One of the biggest controversies that surrounds gaming, and has done more or less since its inception, is the violence present in a large number of its games. The worry is that this violence has a negative effect on society, most specifically on younger people. I am not going to argue that games aren’t violent, even many casual games contain some form of violence, but I do feel that often there is an over-reaction to the violence, much like there is an over-reaction to the effect certain types of music may have on people.
Two of the most commonly cited games for their violence are Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty, both are hugely successful, widely known series played by millions of people of varying ages all over the world, both carry hefty age ratings and warnings for violence and both are, undeniably, extremely violent. Really there are two questions I want to ask. Firstly, do violent video games make people more violent? And secondly is it not and should it not be the parents responsibility to judge whether or not a game might affect their child negatively?
Some say its the root of all evil.
I have been playing video games since I was about six years old and have been playing violent video games since I was about eight years old; I am now eighteen years old and am at university still playing (and now even writing!) about violent games. I hope that I am quite a well-adjusted and civilised person, I have only ever had one fight, and it wasn’t exactly a life threatening duel, and as far as I can be sure I have never gutted someone with a chainsaw a la Grand Theft Auto, nor I have gunned someone down with an M16 as you see happen so often in Call of Duty. Obviously though I am only one person so I’ll give some other examples of people that I know. I can think of over two dozen people that I know personally, and countless people that they know, who have been playing violent video games since a young age and, surprise, surprise, they aren’t violent either. It would seem that most sane people, be they young or old, are able to tell the difference between violence in video games being ok and going a killing spree in real life being bad.
But what about the children? Whilst I personally wouldn’t let my children play Grand Theft Auto at the age of eight, I was allowed to (to my parents credit I may have done it without them knowing – I honestly can’t remember) and it has not had a negative impact on my personality that I or anyone else has ever been made aware of. There are however certain cases of violence that have been caused by games. There are a minority of stories where someone copied the killer from Manhunt, or killed someone because of Grand Theft Auto but, let’s be clear, these are exceptionally rare and no more common or severe than violence induced by sport, or shopping or even love. It seems the only reason the scale of such instances is blown worryingly out of proportion is because certain well-to-do know it all people want some sort of scapegoat to use to make themselves look like saints. Aren’t they really missing the point?
Statistically more vioelnce inducing than games. Maybe we should ban it?