Since the 80’s, video games have become a major part of American media, whether it be for contemporary literature purposes or just simply to experience pleasure through interacting with a plastic controller into a simple or very complex virtual world. Over the last few decades, video games have evolved from being simple forms of entertainment to becoming the next form of digital art. Just as all art forms are construed by those in power or those with a large enough voice, a second judgement comes upon my favorite way of escaping from the world. As I said second, this isn’t the first time that judgement has been passed upon video games.
In order to ‘protect the youth of the nation’, Senators Lieberman (Connecticut) & Kohl (Wisconsin) demanded the formation of the digital entertainment rating agency now known as the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) to cover video game ratings for both the USA & Canada. Previously before the board was created, publishers like Sega & 3DO created their own ratings board to give guidelines about their developers games to assist consumers from purchasing a game that may be deemed too flagrant for young individuals.
All of this has happened in the past but now new legislation and protection of the youth of America comes for judgement again by our publicly elected officials. Through protests of private organizations such as Southington SOS or politicans such as Senator Jay Rockefeller, new ways of preventing violent video games from reaching children and teenagers are being debated right now but how would a balancing of new legislation create better containment of such digital media.
Since the Sandy Hook tragedy, public officials and celebrities have joined together in questioning what could have caused the shooter to do what he did. In the end by searching out what was readily available on the individual’s Facebook profile, multiple individuals, news organizations and politicians have come to the conclusion that video games may have encouraged the shooter. From games like Dynasty Warriors to Starcraft 2, there have been multiple games that the shooter played including Call of Duty, according to what has been found publicly.
Before the 112th Congress officially conceded earlier this month, Senator Jay Rockefeller proposed a study on the effects of television and video games upon developing children to be done by the US National Academy of Sciences. With new Senators being elected, all previous legislation that wasn't passed before the 112th Congress’s last session was automatically scrapped by the election process. As previously linked, Senator Rockefeller plans on bringing back the same proposal, untouched, for the 113th Congress.
A Change of Opinion
While the majority of the American public doesn't know about this proposal, they are in touch with what they've been informed with. On strictly liberal and conservative websites, video games have come under attack for ‘providing youth with incentives to become more violent’ instead of being reserved, respectable citizens. Previously, I stated that several video games were played by the shooter of the Sandy Hook tragedy and have now seemingly started to play scapegoat to the fact at hand. After something has been reported though, usually it becomes truth whether it’s actually true or not. SurveyUSA put out a survey yesterday pertaining to how parents understand violence in media and how it affects children.
Seventy-five percent of parents in the US according to the survey believe violence in video games contribute to violent behavior. Also to note, ninety-three percent of parents believe lack of supervision of children contributes to violence. As someone living in Saint Louis' Metro East, I can agree with that statement as parents are working kids are just walking around doing whatever they please. However the fact of the matter is three-fourths of American parents according to this survey believe that violent behavior is encouraged by video games.
Child of the Virtual World
As a kid, I grew up watching Power Rangers and my brother & I would recreate these scenes in good fun. This could be taken as violent behavior, but because I was educated and had an understanding that this show wasn't real and I shouldn't act that way, all that playfulness just stayed in doors other than the typical schoolyard fight that so many boys would have at that age. Eventually, my brother and I got video games in our teenage years after we earned it with our own money. We’d play after school all the time, but when my older brother would start to lose, he’d punch me in the arm to distract me but other than a bruise nothing showed of aggression from video games between the two of us.
Honestly though, all we need to do is provide education and understand as some of those parents don’t know how to provide wisdom that previous generations had and I’m not talking about paddling the kids either. Knowing the difference between a game and the real world sometimes is a complication but as being a part of learning disability classes throughout my pre-teenage education I was always explained to things that mattered in my life and also things that just pertained to traditional education. Though looking back now I was behind most students according to academic statistics, I believe I was ahead because of the wisdom I was able to absorb from those teachers.
We never stop learning!
Each one of us receives an education through our younger years but most of us never stop learning. Hopefully today, others learn maybe we shouldn't be focusing on that the younger generation is consumed in virtual violence so they must want to eventually commit real life crimes to appeal for their pleasure they sought in video games. Instead, create this as an opportunity to remind yourself that every child has a chance to learn from any situation regardless if you want them to know about it or not. To blind them from the truth is to prevent them from growing as an individual and potentially a good member of society.