This is going to be somewhat different from normal. Instead of talking about a game for my review, I am going to look at violent video games as a whole and the potential damaging effects they bring. Most of my discussion is purely my views gathered from my own observations of the subject so don’t take it as gospel and please don’t go demanding numbers to back up my claims. These are purely my views on the issue.
Well I guess this might as well start with what the main issue is; violent video games cause kids to be violent. I will first of all discuss where there may be some weight to this argument before I point out the ultimate flaw in this argument.
Throughout my time playing video games and meeting new people who also play video games I have made some observations about the effects of games on people. I got my first Playstation when I was 7 years old back in 1999. I was thrilled at the prospect and sat down and began enjoying the games It had come with. Several months later my dad brought home a copy of Duke Nukem: Time to Kill and it was like nothing I had ever seen before, nothing but blood, violence, sex and ridiculous amounts of swearing. I had never seen anything like this in game or in film as my parents had never allowed me to see anything I was too young to see. In fact the whole reason I had Duke Nukem was because the store had put its price labels over all the age rating certificates. As soon as they found out its age rating, I had the game confiscated and rightly so.
The game had had an effect on me. I had become desensitized to ridiculous violence at an early age and this was not good. I had also tried to copy a few of Duke’s catchphrases around the house which did not end well either.
From this point on my parents were adamant about checking the age ratings of games I received or asked for. There was a degree of leniancy however and I was usually allowed to play the next age rating up e.g. at 7 I could play 12 rated games and at 12 I could play 15 rated games. This continued until I hit 15 at which point I was still not allowed 18s on the grounds that since it was the final age rating there was no limit to the graphic content they could contain as could still have negative effects on me. This stopped when I hit 16 and got a debit card though so could just order them online but I like to think I was mature enough to handle the themes in them by then and I think that still holds true.
Meanwhile, one of my old friends came into the picture when we were about 10 years old with all these stories of how he had been playing Grand Theft Auto since he was 5 as well as all these other stories of his parents leniency towards games and I was amazed and for years I tried to use this to convince my parents to let me play them but rightly so they refused to budge. As the years went by I slowly began to get to experience the graphic experiences my friend was but there seemed to be a dividing line between us. While I was just finding the game as a whole fun and would discuss many parts of it, my friend only focused on the gore and violence aspects which seemed to be the sole reason he would play said game. It was worrying as it was affecting his attitude. His views on other people became very dark and he began discussing how happy It would make him to see people he didn’t like get brutally murdered and he himself became very violent although not physically violent, just very abusive and evil mannered. This is the point I broke off our friendship as his attitude towards other people was directly clashing with mine and I was fed up of the abuse I received from him.
That is an example from my life of the effects of violent video games on children at a young age and it can be argued that he was an isolated incident. As I went through school though I did begin to notice change in every new batch of first years that came up to the school especially once games like Call of Duty:Modern Warfare came out. This was most noticeable after Modern Warfare 2 was released when I was in my final year of high school. It seemed every student in the school had this game, even the first and second years who were only abut 12-13 years old. Their attitude towards other students and teachers was vastly different from what my year group’s had been. They refused to listen to authority, they were rude and quite often very violent. They seemed not to even care about school. All they could discuss was how they killed some retard on Modern Warfare 2. This was worrying that the newest generations were becoming increasingly violent as their parents allowed them access to more and more violent games.
This is of course not always true for every student and a lot of children do mature out of this stage when they reach an older age but at the present there is no denying that violent video games can have a detrimental effect on the minds of children. At a young age the human mind is a lot more influential. This has been proven scientifically and there are streams of data online to support this. So why at this young influential age are children being exposed to violent games?
This brings me back to my original statement that the public view of violent games is that they cause kids to be violent. This is true a lot of the time unless the violence can be put into context by the parents of the child. The real issue I have with the statement of violent games making violent kids is this: why are kids getting access to these games?
Parents are the biggest source of outcry. They wail and moan that games are corrupting their kids. This is untrue. It is not the games that corrupt kids. It is their own parents who purchase these games for them as a babysitter. It is the high street stores who don’t bother to check ID of people attempting to buy games. There are massive labels on games with their age rating clearly displayed. Parent cannot sit there and denounce video games when they are the ones giving them to their kids. I know some games like the call of duty games and Dead Space 2 are directly marketed at people too young to buy the games but parents should take more of an interest into what their children are being exposed to. The main problem is that parents don’t understand video games and just go “yeah whatever you can have this game” without even looking at what it details. It isn’t difficult to check a game. My parents were adamant about what I could and couldn’t play and I feel I have turned out all the better as a result.
The main problems of violent games causing violent kids are thus: Game stores are too concerned with their profit margin than about what games are doing and parents aren’t taking enough interest in their kids to see what the are exposing them to. In the future I certainly will not be buying my child the latest call of duty at age 12 and I will be strongly advising other parents to do the same.
While I do agree that violent games can adversely affect children’s mental state it still amazes me that people don’t actually notice the main issue; that kids are getting these games. We have age certificates for a reason. Most modern consoles have parental control options. This article really goes out to parents out there. Guys you just need to take more of an interest. It isn’t difficult to read an age rating on a box and there are detailed instructions on how to set up parental control on your kids machines. So stop blaming the games industry when you yourselves are probably more to blame.