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PUBLISHED: 4:36 PM on Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Little Johnny didn't get it from Grand Theft Auto
The issue of violent video games is HUGE these days. It's the gamers themselves vs. right wing conservatives who say, "Violence in video games is destroying American values!" Recently, someone proposed an idea in the Supreme Court that would limit the sales of violent video games to adults (people 18 and older) only. As a gamer, I'm here to tell you this shouldn't happen. Let's explore the reasons, shall we?

A game is basically about struggle. No struggle, no game. In order for there to be a struggle, you need to have conflict, and a goal to reach at the end. Conflict is at the core of every story, and game, though this doesn't mean conflict must be violent. There are games such as "Tetris" where you struggle to complete a perfect rectangle. There's "Myst" where the player must explore and solve puzzles. There's also builder games like "Sim City" or "Civilization" where you must create an empire or a city, and overcome political and technological obstacles.

All of these games show examples of struggles without use of blood and gore. However, violence is the simplest and most obvious way to create a struggle in games, movies, or just TV shows. If monsters, demons, aliens, or anyone with a gun stands in the way of you and your goal, the struggle is quite clear. You kill them. But no matter what kind of game it is, there are studies that show that it can be taken in as a positive experience! A survey showed that 60-70% of people who play games on a daily basis have shown improved hand-eye coordination skills. This helps in daily activities such as driving, cooking, typing, or even sports such as baseball and tennis. However, there are some people who take content in games a bit too seriously...

On April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in Colorado, two student gunmen, Eric Harris, and Dylan Klebold went on a shooting spree, killing 12 students and a teacher, and wounding 24 others before turning the guns on themselves and committing suicide. This was a horrid and unforgivable crime and should never have happened.

Many of the video game critics at this time jumped on this incident, and instantly pointed their fingers at video games being the sole cause of this massacre. I'd like to blow this accusation out of the water by saying that these kids were legally insane. Harris and Klebold were both put in psychiatric wards, and spent much time there before the shootings (They were arrested on account of theft. The judge ruled they were not responsible for their actions, due to "reason of insanity.") They both were known to have been constantly bullied, teased, and tormented daily. And did they ever report this, or ask help from a counselor and family member? No.

Their anger began to build up after their release in 1998, and started to build a plan to "retaliate" against their tormentors. In order to plan this, they took the game called "Doom" (which was a popular shooting game at the time) and modeled the game's levels to look like their neighborhood and school so they could plan their massacre. So it's now obvious that Harris and Klebold had only computer games as their form of escaping from reality. This can apply to anyone that's going through hard times.

If a kid is constantly being verbally abused day after day, has a dysfunctional family, and if video game violence is their only escape from it, of course there is going to be negative effects. Harris and Klebold simply made a poor choice. "Doom" indeed.

Now, about those critics...one of the most infamous is Jack Thompson. Ever since the first FPS (first person shooter) game was released, he began a crusade to bring down the companies that "poison the minds of America's youth."

Jack blames violence in early-to-middle childhood solely on games! He is one of the supporters of the act that will limit the sales of violent video games to adults only.

He believes that there is no right for children to buy adult entertainment. None. Now, there is nothing in the Bill of Rights that states that there is one, but let's try to pull out some facts.

You think your kid is more aggressive because he's playing Resident Evil 4? Then it's time for you to learn how to be a freakin' parent. It's up to you to train your kids how to get a grip on reality, and tell them that violence and aggression in today's society is unacceptable. If you decide that they're still taking games as a negative medium, then just take them away! Remember, it's all up to you. Kids can still buy any type of games responsibly and stay perfectly sane. It's all about how they were raised, and how well they handle life.

The sale of violent video games should not be limited because it's definitely not the game's fault. It's the person's. Not every game is violent; a game can be taken in as a positive thing, though Harris and Klebold were a bad example of that. And again, it's the adult's job to teach their kids right and wrong. So, if Johnny starts talking in an urban accent, swears at you every 3 words, and is gradually becoming aggressive because he's playing Grand Theft Auto 3, don't slap him. Slap yourself.

Editor's note

This and the following were written by eighth-graders at Floyd Dryden Middle School. Students of Samantha Davis wrote the persuasive essays, then chose their top picks for publication. The first of the series began in the Dec. 20-28, issue of the CCW and will continue through the Jan. 3-9, issue.


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