With it still being a new medium, of course those who grew up without it will be sceptically of it. The run and gun violence in games such as Call of Duty can in no way be the same as the same violence depicted in many World War II videos shown in colleges and high schools across the nation! And the crimes seen in games such as Grand Theft Auto cannot be related to the similar stories of gang violence shown on prime time news networks! But not to be too one-sided, there are cases in which persons of a weak mental state may form a dependency on games, causing an even more unstable state that they may perform violent acts in. So as with movies, books, and television, video games should be taken as entertainment only, and it is up to parents to not only withhold the games they do not approve of from their children, but also discuss with them the reasons why, and to discuss with them the difference between entertainment and reality. Think about it, would you ban alcohol and smoking in your house, but not explain why to your children?
The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) is the friend of parents (and even of adults for their own gaming choices) everywhere. Don't just look at the letter and ignore the text beside it: that text is just as important as the letter! It explains why that game has that letter on the back of the case (where as the front only has the letter). For example, grabbing my copy of Call of Duty: Black Ops off the shelve, by the "M for Mature" rating by the ESRB, it states it is rated because "Blood and Gore", "Intense Violence", and "Strong Language". Whereas my copy of Dragon Age: Origins, also rated "M for Mature", is rated for "Blood", "Intense Violence", "Language", "Partial Nudity", and "Sexual Content". So according to the ESRB, Call of Duty: Black Ops has stronger language, but Dragon Age: Origins has sexual content including partial nudity. Big difference, isn't it? That's the purpose of that label, now use it.
Now, I, for one, am a kid who grew up with video games, from the old-school Game Boy to the current XBOX360. I have experienced games across all spectrum, and can say video games don't make me any more violent than an awful movie (I'm looking at you, Butterfly Effect). Yet, my younger brother, who was introduced to video games in this "Age of Shooters", as some analysts call it, does exhibit some minor violent tendencies when exposed to violent games for prolonged periods of time. My solution, which my mother ignores, is to limit his playing of the more violent games, and make sure to watch how close to his bedtime he plays them. They say you concentrate on the last thing you were doing when you sleep, so it's best if it's not how angry he is at losing a Call of Duty match, but rather how much fun he had playing Mario Kart even though he may win or lose. And as you can imagine, he is not happy with this method, but I've found it greatly improves his attitude.
So to sum up this post:
- Video games are an entertainment medium, just like books, movies, and television.
- Parents should be involved in the gaming that their children get involved with. Don't just ban the games, tell them why they shouldn't play them.
- ESRB not only sticks a letter on the game, but also the reasoning why it has that letter.
- Every person's reaction to playing video games is different. It's up to parents and the persons themselves to stop if its affecting them perversely.
- Violent video games that make you upset before bed are bad for your mental health. Play some Mario Kart or something easy or thought-provoking before bed for at least an hour, if you are going to play them up until you go to sleep.