Thomas Craig and Julian Petley
When video games first appeared around the beginning of the 1980s, people who played them regarded them simply as harmless fun. But, as with any new form of popular entertainment, voices of concern began increasingly to make themselves heard both within academic research and via the mainstream media. Unsurprisingly, given the history of fears about the popular media, a common theme was the level of violence within some of these games, and the worry was increasingly voiced that playing video games containing high levels of violence would lead to the stimulation of violent behaviour by the player. Although relatively little research had been carried out up until this point, in 1991 Eugene Provenzo felt confident enough to assert that 'concern about the games is in fact justified' (Provenzo, 1991:50), and that 'there does seem to be a significant relationship between aggressive behaviour on the part of the subjects and the playing of video games' (ibid.: 69). However, it needs to be understood that Provenzo (a Professor of Education at the University of Miami) relied almost exclusively on work conducted within the kind of psychological paradigm criticised elsewhere in this book, and seems simply unaware of any form of media studies research-which might, for instance, have undone his naïve categorisations of games by 'levels of violence' and by 'stereotypes'.
By the early 1990s, in Britain at least, some parents were already beginning to demand refunds on games containing violence which they felt was not only inappropriate for their children, but just plain inappropriate. An increasing number of pundits had already begun to voice concerns not simply about violence but also about 'keyboard-junkies', the neglect of more 'worthwhile' activities and various other allegedly negative consequences of playing video games. Thus, for example, in 1993 the Sun reported that a boy