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  Hope ya found it enlightening!



                                        Liability Concerns
Over the past ten years, video games have spurred a lot of talk and a lot of controversy. Video games have changed from the bright, pixilated worlds of Mario to the dark, gritty streets of Grand Theft Auto. Games today are no longer aimed just at kids. Many game developers now make dark, violent games with adult content for an older generation. But even though mature games are meant for mature gamers, sometimes kids get a hold of them as well. This fact has worried parents, pastors, and politicians, and many of them are attacking the game makers for letting underage kids buy these games. Lawyers now are actually trying to sue game makers and distributors for crimes that kids who played violent games commit.
The first time the government got involved with the video game industry was in 1993, when two games called Night Trap and Mortal Kombat came out. Both games featured violent and graphic scenes. Many politicians including Joe Lieberman attacked the video game industry, demanding that they do something to regulate games or the government would do it for them. This ultimatum spawned the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB):  a rating system for video games that is more comprehensive than any other media rating system. Both parties walked away from the deal happy. But then tragedy struck in 1999 at Columbine High School when two teenagers went on a shooting spree and killed twelve students and a teacher, and once again the video game industry
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was under fire (“Columbine”).  Many people fallaciously blamed violent video games and rock music for the massacre. The teenagers were already deeply disturbed and one was taking medications with side effects that included aggressive behavior. Despite some litigation, the video game industry came out unscathed.
But the industry is still under attack, and at the forefront of this attack is Jack Thompson, a Florida attorney who claims it’s his quest to abolish violent video games. He, and others like him, are constantly bombarding video game companies with lawsuits claiming that video games cause kids to commit violent acts. Although no game company has ever lost one of these cases, lawyers are still trying. This is not acceptable; video games are a form of speech and thus protected by the first amendment. We cannot allow lawyers to win even one suit like this, because if they do, it will trigger a wave of other suits like it which would cripple the industry and infringe on free speech. Makers and retailers of violent video games should not be held responsible when kids who play the games commit crimes.
First of all, violent video games do not necessarily lead to violent behavior in kids. Henry Jenkins, director of comparative media studies at MIT, says that no media researchers believe that “games can turn a normal kid into and antisocial menace…. None of the reports are asserting that level of transformation.” (“Head” 30-33). And though Jack Thompson likes to cite researchers who say violent video games cause “aggressive thoughts” in adolescents, games like football also encourage violent tendencies but nobody tries to stop kids from playing football. Not to mention the fact that aggressive thoughts while playing a video game are a long way from actually committing violent
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crimes. According to a study conducted by the University of Oklahoma, 92% of middle school and high school boys at a Midwestern school play video games (“Statistics”).  Another study says that only 7% of schools have reported a violent assault involving a student with a weapon in a year (“School”).  So if 7% of schools, with an average school size of 807 students (“Digest”), have experienced a violent crime from a student, (we’ll say 3 students were involved, and that’s being generous), that means that only 0.00026% of students were involved in an assault with a weapon on campus in a given year. That’s an extremely low number. And because 92% of students play games, odds are that the people involved in the violent acts play video games too, simply because so many people do. So how can one link violent acts to video games when nearly all teenage boys play them? They can’t, and it’s ridiculous to try. Also, in a report released by the US government in 2005, between the years of 1993 and 2004, (the years when violence in video games and video game use have dramatically increased), the rate of violent acts in the United States has actually decreased. In 1993 there were about 1,925,000 violent crimes and the rate has steadily decreased until it reached 1,365,000 in 2004 (“United”). That’s a drop of over 30% in violent crimes during the years when violent video games were supposedly influencing kids to kill. That doesn’t even account for the fact that our population has grown significantly. Clearly it is absurd to blame violent acts on video games if the rate of violent acts has gone down while violent video game sales have gone up and 90% of teenage boys are playing video games.
There is also the issue of free speech at stake. And although many might disagree, video games are a form of speech and therefore protected by the first amendment. This
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amendment was put into place by the framers of the constitution in order to protect our society from unwarranted censorship. Saying that video game companies can be sued and punished for the types of games they release is infringing on what types of things a game can do and thereby going against the first amendment. One cannot say that the first amendment applies to one thing, then say that it doesn’t apply to another. It applies to all forms of speech. The issue of censoring violent and sexually explicit images is not a new one. People have tried to censor books, movies, works of art, and music before and they have all failed because the right to free speech is clearly defined in the Constitution. So why do people still attack video games so much more than movies and artwork? Some say that it is because video games are interactive and therefore have more of an impact on the player, but that is irrelevant. Art is supposed to have an impact on the viewer and one cannot restrict art simply because of that. The main reason people attack video games is because they don’t regard them as socially relevant. Most people still see video games as toys that kids play and will eventually outgrow. They don’t realize that video games are becoming as culturally relevant as other art forms, and it is because of this reason, above all others, that they censor games. People need to see games as they do all other art forms and realize that they can’t control the content. And even though people aren’t directly censoring games, they are trying to make developers legally accountable for the images they put out and that has the same effect as censorship. One can’t hold violent video games accountable for what people who play them do just as one can’t hold violent movies accountable for what people who watch them do.  Once people understand this, the waves of lawsuits will cease.
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Parents are often aware when their children buy video games, and many times it’s actually the parents that buy the games for them. Most retailers will not sell Mature rated (equivalent to an “R” rating in movies) games to children under 17 unless a parent is with them. Then the parents blame the video games if the kid gets screwed up. This is wrong on two counts, the first being the fact that video games don’t actually screw kids up and the second being the fact that they bought the game for their children and allowed them to play them. When asked about the issue of video game product liability, Donny Waits, the store director at the local video game retailer, GameCrazy, said that “ [i]t’s the parents decision what the kids play, not the video game makers or publishers.”  He also told me that they have a strict policy about selling games to minors (Waits). Parents need to take responsibility for what their kids buy. They also need to monitor what they play. Most video game retailers have signs posted around the store clearly outlining all the ratings and every video game box must come with a rating label on it which describes why it earned its rating. Parents also need to teach their kids about games and reality. “Kids who aren’t raised to know the line between fantasy and reality won’t understand the difference,” says Cody Jarrett, shift leader at GameCrazy, “It’s up to the parents to teach them that” (Jarrett). If parents don’t teach kids about realty and fantasy then the kids will have trouble discerning them. That’s why kids would emulate a game, not because it makes them.  Also most of the kids who go on killing sprees come from deeply troubled households where the parents neglect the kids and fail to teach them valuable life lessons. How can it be the video games the screwed them up if their parents weren’t there to explain that what their doing in the games in not okay in the real world. It’s a parent’s
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duty to monitor the type of content the kid receives and they need to start doing that and stop blaming the producers of the content.
It is for these reasons that video game companies should not be held accountable for what the kids who play their games do. Because parents need to control their child’s media intake, it is an infringement on the U.S. Constitution, and the fact that video games do not actually make kids commit crimes. In times of tragedy, people often desperately search for whom to point the finger of blame at. But sometimes a tragedy is no one person’s fault and people try to blame people remotely involved in the problem. Frankly, people need to stop blaming everyone for problems and start solving the problems at the source, in this case, the screwed up kid who likes to kill people. Once the lawsuits stop, then the video game companies won’t be afraid to make new and innovative games and will create a new era in virtual amusement.


Works Cited
"Columbine High School Massacre." Wikipedia. 24 May 2006   <en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbin…>.

"Head to Head." Electronic Gaming Monthly June 2005: 30-33.

"Statistics on Video Game Content (1991-1999)." Media Awareness Network. 24 May 2006 <www.mediaawareness.ca/english/…; stics/videogames/video_game_content.cfm>.

"School Violence Statistics." Securityworld.com. 2005. Safety and Security Information Center. 24 May 2006 <www.securityworld.com/communit…>.

"Digest of Education Statistics Tables and Figures." National Center for Education Statistics. 2002. Institute of Education Sciences. 24 May 2006 <nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d0…>.

United States. United States Crime Rates 1960-2004. 2005.

Waits, Donny. Personal interview. 30 May 2006.

Jarrett, Cody. Personal interview. 30 May 2006.
This is a report I wrote for school about lawyers trying to sue the makers and retailers of violent video games. I'd encourage you to read it if you are into video games, bt if you don't, that's cool too, I would like to know your thoughts about the issue in the comments though.
:iconariomness:
Ariomness Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2006
I really think that you did a great job on this. If I didn't agree already, I'd be swung to your side of the debate. ;D
What was with the "Auker 5... Auker 6..." and so on parts every so often? =/
Around the ending of the second to last paragraph I thought you got a bit unofficial, what with "their kids are /screwed/ up" and calling the murders "killing sprees," it just seemed a bit less... serious, you know? The content itself was good in that paragraph, it's just some of the wordings that weren't quite fitting for a school paper.
It was presented in a very well researched and backed up way, flowed easilly with fair transistions. I liked how you were able to back it up with good statistics rather than, like most people, just saying "Jack thompson sucks, and video games totally don't cause crimes." I admire that sort of thing.
Great job! =D

I really think that if anything, especially considering your stats, video games help with psychological issues. When someone with aggressive depressione gets angry, they can relieve that anger by murdering a few people in GTA or Oblivion, rather than knifing a random passerby. Horrible, unrealistic example, I know, but at the moment, I'm tired, and it's all I can think of.
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:iconmasterswordsmanlink:
MasterswordsmanLink Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2006
this is a really good argument, I don't think that I've read it before... It puts out a lot of good points and backs it up with facts. I like it!! see you tomorrow maybe... unless you're leaving town for Thanksgiving...
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