Professors say video games do not cause violence

By Eric Torres | @KyKernel

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Violent video games have been said to increase aggression in children, bring about game addictions and even foster childhood obesity, but it has been debated whether they cause violence.

According to UK Communication Professor Anthony Limperos, an expert on media effects, the answer is not cut and dry.

Limperos said that the question of whether violent media are responsible for societal violence did not begin with violent video games.

“This argument has been made before,” he said. “In the 1950s and 1960s, with the dawn of violent comic books and television, people believed that these media were responsible for delinquency amongst youth. People tend to jump to conclusions about new media before data can be arranged to prove one thing or another.”

But Limperos also stressed that video games can be a factor in certain scenarios where violence can result, even if the games themselves are not the cause.

“What video games do have is the profound ability to teach and immerse someone in an experience,” Limperos said. “This means that someone with violent tendencies may further condition themselves by playing a graphic, violent game.”

The issue of video games, violence and mental health was explored on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday, with a panel of experts in the fields of gaming research, violence factors and mental health.

The discussion coincided with Limperos’ belief that while violent video games can factor into violence, they do not cause it.

Professor Ron Wilhelm, the adviser to UK’s Video Gaming Club, believes that most kids and adults can understand the difference between reality and fantasy.

“Video games are a way to express yourself in an environment without actually hurting anyone,” Wilhelm said. “I don’t think that they really have an impact on violence except in extreme cases.”

Biosystems engineering freshman Lucas Garrett has played violent video games since he was young and thinks that the debate is hardly an argument.

“I’ve played violent games since I was a kid and I’ve never had any issues. I still play today,” Garrett said. “It’s challenging, fun and a good way to spend a couple hours of free time, alone or with friends.

“Anyone who’s not crazy can enjoy them without any issues.”