What Effect Do Violent Video Games Have

Essay, Research Paper

What Effect Do Violent Video Games Have On Society

As the video game industry becomes more technologically sophisticated, and young people have more independent, the popularity of violent video games has grow immensely. With video games like Mortal Kombat and Night Trap making headlines the \ video games have turned from a toy, to an interactive movie.

In the 1960Os the seed of video games was planted. The game had no graphic or sound, and was nothing more than a story in which you could choose which path the character would go. In 1972 the first video game with graphics was introduced. It was the widely popular game, Pong. Pong was simple, just two paddles at each side of the screen and a square ball in between them. The object was to hit the ball past your opponent. Then there was Atari, the first video game system, giving us great titles like Space Invaders and PAC-Man. It was these types of games that sparked interest and really set the stage for the video games of the future.

From there the video game industry boomed. With Nintendo first then, Sega Master System second, the country went batty for titles like Super Mario Brothers and Techno Football. Then Sega took control of the market by releasing the 16 bit Sega system, bringing better graphics and sharper sound. Soon Nintendo released it own 16 bit system called Super Nintendo. Not since the 80Os cola wars, between Pepsi and Coke, had we see such a vicious battle between corporate mega powers.

There have been many companies that have tried to top the mega powers. The Atari Jaguar, the companies latest attempt to revive the itself, was a 64 bit system which had incredible graphics and awesome sound, but didnOt have the titles to back it up. Also the 3D-O, a system that had everything the Jaguar had, but cost and titles held it back. While those companies went for the big bang effect, Sega decided to use technological evolution to sell more games, and it worked.

After Sega found success with the its 16 bit system they sent out the Sega CD system. This system would attach to a 16 bit system and would allow you to see realistic pictures and small movie type introductions to old games. The system was a break through, but lacked in speed and in entertainment. Then came the Sega 32-X system which was more arcade game based, and could also attach on to a old 16 bit system. The reason for releasing this system was to wet the appetite of the consumer, for their biggest system yet, the Sega Saturn. The Sega Saturn is a 64 bit system and is expected to be the next best thing to going to the arcade and buying one of the big video games.

Now that the graphics, in the new systems, are almost life like, the violence is more realistic. In the hit game Mortal Kombat, a game whose characters look so real its movie like, at the end of a match the winner is able to rip off the head, rip off the arms, or even rip out the heart of the loser. ItOs these types of games that started the government considering a rating system for video games. A few years ago a game called Night Trap was made by Sega for their CD system. In the game men in black ski masks chased after sorority girls in underwear, once caught the girls would have their blood sucked out by a neck-drilling devise. This game was clearly a game for teens and older, but since there was so much controversy involved with it both Toys ORO Us and Kay Bee, the countries top two toy stores, pulled the game from their shelves. The pressure was now on the video game makers to devise a rating system. Most people say that a system like the two decade old movie rating system would work extremely well.

Even if there was a rating system thereOs would be skepticism. George McAuliffe the vice president of a St. Louis- based Edison Bros., which operates 140 arcades said, OWhoOs the policeman of the rating system. I canOt have a ticket taker at each of the 50 games I have at every location.O Ed Pearson the president of Seattle Funplex said OIOm not opposed to it (the rating system). I think it the parents responsibility to choose activities for their children…the rating system is a good way to inform parents, but a game should be rated and then itOs a decision on the player or parents part.O There are many retailers who say that kids can easily buy the video games or play them at the arcades, regardless of the rating.

The argument for the rating system is: Video games arenOt movies, where a child watches the violence. The child is actually making the violence, he has become the murderer. In the game Doom, a player can choose from many different types of weapons, one being a double-barreled shot gun. If hit at the right angle the opponent will die instantly or if hit from close range he is wounded badly. This type of game is almost teaching children marksmanship. In Boston not to long ago a man taught himself to shoot a gun, by spending over a hundred hours a week at an arcade playing a shooting game. The man shot his wifeOs divorce attorney, who was running 20 feet away from the man, seven times, three times in the chest.

Many believe that violent video games can be almost a stress release for children. One Sega representative said OItOs more like learning how to play the piano or playing football. Kids come home from school, somebodyOs been in their face for hours, and here in this little world theyOre going to be in control instead of someone else for awhile.O To tell the truth violent video games sell. Why should the companies stop making the games if theyOre going to lose profit. When the first Mortal Kombat game came out teens all over the nation lined up to be the first ones to play it. Sales went through the roof, and it was the best opening day of any title in history. Profit in violent games is comes mainly by the dominance of male buyers, opposed to female. Fewer than 20% of all game players are girls. The biggest sellers for girls are more thinking games, like Tetris, SimCity or Myst. Madeline Canepa one of the only female executives in the business said OIOm no different from any man. IOd like to develop products that make money.O

Non-violent games like Myst and John Madden Football take up a healthy chunk of profit, but violent games are still bringing in the money.

In my opinion, as an avid video game player and a product of the video generation, there are games on the market now that are quite violent, and arenOt suitable for small children. ItOs the parents job to watch what their kids are playing; if they donOt do it then no one else can. It all starts in the home and if a child is raised with good morals and a sense of whatOs real and whatOs fantasy then he should be able to handle video violence. ItOs the children that are not raised properly that are at risk. If all theyOre subjected to is violence on television and video games, and not love and compassion, theyOre more prone to see life as a video game, possibly a video game dominated by violence.


Bulkeley, William M. (1993) Video game Mortal Kombat Racks up big sales but boosts violence worries. The Wall Street Journal, Sept 14, pB8(W) pb10(E)

Burgess, John (1993) Video game firms yeild on ratings. The Washington Post, Dec10, pF1

Dorgan, Byron L. (1993) Good clean violence. The Washington Post, Dec 28, p15

Harmon, Amy (1995) Fun games- and gore. Los Angeles Times,May 12, pA1

Schrage, Michael (1993) Toward a video game rating system. The Washington Post,Dec 10, pF3

Schwartz, Amy E. (1993) Kombat then and now. The Washington Post, Dec 29,pA19

Zoltak, James (1995) Video game violence makes for a double- edged sword. Amusement Business, May 15, p28(3)


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