaurs in my life:
Playing violent video games does not cause aggressive behavior. The only research that shows any indication that it might was heavily criticized by the majority of researchers even at the time of its publication, which was over a decade ago. In fact, most research shows that there is absolutely no scientifically significant correlation between playing violent video games and engaging in aggressive behavior… I could find the sources for you, but you have already told me in the past that “well, you can make those studies come out any way you want to.” To which I reply that no, not so much, not if it’s in a peer-reviewed journal, but I digress.
If there is any relationship between playing violent video games and aggressive behavior, it is not causation, it is correlation. In other words, you do not play a violent video game and then suddenly go out and hurt somebody. It is far more logical that people who tend to engage in aggressive behavior also tend to seek out violent games, because of some outside factor that influences both of these choices. Likely, what is to blame is an establishing operation that increases the motivational value of seeing others in pain (like being in pain, physical or emotional, yourself), which makes both playing violent games and engaging in aggression against another person more reinforcing. This is a simple rule of human behavior.
No, children should not be playing these violent games. That’s why there’s a little thing called a maturity rating on every video game that is sold, and every movie that is made. If we are to stop making mature games just because children can and likely will access them, we need to apply the same logic to everything else that children shouldn’t have… cigarettes, liquor, pornography, guns… oh, wait, you believe in the constitutional right to bear arms? Guns don’t kill people, people kill people? Well, guess what, video games don’t kill people, either, that one is all on people as well. Video games aren’t some kind of murder machine, even games where you do kill people-shaped masses of pixels. If you can’t tell the difference between the fantasy of a video game and reality, you have more problems than could be solved by illegalizing violent games.
If you can show me one recent article in a peer-reviewed journal that proves me wrong, I’d be glad to discuss it. Until then, kindly bugger off. I have zombies to kill.
Your friendly neighborhood gamer/student behavior analyst