Note - This is a copy and paste from an essay I recently wrote for my English 1C class. I haven't gotten the grade for it yet, but I desperately need a distraction from my math homework that isn't a game (go figure). This is the first half of the paper
It seems to be a constant struggle. Every time a violent video game is presented to the public eye, mothers and conservatives immediately tout it as the next “evil.” Various murders and crimes across the world have been blamed on games, sometimes causing their unfortunate censorship, and even their ban, despite substantial evidence proving otherwise. While this mindset has grown into legal battles, organizations, and even a German game-burning event, one thing is certain; it is truly not as terrible and hellacious as the above make it out to be. The primary issue society takes with games is the notion that they are toys; as toys, therefore, they are playthings meant for children. Especially with Nintendo’s Wii, and its family-friendly qualities and standpoint, this idea does have some ground. But even that console saw a handful of violent releases, namely MadWorld and No More Heroes.
With blaming being circulated around how violent games are altering the minds of children and society, one question still stands, “Where are the parents?” One would think that in this new era of digital entertainment, where violence has become the “it” factor for game developers to pursue, the various warnings and information available would assist in their overall verdict of the right game for their child. Instead, the industry is plagued with calls to edit or ban games to keep them out of the hands of children. There is no need for such censorship: parents must be the deciding factor in what their children play.
One of the earliest games to bring the violent video game debate to the public light was Midway Studio’s Mortal Kombat. Created by co-designers Ed Boon, and John Tobias, the fighting game featured powerful images of graphic decapitations with copious amounts of blood and gore, and over the top attacks. In a 2004 interview with Game Developer magazine, Boon spoke on the game’s creation, stating, “Mortal Kombat is the equivalent of an R-rated movie: an M-rated game. It just presents it in a more hyper-realistic way. Japanese console developer Sega, a direct rival to Nintendo, picked up the unedited version of the game for release on its Genesis console. On September 13th, 1993, Kombat’s public release quickly became, “The focus of congressional hearings on video-game violence." In order to avoid a move to regulate the company’s American branch, SEGA gave the idea of games that regulated themselves. Thus, the Electronic Services Ratings Board (ESRB) was created, and Mortal Kombat was given an “M” for Mature rating from the group.
In the years that followed, the industry produced one game that managed to set the bar for the future, and also set the stage for game violence and the public to come. Grand Theft Auto III was released in October of 2001 to high ratings and parental scorn by American developer RockStar. Players acted in the role of a criminal, and apart from conducting missions related to the story, they could explore the main world. With this, players can use various tools and weapons to assassinate citizens in drive-by shootings, police officers, and even the military. Obviously, this isn’t something a young and impressionable child should play. The game faced multiple motions for permanent ban in not only the US, but Europe and Australia as well.
Another game that stirred much controversy was MadWorld, a game created by a Japanese studio for the Nintendo Wii system. In the game, players take on the role of an enforcer named Jack, who is sent to an island city to participate in the DeathWatch games that have taken over the city. The game is one of the most gruesome to date, giving players abilities such impaling opponents on street signs, and forcibly removing hearts. MadWorld’s appearance on the console brought much scrutiny due to the company’s family-friendly ideals and the equally clean games that come with it. Gaming and government website Gamepolitics.com reported a UK watchdog group’s motion for a ban after learning of the game’s content, writing that MediaWatch-UK’s head John Beyer stated, “We need to ensure that modern and civilized values take priority rather than killing and maiming people. I believe it will spoil the family-fun image of the Wii." A similar motion was threatened for the game’s release in Australia, however it was a motion to censor the content of the game. Despite the various hurdles, the game saw release in both countries with the appropriate ratings attached.
LOOK WHO CAME: