Monday, February 14, 2011

Video Game Violence

Mortal Combat, all the GTA games, Bully, Dead Space, oh, and em... Death Race are just a few examples of the MANY video games to be attacked for their 'violent' nature.

While not the first violent video game to appear, Death Race (above) was the first of its kind to inspire a great deal of protest and controversy in the U.S.. Although compared to video games of today it may not seem graphic, the game caused such an outcry that it was pulled from store shelves and profiled on 60 Minutes. In 1986, just 10 years later, the same company released another video game, called Chiller, considered to be the most gratuitously violent video game released to that point. This game, however, while being banned in the UK, did not receive anywhere close to the same controversy as Death Race.

Portrayals of violence inevitably became more realistic with time, so much so that politicians such as U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman conducted hearings during the 1990s regarding what he referred to as "violent video games" which, in his opinion, included such games as Mortal Kombat.

The result of the hearings was that the entertainment software industry was given one year to form a working rating system or the federal government would intervene and create its own system. Eventually, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) was conceived, requiring all video games to be rated and for these ratings to be placed on the games' packaging.

Lt. Col. David Grossman, even wrote several books that pertain to the subject of violence in these 'unrestrained' games. During the countless heights of video game controversy he has been interviewed on the content of his books, and has repeatedly used the term "murder simulator" to describe first-person shooter games. He argues that video game publishers unethically train children in the use of weapons and, more importantly, harden them emotionally to the act of murder by simulating the killing of hundreds or thousands of opponents in a single typical video game. Grossman's conclusions unsurprisingly came underfire by some scholars, however, as highly selective and misleading.

Official records show that violent crime rates have declined dramatically since the early 1990s in the USA, among both juveniles and adults. This is despite sales of violent video games exploding and their content becoming increasingly graphic during the same period. Researchers have even found that people serving time for violent crimes generally consume less media before committing their crimes than the average person in the general population. It's true that young offenders who have committed school shootings in America have also been game players. But how many young people do not play games? The overwhelming majority of kids who do play do NOT actually commit antisocial acts. Video game violence is obviously not the primary contributor to violence.

So why do some researchers continue to argue that video games are dangerous despite evidence to the contrary?”


Zoe! said...

Probably because they have some ulterior motives.

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