Patrick Masell claims that the media recently bombarded Americans with stories and images about “Grand Theft Auto,” a popular, morally corrupt videogame. GTA 5 and GTA: Vice City have sparked record sales, protests, and news reports around the world. These protests and reports question the game’s graphic content as well as the possible effects it has on teenagers.
GTA wasn’t the first video game to make such a splash in this country. “Mortal Kombat”, a fighting game that is known for its bloody and gore-filled deaths, was released in arcades in 1992. The following year, it was available on home consoles. For more than a decade, the question of how video games can influence our youth has been a topic of debate. The vast majority of violent video games have no, or very few, adverse effects on their audience. Those who are negatively influenced are often unstable.
Researchers, policymakers, and the public are rekindling their interest in video games because of two features. The first is the double-edged sword of video games’ active role, making educational video games an excellent tool for motivating and learning. It can also make violent video games more dangerous than either violent television or violent cinema. A second reason is that a new generation of ultraviolent videogames began in the early 1990s and has continued unabated until the present, which led to large numbers of youths and children actively engaging in entertainment violence far beyond what they could see on TV or in movies. In recent video games, players are rewarded for killing innocent bystanders and police officers. Some have cut scenes, which are short movie clips that are supposedly intended to advance the story. Some have the player playing the role of a hero, while others portray the player as a criminal.
While all of these actions will encourage violent behavior among children, censoring and banning video games won’t solve a deeper problem. Parents should deal with this matter. The main factor behind juvenile delinquency is parental neglect. Ironically, parents who support censorship of video games may not even be aware that the games their children play are intended for adults. An ESRB rating is a label that appears on every box. It acts like a movie rating system, determining the appropriate age for a game. GTA is suitable for those aged 17 and over.
Parents can still buy it for their children, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t. There are many situations where teens will be denied the purchase of a particular game. Their parents are brought in to confront the store manager. He explains the rating system, but the parent still buys the game. Both parents and game developers should be held accountable for their actions.
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