Regardless of who’s to blame, “GTA: SA” was re-rated in America and banned from sale in Australia. Oddly enough the gratuitous and encouraged violence in the game went largely unnoticed in the wake of the “scandalous” sex scenes involving clothed, cartoonesque people. When examined objectively almost all games contain a certain amount of violent content. The kid-friendly bright and colourful “Mario” games by Nintendo feature a character stomping on animated creature’s heads. In fact the majority of games, even children’s games, involve the protagonist crusading against an enemy horde of some sort and generally “disposing” of them in some manner, whether it be striking them with a weapon or body part (feet, hands, possibly a tail depending on the nature of the character). The only real stand out difference is that in a children’s game the ‘bad’ characters will generally bounce backwards in a cute manner and explode with a humorous puff sound (or simply disappear) whereas in a game oriented towards older mature players, the characters are more likely to be (somewhat) realistic, spraying a gusher of red upon their demise.
Whenever some young person best university Egypt somewhere commits a violent crime these days it seems to get blamed on a video game, from “Duke Nukem” and “Quake” being accused for the Columbine High massacre, to a more recent incident involving a group of minors attributing their violent actions to the “Mortal Kombat” video games. Without any solid evidence either way it’s hard to say whether or not video game violence actually has much of an influence on players. To really be sure you’d probably have to have a control group of isolated children that have never seen a violent movie or played a bloodthirsty video game. History does however show that brutal crimes were committed long before video games or even movies came into existence.
Children are quite easily influenced by something that they’re excited about and I’ve seen this happen a lot. Playing a wrestling video game with a group of eight year olds often leads to the eight year olds screaming raucously and trying to pin each other down on the ground. Pre-teens will often punch and kick their way out of a cinema in terrible combat stances after having viewed a martial arts movie. The current content rating system in place is not geared towards consumer restriction; it is largely aimed at simply informing the public about what they are going to experience. Legal restrictions are not actually put in place until the higher, more severe ratings like in x-rated films. Parents, guardians, and society in general need to start taking an interest in who is viewing certain types of content. Instead of complaining about the entertainment a child is enjoying, the parent could be there at the beginning looking at the rating that is printed clearly on the packaging of all entertainment. A simple “I don’t think that’s suitable, how about this game? It has a lizard!” distracts the child a surprising number of times. In my experience, children genuinely just want people to take an interest in what they’re interested in, not just murmuring indistinctly, “Yes dear, that’s nice.” as the child installs the newest violent game.
What about the children that are playing the games in the restricted ratings categories? The only way that they can even get the game into their possession is if a parent (or someone of legal age) purchases the game for the child, or if the store disregards the rating guidelines in place and sells it to them regardless. Either way the fact that a game’s content has fallen into a minor’s hands is not the fault of the game developer.
I’m not out to defend the integrity of artistic vision presented in video games as many other gamers are. Frankly there seems to me to be little artistic integrity in rendering blood that is ever more liquid in appearance. I do however enjoy playing some games that are quite violent in nature and in many cases the violent nature of the game increases my enjoyment. Video games are escapism, there’s (arguably) no point in playing a video game that simulates something you can just walk outside and do (and yet sports games somehow consistently sell in large numbers… curious…). Interestingly I have never yet felt the overwhelming desire to break down into a kung fu stance and commit murder. Perhaps more important than simply banning questionable content in video games would be studying why this content is so appealing to today’s society?…