Video Game Censorship
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Video game censorship is growing in the spotlight as technology grows. Parents are more concerned these days about the games their children are playing then ever before. There are many kinds of censorship out there and available for the consumers use. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), self censorship, and video company censorship are just a couple of examples. In some cases video game censorship is being taken to court. This is where a fine line is drawn because it could infringe on your first amendment rights which protects our freedom of speech and freedom of press. Considering all the kinds of censorship out there we should all be able to make educated and responsible decisions when purchasing video games.
Not everyone is aware of the battle with video game censorship. Since the dawn of video games they have done nothing but progress. Must people remember when Pong and Frogger was released. You walk into the store today and you see games such as Grand Theft Auto and World of War Craft. Video games have definitely evolved since they were created, and as technology progresses the games will follow. Since there has been such a big spike in technology and the kinds of games that are being produced censorship has become a big issue. As games made for adults and mature audiences are produced there will always be an opportunity for younger children to get a hold of these games and play them. There are many concerns with these odds and it can be a scary thing for parents as they want their children to be raised with proper values and morals.
One of the main reasons that rating systems were put into place was the concern of the impact the violence was going to have on the youth. Parents are concerned that their children are going to portray the violence they see in the games they play. There are been many studies done to monitor how violent games affect the youth. In one study done they tested 3,033 people on the relation between video game violence and aggression. The results averaged a positive and significant result that there was a strong connection. High violence video games were associated with the heightened aggression (Anderson & Bushman, 2001). After reviewing some of these studies, there have been questions about the results they acquired. Some professionals who have read over the results so not believe that the statistics were significant enough to prove the relationship between violent video games and aggression in children. In one exert which was taken from “Internet Fantasy Violence: A Test of Aggression in an Online Game” in 2005 by Williams D. and Skoric M.
“The results determined that, game play controlling for gender, age, and time one aggression scores- was not a significant predictor of aggressive cognitions. Compared to the control group, participants after the experiment were not statistically different in their normative beliefs on aggression than they were before playing the games.” (Electronic Software Association, 2007).
As more studies are done the results will grow and be more reliable over time as they progress and find more ways to test their theories. Depending on many factors will be the final decision on how violent video games affect a child.
Violence was not the only concern with video games. The content was a big part in bringing around a rating system. The main reasoning behind that was the sexual content in the games. One of the biggest complaints was about a secret part of the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas game. It was not built into the game for everyone to play, but someone hacked into the game and found this section called the “hot coffee mod”. It portrays two badly animated adults who are mostly clothed engaging in sexual intercourse. As you play it depends on how the interaction plays out. Aside from the ESRB rerating the game, Rockstar Games who produced San Andreas issued a statement on the hackers.
“So far we have learned that the Hot Coffee modification is the work of a determined group of hackers who have gone to significant trouble to alter scenes in the official version of the game (Thorsen, 2005).”
There are many different types of sexual content in the many different games. One of the roles of the rating systems were to control the amount of sexual content, rate the games based on the content that was in the game, and to state it in the advertising and the game box. Even with all the commotion over the mature games, most parents do not allow their children to play. A graph compiled with information form the ESRB site from a survey they gave parents shows the differences in how often parents allow their children to play mature games.
The number of parents that allow their children to play mature games is very low compared to those that are never allowed. Most of the children that are allowed to play these mature games are generally thirteen and older. (ESRB, 2007)
The most well known rating system around is from the Electronic Software Rating Board also known as the ESRB. The ESRB was established in 1994 after an increase in the amount of video games that were being produced. The ESRB is a non-profit self regulatory body that came about by the Electronic Software Association or the ESA. The roles of the ESRB are to assign games a rating based on their content, enforce industry advertising guidelines, and to ensure responsible online privacy practices. The rating system is fairly easy to understand. Ratings are broken down into six different categories which are Early Childhood, for children three and older; Everyone; Everyone 10+, for everyone age ten or older; Teen, which is for ages thirteen or older; Mature, which is for ages seventeen and older; and then Adult, which is only for people eighteen and older (ESRB, 2007). To go along with the ratings and to help consumer make a full educated decision about the game they are purchasing there is also content descriptions. These descriptions are similar to movies and television ratings. A few of them are nudity, language, violence, etc. These descriptions are also familiar to everyone which makes the game buying process even easier. Even with these ratings in place people still tend to believe that these mature games out number all the other games that produced. Using information retrieved from the ESRB web site, a graph will demonstrate the percentage of games for each category and how they changed from 2005 to 2006.
From 2005 to 2006 the games in the early childhood category has slightly decrease, while the adult only games has stayed the same. Teen rated games has decreased as well but the mature rated games have decreased the most. Everyone and everyone 10+ has increased. So the majority of the games produced in both 2005 and 2006 are rated