Does prohibiting certain video games say something more about us as a society?
Just a month ago, two Australian retail stores banned Grand Theft V from being sold and in the same month, Valve; the company that handles the Steam game client removed the indie game Hatred from its Steam Greenlight program, and the following day, it was returned to its listing. And now just a few days ago, news has circulating about a certain villgae district in the municipality of Dasmarinas, Cavite prohibiting the game Defense of The Ancients (DoTA)
and first person shooters from being played in internet cafés within the town district’s premises, there are even plans of making the ban city-wide. All of these are pointing to one specific issue; violence, but does prohibiting violent video games help lessen violence and juvenile cases in our society? Let us go back to history to find out.
Taking some history lesson
Some concerned groups are pointing out that video games with extreme violence are causing violent behavior in our youth, which was claimed it could lead to bullying, along physical and sexual abuse. This has been debated for years, a rating system was established to regulate a game’s content in North America, which we all known as the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), this soon follows in other countries such as Europe for their Pan European Game Information (PEGI) and Japan for their Computer Entertainment Rating Organization (CERO). The rating system help ensure that certain games are only suitable for specific age groups. Was this effective? Yes it did, the ESRB was established in 1994 in response to the public outcry against the extreme violence of Mortal Kombat and years have passed after the formation of ESRB, the number of violent crimes have declined as sales of video games increased.
Video games weren’t the only media that have been lambasted for being a negative influence to society, comic books were came under fire from psychologist Fredric Wertham during the 1950’s. He claimed that children were imitating crimes that they read in comic books. In response, the Comics Code Authority was created to regulate the content of comic books. By the 2000’s, some major comic book publishers such as Marvel withdrew from the CCA in favor of their own rating system, this suit was followed by other publishers such as DC Comics and Archie Comics in the following years, as a result, the CCA was entirely defunct in 2011.
Going back to the question
In other words, prohibiting video games can lessen violent crimes, but rather than ‘banning’ games, it was ‘regulated’ where only certain age group are allowed to access specific games. This means games with extreme violence and gore are rated to Mature where only gamers with the appropriate age are only allowed to play these specific games. Let’s take DoTA as an example, being a mod for Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, it can be considered as a Warcraft III game. The ESRB has rated Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne for Teen; this means only players with age 13 and up are only allowed to play this game.
Banning is more of a different story, it is more on prohibiting to play a certain game entirely, regardless of age, gender or race, and those who violates this could be penalized. The treatment is like a game was a taboo or a curse. This approach is somewhat locking someone in a cell and just throw away the key and forget everything, thinking it would solve the problem with that particular person. Yes it is only one game, but what if someone decided to prohibit video games entirely? Imagine cyber cafes and game retailers shutting down due to poor sales, the youth losing motivation to become future game developers, graphic artists, animators and game designers. Major computer brands that are investors in the country suddenly leaving due to lesser consumers. Just like in an ecosystem, removing something from the food-chain has drastic consequences.
So the bottom line here, who is at fault? Is it video games?…
…No, it’s ‘US’
So what do we really learn from this then?
We are irresponsible parents
Despite the rating system being established, some parents do not follow this regulation and still buy or download violent games for their kids without knowing if they are suitable for them to play, it’s either they are not aware of the system or just don’t care. But rather than just relying on rating system, proper parenting is the key to this dilemma, guiding your kids on what is right and what is wrong can help them understand on what they are playing, would you let your 10-year old kid play Grand Theft Auto V? Do you tell your kid that God of War is just a fictional game and should not imitate what they do there, should you keep them to play under moderation to help balanced their play time and study time? Parents cannot make excuses for not being responsible, and then blaming others for their mistakes.
It’s how we grew up (badly)
Most kids are exposed to other problems, especially in the poverty stricken areas. With common gang brawls, scandalous gossips, petty crimes and other malicious incidents happening within their neighborhood, in the eyes of a child, it looks normal to them and then as they grow up, they will be urged to mimicked on what they always see, plus add the recipe of bad parenting and you will get a ticking time bomb that is ready to explode at any moment.
We never learned (always)
Getting ourselves pinned into fist fights isn’t Jin Kazama or Ryu’s fault; it’s us. People tend to forget to remember the right manners and the proper behavior; provoking our opponents or even cheating, which as a result of getting into fights or even committing heinous crimes such as murder or homicide. Letting our rage get to us is our fault for not disciplining ourselves, sometimes our lust for money got us hooked into gambling where we even involved our love for games just to hit the jackpot. And in the end, we realized our mistakes and promised never again, then a few hours later we are back to step one. We are thought by our parents and at school for years on what is right and what is wrong, we should try to remember that and reflect on our mistakes.
We are bad role models
Many personalities in the gaming industries have become a popular figure in the gaming scene, but what have we done for the past years? We promote tons of games, events and tournaments to the youth; promising there is a future for the young gamers by giving tons of cash to the winners in every tournament, bringing them to international leagues or getting them inside one of the biggest game companies. Yet we forgot to teach them the value of being a good player, we never teach them the importance of balancing life and gaming, good sportsmanship, the value of having fun. We should start as role models; good role models where the young gamers are looking up to us, let us not forget we are now having a bigger responsibility.
Our system sucks (seriously)
In a country where corruption is a norm and progress is just a fairytale, it is automatically understandable that some officials would never look at the bigger picture. A simple mistake in making decisions can affect a larger portion without then noticing it. Whenever an ordinance was implemented, it was not consulted with both parties, it is commonly favored to just one party only, and as a result, most regulations are very much biased to one side. Most government officials would do anything this ridiculous without even thinking or if it even works or if it even caters to both sides; all for the sake for getting more votes for future elections.
Playing the blame game
If Final Fantasy VII was our favorite game, to some this is their favorite. Blaming is rather a common practice to many whenever something bad happened, rather than taking responsibility, people tend to point their fingers to somebody else, throwing the burden to others. This kind of behavior must end right now, passing the blame on others will not solve anything, it’s just throwing the problem away and it will come running back at any moment and cycle will keep repeating over and over. And let’s face it, we once blamed someone for our own mistake in our lifetime.
Nobody stands up for it
Being bullied by people and not doing anything has its drawbacks; the problem gets bigger as bullies think that it’s okay to mess with others. Without any opposition, it goes unchallenged. We should start voicing out our concerns that there is another way to control things, not just removing it entirely. But let’s not just respond with a ‘NO’ and with a bashing response; instead we should start with a ‘NO’ and follow it with an explanation that there is another way to fix things.
So what can we do now?
There is still hope for this case. We stand up, learn from our mistakes and become good role models. Learn to balance your game time with your work or studies, tell your parents the importance of video games and how can it can affect you positively, share the importance of good sportsmanship with your fellow players and let’s not forget that gaming is originally meant to be fun, not to turn you into a ravaging meat bicycle. We should also tell our government that this is not the solution to end youth violence in their areas, violence and crime will always happen if people don’t change, help them create a better regulation to help control youth-related violence, like setting up school workshops that explains responsible gaming and the positive effects of video games. There are many ways to fix this problem if everyone work together.