Monday, January 17, 2011

Free Play: Should violent games be regulated?

Children and adults alike cannot keep the fact that games are part of their life in one way or another. Some games are fun and child-friendly, while others are mature and quite violent. In the interest of this article, we will focus on the latter.

Many children nowadays shoot monsters, zombies, people, animals and more. As a result, what they see are blood, death, cruelty and violence. Although these are just graphically represented made of long lines of codes, three questions would often haunt parents -- (1) do these games affect the way a young child thinks and grows? (2) Is it enough for the government to allow young kids to buy violent games as long as they have their parents beside them for consent prior to purchase? (3) Does the government need to come up with a law that regulates the purchase of "Rated Mature" games for minors, just like what we have now for cigarettes and alcoholic drinks?

In California, the Supreme Court is deciding whether they will be regulating the video game industry to forbid the selling of mature games to minors. Here in the Philippines, I have not heard of any legislator looking at this concern, mainly because we have a lot of political issues needed to be addressed. Besides, we just usually get our games off the shelves due to lack of game developers in the country.

A study made by Dr. Craig A. Anderson, Ph.D. – a Distinguished Professor and Director of Center for the Study of Violence – gathered two groups, where one group played video games and the other did not. The groups were then compared on their performance on some measure of "aggressiveness" like finishing word stems and administering noise blasts.

Anderson summarized that violent video games indeed promote aggressive behavior and violence. However, by comparing the rate of crimes committed vis-à-vis the increase of aggressiveness brought by violent video games to minors through the years, they did not see any significant assertion of the study's results.

The tests may have been completed in such a short span of time and tracking these children's growth may be quite a huge responsibility for Anderson. So what now?

I think everyone should understand that violent video games are not "promoting" anything. Instead, they are just allowing. The gamer world is a free environment that allows us to choose what we want to do. There are no signs that tell us to punch or shoot, but the tools to do so are readily available -- just like the real world.

How about you? What is your say on this – should violent games be forbidden to minors or not?

This article is my second contribution to Manila Bulletin -- one of Philippines' leading broadsheets -- published last January 12, 2011 (Wednesday) in the Tech 101 Section. You can view the PDF version here.

Photo Source: Howstuffworks


I'd like to see this professor's study, kasi I want to see if he had ruled out other variables such as...if the participants already had violent tendencies to begin with.

I went into my PhD program wanting to promote the video game industry, since I am a gamer (heck, it's only in MMORPGs that I get to really kick the asses of online perverts). But I encountered a lot of studies like Dr. Anderson's. Plus, I only just realized that one of the reasons video games sharpened my academic skills was that I was heavily into motor sports and intellectual board games as a kid. Video games only enhanced what was already there.

@skysenshi: Anderson's study (at least the powerpoint I saw) did not indicate other variables. Perhaps you're right that some other variables may have affected the results. thanks for the comment

@skysenshi: Anderson's study (at least the powerpoint I saw) did not indicate other variables. Perhaps you're right that some other variables may have affected the results. thanks for the comment

Post a Comment

Don't choose Anonymous! Indicate your name or alias please.