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October 09, 2007



Not sure about anyone else, but my own experience is that children as young as 11-12 will badger mum and dad into purchasing an 18 - and the parents will do it for them without thinking.
I think mum and dad don't actually believe that game content can be anything other than Tom and Jerry. Unlike with films it is difficult for parents to appreciate what is meant by a video game for over 18's.
Perhaps publishers should actually label the case more clearly such as
"this game carries sexually explicit content or extreme violence or obscene language.


The debate over the effect of “violent” video games is important, and this is one issue where the mass media’s reporting completely fails (and where most game sites, present company excluded, fail as well). The whole discussion of the effects of video games usually dwells on totally absurd assertions, such as claiming that playing game X caused a given teenager to go on a killing spree. (Any reasonable person can see that this isn’t the case.) The mass media completely laps that up, as it's completely sensational (the truth be damned) and requires no nuanced discussion. The more convincing studies I've read show a far, far more subtle connection between video games and aggressive behavior.
The increase in griefing and anti-social behavior in Second Life, for instance, is being blamed on an influx of World of Warcraft players. These players learned how to interact in an online environment in WoW and have continued that aggressive social behavior in new contexts, even though it is clearly inappropriate. This is closer to the sort of behavioral changes that studies suggest are the effect of violent games. While game ratings are based on superficial elements like blood in games to determine how violent/“mature” they are, these studies indicate that it’s aggressive interactions with characters in video games (whether they are other players or computer controlled) that cause players to be more aggressive in their relationships with others, not the “violence” per se. Even if this is all true, of course, this doesn’t put videogames in a special position (as you point out), as the studies show the same effect from film and television- anything that presents aggression as an appropriate way for people to solve problems supposedly leads to more aggressive behavior (ironically most children’s programming in the U.S. then becomes the worst offender).

Although I’ve not seen any studies that address the issue, I suspect that the “anti-social skills” taught by games played online like WoW or Halo actually make them worse than GTA…

Liz Lawley

As a parent of two boys--ages 11 and 13--I can assure you that not all parents who let their 12yo play GTA do so without realizing its content or treating it as a babysitter. :)

They're not going to see much in GTA that they don't already see more of in prime time television shows. And my sense is that my kids' behavior in videogames has not in any way shaped their behavior in real life. If anything, it serves as a relatively safe outlet for transgressive behavior, one that can be clearly identified as fantasy and not reality.


I don't believe that it is possible to generalise on the specific effects of video games on children. Anymore than you can do with radio or TV.
Although it might be possible to identify stereotypes that are most vulnerable.
I suspect that it is those children who already have a limited grasp on reality to be most likely effected. This limited grasp usually has a much deeper cause, than simply the result of playing video games. My own understanding is that whilst copycat criminal activity may have been inspired by seemingly toxic media content - it is rarely the real cause behind it.


I find it really sad that the whole debate focuses on words like 'violence' to draw attention to it; in my opinion it just reinforces, what I believe is the (not so) hidden agenda here.

The whole discussion seems to want to blame 'new technology' for what is purported to be increased violence from this generations children.

It's very biased whichever way you look at it... Violent films, books etc have been around for all of our lifetimes, and because that medium is better understood by the more 'mature' generation, then more often that not video games are used as the scapegoat for the changing/evolving behaviour of a whole generation of children who are more likely to play them.

There is so much to learn and gain from playing/using video games, which just seems to go by the wayside of the people who could really benefit from a greater understanding. Mostly because people tend to be scared of things they don't understand - making video games easy prey for the scare-mongering media.

I wonder about what sometimes appears to be an increased attitude to pass-off parental responsibility and blame 'violent behaviour' on games, instead of looking at the actual parents allowing their children to play 'violent' games with or without their supervision.

How exactly are the government and discussion group going to measure a Games Violence Study?


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