I watched a programme that did a study. They had two groups of children playing football, and another playing a violent game. They then had the kids watch something upsetting (can't remember what, but of people suffering from violent attack), and monitored the children's brainwaves. The kids that had played the violent video game had become desensitised to the people's suffering, while the other children hadn't.
So the answer is that violent video games can desensitise children to violence, which means that they will probably have less empathy towards people and could cause them to behave less kindly towards them. This isn't going to be the case with every child. I depends how easily influenced they are, and how long they play the games.
I'm sure these games have a negative effect on the people (children and adults) who play them. Violent or not, they take a person out of reality and into a virtual world. Kids get more affected because they find it harder to differentiate games from reality. For example, friends of mine have kids who happily told me in great detail recently about a game they had been playing where each one has a house and characters and described how they had set their houses up and where they kept things, how they arranged their bedrooms etc. They spoke of these houses and characters as real. It wasn't even a violent game but they seemed to be stuck in it a bit when not playing it. I can't imagine how much worse it would be with a violent game.
As an aside, I have also noticed that a lot of the games that people let their children play are actually M rated. They wouldn't let their kid watch an M rated movie, but somehow are more lax about the content of video games (perhaps because they don't play them themselves or don't understand them). It's something to think about.
Im not sure I have an answer but as kids we played cops and robbers, cowboys and indians etc. Had sticks etc as weapons, are we violent today? We knew is was just a game and didn't really "kill" our friends. There does seem to be lots of two sided arguments re video games and I don't thnk "they" have come to a conclusion. Bad Kids behaviour is blamed on games yet I think there is not enough discipline in the home these days.
I think it must have an effect particularly on young children.
If they see games like this from a young age, I feel (with no evidence!) that somehow they could think this is the "norm", and go on to carry out crimes as they have seen on the games.
I'm not sure about the long-term implications of playing or being exposed to violent video games, but I know for a fact that when a person is playing a violent video game and you interrupt them, behavioural problems abound. They may become irritated, irate, impatient and impolite. If this is possible in the short-term, surely there must some long-term effects.
You have my vote as well Bryony (haven't worked out yet how to include this comment under your comment! lol)
Early exposure to violent games does desensitise children. There is no opportunity to understand the implication of killing in these games because when you run out of lives you simply buy more.
Too much time isolated playing these games means time not spent playing with others and the learning that comes from playing collaboratively. I believe there is a place for age appropriate video games which are played for fixed amounts of time. It is all about balance.
Several studies of the human mind have proven that repeating an action or image trains the brain to respond in a certain way. We all know this is why companies spend massive amounts on advertising. Why when we all know this to be true do we sit idle while game companies destroy our society? The less intelligent a person is the more likely they are to react but when you add alcohol or drugs as a trigger everyone is at risk. Action is required on this issue ASAP.
I don't know; I'm a computer gamer myself and I find myself playing some rather violent games and think that it wouldn't be an issue as long as the time played wasn't excessive and the age that they are isn't too young for what they are playing.
In many games the plot is written in such a way that you become very empathetic for the characters and I often find myself crying through campaigns.
I don't see a video game as anything more than an interactive movie and kids are allowed to watch far worse in a movie than they can do in a game due to societies worries on how video games can affect their minds and behaviours.
I think if a child or adult has a propensity for behavioural problems, playing these games could exacerbate that. However, I think violent games can certainly desensitise a person (adult or child) to real-world violence.