'Modern Warfare 3' Awakening Sleeper Cells?

Modern Warfare 3 has taken the stage as of midnight this past Tuesday and if you are anything like me, then you have been playing it for 72 hours, straight...or, if you are actually like me, you have played it for thirty minutes and watched your housemates play it for hours on end.  The point being, this event has been hyped up more than a blockbuster movie and the gross revenue expected is to exceed $1,000,000,000.

One BILLION Dollars...

As a Veteran 'Black Ops' player, I have been around first person shooters for some time.  According to the Xbox Live community, however, I am a "n00b", so my street cred is lacking when I storm a building with a thirteen year old while using a sniper rifle as my primary.  But as he is screaming profanities that can only be learned online at that age, I am rarely deterred as his mom ushers him to bed.  Who's the "n00b", now?  But 'Modern Warfare 3' has changed the online game-play so it is more welcoming to players who were once afraid to pick up the sticks because of the veteran players who handed out head-shots like it was his purpose in life.  As Jamin Warren, founder of Kill Screen magazine said on NPR:
And one of the things that Activision did was try to find ways to include a much, much wider audience of people who would be interested in the "Call of Duty" franchise, recognizing that those hardcore gamers who love that series since its inception, will always be there, but that there's this larger game market out there that's actually interested in the franchise as well.
Those "hardcore gamers" mentioned above are the reason the series has been so successful, but they are the exact demographic that worries parents and psychologists, alike.  Their belief is that the rage induced outbursts shown by these gamers, like the one I received from the thirteen year old because I shot in the back of the head [protip:  don't call me Bantha fodder and I won't team kill] are not just isolated to the virtual world.  Some are lead to believe that the violence in the games is shadowed in real life.  And once exposed to enough of this violence, children are bound to snap.

"Rook to h2?  Such a f***ing n00b"

In 2000, the American Psychological Foundation published their findings in favor of this real life game rage.  The first study took 227 college students most likely jacked on Adderall and Red Bull and made them take tests to measure their aggression.  They coupled that with verbal statements of each member of the study on how much video games they played growing up and found a correlation.  The more violent games played meant a higher chance a person will launch a spike from their hand to beckon a neighbor.

The product of too much Pong.

The second study they did took a group of 210 students and had them either play Wolfensteind 3D (for those who knew how to pwn Nazis) or a game called 'Myst', which is considered non-violent.  A short time after they played the games, those who played the Nazi-stomper were noticed to punish an opponent with a longer blast of noise.  Although the article did not explain what that means, I can only imagine that college students made a freshman's head explode with noise Total Recall style.

But what about the other side of the coin?  Is it possible that video games like MW3 promote team work and self confidence rather than awaken the inner McVeigh?  USA News did just that in their attempt to prove that violent video games do as much to cause death in the real world as watching the Food Network causes obesity.  They show that their is no scientifically accurate evidence to prove there is a link, and in fact, it may be the opposite.  With the popularity of shoot-em-ups on the rise and youth violence on the decline (FBI stats in the article), evidence does not support that Little Johnny's multi-kill on Team Deathmatch will result in him giving beat downs during lunchtime.

This is when Billy learned the downsides of spawn-camping

So, as Modern Warfare begins on its journey to become the all time leading video game, critics will continue to bash it for the evil it brings to the community.  Likewise, there will be advocates for the industry who believe that without video games, children's only outlet to social normality may be by going into the dangerous outdoors.  Until there is definitive evidence, though, both sides will always be arguing whether or not video games are 'too violent'.  Until then, I will be out there on the battle field being shot at for hours upon hours, hoping that one day, it will be my name on the top of the leader boards.


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