Play Nicely | The Great Gaming Debate

A ‘game’ is a term we are all familiarly with, we grew up playing them, usually involving friends, sports and fun connotations. ‘Gaming’ on the other hand, draws upon characteristics of violence, a subculture ruled by the introverted and represented by multiple conflicting perspectives in the media landscape today.

Gaming allows for user engagement at a personal level. Interactivity implies that the user is able to interact with content, the creator and other participants. Rob Cover (2006) explains that co-participation in authorship has redefined the traditional author-text-audience relationship, thus interactivity has increased the popularity of electronic gaming. Could this close nature of engagement with this particular technology have lead to the problematised cultural perceptions the media and society conclude about gaming and violence?

When we think of gaming, conclusions are often made that violent video games have a direct causal affect on aggression. For example, playing Halo will make you want to fight. Conversely, some researchers and academics conclude that there are no scientific links between video games and criminal violence (Schreier, 2013).

Mainstream media tend to portray children as a victim to video games, blaming technology rather than the child. Jeanne Funk, in 1999 after the Columbine shooting, told the Los Angeles Times, “We found signs that children who enjoy (violent) games can lose the emotional cues that trigger empathy” (Shreier 2013). Another example is given by Doug Gentile “a child who plays more violent video games- it changes their attitudes and their beliefs about aggressions. It does decensitise them” (Shreier 2013).

More often than not, the media presents these findings as a ‘blame the accuser’ response to real acts of violence. The famous Sandy Hook Shooting in 2012, saw a mass moral panic, jumping straight on the violent video game blame. Mass Effect, Call of Duty and Dynasty Warriors are video games that were wrongly accused by British Tabloids (Brian Ashcraft 2012). In an attempt to clam the masses, President Obama asked congress to set aside $10 million for the centres for Disease Control and Prevention to study the ties between violent images in the media, specifically the effects of violent video games on young minds (Good 2013). This leads me to believe that the only way to control the issue is through government control and regulation.

Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik

Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people and admitted to being addicted to World of Warcraft

This 25 yearlong debate shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

For further information video game violence read Tina Amini article on 25 Video Game Violence Studies Summarised.


Ashcraft, B, 2012, British Tabloids Are Blaming Call of Duty and..Dynasty Warriors, viewed 29/03/2014,

Cover, R 2006, Audience inter/active: Interactive media, narrative control and reconceiving audience history, New Media & Society, vol 8, pp138-158, SAGE Publications, London.

Good, O 2013, President Asks Congress to Fund Study of Violence and Media – Video Games Included, accessed 29/03/2014,

Schreier, J 2013, From Halo to Hot Sauce: What 25 Years of Violent Video Game Research Looks Like, viewed 23/03/2014,

Image source


About Nicola Salter

Nicola. 21. UOW Graduate
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