Essential Questions: Are nations who celebrate violence barbaric? Is it human nature to glorify violence? Does society desensitize us to violence? Should video game violence be censored?
So what: In today’s society it seems far-fetched that an event where people kill each other could be considered a sport. However, history does prove that at one time this was a socially acceptable event that was extremely popular in one of the most sophisticated civilization in the world of that time, Ancient Rome. Current popular culture includes numerous books, movies, and video games like the Hunger Games franchise, TheWalking Dead, Dexter, and thousands of video games are forms of entertainment that repeatedly show blood, guts, gore, and violence.
Ohio Academic Content Standards:
Historical Thinking and Skills 2,3,4. American Government 1, 5, 21. Contemporary World Issues 6. Technology 14 and 15
Grade Level: 9-12th Class Periods: two fifty-minute periods
Purpose, Background, and Context: The video game industry thrives on violent video games that require players to kill and sometimes even rape individuals as a part of game play. Students will explore the ideas of violence in society. They will ask poignant questions as to what still remains of “bloodlust” in society. Students will also compare and contrast the Hunger Games franchise, the gladiatorial games, and violent video games like Grand Theft Auto to explore whether or not people can be desensitized to the deaths of others and whether or not virtual violence can become a reality. At the end of the lesson students will be encouraged to think before they play and to consider other options before reverting to violence.
Goals and Objectives:
Evaluate several Supreme Court Decisions concerning violence in video games by “analyz[ing] the cause, effect, sequence and correlation in historical events, including multiple causation and long- and short-term causal relations” concerning two court cases and newspaper articles and broadcasts concerning Grand Theft Auto games and other video games in relationship to adolescent violent murders. (ODP, 29)
Consider alternative perspectives to the Supreme Court Decisions through thoughtful discussion
Observe how “Political parties, interest groups and the media provide opportunities for civic involvement through various means”and how groups interacted with the United States government to promote its case and argument. (ODP, 32)
Debate whether or not current society glorifies violence and assess how “advances in communications technology have profound effects on the ability of governments, interest groups, individuals and the media to share information across national and cultural borders” and influence a public for better or worse.
Procedure 1: Comparative Video Activity (10 minutes)
Students will view two 2-minute clips from the movie Gladiator and the Hunger Games. Student will compare and contrast the two scenes. Students should not the same use of violence, blood, and fighting. Students will be asked to give background information on what the gladiatorial games were and what was their purpose. The instructor will then give a brief description supplementing student comments.
Procedure 2: Think/Pair/Share (10 minutes)
Students will be paired into groups of two and will be asked to complete the discussion questions. Students will be given 10 minutes to answer the questions on the power point. Students will share and discuss their answers with the class.
What are the similarities of the gladiatorial games and the Hunger Games?
Why were these games played?
Why are the games so popular?
What other movies, sports, and other interests glorify violence or promote death?
Procedure 3: Take a Stand (25 minutes)
Students will be given several statements on the power point. The teacher will have several stations around the classroom from disagree to strongly disagree. Students will stand in their area of how they feel based on the statements. Students will be asked randomly to defend their positions and discuss them with the class.
Societies that glorify violence and accept it as a form of entertainment are barbaric and uneducated.
When people repeatedly view violence in different forms of entertainment, they become hardened to it and are not upset by it.
Playing violent video games and watching television programs or movies with extreme violence is just a leisure activity and not something that can desensitize people to violence
Violence follows violence, if you watch it you will want to behave in the same manner.
The prior activity will introduce the next class’ subject and the homework assignment. Students will read a blog article from The Guardian concerning a shooting of a teacher, Ann Maguire, in Leeds, England in May of 2014. The events reignited debates on the influence of violent video games on children’s behavior. Students will be asked to respond and provide evidence from the article to answer the questions, should video game violence be more censored? Do violent video games encourage violent behavior?
Essential Question: Can video games inspire someone to murder someone?
Should there be an age limit to purchasing video games?
Hook: Students be told at the end of class that in 2006 a prominent lawyer named Jack Thompson argued that the video game Grand Theft Auto trained an 18 year-old boy to murder.
Procedure 1: Video (4 minutes)
Students will watch a segment from a 60 Minutes broadcast that overviews the 2006 court case Strickland v. Sony. At the end of the video students will be asked to reflect over what they saw and be encouraged to ask any questions they have concerning the case.
Procedure 2: Lecture (10 minutes)
Students will be given a brief overview of the case and the Family Entertainment Protection Act proposed in 2006 due to this case and several other instances of video game related violence.
Procedure 3: Personal Reflection/Fish Bowl Discussion (30 minutes)
Students will be asked several questions to connect the homework assignment with the current class debate. Students will be given a few moments to gather their thoughts and respond on paper to the questions. Student’s desks will be prearranged before class into two outlying circles for the purpose of a fish bowl discussion. As a class, students will answer the first question together before the next activity. After connections are made the students in the center of the bubble will discuss the second question, one desk will be left vacant to any student on the outside circle that wishes to comment or participate. The next question will have students previously on the outside in the inner circle and the next question will continue as follows.
Compare and Contrast the 60 Minute Video to the text you read for homework
Can video games cause real violence?
Should there be an age limit to purchase certain video games?
Should the Family Protection Act been passed by Congress in 2006?
Students will watch a brief 2 minute overview of a 2011 Supreme Court Decision concerning video game violence. The Supreme Court found that video games are protected under the first amendment right and that states cannot impose harsh fines onto minors who are playing violent video games.
Pete EtchellsandChris Chambers
Tuesday 6 May 2014 09.33 EDTtheguardian.com
Is there any evidence of a link between violent video games and murder?
Journalists need to stop repeating baseless claims and scientists need to stop bickering
Research into the effects of video games on aggression hasn't got to the point where it can tell us anything about murder. Photograph: Ina Fassbender/Reuters
In the wake of the killing of the schoolteacher Ann Maguire last week, the question has again been raised of whether playing violent video games could lead someone to commit murder. It's a common link that we see suggested in the media whenever tragedies of this sort occur, but the scientific evidence simply doesn't support these claims.
The most recent data that we have on the links between video game use and aggressive behavioural outcomes comes from a meta-analysis, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin in January 2014. Researchers from the University of Innsbruck looked at 98 studies, testing nearly 37,000 participants since 2009. They found that, overall, video games do affect the social behaviour of players – violent video game use is linked to an increase in aggressive outcomes and a decrease inprosocial outcomes. On the other hand prosocial games show the opposite effect – they’re linked to a reduction in aggressive behaviour and an increase in prosocial, cooperative behaviour.
At first glance these findings might suggest that there is something to the suggestion that violent videogames encourage acts of violence, but the link is actually quite tenuous. Psychological studies on aggression and video games tend to rely on measures of aggression that are a far cry from murder. For example, one experimental test that’s often used is a modified version of the Taylor Competitive Reaction Time Task. Here the participants are first asked to play either a violent or non-violent video game. Afterwards, they’re asked to play a reaction time game against another, fictional player. If they win a particular encounter, they get to blast their opponent with a loud noise. The key manipulation is that the participants choose how loud the noise is, and how long it lasts for. Longer, louder noises are taken as a measure of increased aggression.
Another task, called the "hot sauce paradigm", measures aggression by having participants prepare a cup of chilli sauce for another (again, fictional) participant. The more hot sauce they put in the chilli, the more aggressive they are deemed to be, and some studies have shown that people who are asked to play violent video games beforehand use more hot sauce.
Blasting someone with noise or spiking their chilli is all well and good, but neither of these measures tell us much about real-life instances of aggression, let alone murder. And on top of the disconnect between wild media claims and the limited reach of the evidence, the literature on video game use and violence is itself mired in controversy and politics. As we’ve noted on this blog before, one major research group led by Craig Anderson routinely reports strong links between aggression and gaming, while another led by Christopher Ferguson often refutes these claims. With perhaps a touch of irony, the recent Innsbruck meta-analysis included a breakdown of the evidence according to which of these two research groups,Anderson or Ferguson, was doing the discovering. Sure enough, the evidence conveniently divided down “party lines”, as though Mother Nature herself was giving way to politics.
The problem is that across the discipline, it almost seems as if solid, progressive research has given way to unproductive squabbling. As a case in point, Ferguson co-wrote a recent review of the past 25 years of research into video games and aggression. This was followed by comments from various researchers attacking the author’s work, which was then followed by a particularly invidious reply entitled “Does doing media violence research make one aggressive?” This is not a particularly efficient way of conducting scientific research. No one learns anything appreciably new, and it simply reinforces old battle lines between research groups – lines that should never be there in the first place. Until the research community decides that generating real answers matters more than winning arguments, the media will happily fill the vacuum with sensational nonsense.