Video game and violence

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Video game and violence

Similar to other forms of media, video games have been the subject of debate and censorship. Such criticism often stems from the inclusion of controversial material such as graphic violence, sexual themes, drug use, nudity, profanity, criminal behavior or other provocative and offensive content. Video games have also been studied for links to addiction and violentbehavior. Some studies have found that video games do not contribute to these problems, while others claim to have established a link.


One of the most common criticisms of video games are that they allegedly increase violent tendencies among youth. In 1976, one of the first widely accepted controversial video games titled Death Race, in which playerscontrolled cars that ran over pixilated representations of "gremlins". The game caused such an outcry that it was pulled from store shelves. Long Island PTA (parent-teacher associations) president Ronnie Lamm pushed for legislation in the early 1980s to place restrictions on how close video game arcades could be to schools, asserting that they caused children to fight. Dr. Craig A. Anderson testifiedthat some studies have yielded non significant video game effects, just as some smoking studies failed to find a significant link to lung cancer. But when one combines all relevant empirical studies using meta-analytic techniques [it shows that] violent video games are significantly associated with: increased aggressive behavior, thoughts, and affect; increased physiological arousal; and decreasedpro-social (helping) behavior.

An example of video game controversy Grand Theft Auto: Vice City came under similar criticism, also for implying allegedly racist hate crimes: The game, taking place in "Vice City" (a fictional Miami) in 1986, involves a gang war between Haitians and Cuban refugees, and the player often serves both gangs to plot against one another. Haitian and Cubananti-defamation groups highly criticized the game for these actions, including using phrases such as "kill the Haitian dickheads" (a phrase used in the game, actually referring to the Haitian gang with which the character is having a shoot-out). After the threat of being sued by the Haitian-American Coalition, Rockstar removed the word "Haitians" from this phrase in the game's subtitles. These concernshave led to voluntary rating systems adopted by the industry, such as the ESRB rating system in the United States and the PEGI rating system in Europe, that are aimed at informing parents about the types of games their children are playing (or are asking to play). Certain game publishers’ decision to have controversial games rated seems to show that they are not targeted at young children. Theyare rated by the ESRB as "Mature" or "Adults Only" in the US, or given BBFC ratings of 15 or 18 in the UK. The packaging notes that these games should not be sold to children. In the US, ESRB ratings are not legally binding, but many retailers take it upon themselves to refuse the sale of these games to minors. In the UK, the BBFC ratings are backed up by law, so it is actually illegal to sell thegame to anyone under the indicated age, and many UK retailers go beyond that and also enforce the PEGI ratings, which are not backed up by law. No video game console manufacturer has yet to allow any game to be published in North America with the harshest ESRB rating, "Adults Only" (AO), signaling that the game is only appropriate for ages 18 years and up. Additionally, no major retailers arewilling to set aside shelf space for AO-rated games.

In addition, some studies have shown that children who watch violent television shows and play violent video games have a tendency to act more aggressively on the playground, and some people are concerned that this aggression may presage violent behavior when children grow to adulthood.

Other studies, however, reach the conclusion...
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