A Russian immigrant walks off a boat to embrace his cousin in a long awaited hug. Niko holds his breath as he notices the stench of alcohol on his cousins shirt. “Welcome to America Niko!” he exclaims as he hands Niko a freshly lit cigar. Driving peacefully through streets filled with gangs and hookers Niko embarks on a new life filled with cocaine, murder and sex. The opening credits roll : Grand Theft Auto IV.
Grand Theft Auto is one of the most notorious franchises in the entire video game industry. There are plenty of video games on shelf with violence, sex and drugs but GTA has one aspect that few other games achieve: it’s just so darn fun.
Video games have been on the rise for decades now. In the 80’s, the release of the gore infested Mortal Kombat sent shivers up parent’s spines forcing a rating system similar to the rating system used for movies. Technically an M-Rated game is only available to a consumer 17 or older, much like an R-rated movie. The largest difference however is that if a parent wants to bring an underage child to an R-rated movie, they must watch the movie together, but rarely does a parent know what their child is playing beyond the brief synopsis of the rating in the bottom corner of the package.
The release of Grand Theft Auto put the ESRB – the association that rates any commercially sold video game – on the spotlight. So much of a deal was made over a video game where the protagonist could hire and then murder a hooker that the state of California attempted to force laws to limit the sale of the game to reduce the amount of youth playing it (USA). Throughout the world, mostly in Europe, many countries refuse to sell certain games, or ban certain content.
But the question is why? While some people believe that video games are just good clean fun, others believe that these games greatly affect our generation in a negative way, increasing aggression and sometimes pushing consumers to the edge causing events like the forever notorious shootings in Virginia Tec.
Over the past few decades, over twenty legitimate studies have been conducted – both correlation and experimental – showing an association between aggression and violent video games (Kirsh). There is compelling evidence that video games are responsible for up to ten percent of the aggression in the youth of our generation (LA). Studies have also shown that the video games don’t even need to be realistic, as games with fantasy related violence – even games rated E for Everyone (the equivalent of a G or PG movie) – have caused an increase in aggression as well (APA).
Scientists are extremely divided on this matter. While some believe that studies are inconclusive, others argue that the causation between aggression and video games is just as evident as cancer and cigarettes. While long term tests showed an increase in the likeliness of physical fights, shot term effects of these video games included an increase in blood pressure and heart rate...