If you can spend hours upon hours shooting human-like avatars, what’s stopping you from taking things to the next level?

Battlefield 1 hit the shelves on October 21st and is already the third best selling video game according to GFK’s Chart Track. The game is set in the period of World War 1 and gamers everywhere are losing their minds over the shooter game. Tweets from players describe the game as “addictive” and “one of the best campaign experience ever”. Reviews sensualise the first person shooter because it”conveys the savagery of war”. A IGN review says that the game “captures the horror of the war” and VOX says that it “turns it [the war] into a online sport”. Curious, we watched the trailer for Battlefield 1; in the first fifteen seconds I saw 6 “people” get shot.

Now, I hate to be a party pooper, but is attempting to relive the war really a good thing to be doing? What will the effects these graphic images of blood and gore have on the people who play it? Will the seemingly never-ending hours teenage boys spend on their Xbox one day backfire and influence them to “freeplay”?  Ella Morley investigates to try and undercover the negative effects that first person shooter games have on those who play them.

 We conducted a questionnaire asking 15 teenage boys aged between 16-19 about their gaming lifestyle. We asked them questions about their favorite shooter games and what they do in them. All the gamers responded, in a nutshell, that the objective of their favorite game is to “kill” or “survive”.

The controversy surrounding the amount of hours  teenage boys spend on their games consoles is growing, especially since 2012 when a 15 year old boy collapsed after playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, another war-type shooter game, for five days straight. Some say that shooter games are addictive. I dismissed this theory until a read a news story published in 2007 the headline reads that a teenage boy murdered his brother in an arson attack for taking his Xbox away; don’t mess with what gamers love most.

Our research shows that the average teenage gamer spends 15-35 hours a week closing themselves off from reality an killing virtual human beings with guns like the “M4A1” and the “M8”. I couldn’t tell you anything about those weapons but I bet a gamer could tell you everything: the amount of damage they do, the exact amount of time it takes to reload and what sitiuation the gun is best used for. The excessive use of electronics can take its tole on someone both physically and mentally.

Livestrong a healthy living website tells readers about the risks of spending a significant chunk of their waking time “plugged in”. For instance, according to Livestrong, to much screen time can promote a sedentary lifestyle; meaning someone who spends a lot of time being inactive. This can consequently lead to obesity. One in four teenagers in Britain are obese by the age of fifteen and they are likely to carry this obesity into their adulthood. But it’s not too late! Livestrong says that this can be avoided by trading just thirty minutes of gameplay for physical activity per day.

Imagine: A boy locks himself away in his room for 5 hours everyday, eyes glued to the screen, replaying images of people dying gruesome deaths playing over and over. Well, surely that enough to drive anyone mad?

Despite what people say, gaming can actually be a social activity with the use of the multiplayer option. Instead of being a lone shooter, you can get into teams and kill people together. According to our research, this can get heated. We asked our guinea pigs if their friends on multiplayer ever get aggressive or angry when playing the game. The majority of the of them answered “Yes” and another said that “people shout at him over the mic”. I was right, it literally is enough to drive anyone mad.

 No one likes losing, its in our nature to hate it, but some of those who record their gaming sessions and post them online are famous for their reactions to losing. There are countless videos on Youtube of gamers losing it. Gamers smashing and flipping over the television screens and throwing the controllers at the wall all because they lost.

If it’s not bad enough that teenagers are experiencing these effects, shooter games are also popular with those who aren’t even old enough to play them. Is it okay for 12 year olds to play 18+ games? Well, would you say the same for an 18+ movie? We asked our subjects “What age did you start playing 18+ games?” 40% answered that they began at the age of 12. Now, you cannot pretend that there isn’t a problem with 12 year olds playing 18+ games.

A thread on the website “Netmums” sparked a discussion debating whether or not a parent should allow their child to play Grand Theft Auto, a game which allows you to freely walk around a city and shoot pedestrians and even blow them up. 10% of the parents replied saying “Yes, buy them for him now”.

People are considering it to be child neglect for parents to buy these games for their children and of 2012 it became a criminal offence. It is punishable by up to 6 months in prison and a £5,000 fine. These laws are in place to protect young and impressionable children from consuming violent media.

No-one can stop you from playing shooter games and we’re not trying to! If shooter games are your thing then go for it. Just be aware to give yourself frequent breaks from your games console, this is so important! Oh, and also make sure to be either 16+ or 18+ when playing these games. Happy gaming!

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