Effect of Video Gaming on Human Psyche

The media environment has undergone a profound transformation. Access to any kind of media content has become easier thanks to developments in information and communication technologies (ICTs) and new media. Innovative resources for advancing learning and understanding are provided by new technology. However, the technologies are also responsible for the spread of violence. According to the majority of studies, youth engage in more structured violence through video games than through other media platforms. Video games were originally thought of as gifts. On the other hand, social scientists and academics suggest that games with less violent content could slow the escalating teenage issue, particularly in the United States. But what effects do video games have on human cognition? Do violent games induce violence among the people especially youth? Can a video game be beneficial in any way to the humans? To address such explorations, various research studies have revealed that even a brief exposure to video games affects the psychological and human physical aspects and adversely effects children, youth, and adults.

Unlike traditional media (e.g., broadcast TV), the innovative technologies along with Internet connection offer children and adolescents new stands to play video games. It also gives access to every content that can be visually stimulated (Brown, Halpern, L'Engle 422). New technologies made the opportunities to view violent content privately, which were once relegated to more public spaces (including neighborhood, a movie theater, or a living room).

Game Effect Analysis

Psychological level of analysis deals with the psychological functioning of the human brain. Media violence can lead to aggressive thoughts, emotions, and psychological arousal. For example, Calvert and Tan (1994) made participants play a violent virtual reality game Dactyl Nightmare or engage in movements that were similar to those of Dactyl Nightmare game, and used a procedure where the participants recorded their thoughts/ views to assess their aggressive cognitions.

A single risk factor cannot cause a child or adolescent to act aggressively. The accumulation of risk factors leads to an aggressive act. The risk and resiliency model suggests that an individual risk factor cannot be sufficient for aggressive behavior. But, every factor accounts for its cause.

Video Game Violence – a Meta-Analysis Approach

Media effects depend on the type of media, its content, and level of participation of the consumers. The amount of time spent on games and other screen media induces aggression, and other health issues (Anderson 780). For instance, films portray violence in the form of war, blood, and physical harassment etcetera. Its effects are proportional to the level of the depiction. But, video games depict more violence as compared to the TV as the consumer actively participates in video games. The player identifies the character by himself and lives within it that is apparently violent. In his article, “The Multiple Dimensions of Video Game Effects, Douglas” A. Gentile (2011) mentions five dimensions that describe the effect of video games on players: the amount of play, the content of the play, the game context, the structure of the game, and the mechanics of game play. Violent content of a video game directly predicts aggressive behavior among children (Anderson, Gentile, and Buckley 597). Also, Accordingly, Vice City also enhances the aggressive element and disrupts health of the player.

Short-term effects are those in which a person is exposed to a minimum extent to play a video game (e.g., 15 min) before the related data is obtained. Such effects are evaluated in experimental studies, mostly conducted in labs or in schools. Long-term effects include those that increase due to repeated exposures for longer periods like two months or a year. Long-term effects normally are measured in cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. Most theorists are of the opinion that short-term effects of exposure to media violence emerge because of (a) priming processes, (b) excitation processes, and (c) the immediate imitation of specific behaviors. On the other hand, long-term content effects are mostly due to (a) more lasting observational learning of cognitions and behaviors and (b) activation and desensitization of emotional processes. Many studies reveal intense short-term and long-term effects of violent video games (Anderson and Dill 343; Anderson et al. 600).

Games play an important part in the digital life of the people and since digitization is everywhere so are the games. It is a gift of technology to its users. But who created these games and how they affect our vision towards our own society? However, various studies have shown that even a brief exposure to video games does have its impact on children and youths, including college-age individuals.

A case study (GTA Vice City)

First, video-games appeared in late 1970’s with violent ones being created in 1990’s such as Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, and Wolfenstein 3D. Let’s take a 3D game as an example to address the game playing concept. Grand Theft Auto (GTA) Vice City. It is 3-Dimensional action game released 27 October 2002 may be familiar. It was developed by Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games, Capcom, SCEA and ak tronic. The game presented a clear 3D setting of a city, similar to Miami, Florida. Clear roads, huge structures, stylish people, every aspect presented it as an advanced city. However, the city is full of corruption, exploitation, and sleaze. Being an action game, the player is free to rumble.

GTA Vice City introduces a player to a lot of dynamic engagements including action-packed missions, fights, wreak-havoc, and blood-shed etcetera. The hero of the game is Tommy Vercetti, a very tough guy who according to the main plot of the game is to become the city’s resident crime lord. Killings, murders, and smugglings are present in the game and the player has to comply with the rules set by these actions. It totally reflects violence. However, graphics and materialistic content describe its relevance with the cultural aspect of the game creators and players as they also belong to a certain community. But, consistent exposure to violence has had its impact on the behavioral traits of the player. Appropriately designed multimedia instruction facilitates the learning performance of children in various subjects like science, mathematics etcetera. So, what would be the expected result if the same principle is applied to the violent video games also? Does this game also encourage the violent behavior of the players?

Game developers and researchers have started to investigate the impact of video games on cognitive learning and behavior of the players (Begg, Dewhurst, and Macleod 2). Like every new medium, video games also suffer from serious critics from the researchers. But, video games provide an easy, motivating and interactive mode of learning which is fruitful and gives a satisfactory tool to the parents, educators and children or adults- the players. Vice City is definitely an action game that lets the users experience adventures and accomplishments in the form of violence. Generally speaking, both aspects of the video games are proper.

Dimensions of video game violence

In his article, The Multiple Dimensions of Video Game Effects, Douglas A. Gentile mentions (2011) mentions five dimensions on which video games can affect players: the amount of play, the content of the play, the game context, the structure of the game, and the mechanics of game play. Violent content of a video game directly predicts aggressive behavior among children (Anderson, Gentile, and Buckley 15). Also, the amount of time spent on games and other screen media induces health issues like childhood obesity. Accordingly, Vice City also affects the aggressive element and health of the player.

Many studies reveal intense short-term and long-term effects of violent video games (Anderson and Dill 599; Anderson et al. 775). It concludes that violent content prompts aggressive notions. Conversely, pro-social concepts in a game can initiate social development (Gentile et al. 288).

The social concerns of the game embrace the impact of the individual on the social elements of society. Perhaps, player constitutes the society and is accountable towards the growth of pro-social attitude in the society. However, playing Vice City may hinder him in one way or the other from inculcating the social etiquette.

Game playing, even the violent ones as Vice City, reflects the theory of uses and gratification where an individual tries to release his/her stress and tension (although the game playing has its own concerns regarding stress). Nonetheless, in the subconscious, the aggressive aspect of the individual might be developing.

Game Structure and Content

The structure of a game has had its impact on its players. GTA Vice City is an adult game that deals with violence. The freedom of the player in avatar’s suit is unimaginable. He can get into a vehicle and just smash people and other vehicles, beat people to death and pick their money. Basically, this kind of attitude is enhanced by the freedom of violence provided by the game. However, the vision of an individual towards his society may not change his attitude but can get it modified according to his consistent exposure to the violence. What can we predict from a 15-year-old playing the Vice city game? Should not it be the increased aggressive behavior (or playing it with other friends may enhance violent team skills), poor academic performance, more health issues? However, the game being ‘good’ or ‘bad’ cannot depend solely on a specific dimension of the game.

Since the middle of the 20th century, many inventors put all of their efforts to change the world into a better place. Steve Jobs can be considered the perfect example since he struggled to get over with several obstacles and problems that not any person could handle. He managed to overcome the barriers because he had many traits of a successful person such as patience and sincerity. Consequently, he managed to create the iPhone and the other Apple products. However, there were some inventors who had an idea to make the world more entertaining and more exciting rather than just sitting in front of the computer to and working on adults things such as the stocks market or calculating stuff. Their idea was to create an entertainment invention called a video game. A video game can be defined as a game that can be played by electronically manipulating images produced by a computer program on a television screen or other display screen (Dunifon and Gill). Ralph Bear is one of those well-known video game inventors.


Ralph Baer is considered the first person to create a video game console, which is called the Magnavox Odyssey. He began working on it in 1966 and released it in 1972. It is shaped like a small brown box and it can only be played with one game, which is the Pong game. The game was designed to be played as a tennis game. That is the reason why it only contains a white line on each side and one white square. The game does not even have graphics. The Magnavox Odyssey is a famous console that you can even found it in Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. In addition, no one can deny that this simple video game console has opened the door to the world of video games. Several companies have entered the world of fame because of their videogame consoles such as Nintendo and Sony. Maybe the main question is how videogames attract us. The question will be answered in the next paragraph.

First of all, those companies managed to take over both kids and adults’ attention with their videogames consoles. The main reason why videogames attract all type of ages is that companies produce various types of games such as sports, action, horror, racing and puzzle games. According to Jeff Ryan “The other [video game] franchises let you experience the adrenaline and horror of war, or deep fantasy worlds, or pro sports. A Mario game lets you pretend to be a middle-aged chubster hopping onto a turtle shell.” Secondly, advertisement plays a major role in occupying the people’s mind. Many companies aim at attracting the males’ attention since males are more susceptible to videogames. The variation of games is an essential reason for males’ engagement. In addition, the commercials and the gaming magazines are designed with layout and colors that attract the boys. Also, boys are more likely to learn and enjoy the video games because it fits how they live and act and this is another reason why girls pay little attention to video games. Some studies explained that boys have more skills in video games and they are more appealed to play games because they are the only ones who feel the sense of competition and challenge when playing with someone else..


Violence through video games leads to an upsurge in the real-world vehemence and aggression, which possess a threat to the human health. It is proved that fictional-characterization and the content of the games contribute to a larger amount of aggression and violence, both in the short term as well as long term across the life span. The above research facilitates proper understanding of the effects of media violence on the aggression of its users at biological, psychological and social levels. The paper gives a clear picture of the implications of the aggression at different stages, making it more representative and evocative and elucidates that the excessive engagement with video games can lead to psychological disruptions. However, moderate video games playing can, on the contrary, enhances cognitive skills.

Works cited

Anderson, Caren A. and Ken Dill . Video games and aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behavior in the laboratory and in life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2000.

Anderson, C. A., Gentile, D. A., and Buckley, K. E. Violent video game effects on children and adolescents: Theory, research, and public policy. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. 2007.

Begg, M., Dewhurst, D., and Macleod, H. Game-informed learning: Applying computer game processes to higher education. 2005. Retrieved August 9, 2017, from http://innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=176.

Brown, J.D., Halpern, C.T., and L'Engle, K.L. Mass media as a sexual super peer for early maturing girls.J Adolesc Health. 2005.

Dunifon, Rachel, and Lydia Gill. "Games and Children’s Brains: What is the Latest Research?" Parenting in Context, 2013: n. pag. Print.

Gee, James, P. What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy (1st Ed.), New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 2003.

Gentile, Douglas, A. Pathological video game use among youth 8 to 18: A national study. Psychological Science, 2009.

Gentile, D. A., Lynch, P. J., Linder, J. R., and Walsh, D. A. The effects of violent video game habits on adolescent hostility, aggressive behaviors, and school performance. Journal of Adolescence, 2004.

Gentile, Douglas, A., and John R. Gentile. Violent video games as exemplary teachers: A conceptual analysis. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 2008.

Tsai, J. L., Knutson, B., and Fung, H. H. Cultural variation in affect valuation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2006

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