As we hear about shooting sprees at local high schools, people immediately begin to lay blame for the event on the video gaming industry. Critics then use these events to raise their voices against the violence that is portrayed in many of the popular video games. Critics proceed to try to ban the sale of these video games without having any real proof of their accusations. Video games do not contribute to youth violence because there is an excellent rating system in place, the simulated violence provides an outlet for aggression, and the research that critics use is flawed.
Just like movies, video games receive a content rating by the ESRB, Entertainment Software Rating Board which is a non-profit entity that regulates the industry that creates and markets video games. Video games receive a rating that suggests age appropriateness for the game and content descriptors which indicate attributes of the game that triggered the rating.
This is an excellent rating system. If video games are correctly identified using this system, and purchasers of the games adhere to the system, then only those people who are mentally mature enough to be exposed to violence without being influenced by it will be exposed to the higher levels of violence. For example, when the game Mortal Kombat came out, my teenage brother purchased the game and was playing it while I was watching. When my mother saw the scene where a person in the game fell into a pit and was impaled on spikes with a lot of blood surrounding him, she was upset that I was watching this and felt that I was too young to watch such a scene. I was only 8 years old. So when she looked at the content rating of the game, she banned the game from being played while any children were able to view the screen. If all parents would pay this much attention to the games their children are playing, then younger, more easily influenced children would not be exposed to violence that their young minds are not able to properly process.
According to an article in Just for Kids medical magazine, pediatric psychologist, Dr. Jennifer Johnson, when young children play the games that are rated for older children they may act out what they see on screen because they have difficulty distinguishing reality from fantasy. However, when video game users are adhering to the ESRB rating system, then teenagers and young adults can play the video games without being influenced by what is acted out on screen. Teenagers and young adults have the capability to understand that the video game is just a fantasy world and that the behaviors portrayed by the characters in the game are not the same behaviors that should be displayed in the real world. Sometimes, when people get angry they can go play a video game to release their aggression through the fantasy type world and get over their anger without committing violent acts in reality. In a recent article entitled, The Influence of Video Games on Today’s Teens, advocates of video games...