After Hours

Violence caused by video games is a soapbox for politicians


As a parent, I'm very aware of the controversy that surrounds mature content that appears in video games. Does watching violence actually make people violent? This recently news story asks a similar question: "Are violent video games really a problem?"

Jason Della Rocca, executive director of the International Game Developers Association, and a panelist [at Siggraph 2006] claims, "(The idea of violence caused by video games) is hype-based and not based on any actual statistical progression toward violence. It's not supported by real-world data. It's more a soapbox for politicians."

Rocca also addresses the gaming addiction clinic that recently opened in Amsterdam: "If a little girl spent hours reading Nancy Drew books, no one would send her to a book addiction clinic, because people perceive books as nutritional." The article continues, "Any isolated behavior is unhealthy, and parents should be looking into any addiction that could be a symptom of a bigger problem. But rather than focusing on video games, [Rocca] said, people should be focusing on the person with the addictive behavior."

Some audience members at Siggraph 2006 shared their concern about the lack of diversity in gaming. However, perhaps the problem is not as much diversity as it is advertising. "Games like 'Dance Dance Revolution,' which is peaceful and gets kids up off the couch, don't get the press or publicity of more violent games." OMG, I finally was introduced to Dance Dance Revolution last summer at my brother's house. It was his kids' game, but he held the high score. Did I mention that my brother isn't a small man? It wasn't violent, per se, but I don't think many people should ever move like that... (yes, I'm just jealous that he was better than me).

Personally, I think there's a fine line somewhere in the middle, and there's also something to be said about personality types and age-appropriateness. My son would LOVE to play mature video games and watch R-rated movies, and when I was single (read = when I didn't have anyone to answer to but myself), I allowed him to watch quite a few movies that are no longer on his "can watch" list. He's 10 right now, and so I wonder "when" is the magical age that it's ok to watch those movies and play those forbidden games? I'm not sure that I agree with the "not under 17" age guidelines, because some kids are mature way before that... and some adults appear to never reach a very high level of maturity.  

About

Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.

2 comments
mjwx
mjwx

and so on. Of course it is hype-based. When is the last time a politician (any polly) sought out the truth. The problem is that some people can?t tell the difference between fantasy and reality. With games like GTA which are violent (indiscriminately violent) most people walk away from playing it unscathed, those who are offended by it simply don?t play GTA. My point is that those people who would kill after playing a video game would be just as likely to kill after reading a violent book. Violence in video games are not the cause, most murders have problems that existed before they play video games. The game is just a scape goat. FBI profiler John Douglas described the three events that make a person more likely to kill, he called it the "homicidal triangle". Those three conditions were, 1.) bed wetting past an appropriate age 2.) Cruelty to animals 3.) Starting/abnormal fascination with fire. Violent images in video games IMO will only disturb those who are already disturbed (I mean mentally disturb not "uncomfortable" disturbed). Violence in media is nothing new, read some Shakespeare, another good example are the sexual references in ancient Greek plays. As for children, its up to the parents what games they can play but more so to teach their children properly so they can develop normal social and moral understandings. IMO the "thou shalt" approach of total authoritarian parenting will not allow a child to develop a sense of right and wrong (moral code) nor will it work to totally restrict the movies/games they can see as the child will just find ways to do it behind the parents back (destroying any trust relationship between the child and parent).

kc4iai
kc4iai

The problem which precipitates violence is not the games or the computers. It's a little known problem with human physiology discovered when it caused mental breaks for office workers in the 1960's. Those knowledge workers were using the first prototypes of close space office workstations. The cubicle solved the problem by 1968. Those with serious problems including violence have accidentally created the "Special Circumstances" and were exposed to visual Subliminal Distraction. Subliminal Distraction is the name of the problem outside the United States. There is no name for the problem here but the solution is Cubicle Level Protection. That violence first appeared among fur trappers who attempted to winter over with two or more men in too-small cabins. They sometimes experienced a sudden berserk episode of violence when one cab inmate attempted to kill the other. It was called Cabin Fever. http://VisionAndPsychosis.Net

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