Since the 1970 s when they were first introduced, videogames have evolved from a simple, white ball that bounced off the TV screen walls into 3-dimensional, role-playing characters with realistic features, sounds, and actions. Children, in most cases, are the targets of many videogame producers. However, videogame producers have recently developed various role-playing games with such explicit adult content as violence and gore, and often, recurrent nudity or sexual themes. Special rating boards have therefore been established to inform the consumer about almost every videogame s contents. Games such as Quake+ and Duke Nukem+, which include and abundance of violence, blood, and sexually oriented material, are stereotyped and have been said to encourage teen and pre-teen violence. Although many think otherwise, it has not yet been proven that violent videogames encourage teen violence, and special rating boards are unnecessary.The videogame industry is rapidly growing. Its unexhausted popularity has made it a multi-million dollar business, and with the demand for the development of new, faster consoles, it appears to be a lasting industry. According to a survey of more than 1600 Americans conducted by the Interactive Digital Software Association [IDSA: 1999], Americans selected interactive games as their favorite form of entertainment (Anders, K.). Almost every household has one type of videogame console or equivalent. The truth of the matter is the public will continue to buy videogames with realistic graphics and convincing sound effects, and videogame developers are at an advantage of supplying them with their needs.In the past decade, videogame developers have introduced new formats of gaming. Doomtm, which featured a 3-dimensional environment with daedly monsters, presented the first ever role-playing videogame. Computerized blood and gore, by then, astonished the world and was soon becoming as usual as its explicit language. Capcom, Japan, later introduced the survival-horror genre when it debuted Resident Eviltm in 1996. Resident Evil starred a policeman and woman who were both trapped in a mansion along with remarkably animated, bloodthirsty zombies. Soon after, many other companies began creating their own Resident-Evil-like games, often with explicit or implicit adult content and unrefrained sexual themes, such as Metal Gear Solidtm, Drivertm, and Silent Hilltm to name a few. Many of these innovative and provocative games are often aimed at children and young adults. Videogame marketers appeal to the youth by presenting their blood-filled, action-packed videogames by media and television. After seeing the advertisements for new software, children rush with their parents to the nearest store to buy or rent these promising games. Teens will especially be the first in line to get a copy of the latest violent games because the television encourages them to do so. Is this too absurd to believe? Will children and teens immediately rush to a software store to buy what is advertised on television? Then is it too incredible to think that violent videogames encourage teen and pre-teen violence? For years now, this issue has been in courts and all around the media. Many experts believe that playing a videogame with graphic violence causes young children and adolescents to mimic the actions of that game. Costikyan rejects this claim by arguing that videogames satisfy antisocial impulses in a completely harmless way. Violent computer games don t spur violence; violent computer games channel antisocial behavior in societally acceptable ways (Van Horn, R.). Too violent? Prime Time TV is too violent, Scott, 18, from Colorado responds to a survey conducted by ZDTV.com. Many children point out that watching the nightly news exposes them to as much violence as the average videogame (Features, Do you think ). If this is theoretically true, then should news broadcasts also be limited to what can be said because of the numerous children who tune in? Would children actually imitate what is described on these news broadcasts? Austin Bunn points out that in such videogames as Doomtm and Quaketm, annihilation is easier [ ] to do than when it s a real trigger in your hand (Feed). From these kids point of views, violence is a natural phenomenon.
Often, videogames have been the scapegoat of the recent shooting sprees around the country. The perpetrators of the Columbine shootings in Littleton, Colo. were avid player[s] of a variety of videogames that portray realistic violence (Anders, K). Drawing conclusions from a single fact or statement is ridiculous and immature. You must also take into account the millions of other videogame and videogame console owners and players. According to the survey conducted by the IDSA in 1999, many of the game players are more educated and affluent than the public may think (Anders, K.). Bunn defends this claim by arguing that although they are not quite meals, videogames contain vitamins (systems thinking, social accountability) (Bunn, A.). Videogames increase motor skills such as hand-eye coordination. If anything encouraged these kids to open fire on their classmates, it was not their attraction to strategical, violent videogames. Everyone is upset about the theoretical impact of violent videogames and the alleged connection to the Littleton, Co. shootings. But what got lost in the clamor was the generally good news that many games and CD-ROMS already come with a voluntary rating (Lavin, C). Because of all the explicitness and obscenity on many videogames, a special rating board must be set up to indicate to the consumers which games contain what and how much. A rating board known as the Entertaining Software Rating Board (ESRB) was organized. Products are voluntarily submitted to be given a rating by the ESRB. (See attachments of companies in compliance with ESRB.) By placing a rating on a product, it gives the parent the control over whether or not their children should be exposed to the material (McCloud, J). A variety of rating symbols is available and each game submitted receives a letter according to what the ESRB believes is appropriate for a certain age group; much like the television ratings. (See attachment for ratings and their meanings.) Although the ESRB rates many games, not every company submits their games. Unrated or unedited videogames can be illegally purchased via the Internet, direct from Japan. Retail companies most often do not carry the adult- rated games. Videogames, along with movies, have long served as the scapegoat for many of society s recent problems. However, there is a problem with parents who are undisturbed by the fact that that they themselves are buying their kids violent videogames. They are unaware of what is being viewed by their children, and allow them to play for long hours, and quite possibly, at the expense of school work (Van Horn, R.). Dr. Dean Hinitz, a psychologist at UNR believes, unless parents teach their kids otherwise, kids learn problem solving techniques from their hero s, the characters they see on screen (Griffiths, T.). Before parents can argue that videogames cause violence, they should caution their children and explain the difference between reality and software. Contrary to what many believe, there has not yet been a test conducted to prove that violent videogames actually encourage violence (FEED). More over, violence is not entirely wrong. Dylan, 15, from Hot Springs, Arkansas defends To have a videogame, or even a book, you must have violence and a villain (ZDTV.com). Gayle Hanson states [t]he question is whether the [videogame] industry ultimately will begin to take responsibility for the type of product it releases in to the market-place. Until that time, it will rest upon parent sot control the game their children play (Hanson, G.).