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Donald Phillip Brown Jr.
Game Concept and Design
Prof. Stuart Moulthrop
2005Dec16
I will take the liberty of assuming that dementia has not reached my mind

and that we are nearing the heel of the year 2005. Here in America, we have

reached a point where being liberal is more common than rebellious. Still, though

laissez-faire behaviors are frequently encountered, they remain the subject of

debate. Video gaming is one of the newest entertainment mediums in the world

and has the potential of becoming one of the most popular.

Early on the position of the opposition was that video games would cause

gamers minds to rot. Luckily it is now common knowledge by any who are away

of the relation between brain activity and stimuli that the intensity and immersive

qualities of gaming leads to more synapse/dendrite pairs in the brain. Presently,

the position is that video games are overly violent and that they influence people,

particularly youth, to exhibit violent conduct. This debate actually started in the

early 90s when popular concerns of youth were the newest episode of Beavis

and Butthead. As for gamers Mortal Kombat was a hot topic in these days. Both

of these products were constantly attacked by claims of dangerous influence on

children and teens. A specific argument was that Beavis and Butthead lead to

one child starting fires. Mortal Kombat was attacked due to its use of blood in

video games. The attacks on Mortal Kombat led to the implementation of a blood

code on Sega consoles and omission of blood in original installments on

Nintendo brand systems.
Mortal Kombat, mostly forgotten as a game that makes use of violent

practices for succession, has been replaced by a game in a different genre,

Grand Theft Auto. The series remained under the radar from the release of its

first installment in 1997 until the third version in the series was released in 2001.

GTA3 featured a 3 dimensional environment and was the first in the series to

become widely acknowledged by the gamer community. Reaching blockbuster

status, the game also gained the attention of concerned parents who felt that the

game possessed unnecessary violence.

There is usually a leader in the midst of battles that rage across the terrain

of dispute. In this case we have Hillary Clinton as a representative of the

opposition. It is not GTA3 that has triggered the response of congress but, GTA:

San Andreas, the 5th installment. Hillary Clinton has spoken on the topic of

pornographic representation in the game (this feature is available through the

use of a game mod available on the internet). The feature is not an integral

element of GTA: San Andreas’ gameplay. It actually requires a player’s X-BOX to

be modded in order to patch the game.

Modding, as it were, is an act that opposes the intended use of a given

product and often voids the manufacturer’s warranty on the product. The reason

for acknowledging this point is that there is often mention of Mrs. Clinton

opposing X-BOX. If you want to argue that the X-BOX is to blame for the mod,

then you need to not use a computer, ever. The measures taken in customizing
the X-BOX are the same measures used in providing “new” uses for your

computer.

The actual issue is with the modder of the GTA. Yet again, placing blame on a

developer or modder is not the point of this discussion. The question that should

be asked is who should be associated as being responsible for the content that is

received by gamers?

Many gamers will agree that parents ought to take responsibility for the

games that their children play. I will join them in this notion. I feel that as a gamer

myself, it is my responsibility to research a game when I believe that it may have

questionable content. My contention is that a parent is the voice of reason in the

development of a child. Why then do we call to big brother (government) to recon

with the creators of these harmful productions that are referred to as

entertainment? Call this a low blow if you want but, I believe that many parents

have become too engrossed in their own lives to monitor the involvements of

their children.

A study by, Douglas Gentile, PhD, and Craig Anderson, PhD, has shown

that the interaction between parents and children is a powerful tool when dealing

with suggestions of violent depictions in media. The boils down to the concept

that a parent should take an interest in the suggestions that are found in games

played by their children. Another idea that should be available in the minds of

parents is that they are parental figures; parents have the ability to control which
games are available to their children. Government should be used as a last

resort to solve a gripe. In the event of Parent A’s child encountering a game that

is not on the list of acceptable games designated by their parent, the parent

should realistically assess the method in which their child gained access to the

game. This does not mean that because the game was created, the creator is at

fault. With that logic, it is the fault of gun makers that the murder rate is as high

as it is.

The guns used in murder are being used in murders are used outside of

their intended purpose just as the X-BOX is being used outside of the purposed

designated by its developer. Moreover, some of the games with questionable

content are being played outside of the people in their intended audience. I have

heard people say in conversation that the game makers enjoy the benefits of the

added sales to persons who weren’t in the prospective game audience. Of

course they do. One of the major benefits of making games is reaping a profit. I

guess that means that the finances of a developer precede the well-being of our

children.

You’ll forgive my cynical stance as I don’t quite understand how this issue

has been in existence for such a long time. I’d figure that with the increase of

college graduates people could come to arrange a system to protect parties from

harmful material. Then again, there is the ESRB. The Entertainment Software
Rating Board is who I was told was responsible for rating games according to

content and would suggest minimum ages of gamers based on that content.

Here people are trying to implement censorship when a potential solution

sits before them. Remember the MPAA, those are the people responsible for

rating film media. I understand the like the ESRB, the rating system is voluntary.

So what makes people pay attention to the ratings of movies and not of games?

I am assuming that the presence of real people and very realistic violence

in films is the culprit. The fact the every aspect of a game is created by a person

or group of people allows a certain degree of responsibility to be forwarded (or

returned, depending on your point of view) to the developer. Films critics have

access to many critics to associate fault, actors, producers, directors, editors and

so on.

On censorship, would you rather a child (your child) see a fight with no

blood and the person who is beaten bounce back to full health or, see a more

realistic example where a person loses blood and eventual is knocked out or

dies? There is always the option of completely secluding children from real world

events in hope that without knowledge of violence, violence will vanish. The first

situation is the effect that was common in Power Ranger episodes and movies, in

which when the Rangers are attacked, their suits are merely bruised. In the

unlikely event that a Ranger incurs a great deal of damage, he or she is
teleported back to their base where they will be treated. The alternative is that

the child will come to learn that people actually feel pain when they are injured. I

suppose that we bought into the rules of pessimism and optimism and completely

disregarded realism.

On another note, I find it odd that neither games nor movies are entirely

real. Movies have visual attributes that match or at least come close to reality

but, lack the interaction of the real world. Games have intricate levels of

interaction but, lack the realistic quality of movies.

Strange it seems that non-gamers take such stationary positions on the

matter of games as having negative influence on children when they tend to

evaluate only the games that are presented to them by the concerned.

What would happen if they chose to evaluate a game such as Ico or better

yet, Katamari Damacy? If they posses any ability to discern matters for

themselves they should see that there are some games that are not focused on

violence. Perhaps they could come to allow a degree of violence in the event that

there is educational benefit to be found in some games. Role Playing (video)

Games, for instance, tend require a person’s vocabulary to be rather high, in

some cases greater than that which is common to high school. In fact the

majority of the gameplay of these games is spent reading the dialog of

characters in the game in a similar fashion to that found in books.
My final plea is that during your deliberations you do not take a pessimistic

view or an optimistic view for that matter. Attempt to examine the games as a

gamer and not as an outsider or developer.
Works Cited

Johnson, Steven. “Hillary vs. the Xbox: Game over.”

Commentary. July 27, 2005. Los Angeles Times. Dec. 14, 2005

<http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-johnson27jul27,0,1432940.story?coll=la-

news-comment-opinions>.

Kestrel, Gwendolyn. “Working Hard at Play.”

Literacy. March 2005. Working Hard at Play. Dec. 14, 2005

<http://www.newhorizons.org/strategies/literacy/kestrel.htm>.

Unknown Author. “Violent Video Games - Psychologists Help Protect Children from Harmful Effects.”

Psychology Matters. 2004. APA Online. Dec. 15, 2005

<http://www.psychologymatters.org/videogames.html>.

Unknown Author. “Hillary Clinton and the Legislation Regarding Video Games.”

Softpedia Opinions. July 16, 2005. Softpedia. Dec. 12, 2005

<http://news.softpedia.com/news/Hillary-Clinton-and-the-Legislation-Regarding-Video-Games-

4898.shtml>.

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