Behavior and video games | Social Science homework help

Read about video games and how they affect behavior.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a first-person shooter video game developed by Infinity Ward (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. and published by Activision for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 video game consoles and the Microsoft Windows operating system. The game was released worldwide on November 10, 2009. It is the sixth installment of the Call of Duty series and the direct sequel to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Modern Warfare 2 has received positive reviews from various gaming websites, attaining a 94% aggregate score on Metacritic, with praise stemming primarily from its in-depth multiplayer component. Within 24 hours of release, the game sold approximately 4.7 million copies in North America and the United Kingdom. On August 3, 2011, Activision confirmed that the game had sold over 22 million copies worldwide and it is the second best-selling game of all time in both the UK and the U.S.

Various portions of the campaign have caused some controversy, including the depiction of a massacre carried out in a Russian airport. Anders Behring Breivik (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. claims in his manifesto that he used this video game to perpetrate the 2011 Norway attacks. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. Coop Norway, a chain of retail stores in Norway, removed this video game from its shelves as a result of this attack.

Controversies over video games center on debates around game content and the potential negative impacts on player behavior. Video games have been studied for links to addiction and aggression but results have been conflicting. A 2001 study found that exposure to violent video games correlates with at least a temporary increase in aggression and a decrease in pro-social behavior – i.e., caring about the welfare and rights of others (Anderson & Bushman). Another 2001 meta-analysis using similar methods (Sherry), and a more recent 2009 study (Ferguson & Kilburn) focusing specifically on serious aggressive behavior concluded that video game violence is not related to engaging in aggressive behavior. Potential positive ramifications of video game playing have also been proposed (Radoff, 2009). Recent research has suggested that some violent video games may even promote pro-social behavior in certain contexts (Ferguson & Garza, 2011). Some commentators have argued there is lack of substantive studies on the connection between games and violence, and that the video game industry has served as a fallback scapegoat for societal ills (Cumberbatch, 2004; Sternheimer, 2003; Benedetti, 2008). The most recent large scale meta-analysis, examining 130 studies with over 130,000 participants worldwide, concluded that exposure to violent video games causes both short term and long term aggression in players and decreases empathy and pro-social behavior. However, this meta-analysis was criticized for a number of methodological flaws, including failure to abide by quantifiable measurements of aggression and for failing to engage dissenting studies, thus aggravating the sampling bias of incorporated studies (Ferguson & Kilbourn, 2010).


Anderson, C.A., & Bushman, B.J. (2001). Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and prosocial behavior: A meta-analytic review of the scientific literature. Psychological Science, 12(5), 353-359.

Benedetti, W. (2008). Why search our souls when video games make such an easy scapegoat? MSNBC. Retrieved from

Cumberbatch, G. (2004). Video violence: Villain or victim? The Video Standards Council. Retrieved from

Ferguson, C. J., & Garza, A. (2011). Call of (civic) duty: Action games and civic behavior in a large sample of youth. Computers in Human Behavior, 27(2), 770–775. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2010.10.026

Ferguson, C. J., & Kilburn, J. (2010). Much ado about nothing: The misestimation and overinterpretation of violent video game effects in eastern and western nations: Comment on Anderson et al. (2010). Psychological Bulletin, 136(2), 174–178.

Ferguson. C. J., & Kilburn, J. (2009). The Public health risks of media violence: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Pediatrics, 154(5), 759-763.

Radoff, J. (2009). Six wonderful things about games. Retrieved from

Sherry, J. (2001). The effects of violent video games on aggression: A meta-analysis. Human Communication Research, 27(3), 409-431.

Sternheimer, K. (2003). It’s not the media: The truth about pop culture’s influence on children. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Read and Watch

Read The effects of violent video games. Do they affect our behavior? (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. by Brad J. Bushman, Ph.D., and watch a controversial excerpt of the video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. In preparation for your blog reflection, consider the following questions addressed in the article as you watch the video clip:

  • Are violent video games more harmful than violent TV programs and films?
  • Are violent video games good for you?
  • Why do people deny the harmful effects of violent video games?

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Airport Massacre Scene (3:35) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. 

Warning: This video is graphic and violent! Please take precautions in your viewing environment to not expose children to the audio or video from this excerpt.


Reflect on violent video games.

Obviously, the issue of violent video games is a complex and multifaceted issue with both supporters and detractors on both sides. Read the following articles and take notes in preparation for your reflection post in the blog:

Create a thoughtful discussion post and reflect on the questions listed below. Make sure to address opposing opinions in your reflection. Use at least three substantiated facts (statistics, events, etc.) in your post and cite the source where you found this information. You may discuss points raised in the supplied links, but you must use three additional sources of facts.

  • What do you think?
  • Does violence in video games and/or on TV have a negative effect on children?
  • Does violence in video games and/or on TV have a negative effect on adults?
  • Does violence in video games and/or on TV have a positive effect on children?
  • Does violence in video games and/or on TV have a positive effect on adults?
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