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Video Game Violence

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Video Game Violence

Video games have been a part of American culture since the arcade boom of the late 1970's. Games were created as a form of entertainment, to relieve the stresses of everyday life. Over the years video games evolved and eventually came home in the form of Atari, Intellivision and Colecovision. Soon after, Japan followed suit and created the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and the Sega Master System which became extremely popular game systems in the United States. Since these games were readily available at home children started playing more and the arcades were become less and less populated. Today the average gamer is in his/her late teens and early twenties. More games are being catered to this demographic population, thus games with a more mature level of content become very popular. With mature themed games come sex, violence, the use of drugs and other things of that nature. Should games with such material be allowed to be sold or should these games be banned?

The first game to come under controversy was called Mortal Kombat created by Midway games. It was a very realistic fighting game using digitalized versions of real people. It contained more blood in it than any other game before it. "Some say the game's graphic violence was gratuitous, and was only included in order to generate a

public outcry and controversy that would increase publicity for the game."(Wikipedia Website) The violence this game exhibited had such a dramatic impact that the two top

gaming systems at the time, the Super NES completely omitted blood from the game and the Sega Genesis started a rating system giving the game an MA-17 allowing only those who are 17 years of age or older to purchase the game. This rating system was the first of its kind in the video game world. Nintendo fans voiced their opinions about the censorship of this game: "There was a HUGE backlash from this from players, however. Nintendo was bombarded day and night with complaints about the removal of the blood and guts from the SNES version. In fact, Nintendo even printed some of the complaint letters they received in Nintendo Power magazine." (Gamesgraveyard Website) From the day Nintendo censored Mortal Kombat, the company became widely known as a gaming system for children, which aided in the companies low success of sales in games for their new system the Nintendo 64.

Soon after the Mortal Kombat controversy Nintendo and Sega both joined the ESRB: "The ESRB rating system helps parents and other consumers choose the games that are right for their families. ESRB ratings have two parts: rating symbols that suggest what age group the game is best for, and content descriptors that indicate elements in a game that may have triggered a particular rating and/or may be of interest or concern." (ESRB website) The rating system starts with E: everyone all the way to A: adults.

Games with violence usually get T: teens or an M: mature. This form of rating is the equivalent to the rating systems used for motion pictures and television. Today this

rating system is a standard across all platform of home video gaming. It is used for all video games including games for the home PC.

In December 2001, Surgeon General of the United States David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D., led a study on violence in youth and determined that while the impact of video games on violent behavior has yet to be determined, findings suggest that violence in the media has a relatively small impact on violence.

"The impact of video games containing violence has recently become a focus of research because children are theoretically more susceptible to behavioral influences when they are active participants than when they are observers. To date, violent video games have not been studied as extensively as violent television or movies. The number of studies investigating the impact of such games on youth aggression is small, there have been none on serious violence, and none has been longitudinal." With that said, the report noted that recent "meta-analysis" of these studies found that "the overall effect size for both randomized and co relational studies was small for physical aggression and moderate for aggressive thinking." (Gonzales)

Although Dr. Satcher believes that theoretically children are more susceptible to behavioral influences when they are active participants rather that observers, it still leaves the possibility of violence due to observance of violence.

The most recent incident involving video game violence happened in the U.K. On February 27th 2004 a 14-year-old named Stefan Pakeerah was found dead in a park. Apparently he was killed by his 17-yer-old friend named Warren LeBlanc, who has been

seen playing a game called Manhunt by Rockstar Games with Pakeerah. LeBlanc was apparently trying to rob his friend and proceeded to attack him with a claw hammer. "In

the Pakeerah case, it was revealed that a copy of Manhunt was found

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