Understand can encourage an impressionable audience after experiencing the
Understand how media
audiences respond to media products
has been argued that audiences can be adversely affected by media content
causing them to behave aggressively or think negatively about a social group
Grand Theft Auto in particular is an example of
a media product that has been suggested to cause an audience to behave in an
anti-social way (e.g. violent). The action-adventure video game series has been
criticised for its heavy criminal activities/behaviours such as
graphic violence, strong language, drug abuse, sexual violence, use of armed
weapons and murder.
When researching, I
found several crimes that were committed following the games release, such as
violent attacks and murder. This suggests the content can encourage an
impressionable audience after experiencing the game, which is leading to further
In 2008, six teenagers were arrested after
participating in a crime spree in New York. The teenagers mugged a man,
knocking his teeth out, attempted to hijack a car and smashed a passing van
with a batt. They claimed they were inspired by GTA as their primary influence.
A second crime which taking place in Thailand, 2008,
reported that an 18 year old student had been arrested for murder of a taxi
driver after attempting to hijack the vehicle. The police stated the student he
said he “wanted to find out if it was easy in real life to rob a taxi as it was
in the game”.
Another crime, linked to Grand Theft Auto, took
place in 2014. This was committed by a 14-year old Idaho boy, Eldon Samuel who reportedly
confessed to authorities that he had pre-planned the murder of his family after
idolising a violent game character in Grant Theft Auto 5. The character
(Trevor) is known to have extreme anger issues and a tendency to pull the
trigger/shoot at others characters without notice. He said Trevor has inspired
him to follow the violent character’s actions in real life. Despite the brutal
incident, detectives said Samuel showed no signs of remorse.
Although there have
been a handful of crimes where the
perpetrators have stated Grand Theft
Auto as their main influence, it is argued the game should
not be completely blamed for these types of incidents. There is no significant
evidence as to why these crimes are committed, only what the perpetrators have
told authorities and the public. It is usually down to a person’s mental health
and mindset to what actions they choose to take. Games such as Grant Theft
Auto, may not contribute to the decisions like this as it is argued that a game
is unlikely to have that much of an impact on the view to stop them from committing
or causing a crime as such.
Psychologists (APA) have
confirmed that the use of violent media is linked to aggressive and callous
behaviour. However the same team of expert also said there was very little
evidence that suggest the influence of games such as Grand Theft Auto led to criminal acts. The report from the APA said
no single influence caused a person to act violently or aggressively. Instead,
the report discusses a range of “risk factors” playing these types of games can
In a BBC News Report,
Professor David Buckingham, an expert on the media, said there was still no
agreement as to whether violent games caused aggressive behaviour or were just
played by violent people. He said, “the
truth is there are many factors that can lead to violence, such as being
withdrawn and isolated, so it is hard to say it is because of one thing”.
Young children and
Grant Theft Auto
Over the years, a lot more younger children are starting
to become more engaged with violent video games. In comparison to the games
target audience, the violence is having a greater impact for children as they
are unsuitable for the game. This is because the graphics are realistic, very
young children may not think what they’re watching is a game. Especially as
four-to-five-year olds tend to copy what they see on TV. The game also includes
a lot of strong language which sets a bad example towards older children also.
There is a lot of the explicit material in the game
which most people would agree they wouldn’t want their children to be able to
there are a number of parents who are unaware of the material, those who are disapprove
of the level of sex and nudity within the game. For example, in the first
episodic expansion to GTA, it shows a cutscene displaying full-frontal male
nudity. Due to this, Common Sense Media (parents group) condemned the
expansion and issued a warning to the public.
team from the university of Missouri-Columbia said their study which monitored
the brain activity of 39 game players suggests a casual link.
measured a type of brain activity called the P300 response which reflects the
emotional impact of an image.
shown images of real-life violence, people who played violent video games were
found to have a diminished response.
when the same group were shown other disturbing images such as dead animals or
ill children they had a much more natural response.
Bruce Bartholow said “people who play a lot of violent video games didn’t see
them as much different from netural”… “They become desensitised”. The findings
back up what many have argued over recent years with the growth in games with
scenes of graphic violence.
other experts still remain unconvinced of a link. Pyschologist, Jonathon Freedman, said “All we
are really getting is desensitisation to images. There’s no way to show that this
relates to real-life aggression”
Aa new study in the Telegraph discusses how playing
violent video games such as Grand Theft Auto does not cause harm to children,
but instead could be therapeutic. They found that in some cases playing the
violent games created a sense of relief, helping to reduce their aggressive habits
and bullying behaviour.
According to universities
findings, 28% of boys and 5% of girls strongly agree that liking “guns and
other weapons” motivates their gameplay.
Furthermore, 25% percent of boys and 11% of girls
strongly agree that video games help to get their “anger out”.
Even in terms of children with ADHD or depressive
disorders, researchers found there was no proof to show that games had a
negative impact on their personality. Clinical psychologist, Dr Ferguson,
looked at 377 children (aged around 13) who had a form of high attention
deficit or depressive symptoms to see if violent video games inflicted
angry/aggressive behaviour. His team found that there was “no evidence that
violent video games increase bullying or delinquent behaviour among vulnerable
youth with clinically elevated mental health symptoms”
The results were published in a Springer’s Journal
of Youth and Adolescence. They reflect a report created by the American Secret
Service which connected aggressiveness and stress to youth violence, instead of
playing violent video games.
I believe it is unnecessary to put a ban of these
games, but I think it is important that parents learn and become aware of what
content is accessible to their children in these games.
“In the absence of any proof, I
think we have to be agnostic about it. However, I think there is an argument
about the morality of some games.
“Some actually encourage amoral
behaviour to win the game and I think parents should be talking to their
children to make sure they realise this is a joke. Children are generally good
at telling fantasy from reality, but parents should be discussing this.”