Students Defend Violent Video Games

By Nancy Ramsey

Nov 18, 2010 2:48pm

ABC News on Campus reporter Clay LePard blogs:
 
Getting shot, stabbed, slaughtered, decapitated, blown up, run over and bombed are some different ways you can die in the new video game "Call of Duty: Black Ops," released last week.    
 
The wildly successful franchise recently shattered video game sales records with its newest installment – selling 5.6 million units in one day, netting $360 million in sales in the U.S. and the U.K. 
 
Eric Rosenthal, a freshman photography major at Syracuse University, was one of the many who waited at a local GameStop for the game’s midnight release. Upon returning to his dorm, Rosenthal and Jim Cillis, his neighbor, played the game for five straight hours before going to sleep.
 
The next day, the two of them played the game for another eight straight hours.
 
“It was addicting,” Cillis, 21, told ABCNews.com.
 
With all the violence featured in today’s video games, some question the potentially harmful effects video games can have on children and teenagers. Recently, the Supreme Court heard arguments about a pending California law that would fine retailers who sell certain violent video games to minors.
 
But students, many of whom have grown up playing those realistic violent games, claim they had no effect on their upbringing.
 
“I don’t think they’re too graphic at all,” Rosenthal told ABCNews.com. “There are video games that have questionable levels, but in all honesty, it’s more of an escape than anything else.”
 
A recently survey of 4,028 teenagers administered by Yale University also confirmed that gaming did not lead to problematic behavior in teens. The study acknowledged that gaming leads to increased social interaction outside of school but does not promote depression or negative behavior like fighting, drug use or cigarette smoking.
 
Currently, video games receive a rating based on their content from the Entertainment Software Rating Board, with ratings ranging from “everyone” to either “mature” or “adults only.” Many retailers have a policy that they will not sell games with a “mature” rating to anyone under 17, under 18 for “adults only” games. Many of the “mature” games contain intense violence, alcohol or drugs, and even some sexual content.   
 
“I have never played a video game and killed someone [in the game] and been like, ‘Wow, I want to kill someone,’” said Ryan Marfurt, a Syracuse junior.
 
When Marfurt was younger, he explains that he had difficulty acquiring certain video games with questionable content due to their ratings. For Christmas one year, he requested the popular game, "Grand Theft Auto III." The game gained notoriety for a user’s ability to play as a criminal who works his way up the crime ladder by stealing cars, beating up prostitutes, and dismembering civilians. However, once his mother went to an electronics store to buy the game – a store clerk informed her of its “M” for mature rating.
 
“The man at the store told her the rating on the game, so I did not get the game because of that,” Marfurt told ABCNews.com. “Video games are already regulating themselves, so why does it change at all if the state’s involved?”
 
However, many students conceded that some games can be too violent for young teenagers.
 
“There’s certain content that you have to be a certain age in order to be able to handle and understand,” said Cillis. “You shouldn’t give somebody who is 13 years old "Grand Theft Auto" and show them how to shoot people.”
 
Many argue that if the pending California law is upheld, then the government could potentially regulate the content of the movie and television industries as well.
 
“You take a game like "Zelda" – I believe it would be acceptable to minors because yes, there’s violence in it, but there’s also violence in the Disney movie "Hercules" if you really want to go that far,” Cillis added.
 
But ultimately, students felt that even with a potential state law regulating the sale of video games, kids could still find a way to play a gruesome video game.
 
“There’s always going to be that friend who gets the game or someone older who can buy the game for minors,” Rosenthal said.
 
 

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