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Do violent video games really damage kids?

California is defending its ban on selling ultra violent video games to minors before the Supreme court today, but we ask ourselves, do violent games really affect kids or young adults? California will ask the justice department to exempt a type of violent content from the First Amendment’s protection of free expression.

When I was younger, my gaming time was taken up with classics such as Tomb Raider and Mech Warrior – pretty much as violent as it got in the mainstream gaming community. In recent years we have seen AAA titles such as Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 take the violence a stage further, by letting you take control of terrorists and gun down innocent women and children. Is this a fun way to blow off steam, or does it border on being tasteless?

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Deputy Attorney General Zackery Morazzini said ‘Youngsters lack the capacity to make a reasoned choice when it comes to video games’ and that California simply wants to reinforce parents’ authority to protect their children.

This ruling is extremely high profile, especially as the video game industry generates over $10 billion in annual nationwide sales. Attorney Paul Smith said “There is no reason to think parents need California’s ‘assistance’ in deciding which expression is worthwhile for their children.”

Paul then went on to say that families are best protected by the industry’s voluntary rating system for retailers, which is based on the same age group category system as found in movie theaters.

Zackery Morazinni isn’t so easily swayed however, focusing on controversial game Postal II. The game received flak for being super violent and he said “Girls attacked with a shovel will beg for mercy; the player can be merciless and decapitate them”.

Paul Smith in defense of the current system and gaming as an art form said “Like the best of literature, often involve classic themes that have captivated audiences for centuries, such as good-versus-evil, triumph over adversity, struggle against corrupt powers, and quest for adventure.” He then said that the Californian law is “the latest in a long history of overreactions to new expressive media.”

Many, myself included, feel that gamers get unnecessarily targeted when superviolent movies such as the Saw or Hostel series get treated with a much higher level of public ‘acceptance’. Censorship isn’t the cure to a problem, it can actually make many people want to experience the banned material all the more.

KitGuru says: What are your views on violent games? Acceptable, distasteful?

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