Identify and discuss three ways the author uses evidence to support assertions.


This assignment has two parts.



In total will need to be 6 pages




Part 1—First Article


Write an analytical summary of the article focusing on the article’s main claims. Include the following:


Provide a brief summary of the argument presented in the article.

Identify and discuss three ways the author uses evidence to support assertions.

Analyze how the author signals this usage through elements such as word choices, transitions, or logical connections.


The young men who opened fire at Columbine High School, at the movie theater in Aurora, Colo., and in other massacres had this in common: they were video gamers who seemed to be acting out some dark digital fantasy. It was as if all that exposure to computerized violence gave them the idea to go on a rampage — or at least fueled their urges.


But did it really?


Social scientists have been studying and debating the effects of media violence on behavior since the 1950s, and video games in particular since the 1980s. The issue is especially relevant today, because the games are more realistic and bloodier than ever, and because most American boys play them at some point. Girls play at lower rates and are significantly less likely to play violent games.


A burst of new research has begun to clarify what can and cannot be said about the effects of violent gaming. Playing the games can and does stir hostile urges and mildly aggressive behavior in the short term. Moreover, youngsters who develop a gaming habit can become slightly more aggressive — as measured by clashes with peers, for instance — at least over a period of a year or two.


Yet it is not at all clear whether, over longer periods, such a habit increases the likelihood that a person will commit a violent crime, like murder, rape, or assault, much less a Newtown-like massacre. (Such calculated rampages are too rare to study in any rigorous way, researchers agree.)


“I don’t know that a psychological study can ever answer that question definitively,” said Michael R. Ward, an economist at the University of Texas, Arlington. “We are left to glean what we can from the data and research on video game use that we have.”


The research falls into three categories: short-term laboratory experiments; longer-term studies, often based in schools; and correlation studies — between playing time and aggression, for instance, or between video game sales and trends in violent crime.


Lab experiments confirm what any gamer knows in his gut: playing games like “Call of Duty,” “Killzone 3” or “Battlefield 3” stirs the blood. In one recent study, Christopher Barlett, a psychologist at Iowa State University, led a research team that had 47 undergraduates play “Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance” for 15 minutes. Afterward, the team took various measures of arousal, both physical and psychological. It also tested whether the students would behave more aggressively, by having them dole out hot sauce to a fellow student who, they were told, did not like spicy food but had to swallow the sauce.


Sure enough, compared with a group who had played a nonviolent video game, those who had been engaged in “Mortal Kombat” were more aggressive across the board. They gave their fellow students significantly bigger portions of the hot sauce.


Many similar studies have found the same thing: A dose of violent gaming makes people act a little more rudely than they would otherwise, at least for a few minutes after playing.


It is far harder to determine whether cumulative exposure leads to real-world hostility over the long term. Some studies in schools have found that over time digital warriors get into increasing numbers of scrapes with peers — fights in the schoolyard, for example. In a report published last summer, psychologists at Brock University in Ontario found that longer periods of violent video game playing among high school students predicted a slightly higher number of such incidents over time.


“None of these extreme acts, like a school shooting, occurs because of only one risk factor; there are many factors, including feeling socially isolated, being bullied, and so on,” said Craig A. Anderson, a psychologist at Iowa State University. “But if you look at the literature, I think it’s clear that violent media is one factor; it’s not the largest factor, but it’s also not the smallest.”


Most researchers in the field agree with Dr. Anderson, but not all of them. Some studies done in schools or elsewhere have found that it is aggressive children who are the most likely to be drawn to violent video games in the first place; they are self-selected to be in more schoolyard conflicts. And some studies are not able to control for outside factors, like family situation or mood problems.


“This is a pool of research that, so far, has not been very well done,” said Christopher J. Ferguson, associate professor of psychology and criminal justice at Texas A&M International University and a critic of the field whose own research has found no link. “I look at it and I can’t say what it means.”


Neither Dr. Ferguson, nor others interviewed in this article, receive money from the gaming industry.


Many psychologists argue that violent video games “socialize” children over time, prompting them to imitate the behavior of the game’s characters, the cartoonish machismo, the hair-trigger rage, the dismissive brutality. Children also imitate flesh and blood people in their lives, of course — parents, friends, teachers, siblings — and one question that researchers have not yet answered is when, exactly, a habit is so consuming that its influence trumps the socializing effects of other major figures in a child’s life.


That is, what constitutes a bad habit? In surveys about 80 percent of high school-age boys say they play video games, most of which are thought to be violent, and perhaps a third to a half of those players have had a habit of 10 hours a week or more.


The proliferation of violent video games has not coincided with spikes in youth violent crime. The number of violent youth offenders fell by more than half between 1994 and 2010, to 224 per 100,000 population, according to government statistics, while video game sales have more than doubled since 1996.


In a working paper now available online, Dr. Ward and two colleagues examined week-by-week sales data for violent video games, across a wide range of communities. Violence rates are seasonal, generally higher in summer than in winter; so are video game sales, which peak during the holidays. The researchers controlled for those trends and analyzed crime rates in the month or so after surges in sales, in communities with a high concentrations of young people, like college towns.


“We found that higher rates of violent video game sales related to a decrease in crimes, and especially violent crimes,” said Dr. Ward, whose co-authors were A. Scott Cunningham of Baylor University and Benjamin Engelstätter of the Center for European Economic Research in Mannheim, Germany.


No one knows for sure what these findings mean. It may be that playing video games for hours every day keeps people off the streets who would otherwise be getting into trouble. It could be that the games provide “an outlet” that satisfies violent urges in some players — a theory that many psychologists dismiss but that many players believe.


Or the two trends may be entirely unrelated.


“At the very least, parents should be aware of what’s in the games their kids are playing,” Dr. Anderson said, “and think of it from a socialization point of view: what kind of values, behavioral skills, and social scripts is the child learning?”



Part 2—Second Article


Write an analytical summary of the article focusing on the article’s main claims. Include the following:


Provide a brief summary of the argument presented in the article.

Identify any value-based assertions in the article and how the author supports these value-based conclusions with evidence.

Discuss how this evidence does or does not demonstrate relevance, consistency, transparency, and speculation.

Analyze how the author signals the use of these elements through language. For example, word choices, transitions, or logical connections.


“Boring” isn’t usually the first word that comes to mind when one thinks about violence. And yet that’s exactly how I felt about so much of the shooting, maiming and torturing in the video games of 2013. As I nodded off amid my 40th gunfight in the first-person shooter BioShock Infinite, I had to ask: Am I desensitized to video game violence, or is there something more going on here?


Last year, I wrote that I’d like to see more games embrace the concept of specific, personal violence. So many games dehumanize enemies, letting us cleave through hordes of bandits and aliens while feeling nothing for any of them. The moment we put a name and a face to a character, violence against him or her becomes specific and personal.


This year, I’ve found myself more interested in how video games are violent than why they are. What makes the violence in one game more meaningful than it is in another? BioShock Infinite and The Last of Us, two of the most talked-about action games of 2013, tell stories of a man and a young woman fighting through dangerous territory, killing dozens of nameless bad guys. So why am I bored by combat in BioShock Infinite but exhilarated by The Last of Us?


In The Last of Us, a post-apocalyptic zombie survival game, the violence was grisly and direct — but more important, it served a purpose. The grueling encounters with bandits and reanimated corpses were a crucible that the protagonists Joel and Ellie barely survived, and the awful acts perpetrated by and upon them left them emotionally deformed at the end.


Instead of feeling transformative or powerful, however, violence in BioShock Infinite felt gratuitous. Why, I wondered toward the end, am I endlessly pumping rockets into the screaming, magically levitating ghost of my sidekick’s mother? Why must every room fill with fleets of replicant bad guys I am forced to kill with a spinning hookblade? Am I supposed to find this horrifying, or cool? I felt inundated with so much ridiculous, anonymous shooting that it was difficult for me to care about any of it.It’s hard to imagine a more personal and specific form of violence than torture, and that’s where almost every mainstream action game this year fell right on its face. Torture is unpleasant, we are often told by video games, but it works, delivering accurate, actionable information. Yet the realities of torture are far murkier than most fictional narratives, game or otherwise, suggest.


Plenty of games feature depictions of so-called enhanced interrogation, but too few are willing to interrogate the act itself. To this end, game developers seem hesitant to use gaming’s greatest strength — interactivity — to their advantage. Unsurprisingly, the few games this year that did say something worthwhile about torture did so by making players complicit in the act.


Grand Theft Auto V, a vacuous, self-satisfied game that on the whole had very little to say about anything, unexpectedly had a surprising amount to say about torture. By making players endure an extended sequence in which the playable character Trevor tortures a screaming, innocent man for questionable-at-best intelligence, the game’s British developers were unequivocally — if clumsily — implicating the player in the real-world counterterrorism operations of the United States.


One of the most interesting explorations of torture came in the form of a simple text-only game called Consensual Torture Simulator. As the title would suggest, the game investigates the notion of consensual S&M in a loving relationship. It’s provocative and a bit kinky, but it’s also resolutely human and emotionally honest.


“The most dangerous thing about games is not that they provide us ultrarealistic depictions of violence,” the game’s designer, Merritt Kopas, proposed late last year, “but that they lie to us about what violence is.” Violence comes in all shapes and sizes; it is not simply a means with which to clear the virtual chess board and vanquish foes. Violence can be cathartic or traumatic, and it can be deeply personal. It can bring two people closer together or sunder them forever. It can also be systemic, bigger than any of us may comprehend.


In 2013, I was happy to see more video games exploring violence with focus and honesty. For all the nonsensical BioShock Infinites, there were games like The Last of Us, gritting their teeth through the worst of it and refusing to look away. For all the boorish action games that thoughtlessly treated torture as narrative garnish, there were games that tried to say something challenging and meaningful about it. That feels like progress to me.


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