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QOTW: are video games a factor in violent youth behaviour?

by Parm Mann on 24 July 2008, 16:09

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Video game violence, it's an ongoing debate that has led to government enquiries, various university studies and certain countries banning particularly violent titles.

Earlier this year, video games were cited as a possible trigger for a murder spree in Japan's Akihabara district. Similarly, Rockstar's critically acclaimed and highly-controversial Grand Theft Auto series has often been blamed for violent incidents, many of which have resulted in fatal killings.

Despite rating systems being adopted by the gaming industry, such as the ESRB rating system in the United States and the PEGI rating system in Europe, there's no shortage of controversy surrounding violent video games, and constant campaigns demanding further changes.

Counter-acting those campaigns are those who argue that video games don't promote violence, and instead encourage people to play together. Many have argued that video games are no more violent than movies, and many gamers accuse critics of making too much of the matter.

Though the violent nature of many video games has taken the limelight in recent years, it isn't a new occurrence. Over 15 years ago, Midway Games launched Mortal Kombat, a brutal fighting game in which two players contest to beat-up their opponent. Once defeated, a player is then killed via a special "fatality" move.

However, the controversy isn't so much the content of these games, but more so the fact that users are encouraged to carry out the acts of violence for themselves - often by choice. Though today's movies can feature equally violent scenes, the viewer is just that, a viewer. A video game, on the other hand, is more involving and requires the user to interact.

Furthermore, with the huge popularity of violent video games such as Mortal Kombat and Grand Theft Auto, many have accused today's game developers of using violence or sex as merely a means of attracting an audience.

It's an important but controversial subject, and we'd like to hear your thoughts. Do you believe video games to be a factor in increasingly violent youth behaviour? Do video games sensationalise violence? Do you worry about the games your children might be playing? Or do you believe the current rating system to be more than sufficient?

Share your thoughts on video game violence in the HEXUS.community forums.

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HEXUS Forums :: 31 Comments

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uh-oh title character limitations :(
Are the youth increasingly violent?
Personally I find these discussions pointless. All you hear in the media is “Serial Killer who chainsawed people to death played Doom 3 for hours on end”

I have been playing the likes of Doom, Duke Nukem, Rise of the Triads etc since the early nineties and so far I have managed not to go round to a friends house and pipe bomb them or chainsaw them in half or go on a killing spree in the hope of hearing KURANGAAAA when I plough people down.

Jesus, if I was to become violent from games when I played Postal 2 I would of been throwing cats, setting fire to people then pee'ing on them to put them out and clubbing grannies and hippies with a spade.
I'm not so sure. I do think it can get blown out of proportion, but maybe there's merit to some of the complaints.

I remember playing Gears of War when it first came out - I was blown away by the graphics and thought chainsawing people in half was the coolest thing. I showed it to my sister, and she was amazed by how graphically violent it was.

Once she'd said that, I looked at it again and then realised just how violent it is. It doesn't effect me, and probably doesn't effect most others. But, say someone with a tendency toward being violent was to play that game? Would he/she just find it cool, or borderline interesting?

Personally, I do wonder if games really need to be quite so violent or graphic.
Do you feel violent because you play games? I certainly don't. And would think likewise for everybody. Those people that go round chopping people in half already have something wrong with them to begin with.