Only two or three readings into this week's assignment, I knew exactly what I wanted to post about here. I feel that video game violence and how it affects children (both young and adolescent) is a particularly salient topic in today's culture, due to the controversy surrounding games like Grand Theft Auto.
I've posted a link below (I couldn't figure out how to embed the video so you could just click and watch...there's my tech savvy for you) that will take you to a video addressing this very topic. It's the fourth part in a six-part series. Very cool stuff. I posted this one out of the series because it addresses Grand Theft Auto specifically, and as I was reading through Blumer, Wiley and Rice, and Mumford, my mind kept conjuring up memories of watching my older brother playing Grand Theft Auto Vice City as a tween and being stunned at the graphic violence in the game.
So, does playing violent video games have any sort of negative effect on children and teenagers? Does it make them more prone to violent behavior? Does it desensitize them from real-world violence?
The experts in the video makes some good points that agree with Blumer's writing. Violent video games, and Grand Theft Auto in particular, are "the equivalent of a Quentin Tarantino film." The difference, though, between a violent film and a violent movie is the level of participation. Blumer's (and his contemporaries') frame of reference was limited by this factor; a moviegoer can only watch violence on-screen. Video gamers can actively participate in violent acts. The video uses game samples from violent games such as Bully, Grant Theft Auto San Andreas, and Assassin, among others. These snippets show gamers pressing the buttons to make their on-screen character beat, shoot, maim, or kill other players.
This active participation, as the experts in the video point out, is especially dangerous to children. Blumer (and Addams as well) would agree with their worry, as he presents in his critique of cinematic violence: "[Movies] present the extremes as if they were the norm" (p. 93). This can lead to misunderstandings of when fantasy ends and reality begins.