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Issues of Sex and Violence in Video Games: Critical Analysis

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The government has a seemingly insatiable appetite to censor on behalf of parents and families. Lawmakers have considered a variety of labeling or censorship schemes in the past for music, movies, and comic books in the name of helping parents shield their children’s eyes and ears from potentially vulgar content. The latest incarnation of this old habit involves recent proposals by federal, state, and local legislators to regulate “violent video games.”

“Pong” and “Pac-Man” revolutionized the world of children’s entertainment; kids found many ways to play interactive games that included violent themes. Take the classic games of “Cops and Robbers” and “Cowboys and Indians”: children pretend to rob banks and shoot cops dead; toy guns or imaginary weapons are aimed at opponents; losers are supposed to “play dead.” Fast-forward to the present and the debate over video game regulation. Some critics and concerned parents are claiming that the modern-day equivalent of Cops and Robbers must be regulated by the government to protect minors from the purported ill-effects of interactive video games. The logic here is straightforward: If kids are exposed to violent imagery in video games, they will become aggressive children or violent adults later in life. Although unable to muster credible evidence proving this thesis, legislators across America have been introducing measures that would regulate home video games.

Indianapolis and St. Louis passed laws banning the sale of violent video games to minors. (Both measures were struck down by federal courts as violations of the First Amendment.) And Governor Gary Locke of Washington signed a law that would prohibit the sale of games to minors that depict acts of violence against law enforcement officers (this law is also being challenged in Federal Court and is likely to be struck down as an unconstitutional restriction of protected speech). Also, Congress is now getting involved. Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA) recently introduced H.R. 669, “The Protect Children from Video Game Sex and Violence Act of 2003.” This bill would impose fines on anyone who sells or rents, “any video game that depicts nudity, sexual conduct, or other content harmful to minors.” There are many problems with such regulatory measures.

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Nevertheless you could say that videogames have positive outcomes such as; Following instructions Problem solving and logic – When a child plays a game such as The Incredible Machine, Angry Birds or Cut The Rope, he trains his brain to come up with creative ways to solve puzzles and other problems in short bursts and Hand-eye coordination, excellent motor and spatial skills. With the process of fun included, there’s always the negative side to video games. Most of the harmful effects of video games are blamed on the violence they contain. Children who play more violent video games are more likely to have increased aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and decreased prosocial helping, according to a scientific study (Anderson & Bushman, 2001). Also, according to Dimitri A. Christakis of the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, those who watch a lot of simulated violence, such as those in video games, can become immune to it, more inclined to act themselves violently, and are less likely to behave emphatically. The games’ interactive nature worsens the effect of video game violence on kids. In many games, kids are rewarded for being more violent. The act of violence is done repeatedly. The child is in control of the intensity and experiences the force in his own eyes (killings, kicking, stabbing, and shooting). This active participation, repetition, and reward are practical tools for learning behavior. Indeed, many studies seem to indicate that violent video games may be related to aggressive behavior (such as Anderson & Dill, 2000; Gentile, Lynch & Walsh, 2004). However, the evidence is not consistent, and this issue is far from settled.

Furthermore, the government created ways to regulate video games. In 1994, the video game industry established the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), a comprehensive labeling system that rates over 1,000 games per year and has rated more than 8,000 games since inception. The ESRB applies five different rating symbols and over 25 various content labels that refer to violence, sex, language, substance abuse, gambling, humor, and other potentially sensitive subject matter. And it must be a pretty good system because no less an authority than the self-appointed media violence watchdog Sen. Joseph Lieberman has called the video game rating system “a model” for other industries to follow. Coin-operated video game operators have also devised a descriptive parental advisory labeling scheme for games played in arcades or restaurants. As a result, a very vivid labeling system is available to parents to monitor the video games their children play.

The inspiration for creating this question came upon me after looking up crime/violence related to video game incidents. To start the paper, i researched ratings and what children usually played. Then i compared it to the amount of time spent playing it while researching i looked up stimuli’s for the brain and how specific activity alters the brain capability. At the Max-Planck Institute of Human Development in Berlin, Prof Simone Kuhn also researches the effects of video games on the brain. In one study, she used fMRI (functional MRI) technology to study the brains of subjects as they played Super Mario 64 D.S., over two months. Remarkably, she found that three areas of the brain had grown - the prefrontal cortex, right hippocampus, and cerebellum - all involved in navigation and excellent motor control. After reading, i became more intrigued by the topic. The data was collected from magazines and blogs that had researched on video games and brain stimulation.

In conclusion, as generations pass by, there are events that happen which end up linking to society or fun aspects in life. As David E. Rosenbaum of The New York Times noted in a 2001 column, “Some serious social problems in America may not have good legislative solutions. A case in point could be sex and violence in entertainment.” Indeed, peaceful social persuasion and public pressure are often a compelling alternative to government regulation. When it comes to the games our children play, industry self-regulation and parental supervision, not government coercion, offers the optimal solution.

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Issues of Sex and Violence in Video Games: Critical Analysis. (2022, July 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 2, 2024, from
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