Op-ED: Are Games like Bulletstorm too violent?

 

If Fox News has their way, Grand Theft Auto may lose attention in the spotlight as the most talked about violent video game on the market. On Feb 8, 2011, Fox published an article titled “Is Bulletstorm the worst video game in the world,” criticizing not only the game, but also video games for contributing to violence and sexual assault.

“And with kids as young as 9 playing such games, the experts FoxNews.com spoke with were nearly universally worried that video game violence may be reaching a fever pitch,” wrote John Brandon of Fox News.

Bulletstorm, published by Electronic Arts, releases tomorrow and is a first-person shooter developed by Players Can Fly and Epic Games, the creators of Gears of War. The game is available for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. The controversy surrounding Bulletstorm comes from the skills shot gameplay system that rewards players for executing creative kills on their opponents.

Players get rewards for blowing off enemy’s limbs with gunfire, knocking them back into a passing helicopter’s blades, shooting them in the groin or buttocks regions, and dozens of other creative kills. Bulletstorm also features frequent uses of profanity, lots of gore and sexualized names for skill shots such as ‘gang bang,’ and ‘deep penetration.’

There’s nothing wrong with Fox questioning the controversial nature of the game, but several of their facts they’ve reported from interviews with psychologists and professors are inaccurate. To start off, Fox reports that children as young as nine are the target audience for Bulletstorm, and questions whether the violence depicted in this game may make it seem like it’s okay for teens to replicate what they see on violent, and sexual video games in real life.

Anyone who’s seen a commercial for Bulletstorm knows that the game is rated (M for mature) by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), and is not to be sold to adults under 17. The creators of Bulletstorm purposely made the gameplay comical, and the gratuitous violence is not meant to be taken seriously by anyone.

Even EA Vice President of Public Relations Tammy Schachter told Game Informer magazine that “Never is the game marketed to children.”

The Fox article goes on to say that sexual-related scenes in video games have been linked to an increase in rape incidents.

Fox is not only targeting Bulletstorm (which contains no sexual depictions), but also targeting the ESRB and retailers for failing to prevent sales of violent and sexual video games to minors. Fox claims that harsher punishment needs to be enforced against retailers and that the ESRB isn’t working.

The ESRB is not the problem. Most retailers honor the ESRB and are aware of the consequences of selling to minors. It’s the parents of these young children who voluntarily purchase these violent video games for them, and don’t monitor what their kids are exposed too. Video games have never been the cause of violent crime. The fault lies in the individual who has psychological problems, and chooses to recreate the fantasy violence they see in games.

Compared to movies and music the ESRB is one of the best rating systems out there. It’s much easier for a kid to get his hands on an R-rated movie or a cd with explicit lyrics then it is a violent video game. Heck, all three major consoles and PC’s have parental controls so what’s stopping adults from preventing their kids from playing violent video games?

Video games deserve the right to be protected under the First Amendment the same way other forms of media do. If video games have to be censored, then it won’t be long until the music, and movies will have to do the same.

“Much like Tarantino’s Kill Bill or Rodriguez’s Sin City, this game is an expression of creative entertainment for adults,” said Schachter in a response to Game Informer.

Check out the original article from the UWM Post here. http://issuu.com/theuwmpost/docs/uwmpost_22111

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