The banning and/or restricting of video games movement is getting play in the U.S. and in Europe right now. Earlier this week, European Union ministers considered a stronger rating system and possible banning of certain violent video games throughout Europe (no specific games were mentioned, but clips from Rockstar’s nearly-three-year-old Manhunt were shown).
Okay, so that’s pretty extreme, but a proposed New York State law would ban the sale of violent video games to anyone under the age of 30! If this law passes, you’d have to have your parents buy a game for you until you hit your third decade. That’s almost as embarrassing moving back in with your parents at the age of 30.
Such an age limit is so absurd it can’t possibly pass, particularly since the jury’s out on whether there’s any connection between violent video games and actual violence, and will probably stay that way. Besides, whatever you can’t get in a store you’d easily be able to find in some way, shape, or form online, legally or illegally, so any bans would seemingly have minimal effects.
During pre-production, the approved design documents are taken to a publisher if the publisher is separate from the developer. (For instance, Electronic Arts, that makes games like Madden football, acts as both a developer and publisher.) Rough art sketches and early game demos are created and given to the publisher. If all goes well and the pitch is successful, the publisher funds the game title, and game creation starts.
Production ramps up once all of the staff are in place. This includes the sound team, sprite and polygon artists (2D and 3D artists), source code programmers and testers. Testing of the game begins and increases until the game is deemed “gold”, or ready to ship. Production is the longest stage. The game world is created first, and then levels are added.
Games are complex, and it can take months or years for games to be ready to be shipped for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, or other gaming systems. Lots of overtime is needed in the final stages. Eventually, main production begins to wrap up and testing goes into full swing.
Once production ends, the game is fully tested and all known bugs are eliminated (sometimes by young game players who sign up to test the game as a beta, or prototype, version), the game “goes gold” and is shipped to stores. Development time ranges from months to years depending on whether the game is an independent production, is in 2D, or is a full-fledged studio release that incorporates 3D polygons and other advanced effects. Game type, such as sports or roll-playing games (RPG) also affects development time, and some adventures or RPGs have been known to be under development for five to ten years.
Do Violent Games Make Violent People?
Do violent video games lead to real-life violence? Most gamers would argue vehemently that they do not, and that might be true. But two studies conducted on gamers this year came up with some surprising results about how the brain reacts to video violence. Could all those conservative groups have a point after all?
Conservative groups have argued for years now that playing violent video games leads young people to real violence. It is true that many people who commit such acts have played violent video games (the high school students from Columbine come to mind as one of the more obvious examples), but this does not prove that playing the games caused them to act violently. Some argue that people who have violent tendencies naturally gravitate toward violent games.
Benefits of playing video games
Consequently, it is easier to achieve and maintain a person’s undivided attention for long periods of time. They may also provide an innovative way of learning.
Videogames can provide elements of interactivity that may stimulate learning.
Videogames also allow participants to experience novelty, curiosity and challenge. This may stimulate learning.
Videogames equip children with state-of-the art technology.
Videogames may help in the development of transferable IT skills.
Videogames can act as simulations. These allow participants to engage in extraordinary activities and to destroy or even die without real consequences
Videogames may help adolescents regress to childhood play (because of the ability to suspend reality in videogame playing).
Effects of Video Game Playing On Children
Video game playing introduces children to computer and information technology.
Games can give practice in following directions.
Some games provide practice in problem solving and logic.
Games can provide practice in use of fine motor and spatial skills.
Games can provide occasions for parent and child to play together.
Players are introduced to information technology.
Some games have therapeutic applications with patients.
Games are entertaining and fun.
83% of kids, eight to eighteen, have at least one video game player in their home, 31% have 3 or more video game players, and 49% have video game systems in their bedrooms (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2005).
97% of all teens play video games regularly (Lenhart, 2008).
The U.S. video game market reached over $21 billion in sales in 2008 (NPD Group Inc., 2008).
63% of Americans have played a video game in the past 6 months, compared to only 53% of people who have gone out to the movies (NDP Group Inc., 2009).
Video Games account for one-third of the average monthly core entertainment spending in the U.S. (NDP Group Inc., 2009).
45% of heavy video game players and nearly a third of avid gamers are in the 6 to 17 year old age group (NPD Group Inc., 2006).
97% of adolescents play video games (Rainie, 2008).
One-Third of parents say they play video games with their children some or all of the time (Lenhart, 2008).
Young Men randomly assigned to play Grand Theft Auto III exhibited greater increases in diastolic blood pressure from a baseline rest period to game play, greater negative affect, more permissive attitudes toward using alcohol and marijuana, and more uncooperative behaviour (Brady, 2006).
The most recent (May 2008) mystery shop study conducted by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) found that national retailers enforced their store policies by refusing to sell M-rated video games to minors 80% of the time (Federal Trade Commission, 2008).
Of computer and video games purchased in 2008, as reported by the NPD Group, 84% were “E” rated games, “E10+” rated games, and “T” rated games (Entertainment Software Association, 2009).
A study of over 2,000 8 to 18 year-olds (3rd through 12th graders) found the 83% of them have at least one video game player in their home, 31% have 3 or more video game players in their home, and 49% have video game players in their bedrooms (Roberts, Foeher, and Ride out, 2005).
In the same study only 21% of kids reported that their parents set rules about which video games they can play, 17% reported their parents check warning labels or ratings on video games, and 12% reported they play video games they know their parents don’t want them playing (Roberts, Foeher, and Ride out, 2005).
11.9% of video game players fulfil diagnostic criteria of addiction concerning their gaming behaviour (Grusser, 2007).
Adolescents who play more than one hour of console or Internet video games have more or more intense symptoms of ADHD or inattention than those who do not (Chan, 2006).
The most likely reasons that people play video games excessively are due to either ineffective time management skills, or as a symptomatic response to other underlying problems that they are escaping from, rather than any inherent addictive properties of the actual games (Wood, 2008).
Online Gaming Addictions display core components of addiction such as salience, mood modification, tolerance, conflict, withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and relapse (Chappell, 2006).
Both novice and expert online game players are subject to time distortion and have difficulty breaking off from the game without interruption by others in the real world (Rau, 2006).
Video game usage may be linked to a lower GPA and SAT score (Vivek, 2007).
Those who play Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) report more hours spent playing, worse health, worse sleep quality, and greater interference in “real-life socializing and academic work versus those playing other types of video games (Smyth, 2007).
8.5% of video-game players ages 8-18 exhibited pathological patterns of play as defined by exhibiting at least 6 out of 11 symptoms of damage to family, social, school, or psychological functioning (Gentile, 2009).
Children burn about three times more calories playing some exercise-oriented video games than they do just sitting around watching TV (Graf, 2009).
Kids used about two to 2? times more energy playing Wii bowling and doing the beginner level of DDR as they did watching TV. They burned 2 to 2? calories a minute during the activity (Graf, 2009).
Over-dependence on video games could foster social isolation, as they are often played alone.
Practicing violent acts may contribute more to aggressive behaviour than passive television watching. Studies do find a relationship between violent television watching and behaviour.
Women are often portrayed as weaker characters that are helpless or sexually provocative.
Game environments are often based on plots of violence, aggression and gender bias.
Many games only offer an arena of weapons, killings, kicking, stabbing and shooting.
Playing violent video games may be related to aggressive behaviour (Anderson & Dill, 2000; Gentile, Lynch & Walsh, 2004). Questions have been raised about early exposure to violent video games.
Many games do not offer action that requires independent thought or creativity.
Games can confuse reality and fantasy.
In many violent games, players must become more violent to win. In “1st person” violent video games the player may be more affected because he or she controls the game and experiences the action through the eyes of his or her character.
Academic achievement may be negatively related to over-all time spent playing video games. (Anderson & Dill, 2000; Gentile, Lynch & Walsh, 2004)
Questions to ask: Is the violence rewarded or punished? What are the consequences? How graphic is the violence? Is the violence against humans or inanimate objects? Is the violence sexual? Is the time spent playing video games out of balance?
Reasons children give for playing video games:
Like to feel in control
Develops gaming skills
Feel a sense of mastery
Many video games are fun and appropriate.
Violent video games may be linked to an increase in aggressive behaviour.
Out of balance video game playing may lead to symptoms of addiction.
There are many questions about the cumulative effect of video games, computers, and television.
Parents are urged to monitor and limit video game play the same way they need to monitor television.