Videogames violence

I’ve seen in the news this week that Scottish MP Joe Fitzpatrick has been defending Dundee’s videogames industry after the Scottish Parliament was urged to recognise the fact violent games are easily obtainable for children.

The MSP thought the recent motion, which asked the Scottish Government to make parents “aware of the possible risk to children’s emotional and psychological development”, associated the industry with ‘high levels of violence’ and could set-back the development of the sector.

This made me think about what is really best for the gaming industry. Does being associated with violence do more harm than good, or do we need to accept that it’s partly what sells videogames and that the industry wouldn’t be as successful without it?

We do have ratings on games for a reason and those games that contain violence are designed for adults and categorised appropriately. Personally I think that exposing young children to violent games should be avoided at all costs, but I’m not convinced that the games industry should be negatively branded on account of games of that nature being released.

Saying that, the industry can’t abdicate responsibility altogether – where possible we need to work to help parents become more aware of which video games are violent and how they can keep a closer eye on what their children are playing.

Where do you think the responsibility lies? Is the games industry an innocent party because they warn people of violence on the packaging, or should they have a more prominent role in educating parents of games’ content? It would be great to know your thoughts on the topic.

2 Comments Simon Fenton

Posted by
Simon Fenton
Fri 29 Jan 2010: 10:33am

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  • Woody:

    I remember trying to get a copy of Tomb Raider 2 when it first came out in 1997. It had a 15 certificate printed on the back and the cashier was alert enough to check my age when I brought it up to the counter. I didn't get a copy.

    Parents might blame developers for creating the violent game their children are playing, but the decision to sell that game to the children ultimately falls down to the stores that stock them. Core and Eidos had no control over who got a copy of Tomb Raider once it shipped - the only thing standing between me and wanton violence against endangered species was the vigilance of the cashier.

    Even today, I doubt there's anything a developer or publisher could do to help with this problem. The certificate has moved from the back of the case to the front, more information on the nature of the content is present (I see a few cases on my desk at the moment that quite clearly point out that the game contains violence and foul language to justify the rating), further information is easily available on the internet...I don't see what else can be done to educate people on the matter.

  • Lotty:

    I studied with a mate who did research on this for one of our masters papers.

    I think video games are easier for children to obtain then a 15/18+ movie on DVD seems there is more control over the age of buying for movies then games. My brother would buy all sorts of games when he was a kid and got away with it most of the time. When he had no money he would ask our parents to buy it, and they ALWAYS asked what the age certificate was and if it was older then him then it was a stern no.

    The games industry have done there part on control by adding an age certificate, they are not there to raise the children. The stores should then have control by ID-ing people who look younger then they say. It then needs to fall to the parents on making the decision if there kids are allowed to play/buy it. Each section has there own part to play but in the end it is up to the end user to make the ultimate decision.

    Seems to me too many parents are falling back on gaming companies rather then taking responsibility for there actions of raising there kids.

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