For most of my life I’ve played video games, and to be honest most (…all) have been about killing something or blowing someone up. But does that make me a violent person? I hope not, because although I love games like Saints Row and World of Warcraft, I’ve never been in a fight, and I’m nice to animals (I’m even saving a little money to get a pet rabbit. I want to name him Muz). But right now there is an appeal before the supreme court for a law that if passed could put harsh restrictions on video game ratings and sales. Schwarzenegger vs EMA is about a state law that would forbid minors from purchasing games deemed too violent or sexually explicit. The law was shot down by the EMA (Entertainment Merchants Association) in a law suit based on the violation of first amendment rights. Since the then the law has been defeated in the 9th circuit court of appeals and is now before the supreme court. Though the supreme court will make their decision (I’m not sure if they have or haven’t yet) the case does bring back a very old question of the effects of violent video games on behavior. Well, if you go to gamepro.com you can read a recent editorial, by Dr. Douglas Gentile, discussing the Schwarzenegger v. EMA case and the argument that violent video games are a cause for real life violent behavior. Dr. Gentile is a associate professor of developmental psychology at Iowa State University and in the editorial he doesn’t promote or argue legislation on video game sales but tries to interpret what research has shown about the effects of violent video games on human behavior. Dr. Gentile said,
my professional opinion is that science has established that media violence and violent video games are a risk factor for aggression. This does not mean that playing a violent game necessarily causes immediate aggressive behavior. Humans are much more complex than that. Instead, it means that the odds of aggression go up over time, within the broader range of other risk and protective factors, such as poverty, parental involvement, bullying, etc. It is not the largest scientifically identified risk factor for aggression, but neither is it the smallest. Studies have also shown that the effects of playing violent games can be mitigated somewhat by protective factors such as parental monitoring.
You can read the full article here at www.gamepro.com.