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The Dark Side of Media and Technology

A 21st Century Guide to Media and Technological Literacy

Edited By Edward Downs

The Dark Side of Media and Technology: A 21st Century Guide to Media and Technological Literacy is Herculean in its effort to survey for landmines in a rapidly changing media landscape. The book identifies four dark outcomes related to media and technology use in the 21st century, and balances the dark side with four points of light that are the keys to taking ownership of a media- and technology-saturated world. The text contains an impressive list of multi-disciplinary experts and cutting-edge researchers who approach 25 separate dark side issues with concise, highly readable chapters, replete with unique recommendations for navigating our mediated present and future.

The Dark Side of Media and Technology is grounded in theory and current research, but possesses an appeal similar to a page-turning dystopian novel; as a result, this volume should be of interest to scholars, students, and curious lay-readers alike. It should be the "go-to" text for anyone who is interested in learning what the research says about how we use media and technology, as well as how media and technology use us.

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Chapter Eighteen: Dark Shadows in Video Game Effects: Concerns about Violence, Character Portrayals, and Toxic Behavior in Digital Games (T. Franklin Waddell / James D. Ivory)


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Dark Shadows in Video Game Effects

Concerns about Violence, Character Portrayals, and Toxic Behavior in Digital Games


Video games’ social effects have been a topic of public and academic discussion since their initial rise to commercial popularity in the 1970s (e.g., Kent, 2010). Extensive bodies of research have investigated potential connections between video game use and outcomes in players such as increased aggression, social dysfunction, and problematic use (e.g., Bushman, Romer, & Jamieson, 2015; Markey, Males, French, & Markey, 2015). Specific types of video game content have also come under scrutiny including critiques regarding the presence of violence (e.g., Dietz, 1998) as well as criticisms of game character sexualization (e.g., Downs & Smith, 2010) and the under-representation of women and persons of color (e.g., Lynch, Tompkins, van Driel, & Fritz, 2016; Williams, Martins, Consalvo, & Ivory, 2009). The increasing popularity of online multiplayer games has also introduced new social concerns about hostile and antisocial behavior (e.g., Fox & Tang, 2014; Holz Ivory et al., 2017) and continued concerns about the demographics of character portrayals in games (e.g., Waddell, Ivory, Conde, Long, & McDonnell, 2014). In light of these various concerns about video games’ effects, what do we know from research about the dark side of video games?

Video Games and Violent Content

As the technological presentation of video games advanced during the late 20th...

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