Magazine article Children's Voice

Video Game Violence

Magazine article Children's Voice

Video Game Violence

Article excerpt

Parenting PAGES

Thomas has a 21-inch flat-screen monitor and an optimized computer with a 4 GHZ processing speed. His hard drive is fast and large; he's packed in close to three gigabytes of RAM and has a video card with dual 512K processors. It's all about speed and graphical processing. He's jacked in to a high-speed Internet connection, and he's off and running.

Thomas isn't a programmer or a network engineer, though he's considering that as a possibility for the future. He doesn't have to worry about that now, though-he's only 13 years old and has a long time to make up his mind about a career. For now, he's content with the fact that, in the next three hours, he'll commit 147 felonies including aggravated assault, murder, attempted murder, robbery, arson, burglary, conspiracy, assault with a deadly weapon, drug trafficking, and auto theft while violating just about every section of the RICO Act, the nation's anti-organized crime law. He'll even be so brazen as to gun down bystanders and police officers and will personally beat someone to death with a golf club.

All without ever leaving his room.

The entire video game industry has changed dramatically since the days of Pong, where competitors sat through the rough and tumble world of a pixilated square bouncing between two rectangles in a tennis-like match of reflex and skill. Although that game was considered high tech just 30 years ago, the games today are vast and dazzling environments that seek to create an "immersive experience" for the player. Games like Everquest, World of Warcraft, Asherons Call, Lineage II, and Star Wars Galaxies have developed massive online, ever-changing settings that range from futuristic swamps, to steamy jungles and rainforests, to arid deserts.

Futuristic and fantastic settings aren't the only options-vast cityscapes in games like City of Heroes, and more realistic environments reflecting an expansive version of California, such as in the game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, are also available.

The common thread in all of these games is that the player is role-playing a character, determining everything from the outfits he or she wears to the way in which the character interacts with the online world and other players. These games range from single-player to thousand-plus-multiplayer in which all players are in the online world simultaneously through a clever grouping of a large number of servers, all processing their whereabouts.

Although these games can be highly entertaining, and they showcase some of the best qualities and abilities of the gaming industry, concern is growing over their violent content. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas represents the extreme when it comes to violence, but many have a cartoon-like quality, such as the very popular World of Warcraft. They all share one goal-kill as many creatures as possible to gain rewards.

A Link to Violent Behavior

Retired Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, a former Army Ranger and tactical trainer, asserts that video games are actively training children to kill. Learning, he says, happens all the time, especially during active play. The subject of that active play, however, can be negative or positive.

Grossman has authored two books on the connection between violent media and actual violence. He argues that children learn to use weapons and become sharp shooters through simulated games the same way soldiers use simulations to improve their shooting precision. Just as children can improve their phonics with Learn to Read with Winnie the Pooh, they can learn to shoot with deadly accuracy playing Doom, Splinter Cell, Hitman, and other first-person shooter games.

Grossman has been a consultant to a number of school systems following deadly shooting incidents, assisting with grief counseling and understanding what brings children from what should be a carefree time in their lives to the point of committing multiple murders. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.