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Posted by drew10 on Oct 11, 2007
Violence In Games Feature!

Violence In Games Feature!

Never before has the media spotlight fallen onto the games industry like it has in the last couple of weeks. Yes of course we have had the usual knee-jerk outcry to stupid Americans shooting each other because they supposedly played a violent video game. But until now we have never had a real and, hopefully, balanced look at the effects of such games on the psyche’s of children.

With the Government commissioning Dr. Tanya Byron to study the effects violent video games have on the children that play them and the BBFC effectively banning Manhunt 2 from being released now is either an interesting, or worrying time for the world of video games, depending on which side of the fence you happen to sit on.

Firstly the very nature of the commission brings up some interesting questions, as blogger Kastor417 rightly pointed out yesterday, we do indeed have a rating system for games which should effectively inform adults that a game is unsuitable for children to play. However they also go on to highlight the larger issue here, stating “If parents choose to ignore that rating that is their problem!” Is it? Or is it the problem of children who are exposed, either by negligence or by accident to images and material that is not age appropriate?

In an industry that has been largely self regulating, for too long we have had a situation whereby parents will buy children, unwittingly for the most part, games with graphic images of violence.

When I worked as the manager of an independent games store I witnessed many times children attempting to buy games with fifteen or even eighteen rated material. Each time, of course I would refuse the sale. Generally within the hour the child in question would return with their parent in an attempt to purchase the title again. I would then advise the parent that the game was unsuitable for the child and generally get one of two responses. I would either recieve a “thank you!” from the parent who was unaware of the content in the game, or “It doesn’t matter he/she watches worse on the telly or on video.”

Unfortunately, all too often unscrupulous practices have blighted the industry that we all love. Firstly, the games industry, like any other one is driven by sales and all to often the BBFC classifications are conveniently ignored by store owners and workers alike.

Secondly, the games industry has long coveted controversy as a way of grabbing much needed publicity. I feel no sympathy for Rock Star for the banning of Manhunt after all it was this very company that hired Max Clifford to “promote” the original Grand Theft Auto. There followed a wave of bad publicity, and if I recall correctly Max was quoted at the time saying something along the lines of “Once the game was discussed in Parliament I knew it was going to sell big!” This company have consistently courted bad press as a means to selling games, and the term ‘live by the sword die by the sword’ has never been so apt.

It is a real shame because the GTA series are truly great games and their importance to gaming history should not be underestimated. Games like Manhunt, however, where callous cold blooded murder is carried out in sickening realism is another matter entirely. I may alienate some people with this but here goes, I am glad that Manhunt 2 has been banned! Yes it sets a dangerous precedent on freedom of speech but it may also make companies, who invest vast sums of money to produce games, think twice before putting such graphic acts on the screen. After all, are games not supposed to be fun? The last time I checked suffocating somebody with a plastic bag was not fun!

“But you see worse things in movies!” I hear you cry. True enough but in a movie you are not committing the act, it is not you choosing to inflict that upon somebody else and that is the fundamental difference.

I have played games my entire life, and never been psychologically affected by them. But if there is a chance, however small, that there are some children out there who could be is it not all of our responsibilities to ensure that this does not happen?

In my opinion there needs to be tougher sanctions for shops and parents that allow unsuitable material to fall into children’s hands. Sanctions which, until now are too lenient and few and far between. Let us hope, for the good of our industry that a sensible outcome is drawn from Dr. Byron’s report and that new measures are put in place to protect our children from the images they should not be witnessing. Whilst simultaneously protecting adults rights to choose what it is they play, Dr. Byron its over to you!

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3 Responses to “Violence In Games Feature!”

  1. moonhead says:

    I think the banning of Manhunt 2 is bad thing. I’m more worried than ever for my favourite pastime as I believe this governments review of the industry is going to be slanted and filled with this stupid over protective political correctness that has been its hallmark. Just look at the mainstream media depiction of games I saw a report on ITN that just broadswiped several leading titles including Halo and BIoshock 3 as being violent and evil because of the introduction of this review by the government and banning of Manunt 2 its nonsense. I’m very worried cencorship of any media is a bad thing I played Manhunt on the PS2 and thought it was a well deisgned interesting story led game not once after playing it did I think thats it I im going to cave somebody’s head in with a hammer but I did think I would not let a child play it. And for me thats the answer if parents actually knew what they were giving their child most would not give it to them and not deny grown adults the right to buy play and view what we wish. This is the same as usal Big Brother is looking and dictating what we see, hear and know we all have the right to the exact opposite of that.

  2. drew10 says:

    Nobody is claiming censorship is a good idea and yes naming Bioshock and Halo in the same breath as Manhunt 2 shows just how little the mainstream media really know about games. But I think your argument is self defeating, it is like saying “Its ok for snuf movies to exist as long as kids dont get to see them!” The simple fact is kids do get to see them and it is something we all need to take resposibilty for. Manhunt and Manhunt 2 are designed to do exactly what they have and that is to shock! And now Rockstar have shot themselves in the foot as they have kept pushing the envelope until something had to give. There are always certain materials that should not be allowed to be released to the general public, however the balance needs to be struck!

  3. Ball an Chained says:

    I fight vehemently for the right of choice and in doing so believe that we have the right to choose whether to play a game or not. The powers that be have the right to restrict or ban but banning takes the right of choice away. I feel that restriction is a good thing and it should be policed in the same way that tobacco and alcohol are.Stores should be fined for selling restricted games to underaged patrons but this will not solve the problem merely make it more difficult to get hold of. Teens still get booze but thay have to go to extraordinary lengths to make this possible.Parents are still the worst for getting games for their young children. I am a parent and have an open and informed relationship with my son and allow him to play 16 restricted games like shooters and beat em ups. I have also shown him graphic images of injuries and explained the difference between video game violence and reality .Likewhise I let him see cage fighting to see that when individulals beat on each other there is real and bloody damage.He was oblivious to thiis a he has been weened on the unrestricted WWE (formerly WWF) and thought that it was ok to beat on someone as it doesn’t really hurt.I will however not let him play games where the ethics or morals are corrupt or where the violence is OTT. My son must be the only child never to play Grand Theft Auto as I cannot have him running over civilians or shooting policeman,Manhunt is likewhise taboo. The point I am trying to make is that I am the final restriction and try to be a responsible parent.I also have played these “violent” games most of my life and have never had the urge to go to work with a loaded shotgun. Maybe I would if Moonhead turned up with his hammer,you call that a tool Gumbo!

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