May 6, 2008 // 7:56 pm
- Mike is a 15 year old gamer who just picked up a copy of Gears of War. His mom is very strict about keeping Mike from playing mature-rated games, but his best friend let him borrow it for the weekend. When Mike gets home, he locks his door and turns down the volume on his television.
He puts in the game disc and instantly he is drawn to the online game mode. He puts on his headset and joins a game. He and his teammates discuss a strategy and then get to work. Mike decides to go to the sniper tower and try his hand at sniping.
He picks up the Longshot rifle and spots an enemy. He puts his cross hairs on his head, pulls the trigger and is rewarded with a gush of blood on his screen and not to mention the feeling of being a better player than his opponent. After a few hours Mike realizes it is ten o' clock so he turns off his system and decides to call it a night.
Most kids would leave the killing virtual, like Mike, but there are many people who believe that extremely violent games lead to teen violence and school shootings.
With today's technology, video games are becoming much more lifelike and graphical. More often than not the description on the back of games includes: intense violence, sexual content, drug reference, and blood and gore. Obviously this would not be a very good game for a child under the age of 18 to be playing.
Some studies say that if these games get into the wrong child's hands the child is more likely to perform violent acts than children who don not play these violent games (Hae-Jung-Song and Anderson15). Also every time a child is exposed to these games, he is learning the same reflexes and motor skills as a real life soldier in boot camp (Grossman 24+). This is a very scary thought because if a child is planning a violent act, they can get instant training for under 60 dollars.
To add to this madness, it is proven that kids who are repeatedly exposed to media violence may become desensitized and less likely to show any remorse when they cause pain to another person (Patterson n.pag.). Perhaps there is no way to completely avoid violent content in games, but there are ways of policing it.
The ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) does there best to rate the content in these games to help parents when choosing games to allow their children to play. Even though they do a good job for the most part, they have failed in the past when rating the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Game.
This game was given a mature rating but after a few months a hidden glitch that allowed players to participate in a mini game showing sexual intercourse between the main character, CJ, and his girlfriend, was found. The ESRB was outraged and changed the rating to an AO (Adult Only) rating.
This only makes us wonder if we can trust the ratings put on these games. A recent study, in which scientists looked at 396 games, found that 94 percent of them had violent content (Patterson n.pag.).
The violence was probably not as intense as the violence expressed in the Grand Theft Auto series, but it was still there. Another important factor in role playing games like the Grand Theft Auto series is that the player has a greater chance of identifying with the main character, especially when some of these games require up to 48 hours of game play in order to for the story to be completed.
When the characters of these are violent, or commit acts of violence, the possibility of emotionally connecting to these characters will make players more violent because they actually control the character's actions (Patterson n.pag.). Simply put, many video games tend to be full of senseless violence, and some children have the tendency to take factors of these games into real life.
As in every story, there are two sides to this issue. Therefore, there are some people that believe violence in video games is not a problem. As a matter of fact, only eight percent of teens surveyed at Churchville-Chili Ninth Grade Academy agreed that video games have a major impact on teen violence (Burns-Miller 2008).
First of all, it is important to remember that the video game industry is much different than it was 25 years ago. These are not the Atari 2600 days anymore. "Over 145 million Americans play video games and adults buy nine out of every ten games sold" (Copeland 1E+).
Many games are created for a more adult audience. Let's face it; adults do not want to play games like Pong anymore. If parents choose to allow their children to play video games then it is the parent's responsibility to control what their children are playing. There are plenty of non-violent games to be played.
The violence incorporated into games by developers is a form of artistic expression and is not used to influence youths to become killers (Costikyan 21+). As a matter of fact, the gaming industry has a few yearly award shows such as the VGA's (Video Game Awards) which honors games in categories such as best graphics, best game play, and best online play.
Once again this shows how gaming is turning into an adult industry. Some people say, "Online gaming which involves shooting characters controlled by real players is no different than paintball" (Costikyan 23).
A group of teammates is working together in order to eliminate the opposite team. To add to this there are many online leagues, tournaments and ladders which reward the top teams with a cash reward at the end of the season. It is very easy to see that people who make accusations on video games being too violent are obviously not avid gamers because there is more to a game than a lot of violence (Costikyan 26).
Many people can see both sides of this issue such as one person who said, "First person shooters are violent games, yet they are not depictions of endless, orgasmic mayhem. They are mainly about exploration and puzzle solving" (Costikyan 22).
Gamers are not choosing to buy games just because they are full of blood and gore, because if it does not make you think or it is too easy you just will not have any fun with it. Believe it or not some people believe that games benefit society because they allow players to take their aggression out on computer generated characters rather than actual humans (Costikyan 8).
To give closure to this point of view, there are many violent games being played by children which were meant to be played by an adult audience, also there is more to these games then blood and violence, and games were not created to make children want to kill.
Currently there are a few ways that violent games are being kept from underage children. The ESRB rates every game available on consoles and the PC (Personal Computer). AO rated games, which are the most violent and sexual games, are not usually available for purchase in stores. Also most retailers such as GameStop and Wal-Mart have decided not to sell mature rated games to minors.
The XBOX 360 console has a feature called family settings which allows parents to choose which games they want there children to play, What this means is that even if a child gets his hands on a Mature rated game such as Gears of War, he will not be able to play it on his system if family settings is enabled. Now that video games are a multi-billion dollar industry, it is almost certain that violent video games will never go away. Though they will never disappear, people are trying to limit the exposure of violence to minors.
The hostility of video games will continue to be argued about as long as games are around so it is important to see both sides of the issue. It is very easy to see that video games can be extremely violent. School shootings are more common than they were 30 years ago but people should not be so quick to point their finger at video games because the diagnosis of social issues and mental tribulations is also more common. Perhaps children are different than they were 30 years ago.
People need to ask themselves, if video games were completely banished would youth aggression completely end or would we continue to see cases similar to the violence that occurred at Columbine High-School in Littleton, Colorado and Virginia Tech University?