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Jake Smith 2/26/2009 Dr. Saiz English 1022 Why We Should not Ban Violent Video Games Video games have gained a bad reputation in recent years; the majority of which referring to the explicit material (violence, adult language, sexuality, et cetera) depicted in many mature-rated games. One of the main concerns of groups such as Mothers Against Videogame Addiction and Violence (MAVAV for short) is this mature content being viewed by their young and impressionable children. But is this the video game s fault? Why should video games be targeted amongst the many other forms of media (television, movies, et cetera)? Should it not be the parent monitoring their children s entertainment? Groups like the Video Game Voters Network (VGVN for short) advocate this principle. Violent video games should not be banned because not only would it set a precedent for the censorship of other media, but because it would be a great injustice to the video game industry and community. Video games have evolved immensely since the days of pong. Video games are no longer something to do by yourself in your basement on a rainy afternoon. Entire virtual worlds have been created; allowing people to socialize and network with other gamers all over the world. Video games have become a great tool for learning and studies show that a more interactive learning environment is a more effective tool than lecturing (Federation of American Scientists). Now imagine all that potential being taken away
including the . [j]ust as violent video games were pouring into American homes on the crest of the personal-computer wave. Similar rulings have occurred in other states such as Illinois.2 simply because the game depicted some blood and violence. California district judge Ronald Whyte issued a preliminary injunction on a bill that would ban the sale and rental of especially violent video games to minors under the age of 18. The main reason for the ruling came from the Entertainment Software Association s claim that the ban would infringe upon the rights granted by the first amendment. 2005. Michigan. [t]he plaintiffs have shown at least that serious questions are raised concerning the states' ability to restrict minors' First Amendment rights in connection with exposure to violent video games. If video games are so deadly. But what evidence is there that violent video games are bad for society? According to Lawrence Sherman. why has their widespread use been followed by reductions in murder? (Beck and Wade). a University of Pennsylvania criminologist. juvenile violence began to plummet Juvenile murder charges dropped by about two-thirds from 1993 to the end of the decade and show no signs of going back up. The judge agreed stating. Is that fair to the millions of gamers worldwide who enjoy these games every day? Banning video games that depict violence and other adult content would not stop minors from experiencing explicit material and would result in punishing many others who have done nothing wrong. Courts across the nation are also agreeing with Sherman. On December 22nd. and Washington (Glendhill).
3 question of whether there is a causal connection between access to such games and psychological or other harm to children" (Glendhill). 78 of them had mild learning disabilities (Kutner). Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl K. Olson conducted a twoyear. There are studies that show that violence depicted in video games could be damaging to young. Michael Jellinek. says that [a] lot of people don t appreciate how much these kids get criticized. impressionable children. M. and how self-critical the kids themselves are. Kutner and Olson found that those children with mild learning disabilities were more apt to play video games due to the fact that they were more likely to be excluded or ostracized from social interactions. where their work comes out neat and organized instead of messy.254 middle-school aged children they studied. Their studies found no direct link between violent video games and violent behavior.5 million dollar study on the effects of violent (and non-violent) video games on children and their home and social lives. They don t .D. Drs. 1. a professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. They don t understand how liberating it is to be in control of something like a computer where they can pause and start over.. but many of these studies are done in closed situations and don t go very deep into the child s personal life to look at other potential causes. Of the 1. In 2004. rather it is much more dependent on the child s mental maturity.
4 understand how much of a relief this is." Kutner s and Olson s study also found that playing video games can expand a child s social standing among their peers. however. The computer is unconditionally accepting. Any statistics that show a negative effect on a child s behavior only matter if the child is playing games outside their maturity level. while most parents and teachers aren t. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB for short) has a crystal clear rating system similar to that of the Motion Picture Association of America s rating system for rating movies. A video game allows the player to make mistakes and try different approaches to a problem in a fun and low-risk environment. The ESRB rates every game and designates a label for the maturity level of the intended audience ranging from E for everyone to AO for Adults Only. Video games have also shown to be helpful educationally. Games also have an age next to the rating symbol to simplify the rating even more and eliminate all confusion on the game s intended audience. This teaches basic problem solving and introduces the initial concepts of the scientific method. Being particularly good at a popular game gives some children (especially those with mild learning disabilities or those that do not participate in athletics) a boost in self-esteem that they otherwise would not receive (Kutner and Olson). does little for the advancement in nonlogistic learning such as history and art studies. Most video games (even violent ones) are essential large logic puzzles. Many violent and bloody games such as the Grand Theft Auto games and the . This benefit.
Not releasing the game would have resulted in millions of dollars in lost revenues from game sales. The developers of Manhunt 2. they simply need parents to take responsibility for the entertainment that their child views.5 Halo trilogy are given a rating of M for mature audiences (ages 17 and up). later modified the game. Groups like MAVAV have the wrong outlook on violent video games. reducing the amount of violence and carnage. They do not need to be taken out of society. Very few games receive a rating of AO (ages 18 and up) and some companies. do not release games with an AO rating on their consoles. As the members of the Video Games Voters Network say. Explicit material cannot harm a young child if the child does not view it and that is the parent s responsibility. Leave my video games alone! . not the game manufacturer's responsibility or the government s responsibility. such as Nintendo and Sony. so it is quite safe to say that money is not everything to the game companies (contrary to some anti-gaming organizations). Manhunt 2 being a recent example of this occurrence. Rockstar Games. to lower the game s rating to M so that Nintendo and Sony would allow for the release of Rockstar s game on their consoles (Martin). Video games (including violent ones) can also provide a great tool for learning and should be open to all and not swept away. A serious blow would be dealt the video game industry and to Americans right to free speech if violent video games were banned.