Sunday, July 10, 2011

Violent Video Games vs Violent Actions

So I was watching a documentary on a game called Super Columbine Massacre RPG! which recreates the events of the Columbine High School shooting. This games creator was a 10th grade student in Colorado at the time of the shootings and felt that this shooting changed his life because he was a bullied kid, that was a "loner" like the shooters. It hit close to home, and he felt that after finding the RPGMaker2000 he decided to make this game to try to shed light on the situation, not to encourage more shooting. On his website with the game are forums to discuss shootings, and reactions to the game. It was a way to open a discussion about things that most people were afraid to discuss.

As time went on and other shooting popped up, Danny Ledonne the creator of the game made statements on his site reaching out to the
victims, survivors and anyone watching as the events unfolded.  He was not trying to cause issues, he was not trying to make a "training" game for potential shooters. From my understanding he wanted to open the eyes of everyone to what went on, and the possible mindsets of those involved.

The documentary that I watch was mainly about this game, but also touched on does violence in video games inspire violence in real life? Politicians came in saying it does or it doesn't, game developers came in saying that if you teach a child right and wrong it shouldn't matter what they play.  This is a questions that has brought up a lot of feelings on both sides of the fence whenever it is discussed. My personal opinion-- We have the ESRB rating system (shown below) for a reason. Games are rated to protect people of a younger age from playing something that they may not understand what they are doing or be able to draw the line between reality and fantasy. Since parents have to buy the games for their children, it then falls upon then to decide if the game is suitable for their child.

 Now before I go into more information on my opinion of thise, here are some examples of games (all pulled for the site since you can sort by rating) listed under these ratings:

eC for Early Childhood: Disney Childhood
E for Everyone: Madden NFL 11, Fifa Soccer 11, TNT Racers, Kinectimals
E10+: Band Hero, Lego Star Wars, Plants Vs Zombies
T: Rock Band, Castle Crashers, Batman Arkham Asylum
M:Call of Duty Black Ops, Halo Reach, Fable 3

These and Rating Pending are the only rating supported on Xbox. com as of right now. but lets look at the number of games in each section:
Xbox has more games rated "Everyone" then "Mature" by exactly 153 games. This tells me that Microsoft is trying to make sure that there are plenty of options for their younger game players. If you want to play games with your children, why not do research like this. Go to the game consoles website, see if they have a place to view their games and sort by ratings. Choose the rating appropriate for you child and let them see what is available.

Now here's my rant about children playing Mature games. I understand that kids like to play games, and I understand a lot of parents just want to make their son/daughter happy. But no child (counting myseld at a younger age) should be playing the Call of Duty games or the Grand Theft Auto games at 12 years old. At 12 I had a good sense of what was right and what was wrong. I knew that games were fantasy, and my mom even allowed me to read novels that were not in the teen section of Barnes and Nobel because I was bored with the teen section. My problem with these games is that they are intended to simulate real areas/war. GTA takes place in a few California cities as well as other places now I believe. You steal cars, can beat up and kill people, hire prostitutes, and steal. At a young age, if you let a game system "babysit" your child, they will eventually start to think this is alright to do in real life.  Call of Duty mimics war zones, and battles. Again, something that needs to be monitored if you are letting your child play it.

Basically, don't let video games become the babysitter for your child. Teach them right from wrong, tell them that it is only a game. Following the ESRB ratings will help you a lot. I personally play Halo, and last night I played and talked with a 9 year old boy playing. That's right... 9 years old. He had a mouth that would make a sailor blush, and talked about things my mother would have grabbed me and shoved a bar of soap in my mouth for talking about. (Yeah, I learned to not cuss when all the "cool" kids were because Irish Springs is NASTY and sticks to your teeth)  With that kid, I would have loved to talk to his parent and ask why he was allowed to play that game. When we got beaten in a match, he cried and whined and acted like it was the end of the world. And did this over the mic in the public chat for the game. To me, that would throw up a red flag as a parent and make me go "Maybe he needs a break from games for awhile. I can make him go outside and play with friends rather than strangers on the internet..."

I asked friends what their thoughts were on this subject. Some said they believed it did. A few were like myself and said as kids video games let them release anger in a healthy way and it ultimately made their lives better. A few mentioned that a game does not substitute sitting down and talking with your child about things, and it cannot be a babysitter for them. All valid points, and it was a great discussion.

So basically here's my final thoughts to sum it up: ESRB ratings exsist for a reason. They are there to tell you what age group each game is appropriate for. You as a consumer/parent/gamer have to look at them and go "okay this is/is not appropriate for who I am buying it for" Eventually, children who play games will either A) have a blurred sense or reality/fantasy because they were not taught the difference because a game console was their babysitter or B) will use gaming as an outlet for anger and it will improve their life. The issue is the Adults need to decide what is appropriate for their child, and some parents do not want to make the time or effort to do so. Do I think video games contribute to shootings? No. Do I think sloppy parenting does? Yes.

What are your thoughts on violent video games? If you are a parent, what do you or don't you allow your child to play? Let me know in the comments! I am very curious. (Please keep the comments to being a constructive conversation. Do not attack others for their opinion or your comment will be removed. Thanks!)


  1. I'm so torn on this. I grew up on the original Nintendo, and you as you know, the graphics weren't nearly as real looking as they are now, and no where near as bloody for the games with violence in them. Another thing is, I wasn't allowed to play for more than two hours a day, but usually only one hour. I fully believe that video games desensitizes people after a while to blood and violence (with hours and hours and hours of play) - but I don't think that I could tell you that video games is a precursor to actually doing anything, unless that person already had something wonky going on in their brain - whether from abuse of some sort or a chemical imbalance.

  2. I agree- If someone has some type of pre-existing issue with their brain they will be more easily influenced. Desensitizing I have to say would go along with depending on the person. I personally can/will play games for hours on end as an adult. I play things like Halo, Left4Dead, and Fallout. I can sit there and enjoy the game play, but then I see murders and fighting, and the war footage on tv and I'm shocked at the brutality still to this day. And i've been playing games with things like this since I was 15. So, almost 8 years of gaming on things like this and I am not desensitized. But I do know people who are. Insteresting how things effect people differently.

  3. I grew up playing video games only at my cousin's house (my little sister and I never liked them enough to ask for a game counsel) and we played stuff like Mario, Donkey Kong, Pac Man, so no violence there. My uncle later gave me and my sister his Sega so we played Sonic, Mortal Combat, and some motorcycle games. Mortal Combat was definitely my favorite (I loved the girls who threw fans and magic power at people haha) and I played it pretty young (probably around the age of 8?). It's kind of a violent game but my sister and I weren't video gamers so we always had a great grasp on reality I guess. I personally think that only people who aren't emotionally developed enough would believe that a video game is real or 'okay to do in life.' I think you'd have to be mentally ill (depression...etc) or really stupid (your parents didn't teach you ANYTHING??) to consider a game 'real life.' I agree with the rating system and I think it's in place for a good reason, but I think proper intelligence and education is required as well..

  4. I let my oldest (10) play Halo, but our Xbox is in the living room, and we don't do online gaming. GTA will NEVER be played by anyone in our house because it is an awful game. Halo is the only game rated M that he's allowed to play, he sticks mainly to the Lego games and Legend of Zelda. I grew up with video games, but didn't really become a gamer until my teens so I can't really say how that affected my views. I was in high school at the time of the Columbine shootings, and did a report on bullying and it's effects (I was bullied a lot)

    I think that parents need to start being a lot more hands on in general. It's not just video games that are being used as babysitters, it's also television in general. Sorry.... I've rambled and lost my point, if I had one lol.

  5. i deff think its all about how they got parented... there is no excuse in my mind why someone can blame a murder or something a video game..

  6. and i played gta ALOT when i was young but im not stealing cars and being a prostitute!! lol unless... markie are you my pimp?? lol

  7. Elizabeth- I agree. I can see kids of a younger age playing Halo. It's a blatant space fantasy game. And kids realize that. There is the campaign missions, and you don't have to play online to have fun. I grew up on the Zelda games, and then played Ratchet and Clank, and Kingdom Hearts on the playstation later on. After I was in highschool I picked up halo and loved it. I liked that you had online and offline modes, which made it easier for younger kids to play without having to involve the online game mechanics which tend to involve working with random people around the world with potty mouths and who don't respect that children may be listening. Good for you for doing that with you son and still letting him play it because besides the online play, it's a great futuristic space-battle game a lot of younger people would be interested in. Also agree with television being a babysitter... ugh.