Bad Combination: Violent Video Games & Video Game Addiction

Written by Dr. Andrew Doan & Brooke Strickland on .

Two teenage boys, who played numerous hours in the game World of Warcraft, planned and carried out a brutal murder of an innocent eighteen-year-old girl. After luring her to an empty home, they sexually assaulted her and killed her, then dragged her body into the woods and set it on fire.

After the murder, they bragged about it to other World of Warcraft gamers. One of the teenagers admitted that it didn’t “feel” the way he thought it would, while the other teenager involved said he’d dreamt of killing someone since he was a boy.[1]

In the article, Dr. Bonnie Leadbeater, a psychology professor at the University of Victoria, said some kids have trouble knowing what's acceptable in a game may not be okay in real life. Dr. Leadbeater stated, "You don't know which aggressive kid is going to take the fantasies of video games and try them out in reality. You just can't predict those very rare occurrences. There would have been signs early. I don't know these two boys at all, but generally, kids who go on to kill other kids or to act out in this sort of extreme manner are having problems early."

The research is inconclusive to whether violent video games elicit violent tendencies in gamers. However, this story is of interest because gamers who become obsessed with or addicted to video games can meld their virtual gaming world with reality. Could video game addiction facilitate the manifestation of hidden violent tendencies in people? Dr. Gentile makes this comment, “As you might expect, not every study shows exactly the same results, but when we look at the studies overall, the preponderance of evidence suggests that people who play violent video games become more desensitized to violence, have more aggressive feelings, more aggressive thoughts, and are more willing to behave aggressively - especially when provoked. Exposure to aggressive video-game content also reduces cooperative, pro-social behaviors.”[2]

[1] Martinez, Edecio. “World of Warcraft Played Role in Rape, Murder of Candian Girl Kimberly Proctor, Experts Say.” CBS News. October 29, 2010. Accessed September 4, 2011.

[2] Gentile, D. “Editorial: Pros/Cons: Schwarzenegger v. EMA.” Gamepro. October 8, 2010. Accessed September 7, 2011.

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