Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Violence in Video Games - Does it corrupt children?

A Confession...
I've paid for sex. I then run her over and stole her money. I've killed countless Nazi's, American troops, aliens, prostitutes and even an airport terminal full of innocent civilians. I've raced a car at over 200mph through the streets and took pleasure at knocking a competitor into an innocent motorist. I've got drunk and run over a policeman, I've also done it when high. I've broken a man's neck with my bare hands and stabbed another in the face. I watched my friends be torn apart by mutated humans and done a fair bit of tearing things apart myself.

Have I done any of that in real life? No. 
Have I any desire to do that in real life? No.
Has that first paragraph been flagged up as suspicious online activity by the automated anti terrorist systems of the CIA, MI6...etc? Probably...but that's not the point.

Violence in video games is not new, it's only become a big deal recently, because the graphics of the latest games are approaching reality, and parents are worried that their kids will become corrupted by this violence and want to re-enact it in real life.

In much the same way that violent films ten or twenty years ago were blamed for an increase in violence in our society, now games are the target. What many people fail to realise, is that video games are rated in much the same way that films are. Just as you can't walk into HMV and buy a 18 rated movie if you are unable to prove you are over 18, you can't buy an 18 rated game. Even if a minor manages to get their hands on one of these games, games consoles come with parental settings that prevent these games from being played without entering a password. Sure, they could go round to a friends house to play it, but that is not the gaming industries fault. They could also go and watch an 18 rated movie at their mates house, or go on the internet at home and see some horrific things, if not properly restricted.

Kids will always find a way around restrictions in life, and films, internet and games are no different. The way in which the gaming industry is being attacked for selling these 'grotesque' games and not doing enough to stop children being corrupted by them is ridiculous. Firstly, violent games are for adults and rated accordingly, the appropriate barriers are there (age restrictions etc) and secondly, even if children do play these games, this kind of sweeping statement is suggesting that we are all weak minded, emotionally unstable characters, who, when young will imitate anything we see.

As I mentioned at the top of the page, I've played countless violent video games, but never had the urge to go out and replicate them in real life. The same with the majority of all video gamers. It could even be argued that video games teach us the line between right and wrong, virtual, and reality. They teach us that with our actions, there are consequences. They shed light on, and remind society as a whole, that war is not a nice place.

good parenting...?
I was brought up well, my parents taught me the basics, including the fact that killing people is bad. As such, I haven't killed anyone. Simple stuff really, but perhaps a point to be made in a wider topic, the buck stops with the parents. If children are brought up right, they will be good people. They will be able to differentiate between the game and real life. The suggestion that violence in video games is solely causing children to be corrupted and go on murderous rampages is almost laughable. The parents are ultimately responsible for what their child is exposed to and what their actions are.

And of course, children weren't running around "playing war" and pretending to shoot their friends before video games were they?! There were no wars, horrific murders or grotesque tortures, before video games either, were there?!

I saw the following video a while ago, and was reminded of it recently, hence this blog post. If you haven't seen it yet, this painful discussion on The Alan Titchmarsh Show on the perils of playing violent video games is worth a watch. The baying audience and ignorance of the panellists makes for pretty grim viewing. Not surprisingly the original ITV video has been removed after Titchmarsh received a torrent of abuse in response, so all I could find was this subtitled version. Enjoy, then get angry.


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