This paper will discuss how video games are regulated by the rating system, how violent video games encourage regulations, the positive effects of playing video games, how parents can bond with their children using video games and … Video games have taken the world by storm and introduced many people to the potential of online play. Generations of children have indulged in the art of gaming, but only now has it become a problem. Many believe that these games should be cut back to keep their children safe. Children can be protected in many other ways, all the materials are there. Instead of banning video games from the household, putting time limits to play helps children develop problem solving and computer skills, while also keeping them from spending too much time in front of a screen.
The main way video games are regulated is by the video game rating system. Video game regulation has been affecting gaming companies, game producers, and gamers for years. Parents wonder how they are supposed to know if their child is playing something not suitable for their age. In 1994, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) answered their cries by developing the video game rating system. The rating system is divided into six different ratings: Early Childhood (titles suitable for young children), Everyone (titles suitable for all), Everyone 10+ (ages ten and older), Teen (ages thirteen and older), Mature (ages seventeen and older), and Adult (ages 18 and older) (ESRB Guide). According to Russell Laczniak, a professor of marketing, “the results clearly show children spend less time playing violent video games when their parents use the rating system to guide purchases and set rules for video game play. This indirectly affects behavior. When parents limit video game play, children are less likely to act out or misbehave” (Iowa State University, 2017).
Violence in video games has been a sensitive topic for years and it is an issue that requires attention. Games have been around for years, but the first violent one was actually released as a movie titled “Death Race 2000” in 1975. The film was about a popular sport where teams raced for the fastest time and earned points for hitting innocent pedestrians in the process. The following year, a video game adaptation of the movie called Death Race arrived at arcades. The game was a remake of Destruction Derby, a game where you crash your car into other cars. In Death Race, the goal was to run over “gremlins” which looked stick people. If a gremlin is hit, a scream will be heard from the arcade machine and a cross-shaped tombstone will rise from where the gremlin was hit. The game encourages players to hit pedestrians, something no other game has done before. People became concerned that this arcade game would affect children and make them more violent (Mccabe, 2019). Another popular example of a violent video game was Dungeons and Dragons or DnD. Like Death Race, DnD was not originally a video game, the rhetoric used by those against video games is the same. In 1979, James Dallas Egbert III, who was sixteen at the time, attempted suicide in an underground stream tunnel. His attempt failed and he hid at his friends house for a month. Noticing his disappearance, his family hired a detective to look for him. The detective assumed he was doing some DnD live-action role playing in the tunnels. Word got out and people accepted the story as fact. DnD lost its reputation and many parents believed that players would lose their mind in a fantasy world. (Mccabe, 2019) The next controversy occurred when Doom was released in 1993. The game was a 3D first person shooter that was filled with gore. The focus of the game was to kill demons, this caused issues with several religious communities. Many people said the game was teaching kids how to kill. At the time, these claims had little proof. The game got even more attention after the Columbine massacre in 1999. The shooters were fans of Doom and were rumored to have created a custom map of their school to practice. This claim turned out to be false, but it did little to help the reputation the game had gained. Due to uninformed or biased reporters, many believe that Doom is a training game for school shooters. The controversy around Doom had unknowingly sparked the idea that video games caused violence, despite being a widely believed lie. Henry Jenkins, a professor at the University of Southern California, said that “Researchers find that people serving time for violent crimes typically consume less media before committing their crimes than the average person in the general population” “the overwhelming majority of kids who play do not commit antisocial acts” (Salam, 2018).
Video games have always been put under a negative light, it is easy to focus on the downsides to playing them, but some studies have shown that there are benefits as well. Kids need some downtime as well as adults, and video games provide the perfect form of leisure they seek. Constance Steinkuehler, a professor of informatics at UC Irvine and president of the Higher Education Video Game Alliance, stated that “game play is a form of blowing off steam” (Lazarus, 2017). Puzzle games have one goal, to challenge the player. They force the player to use their brain in order to overcome an obstacle. Playing these types of games can increase problem solving skills (Wignall, 2005). Platformer games follow a different concept, but still require problem solving skills in order to be completed. Gauging how far a jump is or how high the jump has to be keeps children’s brains active. When a split-second decision has to be made, children will be challenged to find the answer in such a short time. Learning games such as ABC mouse help children from preschool to kindergarten learn subjects such as reading, math, social studies, art and music. There are over 2,000 learning activities children can participate in. The child gets a feel for using a computer and make learning fun and entertaining.
Parents stress over how to control how much time their children should be playing video games, but fail to see how video games can be used as a bonding activity. Video games can be used by parents as a bonding activity, some examples of this are by showing off some old favorites. If the parent played video games during their youth, they will be able to share their history with their child. The kid will be able to relate to this since they also love video games. If the parent has never played video games before, their child can teach them the basics. The kid will feel great pride in sharing his or her knowledge of the game and love to teach someone knew about the game they care so much about. The parent will be able to relate to their child and understand why they love their hobby so much. Video games provide an easy way to bond with other people. Just by asking someone which video games they like can create life long bonds. They are easy conversation starters and chances are, everyone has a favorite video game.
Video games can be fun, but they can easily be taken too far. Video game addiction has had a greater presence in the later years. Just recently in 2018, the World Health Organization added “gaming disorder” to its medical reference book. Children that suffer from this disorder will view video games as more important than relationships or school. They believe they have to play in order to feel happy, and may be using gaming to avoid deeper problems, like depression. Getting help for them is crucial and asking their doctor or pediatrician if their gaming is getting out of hand will help. A therapist can show parents how to place limits on their playtime. One study has shown that making parents a part of a child’s treatment makes it work better (Ratini. 2019). Easy ways to prevent children from forming an addiction is to set time limits for play, keeping electronics out of their bedroom to prevent night time gaming, and doing other activities such as exercise with them. Children are not the only ones at risk, adults can suffer from video game addiction too. David Wong, an American author, once wrote “New technology is not good or evil in and of itself. It’s all about how people choose to use it” (Leach, 2018). Video game addiction is becoming more and more common and has made its way into the world of hockey. On Sportsnet’s “31 Thoughts” podcast, Jeff Marek, a television personality and radio host, revealed that one of the top NHL prospects is unlikely to reach the NHL due to a video game addiction. The player was never named, but Marek mentioned that it is a Canadian major junior player who was draft picked by a very prominent NHL team. The team was forced to intervene and seek counseling for the player after his addiction started negatively affecting his energy level. The information is a year old, but the player’s stats indicate little has changed. Marek sums up the situation by saying that this talented prospect will “probably never play in the NHL because of video game addiction… it is that bad” (Leach, 2018).
With gaming appealing to a younger and younger audience, it is only natural that people ask when do video games go too far. The ESRB helps many parents understand what games are appropriate for their children. Some odd ball games may make the others look bad, but it is important to realize that no game will make kids violent. Puzzle, playform, and learning games help teach children skills that will help them later in life. Thanks to video games, bonding with others has never been so easy.