Hate the player not the game! – Should violent video games be banned?

Violence

You may recall a few weeks back we asked for some submissions for my sister, who lectures a Criminology class, and her upcoming videogame debate. The idea behind the debate was to discuss whether or not violent videogames themselves were responsible for violent behaviour and whether we should be censoring them or restricting their sales.

The results are in and both sides of the group agreed that violent videogames do not cause crime… however the pro-censorship group did feel that if a person is predisposed to crime then videogames may influence them to react in a violent manner. As a society we deserve to be protected from the 1%-2% of people affected by violent games.

The group against censorship agreed that violence games could influence an already predisposed person but they did not feel this was enough reason to censor the games, the games are not responsible for the behaviour but rather the violent gamers themselves need to accept responsibility for what they have done.

Here is an in depth bullet point breakdown of their findings, would you agree with this or do you think they missed the mark on a major topic?

  • The age of someone who plays a specific game is more of a predetermining factor
    • Pre-puberty and during puberty violent media, not specifically games, can affect a person who has violent tendencies
    • It cannot be looked at in isolation, family environment is more of a predetermining factor than the game
    • The lack of parents watching over their children is a problem

 

  • Society needs to evaluate what is seen as “abnormal culture”.
    • The so called ‘nerd culture’ is still looked at as unusual,
    • We generalise that when a child plays games and is interacting over the internet, they are being ‘un-sociable’ and isolated.
    • This can lead to real victims / youths needing attention being ignored and falling through the gap

 

  • Bullying is more of a factor than the violent media and there is a need to look at punishing the offenders not the victims.
    • A lot of the cases that are brought forth for the debate of banning games when one looks at their past it is normally the bullying that is the determining factor.
    • In many instances the bullying is done by the so-called ‘jocks’ against the so called ‘nerds’ – it is important for society to start punishing the bully’s and in addition stopping the bullying before it occurs.
    • The culture of our world is protection of the offenders

 

  • There is no quick fix to this. Videogames may affect / influence a predisposed person to violent tension
    • Parents need to also accept responsibility, children (under12) can’t watch SAW, but they can play a violent game
      • Parents also need to be educated on why the age restriction is on certain games and what effects the violence can have on a child
    • Children imitate their role models, parents / older siblings fall into this brackets for the young child.
    • Video games are used as an excuse for behaviour in doing so many other factors are ignored
    • Research is being done that is looking at the stimulation on the brain when a person watches a violent movie or plays a violent game – so we know there is an effect, but we are unsure of what and to what extent

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Author:Gavin Mannion

I'm cranky, arrogant and ever so amazingly annoying but when you get to know me you will also realise I'm honest and incredibly good at describing myself... now pass me that beer
  • Eli

    I wish I’d known about this earlier, but oh well. Anyways, I’ve been playing games sine I was 2 (and that was the Atari 2600 era, mind you) so I’ve been locked into this kind of debate since then. I used to get bullied not only ecause I was a ‘nerd’, but because I was the unacceptable hybred of ‘girl-nerd’. I’ll admit it, too, I was exposed to violent media at a young age, and I was very messed up because of it. But, my parents instilled in me early the difference between fantasy and reality, as well as right and wrong. Therefore, though I met all the classic requirements for criminality, I never crossed that line. I get actively involved in this debate today because of my upbringing. What I’ve concluded is that the onus needs to fall on the parent to prevent this behavior, regardless of the predisposition of the child. It will not work 100% of the time, but will certainly cut down the rate of children crossing the line into violent criminal acts. Parents need to be educated on the video games they get their children. I did a self-experiment one Christmas season when I worked in a retail store, and I learned that about 75% of parents, when informed of the violent or sexual content of a video game, refused to buy the game, and about half of those parents asked for better alternatives. (I was fired midway through the season for turning away sales, though. Such is the price of knowledge, I guess.) Anyways, bottom line, don’t be one of those parents who blithly buys your 9-year-old the latest GTA just because they think it’s cool and video games keeps your kids occupied better than a babysitter. Education is key, so either go out there and get educated, or go out there and educate others.

  • Jimmytheediblewyrm

    Eli needs a medal.

    And being fired for actually doing what a salesperson should do is such BS. Stores should be bound by law to inform parents about age-restricted games and their content.

    I feel that gaming has become the current scapegoat for societies ails, as was rock music before it, and comics before that. People don’t seem to want to accept that the problem could actually be stemming from the home or group interactions (ie. being bullied because you DON’T like a particular sport, and would much rather play games at home).

    I think that game developers/publishers could do more in the avenue of educating parents, but that would affect their bottom line, so i don’t see it happening anytime soon.

  • Bobby Kotick dusts off his thinking cap

    Quite frankly, (and I’m going to be as objective as possible) we don’t know yet. We don’t know what the effect of prolonged exposure to violent video games can have on our psyches. There is yet to be a comprehensive study that has a large enough sample size (highly crucial), where all the different criteria are looked at, and runs for roughly the span of a gamer’s life. Then there also has to be a control group who have never been exposed to gaming.

    However, given that our species’ history is a fairly violent affair, and we seem to have more in common with out chimpanzee cousins than the sex-loving bonobos (pygmy chimps), violent video games might actually be beneficial (if you will “Soothe the savage beast”).

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