You Don’t Know the Power of the Dark Side – of Video Games


THIS IS NOT A POLITICAL POST. However, when President Trump mentioned that “VIDEO GAMES” should be responsible for the school shooting, it got my attention.


“We have to look at the Internet because a lot of bad things are happening to young kids and young minds, and their minds are being formed. And we have to do something about maybe what they’re seeing and how they’re seeing it. And also video games. I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts. And then you go the further step, and that’s the movies. You see these movies, they’re so violent”


Years ago, President Trump also made a comment on how “video game […] is creating monsters” on his twitter account when he was not yet the Mr. President. Although he was not wrong about the fact that there were downfalls to video games, he was also not so correct on the cause behind it. From his perspective, “the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts,” so that the content is what doing the evil trick. However, what United States Secret Service and the Department of Education found is that “37 percent of attackers ‘exhibited an interest in violence in their own writings, such as poems, essays, or journal entries,’ while only 12 percent exhibited an interest in violent video games.” NOTE: “exhibited an interest.” It is not even clear that whether or not the interests directly respond to the violent behavior in real life when almost all kids were interested in video games.

Like I said, THIS IS NOT A POLITICAL POST, and I am not going to and not able to find the true reason driving gun violence.

Yet Mr. Trump was not wrong about the “bad things” have been happening in video games. However, it is not the content, but the CULTURE many games created. Because of the competitive aspect that incorporated within many games, the “Play to Win” mindset raises many infamous games for having the most toxic gaming communities. “The Honorable” mentions include games like, League of Legend, Call of Duty, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, etc.


Let me explain further, in the realm of multi-player games, the ways of communications are normally text-chat, or voice-chat. Similar to talking trash in competitive sports between players when the game is really heat-up and both sides start to take things personal.

Well, things only get worse in the online world, where each person can be “PROTECTED” by the Internet and hide behind the screen. Especially, in games that have many young players, you could often see an 11-year-old children dropping the N-word, the F-word, the ABCDE-word, you named it. Younger children do not really understand many of the words they use and also do not really learn the consequence. Not only the language is problematic, many comments contain racism, discrimination against the minority against women, etc.

Worst of all, kids were encouraged to do so over and over again in game, because they would get others’ attentions, even receive praise such as “this kid is a legend” from other players. Another evidence is fact that, there are so many YouTube videos from Call of Duty are simply recording of the voice chat, showing how hilarious the people sound. Well, you might just get famous by talking shi* in video games, what could possibly go wrong with that? The toxic culture in my opinion could be the real “bad thing” that is occurring daily in all sorts of video games. To be honest, I sometimes do find many of the trash-talking video funny, and you could think as the culture that I have myself exposed in. Many might say that the things that said on the Internet are often too far from acceptable, and many others might say that many people need to take those words less serious. I am with both; however, the issue could be a lot more problematic to those who could not draw the line, or distinguish the intention of the language.


Headline like this is only rare case; however, for many people, especially kids, who have not learned the fine-line that not to cross. The video game environment could be a really bad place to learn them from scratch. Even though, many gaming companies have a certain censorship on certain words you could say, there is no stopping player talking trash to each other. On the one hand, I have to admit it is fun to talk trash with friends on an appropriate level; there is certainly a limit to it. Eventually, I think it is up to the players themselves to realize the potential damage this abusive and toxic culture could bring to the game itself and the community. I believe that, if people truly love the games they play, they would do the best for the gaming community.



  1. mqzhang · ·

    Very interesting points you’ve highlighted, Nero. Thanks for the post. Let’s face it: the predominant player on many of these “M-rated” games is far younger than the rating level would allow. While I agree that gaming is not a cause of violent behavior in children, games are rated according to age groups for a reason. When children are first developing social skills and interactions at a young age, they have little comprehension for the consequences of their words. After all, juveniles are treated differently by courts than adults are for a reason: they don’t fully comprehend the repercussion of their actions yet. For a child to be given free reign of a game that allows full voice/text communication, that person must understand that they are directly influencing the life of another. Even adults on the internet are shown to behave differently when protected by the anonymizing veil of the internet. For someone who has an underdeveloped concept of consequences and personal responsibility, it would be irresponsible to allow them to have access to video games that prominently feature mature themes and content.

    I understand that, as a guardian, it is infinitely easier to allow a child to play a game rather than refuse outright, it should also be a burden of the caregivers to inform their children that the game and real life are separate and distinct environments. There are real consequences to acting out video game behavior in real life, consequences that can only be easily reset when playing a video game. In order to facilitate a healthy playing environment, I think it would be better if more guardians took an active role in the interests of their children instead of using video games as a replacement for discipline and education. By taking more ownership, we can both allow children to continue playing the games they love while still instilling in them a healthy sense of reality and fantasy.

  2. RayCaglianone · ·

    I like that you focused on the community of aspect of gaming that can be toxic and not the actual content in the game itself. For as long as I can remember, video games have been a scapegoat of politicians in an effort to escape talking about more complicated solutions to huge problems. The first real example for my life that I remember is the release of the early Grand Theft Auto games – clearly they haven’t gone anywhere. There have been so many studies that have shown no correlation between video game content and real life violence, but I imagine that this talking point will continue to be dragged out. Multiplayer communities, on the other hand, definitely have some really toxic tendencies and I think a parent has to be pretty hand on in realizing some of the negative influence they can have on development. It’s important for gamers to self-regulate what they say to some extent and try to ensure a cooperative environment for everybody.

  3. thebobbystroup · ·

    There is a fascinating book written by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman titled “On Killing.” It discusses the psychology of killing, particularly in a military context, but also in a general sense. In the book he mentions how back in World War II, it was found that a large portion of soldiers were not shooting to kill. Regardless of their marksmanship skill, they had an innate instinct to not kill another person – not bad in most circumstances, but less than ideal for a person in a firefight. The military later decided to train using, not bullseye targets, but human silhouette targets: the kill ratio went up drastically.

    How does this relate to video games? There are two possible interpretations, both of which might be partially true. (1) Video games normalizes killing another person, and the incredible graphics of today’s games makes the simulation all that more convincing. (2) Despite the fact that video games are realistic in the way they look, the actions you take are not. Running around via a joystick and pressing a button to shoot does not feel quite the same as actual physical exertion or involvement (which actually can lead to PTSD among drone pilots because of the mental disconnect).

    As we approach virtual reality potentially becoming the next big thing for entertainment, we will have to closely monitor the psychological ramifications.

  4. You know, in many ways, this is just like real sports. The vast majority of people enjoy the competition and handle it well, but a small number of people often take it too far.

  5. Jobabes121 · ·

    Great post, Nero! This post is very true in many senses, and I agree that the toxic video gaming culture has a significant impact on many teenagers and even adults these days. I cannot agree more with the “protection” provided by the internet & absence of physical presence in the gaming community. Although I like to talk smack sometimes by saying “gg ez,” there are sometimes real disgusting players who just make the game very unentertaining to play.

    Yet, I have to admit that the violence perpetrated in games does have a quite negative impact on many people who play these games. If you go a bit deeper, there are SO MANY violent games rated R that quite a few people play. It’s not always the fictional characters like League or Overwatch that display killing as less violent; there are many others on Steam that depict killing very vivid and grotesque. With the rise of Fortnite and the video gaming not as “nerdy” as before in the American culture, the gaming community will only grow. I seriously hope that this does not cause more negative consequences like bullying activities or school violence that are prevalent in Asia (especially South Korea where almost every student is affected by the violent contents from video games). I mean of course, there is bullying without the video gaming environment. But I bet it encourages the behavior further with more aggressive attitudes.

  6. Tully Horne · ·

    This post brought me right back to Xbox Live in middle school. Many days I would come home and play online with my friends. Sometimes we would use party chat, but sometimes we would join the game chat mainly for its entertainment factor. People would go back and forth whether they were the same age or 20 years apart. But it was also hard to ignore what was being said about people’s race, age, gender, and other things. Moreover, I completely agree with you that the issue with the culture the games create. In my opinion, its more so the platforms that foster this culture than anything. There is competition in nearly every multiplayer game, and the interconnectivity is provided for all of these games by their platforms (i.e. Xbox, PSN). As @profkane said, many people handle competition well. However, there are still many who don’t and it manifests itself in bad ways (i.e. threats, hate speech, etc.). I think that, even though there are extreme cases like the murder plot you discussed, the more prevalent impact is on mental health. For example, cyberbullying over chat and even through messaging can lead to psychological effects that stay with people.

    I am also interesting in seeing how professional gaming impacts the environment of competitiveness. I would imagine that there will be a healthy level of competitiveness with no tolerance for any type of aggression, hate speech, etc. They have to set a good example for the gaming community.

  7. tylercook95 · ·

    I wonder how much video games are really shaping kids minds when society and movies and TV shows can have huge effects on them too. I agree that video games are definitely one aspect of it, However, I feel like violent television and movies are also a huge aspect. With all of the streaming services, there is less restriction on what kids are seeing and what they have access to. Unlike with regular television where the more violent shows were late at night, which ideally meant parents could put their kids to bed, streaming shows can be accessed anytime which can be really dangerous as parents don’t know what the kids are seeing. The recent gun violence has been everywhere in the news and kids are definitely seeing these violent images all around these awful incidents. I guess the difference with games is that it puts you in the driver’s seat where you have the Gun. This post reminded me of the scene in MW2 where you shoot up an airport, which was a horribly controversial part. parts like this would definitely worry me more than the violent games that are less realistic. Great post!

  8. bc_eagle1 · ·

    Nice topic. We all develop severe cognitive biases over time. I cannot begin to defend or abhor violent video games. I can only say that I used to play violent video games (grand theft auto) . The person I am was shaped by my family and the values of those around me. I can see someone without good parenting, or role models, most susceptible to video game influence. Thoughtful post.

%d bloggers like this: