Video Game Violence
Published: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 22:09
As more and more people are playing video games, it’s not too surprising that violent and adult-themed games are becoming more heavily scrutinized by the public. After a series of despicable shooting incidents this past year, people are pointing fingers at violent video games than ever before.
Much like the “war” against comic books in the mid-Twentieth century, people not familiar with video games have begun to use the medium as a scapegoat for violent behavior in children and young adults.
There is a partial truth to this. Studies have shown that gamers of all ages are inclined to act more aggressively after playing an action-heavy game. However, the games people blame for “corrupting” children, are neither designed nor intended for children.
Shooter video games such as Activision’s “Call of Duty” series, can be filled with graphic violence and are absolutely not made for children. The acclaimed “Grand Theft Auto” series goes a step further by including varying amounts of violence in addition to drug usage and adult sexual content in their titles.
These games, much like an “R” rated film, are designed with an adult audience in mind, and as such are designated with an “M” or Mature Rating, ensuring that no one under the age of 17 can purchase the item.
Much like films, they are creative works of art. Some titles designated with the “M” rating don’t even fit the description of “violence for the sake of violence.” 2013’s “The Last of Us,” for example, can be a brutal experience, but it is all in the best interests of serving a narrative so exceptionally crafted that the experience can be equated with the viewing of an Oscar-worthy film.
As a former employee at multiple retailers that sold video games, I can tell you that it was nearly impossible to sell an “M” rated title to someone under 17. Employees at most major retail chains (including my employers) are required to ID all people attempting to buy “M” rated video games (the fines to sell to a minor are so exuberant, it’s not even worth the risk). In all my time in retail, I never witnessed anyone under 17 successfully purchase an “M” rated game on their own.
When I worked in retail, it would not be uncommon for children as young as seven to bring their parents to purchase a game like “Call of Duty” or “Grand Theft Auto.”
It seems that one of the most discussed solutions to the problem is to make it more difficult for minors to get their hands on adult-themed games. But the truth is, many parents willingly purchase these games for their children, despite the rating, with little regard to the content they are allowing them to experience.
To combat this spread of ill will towards games in general, two things must occur. First (and unlikely), those of older generations who have unfamiliarity with the medium must familiarize themselves with games in general, so not to group games in general into a negative connotation. And second, the only way to stop children from playing games inappropriate for their age group is to better warn parents of the possible consequences of exposing children to graphic content at young ages, and hope that they make the right choices for their children.