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The most recent--though certainly not the last--manifestation of violent toy play are video games with aggressive themes. Video games occupy an interesting position among the various forms of entertainment. They fall somewhere in the middle of a continuum from passive viewing of violence, as in film or spectator sports, to active reenactment of violence, as in aggressive play. Based on a content analysis of the then best-selling video games, Malone (1981) concluded that video games are attractive (to boys) to the extent that they contain the following characteristics:
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Although these are structural, not content, qualities of video games, violence may be featured in many of these ways. Indeed, it is difficult to think of potential video games that meet these criteria that do not rely upon shooting, intercepting, chasing themes. Nevertheless, many or all of these features can, in principle, be achieved without violent images.
One difference between violent video games and violent images on television and in film is that video-game players, in contrast to television viewers, exert control over what takes place on the screen. They are participants in a quasi-interactive system that allows them to regulate the pace and character of the game. This, in turn, gives them increased control over their own emotional states during play. A substantial body of research demonstrates that perceived control over events reduces the emotional or stressful responses to those events.
Nowadays violent games center their attention on violent acts whether it is through fighting, weapons and verbal abuse. Because of the violence young children with their young minds tend to believe that fighting and weapons are normal in today's society. In order to encourage positive values in the minds of these young children it is necessary that parents should know which games their children are playing. It is important for the parents to help the children understand the difference between video games and reality.
The video games nowadays are infected with many forms of appropriate behavior. Young children especially young boys are not accustomed to see inadequately dressed women in video games. This may cause these young boys to start disrespecting women in the society.
Some of the video games available today can be an important learning contrivance for the children but than there are many games which are a simple waste of time. When the time is right for the children to have strong friendship and a good social circle, many do not have the skills to communicate because they spend a lot of time playing video games. These sorts of video games do not encourage any values in the children. One of the main diseases in the United States is obesity and it is very difficult for the kids to control their weight when they start to mature. It is important for the parents to look after their children and keep a balance between indoor and outdoor activities and interactions with other children of the same age.
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A study at the University of Utrecht found attenuated emotional reactions to violent imagery when viewers had control over the images. Students viewed a 10-minute violent scene from a film (Rambo) with or without a remote control in their hands. They then completed a mood adjective checklist measuring their emotional states immediately after viewing. Those who had control (although they rarely used the remote-control device) experienced less negative reactions to the violence than those without (the remote) control.
An alternative explanation for these findings is based on Bem's self-perception theory (1972): those with the remote control rarely used it and therefore may have concluded that the violence could not have been very disturbing. Whatever the correct explanation, the violence in video games may have different consequences than the violent images found in other media.