Protect the Children

Violence in media. Is it as bad as they say? Is it worse? And what are we doing about it?

Protect the Children

"Despite the heated rhetoric from both sides of the debate about violent games, it's a truth not generally recognized or discussed. To some degree, we can blame Jack Thompson and his ilk - the moment he starts talking about games as 'murder simulators,' the field polarizes, and any useful discussion is lost. Indeed, the mere suggestion itself is unbelievable, and who can blame the public or the average gamer for being suspicious when so much of the debate has been fear mongering?

"But it's a well-documented fact; and to know why, you have to understand a discovery that was made more than half a century ago."

Protect the Children

"I've played hard games, but even a game like Mega Man feels beatable. It might be wickedly difficult, but you still get the sense that if you played it long enough and worked hard enough, you'd eventually finish it. It's just a matter of time investment and sheer force of will.

"Not so with Audition. Halfway through my first Beat Up game, I had to push myself away from the keyboard to collect myself. I felt physical pain from trying to keep up with the flying arrows. Needless to say, I was crushed under a heretofore unknown weight of epic fail. My three glib opponents completely and totally annihilated me. What they were achieving in speed and coordination simply wasn't possible."

Protect the Children

"Sometimes we had trouble separating the monkeys' quirks from the effects of the experiment. Some pairs of monkeys - especially males - simply hated each other. Sometimes certain monkeys would spend most of their time trying break out of the experiment cage, a feat that a devious little bastard named Othello achieved on a regular basis.

"Now imagine conducting a behavioral experiment on children, whom researchers cannot cage and whose feeding and home life they cannot control. Psychology research offers important insight into the way people think and react, but it is very easily misinterpreted. Is it any wonder that we still disagree about whether videogames cause violence?"

Protect the Children

"'My son just shot an innocent old lady in the head!'" the blond woman shrieked as she flung the store's only door wide open. It was her second visit to the store that day, although in her previous visit she bore no resemblance to the beast that stood before me now. Where once there was a friendly smile, a well-groomed haircut and a pleasant inflection, there was now a snarling grimace, a tangled mane and a shrill, contemptuous tone. Then came the accusations: I had forced an awful, violent product on her innocent little boy. I was a corruptor of youth. Maybe even a criminal."

Protect the Children

"Many kids Will's age play MMOGs, but these worlds aren't always hospitable to children. Fortunately, more enlightened attitudes now prevail, both across the industry and especially among companies seeking to attract precisely this younger audience. They comprise a growing list that includes a number of very prominent names, including Disney, the creators of Toontown Online and Pirates of the Caribbean Online, aimed at children and teens respectively. ... Likewise, Mattel's Barbie Girls and Nickelodeon's Nicktropolis each attempt to provide a safe online environment for kids to interact - both with each other and each company's respective brands."