When we assign argument papers, we look for relevant topics because we know that passionate writing depends upon it. A popular subject for an argument paper is this: Do violent video games promote youth violence? The news media can be counted on to bring us fresh rants every time there is a new release of the most frequently bashed game, Grand Theft Auto. It's easy to find opinions--everyone's got one--but, it's rare to find arguments supported by credible sources.
Duke Ferris at Game Revolution responds to the argument with an article entitled, "Caution: Children at Play--The Truth About Violent Youth and Video Games." Since Ferris is a gamer writing for a video game site, it's to be expected that he would support a position that is friendly to video games. To his credit, he doesn't merely prolong the argument, he provides sources to support his position.
If I may quote directly from the D.O.J. report "Recently, the offending rates for 14-17 year-olds reached the lowest levels ever recorded." The lowest levels ever recorded. In other words, the Playstation era has, in fact, produced the most non-violent kids ever. [Duke Ferris, quote]
Students will likely agree with Ferris's claims, since virtually all of them have experience playing video games and they don't consider themselves violent. So, the best use of this article is to model its use of sources, statistics, and charts, which come from the US Department of Justice. The DOJ site has updated its statistical charts through 2005, so have your students refer to these.
Ferris's argument is strengthened by his admission that overtly violent games are not for children; they are clearly marked 'mature' for a reason, and are rightfully not sold to anyone under 17. Emphasize to your students how this concession strengthens his argument, showing that he is willing to consider opposing arguments. He goes to the effort to link to a variety of opposing opinions, though I would point out to my students how outdated these sources are. We would also make it clear that simple links to other sources are not enough for an academic argument. Each source requires a discussion.
One of the strengths of the internet is ease in finding sources, though that ease is also its weakness: how credible are those sources? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments we find?
It's up to us teachers to show them how it's done.