Community News: Who is to blame for violence in computer games?

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By Adam Hartland

Over the last decade the computer game industry has become one of the most profitable industry’s in the home entertainment sector. With franchises such as the increasingly popular Call Of Duty, brining in extraordinarily high figures that reach in excess of billions, it’s no surprise that this new found success has come hand in hand with controversy and indeed criticism.

Violence in video games has been a popular talking point during recent years, with children at the centre of many concerns. As games steadily try to progress, extending their boundaries, becoming more realistic, appealing to a wider audience and even in some cases becoming ultra violent, it’s the youth who are portrayed as victims, in the apparent manipulation of the consumer.

One incident which stands out being the recent murder of Danny Taylor, who was shot dead by his friend after they allegedly argued whilst playing first person shooter Call of Duty.

A slightly less known incident but arguably more shocking comes from Italy. Mario a 16 year old “computer game addict”, was playing the popular football game FIFA 09 with his father when an argument broke out, however this wasn’t a bit of friendly banter. Mario is said to have left the room calmly and collectively, only to return wielding a knife, he then proceeded to stab his father in the neck. Shortly after the horrific event Mario was arrested by police, who found him sitting alone in his room.

With events such as these it’s hard to defend computer games when they are cited as the cause for violence amongst regular consumers. The question should be, are video games to blame? And the answer in short, no. When computer games are produced they go through vigorous moderation especially in Europe where PEGI (Pan European Game Information), explore every nook and cranny before placing the game in an age rating category, similar to that of films.

So who is to blame? Well unfortunately it most likely stems from the people who are most concerned about what children are playing, the parents. Caving in to a non stop barrage of “but all my friends at school play it”, or indeed just not taking enough time to look into what they are buying for their loved ones, which in turn could lead to them playing vastly unsuitable games.

PEGI’s description of an 18+ game highlights the importance of why they should only be played by the correct audience; “This rating is suitable only for persons 18 years of age and older, and is similar to the ESRB’s Adults Only and Mature (high end) ratings and BBFC’s 15 or 18 rating. Graphic violence, strong sexual content, explicit references to gambling, and vulgar language (spoken and used in song lyrics) are permitted.”

With this in mind parents or guardians who are concerned about what games the youth of today are playing, should indeed take a close look at what games children in their own family circles are playing and if indeed they are correctly situated within PEGI’s ratings system, help other concerned adults by spreading the word to other family’s who are unaware or have overlooked PEGI’s advice. Rather than placing the blame at the door of game developers who produce adult games, with the intentions of them being played and enjoyed by adults.

Last Updated: January 7, 2011

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