Are Video Game Makers Becoming Responsible?

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CommonDreams.org

Are Video Game Makers Becoming Responsible?

If the game has to do with the seriousness of head concussions during sports play; the answer is, “Yes.”  If it has to do with rewarding youth when they murder, steal and abuse women; the answer is, “No.”

Schwarz wrote in the NY Times recently that the latest version of NFL 12, which has sold over 90 million copies, will make certain that head injuries resulting in concussions will sideline the player for the game. No exceptions.  It is not surprising that some NFL players aren’t thrilled about these changes, given the fact that earlier versions of this game allowed ambulances to run over players on the field. The industry appears to comprehend the impact videos have on players.

What is interesting about this new found awareness, on the part of video profiteers, is they admit that video games are teaching our youth.  Industry experts acknowledge that changing the way head injuries are dealt with on a video game will drastically affect how youngsters view head injuries, and that video games are a known “teaching tool.” So we can conclude that video games offer an opportunity to teach safety and values about health, while helping young boys learn to care about their health. Terrific.

Then we have Gearbox Software’s Duke Nukem 3D, which features radioactive vibrators humming across counters, and schoolgirls kissing as Duke looks on saying, “All right, time for my reward,” (the girls comply with oral copulation).  Players in 3D can “Capture the Babe” a variation on Capture the Flag, only opposing teams kidnap the opposition’s scantily-clad sexualized females, who rebel with kicking and screaming, at which point players learn to spank them to make them obey.

According to Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford, “Our goal isn’t to shock people, but I think there’s some stuff that’ll be just a bit uncomfortable” and that “We try to get right up to that edge and then relax enough so people don’t reject it.”

Clearly the U.S. Military rides this edge, as they market their own free-to-play game, America’s Army. This violent game competes with others like Modern Warfare 2 and has become the most effective recruiting tool yet, according to MIT researchers. That these games might hide the reality of war, appears to be of no concern to our military.

Numerous studies over many years repeatedly document that children learn from what they see on screens. The known effects of consuming violent media are;  Fear and Anxiety, Desensitization, and Aggression.  If favorite media characters are rewarded for being violent or abusive, then the lesson is writ large. Dr. Craig Anderson, author of, “Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents,” has found that games don’t have to be outwardly violent to inspire aggressive behavior.  Even cute characters with happy music caused 40% of the children studied to exhibit aggressive behavior. The game industry is so protective of their billion dollar industry that they anxiously hire the best First Amendment lawyers to successfully argue in court for the right of underage children to purchase adult themed videos like Duke Nukem.

We hope Madden and his concerned experts might be willing to talk to Pitchford, or to our military. Potentially, even Dr. Craig Anderson could join them.  Or is the real lesson that when profit is at stake, teaching our youth to murder, steal or abuse women is acceptable? Let’s hope that this new found concern over young male craniums will inspire all video game creators to take more responsibility for the many messages in video games.

Ann J. Simonton

Ann J. Simonton is a university lecturer and the coordinator and founder of Media Watch. A reformed Sports Illustrated cover model, she is now a media activist with 11 non-violent civil disobedience arrests to her credit. Her work challenges the restrictive world of beauty, racism, sexism and glamorized media violence. Email: info@mediawatch.com

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