To ban or not to ban?

The ‘video nasty’ debate seems to appear constantly within the world’s media, the popular press are quick to jump on the ‘effects’ bandwagon, placing the blame of all sorts of criminal acts upon certain video games.

Mong The Xuong, 15, allegedly killed a seven-year-old girl for her earrings to feed his video game habit in Vietnam on May 23, 2011.

For example, in Vietnam, according to Sky News, “campaigners have warned about the dangers of online game addiction after a teenager allegedly killed a seven-year-old girl for her earrings to feed his video game habit…Mong The Xuong, 15, said he killed Anh Nhu because he did not have money to play online games at an internet cafe near his home in Yen Hoa, it is claimed.” The article then quotes a number of people who claim that there is a direct link between video game addiction and criminal acts.

For example, Elizabeth Woolley who set up Online Gamers Anonymous after her son Shawn committed suicide because of his addiction to online games argues that “Until governments around the world recognise it’s a problem, it’s just going to keep getting worse and worse in terms of murders and crimes caused by excessive and obsessive online game play,”

Yet, despite such damning claims, there is not compelling evidence to suggest that there us a causal link between video games and criminal behaviour. Many people are supposing a link rather than actually being able to prove it scientifically. Read http://www.brighthub.com/video-games/pc/articles/119429.aspx for some measured debate.

Interesting, censorship does not just exist on a protective level. Governments are also trying to regulate the actual ideological content of games. In 2010 for example, Conservative Defence Minister, Liam Fox criticised Medal of Honoue, saying that he was “disgusted” that the game allowed players to act as the terrorists and kill British troops. However, is this really a problem? Why should games have to support the government of the day? Does this mean that all media products should only encourage consumers to be 100% ethnocentric?

Matthew Handrahan, features editor of GamesTM Magazine told Sky News Online he was surprised at the furore. “Often the person passing comment on a game has no experience of the game itself. “The people who made Medal of Honour have worked hard to keep the game respectful and to give players an insight into the combat rather than cheaply glamourising it.”

This is a rich area for study – come to your own conclusion…

http://www.psychology.iastate.edu/faculty/caa/video_game_faqs.html

http://www.pbs.org/kcts/videogamerevolution/impact/myths.html

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/07/060727162108.htm

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