The Ethics of Violence in Computer Games

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The Ethics of Violence in Computer Games Violence in video games was never a hot topic until April 20th, 1999. After the Columbine High School shooting rocked the nation with its unbelievable random brutality, a shocked nation searched for answers. There must have been some reason for Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold’s bloody rampage. The nation needed a scapegoat for this horrible event, something to take the blame. A lot of the blame landed on the media, the music industry, and violent video games. The debate over how video games influence kids still continues. There are many opinions on how harmful or harmless video games really are. Recently, many legislators seem to have decided that video games are, in fact, very harmful to kids. Legislation is currently being created to restrict and censor violent video games. Traditionally, parents have been the ones responsible and in control of what their children were exposed to on the computer. Now legislators want to govern what kids are exposed to rather than trust this job to the parents. This is a departure from how other forms of media are governed. Kids are legally allowed to buy any kind of music regardless of parental advisories and to view any kind of violence on TV. It is the parents’ job to determine if their kids are allowed to listen to that music or watch that TV. It should remain the same way with video games. It is unethical to take these choices out of the parents’ hands. It is the parents’ responsibility and right to raise their children how they see fit. However, the industry also has an important role to play. The music industry puts parental advisories on music content parents may find inappropriate and parents are informed of channel content when they sign up for cable. Likewise, the game industry needs to improve upon their methods of informing parents of the content in their games. Parents should be responsible for regulating the types of games their kids are exposed to, however, the video game industry has a responsibility to accurately and honestly communicate the level of violence depicted in their games. The effects of video games on kids is a relatively new topic of research. Initial studies have resulted in inconclusive and conflicting results. Most researchers have simply decided that video games should have the same negative effect on children as TV does, since the two mediums appear to be so similar.
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