Call of Duty and its effects on empathy

Call of Duty is a mainstream first person shooter game that is known around the world for its violent nature and realistic graphics. It’s widely believed that the game’s super realistic graphics and violent nature results in the loss of empathy among its players. Since the aim of the game is to kill as many people as you can, its players grow to be less effected by death. It essentially dampens the strong emotional effect that death usually has on people. However, I don’t believe the effects are as serious as some make it seem to be. 

As an avid player of Call of Duty myself, I’m still just as disturbed by death as many of my non-gamer friends. I can empathize just as well as my non-gamer friends with those who have experienced a tragedy or have lost a loved one. This is mainly because I can differentiate reality from video games. I know that the people I kill on Call of Duty are not actually people but rather just codes from a program. And the fact that one can re-spawn after being killed in Call of Duty further proves that death in Call of Duty differs greatly from death in reality.

Of course, I know that not everyone is the same and that even though I’m not affected by it, there are others who will be. This, I would argue, is due to genetics. There are those that are genetically predisposed to think and act a certain way under certain circumstances. Hence, even though I might not be fazed by the violence of Call of Duty, there are those who are genetically predisposed to be desensitized by the violence of Call of Duty.

I’m making this point because there are many out there that believe that no matter the individual, enough exposure to violent video games like Call of Duty will result in their desensitization of violence and I want to prove them wrong. It’s not the amount of exposure that’s the key but rather the individual themselves. Therefore, I believe that video games such as Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto should not be blamed as the sole perpetrator for the violent nature of some teens.

4 thoughts on “Call of Duty and its effects on empathy

  1. I agree, video games are essentially the same as any other media. If you watch movies, listen to music, or use the internet, you will find that violence is just as prevalent if not more but they do not cause consumers to be desensitized to violence. I would argue that any person that behaves violently has a predisposition for their behavior such as mental health issues.

    1. I agree with your point. Much of human behavior is genetically predisposed. However, environmental factors play a huge role in determining which genes are activated/expressed. Also, I should have pointed out the relationship between lack of empathy and violent behavior in my post. Read my reply to Andrew to see this relationship.

  2. On a whole, I agree with your premise. However I do not believe comparing yourself as a CoD gamer to non-gamers to demonstrate that you were not desensitized is actually revealing. These Non-Gamers may have also been desensitized due to some other factor.

    Also, I am not 100% sure, but you seem to be comparing / equating desensitization to violence / death to actually having a violent nature. I find them to be different.

    1. Desensitization to violence and having a violent nature are comparable in that one who is desensitized to violence will have a more difficult time differentiating violent behavior from a nonviolent one. This would result in the person acting violently without realizing it. However, I do see your point and I should have pointed that out. Thanks for your comment.

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